Unexpected Tokens

Paige and Rose heard the stories about Ashton and Michael's reputation. But that didn't stop them each from becoming just another girl added to their lists. What they didn't know, was that Michael and Ashton weren't going to say goodbye after the morning came.

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5. Chapter 4 / Paige's POV

All I can think when I wake up is, I’m going to throw up. So, I jump, well, really roll, out of the bed that I’m in and grab the trashcan next to the desk in this unidentifiable room. It takes me a minute to adjust myself. After all, my head is spinning, and I’m currently throwing up in a stranger’s bedroom, but when I finally finish, it’s that undeniable voice that I had yet to know would change my entire life, that reminds me of the night before. It’s low, grumbly, and almost amused.

“I hope you got all of that in the trash can because I really don’t feel like cleaning it up. I’ll make you do it even if you are the hottest girl I’ve ever seen.”

Oh, my god, I think. I just threw up in front of Ashton Irwin, and he thinks it’s funny. I can hardly wait to hear all about myself across the small campus in the next week. Did you hear that Paige threw up after having sex with Ashton Irwin? I’m surprised she even wore the bandana. Can you believe that he asked her to come to the party? I can hardly imagine what will be said about me. “Uh, I did.” I awkwardly reply, licking my lips and suddenly realizing how thirsty I am.

He chuckles slightly, a low, rough rumble that accentuates the attractiveness of the morning voice that so many guys have. In response, I simply stare around at his bedroom that I so clearly had spent the night in. It’s messy, like I vaguely remember thinking the night before, but not a total disaster. There are a few pieces of clothing scattered around the floor (my dress included), and a few empty beer cans that look like he’d attempted to throw them in the trashcan, but missed. Ashton also sits in silence, probably wondering how his “hottest girl I’ve ever seen” trick doesn’t have me back in bed with him already. Even though last night was simply amazing (and, oh, how sweet it was!), the morning brought a new light into this bedroom, and with it came a sober me, who probably can’t get two words out to Ashton Irwin. Truthfully, I’d hoped to leave the room before Ashton woke up. That had been my plan from the moment I’d decided to go to the party. Too bad yesterday me did not intend to drink as much as she did and pass out right after sex with Ashton. Or to wake him up by puking into his garbage can. No, this is not how I’d expected this morning to be going at all.

I stand up, and realizing that I’m only in a t-shirt of his (how did I get into it?) and my underwear, promptly searching for where I had just seen that dress. I really need to pee. “What’s your rush?” Ashton asks, looking pointedly at the time on his phone. “It’s only 7:30.” He moves back toward the inside of his bed, where I had slept last night, as if to offer me the spot beside him.

I look at him, sure that my mouth is turned downward in a confused frown. “Look, we both know how this works.”

If Ashton had been tired before, this grabs his attention. He looks quizzically at me, but then, almost as if the look had never really been there, he smirks, the amusement on his face clear enough, but he drags it out. “And how does this work?” He asks me, placing emphasis on the word ‘this’.

I roll my eyes at him. “Really,” I deadpan.

“Please enlighten me on your extensive knowledge of what’s going on here.” The smirk, that goddamn smirk that’s so attractive, is still ever present on his face.

I huff, loudly, to make a point, before saying, “We hook up, you give me a bandana, and you never speak to me again.” It’s something I had seen many times before. Even last night, with the girls at the party, he never so much as spoke a word to any of them. It’s his thing, and everyone knows it.

Ashton looks completely composed with a response, yet he doesn’t say anything. He stares at me, as I stand, still half dressed, in his bedroom. I bring my arms up and cross them to cover my chest as the two of us stand there, saying nothing. Suddenly, Ashton Irwin leaps out of his bed, crossing the bedroom to a space behind me. I rub my tongue over my teeth, thinking that all I want right now is to brush my teeth and get a drink of water. I turn around to see what he’s doing, right as he turns towards me. We’re very close to one another, physically, and he grabs my right hand. I catch a glimpse of myself in his mirror on the wall and realize that I look a hot mess, minus the hot and triple the mess. Normally, I wouldn’t care about such a thing, but because Ashton Irwin somehow wakes up looking like a god, I find myself feeling a bit self-conscious with my red hair wildly dancing on my head, and clear evidence that I’d been sweating last night thanks to the smudged eyeliner under my eyes. When I look down at my hand, I see the glimmering of an old, golden watch. “What’s this?” I ask him, speaking downward so that he doesn’t smell my mixture of morning breath and vomit breath.

I feel his body shake with laughter. “It’s your gift.”

Now, I look him straight on. “What do you mean it’s my gift?” I ask him. “You give out bandanas. Trust me, I know. I’ve seen them around for nearly 3 semesters now.”

“Well, not for you, Paige.”                                                                                                                                       

Immediately, I grab my dress from the floor, and change into it (yes, still slightly self-conscious about doing this in front of Ashton Irwin while we’re both sober and in the middle of broad daylight), leaving his t-shirt on the floor in its place. I leave without saying another word to him, and he doesn’t try to speak to me either. After pulling his door shut behind me, I see the slightly ajar door of Michael Clifford’s room, where he and a girl both lay sleeping. Damn, I think, Do all of these boys get lucky? I leave the house without even attempting to find a bathroom, and walk back to my dorm room.

Fortunately, it’s early enough that not too many people see me performing the walk of shame. I can hear it in their minds now. Short, redhead. Ashton’s type or Michael’s? Wait, I think she was with Ashton last night. Where’s her bandana? Thinking this, I look down at the watch, mostly to see what time it is because I didn’t take my phone with me last night, and realize immediately that the time isn’t right, mainly because the hands aren’t even moving. It says 12:13, but Ashton had said only fifteen minutes ago that it was seven-thirty. I roll my eyes, am I not even worthy of a working watch? Finally, and it truly does feel like an eternity later, I reach my dorm room. Fortunately (right now, anyways), Clarissa almost always leaves the door unlocked. She never gets up before noon, and I always forget to take my key with me anywhere. Especially last night where I didn’t take anything. I forget things everywhere I go. Grabbing a water bottle from the mini-fridge under my desk, I collapse onto my bed and sigh.

When I had come to college, I’d been looking for an exciting romantic relationship, but of course, with an awkward personality like mine, that was unlikely to happen from the start. Of course, some boys have tried to talk to me (as Clarissa says, “You’re pretty in a humble way.”), but I lay behind a resting bitch face and a quiet demeanor. The two do not mix well into making me a romantic interest for others.

When I wake a couple of hours later, Clarissa is up doing her makeup at her desk across the room. “How was last night?”

I smile a sleepy smile at her, as I sit up on my bed, feeling a bit more refreshed from the slight hangover I’d had earlier. “Fun, kind of awkward at first,” I admit.

“So, you didn’t end up hooking up with Ashton?” She asks me, a frown present on her usual smiley face. I protest this statement, but before I can give any details of the night, she says, “No bandana. Did you really think I wouldn’t look through your stuff for it? Every other girl parades theirs around, and yours is nowhere to be found.”

I lift up my wrist, “He gave me this watch.” She stops putting on mascara and comes over, grabbing my hand and examining the golden object on my wrist.

“Shit,” she mutters, letting go of my hand. “I don’t know how to read this.”

I laugh at her, “It says twelve-thirteen. It doesn’t even work.”

“Does he want to meet you then?”

I shake my head, almost aggressively. “He didn’t tell me anyplace to meet him. He didn’t want me to leave, and when I told him that I know he just gives out his bandanas, he gave me this instead.” Of course, he probably just thought that it would be funny to give me something since I mentioned the bandana to him. My entire essence differed from the rest of the girls who have slept with Ashton, and probably that will sleep with Ashton. While I had been eager to sleep with him (let's be honest, here, it was great sex), I didn't spend all of my time trying to sleep with any of those boys. Not even when I was a silly freshman following Clarissa around to parties. There, of course, I had been hoping for a boy to notice me (I wasn't ever drinking. I think some part of me knew that it was the only way I would have the courage to get naked in front of Ashton Irwin) but my social anxiety always kept me hanging out on the outside of the parties, and eventually, I just stopped going.

She shrugs, walking back over to her desk and takes a seat. “That’s certainly strange. Maybe it’s a riddle that you have to solve.” Her voice is almost mocking me, as if this dumb, unexpected token from Ashton Irwin were a joke.

“Well, I don’t think that relationships are meant to be that complicated. Besides, if he wanted something more out of this, then he should have made that clear.” As soon as I say this, however, I think that maybe he did tell me, in a way. After all, had Ashton Irwin ever invited a girl to one of his parties? The answer is no. I had known this even when Ashton asked me in class yesterday. Also, I'm ninety-nine percent sure that Drunk-Paige said that to him. She certainly has an agenda of her own.

Clarissa invites me out to eat lunch with her and Georgina and their friends, but I politely decline, instead saying that I have to finish my draft for my research paper, or Dr. Lawson is going to kick my ass. She shrugs, as though she had expected me to decline, and exits the room, saying goodbye to me.

Half an hour later when my phone beeps, I assume it’s Clarissa telling me that Georgina will be coming back to the room with her, but it’s an unknown number. However, after reading

Hey, beautiful. 3:07 PM

who is this? 3:08 PM

You know who it is. 3:08 PM

It actually makes me laugh a bit, and I text him back, adding 'Ashton Irwin' to my contacts. I spend a few minutes trying to think of a clever response, and decide to use my dry sense of humor to talk to him.

no, i’m not too sure who it is. so, so many boys are after me all of the time. easily given it to nine boys this weekend. 3:11 PM

It’s Ashton. 3:11 PM

i know. i couldn’t tell u the last time i gave my number to a guy that wasn’t for school work. 3:12 PM

speaking of how did u get my number? 3:12 PM

From Ashton Irwin: Don’t worry about that ;-) 3:13 PM

Unsure of how to progress the conversation, I stop replying. If he wants to continue the conversation, he will, I tell myself. I think back to my last relationship and how I had put in all of the effort for nearly two years before realizing that I shouldn’t be the one who is always putting in effort. So, for now, I’m letting Ashton come to me as he pleases, and stay in close range as he sees fit.

From Ashton Irwin: Everyone’s searching for the bandana. And the snapback. 3:17 PM

Curiously, I wonder which boy it is who gives out snapbacks, and also why he didn’t give one out on the exact night that Ashton Irwin didn’t. I think it’s the red-haired boy.

why is everyone so interested in who u sleep with? 3:18 PM

From Ashton Irwin: I’ve been asking myself that for 3 years now, to be honest. 3:20 PM

I snort at his honesty. No one cares who I sleep with, or who any other regular attractive guy sleeps with, so why Ashton and his friends?

From Ashton Irwin: I think that people here like the tradition of the gifts. 3:21 PM

why do u care what everyone else thinks? 3:22 PM

From Ashton Irwin: I don’t. I just like sex and bandanas. 3:23 PM

I begin to think, then, why me? Did Ashton just think that I would be an easy or a fun lay? Did he think I might be a challenge? Why did he pick me last night? 

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