#Nerd (Page 1)

Chapter One

Rimmel

Being nervous was stupid.

I wasn’t a stupid person; even still, I couldn’t shake the nerves coiling in the pit of my stomach like a cornered poisonous snake. The paper clutched in my hand trembled like the coloring leaves that dotted the trees outside in the cool autumn air.

I didn’t want to be here. I’d probably rather be anywhere else. But the choice wasn’t mine today. In fact, it wasn’t going to be between the hours of five and seven p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the foreseeable future.

Saying no wasn’t an option. This “job” was presented to me as something I had to do to keep my scholarship. Considering none of the other scholarship recipients (that I knew) were practically ordered to tutor struggling students, I wondered if this really was a requirement.

Not like I would say anything, though. I hated confrontation; it made my stomach hurt. And I certainly wasn’t going to argue with the dean over what I needed to do to keep my free ride. So I agreed. It was only a few hours a week, right? And I’d get points for doing a good deed.

Inwardly, I cringed.

Everyone knows the nice guy always finishes last.

Once I was good and committed to the tutoring, I was given a sheet of paper—the same sheet I was now crushing in my nervous hand—with a list of the subjects the student needed help with. Math, English, and history.

Geez, it was like half this person’s schedule. Did they do no studying on their own?

Then I saw the name.

There it was, typed neatly at the top of the paper, right there in black and white. It appeared so simple, just letters arranged in a row. I remember being slightly shocked the second I read his name that fireworks didn’t appear overhead and the marching band didn’t storm through the hall, playing the university’s fight song.

“You want me to tutor Roman Anderson?” I’d squeaked, and the pathetic sound reminded me of the nickname my nervously high voice had earned me in high school.

Mouse.

But this wasn’t high school, and I didn’t squeak anymore. Okay, not much.

“Is there a problem with that?” the dean had asked, choosing to ignore my shock.

Yes! He’s like way out of my league. I cleared my throat again just to be sure my voice was normal when I spoke. “I guess I’m just surprised he needs a tutor.” There was no reason to even pretend I didn’t know exactly who he was.

Everyone knew Romeo.

“Being the incredible athlete that he is, football takes up a great deal of his time. We thought it would be best if he had some additional help with his academics,” the dean replied.

“We?” I asked.

“Myself and the coach.”

Ahhh.

So basically, Mr. Perfect was failing, and the school was freaking out because it was football season and they needed their best player and crowd drawer on the field. And who better to stick with the job? The scholarship girl with the perfect average. The girl with no life.

And so here I was sitting at a table in the university library, waiting on Mr. Perfect. I glanced at the watch fastened around my wrist. Then I checked the time against the large clock hanging on the wall. The times matched up.

Romeo was late.

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo…

I snorted. It was so loud it startled a girl at a nearby table. She jerked back in her seat, causing her chair to teeter dangerously backward and hover over the ground. I watched as she grappled for the table ledge, her hands grasping instead to the thick book open before her.

The book wasn’t a good anchor.

She yanked it right off the table as her chair barreled toward the ground. The chair, the girl, and the book made quite the clatter when they hit the ground. Everyone in the general area turned to stare.

You know you’re a clumsy person when you cause other people to fall down.

I started to get up, to help her, but the daggers she shot out of her eyes froze me in my tracks. I sat back down. Her face was flaming red as she huffed to her feet and packed up her stuff. Before storming off, she picked up the large book, and I had a sudden vision of her swinging it at my head.

Instead, she wrapped her arms around it and glared at me again.

“Sorry,” I whispered.

If her stomps to the other side of the library were any indication, I was pretty sure I wasn’t forgiven.

Well, that was eventful.

And a waste of time. I glanced at my watch again and wondered if I would get out of tutoring if he didn’t bother showing up.

Since I was already here, I figured I could at least do some of my work, so I bent down to retrieve my notebook out of my bag. When I sat up, I saw him.

He was standing just inside the glass doors that led outside. His shaggy blond hair was darker than usual because it looked damp. The ends of his hair curled up at the base of his neck, above the collar of his jacket. A navy-blue backpack was slung over one of his shoulders and his insanely large hand was curled around the strap, holding it in place.

Romeo was tall, well over six feet, with broad shoulders that tapered into a narrow waist. He wasn’t a bulky guy; he played too many sports for that. But even so, it was obvious his body was all muscle.

He was looking around, his blue eyes sweeping the room, likely looking for his tutor. I felt my cheeks heat when he glanced my way, and I ducked my head. But then I realized this wasn’t the time to be shy. I needed to tell him I was his tutor.

Holy hell, I was going to get to talk to him! Embarrassment burned the back of my throat. Talking to guys wasn’t something I did very often.

I looked back up to wave at him, but Romeo had already looked away. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t very noticeable. I wasn’t the kind of girl that drew eyes and held a stare.

I watched him another minute as he looked over his shoulder at the tables on the other side of the room. The girl who fell out of her chair was watching him, her eyes eating up his face.

Could she be any more obvious?

Romeo caught her looking and his mouth pulled into a slow smile. I bit the inside of my lip as little butterflies fluttered around my stomach. He wasn’t even looking at me with that charming half smile and I was affected.

Ugh.

I didn’t have time for this.

I snatched the paper with his name and information off the table and marched toward him. Halfway there, I collided with the corner of an empty table and the unforgiving edge jammed into my hipbone. In the center of the table was a cup filled with pens and pencils and the force of impact knocked it over.

Writing utensils rolled across the wooden surface and some rained down onto the floor.