I took it easier on Josh in my dorm room the second time. Yeah, he lost the coin flip a second week in a row.

As we walked down the driveway after the game, he glanced over at the others leaving, judging whether they were within listening distance, and then asked quietly, “Same again?”

I was tempted to say, “You volunteering for me to take a ride?” just to tease him. Instead, I considered it. I wasn’t sure about making this a regular thing. On the other hand, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make that kind of decision just then. I was pretty worked up.

One more time doesn’t mean forever. “Okay.”

I dug in my pocket. Keys, a slip of paper with a book title, a tube of lip balm … Josh held out a quarter. At my nod, he flipped it up, caught it, slapped it on his arm.

“Heads I win, tails you do,” he said.

I saw the sour expression when his hand came away and didn’t need to see the coin. “You know where my room is,” I said and turned toward my car. I spent the short drive stoking the fire … not that it needed a whole lot of stoking.

Mike had lost the game. I’d say every girl in the room won. I should have known something was up when Hannah didn’t immediately start heckling him. At first, I thought it was familiarity: he was a junior, she a senior; him naked was probably old news. Then I noticed the huge grin on Megan’s face.

“Remember when you ran your big mouth in September?”

A little “Ah!” came from Emily, as if she’d just remembered something.

“I remember. I know.” Mike sounded resigned.

“So, who’ll it be?” she asked. I had no idea what that question meant.

He hesitated. Megan waited patiently. I glanced around at the rest: Emily and Hannah looked amused; Josh looked as puzzled as me; the other boys had expressions that were somewhere in the vicinity of “Can we get this over already so I can go have a beer?”

Taking pity on my incomprehension, Emily whispered. “He bet her that he wouldn’t lose before Christmas. If he lost, he had to pick one of the girls to strip him.” She settled back, then leaned over again. “And the teasing-with-words-only policy is out the window, so think about that if he picks you.” She giggled.

Holy shit!

“What if he won?” I whispered back.

“Neither will say, but she looked worried when anyone asked.”

“Mike?” Megan prompted.

“You,” dragged out of him.

“Good answer,” Megan said. Hannah pretend-pouted. Emily laughed. Megan stood, gesturing with a forefinger for him to stand back from the table.

Each of the five guys I had seen in the game had an okay body. Josh was lean, a look that was my fav, as was Owen, who wasn’t there. Thomas, also not there, was more average: nothing bad, nothing special. Carter was heavier, like someone who had played high school football, a little bit of pudge over a lot of muscle, someone who could grab a girl and toss her around, not that I’d ever had that thought or anything.

Mike was a bit short and wasn’t carrying any extra weight either. He had this triangular face and curly hair. The effect was sort of elfin. But that’s where the analogy stopped.

Where Owen and Josh were just healthy college guys and slender by nature, Mike was a starter on the soccer team. And that meant this was a man who could run for forty-five minutes at a shot and then do it again fifteen minutes later … and he did it most days. And when he didn’t, there was the weight room. It showed.

I had already seen the chiseled abs and heavily muscled legs. Now I wanted to see what was under the shorts.

Megan trailed a finger lightly up his arm as she slipped behind him, then laid a kiss on his neck. I saw him shiver. Her hands settled on his shoulders, then slid down, caressing as they went: traps, lats, obliques. Workout videos let me put names to them. I saw his hips move as she stroked glutes. Ass cheeks, I grinned to myself. Very nice ass cheeks!

“I know we haven’t been real public about it.” Her voice was soft, pitched just loud enough to carry across the room. “But I think a lot of you have guessed that Mike and I are together.” I was staring at his face, enjoying the emotions playing over it, and saw surprise that she revealed that.

“You might have wanted to pick another girl, hon.” She planted another kiss on the base of his neck. “I mean, Hannah would probably have just dragged those boobies down your side while she peeled your shorts off.”

Hannah, predictably, gave a shimmy. Since she’d lost her shirt in the game and favored bras that spilled a lot of cleavage, all male eyes were distracted for a second.

“But since you’re my boyfriend, I’m not bashful like she is.” The ludicrous statement brought a burst of laughter from everyone except Mike, whose face was acquiring some color.

She put her chin on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around. She flattened her hands against the washboard of his stomach, wrists turning so that fingers pointed downward. Slowly, quarter-inch by quarter-inch, they descended.

“And you know, sorta by definition …” She paused, both speech and hands. “… every woman here is a bit of a voyeur.” She drew out the moment, allowing the implications to resonate. “I know they’d like a glimpse of what I see every week after we leave.”

At that, her fingertips dipped inside the waistband, lifting it away from his body to accommodate her hands. She still moved so slowly. The suspense was killer.

What I hadn’t quite believed was going to happen … was happening, and I saw the twitch beneath the cloth as the expected started. I was suddenly conscious that my breathing had gotten heavier. A glance at Emily and Hannah beyond her showed they were rapt.

The thin cotton didn’t hide the progress of her hands, and we didn’t need the jerk from Mike to let us know when she made contact. “Ah ah ah,” she admonished, clamping his body between forearms and hips to pin him. “You made the bet.” He stilled. She held the pose for two, maybe three seconds. We could picture what the black fabric prevented our eyes from seeing. She whispered something in his ear, then resumed her progress, only the word “later” audible.

It was hopeless. Between the warmth of her hands, the enthralled gaze of three other women, and whatever secret intention she continued to breathe into his ear, Mike was lost. His face got red; his dick got hard. I watched the rampant tip emerge as she finally pushed her wrists out and down to drag the waistband lower, inch by slow inch, palms and fingers never losing contact with his body.

“You’ve got a wonderful cock,” she said, just loud enough that everyone in the room could hear.

He does have a nice one. I wouldn’t kick him out for eating crackers.

She knelt behind him to bring the underwear to his ankles. “Step out.” Then her hands stroked back up, over thighs, fleetingly cupping a heavy sack, a light brush up along his length, a soft nip of teeth on his ass that caused him to jerk … and that caused him to bounce, to girls’ laughter.

Again that low voice just audible to us, “Remember the second part. You’re my toy for the entire weekend, which means you’re driving to the apartment this way except for shoes. I want full access for the ride. Don’t run any stop signs, or the cop’s gonna get a show.” She giggled again.

My eyes left his waist and went to his face. The brick-red was down past his neck, coloring the top of his chest as she continued to whisper something that caused his penis to jerk slightly and the flush to spread farther. It wasn’t the nudity—he’d endured that more than once in his years playing the Loft Game—it was the simultaneous embarrassment and stimulation of being exposed erect, played with by his girlfriend: a weekend sex toy on display for her friends.

I was practically panting.

Megan let us look long and hard, making sure things stayed impressive. Then she said to him, “Come on. I’m going with you.”


“In front of all the girls. Kim’s a girl.” At his protest, she shushed him. “You agreed. No welching, you said. Right?” Reluctantly, he shook his head. “Come on.”

She opened the door that led down to the house and waited while he slid on the flip flops and donned the robe that had made its appearance this week with the sudden cold spell. It would come off when the doorbell was pushed.

“Well, that went waaayyy beyond what I expected from Megan,” Emily said when the door closed behind them.

“Oh my God, yeah,” Hannah responded. “Where did that come from?” The two women stared at each other in disbelief.

So now in my car, there were zero problems keeping the fires stoked for my short ride back to Henry Hall for my second time with Josh. I debated going further with him than our bet. I didn’t feel a lot of attraction to him, but only one hookup since my most-recent boyfriend and I called it off in August was a drought.

Except for a month here or there after a breakup, there hadn’t been a ton of weeks without sex since tenth grade when my first boyfriend, a senior, had invited me to the prom. My parents were super-chill. Other than a pointed talk from Mom well before that dance that included a trip to the ob-gyn for a prescription, they’d turned a blind eye to all the times I’d nonchalantly strolled back to the house from our detached garage—the one with the camper trailer parked behind it.

Now, I scribbled a red star on the marker board on our room door, the signal my roomie and I’d agreed upon that said, “Come back later.” Not that we’d used it much: her boyfriend had his own bedroom in an apartment, and me … drought.

I quickly got undressed and pulled on a robe. I didn’t want the awkwardness of stripping in front of him; that was going to be what he did. I turned off the overhead light and tossed an orange sweater over the desk lamp to turn the room dim and soft. I was just flopping back onto the bed when he knocked.

When the door shut behind him, “Off,” I said, nodding my chin toward his body.

He hesitated. “This naked thing goes both ways when you lose, right?”

The assumption in that “when” … was this going to be a regular thing? Right now, my mood was saying, Definitely maybe.

“Yes.” Playing fair was ingrained in me. I settled back for the show.

Who knew I was this visual? The thought trailed idly through my mind as I watched him methodically peel down. Guys are supposed to be ones who— The thought was interrupted as, with a minor flush, Josh skinned his tighty-whities down. No excitement, Josh? I kept the smirk off my face; I knew he wasn’t happy to lose a second coin flip. That was when I decided to go easy on him. This time, he hadn’t irritated me with a tasteless comment. I leaned back against the wall and let my legs fall wider.

As hands slid under and up to cradle the outside of my hips, as five-o’clock shadow burred deliciously up my inner thigh and I felt the first tentative touch of a tongue against my sodden pussy, I closed my eyes and savored the memory of Mike’s display.


• • •

“Yo, Chips!”

I turned to see Hannah coming up behind me.

“That was fun Friday, huh?” She said, giving me a little shoulder bump as she drew alongside.

“Hell, yeah.”

We walked in silence for a while, both smiling at the memory. Then she said, “We’re gonna have to split the game.”


“There are too many people. You probably noticed how, each week, some people don’t show? That’s on purpose. The game’s perfect with six, seven max. Eight’s stretching things but doable. That week when Carter screwed up and showed when it wasn’t his turn and we had nine? Maybe you noticed half of us were folding more often so we didn’t take cards?”

“Honestly? That was my second week, and I was still freaking out a little. I didn’t notice anything except how the guys were staring at my naked boobs.”

She laughed. “But we popped your cherry with total nudie last week, and now you’re good, right?”

“Something like that.” I laughed with her. We both knew I’d still be embarrassed next time I lost.

“Anyway, Megan’s bringing someone new and it’s too much.”

We walked in silence for a bit. Then she asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“We broke up when we left for school.”

“Ah. Bet you wish that weren’t true after last time.” Typical Hannah, sly and snarky in a friendly way.

I laughed. “If I had a boyfriend, think he’d be okay with me being at that kind of game?”

“Ha! No, probably not.”

“What about you?” I asked, turning the tables.

“Oh”—dirty grin—”Owen and I have a strictly ‘with benefits’ relationship.” At my surprise, she amplified. “We’re not a couple, no promises, no drama. Just some Friday fun every once in a while. Not every week.” She glanced over at me. “You may end up looking for some of that yourself.”

“It’s possible that I maybe made a bet with someone for that already.”

Her attention sharpened. “A bet? Dish, girl.”

“A coin flip that—” I suddenly felt like I shouldn’t have opened my mouth. Josh wasn’t my buddy, but I did owe him a little privacy. Hannah and I had reached the point where my class was one direction and the engineering quad, where I presumed she was going, was the other. I shook my head. “I shouldn’t say, and besides, I’ve got class in fifteen.”

She turned to walk alongside me. “I’ll walk with you. I’ve got over an hour.” As I started to protest, “If you don’t want to tell me, I won’t bug you. There’s something else.”

We walked along for another twenty steps or so. “I saw you looking at his face at the end.”



“Not only his face.”

She laughed. “No. Not only. But you enjoyed watching him get embarrassed, not just him get naked. I could tell.”

I didn’t know what to make of that. Did I violate some unwritten rule that says that—

“Relax. I’m just sayin’.” She stopped walking, bringing me to a halt also. “Em told me what you said when she first talked with you, about the thought of someone having to do things turns you on.”

I felt my face start to heat. She noticed. “Hey. Do you honestly think I’m any different? Me?”

My memory traced back over six evenings of Hannah. No. “I guess not.”

“So, did you mean the rest of what you said then also … the part about the risk being part of the thrill?”

Well, even though my brain was working slowly at nine in the morning, I finally got an inkling of what this conversation was about. I just couldn’t let on that I did.

“I think so.”

Hannah nodded and started walking again, drawing me along with her. “Sometimes, a couple of us play a game for higher stakes, stakes where ‘having to’ is more significant. Interested?”

“How much higher?”


“Give me a fer-instance,” I pressed.

“High enough that about … umm, two months ago, I was giving a blowjob because I lost.” She looked to see my reaction, clearly enjoying the idea that she might’ve shocked me.

My mind was already made up, but I had to play my role. For her part, she was waiting to see how far Charlene Maguire’s words went: bravado or a kindred soul?

“I’m assuming that if a boy loses, there’s some kind of—”

“Ohhh yeaaah,” she answered, not even waiting for the question to finish.

“I might be.”

Her expression was lascivious and amused and happy all at once. “Let me see how others feel about adding someone. No promises. They may want to keep things as they are. I was just seeing if you were interested first.”

“I understand.”

Later, I texted Emily.

≫ Hannah sounded me out about the other game today.

≪ Omg. I thought it’d be after Christmas break. It’s great it’s her. You know I couldn’t. Since I brought you into green it had to be someone else.

News to me but good to know.

≪ Come over after classes? I’ve got some White Claws. I am SO not going to talk about the other game, but we can hang out before we head home for turkey.

Thanksgiving break. No game that Friday. Two weeks on pins and needles.


• • •

It was the usual Thanksgiving dinner: butternut squash soup, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts roasted with pancetta, pumpkin pie, bourbon pecan pie à la mode. As usual, I couldn’t move for the next twelve hours.

I lay on the couch Friday, listening to my dad and uncle playing armchair quarterback in front of the TV. It was just a warm-up for them: they’d gone to rival colleges, so Saturday’s games would be full of trash-talking each other, “Not now, honey!” to their wives, and jeering or cheering every marginal call a ref made. My phone rang.

“Hey, wanna come to a party down here?” Emily asked.

I was low-key invited out with some of the high school group that night, but my closest friends and I were going out Saturday. With a “Back tomorrow morning” to family, I headed down the shore.

Emily’s younger brother was hot. Okay, not, like, seriously hot. Not, like, every girl in the room was giving him the eye. He needed to switch out that baggy sweatshirt over the nerdy T, and painter’s pants were so last-decade. Lose the heavy specs and that hair …

But a little bit cute under all that, and I suspected that the maroon “South CC” on the sweatshirt meant the cross-country team given his build. And, on second thought, keep the heavy specs—with a better haircut and a five o’clock shadow, it would be nerd cool.

He hung on the periphery. It was Emily’s friends. Her parents were out, permission granted as long as “nobody gets stupid” and “done when we get home.” Maybe thirty people were milling about. Nobody was paying Ethan any notice as he sat on the side.

Except, as an outsider myself, I was kind of hanging quiet, enjoying a beer and the music. Emily paid me some attention, but the swirl of the party kept pulling her away. So, I noticed him. All six-three of him. No, I don’t have calibrated eyeballs; I asked.

“How tall is your brother?”

“Six-three.” Emily’s attention sharpened on me. “And he only turned eighteen a week ago.”

I got the hint. I wasn’t sure of the reason. I doubted it was “he’s too young for you”; it might have been “I don’t know you well enough yet”; it was probably “Eww, not my brother!”

I threw up my hands. “Oh no. He looked tall. I was just curious.”

She relaxed. “He’s such a dork,” she said affectionately.

The party was fun. I got mildly hit on a few times, nothing that bothered me. All in all, I was glad I came. Eleven forty-five rolled around and people shuffled off with designated drivers or to Ubers without needing too much of a push. I met Emily’s parents briefly, and then the two of us crashed in her queen-sized bed.

“I’m glad you came.”

“I had fun. A little different than recent Fridays.” She chuckled along with me, and the combination of a long day and a little alcohol made us drop off.

It must have been four in the morning when my bladder woke me. Moving as quietly as I could so as not to wake Emily, I slid out of the bedroom and crept down the hall toward the bathroom. Just as I got there, the door was pulled open and harsh light spilled out into the dark hallway. Ethan stood there, both of us startled.

“Oh, sorry, Ems. I—” He broke off as he realized it wasn’t his sister.

Holy shit! I didn’t respond for a second, my attention diverted by about two and a half feet of chest that could rightly be called ripped, a trimmed dark patch of hair on pecs, turning into a line at his solar plexus that trailed down to—