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       Crushed (The Rushed New Adult and College Romance Series Book 2), p.1

           Gina Robinson
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Crushed (The Rushed New Adult and College Romance Series Book 2)


  Gina Robinson

  Gina Robinson

  SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

  Copyright © 2014 by Gina Robinson

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Gina Robinson

  http://www.ginarobinson.com

  Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.

  Book Layout ©2013 BookDesignTemplates.com

  Photography: Kelsey Keeton of K Keeton Designs

  Model: Nathan Weller and Tessi Conquest

  Crushed/Gina Robinson. — 1st ed.

  Some loves can't be…

  Crushed

  Morgan

  Have you ever done something stupid? Like get drunk and hookup with a guy because your heart was broken by someone else? Like his best friend. And then done something really dumb, like fall in love with your hookup? Hookups aren't stick-around guys. I'm hoping Dakota will be different. But hoping has gotten me in trouble before.

  Dakota

  The absolute last girl I want to see in my court-ordered alcohol and drug information school, the girl who landed me here in the first place, walks in. After we hooked up, I thought I'd gotten Morgan out of my system. So why is my pulse racing? I can't afford to screw up right now. I know I should avoid her. Morgan has a way of messing up my life. But she's the only one who understands.

  Chapter One

  Morgan

  Alcohol is a big, fat liar. It seduces you with its charm and then whispers sweet lies, like, You look really hot doing a keg stand in a skirt that shows off your butt cheeks and new pink thong. Totally forgetting that you have the flattest butt on the planet. And it's impossible to back arch in that position to accentuate your butt's very few positives.

  Or, Yeah, scooping jam directly from the jar with your bare hands and slathering it on your face in an attempt to find your mouth is really going to impress the house guy you've been in love with forever. He's totally going to fall in love with you now.

  Or, It's a great idea to sleep with the house guy's best friend out of revenge. That will show Zach. He'll notice you now. And, Telling Dakota all your hurts and deepest private thoughts is perfectly reasonable. He's a sympathetic guy, right? His lips are sealed. Never mind that he's Zach's best friend from high school and the president of the top frat on campus. And could ruin you without giving it a second thought.

  Or my personal favorite, Go ahead. Lie down in the alley behind the frat and Dakota's car. You should totally sleep there. It's comfy and safe.

  Liar. Liar. Liar!

  I took a deep breath and clasped my hands in front of me as I waited to be called before my sorority's standards board. We Delta Delta Psis were notorious partiers and rule benders, always skirting both university and Greek rules and regulations. In the past, the board had been known for its leniency. But I had a sick feeling this time would be different.

  The meeting was secret, as all standards board disciplinary meetings were. Just between me, the chairman, and the four general committee members. They were all under gag orders not to even mention the meeting had taken place, let alone what had gone on in it or who had been involved. It wasn't like I was going to talk about being disciplined. But secrets had a way of finding the light here in the Delta Delta Psi house. Like knowledge, gossip was power.

  Besides, me being disciplined was inevitable, and every girl in the house knew it. I mean, the campus cops had rushed me to emergency for treatment for alcohol poisoning and charged me with a minor in possession/minor in consumption. They didn't even have to have me blow a Breathalyzer. I'd been passed out in an alley behind a frat. Though, to be fair, it would have been hard for the cops to distinguish the beer on my breath from the scent of beer flowing out of the frat house and down Greek Row. Even so, there was no doubt I was in some kind of trouble. I had my fingers crossed it was of the hand-slapping variety.

  What more could the sorority do to me, really? Thanks to my dad's lawyer, less than two weeks after the incident, I'd gotten off the MIP/MIC charge with a continuance with a dismissal. Which meant the court deferred charging me. If I didn't get any more violations in the next year, the charges would be dismissed and my record would be squeaky clean. Ha! No criminal convictions.

  As part of the terms of the deal, I lost my driver's license until my twenty-first birthday, which was in January. Just a few months away. I could deal with that. Oh yeah, I had to pay a small fine. A couple hundred. And pay to attend a session of Alcohol and Drug Information School. ADIS, as they called it.

  Dad was footing the bill. Crap, he was a bit pissed at me. Fine, he had to do his dadly righteous anger thing. Like his drinking never got out of hand. Still, I got it. Do as I say, blah, blah, blah.

  Much as it sucked, I could have done worse. Like jail time or been fined up to $5000 for a gross misdemeanor. And gotten a record. Dad had given me the speech about getting a record and how it could ruin my entire future.

  Maybe I shouldn't have been so nervous. But my hands were actually trembling. I had one of those ominous feelings you can't explain. Like logic said my sorority twin Victoria was head of the standards board. She and I were, and always had been, tight. We'd had each other's backs since we pledged. So what was the biggie? The worried, irrational side of me wished my smooth-talking lawyer could have come with me to the standards board and pled my case.

  Victoria and I were twins, meaning we shared the same big sister in the house. Vicki been elected to the position of head enforcer by a nearly unanimous vote last spring before school got out for summer. Mostly because she was a total boozehound who'd been in the kind of trouble that typically got you called before the board. Because of her tendencies, she understood over imbibing and wasn't judgmental. She prided herself on being more like a friend than a tyrant. Better yet, the power of the position had not gone to her head. Not that I had seen.

  She was a business major with a head for house politics. Which made her extremely popular. And dangerous when she chose to be.

  She'd bragged to me about putting together a balanced board. "It's key, Morgs, absolutely key to keeping things running smoothly around here." She'd given me that intense look of hers. "Join me. Take a seat on the board. You won't be sorry."

  "Vics, me? Seriously? I don't want to play cop. I already have a reputation for being a bitch. The last thing I need is another hit to my rep."

  I was suddenly regretting my decision to pass on her offer.

  The board consisted of Victoria's little, her best friend in the house, and the house brainiac, who was even-keeled and mellow, logical. And the obligatory harsh member who was short on mercy, asked by Victoria to join the board to give it a feeling of real justice.

  And so I stood in front of the door to Victoria's office on a Wednesday evening, waiting for the board to mete out justice.

  You're not supposed to be the villain in your own life. But right now, even I had to admit I was. Grandma always said I was my own worst enemy. Yeah, so okay. She was right. Worse than that, I was the house villain because of what I'd done to Zach
.

  The door to Victoria's office opened. She waved me in. She wasn't smiling. My mouth went dry.

  I closed the door behind me. Victoria took a seat behind her desk. The rest of the committee stood behind her like a firing squad.

  Victoria scowled at me. "Damn it, Morgs!" She looked pained, like this was the last place she wanted to be, too. "You're making my job difficult."

  The rest of the board stood silently behind her, not wanting to look me in the eye. Not even the morally uptight Brenda could make eye contact.

  Victoria sighed. "Have a seat."

  "No thanks. I'd rather stand." I lifted my chin like I was unafraid and unashamed. People often mistook this posture for being stuck up. But I was just bucking myself up and hoping that looking confident would chase my insecurities away.

  "Have it your way." Victoria nodded like she approved. "There's no question of your guilt. Crap, Morgan. What have I told you a bazillion times? Drink all you want, but be smart about it. Don't post pictures with a drink in your hand. Don't walk around campus with an open container. Especially until you're of age.

  "Getting drunk. Passing out behind a parked car in a dark alley behind a frat—"

  "I wasn't passed out, exactly. I was more like resting." I should have kept my snarky mouth shut. My humor fell flat.

  Victoria sighed. "Getting that drunk is dangerous. You could have died." Her eyes narrowed, like she was angry I'd given her a scare. "If you weren't out cold, why didn't you move when Dakota started his car?"

  "Impaired reflexes?" I tried to sound jokey.

  Victoria was having none of it. "What am I supposed to do with you? The cops hauled you off to the hospital. They had to administer meds in an IV and keep you overnight. It's kind of hard to look the other way. Especially with the Office of Student Affairs breathing down our necks.

  "They've been looking for a way to impose sanctions on us for over a year. It's an open secret our illustrious university president, Dr. Lawrence, would love to shut down the Greek system. My hands are tied. We have to take appropriate action."

  I met their eyes. "I'm sorry." All I could do was throw myself on their mercy. And I was sorry. Things had spiraled out of control before I'd blacked out. I didn't remember half of it.

  I wasn't sure why people couldn't understand that I was drunk when I'd called for Zach's head. That I wasn't in control of myself. I regretted it almost immediately after I sobered up. But by then it was too late. Since then I'd been living with the guilt of getting Zach fired and all the hateful glares from my sorority sisters who were on his side.

  No one would believe me, but I was on his side, too. He'd saved my life.

  "Really?" Brenda stared me down. Her sudden, staccato word startled me. "Were you sorry or just wasted when you screamed at Kelly to kick Zach out and fire him? If you'd kept your mouth shut and not squealed on Zach and Alexis, we could have ignored their romance and looked the other way. Snitches are any standards board's worst enemy." She crossed her arms.

  "Sisters don't rat out other sisters. Not when what they're doing isn't hurting anyone. That kind of crap forces those of us on the standards board to act. Contrary to popular belief, we're all here out of a sense of duty to the house. Not because we like dealing with this crap and are on some kind of power trip."

  I wasn't surprised Brenda was defending Zach. He was Brenda's favorite live-in houseboy. He was almost everyone's fave. Including mine. He treated us like little sisters, coming to our rescue, listening to our problems, and ignoring our faults when we were at our worst. Maybe that was why I'd loved him.

  Zach had always understood me in a way that very few people did. And then, even after I'd treated him horribly and gotten him fired, he saved my life by pulling me out of the way of Dakota's car. Even though I'd been passed out and didn't remember it, I owed him forever for that.

  I blinked, trying not to show weakness, hoping no one noticed I was on the verge of tears.

  Dad's words came back to me. Never let them see you sweat. Hang tough, Morgs. All the time.

  People thought I was tough. And mean. I wasn't. I wasn't intrinsically mean. I'd just learned from my dad to go after what I wanted with everything I had. When I'd wanted Zach, I pursued him and used every trick I knew. Was that so wrong? Was I wrong to try to convince him of how right we were for each other? I might even have succeeded if Alexis hadn't pledged the house and stolen him away.

  So I'd been a fool for love. And done some crappy stuff. But I wasn't a villain. Just dogged and determined. And now, defeated. Crushing on Zach had ruined me.

  "I'm sorry," I said again. It was feeble, but what else could I do?

  "You nearly got him killed." Brenda had never liked me. Being sorority sisters didn't magically make our personalities mesh. She wasn't going to let up.

  But what she said was true. Dakota had backed over Zach instead of me. And put him in the hospital with brain trauma so severe that he had to take a break from school and go home to recover. So, yeah, I was the wicked witch here. But I hadn't meant for that to happen. Although it sounded like I was making excuses, I was more like Elphaba in Wicked than the portrayal of the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. Misunderstood. Taken out of context. And though no one would believe me, I would take it all back if I could.

  "Dakota's in deep shit now, too, because of you." Brenda's eyes glittered with anger. So that was why she couldn't look at me. She wasn't sympathetic. She was furious. Besides being buddies with Zach, it was an open secret she had a thing for Dakota.

  I hung my head. I was sorry. Honestly sorry for being such a green-eyed bitch. I saw that now that it was too late. But it's not easy to kill a crush. Emotions don't just die on command or when it's convenient.

  Victoria cut her off. "Ease up on her."

  The other three board members were stiffly quiet. I could almost feel how much they wanted to be anywhere but here.

  Brenda shut up, but the death glares from her continued.

  "I'm sorry. We have to discipline you, Morgan." Victoria sighed. "Discipline is not meant as punishment. Discipline is meant to instruct and correct. And build our house to be a better place because each member is her fullest, best self."

  Crap. A speech. My heart pounded. This sounded canned, not like Victoria at all. I'd been hoping they'd fine me and I would go on my way. But now…

  "The five of us have discussed the situation and reached a unanimous decision, which is for your own good. Morgan Peterson, you are now on social probation through the end of the semester. Effective immediately."

  My heart nearly stopped. "But—"

  "This means you will not be allowed to participate in any house parties, mixers, dances, or functions, other than philanthropy events, until you have successfully completed both your court-ordered Alcohol and Drug Information School and the entire semester without incurring more infractions or being brought before the board again."

  I stood perfectly still, stunned.

  Victoria got out of her chair and came around to give me a hug. "Come on, Morgs. You'll be all right. Your drinking has gotten out of hand. This is your chance to get it back under control and get a little perspective."

  She took a breath, like there was more bad news coming. "There's one more stipulation—you need to learn to get along with Alexis. She's your little. You owe it to her to mentor her properly and shape her into a vital member of our house."

  I stared at my twin, stunned, even though I shouldn't have been surprised. Alexis was the villain here, the girl who'd stepped in my territory and not backed off when I'd warned her to. For her and Zach's sake as much as my own self-interest. I'd known from the first time Alexis had seen Zach that she was going to mean trouble for him. I'd tried to stop her. And this was how I was repaid.

  I kept my chin high. "Exactly how am I supposed to get along with her?"

  Victoria shrugged. "The usual way—take her out to lunch. Buy her a coffee. Sit down and chat. Maybe even study together. You took History o
f Rock and Roll, didn't you? She's taking that class now." Victoria smiled, looking relieved the interview was almost over. "You'll figure something out. You have a lot of wisdom and experience to offer her. You just have to find it in yourself."

  Chapter Two

  Dakota

  I met with the prosecutor behind closed doors at his office less than two weeks after I ran over—and nearly killed—Zach, my best friend from high school. Tom Lesser, my dad's law partner, represented me. I'd known Tom since I was a baby. "Lesser" was really a misnomer. He was a big, affable man, all charm and smiles and good-old-boy networks. Until you faced him across a courtroom. Then he went for your jugular.

  Justice moved exceedingly slowly in the big, bad real world. This tiny college town had not learned that slow was the cool way to do things. Here, justice—regarding alcohol violations at least—moved at lightning speed. Probably to keep the courts from being totally clogged. Alcohol violations were as common as beer was on campus. But few involved vehicular assault, or whatever they were calling it.

  Tom had warned me beforehand to keep my mouth shut and let him do all the talking. Speak only when spoken to, like I was a kid. And even then, wait for him to give me permission to answer any questions. Despite his common, tired middle-aged man appearance, Dan Green, the prosecutor, laid a mean trap with the stealth of a ninja. You would never see it coming. That was what Tom told me. And he should know.

  I sat next to Tom. I was clean-shaven, hair freshly cut, dressed in a dress shirt and slacks, looking like the fair-haired boy next door. Like the kind of guy Dan would trust with his daughter. A guy who couldn't possibly get into any trouble.

  Smiles, handshakes, greetings, and story swapping were over. Tom and Dan were old buddies, apparently. Tom was buddies with everyone. But suddenly, things were all business. And the two men were no longer old friends, but adversaries on the opposite side of the gray area of justice.

 
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