Johanna Palmer is very much over relationships.
After a scarring experience her freshman year of college, she’s decided she’d much rather have something fun than something serious.
Her best friend Miller has seen it all—the tears, the parties, the drunken phone calls at four in the morning when she needed a ride. In fact, there might be several things Miller saw that Jo herself can’t remember.
Things Miller can’t forget.
With the whirlwind of senior year underway, Jo just wants to move on, get her degree, and land her dream job. But her past might not be as easy to outrun as she’d hoped.
The Anti-Relationship Year is a friends to lovers college romance that acts as a companion to The Anti-Virginity Pact. Both books can be read as standalones.
“They’re seniors at Portland State,” Kayleigh hissed under her breath as the bouncer glanced at their IDs and ushered them inside. Miller wiggled his eyebrows as the three of them hurried through the doors. The bar was lively, but not as crowded as Jo had expected. The stage was just a small platform in the back corner with a few lights pointed in its direction. Wires and musical instruments were strewn about, but none of the band members had surfaced yet.
“I’ve never heard of them,” Jo admitted.
“They’re about to make it big,” Kayleigh insisted, raising onto her tiptoes to get a look at the line out the windows. “I can’t see Addie or Liv anymore.” She turned to Miller. “What are your roommates’ names again?”
Miller frowned and shrugged.
Jo stifled a snort. At least it wasn’t just her.
“You don’t know any of their names?” Kayleigh demanded.
Miller narrowed his eyes, considering this. “Pretty sure one of them is Alan—big guy with the goofy hair? And one of them might be Gatsby. Or maybe he just likes The Great Gatsby…” He shook his head. “Nah, he doesn’t seem like the kind to read. I think it’s his name.”
Kayleigh threw her hands up, her gaze now moving on to survey the rest of the crowd—a few people were wearing T-shirts with the name UNITED FATES scrawled across the front, but not many. She jutted her chin toward the bar and elbowed Jo in the ribs. “You should get the drinks. You look the most twenty-one of the three of us.”
Jo shot an uneasy glance toward the bar and adjusted the straps of her tank top. She already had the wristband from the front door. The hard part was over. She forced a smile and flipped her hair over her shoulders. She’d curled it tonight, and the tinted lights overhead were making it look more wine-colored than its usual copper shade. “I’ll be right back.”
The bartender did a quick once-over as she approached. “What can I get you?” His hair was nearly as red as Johanna’s was, complete with a matching mustache. He also looked to be barely twenty-one himself.
“Three beers.” Her gaze swept the bar, and she pointed to a fish-shaped tap handle. “That one.” She had no idea if that one was any good, but the bartender turned away wordlessly and grabbed three glasses.
“Those all for you?”
A man slid into the chair on Johanna’s left. The first thing she noticed was the tattoos. He braced an arm on the bar, revealing a sleeve all the way from his wrist to his shoulder beneath his white T-shirt. All of the images and words blurred seamlessly together, the black ink stark against his pale skin. A silver coin on a long chain dangled from his neck as he leaned forward.
The second thing she noticed was how inky and gelled his hair was, styled to stand up just-so in the front. He must have spent at least half as long as she had in front of the mirror tonight.
The final thing she noticed was the way his eyes lingered on her body. He found her face eventually, but it was a steep climb to get there. He started at her legs, then gradually made it to her hips, her waist, her chest, and then, finally, her eyes. He wasn’t even being subtle about it. He wanted her to see him looking at her.
From what she could tell, he had a nice body, too. But she definitely wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of watching her check him out.
“I don’t have NPS tattooed on my lip for nothing,” she said as the bartender returned and slid the beers across the counter to her.
“NPS?” asked the mystery guy.
She quirked an eyebrow at him over her shoulder. “No pussy shit.”
Katie Wismer is a diehard pig-lover, semi-obsessive gym rat, and longtime sucker for a well-written book. She studied creative writing and sociology at Roanoke College and now lives in Colorado with her cats Max and Dean. She spends most of her free time on her Youtube channel Katesbookdate where she chats about books, life, and veganism.
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