Home > A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
Author: Monica Murphy

 

 

ONE

 

 

CREW

 

 

It’s been three years, four months, two days and a handful of hours since the first moment I set eyes on her.

The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.

The absolute bane of my existence.

She arrived at Lancaster Prep boarding school the first day of our freshman year, and no one knew who she was. Fresh and untested, open and accepting with that damn smile that seems permanently etched across her face. Every girl in our class immediately fell under her spell. Followed her everywhere she went. Desperately wanted to be her friend, even fought for the coveted spot of best friend. They copied her effortless style, and she set the school abuzz every time she wore her hair a different way or put on a new pair of earrings, for Christ’s sake.

Even the older girls, the upperclassmen, were drawn to her. Completely captivated by a seemingly innocent green-eyed girl who has barely spoken ten words to me in the entirety of her time here.

I’ve heard from more than one person that I scare her. Intimidate her. I am everything she fears, as well she should.

I’d eat her up. Swallow her whole—enjoy every second of it, too.

And she knows it.

We are opposites in every single way you can think of, yet we’re also unspoken equals. It’s the weirdest fucking thing.

She is a leader they all follow, and she quietly rules the school, just like me. Her crown is light though. Made of spun glass and airy effervescence and with zero expectations. While mine is heavy and cumbersome, reminding me of my duty to the family. To the name.

To the Lancasters.

We’re one of the richest families in the country, if not the world. Our legacy goes back generations. I own this school—literally—and everyone in it. With the exception of one person.

She won’t even look at me.

“Why you staring?”

I don’t bother looking in my best friend, Ezra Cahill’s direction when he asks me that stupid question. We’re at the front entrance of the school Monday after Thanksgiving break, the crisp early morning air cold enough to penetrate through my thick wool jacket. I should’ve worn a heavier coat. And I sure as hell am not going inside. Not yet.

I do this almost every single morning: wait for the queen’s arrival, for the day she actually acknowledges me.

Currently, I’m running at a zero percent rate of acknowledgement.

“I’m not staring,” I finally tell Ez, my voice flat. Uncaring.

Outwardly, I act like I don’t give a shit about anything or anyone. It’s easier that way. Trust me, I’m perfectly aware I’m a complete cliché, but it works for me. To care is to admit vulnerability, and I’m the least vulnerable motherfucker at this entire school. Shit slides off my back. Expectations are never placed upon me. My older brothers think I’m the luckiest out of all of us, but I don’t think so.

At least they’re acknowledged on a consistent basis. Sometimes I think my father flat out forgets I exist.

“You’re looking for her again.”

My head snaps in Ezra’s direction, my glare hard and cold, though he ignores me, his only admission he’s aware being that smirk curving his lips. “When do I not?” The question is sharp. Like a slap to the face, not that he cares.

The fucker actually laughs at me. “Fuck all this waiting around. How long has it been? You should talk to her.”

I shift my position against the cold pillar I’m leaning against, my entire body lax. Casual. Though deep inside, I’m coiled tight, my gaze going to her once more. Yet again.

Always.

Wren Beaumont.

She ambles up the walkway toward the school’s entrance. Toward me. With a serene smile on her face, she radiates light, casting her unique beam on everyone she walks past, lulling them into a trance. She greets everyone—but me—in that high-pitched voice, offering them a pleasant good morning like she’s Snow fucking White. Friendly and sweet, and so goddamned beautiful, it almost hurts to look at her for too long.

My gaze drops to her left hand, where the thin gold band fits snug around her ring finger, a single, tiny diamond resting atop it. A promise ring she received at one of those fucked-up ceremonies where a slew of prepubescent future debutantes are put on parade in a sea of pastel gowns cut in demure lines. Not an inch of scandalous skin visible.

Their dates are their daddies, important men among society, who like to own things, including women. Such as their daughters. Sometime during the evening, they are put through a painful ceremony where they turn to face their fathers and repeat a vow of chastity to them while the ring is slipped onto their fingers. Like it’s a wedding.

Strange as hell, if you ask me. Glad my father didn’t put my older sister Charlotte through that bullshit. Sounds like something he’d enjoy.

Our little Wren is a virgin and proud of it. Everyone on campus knows about the speeches she gives the other girls, about saving themselves for their future husbands.

It’s fucking pitiful.

When we were younger, the girls in our class listened to Wren and agreed. They should save themselves. Value their bodies and not give them away to us disgusting, useless creatures. But then we all got a little older and fell into relationships or hookups. One by one, her friends lost their virginity.

Until she was the last virgin standing in the senior class.

“You waste your time with that one, Lancaster,” says my other closest friend, Malcolm. The fucker is richer than God and from London, so all the girls on campus throw their panties at him, thanks to his British accent. He doesn’t even have to ask. “She’s a right prude and you know it.”

“That’s half the reason he wants her,” Ezra cracks, knowing my truth. “He’s dying to corrupt her. Steal all her firsts from that mythical future husband she’ll have one day. The one who won’t give a shit if she’s a virgin or not.”

My friend isn’t wrong. That’s exactly what I want to do. Just to say I can. Why save yourself for some fake man who will do nothing but disappoint you on your wedding night?

So damn foolish.

Malcolm contemplates Wren as she stops and talks to a cluster of girls, all of them younger than her. Each of them fluttering around her as if she’s their mama bird and they’re all her dependent babies, eager for a scrap of attention from her.

“Wouldn’t mind having a go at her either,” Malcolm murmurs, his gaze narrowing as he continues staring at her.

I send him a murderous look. “Touch her and you’re fucking dead.”

He throws back his head and laughs. “Please. I’m not interested in virgins. I prefer my women to have a little experience.”

“Definitely don’t like it when they’re scared of a penis,” Ezra adds, clutching his junk for emphasis.

Ignoring their laughter, I refocus on Wren, my gaze wandering the length of her. Navy jacket with the Lancaster crest on it, white button-up shirt beneath, her full tits straining against the fabric. Pleated plaid skirt that hits her just above the knee. Always modest, our Wren. The white socks with the little ruffle, the Doc Marten Mary Janes on her feet.

Her one sign of rebellion—albeit a minor one. Those shoes sent the girls of Lancaster Prep into an absolute tailspin when she showed up to school wearing them, the day we came back from winter break our freshman year. It threw the girls off. Everyone at Lancaster wore loafers. It was an unspoken rule.

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