Hazed (Palm South University #6) by Kandi Steiner




I AM AT A whole new level of Hot Mess Express.

Of course, I’m no stranger to this state of being. I’ve been the caboose of that train, the engine, the dozen or so carts in-between. But this? This is another train altogether. No, this is a jet plane of hot mess. Or perhaps even a spaceship.

And still, I’d rather sit in this steaming pile of mess than face everything plaguing me head on.

I wonder if this is part of becoming an “adult.” You graduate from college, move off campus, and instead of actually having your shit together with a badass job and a hot ass fiancé and whatever else you thought would happen, you just end up an even more frazzled version of who you were a month ago when you were still a college student.

From the outside looking in, the unknowing bystander would likely take one look at me and think, “Wow, she’s really got it together.” After all, my dad hooked me, Lei, and Erin up with a bougie condo in downtown Miami overlooking the beach, with floor-to-ceiling windows that make me feel like an absolute boss, even if it is being paid for with Daddy’s money. His deal was simple — I’ll float you the first year while you figure out what comes next.

Seems simple enough. A fair and generous trade.

Except I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do now that I’ve graduated.

I have the degree. I have the internship under my belt and the coursework fresh in my head and all the desire and passion it takes to be a wedding planner.

And still, not a single company has called me in for an interview.

It will just take time, Lei assures me daily. That’s easy for her to say. The bitch not only got hired on at Okay, Cool after one semester of interning, but promptly got a dozen job offers the second she was let go.

Well, at least I have it going on in the boyfriend department, right? Kade Brewer is everything every girl dreams of — hilarious, smart, driven, incredibly hot, and, thanks in large part to my training, an absolute god in the bedroom.

The problem?

I’ve barely talked to, let alone seen, him since we both left campus in December.

It’s been four weeks, and bless the sweet man, he’s given me my space. He understood when I said I just wanted to spend time with my family after graduation. He understood when I said I just needed some time to get the new place set up with the girls. He understood when I said I just needed time to focus on job applications.

I make an excuse, he says no problem.

The asshole.

If only he were demanding I face him, maybe I could be mad at him. Maybe I could blame all my icky feelings and this state I’ve found myself in on him.

Maybe I could admit the fact that the real reason I’ve been hiding away is because his big brother is the first man I ever loved, and he just swung back into my life like a wrecking ball.

God, just the thought of that horrid event has me groaning and covering my head with my covers again.

Yes, it’s ten past noon and I’m still in bed. Don’t come for me.

When the darkness covers me, it’s easy to go back to that day. It was my last Kappa Kappa Beta chapter. Erin passed the torch down to Skyler and we were all ready to go party at Ralph’s. I was ready to ditch it altogether in favor of doing extremely dirty things to Kade.

Until we got to where he’d parked his car at the Alpha Sigma house and I’d found Jarrett leaning up against it.

Jarret fucking Locke.

That bald, tattooed, beautiful bastard was the absolute last person I expected to see, and when he called Kade “brother,” I passed out.

Literally, blacked out and hit the concrete.

I guess it was my body’s defense mechanism. Hurry, knock the bitch out so she doesn’t have to deal with this!

And here we are, a month later, and I’m still living that motto.

In all fairness, I really did take the holiday break to spend time with my family, and I really have been setting up in the new place and job searching.

Did I really need to blow my boyfriend off in the process? No.

But this is my M.O. When something hurts or is confusing, I run from it.

Clearly, I haven’t stepped into adulthood quite yet.

My phone buzzes incessantly, keeping me from slipping into my second nap for the day. When I glance at the screen, I see Front Desk on the caller ID.

“Good afternoon, Miss Vonnegut,” Herb says. He’s one of the associates who mans the front desk area in the lobby, signing for packages and letting us know when we have guests.

“Afternoon, Herb,” I reply with a fake British accent. I don’t really know how it started, but when I met him, I pretended to be British after he greeted me so formally. I’m ninety percent sure he doesn’t think I’m actually British, but it’s still fun to keep up the façade.