#Nerd (The Hashtag Series Book 1)(9)

By: Cambria Hebert

The disruptive gleam of a too bright light broke into my deep sleep. Annoyed, I grabbed a pillow and pulled it over my head.

“Get up,” someone said from above and poked me in the ribs.

I jack-knifed up; the pillow flung off the bed. The intense beam from a flashlight glared in my sleep-heavy eyes and I threw up my hand to shield my face.

“What the hell?” I muttered.

The covers tangled around my legs were ripped free and cool air rushed over my bare skin. Before I knew what was happening, a bag of some kind was tossed over my head and hands pulled me up out of the bed.

Adrenaline surged through my body, making my heart rate accelerate tenfold. All my muscles tensed and the person still grabbing my arm paused.

“You got the note, right?” he whispered.

A couple other voices broke out behind the guy who spoke, telling him to shut up and no talking was allowed.

Relief poured through my system. This was the frat. I should have known right away.

I nodded, and the hand on my arm jerked me forward. “I need clothes!” I hollered when we passed through the door of my place and out into the cold night air.

Everyone was snickering. “Not where you’re going,” someone said.

I was dressed in nothing but a pair of boxer briefs. Sometimes I slept naked. Thank God I hadn’t last night. The last thing I needed was my boys flapping in this chilly-ass air on the way to some undisclosed location.

“Nice digs,” someone said from behind me as I was led through the backyard of my parent’s place and toward wherever they were parked.

It was nice, better than nice in fact, and it was also the exact reason I lived at home and not on campus. Well, technically, I lived at home, but not with my parents. I lived in the pool house behind the main house. It was a one-story building that my mother designed to look like a cottage on the outside. The siding was white, the shutters black, and the front door red with a gold knocker on the front.

The pool house was basically a spacious one-bedroom apartment. It had a full eat-in kitchen, a big living room, and a gym so I could train.

There were shrubs and rose bushes planted along the front and several windows that looked out onto the huge pool. The pool house might have been my mother’s project, but the pool was my father’s.

It was huge and looked like a lagoon. He had large rocks imported from who the hell knew where and underwater lighting to make the aqua-colored water light up. It was the kind of pool you could walk right into; the water was as shallow as your ankles but gradually declined all the way to eight feet deep. There was also a small waterfall at the deep end.

We only lived about fifteen minutes from campus and they didn’t make me pay rent. It was a sweet deal.

I heard the creak of the gate on the fence and then my bare feet sank into the cold, damp grass. My skin broke out with goose bumps and inside the burlap bag, I grinned because at least I wouldn’t have to be worried about sporting a morning wood.

I wondered what time it was when they shoved me into the back of a car and took off down the street. I couldn’t see anything beyond the bag, but it still seemed dark. The brown fabric would look lighter if the sun was up.

And of course, they wouldn’t have needed a flashlight in my room.

The car went over a huge bump in the road and I was tossed to the side, my bare arm slapping against someone whose arm was also bare. I jerked upright as the person beside me stiffened and everyone around us laughed. I assumed then it was another pledge.

It didn’t take long to get to wherever they were taking us and we were being herded out of the car and led through more cold, damp grass.

It sounded like another gate was banging open, and then I was being shoved in my back.

“Better watch your step,” a guy said with clear amusement.

My feet left the grass and met with something hard, like concrete, and the guy who sort of helped me out earlier by telling me who they were leaned in to whisper low, “Steps.”

I didn’t acknowledge that he said anything because I figured he wasn’t supposed to tell me.

My suspicions were proven when I heard what sounded like someone falling and a bunch of guys laughing. “We got a clumsy one on our hands!”

My steps slowed and I cautiously moved forward, anticipating the first step. A finger poked me in the back just as my foot met air. I stepped down and concentrated on getting down the stairs, which seemed really steep.

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