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Now for what you’ve been waiting for… Chapter 2 of Drew.
Copyright © 2020 by Amanda Shelley
All rights reserved
When I return to lab the following Tuesday, I’m quickly reminded of how I left. To avoid any conversation with my extremely popular lab partner, I stormed out of the classroom, wondering how I’ll get through this semester.
He might not be that bad, but the string of people who kept stopping by… No, thank you.
Unfortunately, I remember the professor’s words all too well. I can’t afford a drop in my grade, especially this early in the semester.
It’s only one semester, Abby. You can do this.
Of all the places he could sit, why did he choose my table? When he mumbled something about specifically choosing me, what the hell did he mean by that?
Shit, is he planning on using me like Toby did my sophomore year?
Christ. I can’t go through that again. There’s no way in hell, I’d survive. I’m already taking twenty credits and working as many hours as I can at the library. I can’t afford to pull someone along to maintain the grade I deserve. Don’t even get me started on how it felt to be used emotionally either.
Been there, done that. Don’t need the t-shirt.
When I walk in, I’m relieved to find my table empty. I sit and unpack my things to settle in for class. I’m reviewing this week’s reading assignment to make sure it’s fresh in my mind when the hair on the back of my neck pricks. As if my body knows he’s here before I consciously do, I’m alerted to the scrape of a stool next to me.
I smile a greeting in his direction.
Maybe today will be different?
He nods once, then digs into his backpack, and for the most part, ignores me.
The smell of his cologne permeates the air, and my stomach does a small involuntary flip. I take a moment to take him in, realizing I might not have given him a fair chance the last time we met.
Okay, I’ll admit it, the man’s hotter than anyone I’ve ever laid eyes on in a science lab. His dark hair makes his blue eyes pop and smolder. His large frame fills out the black shirt he’s wearing, as if it’s been tailor made for his well-defined chest underneath. His square jaw with just the right amount of scruff and perfect lips are set in a straight line. When my gaze finally returns to his eyes, I find him staring expectantly. Holy hell! Get it together, Abby. He’s just a guy. But why did he choose to sit by me?
To regain control over my body’s reaction to the mysterious man sitting next to me, I quickly return my attention to my book. Though let’s be honest, I’ve hardly read more than a page since he made his presence known.
My ability to focus is thwarted by his sexy masculine scent and the unpacking of his materials for class. From the corner of my eye, I can’t help but watch his every move. As he pulls out a notebook, his muscular arms flex, and his elbow slightly brushes my arm, sending shivers down my spine.
Just like last time, people continue to stop and chat with him before class begins. My mind drifts to our last encounter, and I grimace.
I’m quickly reminded of how he thought he was too important to be bothered to mention his name… and how my instant crush ended. The man may be hot as hell, but he’s one of the cockiest people I’ve ever met, and that’s a major turnoff. Hell, I don’t have time to date, even if he wasn’t so arrogant, so it’s a moot point.
As our professor gets lab started, I’m relieved to find the guy next to me may be a jock, but at least he isn’t a dumb jock. He’s able to hold his own when it comes to our chemistry lab. We work solidly together until the professor announces we can take a short break and leave when we’re through.
“Do you mind if we work through the break? I have someplace I have to be after class,” Mr. No Name asks.
I’d ask his name but after working with him for the past hour, it’s just beyond weird to ask now. Maybe he’ll get called something other than Dude, or Man and I can figure it out, when the time comes.
Knowing I have work later, I eagerly agree but keep our extraneous conversation to a minimum. “Sounds great.”
We work diligently until a steady stream of people flock over to converse again about the latest game. Mr. Socialite is all smiles as he greets them. I try not to let it bother me, but after the fourth interruption, I finally lose it and feel the need to remind him of the commitment he’s made.
In an attempt to regain control of my emotions and not sound like a complete bitch, I take a deep breath, but it comes out as a huff instead. This immediately gets the attention of Mr. Blue Eyes, who’s now staring in my direction. I almost lose my nerve when I see the smile form on his perfectly shaped lips. Who the hell is this guy?
“Okay, partner,” I spit out. “Are we doing this, or what?” I look pointedly at the lab in front of us. “You said we needed to get done early because you had places to be. You’re too busy being Mr. Socialite to get anything done.”
Instead of his smile fading, it grows into a smirk. “I knew you’d keep me on track.” I glance around, and everyone has dispersed. “I just might keep you around.”
“Keep me around?” There’s no way I heard him correctly. “What do you mean by that?”
“I made the right choice by sitting here. You won’t let distractions stop us, and you can pull your weight on the labs.” He shrugs his shoulders, as if that should explain everything.
How should I respond to that?
Thankfully, my irritated vibe must project throughout the room because we’re no longer bothered by any unwelcome guests. A sense of satisfaction spreads over me as we finally delve back into our project.
When our work is finished, we make use of the remaining time going over required assignments. Blue Eyes (yes, that’s what I’m calling him since I still don’t know his name) and I decide we’ll need to meet outside of class to get a few things done.
When I suggest meeting at the library or local coffee shop, he hesitates and looks around.
“What?” I ask, not understanding his reaction.
“Well…” His chagrin look surprises me. He glances around the room once again. What is it that makes him think everyone is watching? “Can you think of anywhere less… public?”
How big of him to not want to be seen with the likes of me. What a cocky-ass! “If you’d rather do this on your own, go ahead. We’ll just split up the work.” After spending time working with him today, I’m confident he’d do the quality of work I expect from myself.
“Um…” His expression is unreadable for a split second before he continues, “I want to complete it together.”
“So, you want to collaborate but not be seen with me in public? Exactly how am I supposed to take that?” My defenses are up. If this douche canoe wants my help but doesn’t want to be seen with me, he’s got another thing coming.
“Ohmigod, no,” he quickly replies. He suddenly looks apologetic, which catches me off guard. “This has nothing to do with being seen with you. It’s just… me…”
“Oh, so the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech.” I shake my head in disgust. I thought we’d gotten along fine for our lab, but this takes the cake. “Wow. That’s rich.” I pack up my things. I’m not putting up with his crap. I have better things to do this afternoon.
I stand to leave, but he captures my wrist as I do. There’s a spark of electricity pulsing between us, holding me in place.
“Abby, let me explain,” he pleads. His blue eyes pierce through me as if he’s searching for the words, as I remain frozen in place.
“Go for it, Blue Eyes,” I say without any thought.
“It’s Drew.” His lashes lower as he looks somewhat humble—sort of. The jury’s still out until I hear what he has to say. I shake my head at his statement, wondering what the hell he’s talking about.
“My name. It’s Drew. There’s no problem being seen with you. Before you jumped to conclusions, I’m trying to explain how public places tend to get hectic. You’ve only seen a glimpse of what it’s like.” He looks around the room as if that’s an explanation. “I think it would be best to meet somewhere out of the public eye, for your sake… So we won’t have as many distractions.”
“Oh.” What can I say to that?
“Come to my place. We can avoid groupies,” he suggests with a shrug.
“You want me… to come to your place?” I stare at him, surprised. Then another thought hits me. “You have… groupies?”
Drew looks as if he’s unsure of himself. As I look into his eyes, trying to read his expression, I suddenly realize how tall he is. My neck hurts to look up at him. How tall is he? I’m five-eight, and I’m a dwarf to him in comparison.
He shakes his head, breaking my internal inquiry about the giant before me. “Christ, this is more difficult than it has to be.” He looks around before whispering, “I promise nothing will happen to you at my house. I’m on a tight schedule with practice, and I don’t have time to traipse all over campus trying to find a private place to work.”
“Well, this is unexpected,” I mumble. A thousand questions come to mind, but not knowing where to start, I just stare.
He takes my silence as needing further explanation. He spends the next few minutes quickly explaining how his popularity has risen since their championship game last season. He tells me it’s hard for him to blend in as a typical guy on campus. I have no doubts of that because come on… look at him. He may be arrogant as hell, but he’s ultimately a beautiful giant. Though I’d never admit that part to him aloud.
Drew’s voice is low and deep when I finally concede to his request. “You mentioned having to work tonight. What about tomorrow night? We need to get the first assignment done before I leave Friday morning with the team. It’s due on Monday, and I won’t be back until Sunday afternoon.”
Shit! Of course, he chooses tomorrow night. It’s my only night off this week, and I already have plans. Though… my plans won’t happen until later. Maybe I can squeeze in a study session to finish this assignment. Knowing it’s our only option, I sigh in defeat. “Okay. Tomorrow will work. Can we make it early because I have plans later?”
Drew’s blue eyes widen for a fraction of a second, but it’s quickly replaced with relief. “Sure. Give me your phone number, and I’ll text my address. Practice ends at six, would seven work for you?”
I’ll have to figure out dinner on my own. Not sure my friends will understand, but they’ll get over it—hopefully. We weren’t planning to leave until eight, so it should be fine. I nod in agreement and give him my number. Within seconds, a notification arrives on my phone. Knowing it’s likely him, I keep it in my pocket.
“Thanks.” Drew sighs with relief as he gathers his things. “I gotta get to practice. But I’ll see you then.”
I let out a heavy sigh, knowing my friends might kill me for changing our dinner plans. “Sounds good. I’ll have to leave as soon as we finish. My friends will be expecting me.”
“Hey, Abby?” Drew asks hesitantly. “Would you mind keeping my number between us? I’d rather not share it with everyone.”
“There go my plans for writing it on the bathroom stall,” I mumble sarcastically. Drew just stares. His dark eyebrows pinched. Apparently, my humor’s lost on him. I quickly put him at ease. “Just kidding,” I assure him, and his perfect lips quirk into a smile. With that, he leaves our table, leaving me to stare after him.
* * *
When I get to my apartment after work that evening, I throw my backpack onto the couch and plop down beside it. My roommate Chloe looks up from the kitchen table where she’s studying and asks, “That bad?”
“Yes,” I say in a groan. “I have the worst lab partner this term.”
“Tell me more,” she prompts. Chloe’s a psychology major and has been one of my best friends since summer camp in seventh grade. She likes to use what she’s learning in class on me, so I stick my tongue out at her to let her know I can see she’s up to her usual antics. She bursts out with laughter. Great. Just what I need. “Seriously, Abs, tell me what’s going on. There must be more to this than a crappy lab partner. This is so unlike you.”
“Uggh,” I groan in frustration. It would’ve been so simple if only he’d chosen a different seat.
When I don’t say anything, Chloe merely lifts a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and waits.
“Well…” I start, not knowing where to begin. Taking a deep breath, I let it all out, knowing I might as well start from the beginning. “It all started on the first day of class. This guy…” I say with disdain, causing Chloe to smirk, but I ignore her. “Plopped down next to me and didn’t say anything but ‘hey.’ Then as if he’s Mr. Popularity himself, he has a constant string of people stopping by to talk about his latest game. It was soooo frustrating. They wouldn’t go away. As soon as one person left, it was like it signaled another to drop by. Just when I think it couldn’t get any worse, the professor walks in and makes an announcement that was like a bomb detonating. The person next to us has just become a permanent partner for the term, unless we want a ten percent reduction in grade… You know I can’t have that. I need straight As or med school’s no longer an option.” I inhale sharply and take a breath. But I can’t help but cringe when I think of what I must tell her next.
“But that’s not even the worst part. We must finish up a project before Friday, and the only night the almighty Drew is available, is tomorrow night. Can you believe that?”
“Um…” Chloe puts her index finger on her chin and pretends to think something over. “What part of this is supposed to be bad enough to put you into such a pissy mood?”
My eyes nearly pop out of my head as it snaps in her direction. “That’s how you’re going to handle clients one day?” I ask in disbelief. Chloe’s known for her zero BS policy, but this is a bit over the top, even for her.
“You’re going to miss me next year, and you know it. It’s all your fault, you’re a Brainiac and will graduate earlier than the rest of us.”
Yeah, I came into CRU with enough credits to graduate a year early, but she’s known that since—forever—so I simply roll my eyes and wait for a real response.
“Well, since you know me too well, you’ll never be my client, but… I think there’s more than what you’ve just told me at play here. What’s really going on?” Her brown eyes widen as she waits expectantly.
I shake my head and stare at my feet, now propped up on the coffee table. “I… Uh… have to cancel our dinner plans tomorrow night. I must study with him, at seven. It shouldn’t take long to finish our project, but I won’t be able to meet you until afterward.”
“Girl, you’re not bailing on us tomorrow night.” Chloe steps up from the table, and her oversized scoop-neck top slips off one shoulder. She comes to stand in front of me at the couch as she eyes me suspiciously. “We all coordinated our schedules to celebrate you. This is a once in a lifetime thing. You can’t ditch us. Syd will be pissed.”
I shake my head, knowing she’s right but trying to make her see she’s not hearing me correctly. “I’ll be there. There’s no doubt about that. I’ll just have to meet you after dinner. That’s all. I looked over the assignment, and it really shouldn’t take Drew and me too long to complete.”
As if she doesn’t believe me, Chloe cocks her head to the side and eyes me suspiciously. “Are you sure you’re not trying to ditch us? I know you didn’t want to go out. But this is a big deal. You have to go with us.”
Internally I groan, though I keep that thought to myself. “Chloe, I won’t miss this. I promise.”
“If you do, Sydney will kick your ass.” Chloe tries to keep a serious face but completely fails, causing both of us to break into laughter.
Sydney’s our other roommate. She’s been one of my closest friends since freshman year. She lived across the hall from us in the dorms. She’s taking tomorrow night off, which is rare for her. I know she needs the money. I also know they want to celebrate together. This only comes along once in a lifetime.
“I know it’s important. I’ll be there,” I promise.
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