I'm afraid of most men.
I haven't told anyone, and I'm not seeing a therapist about it, but it all started after I was sexually assaulted. Of course, no one knows about that either. I'm scared no one would believe me.
Especially since I'm not beautiful, tall, or attractive.
I'm a short little book nerd brunette. An introverted nobody, and it was a famous football player on campus who forced himself on me.
Why did he do that?
Those exact thoughts are why I keep it a secret.
No one would believe me if I said Thomas Hennington pushed me into the wall and shoved his junk inside me.
Thinking about it makes me sick to the stomach.
It happened during my first frat party before any classes had started. Thomas was drunk, but that is not an excuse.
What he did was wrong.
Yet I feel guilty that I was there.
It feels like everything is my fault.
Sometimes it makes me want to cry.
But no one would believe me if I told them what Thomas did.
Therefore, I keep my mouth shut and try not to think about it. I'm not wealthy enough to see a therapist, and I will be fine. I can handle this. There is worse stuff happening in this world.
I'm not pregnant—I checked.
And my fear of men is a phase that will pass.
Despite the mess inside my head, I silently tap away on my laptop inside the library.
Since its the first year of college, our professor wanted us to bond and make new friends. He grouped us two-and-two to make a presentation together, but my partner wasn't there.
I actually consider myself lucky because I'm supposed to work with a guy—Maddox Daniels. And although all the girls squealed, I didn't want to be paired with a guy.
Maddox Daniels sounds like a super scary name too.
And all the girls called him hot.
One girl sighed and fought the professor to switch partners with me; what the heck was that all about?
Girls are weird...
Yawning, I take a deep breath and stand up from my chair.
I'm getting hungry and should leave the library. I live with two other girls in a tiny apartment. They usually eat my food, but there might be something left.
I roll my shoulders and reach for my laptop. But before I can grab it and get out of here, heavy footfalls approach me.
I slowly turn around and freeze.
Who is that?
Anxiety churns in my stomach when I lift my chin.
An insanely colossal guy is heading in my direction. A grey hoodie hugs his muscular arms, and I'm forced to lift my chin to meet his irritated eyes; that's how tall he is.
Judging by his ripped body type, he must be into sports. Football or wrestling? A lineman? Hard to tell, but it must be a position that requires height. I would guess he is six-foot-five, or possibly six-foot-six.
Regardless, he is intimidating and handsome. Enough to make me forget how to function. I just stand there like a fool, staring at him while my IQ rapidly drops to zero.
Is he a movie star?
I'm pretty sure I'm gaping like a goldfish when the broody guy crosses his arms over his mighty chest. "You're Michelle Henriksson, right?"
Deep, authoritative voice.
I gulp and whisper. "Yes."
His relentless eyes dig into mine, and he takes a step closer.
I'm suddenly mere inches from him. The fabric of his hoodie almost brushes against me. He obviously lacks respect for personal space.
I would get away from him if the table weren't behind me, but I'm captured like prey.
"To think I actually found you in the library..." the guy mutters. "It must be my lucky day or something..."
I continue to stare at him.
His chest is ridiculously broad, and the surrounding air screams arrogance.
This might be the most intimidating guy I've ever met.
"Are you listening to me?"
No, I'm checking you out. "Y-yes..."
He sighs. "The professor said he gave you my number—why didn't you text or call me? We should work on this together."
"What was that?" He leans in closer and boxes me further into the table. Having him so close makes my heart pound. "Wait. Are you challenged or something?"
I open my mouth, but no sound comes out of my lips.
The scary guy leans closer. He seems to be checking my eyes, and I hold my breath. Is he going to hurt me?
I freeze as he glares at me, too nervous about making a move. Too damn scared of him.
"Are you on drugs?"
I shake my head.
"Well, why haven't you called?"
"C-Called?" I stammer.
He raises his voice while towering over me. "Yes, Michelle?! We are supposed to work together! Explain yourself! Why didn't you text or call me? Talk, for fuck's sake!"
His eyes narrow. "Speak louder, like a normal person! No one is going to hear you if you mumble like that..."
Tears are prickling behind my eyelids already, and my tongue darts to lick my lips.
Did he mistake me for someone else?
"I'm... Sorry… But who are you?"
My words make him drop his arms from his chest. He sighs and takes a step back to leave my personal space.
I'm still shocked by his size. What do they feed this guy with? Screaming villagers?
He is huge.
Also ridiculously attractive, but in a "he might be a serial killer" way that shoots shudders up my spine.
I watch him slowly walk away from me to pull out a chair and sit by the table.
His lips move. "Sit down."
I stare at him harder, unsure what to say or do. "Are you—..."
When I sink my teeth into my lower lip, the guy glares at me with anger ticking against his jaw.
"Seriously, don't you have any clue who I am?!"
I shake my head.
"There is a fucking poster of me hanging on the campus wall, and you don't know who I am?"
I shake my head again.
"Fucking hell..." He rakes his hand through his sandy hair, shaking his head like I'm the weirdo. "I'm Maddox Daniels, your project partner. Now, do you have a speech-related disability or something?"
No, I'm just... Scared around men.
Especially around Maddox Daniels, who, unfortunately, is my partner...
Why does he have a poster on the campus wall?
Never mind, I should answer him.
I whisper in a low tone. "No... I can talk fine..."
"Then speak louder, okay? I can't afford to fail this class," Maddox is eyeing my laptop like a predator. "What do you have so far? And why aren't you sitting down?"
I carefully retake my seat. I'm shaking, yet I somehow find my voice. "I haven't gotten that far yet with—"
Maddox rolls his eyes and grabs the side of my screen. He pulls the laptop over so he can see my work.
"Hmmm…" Maddox hums.
I'm close to passing out. My heart is racing, and my nerves root me to the spot. I'm not sure what to do with myself.
Maddox's eyes roam over my screen. "Who the hell decides to make a presentation about Sweden when you could choose any goddamn country in the world?"
"And that man in the picture, is he fucking skinny dipping?" Maddox looks away from the screen, sizing me up. "Wow, even the most innocent-looking girls are fucking predators. Don't judge a book by its cover. You can't trust anyone these days."
Is he talking about the man jumping off a cliff into the water in one of my pictures?
And we are writing about Norway, not Sweden!
"We... We are writing about Norway."
His eyebrows shoot up into his hairline, but the relentless, unfriendly expression returns a second later.
"I knew that—I can see the flag!"
Why do I get the feeling he had no clue?
"Seriously, I knew it was Norway we were working on all along. I'm not a total idiot."
For some reason, I have to bite back a smile.
Maddox Daniels is weird.
Maddox glares at me. "I was only testing you." He does this weird thing with his fingers, pointing two at his eyes and then letting them point at mine. "Just checking that your head is in the game."
Head is in the game?
Who the heck is this guy?!
I stare at him. I'm half-convinced that Maddox is insane. But I judge it might be better not to upset him by stating that thought.
He is big and could easily hurt me—I should keep my mouth shut not to get on his wrong side.
"Are you not happy with my choice of Norway?"
I think Norway is one of the prettiest countries in the entire world.
"No, Norway is fine," Maddox shoots back the laptop to my side of the table. I can't calm my racing heart around him. "I will forgive you for not calling or texting me. You have done well, but tomorrow we will walk here directly after class. Together. Capish?"
Words won't find me, and Maddox grunts.
"Is that understood, Michelle?"
I blush. "Y-yes."
His eyes rake me up and down.
Maddox appears daunting.
He is probably also used to getting what he wants. His whole demeanor screams power and control. I can see it mirrored in his arrogant eyes and feel it in the tense air around him.
"I can't hear you, Michelle."
I weakly inhale before raising my voice. "Yes, we will walk here tomorrow."
His eyes narrow. "Together."
Wow, so bossy.
"And you won't stand me up."
I wouldn't dare. "I won't stand you up."
"Finally, I can hear what you're saying," Maddox says without breaking into a smile, but he appears more pleased. He stands up. "Continue working on that presentation, okay?"
Where is he going?
Isn't he going to help me?!
I force out my shy voice. "W-where are you going?"
He lifts an eyebrow. "Aren't you hungry? I'm fetching us a pizza down the block. It will take me half an hour. You will still be here."
Maddox turns around without waiting for a response, and I blink after him. Stunned.
The arrogance of that guy.
You will still be here.
Guys with that kind of bossy attitude scare me. Maddox Daniels scares me. He is the epitome of what scary guys look like.
I can't ever see myself getting along with him…
Michelle It's gotten late, and I'm still at the library. Unhappiness is all around. I've barely gotten any work done because of my jittering nerves. And it's all thanks to this big guy, Maddox. He is feasting on the last pizza slice while sitting next to me in a chair to see my display. I'm so uncomfortable. Why does he have to be in my space all the time?! Timidly, I glance at the clock on the wall and repress a groan. It's late, and I should head home. It's relieving to finally be able to leave Maddox, but... Instead of feeling achieved after a long hard working day, I'm anxious. The work isn't halfway done! Why did the professor have to team me up with Maddox? He is lazy and does nothing for the team, while I like to stay ahead of my game! Wait. Game? Jesus Christ, now I'm even starting to sound like Maddox! "Are you holding silent conversations with yourself again?" Maddox asks while peeling a banana. He is such a bastard, beautiful, albeit a bastard. I don't d
Michelle "Do you live over there?" Maddox nods at a house up the street, his big hands holding the wheel in a death grip. "Yes, but you don't have to drive the entire way..." I nervously laugh and face his stern expression. "Why not?" "Um... Because my roommates would freak out if they saw you." He arches an eyebrow. "Fans of mine?" "Fans?" What is he even talking about? "Yeah, I'm pretty known around campus." "Y-you are?" "Yes." That's some arrogance right there. I swallow. "Well, that's not the reason." "What is it then?" "Uh…" I blush. "Nevermind." He sighs. "Out with it, Michelle." "Okay..." I shut my eyes. "I've never brought home a guy before, and they… My roommates… They are going to—" I can't say it. My heart is pounding too fast, and I'm embarrassed. Ciara and Zendra have told me I'm hopeless when it comes to guys, and bringing Maddox to the front of our door is probably... Well. A bad idea. They will ridicule me and ask me if I have a crush on Maddox. I
Maddox I need a freaking doctor. Something is seriously wrong with my head. Did I hit it or something? Possible brain damage from birth that didn't show up until now? I don't know what is happening to me, but I'm acting weird! I don't date. I don't do relationships. I don't want a WAG, a partner, or any romance in my life. Most girls are bloodsuckers and only out after your money. I know that, and I stay clear of the other gender. I should focus on the game, focus on the goddamn football, and not fall for any distractions. And girls are fucking distractions! Yes, I know this better than anyone. So why am I as hard as a rock in the shower while thinking about kissing Michelle fucking Henriksson?????!!!!! Why her? WHY! I punch the wall and groan at the pain. "FUCK!!!" "Will you please keep it down?!" Jason's voice comes from the other side of the wall because, let's face it, we live in misery. Paper-thin walls and no fucking privacy. The frathouse is a goddamn joke and som
Michelle I hate walking into the classroom every morning. I'm the quiet girl, and when that door opens, I got all eyes on me. The spotlight makes it harder to breathe. It's making my skin crawl. My heart beats faster, and even though there isn't straight-up laughter or name-calling like in high school, the silence speaks louder than volumes. I hate not having any friends. I hate not having any new clothes. I hate not being normal. I hate not being... Happy. I'm lonely, and it makes me feel vulnerable. Thomas definitely used that to his advantage when he... When he... Raped me. Tears prickle behind my eyes. I think I'm suffering from PTSD. Sometimes I experience flashes of Thomas's face and how he pushed me against that wall at the party. It makes me want to scream. But I refuse to cry. Don't ever look back. I keep my eyes down not to meet any of the sneers in the classroom. Stay strong. Breathe. Sadly, I can't ignore the whispers. The popular girls are already
Maddox The library is peaceful and serene. I'm here with Michelle and eating an apple while she is working on our project. Everything would be damn near perfect. IF ONLY THAT GLASSES-WEARING GUY WOULD STOP STEALING GLANCES AT HER! The bloke is sitting at his own table. Tie and slicked-back hair, all proper, with a nervous smile on his lips. He is undoubtedly in love with Michelle, and it bothers me. Who the fuck does he think he is staring at her like that?! Can't he see that Michelle is here with me? Michelle isn't my girlfriend. She will never be anything like that, and I'm DEFINITELY not jealous, but come on! That idiot better stop fucking staring at her! I move closer to Michelle while glaring at the other guy. I would be barking at him if I had been born as a rottweiler. "Uhh..." Michelle glances up at me. She seems uncomfortable, frightened by the proximity even. "W-why you sitting so close?" I narrow my eyes, muttering. "No reason." "Okay..." Michelle returns to ta
Michelle I'm running, and I manage to make it outside the library before tears run down my chin like rain. I wipe them away with a trembling hand and dry my cheeks with my sleeve. "I'm stupid, so fucking stupid for thinking Maddox could be nice!" I yell at myself and quicken my pace down the street. It's dark and scary, but I don't give a fuck. I'm so humiliated. Why would Maddox pick up the letter and read it out loud? Why would he do that to me? What the hell is wrong with him?! I don't understand. My heart is shattering. Of all the damn people to develop feelings for, why did it have to be that idiot?! He is a big, fucking bully! More tears crawl out of the corner of my eyes. I'm working up a sweat while sobbing in the dark. Maddox Daniels is a heartless jerk. I don't understand why the girls at campus love him so much! How could he possibly be popular?! Well, I do know—girls don't care about his cold-bloodedness. All they want is his looks and money. He is hot, but f
Maddox "Please just put me down..." Michelle begs. I'm still carrying her like a hunting trophy. She is seriously lightweight and needs to eat something. But the fact that I can handle her so easily kind of turns me on. What is wrong with my head? Michelle keeps squirming. "This is embarrassing! Please put me down! Maddox..." Embarrassing? Pfft! I don't give a fuck. I've glared at every fool who has stared at us, and not a single one has kept looking. This is fine. "We are almost by your apartment." "Maddox... P-please... Blood is rushing to my head..." A sigh escapes me. I don't do friends or girlfriends. Relationships aren't for me, yet I relent when the little thing begs me to put her down again. She is like a tiny little rabbit. Defenseless, and it does weird things to my brain. It shouldn't be legal for a girl of this stature to walk out alone... "Maddox..." "Fine," I grumble. I grab Michelle and put her down next to me. The fabric of her jacket slides up her flat st
Michelle I'm so out of place. I came to watch Maddox's football game but didn't realize the stadium would be so PACKED with people. My nerves are jittering around, and I'm close to puking. I've never once before went to one of these games. My heart is racing, and I think I might be sick AND broke. Stupid as I am, I bought the ticket with my own money, and now I'm surrounded by shouting and whistling fans. I didn't realize this game would be so huge. Outside the stadium, children were getting their faces painted. There is a freaking orchestra playing music, and I'm staring at some girls holding up these banderoles. It feels like I've stepped into a movie. A trio of good-looking blonde women with colors painted on their faces holds up this thing that says, "WE WANT MADDOX'S BABIES!!" I find that sickening to write since they don't know him. But maybe that kind of thing is normal to write? Further down, another says, "Jason, call me!!" Sighing, I sink into my seat. Maddox of