Stupid Girl

By: Cindy Miles

My gaze slammed into his and held steady. “Look. I don’t need or want your help, and you don’t have to make anything up to me. It’s no big deal.” I wasn't too sure about him, but apparently he liked to fight. And he was a major flirt. Or he was a lunatic. Either way, he was trouble. It was so obvious. “Your nuts will survive.”

“I’m taking the box to your room, Sunshine, and that’s that. No need for hostility. So lead the way.”

Godalmighty, he wasn’t giving up. I could kick him again, but that’d just cause another scene. The last thing I wanted to do was draw more attention. I’d just gotten here! With a final hard glare, I turned and started toward the dorm.

He followed. Whistling.

I thought the best thing to do was ignore him, pretend he didn’t bother me, so that’s what I did. I walked the remaining few feet to the dorm entrance, fished my key card out of my pocket and pushed it through the slide. His big tattooed arm held the door open for me. I shook my head and passed him. We walked in together, hit the stairwell, and started climbing. My boots scruffed against the old concrete steps; his Nikes made no sound at all. I slid a guarded glance toward him, just to make sure he didn't shank me or something. I pretended he wasn’t there. Kind of hard since all I could think about was that stupid kiss.

“So you got a name, Sunshine?” he asked.

He was one step below me, and I glanced over my shoulder, pushing open the door to the second floor. “Yes.”

A few yards down the corridor, he chuckled, throaty and full-on male. “So you gonna tell me what it is?” His accent was unique and sharp. “Let me guess? Ballbuster?”

I spotted dorm room twenty-one and, digging the key from my pocket, unlocked the door. I shook my head. Everything about him screamed player. Well, actually, had he not been wearing a WU Silverbacks jersey, everything would’ve screamed thug. That thought was going against what Mom had always taught me—not to judge by looks alone. Kelsy Evans had proved that theory our senior year when he’d slipped what Jilly had referred to as sex poison into my drink. Never would his all-American good looks, family upbringing and incredible charm have raised suspicion that he was really a perverted asshole. Not until it was too late. Jilly hadn’t liked him from the moment I’d first brought him to the ranch, and he’d never missed an opportunity to remind us all about that. This guy? Open book. He wasn’t trying to pretend he was anything other than a badass heart-breaking flirt. There could be something said for honesty, anyway.

Still. I was in a new place, with new people, away from the safety of my very familiar home and protective brothers. I was on my own and needed to be careful. My brothers and grandfather had already threatened to drag me home at the first sign of trouble—which was something I avoided at all costs. Until now, apparently. I'd noticed a haunted glint in this guy’s unusual eyes when he'd looked at me, though, and it had unnerved me. Big time.

“You’re killin’ me here, Sunshine. What’s your name?”

But now his pushiness was making me want to retreat. Making me on edge. I really just wanted to be alone and get settled without any problems, scenes, or incidents. Having been sprawled across Oliver Hall’s lawn was bad enough. Heaving a big sigh, I met his startling stare with a bored one, and relieved him of my box. Surprisingly, he allowed it. “Apparently, Sunshine,” I answered. Leaving him standing in the hall, I shut the door. A breath of relief eased from me, and only then did I realize I’d been shaking a little. Had he really unnerved me that much? Of course he had. He’d kissed me, for God’s sake. There was no way he knew what kind of line he’d crossed with me. Good Lord, I hoped he couldn’t tell. With another cleansing exhale, I stared at my new living space.

The room was empty, except for the double occupancy school-issued beds, dressers, and desks. I set my box down on the far side of the room, closest to the window, and glanced around.

The now-familiar male laugh sounded from the other side of the closed door. “Um, pardon me, sweetheart, I’m not leaving until you tell me your name. You’ve made it an issue now, see?” The way he said sweetheart came out like sweethaht. Pardon, pahdon. “I’m sitting down. In the hall. Against your door. And I got patience, Sunshine. A fuckin’ lot of it.”

With a long breath, I closed my eyes. What was his problem? There were easily fifty girls in the common room downstairs. Why did he want to know my name so badly? He hadn’t even told me his name yet. Not that I wanted to know it. What I wanted was for him to leave me alone. My eyes raked over my room. Of course, I had a lot more stuff to get from my truck, which meant leaving my room, which meant coming face to face with him no matter what I did. Hell. There was no way out of this, unless I shimmied out of the window—and I was heavily weighing that option. With an aggravated sigh, I took my hat off and flung it onto the bed, swore under my breath, crossed the room and opened the door. As promised, there he was; sitting on the floor, knees pulled up, tattooed forearms resting against them. He was right in front of my door. Tilting that shocking face and arresting eyes upward, he gave me a half-grin that troubled me more than I’d like to admit. White teeth flashed. “Name?”

My gaze settled on his, and I held it that way for a few seconds before stepping over him and heading down the hallway. Six months ago I might have been intimidated. Now? Okay, sure, I was … a little. I couldn’t afford not to be. My entire future was at stake. I couldn’t put my old scared self out there for anyone to see. That would open doors I never wanted opened again. Down the stairwell and out of Oliver Hall, I crossed the lawn, pulled open the tailgate of my truck and climbed up. I knew he was right behind me. I shot him a hooded glance.

“This is a wicked ride—especially for a girl.” He was standing by the wheel well, arms resting on the side of my truck, looking casual and unaffected. Like he hadn’t knocked me over, hadn’t kissed me. Like he did that sort of thing every single day. He rolled his gaze skyward, as if concentrating. “I thought people from Texas were supposed to have manners.” His eyes drifted back down to mine. “You’re like some, I don’t know, mean ass fuckin’ road warrior or something, with this tank. With zero goddamn manners.”

I was stunned by my gut reaction; I actually fought the urge to smile. His accent was strong and vulgar, yet … charming. I don’t remember the last time that thought crossed my mind. I wondered where he was from, but wasn’t about to ask him. I kept shuffling my stuff around, lining boxes up to carry in. Glancing over my shoulder at him, I continued working, and opened the big heavy-duty plastic toolbox my brother Jace had bought me for my birthday, containing my telescope bag. I said nothing. Those blue eyes had a wildness to them that made me wonder what hid behind them. They were so strange to look at. Especially with that big shiner circling one of them.

“Brax Jenkins.” He half-turned, and I saw the name Jenkins across the broad back of his jersey. “I’m not a fuckin’ serial killer or stalker, I swear to God. I’m a baseball player. And I’m gonna help you unload this truck. Then you can tell me your name.” He shrugged. “You know, even trade for me slammin’ you to the ground and you sackin’ my nuts. What do ya say? And don’t kid yourself, sweetheart. I saw that smile you was tryin’ so hard to hide.”

I studied his determined look for a second. Hahd to hide. His strong jaw was set, and the muscles there flexed. He wasn’t giving up; no time soon, anyway. Hard to believe that the very first person I met at a school where I didn’t know a single solitary soul was this guy. Intense, oozing with sexuality, and something else indefinable, he was exactly the very thing I needed and wanted to avoid. Why did he want to know my name so badly? I couldn’t figure it out and it made zero sense. Girls all over campus probably kept tabs on him, and he could easily have his pick. Probably a different girl each night for weeks on end. So why bother with me, even if only to get my name?

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