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Sweet Filthy Boy(3)

By:Christina Lauren





WE PULL UP to the hotel and Lola and I tumble from the car, holding our simple duffel bags and looking like we just emerged from a dust storm. I feel gross and filthy. Only Harlow looks like she belongs here, climbing from the old Chevy as if she’s exiting a shiny black town car, somehow still presentable and wheeling a glossy suitcase behind her.

Once we get upstairs, we’re all speechless, even Harlow—clearly this is the surprised form of her silence. There are only a couple of other rooms on the floor and our Sky Suite is enormous.

Harlow’s father, a big-shot cinematographer, booked it for us as a graduation present. We thought we were getting a standard Vegas hotel room, some complimentary shampoo, maybe we’d even go crazy and raid the minibar, charging it to his card. Snickers and tiny vodkas for everyone!

We were not expecting this. In the entryway (there’s an entryway), and tucked next to a decadent fruit basket and a complimentary bottle of champagne, there’s a note. It says we have a butler on speed dial, a masseuse to come to the room when we need it, and Harlow’s dad is more than happy to provide unlimited room service. If Alexander Vega wasn’t the father of my best friend and happily married, I might offer sex acts to thank him.

Remind me not to tell Harlow that.



I GREW UP wearing barely anything onstage in front of hundreds of people where I could pretend to be someone else. So even with a long, jagged scar on my leg, I’m decidedly more comfortable in one of the dresses Harlow chose for us than Lola is. She won’t even put hers on.

“It’s your graduation present,” Harlow says. “How would you have felt if I turned down the journal you got me?”

Lola laughs, throwing a pillow at her from across the room. “If I’d asked you to tear out the pages and make them into a dress that barely covers your ass, yes, you would have been free to turn down the gift.”

I tug at the hem of my dress, silently siding with Lola and wishing it was just a touch longer. I rarely show so much thigh anymore.

“Mia’s wearing hers,” Harlow points out and I groan.

“Mia grew up in leotards; she’s pocket-sized and built like a gazelle,” Lola reasons. “Also? I’m sure if I looked hard enough, I could see her vagina. If I’m five inches taller than she is, you’ll practically be able to see my birth canal in this dress.”

“You’re so stubborn.”

“You’re so slutty.”

I listen to them argue from where I stand near the window, content, watching pedestrians walk along the Strip, and forming what looks like a trail of colorful round dots from our view on the forty-fifth floor. I’m not sure why Lola continues to fight this. We all know it’s just a matter of time before she gives in, because Harlow is a giant pain in the ass and she always gets her way. It sounds strange to say I’ve always loved this about her, but she knows what she wants and goes after it. Lola is the same in many ways, but a bit subtler than Harlow’s in-your-face technique.

Lola groans, but as expected, eventually admits defeat. She’s smart enough to know she’s fighting a losing battle, and it takes only a few minutes for her to slip into her dress and shoes before we head downstairs.



IT’S BEEN A long day. We’re finished with college, have washed the dust and real life worries from our bodies, and Harlow loves ordering shots. More than that? She loves watching everyone else drink the shots she’s ordered. By the time nine thirty rolls around, I decide our level of drunk is sufficient: we’re slurring some words, but at least we can walk. I can’t remember the last time I saw Lola and Harlow laugh like this. Lola’s cheek is resting on her crossed arms and her shoulders shake with laughter. Harlow’s head is thrown back and the sound of her giggles rises above the thumping music and clear across the bar.

And it’s when her head is back like this that I meet the eyes of a man across the crowded room. I can’t make out every feature in the dark bar, but he’s a few years older than we are and tall, with light brown hair and dark brows over bright, mischievous eyes. He’s watching us and smiling as if he has no need to participate in our fun; he simply wants to appreciate it. Two other guys stand beside him, talking and pointing to something in the far corner, but he doesn’t look away when our eyes meet. If anything, his smile gets bigger.

I can’t look away, either, and the feeling is disorienting because normally when it comes to strangers I’m very good at looking away. My heart trips around inside my chest, reminding me I’m supposed to be more awkward than this, maybe suggesting I focus on my drink instead. I don’t do eye contact well. I don’t usually do conversation well, either. In fact, the only muscles I never seemed to really master were the ones required for easy speech.

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