Stokes & Ford

an excerpt

Chapter One

Ford felt the bass of the music work through his body as he danced in the middle of the crowd. The off-campus house was small, but no one seemed to give a fuck as they enjoyed the beginning of their winter break. Most people had stayed on campus. There was no point in driving home for a couple extra days off.

Ford was hot, sweaty, and more than a little bit buzzed as the frat party was in full swing. He didn't have to think about anything--not studying, lectures, classes, or his brooding best friend who was nursing a beer and holding up the damn wall. Ford glanced over to see that, yep, Stokes was still there, in his black T-shirt and tight jeans with combat boots. He was giving a fuck-off vibe to all passing him. He'd been Ford's best friend since they had roomed together as freshmen three years ago and pledged to this very fraternity. Now, they still lived together in off-campus apartments.

They had lived at the fraternity last year but with all the campus rules including no alcohol, even in the fraternities, they decided to live off-campus this year. They had a couple of choices, live in this house with a group of their frat brothers, who hosted all the parties off campus so the frat could actually have a keg at a party or live at the off-campus apartments. After seeing what these poor guys cleaned up the next morning, they chose the apartments.

Stokes closed his pale gray eyes as if the thought of enjoying himself was too much right then. Stokes got this way whenever his friend from home came to visit. For whatever reason, Stokes never talked too much about his visits from Bodie, and Ford respected his friend's privacy enough not to ask. But that didn't mean he didn't care that every other month after the visit, Stokes would be in a funk for the rest of the week. Ford thought the party would cheer Stokes up, but his friend just tugged at the short blue strands on the top of his head as if he had a headache coming and Ford knew he had made a big mistake.

Slowing his moves down, Ford maneuvered his way across the crowded floor toward Stokes. They were almost the same height and build at five ten and a hundred and sixty pounds. They spent a lot of time in the gym for intramurals but didn't play sports for the college. That was one of the things that brought them so close. They loved to be active and were pretty good but not quite at the level needed to a make a college team.

They were alike in a lot of ways including their Marketing majors. However, their demeanor was very different. Where Ford needed to be on top of his studies, Stokes would play video games up until the night before a major exam and then crash study all night. Stokes would get an A and Ford would eke out a B...if he was lucky. He didn't want to think about the exams they had worked hard for all week. Ford just wanted to relax and unwind with his friends and frat brothers around him.

"Want to leave?" Ford asked as he leaned in to Stokes' personal space so he could be heard over the music.

Stokes shook his head. Damn, Stokes was in a mood tonight.

"You sure? You don't look like you're having a good time." Ford was shoved from behind and had to brace his hands on the wall on each side of Stokes. He was having a good time, but it was getting to a point where people wouldn't be able to move in there pretty soon. They could always go up to one of their frat brothers' rooms, but no telling if they were busy or not at this point in the party.

Stokes glared at him, the gray eyes turning gunmetal. Ford had to hand it to his best friend. He was a handsome man. Full lips in a constant pout and chiseled features. He had a slight stubble, which contrasted with his blue-dyed hair. Every week it was a different color depending on what dye Stokes felt like using on his hair. Stokes wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him in a little closer as the jostling increased behind them.

While Stokes was always up in his personal space, he had never held Ford quite like this. Ford stared at Stokes, confused. Stokes just stared back with a smirk on his face. At least he didn't look pissed off anymore. Their bodies were pressed even tighter together when a group of frat brothers jostled next to them to get to the keg.

Even Ford could only take so much.

"Let's go, Alistair." Ford called Stokes by his first name, which he knew Stokes hated with a passion. The only reason Ford knew of it was because whenever Stokes's mom called, that's who she asked for. The first time she had called, he told her she had the wrong number. After a long suffering sigh, she had asked for Stokes. The blush on his friend's face was worth all the razzing thereafter.

This time, Stokes gave him the stink eye as he tipped his head back and emptied the contents of his can. "We're staying."

"Look, I know--" Ford began but was cut off when Stokes pushed off the wall, nearly knocking him over and grabbed his hand. He pulled both of them out on the dance floor, and Stokes began dancing. A couple of the brothers tipped their cans to the two of them.

Sheesh, Ford always admired Stokes's dancing skills. It was effortless, and while he didn't suck, Ford looked like he had to practice in front of the mirror before venturing out in public.

"Come on and dance with me." Stoked beckoned him closer.

Ford snorted. "I have two left feet compared to you." He had tried a time or two and failed miserably.

"Come on." Stokes waggled his brows, shouting over the loud music.

Stokes always teased and challenged him until he finally gave in. It wasn't that he was afraid to dance with Stokes; it was just that he was that bad of a dancer. He was more embarrassed than anything.

Stokes's hips moved to the beat, and sure enough, within the first few seconds on the floor, girls starting circling. Ford's opening was swallowed up as one girl came up, handing them both an unopened can of beer and inserted herself and her friend in the middle of the two of them. That was okay with him. Well, kind of... it was a tiny bit irritating because he was having fun with Stokes for the first time that night.

Ford popped his can open as did Stokes, and the two drank their beer as they danced with the girls. He didn't know these girls. They looked vaguely familiar, but he decided he was more than happy to dance with them. Especially since it seemed to bring Stokes out of his funk long enough to take a drink of his beer and put one arm around the brunette.

Ford grabbed a hold of the blonde and started dancing with her, hoping that for the rest of the night they could just enjoy and forget. He and Stokes pressed their backs against one another as a girl danced in front of each of them. Now this he could do without damaging Stokes's feet. He paid more attention to the man behind him, hearing his laughter as he continued to dance and laugh alongside him. Ford thought this was one hell of a way to turn the night around, dancing with his friend and making new ones.

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