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But I cursed that ability after the night I spent with him. Cursed him for everything, but especially for leaving an impact on my soul that felt as if it would last forever. Yet on seeing him tonight, hearing his moving speech, the feelings tumble through me as I set up the dessert table, making me question everything. I’m beginning to think I was wrong. Maybe wiggling my way into the fraternity party as a makeshift sorority sister and then into his bed wasn’t actually a curse. But if it wasn’t, then what was it?
• • •
“Bonjour!” I said to the girl with a name tag that read Claire pinned to her white lace blouse.
Medium-brown hair tumbled to her shoulders in smooth waves and was held back by a black ribbon headband. She wore a very short plaid skirt with red tights and ankle boots. Flawless and polished, she was perfectly put together. I had to blink twice because she looked so much like the character Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. She stood with a huge grin on her face behind a pink-draped table with a golden triangle and the letter Z emblazoned across it in the student center at the University of Southern California. It had only been two weeks since I traded in the City of Lights for the City of Angels. The night was cool, but since the rain had let up I had decided to get out and stop by the recruitment fair. Clubs, fraternities, and sororities populated the room. With so many choices, I had no idea which booth to visit first. I stood back and watched and it was Claire’s enthusiasm that caught my attention. So I moved closer and stood in line as she talked to a group of girls about joining her sorority. They giggled and jumped up and down when she gave them a piece of paper with an address on it and told them she’d meet them there.
Her gaze lifted at my greeting and she quirked a smile. With a gleam in her eye she said, “Hi. Are you from France?”
I gave a slight laugh. “No, California but I spent my freshman year in Paris.”
“Ah . . . you’re new. I am too. I just transferred in from New York University.”
I felt a spark of excitement. “Are you a sophomore?”
She straightened her shoulders. “No, actually I’m a junior.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you look like a character from Gossip Girl?”
Her smile grew bright. “All the time and I love to hear it. She’s my idol. I fashion my wardrobe after her.”
I nodded. Not certain of what to add to that, I quickly glanced down at the table of pamphlets and asked, “So, you were in a sorority at NYU?”
I was somewhat curious only because she was obviously the quintessential prep school girl turned college sorority member. I knew them well. I had gone to a prep school and I was sure all the girls I graduated with had joined sororities. But for me, the preppy schoolgirl look was never my thing. I liked to think my look was more Kate Moss. I mixed fashion-forward clothing with vintage. I wasn’t afraid to throw any two pieces together and put my own spin on an outfit. My mother liked my edgy wardrobe but warned me to avoid anything too revealing. That made me laugh because guys never looked at me that way anyway. I was always just the cute little sister.
“How did you know? Delta Zeta!” She beamed with pride, pointing to the flattering propaganda spread out in front of her.
I bit my lip. I had considered joining a sorority for the sheer purpose of making friends, but I wasn’t certain if I had the time with my heavy course load.
She must have noticed my eyes flicker in contemplation because she asked, “You are a PNM, aren’t you?”
“A PNM?” I questioned.
“A potential new member,” she clarified, leaning closer to me.
I shrugged. “Well, yes. I guess I am.”
“Great,” she said, assessing my outfit—a short cropped jacket, skinny jeans, low-heeled boots, and my grandmother’s always-present layered gold necklaces.
“What does a PNM have to do?”
“Depends on what you can offer and who you know.”
“I’m new, so I haven’t met very many people.”
She frowned as if reconsidering if she should have asked me.
Not wanting to feel rejected, I threw out, “But I have a brother in a band and another brother who’s a graduate student here.”
Her eyes twinkled with excitement. “Are they hot?”
I shrugged again. “I guess so.”
“Then you’re a PNM.”
I clasped my hands together in excitement at having a title and making a new girlfriend.
“We need little sisters to help at the Kappa Sigma’s Pledge Night tonight.”
“I’m not really a little sister, though.”
“Oh, I’m giving you temporary membership. Raise your right hand and repeat after me to accept and we can move on to the hazing,” she said in a serious tone.
My mouth dropped open.
“I’m only kidding.”