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It's going to be an awful semester. Christen can already tell. She can tell because when she got to the dining hall that morning, they were out of strawberries, and then she had to walk through a January snowstorm to get to class. Intro to Microeconomics is destined to be boring, but it's even worse at eight in the morning. Because of the snowstorm, she decides not to stop for a coffee, so she sinks into a random seat in the middle of freezing lecture hall still sleepy and hungry and grumpy.

Then ten minutes after class starts, with the professor already droning on - she can tell he's going to be a bore - she reaches for a notebook and sends the entire contents of her pencil pouch spilling out onto the floor.

Shit!

Pens and highlighters clatter noisily onto the sloping tile floor of the lecture hall. Thank god the lights are off because the professor’s using the projector. Still, everyone's looking in her direction. Red in the face she ducks down, gathering everything back up.

Just great. All Christen ever wants to do is stay invisible. But now, everyone is staring at her, confused and irritated. In fact she probably woke some people up from restful mid-morning naps.

And worse yet, she sees her favorite fat purple highlighter rolling merrily away from her down the slope of the floor.

Noooooo!

She swipes for it desperately, but it's gone, slowly rolling away under the seats in front of her into the dark.

Christen itches to get up and find it. But of course, that's stupid. She can't get up in the middle of a lecture. That would be ridiculous! So she settles back in her seat, biting her lip between her teeth. She'll just have to wait two hours, until the lecture's over.

But then -

Several rows in front of her, she sees a student lean down. In a black beanie and an oversized fleecey sweatshirt, it’s impossible to see any details about the person, including their gender. But when they sit upright again, Christen sees the purple highlighter in their hand.

For a second, the student doesn’t move. Christen’s anxiety spikes.

They better not be keeping my highlighter. This is so much worse than picking it up off the ground at the end of class. Now I’m going to have to ask someone for it? What if they don’t want to give it back.

The student looks left over their shoulder, then looks right. Their eyes lock on Christen’s, and she catches her breath. It’s a girl. A beautiful girl, with round brown eyes and chiseled cheekbones, the kind you see on the faces in luxury store windows in the mall as you walk past Gucci and Burberry. As if in slow motion, the girl gets up from her seat - in the middle of the lecture!! It takes her a little bit to get out of her row, walk up the side of the lecture hall, and enter Christen’s row, but suddenly, the girl is standing over her, holding the highlighter out.

“Careful there” she says. Her voice is raspy and calm.

Christen gulps. She glances over at the professor on the stage, but he’s just talking on. Unaware of anything that’s happening in the seats before him.

“Th-thanks” she says, taking it from the girl’s hand, hating herself when her voice cracks. She can almost feel her face quaking behind her thick, black-rimmed glasses. She lets her imagination run wild for a second, imagining the girl sitting down next to her for the rest of the lecture class. Maybe introducing herself. But the girl’s already walking away, with her hands in her pockets.

****

“There’s a girl in my introduction to microeconomics class .... ” she says to Crystal over dinner that night.

Crystal’s eyes almost bug out of her skull. “A girl? Oh. My. Lord! Christen Press is talking to me about a girl!”

“Crystal, keep your voice down!” Christen whines, glancing side to side in the dining hall. She’s not worried that anyone is looking at her. Not her, with her hair always pulled back with the same headband and her thick glasses that help the way she always looks at her feet when she talks to people. But Crystal is popular. She’s in a sorority. People always stop by their table to talk to Crystal. Christen just counts herself lucky that Crystal, her best friend from high school and now roommate, sticks by her side loyally even though their paths in college went so differently last semester. Now it’s the second semester of college, and Crystal is one of the most visible freshman on campus.

And Christen? She’s the opposite of visible.

“Fine, I’ll keep my voice down. A girl?!?! Tell me more.”

“It’s nothing” Christen whispers, already regretting saying something to her opinionated friend. “There’s this girl in my microeconomics class. I dropped a highlighter and she picked it up.”

“The purple one?”

“Yes” Christen is amused at how well Crystal knows her, and how she’s focusing on that detail right now.

“Who is she?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen her before. It’s a huge lecture class. A lot of people come on the first day and never come again, so I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again anyway. It’s not a big deal. I’m not THAT into her.”

“Come onnnn” Crystal whines. “Give me a little more to work with, here. What does she look like? Maybe I know her.”

“Well…” Christen sighs. The girl HAD been memorable looking. And Crystal was popular. Even though she wasn’t sure it was a great idea to give Crystal any more dirt on this, she continues, “She was about my height. Brown hair.”

“Really narrowing it down" Crystal quips.

Christen tosses a wadded-up straw wrapper across the table at the shorter girl. “She was dressed really interesting. A beanie and a huge sweater, like she was cool, really cool, but it was also really effortless. Her sneakers looked expensive, but I don’t know anything about sneakers. Her eyes were really big. And…”

“And?!”

“And her…cheekbones and jaw were like, really sharp” Christen finishes, blushing.

Crystal looks smug. “You’re talking about Tobin Heath.”

Christen’s jaw drops. “You know her? How do you know her?”

“I knew from the description of her clothes. I just wanted you to say the last bit about her cheekbones because I know you were dying to.”

“I HATE you” Christen says, but she leans forward curiously as Crystal types furiously into her phone. “Ah-hah. This is her right?”

Christen leans forward to check. “Oh, my god, it is” She reaches for Crystal’s phone, but Crystal pulls back teasingly. “I thought you weren’t THAT into her.”

“Crystal!!”

“Okay, okay, fine” Crystal lets go of her phone. “I’m going to get more pasta.”

As Crystal’s gone, Christen scrolls eagerly through the Instagram profile Crystal has pulled up. It is the girl from her microeconomics class. There are only a few posts, unfortunately. Less than 10. However, even confirming the name at this point feels good. In every photo, her eyes and smile are bright. Christen’s sad she didn’t get that smile in person this morning. Then again, this doesn’t seem like the type of girl who feels extra smiley in a morning lecture class.

Crystal comes back with more pasta, which Christen helps herself to as they talk. “Unfortunately, you’re right” Crystal says. “I only have met her in passing through her friends Alex and Allie, but she doesn’t seem like the type to go to class a lot.”

“Oh?” Christen says, trying to mask her disappointment.

“Yepp, she’s very chill. Kind of a loner, but also at the same time a womanizer? If that makes sense."

"A womanizer?" Christen asks.

"Yep, like I hear girls just swarm all over her" Crystal gives Christen a sideways glance "And she has really outgoing friends, so they drag her along to things.”

“Like me” Christen jokes.

“No, not like you!” Crystal whines. “Because you don’t actually let me drag you out to anything! Every party I invited you to last semester, you’ve turned down. Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, post-finals, all the ones in-between…”

Christen argues, “Nobody needs that many parties. Besides, I need to study. And also, nobody wants me at those parties anyway” She tugs at the collar of her collared shirt. “I’m just a little nerd.”

Crystal rolls her eyes again but lets it go. She’s always rolling her eyes at Christen, but also always letting it go. “First, you're a hottie, and everyone knows it but you. Second, maybe you can try something new this semester and like it. Our first huge party this year is going to be on Valentine’s Day. Besides, you’re already trying something new. You’re liking this girl! You never talked about girls last year.”

Christen grumbles, “I am not liking this girl. I just noticed her, that’s all. She didn’t notice me. Nobody does.”

****

“Tobito, how long has it been since you’ve gone to your morning econ class?” Allie asks from across the kitchen island one night.

“I went just last week” Tobin picks through the items in the cupboard and takes out a box of cinnamon toast crunch. “Oh my god, I love these.”

“It’s ten pm.”

“Never a bad time for the world’s best cereal” Tobin pours herself a bowl, and then goes hunting for milk in the fridge.

“If you use Alex’s fancy almond milk for your random night cereal, she’ll murder you.”

Tobin sneaks a peek around the kitchen. “I’ll just use a little.”

 Allie twists her blonde hair around her wrist as she talks. “I think you haven’t gone for a couple weeks now, since the first day. You should go again.”

“I told you, I went last Thursday.”

“You did not go last Thursday, because last Wednesday night is when you came home with that girl from the Theta party, and trust me, I know what you were doing the next morning.”

“Oh, oops” Tobin smirks up at Allie, but inside, she’s a little embarrassed.

Shit, I gotta stop bringing girls home like I told myself I was going to. I gotta get more serious about college like I’d planned.

She pictures the morose expressions on her parent’s faces when they saw her grades from last semester. Her parents weren’t the angry kind, and they weren’t helicopter parents who policed her every move. She was always grateful for that. But it was almost worse to see the disappointment on their faces and to hear her mom’s gentle reminder as she was coming back for the spring semester, “Tobin, remember, you only get one shot at college. It’s a privilege. Now that you’re almost halfway through, maybe it’s time to start buckling down.”

“Fine” Tobin relents. She’s a junior, and a junior should be more than able to attend a stupid introduction to microeconomics class meant for underclassmen. “I’ll go tomorrow, I promise you.”

“Good” Allie says smugly.

Tobin regrets her promise the next morning when she’s racing through the cold January morning to get to class. The lecture hall is drafty and bleak, and to make things even worse, it looks like the professor hasn’t gotten any more interesting. She takes messy, bad notes, where every line ends in a little doodle. She’s just starting to doze off when she realizes that the professor is calling on people!

“Anyone? Anyone know the answer to this one?” Nobody responds, of course, because it’s a morning lecture and most of the class is sleeping.

The professor looks annoyed. He keeps trying. “Surely somebody knows the answer to this one. It’s very basic. Christen Press, how about you?”

Ooooof, which poor soul is getting called on by name? Tobin turns in her seat – and then freezes. She had totally forgotten about the incident in the first day of class until that very moment, but she remembers it now. That shy, pretty girl with the big glasses who had dropped her highlighter is sitting several rows before her, eyes round, cheeks red, looking totally petrified.

“Christen” the professor repeats. “You gave such a marvelous answer to this question in the online homework portal last week, so I know you know this. Why don’t you share your answer with the rest of the class?”

Christen is huddled in her seat. She looks too scared to speak. Tobin’s suddenly angry. Why is the professor picking on her? Who cares if she knows the right answer, what if she’s just shy? There are a million reasons why someone might not want to talk in class. As if in an out-of-body experience, she feels her hand go up.

“Wh-what?” The professor looks at her, confused. Of course he doesn’t recognize her, because she’s skipped basically every class until today. “And you are…”

“Tobin Heath” Tobin says, loud and clear. “And the answer is…” she looks down at her horrific notes and picks a couple lines of them to read at random. “..that the demand is income…elastic…” She glances over her shoulder at Christen, who’s shaking her head and pointing her fingers in opposite directions. “I mean, the supply- no! The demand is, uh, income, IN-elastic.”

Please let that be right.

“Hmmmm” The professor peers down at his notes. He seems almost annoyed when he says, “…that is correct.”

****

Christen jogs to catch up to Tobin after class that day.

She’s flustered from staring in awe at the back of the other girl’s neck for the rest of the lecture, and she starts to say, “Hey, thanks” before the other girl even turns around in the hallway.

But then the girl turns around and smiles and it’s like the sun is coming out from behind the clouds.

“You totally saved my ass in there" Christen says. And Tobin just smiles, and goes “Oh, it was nothing. Is Professor Stacker always like that?”

Christen blushes down at her feet. “He’s been calling me on like this every week. Nobody else has ever volunteered before.”

“Well, I’ll volunteer every week if it helps you out.”

Christen looks up, and Tobin winks. She full-on winks. And Christen feels like she’s about to die. She can feel her face going scarlet.

“I can’t promise to always get the answer right, though. Today was sheer luck.”

Christen opens her mouth to speak, but then they’re interrupted. Two girls - the prettiest girls Christen has ever seen, one blonde, one brunette, come up on either side of Tobin.

“Last one to the dining hall’s buying” the blonde says. Even as she’s talking, they’re already walking away from Christen, as if she’s not even there.

“Allie, the dining hall is literally free” the brunette responds, sounding irritated.

As they walk, Tobin looks over her shoulder at Christen and gives her a distracted parting smile.

Christen feels like her feet are rooted into the floor.

Oh, no, she thinks. I’m in too deep already, aren't I.

****

“Wait, were you talking to someone back there?” Alex finally asks, when they’re already in line in the dining hall.

Tobin rolls her eyes. “Yeah, actually, I was.”

“Sorry! We had agreed to meet there, so we just thought you were there waiting for us” Allie looks around the dining room as if someone’s about to pop out of the woodwork. “Who was it?”

“Just a girl in my class” Tobin mutters. She’s suddenly self-conscious.

“But who? You never talk to people in your classes.”

“That’s because she never even goes to class.”

“Cut it out, guys” Tobin laments. “Her name was Christen? Christen Press?”

Allie and Alex exchange unknowing shrugs.

“I think she’s a freshman.”

“Are you crushing on a freshman, Toby?!” Allie squeals.

Tobin grumbles and shoves her friend off. She doesn’t think she’s crushing. She isn’t really the type to crush. “Besides” she says out loud. “It’s not like I’d be her type anyway. She’s got that quiet brainiac thing going on. Meanwhile I barely understand anything that professor says in class.”

“But let me guess” Allie teases. “You’re going to go to that class every day from now on.”

“Stop” Tobin whines, “I’m not.”

****

After that day, Christen can’t stop thinking about Tobin.

She thinks about the way that the older girl jumped in to save her from Professor Stacker. The way that they talked for just a few seconds in the hallway before her friends swooped in. And then they’d just walked off, like she was invisible, clear as the air in the hallway. It had made her feel tiny and oh-so-miserable. It reminded her of her stratus in the social hierarchy, which was far, far below Tobin and her glamorous upperclassmen sorority friends.

Tobin has suddenly started coming to class every day, which doesn’t help Christen try to get her out of her mind. The first morning when she walked in and saw Tobin already sitting in her seat, her heart rose into her throat, and she suddenly felt nervous. Tobin glanced over at her, but she just glanced away and hustled quickly to her seat with her head down. Then she spent the rest of class distracted. It’s honestly not fair. It’s not fair how cool and chill the other girl is. She aches, with every fiber of her being, for some new chance to interact with her, but none comes. The professor doesn’t call on her again, so it’s not like Tobin has a chance to save her from him again. Or even an excuse to turn around and look at her in class.

In fact, Tobin seems entirely unbothered by Christen’s presence in the room. Meanwhile, Christen has a hard time concentrating on the professor. Instead, she watches the silky way that the girl’s hair falls over the back of her chair. The muscles that move in the back of her neck. In the dark lecture hall, she stares blankly at the projected screen and instead sees Tobin walking over to her seat. Tobin’s fingers gently brushing a curl behind her neck. Leaning forward and kissing the side of her neck, letting one hand drift up to cup the side of Christen’s breast as Christen turns towards her, with a loud, pleading moan that draws every eye in the lecture hall -

The lights go on, and Christen lets out the breath she’s been holding during her fantasy. She realizes she’s clenching her legs together tight. She’s probably wet. Shit, I think I really like this girl, she thinks. Tobin’s gathering her things up a few aisles in front of her, and for a second, Christen thinks the older girl is looking in her direction. But Christen’s terrified, as if Tobin can read her mind and picture the dirty thoughts she’s just been thinking. She keeps her head down and pretends to look through her notes until she sees Tobin leave the room out of the corner of her eye.

She’s sitting in bed one night on her phone, looking through the same old pictures on Tobin’s Instagram, when Crystal comes in from the bathroom.

“Whatcha looking at?”

“Nothing.” Christen blushes bright red and shoves her phone under her pillow.

“Oh, so you're lookin at Tobin Heath.”

Christen doesn’t answer, which is all the answer Crystal needs.

“Girl, you’re so far gone.”

Christen groans and flops back on her bed. “I know!”

“You just need to bang her once and get it out of your system” Crystal declares, teasing.

Christen pauses. She sits up again in bed. “You think so? Maybe you’re right. That's actually not a bad idea.”

Crystal turns slowly, with her hands on her hips. “What? Come again? I was totally joking. YOU? Bang ANYONE once and get it out of your system?”

“It’s not like I haven’t had sex before” Christen defends.

“Yeah, you had two long-term boyfriends in high school, and tell me, when you had sex with them, didn’t you basically fall even more in love with them?”

“No!” Christen lies.

“You’re a hundred percent the kind of girl who sex MEANS something to. I’m not saying that in a bad way, I am too! But I’m just saying. Tobin Heath might be a player type, but you don’t need to be like that to get with her. You’ve never even slept with a girl.”

“I know,” Christen whines. “But…I want her so bad.”

Not for a trillion dollars would she have told Crystal about her many fantasies about Tobin. Even the salacious dreams she’s started to have about her - deep in the library stacks, or running into Tobin after class and having Tobin push her up against the side of the brick building, hands drafting over the button on her jeans…..

“So what are you gonna do?” Crystal’s voice snaps Christen out of her reverie again. “Get with her at a party or something?”

“No.” Christen frowns. “She would never sleep with me as me.”

Crystal frowns too. “Come on. She could totally be into you. You’re cute and nice. In fact, it could even end up being more than a one time thing!”

“No,” Christen sighs sadly. “No, she doesn’t want me. I’m invisible, I’m nerdy. I spent every day in class thinking about her and she does not know who I am. You know I’m not her type.”

Crystal sighs. “I guess not, but maybe she doesn’t know what her type is. What’s your plan, then?”

Christen looks around the room as if for inspiration. “I just need…I just need one night that I can…”

Her eyes alight on a flyer on Crystal’s desk.

Jackpot.

“That’s it!” She tumbles out of her bed and darts across the room. “The Valentine’s Day party.” She holds up the flyer which announces a masquerade-themed Valentine’s Day party at Crystal’s sorority, and Crystal frowns. “I’ll go dressed up as someone else, someone she doesn’t know and will never recognize. We’ll sleep together. And that will be that. She’ll never know who I am.”

Crystal is shaking her head. “Girl, no. That’s a bad idea. I’m all about you getting with her, but why not just do it as you?”

“Listen, I know it’s crazy” Christen begs. “But I want this. I just need to get this frustration out of my system, you’re totally right. Will you help me?”

Crystal still looks doubtful.

“Fine, tiebreaker! We’ll call Ashlyn and she can decide.”

“Come ooonnnn” Crystal whines at the sound of their third best friend from home’s name. “She’s totally going to side with you!”

“I know,” Christen says smugly.

“Fine,” Crystal grumbles, resigned. “What’s the plan?”

“I’ll go to the party with you. In costume. She’ll never know it’s me. Nobody will know. I’ll wear my contacts, which I never wear. And a mask. And do you have that wig you wore to Spirit Week senior year?”

Crystal rummages in a drawer and pulls out a cute wig. It’s made of whitish iridescent rainbow threads braided into a giant side braid.

“If I cover my curls with this, I’ll look totally different” Christen declares. “Listen, it’s perfect. If the sex is amazing, then I’ll get it out of my system. If it’s shit, then, well, that’ll help me get over it. And either way, it won’t mean a single thing to her. You said she sleeps with a lot of girls at parties; so we’ll sleep together, and she’ll never know who I am. I’ll just be a girl in a mask to her.”

“You don’t think she’ll…umm, take your mask off? During sex?”

“I’ll make sure it stays on.”

“What if she tries to contact you? What if she asks your name?”

“She won’t. Like you said, she sleeps with a lot of girls. It’ll just be a one night thing.”

****

Tobin lurks around the edges of the Valentine’s Day party with a beer in her hand. The basement of the house has turned into a bar and dance floor, with LED lights lighting up the concrete walls and floor, and the dancing is getting intense already. She probably shouldn’t even have come. Alex and Serva are grinding it out on the dance floor, and Allie and Bati are making out by the kegs in the corner. She sort of wishes she was at home right now, or in the library or a cafe on campus. Maybe sitting next to that cute freshman from microeconomics, Christen Press, who will no longer meet her eye. Tobin wonders if she did something to offend her. Was it because she had walked off so abruptly after their conversation that day? Honestly, that had been kind of rude. She had tried to catch Christen’s eye a few times, but it was hard with Christen always looking down at her feet behind those thick glasses, and normally Tobin would’ve been much more forward but something about the girl held her back. She was so sweet and shy, not like the girls who normally floated in Alex and Allie and Tobin’s circles. Instead Tobin just sat there in lectures hyperaware of the other girl's presence behind her, but too selfconscious to turn around to look at her.

I want to ask her out on a date, Tobin realizes standing there in the dark basement. Maybe I’ll start with asking her to study together. But maybe not. What if she realizes that I’m way more stupid than her and she doesn’t want to date me after all? She’s probably used to dating smart people.

Allie comes up drunkenly next to her and tries to give her a kiss on the cheek. Tobin squirms away. “Eucchh, gross! You were just making out with Bati!”

Allie came as a cupid, and that really meant that she was just in pink lingerie with a wand and a matching pink mask. The mask has clearly been discarded long ago, just like most people in the room. Tobin’s still got hers on. She came as Zorro, which was the easiest costume to do. Just an oversized black button-down shirt and a black mask, with her hair in a messy ponytail. She’s already got her mask dangling around her neck too.

“Sorry” Allie giggles. She looks down and checks the alcohol left in her cup, and then she looks up, and her eyes go round. “Oh.”

Tobin turns to look, along with everybody else in the basement. A few more girls are coming down the steep stairs.

One of the girls Tobin knows, or at least knows of. That’s Crystal Dunn, everyone’s favorite Phi Sig and one of the most popular freshmen on campus. She’s dressed as Catwoman. But behind her on the stairs, clinging nervously to Crystal’s hand, is another girl.

And oh, sweet Jesus, is she gorgeous. She’s wearing a small white mask that doesn’t disguise any part of her delicate face, with her high cheekbones. She’s wearing a wig that shines with rainbow colors under the lights, pulled into a fat braid that hangs over her right shoulder. And she’s wearing a white dress that hugs her body like a second skin, to where it ends very abruptly at her upper thighs, showing a long expanse of leg until you get to the top of her high white boots. As if aware that literally every human in the basement is staring at her, she looks down at her feet and trips a little on the last step, and Tobin watches as Crystal turns around to check on her.

“Holy shit!” Allie exclaims.

“You’re straight" Tobin reminds her.

Allie just smirks. “Bati would forgive me this. God, who is that? I thought I knew all the Phi Sig girls but she must be new. Maybe she’s a transfer.”

“I don’t recognize her either” Tobin can’t stop staring. It’s like the girl is glowing in the low light of the room. Alex comes up on the other side of her, also gawking. “Wow. Who the hell is that?”

People are already swarming around Crystal and her friend. The friend actually looks really uncomfortable. She’s hugging herself with her arms and kind of cowering away from one of the boys nearby her. Tobin feels a sudden, irrational urge to step in and shoo them away. Luckily, Crystal does it for her.

Calm down! Tobin yells at herself. You don’t even know that girl. And also, you promised yourself you’d stop sleeping around. Also, you’re a little into Christen Press.

She purposely turns away from them and lets Allie and Alex drag her onto the dance floor. But she can’t stop looking over her shoulder at the mystery girl. Finally, some time later, the three friends are hanging out by the bar manned by Bati and his friends when Allie suddenly says, “Crystal’s coming this way! We can ask her about her friend!”

Tobin’s had several drinks and she’s glad she can blame the sudden rush of color on her cheeks on the alcohol instead of the mention of the mystery girl.  

“Crystal!” Allie has no boundaries and immediately accosts her. “Hey. How are you?”

“I’m good, girl!!” Crystal says, as Bati and his friends start to pour her drinks. “Two, please, I’m getting one for my friend too” she says to them.

“And who is your friend? Is she a new Phi Sig?” Allie asks eagerly.

“Uhhh…” Crystal shakes her head. “No, she goes to another school, she's just visiting tonight.”

“Who is she?” Like five of the boys echo.

Crystal laughs loudly. “Sorry, fellas. She’s into girls.”

Every eye in the circle suddenly falls on Tobin. Crystal seems to be taking an especially close look at her.

“Oh” Tobin coughs trying to seem casual. “Is she? That’s cool.” Alex and Allie are smirking into their drinks.

“Hey, Crystal!” Alex snaps her fingers as if suddenly remembering something. “You’re a freshman econ major right? Do you know someone named Christen Press?”

Tobin’s head raises and she gives Alex a big warning stare, but Alex must miss it.

Crystal is squinting at Alex. “She’s my roommate, actually.”

“Your roommate?!” Allie squeals. “And is she here tonight?”

For some reason Crystal looks as if someone has just asked her a trick question. But finally she says “No, she’s … in the library. Studying…”

Tobin suddenly imagines herself studying in the library next to Christen. They could be cozy in sweatshirts together and Tobin could get up and get them coffee when they get drowsy…

But then she shakes the thought out of her head. Clearly this is the final confirmation she needs that this girl is out of her league, none of her business. Studious girls who spent their Saturday nights in the library were probably not interested in girls like Tobin who still, after all these weeks, did not know what it meant for demand to be income inelastic.

She’s distracted when she looks over and sees Crystal’s friend standing in the corner by herself. There are a couple big bros around her again, and she doesn’t look very comfortable. “Crystal?” Tobin points “Looks like someone needs saving.”

Crystal looks at her and quips, “Only one of us is dressed as Zorro, Tobin.”

Everyone howls with laughter so loudly that nobody hears Tobin answer, “Catwoman is also a hero!” Hands are already pushing her into the crowd towards the girl. It only takes one more observation that one of the guys is putting his arm around her shoulder and she’s cringing away for Tobin to charge over.

“Hey!” She bursts into the group in the corner. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

“Oh?!” The girl says, high-pitched, and then her voice suddenly drops lower. “I mean, oh, you have?”

The boys all glower suspiciously down at Tobin.

“Yeah, you promised me a dance, remember?” Tobin grabs the girl’s hand, soft and smooth under her own, and hauls her towards the dance floor. The girl holds on gratefully to Tobin’s hand with both of her own until they’re a safe distance away.

“Sorry,” Tobin says immediately. “I don’t actually know you. Just looked like you needed a little help back there.”

The girl just smiles sweetly. “I really did. Thank you.”

“Do you actually want to dance?” Tobin asks nervously.

The girl gives her a huge smile. “Yeah sure, I would love to, Don Diego.”

Tobin laughs in appreciation. “You know the costume! Nobody else gets it.”

“Zorro is a classic movie!”

“You like old movies? I love them.”

“I love them, too” the girl says. Tobin’s not sure why she’s surprised. To be fair, the girl also seems surprised that Tobin’s interested, though that couldn’t be right, because after all, she didn’t even know Tobin.

****

Okay, everything is going according to plan.

When they’d first entered the basement everything had been terrifying. Christen had almost turned tail and ran, but when she saw Tobin in the room with her friends, dressed like the sexiest Zorro in the world, she found her courage again. A few cups of liquid courage had helped too. Her original plan had been to approach Tobin later in the night, so this was definitely speeding things up, but she was not complaining.

She can see out of the corner of her eye the approving curious way that Tobin’s two beautiful friends were looking at her. That solidifies her belief in her plan. She isn’t on their level on a normal day, but they are curious about her now, that means that Tobin will be curious about her too. Curious enough to have a one-night stand. As long as she is careful to speak in a lower voice than usual and keep the wig and mask on, everything will go perfect.

When Tobin starts to dance, she freezes up. Dancing is not her strong suit at all. But something about the languid way that Tobin moves from side to side is helpful. Before she knows it, she’s standing with her back pressed up against Tobin, Tobin’s hands drifting along the hem of her tiny dress. Tobin is respectful and doesn’t grind too hard up against her, but Christen can feel the warm mound under Tobin’s jeans pressing up against her ass, and it’s almost too much, already. She’s sure she’s already wet through the white lace thong she’s wearing.

People keep coming over though, eyeing her down, and Christen is pretty sure there are both guys and girls trying to look down the front of the skimpy white tube dress she had borrowed from Crystal. This dress is already short on Crystal. Christen hadn't realized that it would be so scandalously short on her until she was coming down those stairs earlier and was suddenly terrified everyone could see her underwear. There's only one person who she wanted to see her underwear tonight, and that's the person she's magically dancing with right now.

Tobin leans forward and whispers in Christen's ear, "I was thinking of heading up to play some beer pong. Want to be my partner?"

"Um, sure," Christen says nervously. "I've never played before."

"Really?" Tobin seems amazed. "Where are you visiting from that they didn't play beer pong there?"

Christen pretends she can't hear Tobin over the music and heads towards the stairs with Tobin close behind. Like a perfect gentlewoman, Tobin sees Christen tugging the hem of her dress down before heading up the stairs and makes sure to walk closely behind her to block anyone else's view.

****

Walking up the stairs behind this mystery girl's incredible ass is going to be the end of Tobin.

She had wanted to slow things down. On the dance floor, she was already getting so hot and wet and turned on she almost wanted to grab the girl's hand and find a dark corner of the basement and take her right there and then. But though she was curious about the girl, she didn't want to just do that. She wanted to get to know her a little more, as a person. Hence the beer pong.

When they find the room, a team clears out right away to let them take over. Tobin attributes it to just how hot this mystery girl is. Unfortunately, Tobin's plan works, but it works a little too well.

It works because they talk and laugh and flirt as they play and Tobin feels herself falling deeper and deeper under the girl's spell.

It doesn't work because their bodies keep brushing up against each other. Surely it's just a coincidence, but the fourth time the mystery girl's ass brushes against her front, and she has to bite her lip to stifle a loud groan in front of an entire room of people, she's not so sure it's a coincidence.

They're down to one cup, and the mystery girl is turning to her with a grin on those wicked lips. "Okay, let's make this interesting," she says in that low, husky voice. "What do I get if I make this shot?"

"Hmmm...." Tobin ponders. She leans down and whispers in her ear, "If you get it in, I'll give you a kiss."

The mystery girl's eyes open up round and wide.

"Come on, hurry up!" A girl on the other team whines.

"We're talking strategy over here," Tobin retorts. She leans in again. "And if you don't get it in...I don't know, I guess I'll have to think of a creative punishment."

The mystery girl's eyes go even wider. She reaches for a ping pong ball and chucks it aimlessly at the other side of the table. People duck out of the way as it bounces off the wall and onto the floor.

"Oops," she whispers back, biting her lip as if nervously. "I guess I'll need to be punished."

"Shiiiit" Tobin groans, worried she is going to go up in flames right here at the beer pong table. She sinks her shot in one try, ending the game, and she hustles the mystery girl out into a dark corridor at the back of the house.

The girl leans up against the wall, chest already rising and falling, her pretty pink lips slightly open.

****

The sounds of the raging party seem to fade away to nothing as Christen leans against the wall and waits for Tobin to ravage her. She wonder if Tobin can see through her tight white dress that the fragile fabric of her thong is totally drenched with her need. She wonders if Tobin can see that her knees are buckling.

She only has a second to register the heat of Tobin's body shoving up against hers, and then their mouths are entertwined with each other. Tobin's hands roam freely up and down the sides of Christen's dress, coming to rest firmly on the globes of her ass. With a growl of frustration, she's already pushing the fabric of Christen's dress up over her hips, palming the smooth planes of Christen's bare ass with her hands. Her rough palms squeeze and massage, making Christen arch up into Tobin's muscled body with a rough whine. She doesn't even care that anyone could come around the corner at any moment and see her there with her dress up around her waist, legs already spreading, the tops of her thighs already soaked.

The good thing is that Tobin seems to be just as affected, just as quickly. As they kiss frantically, her hips keep bucking up into Christen's as if she can't help it. Every time they do, the metal belt buckle on her pants graze against Christen's clit through the soaked fabric of her thong, and she moans out loud at the sensation. Then she moans again as Tobin's probing fingers dip lower, deeper, closer to the crevice between her ass cheeks, closer to her --

"Whoa" Christen backs up for a moment, dazed by their moment of unrestrained lust. Even that moment alone, she feels like she could live off of this memory for weeks or months. How can they fit so well together? Does Tobin feel this too?

Clearly Tobin feels something too because her eyes are dark and fiery and she's tugging at Christen's hips, bringing their bodies flat against each others. Christen groans at the sensation of their breasts pressed up against each other through their thin layers of clothes.

"Do you..." Tobin says, still trying to catch her breath. "Do you want to go somewhere quieter? I'm sleeping over here tonight and I've got a room upstairs..."

Christen smirks. Jackpot again.

"Okay, but I need you to put my dress back, before we leave this hallway" she commands.

With the slowest, dragging fingers, without breaking eye contact, Tobin reaches down and pulls the hem of Christen's dress back down the few necessary inches.  Her fingers drag across Christen's upper inner thighs as she does so, and they gasp together as her fingers encounter Christen's dripping wetness.

"Come on" Tobin says, her voice hoarse with need. "Let's go."

****

The fact that the mystery girl is willing to sleep with her tonight is overwhelming. Tobin almost hesitates for a moment, because she doesn't want to make assumptions of what the girl wants. On the other hand...she seems very into it. In fact, Tobin can still feel the evidence of how into it she is, resting on her fingertips, and it's driving her positively feral.

So Tobin ushers the mystery girl towards the empty back staircase of the house. The pounding bass of the music from the basement is even quieter back here. Once again, she lets the girl go first and then trails behind her, eyes fixed glazedly on the world's most incredible ass waving in front of her as they climb. She can't believe her hands had just been palming those round globes. She can't wait to do it again.

"Hey" she says, and as the girl turns around to look over her shoulder she presses her up the staircase wall and kisses her again. Their tongues battle as their hands roam again. The girl somehow gets Tobin's shirt untucked from her pants and has both her hands up under the silky fabric. They both gasp as her lithe fingers make contact with Tobin's bare breasts.

"You weren't wearing a bra?!?" the girl moan into Tobin's mouth.

"No, I hate them" Tobin replies. "I never wear one if I can help it."

The girl groans even louder, her fingers stroking gently over the soft curve under Tobin's breasts, then up to brush over her nipples...carefully and slowly, almost as if she's memorizing them. "I'll remember that," the girl says, with a strange longing in her voice.

"Oh you will, will you?" Tobin gasps out, pressing her mouth into the girl's cheek to try to stifle her groans as the girl's skilled fingers roll her sensitive nipples. "And what will I have to remember you by? What's your name -- ohhhhh" she cuts off as the girl suddenly squeezes her breasts even harder. "I thought I was supposed to be the one punishing you?"

"You're taking too long" the girl says, so Tobin responds by pulling her along, up the stairs and down the hallway until they're in the guest room.

Once in the room Tobin immediately goes for the girl's dress again. She raises her arms willingly. It's made of a stretchy white material and only takes a single tug for the girl to be standing before Tobin in nothing but her thong (soaked clean through and hiding nada) and her knee-high white boots. Tobin again almost combusts at the sight. Oh, and the mask and wig. Tobin reaches up to remove them, but the girl stops her.

"It's a masquerade," she says teasingly. "The whole point is to be someone else tonight. That's what makes it sexy."

Tobin pouts but relents, she doesn't have the concentration right now to fight the point. She sits herself down at the foot of the bed and draws the mystery girl between her spread knees, breathing in the intoxicating scent of her arousal. She licks out around one of her erect nipples, and then the other, with her skilful mouth nipping and licking and drawing the most enticing moans out of the other girl's mouth. She does this thing where she sucks the nipple in hard and then plays it between her teeth and the girl actually tips her head back, cries out. Tobin thinks she might be able to come just from hearing that sound.

"Please, please, please" the girl is moaning and Tobin is more than happy to deliver.

She flips the girl over onto the bed, on her back, and carefully draws one boot off and then the other. She notices that the girl's toes are painted bright red. So fucking sexy. Starting from her ankles, Tobin kisses slowly all the way up the inside of the girl's long slender legs until she reaches the apex.

"You're soaked" she says in awe, and the girl groans again. "you smell so fucking good"

"Please, please touch me" the girl begs again, and Tobin wants nothing else. She surges forward and buries her mouth in the girl's slick folds. The girl arches her back and her mouth opens in a silent scream as Tobin skillfully works, her tongue wetting the soaked and useless scrap of lace even more and pushing the rough edge of it back and forth across the girl's clit. It doesn't take long. The girl's fingers tangle almost painfully in Tobin's hair as she goes stiff as a board, and then she climaxes, rough and unrestrained. Her whole body shakes as Tobin wipes her wet chin on her hand and kisses up the side of the girl's sweaty, bare torso.

****

Christen comes to after the best orgasm of her life to see Tobin with her eyes shut running the tip of her nose across the bottom swell of Christen's breast. She looks up at Christen and they make eye contact. The contact is intimate and intense and Christen has to look away. It almost feels like more than she bargained for the night, and it's scaring her.

"You've still got all your clothes on" she says, this time not having to pretend that her voice is hoarse and low.

"Come on. I want to make you feel good."

Tobin shudders, and she lets Christen push her over onto her back. Christen kneels up beside her on the bed and slooowly hooks her thumbs into the sides of her destroyed thong. She drags it down off her hips, and she has to peel it from where it's nestled inside her folds. Tobin groans aloud, her eyes riveted to the spot. Christen tosses the underwear to the side so she's now completely naked.

She covers Tobin's fully clothed body with her own, eyes only inches apart, Christen's hooded almost lazily as she kisses her deep, tasting herself on Tobin's lips. Tobin whimpers and makes a mewling sound as Christen's kiss is quickly accompanied by her fingers stroking Tobin through the rough fabric of her black pants. Tobin widens her thighs, pushing her hips upwards, chasing more contact.

"Nope" Christen says, popping the "p" sound at the end, as her hands drift down to hold Tobin's hips still. "Stay put, baby girl."

Tobin groans again at the words and the command. Christen slowly undoes her black silk shirt, button by button, until it's hanging loose around her exposed torso with her hard nipples pointing straight up. Then she gets to work on the pants and it takes awhile to get them off Tobin's calves, but she succeeds. Tobin looks so sexy with the flapping open shirt and her black boxers that Christen almost wants to keep her like that. But she wants her even more, and so the boxers go, leaving Tobin with just the wide open shirt, looking at Christen with pleading eyes.

Even if they never speak again after this night, Christen will never forget this visual of Tobin lying there, desperate and pleading, dripping down her thighs, her god-like torso framed in black silk. She might come again, just like this. But Tobin's whimpering and saying "Please, god, please" and Christen can't even think properly, so she just does the only thing she can think of, which is going in for another deep kiss.

This time, she gasps as their bare breasts move against each others, and their dripping cores line up and send electric shocks through her body. She can't stop herself from running her hands up and down Tobin's body, returning again to those sensitive nipples. The feeling of Tobin bucking under her just encourages her, and Tobin's hands drift even lower on her back until they're curving over her ass again, slipping inside this time to prod at Christen's sopping pussy.

"Hey" Christen warns, squirming further up Tobin's torso so that the older girl loses her grasp, which only sends the two of them even hotter. "It's my turn now."

"Fiiine" Tobin sighs. "But I wanna see your face."

"Nope" Christen says again, stopping Tobin's curious fingers before they can reach the edge of her white mask to pull it off. "I want our names to be secret for now. It's sexy. After all..." she drops her voice as she nips at Tobin's earlobe "you can see every other part of me."

She feels like Tobin is riding on that "for now" part. Little does Tobin know that Christen's plan involves being gone long before Tobin wakes up in the morning.

She kisses down the side of Tobin's neck and Tobin seems to be distracted enough for now. "God you're so hot" Tobin murmurs,her hands sliding up Christen's sides. Christen whimpers at the sensual contact, the feel of Tobin's fingers stroking the sides of her heavy, dangling breasts almost too sinful to bear. Then Tobin cupped her breasts and brushed her thumbs over her nipples, and Christen throws her head back in ecstasy as the touch ran through her like a current. She could feel herself grinding down, lewd and out of control, on Tobin's thigh. "Stop, you're distracting me" she gasped as Tobin regained her grasp on Christen's ass, pushing and pulling her to the rhythm as Christen humped her thigh. "It's my turn to make you - oh god - ah - ahhh- I'm going to - I'm going to-"

She keened as Tobin's fingers finally drifted down between her ass cheeks and speared into her folds from behind. Working herself up and down on Tobin's fingers, she came, the sensation shattering through her entire body for what felt like minutes.

"I said it was my turn" she finally grumbled after coming back to earth. Tobin's response giggle is cute. It almost hurts to hear it. She wants to hear it over and over but she knows it's just for this one night, so she savors the way it sounds and stores the memory in her mind.

"Okay" she says trying to sound as stern as possible. "Are you going to be good for me now?"

Tobin nods emphatically.

"Reach up and grab hold of the bed rails" Christen whispers, and Tobin does so obediently. Christen traces her fingers along the tight, beautiful muscles of Tobin's quads, following the trail of her fingers with her lips until Tobin is moaning incoherent sentences at her that includes the words "god" and "fuck" and "please" somewhere in there.

Christen takes Tobin's thighs and spreads them out wide, wide, wider, as wide as they can go until Tobin is groaning and Christen is staring at the beautiful, dark, soaking-wet folds. Tobin smells so good. Christen suddenly wants to taste her, but Tobin is pleading "inside, please, god, inside" and so Christen readies her fingers. Then she doubts. She's never been with a girl before. How many, exactly, is too many? She sneaks a look down at her fingers, they're pretty thin. Three, she decides.

As she goes for it, Tobin lets out a wild, guttural groan, her hands clenching on the bed post, illuminating the sweaty lines of the muscles in her arms. Christen freezes. "Are you okay Tobin?" she asks in worry "should I stop?"

"No, god, don't you DARE stop" Tobin grits out between her teeth. "Oh god..."

Based on this feedback, Christen pushes on. Tobin feels exquisitely tight and soft, clenching down around her fingers through the layers of wetness. Christen gasps at the sensation of the ridges and bumps inside, and she spreads her fingers to explore them, and Tobin shrieks out, her hips rising from the bed in pleasure, her lips pleading for more. So Christen pumps her fingers in and out, and curls them experimentally, and it's SO worth the ache in her wrist and elbow as Tobin falls apart in her arms, shaking with pleasure, her hands clawing at the sheets around her.

****

She's an angel.

Mystery girl is an angel, that's the only explanation, Tobin thinks as she dazedly opens her eyes, for the fact that Tobin literally just went to heaven and returned to this bed with her.

The girl is breathing hard and fast too, watching Tobin with a tentative light behind those startlingly green orbs. "Was that okay?" she asks.

"Okay?!?" Tobin gasps hoarsely. "I...god, that was amazing. How did you do that?"

The girl shrugs. She looks almost shy, which is insane, considering the things that she just did with her fingers. Her gaze is falling between Tobin's legs again, and she says in a near whisper, "I want to taste you."

Already sensitive, Tobin just moans. Normally, she doesn't prefer coming more than once. She's always so sensitive and tuckered out already after the first. "You can taste me next time, okay baby girl" she promises, reaching one tired arm out to draw the girl into her side. "There are so many other things to try." she lowers her voice and whispers into her ear, "Next time maybe you'll let me try the strap-on on you."

The girl just moans and buries her face in Tobin's neck. It's odd, how she looked almost grieved at that last sentence. Maybe she's not into the idea of a strap-on. Tobin regrets bringing it up. The edge of the girl's white mask and the rough feel of the wig she still has on digs into the side of Tobin's neck, but Tobin's too worn out and sated to care. Next time, she thinks. And the next time, and the next time, and the next time. And it wasn't just the sex, either. She feels like there's actually something special here. As she drifts off into the darkness of sleep, she feels like she had met this girl in another life, somehow. When they had made eye contact earlier, she could've sworn there was some familiarity there. Something nudged at the back of her mind, something that had happened in the throes of pleasure, but the girl was snuggling into her side with a soft smile, and exhaustion claimed her before she could think it through.

****

The sun streaming in through the window wakes Christen up.

She frowns and blinks, disoriented. The window of her and Crystal's dorm room faces an interior courtyard so it was never this bright in the morning. Then she smells an unfamiliar but pleasant strong scent and feels something scratchy and itchy teasing at her shoulder.

She sits up naked in bed and recalls everything, all of a sudden.

What she did last night, and who she was with, and what she did last night WITH who she was with.

And the fact that Tobin was sleeping next to her, shirtless and still in a spooning position, and that she was THERE, when she was absolutely supposed to be across campus by now, safe and mysterious.

She gasps out loud, and the mattress shifts, and Tobin's eyes open.

****

"Hey" Tobin says hoarsely as the room comes into focus.

There's mystery girl with her soft skin and sweet smell, and -

Wait a fucking second.

In the middle of the night, the wig and mask must have come off, and the girl sitting there, shaking with wide eyes, has black hair. She has black hair carefully plaited into five neat cornrow braids that hug her skull. And her face, Tobin knows that face, even though it's missing the usual glasses, which makes a huge difference.

"Christen?!"

At first she thinks it's a wild dream. She's conflating the magical mystery girl from last night with her separately magical burgeoning crush on the quiet girl in intro to microeconomics. She's not actually awake yet. Because the quiet girl in intro to microeconomics is not currently sitting next to Tobin in bed after a night of the hottest sex she's ever had...

...is she?

What wakes Tobin up to reality is that Christen looks absolutely shattered. Her green eyes - Tobin had never truly noticed the color under her glasses - are filling up with tears and her cheeks are going a blotchy red. So this can't be a dream.

"Hey" Tobin says uncertainly, sitting up on her elbows as Christen glances frantically around the room for her clothes. "Christen? Christen from microeconomics, right?"

"Uhhmmm..." Christen looks up at the ceiling and blinks rapidly to stop the tears, but some of them fall anyway. "Oh. My. God. Oh my god."

She makes another move as if to get out of bed, but seems to suddenly realize that she's totally naked. She draws the bedsheets up around her and finally looks at Tobin.

"Hey, hey" Tobin repeats, bewildered. "Don't cry. Why are you crying?"

Christen looks around helplessly. "I was - I was supposed to be gone. I was planning to leave. I didn't mean for you to see- I'm so sorry..."

Tobin feels like her brain is working in slo-mo. "Wait, so you knew who I was last night?"

Christen nods miserably. "I'm sorry. I - it doesn't have to mean anything. I know. I'll stay out of your way-"

"Wait a second" Tobin demands, finally scooting closer to Christen on the bed. She reaches out to touch Christen's cheek with the utmost gentleness. "Who says it doesn't mean anything? What if I want it to mean something?"

Christen freezes, eyes wide. "Y-you do? I mean, it does?"

Tobin feels a soft smile starting to spread over her face. "I mean, look at it from my perspective, Chris. I'm just a girl, who's just had the best sex of her entire life-" Christen's face is starting to go red, but also light up "-and is planning on interrogating Crystal Dunn about who her friend is. And I'm also a girl who's been pining over the adorable freshman in her microeconomics class for weeks..."

"What?" Christen gasps.

"...and who's been wanting to do this with that adorable freshman in her microeconomics class for weeks" Tobin finishes, and she kisses her. It's deep and real, somehow hotter than anything that happened last night, and Tobin tangles her fingers in Christen's braids and rolls them over into the mattress, the protective bedsheet forgotten as they groan as their legs slot perfectly together.

****

Christen's head is spinning. For a second, she thought she'd ruined everything. She imagined skipping every microeconomics class for the rest of the semester, and pictured Tobin's friends glaring daggers at her from across the dining hall. She saw in her mind's eye Tobin realizing who she was and being totally disgusted, grossed out, that she'd been tricked into having sex with someone she thought was cool but ended up just being a loser.

But instead, Tobin had just said that she'd been wanting to kiss Christen for weeks.

Christen. Christen Press. Not a mystery girl. And now Tobin was pressing her deep into the mattress, licking her way into Christen's mouth, leaving her gasping and breathless.

"Hey" Tobin says suddenly, pulling back and looking a little shy. "I was thinking yesterday, and now this seems a little backwards, but I was thinking about asking you if you wanted to study with me, and then I was thinking about how I could transform our study sessions into asking you on a date."

Christen giggles at the thought. "Well, yes to the study sessions, and yes to the date. We can start studying today, if you want."

Tobin's grin lights up her face. "Okay, great," she murmurs into the side of her neck. She kisses down the side of her neck and licks at one of Christen's nipples, making the younger girl moan and writhe under her. "But can we start in the afternoon? Because I've got some other plans for you this morning."