Home > In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)(8)

In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)(8)
Author: C.M. Stunich

Zack stands up and leans back against the wall as I toy with the idea of writing a few choice phrases on the tiles myself. But then I just feel bad for the janitor and end up tucking the pen away again.

“He’s right about the money, that is. But he never should’ve pushed me to join, and my dad never should’ve let him.” Zack stares at the floor for a moment, and when he lifts his gaze to mine, I can see the worry there, the worry that I’ll never truly be able to forgive him and Lizzie for what they did. “I was young, and stupid. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do it again. I’d go to Lower Banks High instead. My only regret would be that I didn’t get to go to Burberry with you.”

“Miranda says you’re too perfect,” I tell him, turning around and trying to gauge his reaction. “She says you do all the right things and say all the right things, but that you’re probably full of shit.”

Zack grins and shrugs his shoulders.

“She’s probably right. Marnye, I’m not a nice person. I’m learning, but … I still have a long way to go.” He exhales and his grin fades into a tempered smile. “Do you want to grab the food I got from the Station and walk over to the elementary school? I’ll push you on the swing and we can eat silver dollar pancakes on the picnic tables?”

“I think I’ve seen all I need to see here,” I say, letting Zack put an arm around me and lead me back outside and over to the fence. Just before I climb through, I look across the campus one last time, say a silent goodbye, and leave Lower Banks Middle School behind for the last time.

Charlie wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of me going to a rock concert with a bunch of dudes, but I think having Miranda and Lizzie there mollified him a bit. That, and he gave me the whole you'll be eighteen soon talk again.

Pretty sure the hidden undertones to that conversation were I'm not going to be around forever, so you need to make smart choices as an adult. I chose to ignore that part. Well, just the not going to be around forever bit. I try to make smart choices always.

The tour bus is pretty much just a rich person's version of an RV. I mean, I like it, but it doesn't wet my panties.

“Most girls get soaked when they look at this thing,” Zayd is saying, sitting on the counter and drinking a beer. I keep waiting for us to hit a pothole, so I can see his arrogant rock star ass go flying. I've already threatened to film it and post it on YouTube.

“Well, I guess I'm not most girls,” I quip back, enjoying the red leather bench seat I'm lounging on. With Creed on my right and Windsor on my left, I feel like a freaking princess.

“Nah, you're different than most girls for sure,” Zayd says, voice softening, green eyes going half-lidded. That sensual look of his only lasts so long as it takes Miranda to chuck her empty beer bottle at him. He dodges it and it plunks into the sink. “What the fuck was that for?”

“Saying someone isn't 'like most girls',” Miranda starts, making little quotes with her fingers, “is misogynistic as fuck. It implies there's something wrong with being like a girl in the first place. Don't do it.”

Zayd snaps his fingers, bounces off the counter, and disappears into the back to dig through one of the drawers. When he comes back, he's halfway to taking his shirt off.

My eyes skim his tattooed body as he tears his top off and replaces it with a loose black tank that says Feminist AF in white cursive on the front. My mouth breaks into a huge grin, and Zayd grins right back at me.

“Pretty fantastic, huh?” he asks as Windsor sips his tea and studies him.

“I'd wear it,” he adds, shrugging as Tristan stares into his own beer and says nothing. He's been so quiet, so withdrawn. I'm sure he's still reeling from everything that happened at Vanderbilt Manor. He was certain he wasn't coming back to Burberry, and then Windsor swept in and took care of it like he does everything.

I'm worried it's starting to wear on him.

“You're trying way too hard to be cool. In reality, you're just a douchebag like all the rest of us.” Creed leans back and curves his arm over the back of the seat, trailing his fingers across my shoulder and making me shiver. I glance his way and his pale blue eyes catch on mine. I can't we believe we spent our virgin night together. My breathing picks up slightly, but I look away before I end up embarrassing myself.

Luckily, it's only a four hour ride to get the rest of the band, and then another couple hours to get to the venue. I'm not sure if I could handle the tension for much longer than that. Lizzie barely looks at me now, but she won't leave Tristan alone.

I have this irrational urge to pry her away from him.

He, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be bothered by her constant proximity. My hands curl into fists, fingernails digging into the denim of my jeans. Don’t blame her, Marnye. It’s his choice. If he wants Lizzie by his side then …

“Am I going to hate your band members as much as I hate you?” Zack asks, raising both of his dark brows. He's dressed in a tight black shirt and jean shorts, his letterman jacket tossed aside for the summer heat. It’s been an unusually warm season for our area, like concerningly warm. At least we have AC in both this silly bus and my dad’s house. The Train Car was sort of hit or miss. We had to use either those portable units or the janky window ones. Oftentimes they’d work for a few weeks and then conk out.

“If by hate, you mean love with your whole heart and soul, then yes,” Zayd says, sweeping over to the door as the bus rolls to a stop. He’s practically giddy, running his inked hands down the front of his loose tank. It’s got those big armholes that show off his lean, muscular form underneath. He’s just covered in art, enticing my eye to travel the smooth lines of his body looking for more.

I liken Zayd to a poisonous tree frog (I’ve told him this, by the way) because he’s very pretty to look at, but he’s deadly to touch.

He glances over his shoulder suddenly, green eyes bright as jewels, a crooked, goofy smile on his pretty mouth. The black rings pierced through either side of his lower lip and eyebrow add this slight edge to all of his cute. And he really is, cute I mean.

“Hey Charity,” he says, and Zack makes this irritated sound under his breath.

“Yes, Zayd-Gets-the-Girls-Made?” I ask, blinking my lashes prettily. He raises both brows at me as Creed snorts.

“That’s seriously the worst bad boy nickname known to man. Why don’t you just call yourself Two-Pump-Chump? That has more oomph somehow.”

“Ah, don’t be jealous, man,” Zayd says, leaning his palms on the table and giving me this super saucy look. “If Charity’s heard that awful nickname, then that means she’s been lookin’ me up online, eh?” Zayd ducks down suddenly, and a small squeal escapes me as he drags me under the table and pulls me out, swinging me up into his arms. “Did you need spank-bank material, Working Girl?”

“You are so gross,” I groan, but he’s at least partially right. I did look him up and find that horrible, awful, not-even-a-very-good-rhyme nickname. There are entire threads online of girls who claimed they’ve slept with him.

Just thinking about it pisses me off.

“Guys!” Zayd shouts as the door opens and this huge dude with a beard walks in. “I got me a proper girlfriend!” He lifts me up, and laughter spills from my throat. I can’t help it. Besides the fact that we’ve got some sort of crazy, natural chemistry, this is why I liked him so much during first year. He’s got a natural charm—when he’s not being a total bully, that is.

“This isn’t the poor girl you tortured, is it?” Beard Guy grumbles, crossing his arms over his lumberjack-like chest. He gives me a sympathetic sort of look. “If you are, then I’m sorry. If you’re not, then … scratch what I just said.”

“No, you’re right, that would be me,” I say as a boy with electric blue hair comes up next, followed by a brunette with frosted blond tips, a sweatband pushes his short hair into spiky little bits on the top of his head. All three of them are attractive in their own ways, but none of them are my type. Thank goodness, right? You already have five boyfriends. I think that’s enough.

But as I said, there’s no logic in a broken heart. None in a lovesick one either.

“This is your girlfriend?” Blue Hair asks, pointing past me to the other girls. “Then who are these other two beauties?” Zayd glances over his shoulder like he’s forgotten Miranda and Lizzie entirely. Lizzie. To be quite honest, I’m not even sure why she’s here. Andrew isn’t, and we’re much closer than me and Lizzie. Stop being a brat, Marnye.

“Miranda Cabot, Idol of Burberry Preparatory Academy,” Miranda announces, rising to her feet and tossing her white-blond hair in a shiny sheet. “Hardcore lesbian, not at all interested in you.”

“Fair enough,” Blue Hair says, glancing over at Lizzie, his brown eyes sparkling. “And you are …?”

“That’s my girlfriend’s other boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend,” Zayd says, and his friends look at him like he’s lost his damn mind. “Yeah, I forgot to mention that I’m like, poly or something now.” Zayd gestures in the direction of the table with his chin. “Starting with the English bloke on the end, that’s Windsor, you guys know Creed, Zack the football douche, and then Tristan.”

“Your girlfriend has five boyfriends?” Blond Tips asks, and Zayd shrugs. I can feel his inked fingers digging into my thigh, and it’s making me feel warm in places that don’t need heating up in my current situation. “About time for you to get a taste of your own medicine. Welcome, Marnye, I’m Aiden. The ass with the blue hair is Benji, just the like dog—”

“Hey, fuck you,” Benji says, grabbing some beers from the fridge and setting them on the table.

“—and the huge dude with the beard is Bern.” Aiden finishes and then moves over to the table to grab a beer, checking Lizzie out unashamedly. She stares up at him with her amber eyes, and then scoots closer to Tristan. He doesn’t seem to notice, narrowing his gorgeous gray gaze on the band. “So, whose ex are you?” Aiden continues, popping the top on one of the beers with the keychain on his belt before he offers it up to her.

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