Beautiful Elixir (Beautiful Oblivion #3)
oh-God-what-now-I-can’t-move moments. Caleb’s eyes are quicksand. I should know; I’ve fallen into them more than my fair share. His jaw tightens, popping the muscles on either side, his eyes remain unblinking, determined, set on unholy intention, and, truthfully, I would not mind his unholy intention one bit, but deep down I think Caleb might actually deserve better.
    I turn to head inside.
    “How about breakfast?” he shouts, hopeful.
    “I’m headed down the hill,” I say, shuffling in my slippers to the door. “I’m going to school today with Brylee!” I’m not sure why I threw in that last part. Oh, hell, I do know. I’m just too embarrassed to admit to the fact I wanted him to know exactly where to stalk me. I want him to be there, to walk the long, dark, cherry-stained corridors of that uptight university with me so that all of my sorority sisters, the entire student body, can see what a gorgeous man I have on my arm—what an improvement he is from the scumbag who took my life and shoved it down the garbage disposal. Keith Stearns is going to pay for the living hell he’s put me in. Tonight at that sorority meeting, I’m going to rattle off a dozen new ways to make him do just that. Now if only I can pinpoint who the hell is doing my bidding.
    At this point, I guess it really doesn’t matter.
    R eese and Ace live in a hovel of an apartment back behind the sororities and fraternities tucked in the triangular shithole that is married housing. I suppose it’s not truly a hovel or a shithole. I suppose if the truth were actually to bubble out of me, I might admit that it’s cute and private—not to mention a perfect love shack for a newly married couple.
    Her bathroom is the size of a thimble, but, nevertheless, it’s romantic with its sunken tub, the one lonely candle that looks as if it’s actually been used during a romantic escapade. A touch of jealousy burns through me, and I wonder if I could ever have something as simple as a candle-lit bath with Caleb. I run a brush through my hair and retouch my lipstick. I lean into her bathroom mirror and inspect how aged I look—defined by my mistakes—hollow and soulless when you get right down to it.
    “You sure you don’t want me to come?” Reese hasn’t stopped hovering. She’s all worry and pittance.
    “I’m positive. I need them to trust me. You might set off alarm bells. You’re not a part of the family—no offense, but I’m referring to the crappy sisterhood I seem to have developed like a bad rash.” I rub my finger under my eye trying to remove the smudged liner. I’ve been hiding out here all day, snacking on carrots and Oreo’s, the only two things her kitchen had to offer. Apparently she and Ace like to eat out—a lot.
    “I’m not setting off any alarms. They all know me. In fact, if I don’t come to support you in your hour of need, they’ll think something is up.” She takes my hand and leads me to the door. “I’m coming with you.”
    We step out into the crisp, autumn air, our flesh numbed by the frosty chill on contact. In Loveless it’s an evergreen bonanza, but, here at Yeats, there is a colorful tree-lined path full of orange Sugar Maples—their leaves burnt with the sting of death, bright red Sourwoods, Dogwoods with their pink and lavender tips, wild peach Sumacs—they have all traded in their lime-green leaves for a riot of gold and fiery reds, yellows as bright as the noonday sun. At this time last year, I was warmed just looking at the thickly stacked trees with their booms of bright colors. They made me think of Caleb. Everything made me think of Caleb. We have a tree back in Loveless, an unassuming pine with our first initials carved into it. K + C. So sickly sweet and adolescent, but that damn tree brought me more pleasure than Keith could ever hope.
    Alpha Kappa sits high on a ridge surrounded by smaller, yet far more rowdy sororities on “the hill” as it’s known. I’m legacy at Alpha Kappa

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