"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.
"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."
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...
A bad idea.
They will ridicule me and ask me if I have a crush on Maddox. I can feel the incoming bullying in my gut already. Zendra will probably say that working on this group project with Maddox is the closest I will ever get to dating a handsome guy.
They are probably right.
Guys aren't exactly lining up the street to date me.
Ciara and Zendra, however, are both beautiful and popular. They date guys hotter than hell while I'm this short, pimple-faced introvert who is too scared of men to make a movie. Like, I don't want to die alone, but...
I'm not pretty.
And my roommates make sure to remind me of that every single day.
"I'm coming inside."
I look up. "What?"
"You heard me."
Maddox has already parked the car, and before I can intervene, he opens the car door. He takes my bag, and I hastily follow him.
What is he doing?
"Uh..." As Maddox strides toward the porch, I'm jogging to keep up with him. He has very long legs. "You don't have to come inside... You can just leave now..."
Maddox peers down at me but doesn't say anything. Not one to listen, he opens the door and enters our hallway.
The door closes.
I hear footsteps.
Before I know it, Ciara swans into the hallway.
I have a bad feeling about this.
She stops by the wall, leaning her back against it with a dramatic gasp.
"Oh my, oh my," she presses a hand to her chest. Raking Maddox up and down before sending an evil smile my way. "Are you dating Maddox Daniels now, Michelle?"
I want to sink through the floor.
Ciara knows damn well I haven't dated anyone yet. She said those words as if I had choices. How humiliating. She is smirking now, knowing I'm embarrassed. She is basking in it, smiling like the Cheshire Cat.
Why does she have to be here?
Ciara will make Maddox think I'm even more of a nerd...
Tears are prickling behind my eyelids already.
The situation worsens when Zendra joins in on the fun with her mouth falling open the second her eyes land on Maddox.
"Well, hello there..." Zendra's heated gaze rakes up Maddox. "I didn't know our roomie was friends with Dashing Devils quarterback. How do you two know each other?"
Oh-my-god, as if I weren't already uncomfortable! Of course, Maddox Daniels is a goddamn quarterback!
I lift my eyes, expecting Maddox to smirk, but to my surprise, Maddox is smiling. Something tells me it's a fake one, though.
"Michelle and I are best friends... In fact—"
My world screeches to a halt when Maddox picks me up.
What. The. Fuck.
The guy is seriously strong!
I've never been carried by a guy before, yet my legs instinctively wrap around his tapered waist. His cologne wafts over me, and my heart pounds frantically when he presses his lips to mine.
Maddox Daniels is kissing me!!!
And not a little peck on the lips. No, Maddox forces my lips apart with his tongue and full-on kisses away my last remaining brain cells.
Maddox is talented. The kiss is hot and passionate. The taste of his tongue makes little goosebumps prickle over my skin. I said I couldn't stand the guy, but wow.
I'm melting in his arms.
Electricity and sparks fly between us, and I'm close to begging him not to let go when he pulls away his lips.
My heart is racing.
I'm out of breath.
I stare at him.
He stares at me, looking... Surprised?
Or is that my imagination?
Wait, is that a blush?
We keep blinking at each other like idiots. My hands are resting on his muscular shoulders while his arms are wrapped around me. Yet none of us are making a move to create distance between us.
I'm not climbing down from his embrace.
He is not putting me down.
I stay in his arms.
Eventually, Zendra clears her throat and pulls Ciara into the kitchen. I catch a glimpse of their faces before they leave—they are both gaping like goldfish.
Once inside the kitchen, I hear Ciara whisper-yelling. "Holy-fucking-shit, Michelle is dating the hottest guy on campus! How the flipping fuck did she manage that?!"
"I know!" Zendra whisper-yells back. "She is so damn lucky!"
I swallow at their words, daring to glimpse at Maddox.
He is still repeatedly blinking at me as if trying to process what is happening. Which makes little sense seeing he was the one who kissed me, not the other way around!
What is going on inside that thick, beautiful head?!
I gaze into his eyes.
He gazes into mine.
After a few seconds, he opens his mouth. "Where is your room?"
Why isn't he putting me down?
"Um..." I wet my lips. They still feel swollen from the kiss. "It's the last one down the hall to the left. It's a door with stickers on it."
He carries me down the corridor without a word. My arms are still hugging the thick column of his neck. I'm weak in the legs, and Maddox uses his elbow to open the door.
Soon I'm dropped off on my bed.
I lift my chin to stare at Maddox, baffled when he closes the door.
I expected him to leave... But those blue-blue eyes are scanning my almost-empty room.
Yeah, I'm broke.
I let him take everything in before daring to talk. "W-why did you kiss me out there?"
He lifts an eyebrow. "Aren't you single?"
My skin burns, and I shyly brush my brown hair down my shoulder. "That's not the point..."
He shrugs. "I saw a perfect opportunity."
Did he just use me?!
"What opportunity?" I demand, suddenly no longer shy but fuming over his caveman tendencies.
I might not be yelling, but my heart is thundering inside my chest. And my anger is traveling through my veins.
"I don't date, but... I think I could benefit from you being my fake girlfriend, Michelle. Gold diggers would stay clear of me. It would be nice."
Laughter erupts from me. "No, those girls would try harder to flirt with you! Girls would… They would look at me and see there is no competition!"
He laughs at me and hands me a wolfish grin. "True... They would look at you, see that you're as flat as a plank, and try to get me."
Anger heats my face. "That's rude!"
"But entirely true, isn't it?"
I blush and avert my eyes. "You're such a jockhole."
"Jockhole?" He snorts. "Maybe, but do you want to go along with this plan? I mean, looking around your room... You don't have much stuff, and my wallet is fat."
"Really? You're trying to buy me?"
"I could buy you lunch every day."
My stomach gurgles and Maddox bursts out laughing. It lights up his face, and I experience butterflies. Why? He is such a jerk.
"Why would you need a fake girlfriend?"
"Mostly because of my parents," Maddox replies while studying my empty walls without even looking at me. "But also because I think some girls at school would stay away..."
So he doesn't want girls asking him out?
Ugh, I bet he is one of those sleep-with-them-and-leave-them guys.
"So... Do we have a deal?"
"Well..." I palm my neck and consider his offer. "It would be nice to... Have a decent meal every day."
"But I don't know..."
"Come on," Maddox urges. "It will be easy food for you... And it's not like kissing me; maybe hugging me is dangerous. You didn't feel anything when we did it, did you?"
I stare at him—he stares back. And while I would like to believe there is no meaning behind his question, I can't help but feel like he is ACTUALLY wondering if I felt something.
Which I didn't...
He is good-looking. That's the only reason I felt some flutters when he kissed me, not because we have chemistry. God no! I'm not crazy enough to think we do. Jockholes and quiet book nerds don't get along.
Maddox and Michelle are like snow and salt.
"O-of course not!" I laugh. It sounds forced, even to me, and I hope Maddox doesn't notice.
But to my surprise, he is laughing too.
"Yeah, I thought so! There was absolutely no chemistry at all! No lightning, sparks, or wanting to rip off your clothes, and... Yeah... It was just an emotionless kiss."
Instead of feeling angry, I'm relieved. Maddox would never go out with me—at least I can stop fantasizing about that now.
"Entirely emotionless indeed."
We smile at each other awkwardly, but the staring soon becomes heated.
My chest constricts.
I wet my lips.
My heart pounds faster.
I silently study the column of Maddox's neck and let my gaze travel to his muscular arms hiding underneath his hoodie. He is so strong. Powerful.
Maddox stares at my lips, then down at my chest and hips. He runs his tongue over his lips and—
That's when I clap my hands!
"You should probably go!"
Maddox returns to reality. "Right..." he moves for the door but turns around to meet my eyes again. There is a ghost of a smile on his lips. "Same time tomorrow at the library. Do not stand me up, okay?"
"I wouldn't dream of it."
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
Michelle There is a jarring feeling in my heart. All I want is to continue kissing Maddox, but he slips me down from his muscular torso and proceeds to hug me from behind. The back of my head is faced with his broad chest. He is warm and big and runs his fingers through my hair. I shudder, and I think I hear him breathe a laugh. He continues to run those rough fingers over my scalp. It's sweet. It gives me butterflies. But it's all fake love. We are putting on a show for his parent or parents, and I fight tears when he carefully brushes my hair to the right side of my face. Down my collarbone while tilting his head. The gentleness is killing me. I glimpse up, and his relentless eyes find mine. He seems a bit irritated, but I have this notion it's an emotion reserved for his parents. "It's only my mom. My dad must have strolled back to the car or something," Maddox grunts. "I can see my mom walking here, though. Her name is Catharina, but everyone calls her Cath." My v
Michelle I don't belong at this fancy restaurant, and my only comfort is that Maddox doesn't fit in either. Not when he is wearing sweatpants and a hoodie—the only thing he had with him to the game. The rest of his stuff is in the back of his car. I eye his chest, and even though his muscles are hidden behind the fabric and some cheesy slogan from our college, they are still visible. Firm and snug. Maddox is in peak condition. My cheeks turn molten when his eyes catch me looking, and I stare at the floor instead. We finish our drinks in silence. There is no sign of our food, and the atmosphere is thick. Awkward. Tense. "They usually aren't this slow," Maddox comments. "Maybe they burned our food or something." "I bet it would still taste good even if they burnt it. I've never eaten at a classy dinner before. The chefs here could probably serve me dog shit, and I would still like it." Maddox chokes on his drink and laughs tears. "Did prim and proper Michelle just say the wor