Redesigned (Off the Subject) Online - Denise Grover Swank

Chapter One

I push damp hair off my forehead, irritated with the heat. It’s too hot for late September, even in Tennessee. Still, if I’m honest, my irritation is partially due to the man drinking a beer six feet away from me.

He’s exceptionally good-looking—blond hair, blue eyes, a tan that doesn’t end at his biceps. I’ve seen him without a shirt, and it’s easy to see why many of the girls on campus have nicknamed him Adonis. But more importantly, Dylan Humphrey is pre-law, and he comes from a family of lawyers. Not ambulance chasers, but a prestigious firm in Memphis. I should be happy I’ve finally gotten this close to him, but right now he’s not paying the least bit of attention to me. His attention is focused on my roommate Tina.

“Caroline.” My best friend Scarlett calls my name and pulls me into a hug. I’m a good three inches taller than her in my brown suede stiletto boots. I heard Dylan would be here, and I came dressed to impress with my boots and a jersey dress even though it’s an outdoor party. Scarlett squeezes my arm. “I miss you.”

A lump burns in my throat, but I swallow and force my lips into a smile. “I find that hard to believe with Tucker Price in your bed.”

She swats my arm. “You’ve been hanging around Tina too much.”

“Whose fault is that? I needed a roommate after you moved out.” I try to keep the bite from my words, but a hint of it is there nonetheless.

Tina is the world’s biggest flirt and some would call her a slut, which is probably why Dylan is paying more attention to her right now instead of me. But everyone knows that good southern boys don’t bring bad girls home to their mommas. They bring home well-behaved ladies. I may not have been born a cultured Southern girl, but I play the part well now. I just need to bide my time.

Scarlett rolls her top lip between her teeth and studies me. I recognize this look after living with her for three years—our freshman and sophomore years in a dorm room and our junior year in an apartment. But Scarlett moved out the end of May and into an apartment with her boyfriend, Tucker.

Who would have ever thought that math major/introvert Scarlett Goodwin would end up with a perfect devoted boyfriend—an ex-man-whore before settling down with her—while I’d been single for eleven months? A year ago, I’d felt sorry for her. Funny how things change.

Scarlett finally breaks her silence, her face expressionless. “I’m sorry to hear about the dress store closing. Are you going to be okay?”

I’m trying not to freak out that I’m currently without a part-time job. “I’m fine. I saved a bunch of money working overtime there this summer.” I force a smile. “But I’ve had to talk to Tina about being more prompt with her share of the rent and utilities.”

“I’m sorry I deserted you.”

I shrug. “At least my night life is livelier with Tina.”

Scarlett rolls her eyes. She’s been out with Tina a few times. She knows how wild Tina is. “Well, I’m glad you came to our party, even if you didn’t find a date. Although why you think you need one is beyond me.”

Of course, it’s beyond her. Scarlett wasn’t looking for love when she found Tucker. The boy practically fell in her lap. “Time is short, Scarlett. I’m a senior and have less than a year to find the future Mr. Caroline Hunter.”

“You don’t need a man to make your life fulfilling.” Scarlett sighs. This has to be Round Twenty-Eight of some variation of this discussion. “You need to make yourself happy first.”

“Says the woman with the sexy soccer player for a boyfriend.”

“You forget he left me for two months before he came back. I found my own happiness without him. He only makes my life so much better.”

As if hearing his name, Tucker sneaks up behind Scarlett, wrapping his arms around her stomach and pulling her back to his chest. She looks up at him and smiles. Her face is so full of joy, I nearly gag with envy. I’m not jealous of my friend. I’m happy Tucker came into her life. Scarlett deserves every bit of happiness he brings her and much, much more. I’m jealous of what she has, of what remains so elusive for me. I’ve never had what she has, not even with my two-year relationship with my ex-boyfriend.

“Great turnout, Tucker,” I