By: Radhika Sanghani

He grinned, rubbing his hands together. Charlie was the joker of the group, and he liked nothing more than being given the spotlight so he could make everyone groan and laugh over his filthy sense of humor. This was his prime opportunity. I gulped as I tried to mentally prepare myself for what was coming. If I managed to make my face look calm and unbothered, no one would know that I would be lying through my teeth.

“All right, so, never have I ever fucked someone in a public place.” Without waiting for anyone else to start drinking, Charlie raised his glass and downed it. Everyone rolled their eyes until he shot them the cheeky grin that had probably made so many girls want to shag him in public in the first place.

I hesitated over whether to drink. I needed to choose wisely. I couldn’t just develop a new personality for this game; I needed to think which sexual things I would have done if I had lost my virginity years ago like everyone else. A brief layer of sweat formed on my top lip. It was too late to drink now so I put my glass down and looked around to see who had drunk.

Eight people had raised their glasses, and six of us hadn’t. I breathed out in relief. I was one of six, which made me normal, kind of, and there was always safety in numbers. With the edge of my sleeve, I wiped the beads of sweat off my top lip.

Hannah—who had drunk—started waving her arms around and said, “Okay, my turn! So, never have I ever cheated on anyone.”

Some of the boys sighed in boredom, but even Charlie refrained from criticizing this, probably because he was just as curious as everyone else to see who drank. I started to wonder if I could drink for this one. Obviously I hadn’t actually ever had a boyfriend to cheat on, but back when I was messaging James Martell during those two weeks pre–Bite Job, I once got drunk and accidentally snogged someone else at a party. I think it lasted two point five seconds, and I have no idea who it was, but it was definitely cheating.

Feeling confident and sexually active, I drank some of my vodka and Coke. Three other people drank with me, and ten did not. Oh God, I was in the minority. This was dangerous, because someone could ask me about my story, and what exactly would I—

“Ellie! I can’t believe you’ve cheated on someone! That seems so unlike you! So tell us, who were you dating, and who did you shag?” On cue, Hannah interrupted my thoughts and brought me crashing back to the reality of Luke’s living room with its vinyl records stuck to the walls.

Shag? Surely cheating could include snogging, right? Why did EVERYTHING have to be about sex?

“Oh God, um, it was ages ago. I was seventeen, and I was dating this guy called James Mar—” I paused, suddenly remembering that Joe, one of the guys in the room, had gone to the same school as James. Hopefully he would have no idea who I was talking about, especially because I was trying to pass off this casual fling (could I even call it a fling?) as a bona fide relationship.

“So, yeah, I was dating James, and I hooked up with someone else. When I was drunk, at a party. Not very exciting.” I laughed awkwardly.

Hannah looked at me with raised eyebrows and did a feminine snort as she turned away, literally flouncing her hair. I’d thought only shampoo models did that.

Marie, a Belgian ex-model with a block fringe, asked, “So, it is my turn now?” All the boys looked up at the sound of her accent and grinned their assent. “Okay, so I have had anal sex.”

I choked on the pretzel I was eating and coughed. No one noticed because all the boys were grinning and admiring Marie’s looks while Hannah shrieked about her getting the rules wrong and ruining the game. I grabbed my glass and drank quickly, feeling better as the bits of pretzel were flushed down my throat.

I looked up to see who had actually drunk for this, wondering if Charlie would. I saw Hannah staring at me with her beady eyes as she shrieked, “Oh my God—Ellie just drank as well! So that’s five of the boys, Marie, Emma, and Ellie. Wow, Ellie, you’re such a dark horse.”

All of them were staring at me. I saw Charlie’s appreciative expression and something like lust spreading across his face. I felt the blood drain out of my cheeks and tried to force my face into something resembling a smile. I shrugged as I fake-smiled too brightly and reached back into the bowl of pretzels.

“So, who did you do it with?” asked Hannah persistently. I could have killed her.

Luckily, Emma—the only girl there whose clothes looked way more Topshop than charity shop—came to my rescue. “Uh, I thought we were playing Never Have I Ever, not Twenty Questions,” she said.

Hannah shrugged and Emma carried on. “But if we are allowed to ask questions, then why don’t you tell us your cheating story? You already made Ellie tell hers.”

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