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Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1)

By´╝ÜChristina Lauren

atching 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.

But for some reason-let's blame the alcohol-and without looking away from the hot man across the bar, my lips readily form the word "Hi."

He says it back, before pulling the corner of his lip between his teeth, and wow, he should do that every day and to every person he meets for the rest of his life. He has a dimple and I reassure myself that it's just the lighting and shadows playing it up because there's no way in hell something so simple could possibly be this adorable.

I feel something strange happen to my insides and I wonder if this is what people mean when they say they melt, because I am most definitely feeling less than solid. There's a distinct flutter of interest from the vicinity below my waist, and good God, if his smile alone managed to do that, imagine what his-

Harlow grabs my arm before I can finish that thought, jerking me from my careful study of his face and into a crowd of bodies rocking and snaking to the rhythm of sex blasting from the speakers. A boy like that is way way out of my comfort zone, and so I shove the urge to go find him into the proverbial box, under the proverbial bed along with everything else.

WE MUST BE easing into Vegas, because after dancing and drinks, we're in our room by midnight, all three of us worn-out from the commencement ceremony in the sun, the hot drive, and the alcohol we rushed into our systems without enough food.

Even though our suite has more space than we need, and even though there are two bedrooms, we're all piled into the one. Lola and Harlow are out within minutes, and the familiar string of Harlow's sleep-mumble starts. Lola is almost shockingly silent and still. She buries herself so completely in her bedding, I remember wondering when we were younger if she somehow disappeared into the mattress during sleepovers. There are times I actually consider checking for a pulse.

But across the hall, a party rages.

The heavy bass of music rattles the light fixture hanging above me. Male voices rumble across the empty space separating the rooms; they shout and laugh, have their own little cacophony of whoops and man-sounds going on. A ball hits a wall somewhere in the distance, and although I can only identify a few unique voices in the mix, they're making enough noise that I can't believe the entire suite isn't full of drunk boys tearing up a weekend in Vegas.

Two a.m. passes the same: I'm staring at the ceiling, growing somehow both more awake and more asleep. When three hits, I'm so irritated, I'm ready to be the Vegas buzzkill just so I can get a few hours of sleep before our early spa appointments.

I slip out of bed, being quiet so I don't wake my friends, before laughing at the absurdity of my caution. If they've slept through the ruckus across the hall, they'll sleep through me padding quietly across a carpeted floor, grabbing a room key, and slipping out of our suite.

I pound my fist on the door and wait, chest heaving with irritation. The noise barely dips, and I'm not sure if I can pound hard enough for them to even hear me. Raising both fists, I try again. I don't want to be that person-in Vegas complaining about people being joyful-but my next stop is calling hotel security.

This time the music dies down and footsteps slap on the tile just in front of the door.

Maybe I expect some older, sun-bleached trust fund douche to answer, a bunch of middle-aged investment bankers visiting for a weekend of debauchery, or a roomful of fratty guys drinking shots out of a stripper's belly button. But I don't expect it to be him, the g