“You know what I mean, goofball.” I punched his shoulder lightly but it felt more like his shoulder was punching my fist.
He smiled. “Okay, let’s be ‘friends’ friends then.” He held out his hand as if expecting a handshake.
I looked at it, wondering the implications of completing the handshake. What would it be like to be friends with Hunter? There were perks to be had but caution overrode eagerness. “I’m not sure, Hunter. You’ve already made it clear you’d like to date me. What if that’s going to be a problem?”
“And you’ve made it clear you’re attracted to me. So it evens out,” he said smoothly.
My eyeballs nearly popped out of their sockets. “Huh? How is it clear I’m attracted to you?”
“The way you look at me, the way you try to blow me off . . . us almost kissing.”
“Yes, I try to avoid you,” I said, correcting his particular phrasing of ‘trying to blow him off’. “But doesn’t that normally mean I’m not attracted to you?”
“Doesn’t apply to you. You’re not normal, remember?” He grinned.
I sighed, concealing a smile tugging at the edges of my lips. I didn’t want him to know that I was enjoying his company. “Hunter, I don’t want to be friends with a guy knowing he’s just being friendly to try to get into my pants. That’s not real friendship. That’s playing a game.”
“Then good luck finding any male friends.” He laughed but I didn’t find his joke particularly funny. “No, but seriously. I meant it when I said ‘let’s be friends friends.’ I don’t really have any female friends so I hope you realize that I didn’t make that suggestion flippantly.”
“You have stalkers and girls fainting to be with you,” I replied, pointing out the inconsistency between his words and reality. “Maybe I’m just the first girl to turn you down. Everyone else probably drops their panties at the snap of your fingers. I’m surprised if you even have to ask at all.”
He shook his head slightly, calmly registering his disapproval. “You’re not the first girl to say ‘no’ to me. And you’re right, I don’t usually ask girls to date me. But so what? I’m not doing this to get into your pants—not if you don’t want it. I’m asking for friendship.”
Maybe I was just giving him a hard time. It was clear that Hunter was pretty different from most of the other guys on campus. And he seemed genuine when he said he just wanted to be friends. But I couldn’t let him off the hook too easily, I wanted to make him sweat so I decided to play my trump card. “You got a boner when I was in your apartment.”
He cocked one brow, his composure disrupted. “What?”
“When you were just wearing a towel. I saw the bulge . . .” I teased, smiling at him.
His head tilted in concern and he paused for a moment to think. I eyed him carefully, curious how he was going to respond. Would he man up and defend himself? Or deny it?
“Okay, okay,” he finally said then sighed. “I did get a boner, I’m not ashamed to admit it.”
Reacting to his admission, I folded my arms across my chest and raised an eyebrow.“Don’t you see how that’s a problem for us being friends? I mean I’m flattered, but friends don’t make friends get boners.”
“I’m glad you’re flattered,” he said, amusement in his voice. “But it just happens sometimes, like sneezing or coughing. And even if I did, it doesn’t mean I’d act on it.”
I tightened my arms across my chest. “So you weren’t attracted to me?” I puffed.
“You were asking me about ‘what I did in my alone time’. I thought you were flirting with me and given how good you looked in my clothes, biology kicked in. But the bigger question is: why were you looking at my crotch?”
My cheeks heated from embarrassment. I didn’t expect him to throw that curveball at me. “I wasn’t looking! I just glanced out of the corner of my eye. Besides, you were practically shoving it in my face the way you were sitting in front of me with your legs spread eagle. You could’ve poked my eye out.”
“Psh, I was just sitting normally.” He waved his hand dismissively. “It wasn’t in any way as ridiculous as you implied. Plus you just said you glanced at it outta the corner of your eye like it was barely noticeable and then you said I could’ve poked your eye out. Those two statements together make no sense.”
“Makes perfect sense to me.”
His brows narrowed. “Is this really about your own self-control? After running across campus in just a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I thought you were a strong girl. Are you saying you can’t handle yourself when you’re around me? Are you that attracted to me? Maybe we should go on that date after all.” A mischievous grin spread across his full, shapely lips.
I shifted on my feet, knowing there was a kernel of truth in his ridiculous statements. “I am a strong girl,” I retorted. “I’m also smart enough to know this is a bad idea.”
“You don’t know that. Neither of us knows that. Hell, if anything, I should be the one saying this is a bad idea. You stole my clothes. You even stole my trash. You’re one weird girl, Lorrie. But I can’t help myself. I like your company.”
“Hey, I was taking out your trash to repay you!”
He laughed. “Wow, what kind of person does that to repay someone? Here I was thinking you wanted to sift through my trash or something like some kind of stalker.”
“I was in a hurry,” I said, flustered. “It’s not like I had time to write a nice thank-you card.”
“Let’s face it,” he said taking a smooth step toward me and placing his hands warmly on my shoulders. Liking the thrill I got from his close proximity and his hands on me, I didn’t possess the will to resist. “We both don’t know each other well but I know you’re different from other people here. It takes a weirdo to know a weirdo. We need a proper chance to hang out instead of just meeting up by chance all the time.”
I looked into those gorgeous dark irises, still only half-believing I was with him in this odd place, alone together. “How are you a weirdo? You seem pretty well-adjusted to me.”
“Do I? I suppose that’s a pretty big compliment. Thank you.”
“C’mon, Lorrie. You’re running out of excuses.” He extended his hand to me as he had before.