Read Out on Good Behavior (Radleigh University Book 3) Online

Authors: Dahlia Adler

Tags: #Adult, #contemporary romance, #New Adult, #Romance, #LGBTQ Romance

Out on Good Behavior (Radleigh University Book 3)

BOOK: Out on Good Behavior (Radleigh University Book 3)
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR

Copyright © 2016 by Dahlia Adler

Cover design: Maggie Hall

Interior formatting: Cait Greer

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any capacity without written permission by the author, except brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

 

ISBN-10: 0-9909168-3-9 (e-book)

ISBN-13: 978-0-9909168-3-3

Table of Contents

 

Other books by Dahlia Adler:

 

The Radleigh University Series

Last Will and Testament

Right of First Refusal

 

The Daylight Falls Series

Behind the Scenes

Under the Lights

 

Just Visiting

 

To Queer Twitter,

the best of all the Twitters

 

I’ve been betrayed.

To the left of me in our blue-velvet-lined booth at Delta, Lizzie Brandt is actually fucking
giggling
at whatever Connor, her boyfriend of nearly a year—a
year
—is whispering in her ear while she sips from a highball of scotch.

On my right, Cait Johannssen is trash talking about some sort of sports…thing, which is totally typical except that she’s doing it with her fingers laced through
her
boyfriend Mase’s.

And I…I’m the lone wolf.

Okay, I’m not that lone—Mase brought a couple of friends to the club from the Radleigh University basketball team, and one’s left hand is about three inches from learning that I’m au natural under this dress—but still.
Boyfriends.
Serious ones. Who even does that?

“So, Frankie.” I jolt to attention at the sound of my name, and realize Connor’s spoken it, and now everyone’s looking at me. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

“For what?”

Cait snorts. “Only you wouldn’t even blink at the fact that you’re getting a whole freaking exhibit at an art show.”

“Oh, right. That.” I feel a little blush coming on and take a quick sip of my vodka martini. “It’s not a big deal. I had stuff up at the last show, too.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t have your own
exhibit
,” Lizzie says firmly, raising her glass in the air and nearly sloshing it over her hand. I’m not sure whether it’s her third drink or her fourth, but she has definitely entered the “proud, cheerful drunk” portion of her evening, which is my favorite Lizzie phase. “This is huuuuge. We should have a party at the apartment to celebrate. Let’s have a party!”

“We’ve been back at school for thirty seconds,” says Cait, taking a sip from the single light beer she’s been working on all night. She’s on a hardcore campaign to win the lacrosse captainship that should’ve been hers this year, and cleaner living is factoring into that in a major way, sadly for the rest of us. “You’re already party planning?”

“Hey, I declared a major—”

“Yeah, one you got lucky as fuck accepted a bunch of your random classes toward it,” Cait reminds her.

“Whatever—you’re just jealous because Cultural Studies is about sixty-nine times cooler than Econ.” Lizzie takes another sip of her drink. “Anyway, I declared a major, I have the perfect resume-building part-time job this semester, my brothers are doing great, and I actually still like this one,” she says, jutting her thumb in Connor’s direction. “Even you’re getting laid, Caity J! What’s not to celebrate?”

Cait plucks a peanut from the little bowl in front of us and tosses it at Lizzie. It smacks off Lizzie’s nose and bounces right into her scotch. “Ew, Cait!”

“My girl’s still got it,” Mase says fondly, nuzzling her neck.

“Fucking jocks,” Lizzie mutters, taking another sip of her drink, peanut and all.

“Hey,” Guy-with-his-hand-on-my-thigh chimes in with mock indignation. I’d actually kind of forgotten he was there.

“Yes?” Lizzie asks, blinking.

He doesn’t respond, and the rest of us crack up laughing, though Mase quickly cuts himself off to flash a sympathetic smile instead.

“Now that I think about it,” says Cait, “a party isn’t such a bad idea. Seems like a good excuse to drag Samara out of the room.”

The mention of Cait’s roommate makes me perk up in my seat. “Samara, huh? Yeah, I’m definitely on board with this party.”

“Oh God, stop it,” Cait begs, throwing a peanut at me this time. “For the billionth time, Samara is the literal top of the no-touching list.”

“Is she even gay?” Mase asks.

“No,” Lizzie answers at the same time I say, “Yes.”

Connor and Mase look between us, confused. Mase’s friend’s hand freezes on my thigh. “Wait, are
you
?”

“I don’t discriminate by gender or lack thereof,” I say, because sometimes, you just know “I’m pansexual” is going to be met with “What’s that?” followed by “Isn’t that just bi?” and finally “So, you’re down for a threesome?”

This guy is definitely
that
guy.

He blinks, and I can already feel him pulling back, but whatever. I turn to the others. “I’m telling you, that girl likes girls. I swear, I will prove it by Spring Break.”

“Please, no one take her up on that challenge,” Cait pleads.

“Sorry, Cait,” says Lizzie, “but you know I need to see how far Frankie’s rainbow magic extends. I think we should put money on this one.”

“You’re
not
putting money on Frankie nailing my roommate.”

Connor scratches his scruffy jaw. “That does seem to go a little beyond crass and into the realm of…”

“Lizzie-esque?” Cait fills in.

He smirks and says nothing, lifting his beer to his lips and taking a long drink.

“Why didn’t she come tonight, anyway?” asks Mase.

“She doesn’t have ID,” says Cait. “Doesn’t drink. Hence a house party would be a way better choice for her, and frankly, I think she could use something, stat. She did not come back from South Carolina this summer a happy camper.”

“I can imagine,” I murmur, taking a sip from my glass. If there’s one thing I definitely remember from my few conversations with Samara last semester, it’s that she and her family—most specifically her Republican politician father—don’t mesh very well. Lizzie’s right that Samara has never said a word to suggest she likes girls, but I’ve historically had pretty stellar gaydar, and it still pings every time I talk to her.

Or maybe I’m just flirting hard enough for both of us. It’s been known to happen.

“So, party? Friday night?” Lizzie suggests. “Tell your friends! I’d tell mine, but, well.” She gestures around the table.

The rest of us try not to snort with laughter and fail. Lizzie hasn’t exactly made herself the best-liked student at Radleigh University—fooling around with a taken fraternity president and hooking up with a TA who nearly loses his job over it aren’t really “Miss Popularity” plays—but God bless her, she doesn’t seem to mind.

“Sounds good to me,” I say cheerfully, imagining seeing Samara again in the comfort of my apartment. Just because I can’t touch doesn’t mean I can’t look.

Just then, a familiar pair of long brown legs walks in, and I down the rest of my martini and stand up. Racquel I’m-Sure-She-Has-a-Last-Name-Somewhere is always good for a dance on the floor, followed by a dance in the women’s bathroom, and all this talk of a girl I can’t have has gotten me very in the mood for a girl I can. “Speaking of potential party guests, I’ll…see you guys in a bit,” I say, popping open my glittery clutch for a Tic Tac.

Lizzie follows my eye line to Racquel and groans. “Oh, great. That’s the girl I’m talking about when I say ‘the Loud One,’” she says to Connor in what isn’t nearly as quiet a whisper as she thinks it is.

“Guess we’re staying at my place tonight,” he replies as I make my way over to where Racquel is looking pretty damn good in a clingy red dress under which I’m guessing she’s wearing as little as I am.

“Count on it,” I call back over my shoulder. Samara Kazarian may not be certain about who or what she wants, but I sure as hell am.

 

“I’m here I’m here I’m here I’m here,” I pant as I slide into my seat just as the clock hits eleven. Or maybe 11:01, judging by the way my brand-new art history professor is glaring at me over her glasses. “Sorry about that.”

“And you are?”

“A little late but won’t let it happen again?”

There are scattered titters around the classroom, and her face relaxes into a smile. “Well played.”

I doff an imaginary cap.

She returns to addressing the class as a whole, which is probably about forty students. I recognize a few, but this is only my second art history class; most of my art focus is in Studio, and between that, core classes, and my Gender and Sexuality minor, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to reach outside. I’m thrilled when I lock eyes with Abe Sutter, though—he and I have been in Studio together since freshman year, when we realized we were both eye-fucking the shit out of the same male model.

A syllabus lands on my desk with “Professor Paula Richter” and “Women in Visual Arts” printed at the top, and I immediately scan it to see whether there are any group projects so I can nab Abe as quickly as humanly possible. I don’t see any, but I
do
see a field trip planned to an exhibit at the Met.

A thrill runs through me at the idea of going back to the museum for the first time in years, and judging by the murmuring going on around me, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. “As it sounds like you’ve observed, yes, we’ll be going on a class field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. That’s going to be an overnight trip on a weekend; if that’s a problem with your schedule, please see me after class today.”

Considering that since Lizzie and Cait paired off, I usually spend my Saturdays lying on my ass watching
Pawn Stars
while I sketch stuff for the online store that helps pay for my tattoos and social life. I’m definitely down for a weekend excursion, especially to the city.

“Ditto if anyone needs help financing the trip,” Professor Richter continues. “Unfortunately, this trip isn’t subsidized by the university, and I know the price tag might be a little steep for some of you, so if you require financial assistance, let’s talk after class.”

According to the syllabus, the estimated cost per student is a hundred bucks, not counting food, which is a little steep. I’m lucky enough to have my parents covering my textbooks, tuition, and rent, but I know that already pushes them to their limit. Still, I don’t want to ask for financial assistance from Richter when I know there are plenty of kids in the class on loans who need it way more than I do.

I slip my phone out of my bag and check my bank balance.
Shit.
I’m down to six hundred bucks, the final remains of my summer earnings after paying for repairs to my Vespa and replacing my favorite squirrel-hair brush. Utilities will suck up half of that, and food will wreak havoc on the rest. I have a couple of commissions lined up through my website, but that only brings in another fifty. There’s no question about it—I need to increase my cash flow.

For the rest of the lecture, I force all thoughts of finances out of my head and listen to Professor Richter talk about female sculptors in ancient Greece and Rome, but as soon as the bell rings, I race out of the room, phone in hand.
Emergency
, I text Cait.
I need a job, ASAP. Help a girl out with her resume?

Sure
, she writes back immediately.
As long as you can come over here. Practice wiped me out today.

“Hey, Franklin!”

I turn with a smile as Abe greets me with my familiar nickname and we engulf each other in a huge bear hug. “Hey, handsome. So psyched you’re in this class! Are you Tuesday and Thursday night Studio too?”

“I am! If we were gonna get sick of each other, we’d probably have done that by now, right?”

“I think so, but just to be sure, sit your ass next to me in this class from now on, will you?”

“Ahem, I believe
you’re
the one who strolled in late and charmed the pants of the professor,” he reminds me as we start walking in the direction of Cait’s dorm. “No wonder you’re rolling in more ass than you can handle.”

“Bite your tongue.” I slip my phone back into my pocket and shift the strap of my messenger bag so it lies flat between my boobs. “There’s no such thing as more ass than I can handle. But speaking of which, how’s it going with Fire Island Guy?” Abe and I didn’t keep in touch a ton over break, but judging by the pictures he was posting online all summer, he was having quite the adventure.

“What happened on Fire Island is definitely staying on Fire Island,” he says, shaking his head. “Hot guy, but holy shit—dumb as bricks.”

“The cute ones always are,” I say with a sigh. “You coming to the Rainbow House party?”

“Monday night, right? Yeah, I’ll be there. I never miss the open house. New year, new freshmen.” He waggles his eyebrows, and I burst out laughing.

“Good point,” I say as we hit the corner where it quickly becomes clear we’re going in different directions. “I’ll see you in Studio tomorrow?”

“See you then, lovely.” He pecks my cheek and takes off for the dining hall, and I turn toward Wilson Hall. If anyone can turn “Carnival Face Painter” into something professional-sounding, it’s Caitlin Johannssen.

• • •

Cait looks exhausted when she opens her door. “Lemme guess,” I say, strolling inside past her. “Practices are running you ragged now that the boy keeps you up too late?”

“I’m not dignifying that with a response, Francesca.”

“So, yes.”

“Shut up.” She closes the door and lopes back to her bed, collapsing onto it. “Go sit at my desk like the professional we’re going to try to turn you into right now. I just need, like, one more minute of rest.”

“Take your time,” I tell her, wandering over to Samara’s side of the room. It’s such a funny contrast to Cait’s, all floral sheets and pictures of landscapes opposite Cait’s plaid and posters of athletes. There aren’t many personal photographs on Samara’s side either, but I pick up one of the two framed on her nightstand and look at it closely, recognizing Cait’s roommate between the two other girls in the frame.

Yup, still gorgeous.

“Are you going through Sam’s stuff?” Cait asks without so much as looking in my direction.

“What are pictures for if not to be looked at?”

“Don’t touch her stuff, Frankie.”

“All right, all right.” I bend to sniff the perfume bottle on her desk without using my hands. It smells like sunshine and orange blossoms, and makes my mouth water.

“You’re being creepy.”

“Shut up and rest.” I move on to her bookshelf, which is full of pretty standard textbooks, and then a whole bunch of colorful spines with names of books I don’t recognize. I don’t think they’re romance novels, but…young adult, maybe? And then there’s a lone skinny volume in a language I can neither read nor identify. “Any idea what language this is? It’s gorgeous. The letters look kinda like runes.”

“Well, she’s part Armenian, so…I’m guessing Armenian.”

“Cool.”

“Okay, seriously, get out of her stuff and go sit your ass down at my desk.” I hear a shuffling, and Cait’s off her bed and in full drill sergeant mode. “So what are we adding to this thing?”

I run down whatever I can think of for Cait, who turns “Carnival Face Painter” into “Childcare Specialist with Focus on Fine Arts” and paints my mandated three hours a week of bible study with my father as some sort of internship in religious studies. I’m not entirely sure what I look more qualified for now than I did half an hour ago, but I sure sound fancier.

“You are brilliant,” I tell her with a smacking kiss on her cheek as she prints out two copies on stiff, fancy paper. “You are going to be the best lacrosse-playing finance person with a passel of crazily tall, beautiful brown babies in the universe.”

She rolls her eyes. “I already fixed your resume, Frankie. The time to suck up is
before
I do you the favor.”

“Isn’t it better you see my love is genuine?”

“Absolutely. Now move your ass out of my desk chair; I have Econ homework.”

“Fine, fine. Can I linger until your hot roommate gets back, at least?”

“Oh my God, no. Get out.”

I let her shove me toward the door, but before I leave, I say, “Seriously, Cait, thanks for your help.”

“Anytime, Frankie B.” She pats my cheek. “Don’t forget to call the CSC and make an actual appointment. My friend Tish says it can be a total mad house.”

“Duly noted. I’m gonna drop this stuff off and head to my Gender Studies class but dinner tonight? Or will you be too busy swallowing—”


Out
.”

• • •

The Career Services Center is bustling when I show up at four, and I silently bless Cait for convincing me to make an actual appointment. I take a seat and pull out my sketchpad, idly doodling disembodied lips and eyes until an impatient voice calls my name, brutally butchering both Francesca and Bellisario.

“Office on the left,” the receptionist snaps when I stand up. I let myself through the door with “Alicia Wallace” on the nameplate and take a seat across from a pleasant-looking woman with a head of springy curls held back by a scarf and a colorful dress in a clashing print. I like her immediately.

“You must be Francesca,” she says warmly, extending a hand.

“Frankie.” We shake, and then she opens up the folder in front of her.

“So, you’re looking for a job in…” She frowns slightly at my records. “Something artistic, I’m guessing.”

“That’d be nice, sure.”

Her frown settles into a sympathetic smile. “I’m afraid the couple of internships we had—and I do literally mean couple—both went to seniors. And you’re looking for something that pays, yes?”

“Definitely, yes. Please.”

She turns to her computer. “We do have a number of work study positions on campus, but many of them require you to be enrolled in a relevant major, such as one of the sciences. Since there are no paid positions with the art department, and your work experience is rather limited, I think your best bet would be a receptionist or office assistant position. How does that sound?”

Like the 13th circle of hell.
“Works for me.”

“Great!” Her shoulders relax, just a bit, and I realize she was expecting much more resistance. Granted, I guess my blue-streaked hair, multi-pierced ears, and tattoos don’t scream Office Drone, but money is money and I’m not exactly swimming in it right now. “Let’s see what departments are looking. How many hours a week were you thinking?”

“Twelve to fifteen would be ideal. I need money, but I also need to be able to spend time in the studio.”

“Well, that takes a couple of these out,” she murmurs, her long, pearlescent nails clacking on the keyboard. “The Classics Department needs a filing assistant, though that’s only ten.” It’s also
classics
. Classic movies? Okay. Classic Greek literature? Not so much my thing. She glances at me, and I’m guessing my internal monologue is plain on my face. “That one doesn’t seem to be piquing your interest. How about the Physics Department? They’re looking for a receptionist from noon to three, Monday through Friday.”

“Can’t,” I say apologetically. “That conflicts with my Tuesday-Thursday gender studies lecture
and
my Wednesday seminar on Modernist depictions of the female form.”

She goes back to my folder and flips through the papers until she comes up with a copy of my schedule. “Ah, yes, I see. Okay. Well, the only department I see looking for a receptionist for morning hours is Psychology—eight to noon, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Does that work?”

The idea of getting up that early three days a week, including Friday, physically pains me. But the schedule works with mine, and when Ms. Wallace tells me the pay, that does too. Plus, the Psychology department is one of the closest few to my apartment; Classics is all the way across campus.

“Guess I’m applying for that one,” I say, stifling a yawn at the thought. Or maybe I just need more coffee.

“Great!” She gives me the information and sends me on my way, back to my apartment to fill out an application.

But first—so much more coffee.

BOOK: Out on Good Behavior (Radleigh University Book 3)
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