“Kaitlyn Reynolds,” I said, and put my hand in his. His skin was warm, his fingers strong and slightly calloused.
Whatever electricity had been buzzing in the air between us almost exploded when we touched.
He was gentle as he held my hand – but firm. Firm and powerful and strong.
I briefly imagined what his arms around me might feel like, and then guiltily pushed that out of my mind as quickly as I could.
He held onto my hand for a couple of seconds longer than he should have. Only when it was obvious that he was hanging on too long did he finally let go.
There was definitely some serious chemistry going on between us.
Shanna felt it, because she looked back and forth between us like a spectator at Wimbledon.
“Uhhhh, Kaitlyn…?” she whined with a worried look on her face.
“Sorry,” I said, snapping out of my daze and turning around to get my literature book. “I’ll get out of your hair.”
Derek leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. His very powerful, very muscular arms. “No… we shouldn’t run you off.”
Shanna looked over at him, incredulous. “That wasn’t what you were saying before we walked in here.”
“Oh?” I asked, amused. “What were you saying before you walked in here, exactly?”
Shanna giggled. “That if you didn’t leave, we’d have to fuck right here in front of you.”
The words went right to my gut – a one/two punch.
One, I immediately thought, Player. A slight wave of disappointment and disgust rose up inside me.
Two, I imagined seeing him naked, standing just a few feet away from my bed… and my disgust quickly disappeared, to be replaced by more… pleasant feelings.
Kevin’s plaintive voice suddenly drifted out of my subconscious:
You’re not attracted to anybody, are you?
Now I really had to get out of the room.
“Not necessary,” I said, in as deadpan a voice as I could muster. “I’ll leave.”
Interestingly enough, Derek didn’t smirk or chortle out a ‘bro laugh’ or any other reaction I would have expected. Instead, he threw Shanna an icy look before returning his gaze to me. “I was just joking around. We’re not going to run you out of your room.”
Shanna’s mouth dropped open like a gaffed fish.
I sat there, unsure what to do.
I knew I shouldn’t stay; I would totally be cock-blocking Shanna.
Plus, I was already having trouble fighting off bad, bad thoughts. Thoughts that would have given my long-distance boyfriend a heart attack.
But something inside me really wanted to stay around this sexy, mysterious stranger, if just for a few minutes longer.
However, I could already feel annoyance radiating from Shanna.
So could Derek.
He handled it like a pro.
“We can’t make her leave,” he said, turning to Shanna. “It’s, like, close to finals, isn’t it? What if she fails her exams because of us? You don’t want that on your conscience.”
He said it with the perfect mix of mocking (Awwww, poor little nerdling) and concern (We really can’t do that to her. Not cool).
“She’s not gonna fail her exams,” Shanna snapped.
Derek shrugged, not a care in the world. “We’ll have plenty of time. Don’t piss off your roommate.”
When he said ‘We’ll have plenty of time,’ Shanna both brightened and relaxed the slightest bit.
But she still muttered, “She’s not gonna fail her exams” petulantly under her breath.
He’d said something revealing: It’s, like, close to finals, right? Which meant he either wasn’t a student, or he was a frat boy awakening from a twelve-week bender.
And he didn’t look like a frat boy.
“You don’t go here?” I asked him.
“What do you do?”
“I’m in a band.”
Of course you are.
Athens was famous for having been the birthplace of the B-52’s (who later fled to New York) and of R.E.M. (who stayed). Every half-assed musician who couldn’t afford a bus ticket to Los Angeles or NYC wanted to make their name completing the hat trick.
Despite his physical gorgeousness, my attraction started to wane. “Oh. That’s nice.”
Derek grinned wryly, and my heart skipped a beat.
Damn he had a sexy smile.
“I know, I know. Throw a stick in Athens, you’ll hit three musicians, right? Ten if it’s a Saturday night.”
Okay… so at least he’s a self-aware, self-deprecating, HUMBLE half-assed musician.
I tried to play it off. “I’m not really a music person, that’s all.”
“And what kind of a person are you, then?”