Head in the Cloud

Head in the Cloud by J.M. Snyder
College senior Jake Mallory cares more about his reputation as a former high school jock turned party animal than his grade point average. His time in class is spent counting down to the weekend, when he'll hit the gay club scene with his roommate Holly, who doubles as his designated driver. To celebrate being back at school after summer break, Jake parties so hard, he wakes up Sunday morning with blurred memories of the past two days. Worse than his hangover, though, is the fact that he can’t find his iPhone.

Holly's best friend Evan Williams is a grade A nerd, complete with slicked-back hair and thick, dorky glasses. Jake can't stand Evan on principle, though it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that Evan has a major crush on Jake. No matter how mean Jake is to him, Evan just won't take a hint. He might even know something about the missing phone, but Jake won't give him the time of day to hear what he has to say.

When Jake logs into the cloud online to access his homework, he finds photos uploaded from his phone that he doesn’t remember taking over the weekend. In them is a hot, sexy guy he hooked up with in the back seat of Holly’s car. Soon he realizes the guy must have his phone, and has begun taking explicit photos with it as if to tease Jake.

Holly knows who the guy is but she isn't telling, so Jake begs her to arrange a meeting. He wants his phone back, but more than that, he wants a chance to take things further with the hot stranger. She agrees to throw a house party and invite the guy over. At first, Jake is pissed when he doesn’t show up. Jake doesn't even know who he is. But as the night progresses, he gets his phone back ... and so much more.



As Jake reached the foot of the stairs, he heard a key scrape into the lock on the front door and thanked God he’d managed to find a clean pair of sweats to pull on before coming down. He’d foregone a shirt of any kind -- his dresser drawers were suspiciously empty, which made him think most of his clothing must have been in the wash. He’d have to ask Holly ...

“Oh, you know he won’t remember,” his roommate was saying as she opened the front door.

Jake froze on the bottom step, wishing he’d found a shirt after all. Who was with her?

The door swung wide and Holly Mason entered, followed by the geeky Evan Williams. He was everything she was not. Vivacious, talkative, flirty, Holly controlled the room the moment she entered it, whereas skinny little Evan seemed in danger of wilting into the nearest corner and disappearing from sight. He had a mop of blond hair that might have looked good on a surfer from California, but only looked out of place on him. He must have combed it back after he showered because from Jake’s position on the stairs, the teeth marks from the comb appeared to be etched into his scalp. When a strand broke free from the pack, he shook his head to the side to try to get it out of his face, but it didn’t move. His wire-frame glasses did little to enhance his appearance, and when he turned sideways, Jake could see just how thick the lenses were. No wonder Evan always looked as if he’d been spooked -- the glasses magnified his eyes until they threatened to eclipse his face.

Boys like Evan bothered Jake on some fundamental level. It wasn’t just his awkwardness or gawkish manner. It was his intellect Jake couldn’t really deal with. Who had a right to be that damn smart?

From the corner of her eye, Holly caught sight of Jake standing on the stairs and flashed him a quick smile. “Hey, speak of the devil,” she said, leaning on the bannister. “Welcome back to the land of the living.”

Behind her, Evan grinned nervously. “Hi, Jake.”

Jake grunted in response and pushed past them on his way into the kitchen. “You got my phone?” he called back.

Holly followed him, Evan on her heels. “Why, you lose it?” she asked.

Answering her seemed like too much of a hassle, so Jake ignored the question. He went straight for the cabinet where she kept over-the-counter medicine, but the cupboard was bare. The pain in his head pounded harder, threatening to swell again. “Where’s the aspirin?”

“By your bed,” she told him. “I thought you might need it when you finally woke back up.”

By your bed. Which meant that rattling bottle of pills he knocked off the bedside table, the one he almost tripped over and finally kicked away under his bed, was the very same bottle he needed to make his headache go away. The thought of bending down to find it made a vein in his temple throb. “Shit,” he muttered.

“Want me to go get it for you?” Evan offered, a little too eagerly.

Jake shot him a withering look, but it failed to register with the kid. Part of the reason Evan annoyed him so much was because, for some inexplicable reason, Evan liked him. Really liked him. No matter how mean Jake was to him, or how much Jake tried to ignore him, Evan wouldn’t shake off the crush. As if Jake would ever hook up with a nerd like that. He might be a slob, but he had standards. A hunk, for starters. A big dick, too. One look at the scrawny little chicken clucking behind Holly and Jake knew he’d never want any part of that, no matter how hard up he got.

Though if Evan were willing to retrieve the aspirin for him, Jake wouldn’t have to do it himself.

“It fell under the bed,” he said, which was as far as he would go to asking Evan for help.

Holly sighed and shook her head, but Evan was already dashing up the stairs. “You’re an ass, you know that?” she asked, pouring herself a glass of juice.

“He offered.” Jake held out a hand for the carton. When she gave it to him, he drank straight from it, which earned him another sigh. “What?”

“You’re a pig,” Holly declared.

“Yeah, yeah, you love me anyway.” Jake didn’t drink all the juice -- he wanted to save some to wash down the pills. While he waited for Evan to return, he asked, “So you don’t have my phone?”

Holly gave him an odd look. “Why would I?”

“I didn’t give it to you to hold for me or anything?” Jake persisted.

She shook her head.