Stupid Girl

By: Cindy Miles

Literally. I loved the stars, constellations, galaxies, and all that went with it. Staring through my scope at the seemingly infinity heavens had helped me get through the last painful year of high school. To a certain degree, it’d healed me, right along with my family. We Beaumont’s all stuck together—except for my dad, who’d pulled a disappearing act long, long ago. Other than my family, astrology was my life. All I’d ever wanted to do was study the stars, ever since I was a little kid and Jilly had given me my first telescope for my sixth birthday. Finally, it was happening. I just prayed the past would leave me alone. That the nightmares would stay gone, that the relentless fear which had for a while replaced my fearlessness would recede somewhere deep, deep inside of me. And would stay there. Forever.

As I kept my eyes on the street signs, my hand fumbled around on the bench seat of my truck until I found the campus map. Holding it up eye level, I navigated my way through several streets until I found my dorm. Oliver Hall held three stories, double occupancy dorm rooms, each with a private bath, and a common room. I’d been assigned to the second floor, dorm room 21. The parking was split into two sections, with Oliver Hall in the center. I pulled into the not-too-packed left side lot, found a spot closest to the front, and parked.

I pushed my hat back off my forehead and for a moment I sat, just looking out at the red brick building, manicured with boxwood hedges lining the walkway up to the dorm. A huge cottonwood tree, probably a couple hundred years old at least, stood tall and off to the side, casting an arc of shade over the hall. People milled about—mostly girls, since it was a girls’ dorm. Laughing. Hollering. Going in and out of the door, everyone loaded down with bags and boxes and belongings from home. Mid-August, it was hot and humid as Hades. And I was here. Alone.

This was my new life.

Somewhat intimidating.

I gave Mom a quick call to let her know I’d arrived and promised to call later. Then, after a big, calming breath, I opened the door and climbed out. The heady scent of freshly cut grass hit my nose, and it actually helped me feel a little less anxious. These people don’t know me. They don’t know what happened to me. A little more apprehension eased out of me. Shoving the truck keys into my bag, I made sure I had my dorm keys, and pushed my cell into my back pocket. I slipped my shades off and tossed them onto the dash, shouldered my backpack, and shut the door. Reaching over the side rails of my truck bed, I grabbed a box filled with astronomy books and desk supplies, and started across the lawn. Not super light, but manageable, and I’d rather get the heavier boxes in first. Looked like I’d be making a few trips to get all my stuff inside anyway. My boots dug into the grass as I made my way to the entrance.

“Heads up!”

Just as I turned, a sudden, powerful force slammed into me, taking me down, and I hit the ground with enough vigor to make the breath whoosh out of my lungs. The box flew out of my arms, and I was a little stunned at first, lying in the grass. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling; I’d been thrown from so many horses over the years, I’d lost count. And this is what being thrown felt like. Maybe worse. My hat had shifted and now shaded my eyes. I concentrated on breathing.

Then, suddenly, my hat was pushed off my face, and he was over me. Arms braced on either side of my head. Looking down. Frozen in place, I couldn’t do anything else except stare back at him, and I watched his smile fade as his gaze fixed on mine. He looked about as surprised as I felt.

His face took me off guard. It was … shocking. Not handsome—almost frightening. Rough. The lightest, most startling blue eyes I’d ever seen stared down at me. One of them had a really recent black and blue shiner marring the otherwise fair skin. A whitish half-moon scar started at the corner of the other eye and curved around his cheek bone. Another white scar jagged down from his jaw, just below his ear, halfway down his throat; it was met by a black tattooed inscription that disappeared down his shirt. Super dark hair—almost black—swung over his forehead, and equally dark brows furrowed. We both stared for a few seconds.

Then, his head lowered, and full, firm lips covered mine.

And he kissed me.

One, two, three seconds passed as my brain reclined in some hazy fog where I didn’t know anything or anyone. Only this kiss. Strong lips pushed mine open, just a bit, and a velvety tongue barely swept against mine. A faint trace of spearmint lingered. For an instant, I was completely lost.

Then, the shock wore off, and my brain worked again. Almost too well. Between reality and old panic clawing at me, I reacted.

I reared my knee up and sunk it straight into his family jewels. “Get off me,” I said in a low firm voice. I put my palms against his chest and shoved him.

“Ah, damn!” the guy wheezed. He grabbed his crotch and fell over onto his side. He groaned in pain. I leapt up, stepped over him, and started grabbing my books.

“Jesus fuck, Sunshine.” The guy laughed and wheezed at the same time, and still clutched himself. “What’d you do that for?”

His voice wasn’t too deep and sort of raspy. Heavy accent. He looked like a gangster, only he wore a WU Silverbacks tee shirt, with the number 14 at the upper left chest. Whah’d you do that fah? Definitely not from Texas. He’d kissed me. And for a moment, I’d let him. What was wrong with me? I spared him a harsh glare. “Are you crazy? Why do you think?”

Male voices caught my attention, and I looked over to my left. A group of guys—jocks, all wearing Silverbacks tees—were laughing. One was on the ground, howling like a total fool.

Apparently, college would be just like high school after all. Maybe worse.

“Christ, I’m sorry. Was just goin’ out for a pass. I didn’t even see you there. Then,” his smile was slow and lazy as his gaze raked over my mouth, “well, I just couldn’t fuckin’ help myself.”

I shot him a hasty, embarrassed glance. Heat flooded my cheeks. “That is just plain psycho.” Dropping to the ground, I flipped over the box and started shuffling my stuff back into it as fast as I could. The guy rolled, groaned, and swore again, then slowly went to his knees and started helping me. I didn’t look up. “It’s okay. I’ve got it.” God, I wanted him to just leave, walk away, join his buddies and pretend the whole thing hadn’t happened. People were already looking, and I didn’t want them to. I didn’t want to be noticed. At all. He’d kissed me.

The guy ignored me all right, and continued to pick up my scattered belongings. My eyes avoided his face but noticed tattoos snaking down one arm. The other was inked, covered with random works of art, and a dark band tattooed around one wrist. Black letters were inked onto the knuckles of both hands, but his nuts apparently had recovered and he was moving too fast for me to read them. I didn’t want to get caught staring just to see what they said. For that matter, I really didn’t care what the words said. I wanted to be out of the situation. It wasn’t happening, though. Instead, it was dragging on and on.

The group of jocks were still laughing and now calling him names. He glanced over his shoulder. They laughed harder. He shook his head and continued picking up my books. “Ignore them,” he said. He was a little closer now. “Fucking retards.” Fahkin retahds. I stood with my box, and he rose with me. Grabbing my hat off the ground, he plopped it onto my head. He inclined toward my loaded arms. “I’ll get that.”

I flashed a determined look at him. He was about six feet tall, lean, broad shoulders. A piece of tattooed art poked out of the collar of his shirt and crept up his neck on one side. Probably more beneath the shirt. Definitely not your average clean-cut college athlete. I shook my head and started walking. Typical inked-up punk big mouth bad ass. Surely he had better things to do. “Thanks, I’ve got it,” I threw over my shoulder. Pushy guy …

I didn’t get three steps before the box was lifted out of my arms. The guy gave me a crooked grin, and it made the scar at his eye pucker. “Least I can do for slamming into you. Least you can do for charging my nuts with your knee.” Chahgin’.

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