Old hurt runs deep…
After she left, I was given a second chance at life thanks to my savior and adoptive father. A chance I refused to waste. Determined to be invincible, I became a true fighter in every sense of the word. Nothing and no one would get in my way.
Not even the guy who sat behind me in class.
Zack Graves had the entire world in his hands. A promising hockey career and the confidence and gorgeous looks that had every girl throwing themselves at his feet.
Except me. I was only too happy to wipe the sexy smirk off his face while tossing him on his smug ass.
And he kept coming back for more.
I kept my scars hidden, until Zack managed to trace the lines straight to a place I fought to keep guarded.
Zack was fighting his own immortality, his own scars becoming visible the closer we got. He challenged my guard at every turn forcing me to fight harder, only to realize he would be my undoing.
But some wounds refuse to heal.
A wave of anticipation has my already long stride picking up faster. For the first time since the semester began, I’m antsy as hell to get to criminal psychology for no other reason than to see those glaring aqua eyes and hear that feisty mouth, again. She just happened to unknowingly incite an interesting game of cat and mouse. And this cat wants to play.
When I cross the threshold of the classroom doorway, my gaze immediately goes to the seat directly in front of mine. I expect to see a mane of Auburn hair, but instead, my eyes are met with an empty seat.
I’m always one of the last students to walk in before Cormac begins his weekly rambling. Every week when my alarm goes off, I tell myself I’m not going to hit the snooze button, only to end up hitting it at least four times.
Racking my brain, I try to recall all of the times I’ve rushed into class and plopped my ass in my seat. From what I manage to remember, the seat in front of mine has always been occupied by the time I got there.
Fuck, looks like the little tyrant either isn’t coming or she pulled a Keith and slept straight through her alarm.
Slumping into my seat with disappointment, I retrieve my phone from my back pocket, my thumb hovering over the sound button. After switching it to vibrate, I place it on the corner of my desk so if she happens to walk in, it’ll be at the ready for when I turn the sound back on. I want to look as though I’m conceding to her demands and witness the burning fury in her eyes when she realizes I’m not. Call me a sadist, but I’m dying to poke this particular blue-eyed bull and taunt her a bit. There’s nothing I love more than playing a good game, and I’m out to win.
I cross my arms and lock my eyes on the doorway as Cormac rises from his chair and moves to the whiteboard.
Maybe she was so annoyed that she dropped the class. Or maybe she’s too embarrassed to face me after her chewing my ass out.
What the fuck could have happened to her? And more importantly, why do I give a shit?
I’ve been cussed out by girls before. One of them went so far as to snatch my laptop off my desk and smash it on the floor. That certainly made for an embarrassing phone call with my father as I tried—and failed—to covertly explain why I needed a new computer.
The difference between those girls and the one who has been occupying my mind far too often for comfort is that I earned those girls’ anger. Well, except the laptop murderer. That was uncalled for . . . I mean, really?
This is a girl I’ve never even spoken to, let alone bedded and jetted, as Keith so artfully describes it. And I’ll be damned if my dick didn’t twitch at the bold look on her face and annoyance in her tone.
That still doesn’t explain my sick fascination with her.
My head snaps up when someone steps through the entryway, a jolt of undeniable excitement rushing through me. The hand holding my phone flexes with the hope that it’s her, only to be met with yet another disappointment. The newcomer is a girl with cotton-candy-colored hair and a fashion sense that paints a picture of her sitting in a circle on the campus lawn with some dude who reeks of patchouli incense and singing “Kumbaya.”
Shoulders sagging, I flip open my computer, not giving a rat’s ass about the girl or why she’s here. That is, until I overhear her talking to our professor.
“Here to pick up any assignments,” she explains to him.
Swiveling my head back and forth for my own attendance check, I see that the only person who isn’t present is the occupant of the seat in front of mine and, lately, of my thoughts as well.
Cormac flips open a binder, a hand running a pen up and down the page as though he’s scouring for something. “Name?”
Dahlia . . . her name is Dahlia! What the fuck did I think her name was? Sylvia? Guess I was kind of close. Pretty sad that I’m mentally patting myself on the back for almost remembering a girl’s name. Especially one I’ve no association with, save being on the receiving end of her temper.
With virtually no explanation besides a temporary bout of insanity, I stand and approach Cormac and the girl who is obviously one of Dahlia’s friends.
“Can I help you, Mr. Graves?” Cormac inquires as I step up to the front of the desk.
“Uh, just that I’d be happy to bring Ms. Anastas her assignments.”
Now they’re staring at me. Hippie girl’s wearing an expression of intense bewilderment, while Cormac’s face remains as sullen as ever. I swear to God, I’ve seen statues with a wider variety of facial expressions.
“I see, and what might your association with Ms. Anastas be?” Cormac asks in a suspicious tone.
Holy hell, this is starting to get embarrassing. I can see the headlines in the college newspaper now: From Hockey Star to Stalker Boy.
This conversation has already taken a turn for the worse, and I find myself scrambling to come up with a believable reason. “Uhh, just trying to help out one of my classmates?”
I don’t intend for it come out as a question. Smooth, Zack. No wonder the ladies are crazy for you. Can’t argue with that kind of wit.
With his brow cocked in confusion, Cormac waves me away. “Please return to your seat, Mr. Graves.”
Yeah, this is one of the downright dumbest fucking ideas I’ve ever had. I seriously need a lesson in self-control.
Embarrassed, I scratch the back of my neck and turn my attention to hippie girl. “Sorry to interrupt your conversation.”
Making my way back to my desk, I make a mental note to check myself before acting on another stupid compulsion like that.
Hippie girl’s voice sounds from behind me. “No problem, Chester Chatterbox.”
When I jerk my head over my shoulder to look back, her face is alight with amusement. She was obviously teasing me.
Chester Chatterbox? Where in the ever-loving fuck did that come from?
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Teasers: Sept 18, 25
About the Author:
Upon discovering the world of indie romance, Desireé found her tribe and started her journey as a blogger and booktuber, eventually turning her attention to her lifelong aspiration of becoming an author.
Aside from losing herself in a good book, she enjoys listening to progressive metal, working out, and cooking.
Desireé currently resides in Connecticut with her husband and young son, who serve as her biggest inspirations in her writing journey.