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You know she’s game. You know this from the start: when you send her a picture of your penis and she sends you a picture of her breasts—not the nipple, the part above it. The rest is covered under her bra.

“I thought you wanted to get to know me.”

“I do.”

“You’re just like all the others.”

“I am?”

You send her a sad emoji and she must feel bad about this because later she sends you a text message saying, “I want you.” You tell her you want her too.

Then you don’t talk to her for three days.

This is how it goes: you pretend to ignore her and she pretends to ignore you, meanwhile both of you are biting your lips at two a.m., writhing in agony. Not that you don’t already have someone, not that she isn’t great. Her name is Sheena and she’s everything you need. Except lately she won’t go down on you. Lately she complains about the taste. Lately she read some article on gonorrhea and now she acts like you have the freaking plague.

“I just want to be smart about it,” she says, which really means: “I won’t suck you without a ring.”

So you do other things. You go to the movies, the mall, the Thai restaurant near the dorms. You walk her to class and wait for her until she’s done. You pretend to like her friends, too, even the gay one, who, as it turns out, isn’t actually gay—he’s a theatre major and you just assumed. You do this because eventually you know she’ll give it up. Eventually you know she’ll cave. Eventually, she’ll be screaming your name.

And that’s when she tells you she’s a virgin.

“I made a promise.”

“To whom?”

“To God.”

You want to ask her if that promise said anything about drinking too much the night before, but you never say a word. You’ve learned that much so far: never say a word.

The girl from the website isn’t a virgin. Her name is “Kandi, with a “K”. She tells you this over the phone. She says that all her life people assumed she was a slut because they thought her name started with a “C”.

“There’s a difference,” she says. “A huge one.”

She’s only in town for a few days — she’s been staying in a hotel. She says she went to your school, once, just a few years ago. You ask her how many and she changes the subject.

“Let’s meet,” she says. “But only if you want to, that is.”

Of course you want to. You’ve been wanting to for days. Sometimes you wanted to twice in one morning. Once, you wanted to while watching the news. You couldn’t help yourself. You masturbated to CNN.

You’ve only seen a few pictures of her but already you can taste her skin. It tastes like watermelon, you decide. She has the kind of honey-blond hair you used to dream about in high school, every time Tessa Mack shook her head. She sat in front of you in English class. She copied your notes. She gave you a blowjob once in the backseat of your car. Twice she showed up at your doorstep wearing nothing but a smile.

But only in your dreams.

It’s not that you have a thing for white girls. It’s that white girls never had a thing for you. They never even looked at you—unless of course it was to tell you to move, or scram, or hold their backpack after class. Then they would jump into the arms of some tall white guy and forget all about you—or hell, even a black guy. There was never an Indian guy. You knew that even then.

So what makes you think they want you now? What makes you think they want you is the picture Kandi sends you one afternoon, while you’re eating lunch on the quad. You’re sitting with Sheena and her friends when it pops up on your screen.

“Who’s texting you?” she says.

“No one,” you reply.

Wrong—you wouldn’t have been on your phone if it were no one. She points this out to you and you laugh. Then you turn your head. Say something. Say anything. Tell her it’s your mom, or your boy. Tell her it’s the flower shop confirming your order for a dozen roses. Tell her it’s the dentist reminding you of your appointment. Tell her you’re in love. She’ll leave it alone then. She’ll go back to her friends. She won’t be tearing the phone away from your hands, bursting into tears, telling you that it’s over, that she never wants to see you again. That she’s glad she never fucked you, anyways, because it would have been a lousy screw. She won’t be leaving you alone on a hot summer day with nothing but the picture Kandi sent to you of her breasts—the one you never looked at again.

She won’t do any of this if you breathe, relax, take her by the hand. Tell her you love her—it’s easy. All you have to do is lie.