#Nerd (Page 12)

“If you follow the outline and write a couple sentences on each bullet point, your paper should be no problem to finish over the weekend,” I said.

“Do you ever do anything other than study and homework?” he asked. His voice wasn’t condescending or even sarcastic, so I tried not to bristle.

“What makes you think all I do is homework?”

The corner of his lips tilted up. “Because you knew where the reference books we needed were. Because you’re really good at homework.”

“I did an assignment on your topic last year. I used those books.” I defended myself, bending down to snag my bag off the floor. “And yes, I have a life outside of schoolwork.”

“Are you going to the bonfire tonight?” he asked, shoving his papers in his bag. He had no organization at all.

“No.”

He glanced up in surprise. “No?” Then he smiled. “Is fun not your thing?”

I stuck out my tongue.

“I didn’t realize a fire in the middle of a field was considered fun.”

He was already standing, towering over me, but once I spoke, he dropped back into his chair and rotated so his body faced me. “It’s not necessarily what you’re doing. It’s who you’re doing it with.”

He flashed me one of his smiles that lit up the entire room.

It was hard not to be affected by him. Especially when that smile was directed at you and so were his incredibly clear blue eyes. Suddenly, I understood why so many girls fell at his feet. He had an uncanny ability to make whoever he was focused on his entire universe.

I’d never been the center of anyone’s universe before. Okay, maybe I had, but it was different and it had been very long ago.

And then there was the other time I felt like this…

I jerked away from his attention, my elbow sliding across the table and knocking into my water bottle. It fell over on its side and the cap popped off. Water gushed out over the surface of the wood, and I shrieked. My chair clattered against the floor as I jumped to my feet and pulled my books out of the way.

Romeo also stood, but it was a fluid, silent movement. As I fumbled around looking desperately for something to stop the water from covering everything, Romeo reacted.

In one smooth motion, he reached behind him, palming the back of his cotton shirt, and slid it up over his back until it was free of his head. He tossed the shirt onto the water, and as it soaked it up, he picked up my now empty bottle and recapped it.

Excited murmurs filled the once silent room around us.

Giggling and loud sighs floated in our direction.

The book in my hand felt like it weighed a million tons as my gaze latched onto Romeo. He was standing there without a shirt.

Completely bare-chested.

His body was incredibly honed and sculpted. If he wasn’t standing there breathing right in front of me, I would have thought he was a sculpture. Every single muscle in his torso and chest was precisely defined. The corded muscles in his arms were sleek and long, stretching out across his broad shoulders and meeting with his wide, solid chest. His waist tapered down into a V and he had these muscles…

I swallowed.

These muscles that stood out just above his low-slung jeans. It was like indentations on either side of his hips.

My mouth felt dry as I stared at those hollow dents.

“How much of your stuff got wet?” he asked, his calm tone breaking into my muscle-induced trance.

“Umm, what?” I said, snapping my eyes to his face.

He chuckled and I felt my face flame. He totally knew I was checking him out.

“Is your stuff ruined?”

“Oh,” I said, tearing my eyes from his golden skin and down to my things. “No, it’s fine,” I mumbled. I glanced at the table where his shirt was completely saturated. His wide hand palmed the fabric and mopped up what was left of the liquid.

The way his back muscles moved as he leaned over the table to swipe it stole my attention. I forced my eyes away. Not only should I be embarrassed about the mess, but also for staring this way.

“I’m sorry,” I said, reaching out to help him.

He tossed a grin over his shoulder. “I got it. No worries.”

The librarian cut through the small crowd gathered around our table (all girls) and gave us a glare. “What’s going on here?”

Romeo straightened from the table, clutching his drenched shirt. “We had a spill,” he explained. “But it’s taken care of.”

“Oh,” she said. The irritation in her eyes quickly changed into something else… something like admiration.

Oh, gross. The librarian was totally checking him out.

“Sorry for the disruption,” he said and gave her a lopsided smile.

He totally knew what kind of effect he had and he was eating it up.

“Well,” she said, still looking at him. “As long as everything is cleaned up.”

“It is,” I said, suddenly irritated.

The librarian transferred her gaze to me and it hardened. “Rimmel.” She sighed. “I should have known the commotion was caused by you.”

Embarrassment speared me as people snickered. I began packing up as Romeo entertained his audience.

I turned to leave, ready to disappear in the crowd, but I didn’t get very far. Romeo wrapped his hand around my wrist and tugged me around. He was wearing his varsity jacket over his bare chest. The front was open and showed the indent of his abs all the way down to his jeans.

“See you Monday?” he asked.

“Sure,” I mumbled.

The crowd parted and let me through, swallowing me up as I went. Romeo’s rich laugh filled the back of the library as I moved toward the door.

“That’s my tutor. Coach’s orders,” I heard him saying.

Something inside me shriveled just a little. Yeah, I was his tutor and yeah, I wasn’t any happier about this arrangement than he was. But to hear him explain away his association with me like it had been forced on him hurt my feelings.

I realized I wasn’t in his circle. I was so far removed that we were in different zip codes.

It still hurt anyway.

Chapter Eight

Romeo

I could hear the music and see the orange glow of a massively large bonfire already raging in the distance. I glanced at Braeden in the passenger seat and he grinned.

Bonfires during football season were a tradition here at Alpha U. They happened almost every single weekend. There was this perfect spot on campus—away from all the buildings, out of the watchful eye of the staff.

Although, everyone knew we partied here. It was sort of an unspoken rule that as long as no one caused any serious trouble, the adults would pretend to not know.