The Game is currently a work-in-progress as part of NaNoWriMo 2017.
Follow me on Twitter - @mybooksareme - for writing updates during November.
I was finally here.
I couldn’t believe that I was back on a campus. Not that it was the same university as two years ago, but the fact that I was back at university was something I still couldn’t believe was happening.
New Year. New course. New me.
It was time that I finally figured out what I was doing with my life. Taking a mid-study gap year had started off great, until everything turned to shit. I needed to get out of town. The last two months had been hard on everyone, and I knew leaving was the only way my parents would actually be able to live again. Live without the shame of their daughter.
I needed a fresh start. And that was hopefully going to be Rosehaven University.
Lucky for me, the university was still accepting enrollments in mid-December, and they somehow still had dorm rooms available. I was totally prepared to find an apartment to rent, so actually getting on a room on campus was such a relief. While I still didn’t really know what I was doing, their English Literature course sounded interesting enough. And if it wasn’t for me, it would be easy to transfer to another course.
Scanning my student ID card, I opened the door to Pine House, my new home for the next year. Pulling my suitcase behind me and readjusting my hold on the box under my arm, I made my way down the hall of rooms. Ahead, I could see the living space, voices filtering down to me as I got closer.
“After the debacle with Spinner last year, we’ve had to change the score system a little,” came a female voice.
“Trust Spinner to ruin everything in his final year,” groaned a male voice.
“Yeah, he’s not even here. Why do we need to change the rules?” said another male.
“Because Spinner went crazy with the system! You know he nearly got us all into trouble. We are lucky we didn’t get kicked out and he’s lucky he even graduated,” the female replied in an annoyed tone.
Now I was curious. I had no idea who these people were or what they were organising, but it sounded interesting. All I knew about the people I would be living with was that they were all seniors. Pine House was a seniors-only house, but I had managed to get the last room. Even though I was considered a junior by the university in regards to my education, I was the same age as everyone here.
I reached the end of the hall and paused, looking around at the living space. It was made up of a sitting area with three large blue couches, facing a large TV, a long dining table, and a spacious kitchen. A hall, like the one I had just walked down, continued on the other side, with more rooms, one of which would be mine.
“Okay, so there are only three people not in the Game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them part of the Game. Of course, that’s worth five points, but only half if you’re both playing,” the female spoke again.
I turned to the lounge area to see everyone sitting around, their eyes on a girl in front of a large poster, a table drawn on it. Everyone was fixed on the poster, some taking notes on their phones. I studied the poster, wondering what ‘game’ they were playing.
“Three points for anyone who manages to get into a relationship this year, which is probably unlikely for some of you,” she smirked, her eyes landing on a short guy with black hair.
“That’s a bit harsh Peggy,” he grinned.
“Prove me wrong then Steve.”
“Why would I do that?” he smirked, “I’m playing to win, not get married.”
“My point exactly,” she rolled her eyes, “And of course, the top score it ten points-”
“Which I doubt any of you guys will be able to get,” smirked one of the guys, the same to have complained about the new rules.
Now I was really intrigued. I stepped forward so that I could read the poster better. Reading down the list, I realised what ‘game’ they were playing.
“Oh come on Drew, you’ve never managed to get the far. What makes this year any different?” asked the guy sitting next to him.
“Because, Jeremy, I already know two girls who will be up for it,” Drew replied, his face beaming with confidence.
“Before you all get into a fight about who is going to do what, don’t forget that you can only score if you’re responsible. We don’t need a repeat of what Spinner did last year,” Peggy cut in, sensing the guys about to get into an argument.
“Yeah, let’s not have the cops involved this time,” sighed Jeremy.
They were playing a game with sex.
I should have been angry with them, but the more I looked at the poster and their score system, the less it bothered me. Hell, after everything I’d been through, I wasn’t one to judge these people. They had strict rules so no one got hurt, and the wildest thing they had was a threesome. The other tasks were pretty mundane and standard - what base you got to, whether it was a one-night-stand, hooking up with someone from the dorm, being in a relationship, and a few about where you did it. We were in university - the was just a regular week for some of them. Again, I wasn’t one to pass judgment.
“Wanna join the fun?”
I pulled my eyes from the poster to see everyone turning to look at me. Drew had a smirk on his face, a smirk that definitely got a lot of girls in trouble.
“As much fun as it sounds, I think I’ll pass,” I replied, grabbing my suitcase and heading towards my room.
As I reached the opposite hall, a hand grabbed my shoulder.
“You must be the junior who managed to get into Pine,” he smiled, holding out his hand, “lucky you. I’m Drew.”
“Natalie,” I replied, shaking his hand.
“It’s a shame you’re not joining the Game, Natalie. I reckon you’d score pretty well,” he said with a smirk, his eyes traveling down my body.
He didn’t seem to care that he was being so obvious. I could tell he was cocky and I was sure he thought he could get any girl he wanted with a simple smile and wink. I wasn’t going to lie, he was was hot, but I wasn’t planning on falling for any attempts he made. I was not going to have a repeat of last year.
“You seem so sure you’re going to win,” I said as his eyes met mine again, but not after lingering on my chest. Yep, Drew was definitely someone I didn’t need to be messing around with.
“Well, I won last year. It was only my default since Spinner was disqualified at the last minute, but a wins a win.”
“Spinner sounds like he made the Game interesting,” I replied, grabbing my suitcase handle.
“Interesting is one way to put it,” he smiled, grabbing the box I was holding under my arm, “here, let me take this for you. You’re in room five right?”
“Yeah, how did you know?” I asked as we walked down the hall.
“Like I said, you’re the junior who managed to get into Pine. Besides, it’s the only room that’s still empty. We all arrived yesterday.”
We reached my room and I grabbed my card, scanning it to open the door. Stepping into the room that would be mine for the next ten months, I took a deep breath.
“You don’t seem like any of the juniors I’ve seen around,” said Drew, eying my curiously as he dropped the box on my bed, “how old are you?”
“Then why aren’t you a senior like the rest of us?” he asked, sounding surprised.
“Because I took a gap-year after my first year then decided to change courses to come here. So now I have to start at the bottom,” I replied, sitting down on my bed.
“Fair enough,” he turned to leave the room, “I’ll leave you to unpack. Come down and meet everyone when you’re done.”
Drew smiled and winked as he pulled the door closed behind him. I could tell he was certainly going to make my time here very interesting indeed.
I opened the box and stared at the contents inside. I still couldn’t believe that my entire life fitted into this box - the sum of my entire existence was so little.
I sighed and began unpacking.
Thank god Natalie wasn’t technically a junior. Peggy didn’t want us playing the Game if a junior was living in the house. We’d only just managed to convince her otherwise, but she was still worried. I couldn’t blame her. After the crap Spinner nearly got us all in last year, we didn’t want to risk anything in our final year.
“Okay, you can stop worrying now Peggs. She may be a junior, but she’s twenty-one like the rest of us,” I announced as I dropped back on the couch.
Peggy let out a sigh. Clearly she had been more worried than I thought.
“Besides, she didn’t seem too worried about the Game, so I think we’ll be right”.
“Let the Game begin then!” Peggy declared, taking down the poster, “we will do a score check in two months.”
Most people got up to leave, and Steve stretched out on the couch.
“So what’d you think of the new girl?” asked Steve as he put his hands behind his head.
“Steve, she’s been here for five minutes. Let her unpack before you try and shag her for five points,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Who said anything about shagging her?” he smirked.
“Your mouth might not have said anything, but that hungry look in your eyes says something different.”
I couldn’t talk, I was kind of thinking the same thing. Natalie was gorgeous, and I wasn’t going to deny that I wanted to see how far I could get with her. I was pretty sure everyone in the house had thought the same thing as soon as they saw her. But we didn’t know anything about her, and I wasn’t about to make things awkward for the whole house.
“Fine, she’s got a banging bod and I wouldn’t mind knowing what’s under those clothes. Doesn’t mean I’m going there through. You know what happened last year with Holly. She had to move out after hooking up with Spinner in the first week.”
“Yeah, but Spinner was an arse to her afterwards, that’s why she had to move out,” Jeremy pointed out.
Spinner was a year older than us and had graduated last year. Only just. He created the game back in his first year, mainly to brag about how much action he got. With last year being his final year, he added some insane tasks to the score system. Clearly he wanted to go out with a bang. No one with half a brain would attempt what he did just to score some points. With more people playing the Game, he was desperate to do anything to win. He was literally the only person who really cared about winning - everyone else was just in it for the fun.
By the end of the year, Spinner had hooked up with almost every girl on campus. This would have been a legendary feat if he then hadn’t been caught fooling around with one the lectures in one of the lecture halls. He was nearly expelled and we were all so close to being found out. Luckily, Spinner had some heart and hadn’t ratted us out. Peggy, however, swore she wouldn’t risk our graduating this year to play. But with Spinner gone and the rest of us smart enough to stick to the rules and not chase after everything with a pulse - well, except maybe Steve - we knew we had to play one last time.
“He may have been an arse, bu that doesn’t mean I’m going to try and hook up with a house mate in the first week,” Steve said.
“So you’ll try and get with Natalie in the second week then?” teased Jeremy.
“I don’t think Steve is my type,” came a voice from the hall.
Our heads shot around to see Natalie walking into the living area. Without her luggage, I could now really take her all in. Her long brown hair swayed as she walked, and her sundress hit just about her knees, showing off her long legs.
Steve’s face was bright red and I held back a laugh.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she smiled, taking a seat on the empty couch, “but since you were talking about me, I felt like it was okay to butt in.”
We were amusing her, thank god. She had seemed okay with the Game when she arrived, but that didn’t mean she was okay with complete strangers talking about trying to sleep with her.
“So if Steve isn’t your type, who is?” Jeremy asked with a grin.
“Hmm, let me think,” she paused, pretending to think, “maybe someone who isn’t after a measly five points.”
Her tone pleased me. She was more interested in watching us play the Game than being part of it. It also meant she wasn’t going to be an easy catch for anyone. Not that I wasn’t going to try.
“Ouch!” cried Steve, dramatically holding his hand on his heart.
Natalie’s face lit up as she giggled. It was cute. Damn, this girl was going to make it hard for all the guys this year, in both meanings of the word.
“Natalie, this is Steve and Jeremy,” I said, and both gave her a small wave, “sorry about Steve, he doesn’t always think with the right head.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she smiled, “it’s not the worst thing I’ve heard since my arrival. Or the worst thing I’ve heard at a university for that matter.”
“True,” said Steve, sitting up and pointing about me, “she’s already heard you talking about that threesome you’re never going to get.”
“Yeah, that’d be enough to scare anyone off,” joked Jeremy, “how are you still here after hearing that?”
“Because for some reason, I just don’t think Drew’s going to manage a threesome, no matter how confident he seems,” she joked, turning to smile at me, her whole face lighting up. How had see managed to fit in already?
“See, she barely knows you and can tell you’re bullshitting!” laughed Steve, stretching back out on the couch as if he’d won.
“Just wait, I’ll prove you all wrong.”
“So, apart from this Game, what do you all do for fun around here?” Natalie asked.
“Well, this is a university, meaning we do study, occasionally,” I replied sarcastically.
“So that’s how universities work!” she shot back with a smile.
I couldn’t get over how relaxed Natalie was around us. She’d been here for five minutes and was also joking about a guy she barely knew having a threesome. It was as if she’d know us all for years. In no time at all, we were all laughing and joking about nothing in particular, and I introduced her to some of our other house-mates. We’d all known each other for the last three years, and Natalie seemed to fit in with us all really well, as if she hadn’t just met us all.
Steve and Natalie were now dramatically making a scene, and I was surprised to see how easy Natalie played along. Steve was studying acting and would always turn the simplest conversation in a drama. We were all used to it, but anyone just meeting Steve had trouble putting up with it. Hell, half the time it still bugged me. But Steve was one of my best mates, so I had learned to put up with it.
If Natalie could match Steve’s crazy dramatic acting, then she was someone I definitely wanted to get to know.
Peggy plopped down next to me.
“I see Steve has finally made a new friend,” she said to me.
“Yeah, it’s about time. I was beginning to get worried about him,” I joked.
“And by the look in your eyes, you’ve found a new target to play with,” she whispered in my ear, causing my smile to drop a little. I turned to face her.
“Yeah, me and every other guy here Peggs. But I’m not going there,” I shot back at her in a whisper, looking back at Steve and Natalie, who were now consoling each other while they fake cried, “at least not yet anyway.”
“Yeah, that’s the look I was talking about,” she replied sarcastically.
“What’s that supposed to mean Peggs?”
“It means that you threw yourself into the Game last year, maybe this year you should actually try moving on from junior year. It’s been two years.”
I stared at Natalie and Steve, who had now broken out into a fit of laughter after their dramatic little scene. Did I want Natalie? Of course, she was gorgeous, who wouldn’t want her? Did I want her for more than just a hook-up? How should I know, we’d only known her for a few hours. Why would Peggy think I was interested in more?
“We don’t know Natalie, Peggy.” I sighed.
“No, but just because you don’t know her, doesn’t mean you can’t get to know her. Not every girl is going to be like Jess.”
“I thought I said not to mention that bitch again? It’s my final year, I want to have fun.”
“Fine, but just think what I said,” Peggy said, patting my shoulder as she got up and went to the kitchen.
It always came back to junior year.
Getting up, I headed to my room. Flashes of memories I so badly wanted to forget flitting through my mind. This is why I played the Game so hard last year, to try and blur out the crap and the heartache. This is why I made sure not to get too close to someone.
But maybe Peggy was right. Maybe I needed to finally grow some balls and move on.
I fell back onto my bed, letting out a big sigh and stared at the ceiling.
This is not how I wanted to start my final year.