Wild Page 1

Chapter 1

I’M SORRY, GEORGIA, IT’S just, just . . .”

I waited, staring at his handsome face and too white teeth, feeling an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I chafed my suddenly sweating palms against my jeans and told myself it wasn’t possible.

This was how the conversation started when Harris broke up with me months ago. The only difference in this scenario was that this guy wasn’t Harris. Not even close. Joshua wasn’t my boyfriend. We’d been on four dates. Four. So why was he looking at me with that familiar pitying expression? And speaking in that condescending tone? And using those words?

This couldn’t be happening. Not again.

I shifted on the plush leather seat of his car and played with my pearl necklace, wishing suddenly I was anywhere but here. Since our first date, I’d known there weren’t any sparks, but I agreed to a second date and a third because he was the kind of guy I wanted. On paper anyway. A senior at Dartford, he was already accepted into optometry school. He came from a good family. His father was a church deacon. Joshua volunteered at the local food bank. I couldn’t have found a better guy. I convinced myself that chemistry wasn’t everything. Lasting relationships weren’t built on chemistry. Common interests. Like goals. Similar backgrounds. That’s what counted.

My phone rang inside my purse. I quickly peeked inside. Mom. I pushed it to silent and returned to the hot awkwardness of the moment. I’d call her back later. After whatever this was wrapped up. I refused to think of it as a breakup. I wasn’t invested enough.

I wasn’t being dumped again.

Joshua leaned in closer, sliding his arm along the back of my seat. Like he had to get closer to impart whatever he was about to say. A cloud of expensive-smelling cologne engulfed me, stinging my nostrils.

“I’m sorry, Georgia,” he uttered, making a tsking sound with his tongue. “You’ve got marriage written all over your face.”

My cheeks went hot.

He continued, “I’m just not ready for that kind of commitment yet.”

I pulled back until the back of my head bumped the cold glass of the passenger window. Suddenly the pasta primavera I’d had for dinner felt like acid in my stomach. I turned my gaze to stare out the windshield at the lawn of dead grass bordering my dorm. The last of the snow had melted a few weeks ago, and the grass hadn’t quite recovered yet.

I took a long, pained blink and focused on his face again. “Okay,” I began, clearing my throat. “Let’s forget the fact that we’re not even officially a ‘thing,’ but . . . are you breaking up with me?”

He nodded sagely. “Yeah. I am.”

“Is this because I haven’t slept with you?” God knew he’d been trying since the first date. After dinner tonight, he’d invited me back to his apartment. I’d declined. Had he known he was “dumping” me then? If I had slept with him, would he still be “breaking up” with me? Jerk.

His face flushed, his tanned skin turning ruddy. “You have a high opinion of yourself.”

“No more than you do.” I snorted. “I mean, you think I want to marry you after four dates.” I shook my head. “Ego, much?”

“Look. You told me yourself that you were with your last boyfriend since high school and you thought you were going to marry the guy.” He shook his head and gave me that pitying look again. “I’m not up for being his replacement.”

I fumbled for the door handle. “I’m not looking for a replacement.”

“You should lighten up, Georgia.” He gave my shoulder an obnoxious squeeze. I looked back at him. “C’mon. You’re a pretty girl. Stop being so serious and have some fun.”

I flung open the door and swung my legs out onto the curb.

He grabbed my wrist, stalling me. “Don’t you ever just want to get laid? Try it out with a guy you haven’t been with forever?”

Heat swamped my face. Yeah, I’d thought about it. I’d thought about it a lot since Harris dumped me. Especially since both my roommates were having marathon sex with their hot and fabulous boyfriends. Unfortunately Joshua’s sloppy kisses and pasty palms hadn’t exactly turned me on. I just kept agreeing to go out with him when he asked, telling myself I was being too picky. Too superficial. That sex was overrated. And now I was angry with myself for not trusting my instincts.

Leaning across the console, I toyed with the corner of his crisp collar. His eyes went fuzzy.

“What about it, Georgia?” His voice got all husky. “Want to knock the cobwebs off it?”


“Yeah,” I breathed against his lips. “I think about sex . . . hot sex . . . a lot. I think about doing it with a guy until my eyes roll back in my head and I forget my name.”

He groaned and tried to close the tiny bit of space between our lips, but I pulled back, releasing his collar. “So I better go find that guy, huh?”

Feeling somewhat mollified by the stunned look on his face, I pushed out of the car and slammed the door. Without looking back, I marched up the sidewalk to my dorm and punched in the numbers on the keypad, muttering to myself the entire time, vowing that I was done. Finished. No more dates. No more falling for guys who looked good on paper. They all said the right things at first but after a few dates—poof. The prince turned into a frog.

I stopped in front of the elevator and punched the button. I tapped my boot heel impatiently, eager to get in my room and in a pair of comfy yoga pants. I had the place to myself tonight. Both Pepper and Emerson were with their boyfriends and probably would be all weekend. Sadness pinched me at the thought. Then I instantly felt guilty. If two girls ever deserved happiness, they did.

Ironically, a few months ago I was the one with the boyfriend and they were single. I didn’t begrudge them their happiness, but . . . I was lonely. No Harris. My best friends busy with their own lives. I could only study so much. My grades were better than ever. I’d already finished my Econ project and it wasn’t even due until the end of the semester.

As I waited in front of the elevator, the building’s outside door beeped open and then clanged shut. Annie strolled in wearing a loose, low-cut blouse and tight cropped pants.

“Hey, G.” She stopped beside me, slurping from a ridiculously large iced coffee piled high with whipped topping. She eyed me up and down, taking in my outfit. I was dressed to go out in jeans, boots, and a light cashmere sweater. “You already go out?”

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