Page 79 of King of Campus

The fact that Roan suffered through something like that makes my heart ache for him.

“So I combatted it the only way I could.” Inhaling a deep breath, he blows it out slowly as if it’s physically painful to do so. “I got into a shitload of fights and I started screwing any girl I could and bragging about it.”

Closing my eyes, I try envisioning what it was like for a fourteen year old Roan who was intent upon fighting the world, all so he could prove he was his own person.

“All through high school...” As his words trail off, I’m struck with the realization that this behavior didn’t stop in high school. It continued in college as well.

With my heart breaking, I rise up so I can rest my arms across his chest, my face is scant inches from his. “You have nothing to prove, Roan. I hope you’ve finally realized that. You are your own man now.”

His eyes search mine for a long moment before he finally nods. It’s a brisk movement. “I know. It’s just been… hard to open myself up. I’ve been shut down for a long time. People have always pigeon holed me. First, I was the gay guy’s son and then I was the football playing stud. Even though I did well in school, people just assumed I wasn’t smart enough to earn those grades. I guess I just got tired of trying to prove who I really was. When my dad moved here after the divorce, I decided Barnett was someplace I might want to play ball at. They’re a division I school and I really liked the coach. I was also able to get a full ride, not only for football but academics as well. I thought moving here would be a fresh start. But I guess I’m still just a meathead jock coasting through school on his athletic talent and looking to get as much ass as he can.”

I wince because I’m just as guilty of assuming things about Roan as everyone else. Instead of being the guy I pegged him to be, he’s turning out to be something else entirely.

Finally I say, “You’re just Roan King. You have nothing to prove. You just have to be the guy you were always meant to be. If people want to assume things about you, that’s on them. That’s their issue, not yours.”

I think about how considerate and caring he was when we were at my dad’s. He never left my side. He was constantly making sure I was doing okay. Looking back, I think that was when my feelings first started changing and I realized there was more to Roan than met the eye.

His lips tip up just a bit in the darkness before his hand slides to my cheek. “Thanks, Ivy.” Gently he pulls me towards him until our lips are able to softly brush against one another. The caress is sweet and gentle.

Just when I wonder if he’ll deepen the kiss, he puts some distance between us before pulling my head down to rest against his chest. Together we lay like that until sleep finally has my eye lids fluttering shut.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Grab some Kleenex, ladies, I think Roan King has got himself a bona fide girlfriend. We’re talking actual hand holding while walking around campus here. God damn it… where’d I put my tissue?

Bright sunlight pours through my unadorned window hitting me square in the face. Rolling to my side, I take the pillow with me, smashing it over my head. As I do, snippets of last night flash through my head.

Texting Roan.

Him coming over.

Lying in bed together while we talked.

The last memory I have is of falling asleep on his granite hard chest.

Suddenly I’m whipping the pillow off me and bolting straight up in bed. Shoving the hair out of my face, my eyes fly around the room before realizing it’s completely empty. Like it was nothing more than a strange sexy dream. After a few moments, I collapse back onto the mattress. But I know it was real. His masculine scent is still clinging to my sheets. The urge to roll around in them all the while inhaling deeply is strong.

Even though I try closing my eyes and going back to sleep, last night keeps racing through my head. All the pieces to the puzzle suddenly make so much more sense. All the random girls and hook ups. Never opening up, never trusting anyone with the truth of who he really is.

I stare blindly up at the ceiling as everything continues tumbling around in my head. Fifteen minutes later, I’ve gone over the entire night from running into him in the apartment lobby to falling asleep in his arms at least a dozen times. There’s no way I’m going to be falling asleep now. I’m too geared up thinking about Roan. Throwing off the sheet and thin blanket, I pad out to the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal.

Just as I’m lifting the first bite to my lips, Lexie’s door opens as they both come out of her room. I give them a silent chin lift in greeting as Dylan pulls Lexie into his arms and holds her for a long moment. Before leaving the apartment, he lays a gentle kiss on top of her head.