BY REFERRAL ONLY Synopsis:
After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.
Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.
When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.
Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.
As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes.
He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough.
Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.
“You know what’s sad, is that I have a better story than that,” Ginny interrupted, rescuing her roommate from yet another lecture from me about the follies of saving herself for a someday guy who would not fucking appreciate it.
“I do not see how that’s possible. I just made out with a twenty-one-year old guy whose penis doesn’t work.”
“Hear me out. Freshman year I was having sex with this guy and he quit in the middle. Like, didn’t finish, just stopped, said he was really hungry, put his clothes on, and left.”
“That is an unprecedented turn of events,” Larissa mused. “Did you hear from him again?”
“He texted to tell me some dumbass story about the person in line in front of him at Taco Bell, but other than that, nope.” Ginny pulled her long, dark brown hair into a bun. “Like, what is that? He didn’t even finish.”
“And it goes without saying that you didn’t either,” I observed dryly.
Larissa snorted. “You do not even want to know how long it’s been since a guy coaxed an orgasm out of me. You’d think it was easier to wrestle a Coachella invite away from a Kappa.”
“Where did you find this loser?” I wanted to make sure and steer clear, not that I hadn’t managed to find plenty of dick nuggets at Whitman on my own. Guys who slobbered, or came before I could even think about it, or thought it was cute to sneak out before dawn.
“Frat party. Seemed totally normal until he ditched sex for fast food at one in the morning.”
If I really thought about it, none of this seemed all that funny. Emilie and Quinn apparently had some kind of mind-blowing sexual connection that I needed to hire Gandalf to find. Guys had it so easy; they needed somewhere to stick it for five minutes and they got off, went home, and bragged to their friends over cheap beer or whatever. I would bet my mother’s entire fitness empire that they weren’t sitting around the frat house whining about how disappointing any of us were in bed.
“I ran into Chaney doing the walk of shame a few minutes ago, and she looked like she’d been through a horror show at the hands of that Scottish Lambda Phi she’s been out with a few times.”
“Cole Stuart?” Ginny nodded. “He’s hot, and that accent makes my panties just evaporate into thin air, but it seems like I’ve heard other girls complain, too.”
Girls knew all the dirty secrets. If campus relationships were a stage production, we were definitely in charge of casting. We should be auditioning these idiots, or at least asking for resumes. “Life would be so much easier if guys had to wear nametags with their shortcomings printed on them so we all knew what we were getting into.”
They all laughed at my suggestion, trying to one-up each other adding to my stupid idea.
“Fucks like a rabbit.”
“Doesn’t go down.”
“Slobbers in ears.”
Ginny shrieked. “That sounds like a Native American name!”
The potential monikers grew sillier until none of us could talk over the sound of our laughter, only Brooke sitting quietly, gaping at us in horror. Clearly, the guys at Whitman were totally slacking in the bedroom pleasure department, probably because they were all rich and mostly good-looking, which meant they’d never had to work for it. I, for one, wasn’t interested in increasing my number or saying another twelve Hail Marys without some kind of assurance.
That thought gave me an idea. It might have been as stupid as the nametags, but this one didn’t require a method for tackling boys and forcibly attaching stickers bearing their relationship failings. No one knew what belonged on those tags better than the girls who had been forced to endure their sloppy advances, and if I knew one thing about girls, it was that they loved gossip.
If flings were what I had to look forward to, why not expect them to be decent?
I said goodnight and wandered across the hall to my room, gears grinding in my brain as I brushed my teeth and slipped into my pajamas. The best approach seemed to be going with what I knew, which meant starting where I started every time an audition announcement went up for a new production, either in the school theatre or community—a résumé. Complete with referrals.
Barnes & Nobles:
Lyla Payne Bio:
I’ve long had a love of stories. A few years ago decided to put them down on the page, and even though I have a degree in film and television, novels were the creative outlet where I found a home. I’ve published Young Adult under a different name, but when I got the idea for Broken at Love (my first New Adult title), I couldn’t wait to try something new – and I’m hooked. In my spare time I watch a ton of tennis (no surprise, there), play a ton of tennis, and dedicate a good portion of brain power to dreaming up the next fictitious bad boy we’d all love to meet in real life.
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