“Wow, that's a lot of money, Lyla."
I sighed, stabbing my fork down into my chicken katsu. My appetite was nonexistent, but I knew I needed to eat something. I'd barely eaten on the drive up from my parent's house because I'd been excited to finally get up to college for the semester.
Now I was finally free but back in another shitty situation. Did I have bad luck? Or was I cursed to almost have my dreams just out of reach?
“I don't know what I'm going to do," is what I finally say.
When I arrived this morning at my dorm, I'd gotten hit with a call from the financial aid office telling me I still owed the school $15,000. It'd hit me like a sucker punch to the gut.
How in the world did I still owe that much when my scholarship was supposed to cover all of it? Well, of course, it boiled down to a single math class that had dropped my grade point average down to only a single decimal under what was required to keep my scholarship and financial aid.
It didn't seem fair at all. I'd worked so hard to make sure my grades were stellar, and for only a single class to tank me so savagely made it seem like the entire thing was pointless.
Melanie frowned at me, noting my sour mood. She was already halfway done with her meal—some kind of ramen bowl I had no idea how to pronounce. I was always a little envious of her. She barely had anything to worry about on any given day. Her family was picture perfect, with money flowing out of their ears.
By the time Melanie was eighteen, they had already saved her tuition for her in a trust with enough wiggle room to give her the option of choosing any school she wanted to.
I'd met Melanie a few weeks into my freshman year last year. I'd had no one else to talk to, and she'd been kind enough to invite me to a party that had quickly devolved into a disaster where the cops were called.
Needless to say, it bonded us pretty quickly.
I tried not to be envious of her most days, but sometimes—in situations like these—it was hard not to be just a bit jealous of her good fortune.
“Cheer up, Lyla. We'll figure something out. If you need to crash at my dorm secretly, then by all means. My dorm is your dorm."
I laughed a little. I don't know how well that would go, considering she has a single just like me, but, hey. If it meant not having to go crawling back to my parent's house, then so be it.
“Thank you, Mel. I appreciate that."
She grinned and winked at me. “You know what we should do tonight?"
I tilted my head. “What?"
“We should go over to Sven's and party. It'll get your mind off everything. You never know, maybe he knows something that you could do to get that kind of money."
“I'm not going to be one of his hookers." I frowned.
Rolling her eyes, she laughed at me. “That's not what I meant. I'm just saying he knows all kinds of crazy shit."
I nodded. Actually, that did sound kind of nice. Plus, seeing my friends would keep my mind from wandering back to the doom and gloom of my impending future.
“I'd love that."
By the time we got to Sven's house, everyone was pretty much already smashed.
I barely got both feet in the door before being handed a beer and getting my ass slapped by one of my other friends, Claudia.
“Hey, b***h! Long time no see!"
She wrapped her arms around me, pulling me into a tight hug, threatening to break bones. The alcohol on her breath was heavy, even from our strange sideways hug.
I groaned against her shoulder. “Hey, Claudia."
When she let me go, she grabbed onto my shoulders and grinned.
“Mel told me they're kicking you out of the dorms! What the f**k's with that?"
I looked over at Melanie, who gave me a sheepish look. I didn't mind her telling our friends my business, but it wasn't something I wanted aired out like dirty laundry.
“It's a long story," I finally said.
“Well, let's get you tanked, girl. No sense in trying to figure it out now!"
I smiled and cracked open my beer. “That's the spirit."
She laughed and looped her arm around my shoulder, guiding me deeper into the party. It was a modest-sized house for someone in college.
Sven was an international student who had lived here since he'd started school three years ago. His parents had bought this house for him because they didn't want him dealing with the dorms or the people in them.
It was hard to understand his parent's reasoning exactly, mostly because they were business tycoons with a lot of strange rules for him that made little sense to begin with. But he seemed happy, and they didn't care what he did as long as he kept up his grades.
My other friends greeted me with a whooping cheer when I entered the living room. Our group consisted of the six of us: Me and Melanie, who lived in the dorms closest to the school, Claudia and Sven—who were on and off again, for whatever reason—and finally Jess and Shane, who were our self-proclaimed studs.
“Look who the cat dragged in!" Shane raised his beer at me.
I laughed while Sven turned to him, giving him a strange look. “But, she doesn't have a cat with her?"
“It's an expression, buddy." Shane threw his arm around Sven's shoulders. “I'll explain it to you later."
I lifted my beer to my mouth and chugged half of it. I didn't want to think about my sad predicament or impending future anymore. All I wanted to do was have a good night with my friends while we partied.
The rest of the group raised their beers to the air.
“To Lyla having to sell feet pics to pay for her dorm!" Jess yelled back.
I laughed again. “Okay, don't go that far."
As the rest of our friends chugged their drinks, Jess pointed at me and wagged his finger. “Listen, I know a great website that you can sell feet pics on that will get you money."
I rolled my eyes. “I'm not going to sell feet pics."
“Get some more drinks in you, and then we'll talk."
I snorted at him and waved him off.
I've never been involved with anyone physically, let alone been confident enough to take pictures of myself in suggestive poses. The raunchiest thing I've ever done is get up on a table at a bar and dance with Claudia late last year during New Years.
But that was as far as I'd ever gone. Not to mention, what would I even sell? My feet weren't attractive, and while yeah, I was pretty, I doubted I'd get much attention from rich older men looking to blow a few grand in favor of a blowjob.
I didn't even know how to give one of those!
Jess nudged me, pulling me out of my thoughts. “You keep thinking like that, you'll get too lost in there."
I had to laugh. Whenever Jess got a little tipsy, he tended to turn into a brat.
“I'm a little upset, Jess. Sue me."
He grinned and clinked our glasses together. “I'm not kidding. Let me help you."
I put my cup to my mouth and drank the rest of what was in it, feel the buzz start to hit.
“I'm not selling my feet, Jess."
“Not just your feet, Ly. You can sell anything you want! Your hair… your underwear…"
I wrinkled my nose. “How do you even know about these things anyway?"
He grabbed another beer and popped it open, filling my cup up once again.
“Look, I've seen a thing or two on the internet before. You have it to sell? People will buy it."
I shook my head and downed half my cup. My head was already starting to spin from the alcohol. I'd barely eaten at lunch with Melanie—much too upset with what happened earlier—and now that the alcohol was flowing through my system, I was becoming way more tipsy than usual.
“Look…" I drawled, poking his chest. “The only thing I have that might be valuable is my virginity."
Jess burst out laughing. “Wait, seriously?"
I puffed my cheeks out at him.
“I thought Claudia was kidding when she said you've never dated anyone."
I grumbled and batted him away, trying to stand. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back down before I could go anywhere.
“It's not a bad thing, Ly. Just surprising."
I hated bringing the subject up. Anytime someone found out either one of two things happened: one, they offered to try and help me get rid of it, or two, they offered to 'take the problem' off my hands themselves.
Both options always skeeved me out.
“Hey, you could sell that," Sven said from out of nowhere, catching me completely off guard.
“What?!" I gasped, whipping around to look at him.
He snickered. “Why not? I bet someone would pay top dollar for it."
“No way." He shifted his hips forward and grabbed his phone out of his pocket. “Look, let me show you the website I know of." The emphasis on “I" made Jess stick his tongue out at him.
Ignoring Jess, I leaned over to get a good look at Sven's screen, rolling my eyes when he had to quickly exit from a bunch of porn browsers.
“How would you even know about this kind of stuff, Sven? You barely catch our humor most of the time."
With a smirk, he shrugged his shoulders. “When you come from high society like I do, you know a few things. Plus, this is a common thing where I come from."
Next to me, the couch dipped, and Claudia leaned over my shoulder.
“Whatcha guys doing?"
Sven typed into his web browser. “Lyla's going to sell her virginity online."
I glared at him while Claudia laughed in my ear.
“Seriously? Good for you, Lyla."
“I didn't say I was going to… I just said I doubt anyone would buy it."
“Come on, girl." She grabbed the ends of my hair and tugged gently. “You're gorgeous! I bet a bunch of old pervy men will be dying to have you."
I nudged her back in the ribs.
“Look, this is the website."
Sven turned his phone towards Claudia and I. I blinked at the scantily clad people with different options listed under their names. Absolutely no way.
Claudia leaned further into me, crushing me against Sven's shoulder. “What the hell is knicker play?"
Sven quickly scrolled away from it with his thumb. “Anyway, let's get your profile set up."
“Profile…" I mumbled and chugged the rest of my drink.
“Ohhh, are we really doing this?" Claudia pushed up away from me and stood. “Let me grab your laptop, Sven."
“My laptop… why mine?"
“Uh, because it was your idea," Claudia said, rolling her eyes. “Where is it?"
“Wait, what is Lyla doing?" Melanie asked as she came into the room.
I lifted my empty cup and frowned at it. I needed another drink. “Sven says I should sell my virginity."
There was abrupt laughter throughout the group that had me smiling. I was so happy to be back here with everyone. I barely got to talk with any of them over the summer because I'd been working so much to cover expenses.
“I think that calls for another drink." Shane laughed. “Refill anyone?"
I lifted my cup, not caring I was mixing alcohol at this point. “f**k me up, Shane."
He grinned at me before popping the top off some hard liquor and pouring a healthy amount into my cup.
“Careful what you wish for with that attitude. Some old dude isn't going to take advantage of you."
I wrinkled my nose and twisted my body around to nudge Sven again.
“Can you make my age range not up to eighty-five on that thing?"
He grinned at me. “No old dudes for, Lyla. Got it."
“Maybe someone thirty-five or under," Melanie suggested.
He started scrolling on his phone again. “Should we do stateside only?"
I snorted. “f**k it. Let's do the whole world."