#Nerd (Page 17)

Where the hell was the rain an hour ago when we were killing ourselves on the field?

I loved football, it was my life, but sometimes even I wanted a break.

As soon as I stepped through the glass doors, I looked toward the back where Rimmel always sat. She chose back there because she thought people wouldn’t see us; she thought we would blend into the books and stuffy atmosphere.

It never worked and it was always fun watching her get flustered when people would stop by the table to shoot the shit. I don’t know why it bothered her so much. No one ever talked to her. It wasn’t like she was forced to have a conversation.

She looked up and frowned at me as I made my way toward the table. I grinned because she was still here. Her hair was wild as always. We’d been meeting for tutoring almost two weeks now, and I still had yet to see her full face. Her glasses were perched on her nose and she looked small sitting in the wooden chair with an oversized shirt concealing her upper half.

“You’re late,” she said when I sat down.

I leaned across the table and spoke into her ear. “You waited.”

She ducked her head and I pulled away. I loved getting a reaction out of her. It was so damn easy. She reached out and slid a tall Styrofoam cup with a plastic lid toward me. “I got you a coffee.”

There was an identical cup still sitting in front of her.

I groaned a little and reached for it. “How’d you know I needed this?”

She gave me a sidelong glance as I sipped at the sweet brew. “I didn’t. But I thought it would be rude to bring one for me and not you.”

“Well, thanks. Practice today was a bitch.”

She swung her full gaze at me. It wasn’t the first time I noticed how wide her eyes were beneath her glasses. They were brown, but there was a ring of hazel around her irises. Some days the center looked more green and some days it was gold. Today they were deep green, like a freshly mowed football field.

“You’re welcome.”

I set aside the coffee and pulled out my laptop and powered it on. I might not feel like being here, but my grades were better and Coach wasn’t breathing down my neck every day about teetering on the edge of being suspended from the team.

“I have this assignment due in science. It’s a one-page paper on hypothesis vs. theory. Would you mind taking a look at what I have so far?”

The document flashed onto the screen and I tilted it toward her. Rimmel pushed up her glasses and leaned in to read. Her hair fell forward and brushed my arm, but I didn’t bother to move away.

She smelled good.

A combination of vanilla and apple. Usually she stuck to her side of the table like glue. This was the first time she’d leaned over into my personal space. I lounged back in the chair and kicked out my foot and sipped the coffee while she read.

She seemed intent on the computer, so I took a minute to study her without her knowing. Her skin was pale and smooth. Her eyes were framed with thick, dark lashes and her full lips were a pale shade of pink. The urge to reach out and push back some of her hair so I could study the rest of her came over me, and my hand flexed around the cup.

She must have felt the shift in the air because her body tensed. She glanced at me and her eyes widened when she realized just how close she was.

I didn’t bother moving. I smiled lazily. “What do you think?”

“A-about what?” she fumbled.

Without thinking, I reached up and fingered a strand of her hair. It was silky soft. “The paper.”

She jerked back like I’d tried to strike her. “It’s good. You don’t need to change it. Just finish the conclusion and it’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t used to girls trying to get away from my touch. “Are you a lesbian?” I shot out, sitting up.

She made a little squeaking sound and her mouth fell open. “What?”

“Are you?” I demanded.

“No!”

I grunted. “Then why do you dress like that?”

Her mouth snapped shut, then opened again. Hurt flashed into her eyes but quickly disappeared. What the fuck was I saying? What did it matter how she dressed?

“You know what?” she said. “I’ve had enough tutoring for today.”

“I just got here.”

“And I’ve already had enough of you,” she snapped and packed up her things. The way she slapped them into her bag drew some stares.

When she was done, she pushed away from the table and stalked toward a row of books and disappeared between them.

My cell went off.

I picked it up and looked at the message.

SHE’S YOUR GIRL

I really wasn’t in the mood for this cryptic shit.

WHAT?

A second ticked by and then I got a response.

YOUR CHALLENGE. IT’S THE NERD

I sucked in a breath and looked around for watchful eyes. I didn’t see anyone. Zach sure knew how to pick them. And at the perfect moment too. It’s like he knew she was a complete disaster and she was pissed at me.

She was the only girl on campus who didn’t seem to be affected by my charm. And I’d just insulted her.

Shit.

I wouldn’t give Zach the satisfaction of my defeat. I pulled out my phone and texted back.

GAME ON.

Chapter Eleven

Rimmel

My phone beeped with yet another notification from the #BuzzBoss. I winced and put the ringer to vibrate. Didn’t that guy have anything better to do than send out texts every five minutes?

Still, I looked to see what he posted. I regretted it immediately. Of course it had to be about Romeo. I sank back against a row of books and took a deep breath. Usually people didn’t get to me. Usually I never gave them much thought.

But not with him.

Romeo got to me.

It didn’t matter that I pushed him away, that I kept my distance. He was just a student I was tutoring. That’s all.

But he wasn’t.

Sometimes… sometimes just sitting beside him made my stomach do funny little flips. Sometimes when I caught the curve of his lopsided smile, I wanted to smile back. When I walked to class in the mornings, my eyes sometimes looked for him. At night when I lay in bed, I thought about the night of the bonfire and the way he gently stroked my sore wrist.

I didn’t want it. I didn’t want any of it.

But it’s like I couldn’t stop the softening of my insides. It was like driving way too fast and knowing you were going to crash, but your foot stayed on the gas.

I brought him coffee.

He insulted me.

I leaned my head against a shelf and looked up at the ugly lights on the ceiling. Guys like him were dangerous. I knew it firsthand. They took what they wanted, wrecked your insides, and walked away while you stood in the center of chaos without anyone to pull you back.