Price of a Kiss(7)

By: Linda Kage



But seriously, no one had tried to kill me here, so I guess I couldn’t whine and complain too much.

Pity party cut short.

After Brit Lit with Eva, I had a free hour before my calculus class started. I spent that time stopping by the library. Since I’d been hired there as a work-study assistant, I still needed to talk to my new supervisor about a schedule. So we did, and I was pleased to learn I could weave all my work time in during the day between classes. I left my impromptu meeting with ten minutes left to find my math class.

I found it in five. Whoosh!

My calculus professor dove right into numbers and equations as soon as he skimmed over the syllabus. He was passionate about his numbers and equations too, which reminded me a lot of my dad, and made me a teensy bit homesick. But Dr. Kolarick kept us almost five minutes over, which my time-conscious father would never do. By the time he let us go, the next class had gathered outside in the hall and was ready to pile in.

I rushed, trying to hurry from my seat and get to Humanities next. But as soon as I stood and took two steps up the aisle between desk rows, one of the dangling straps on my book bag caught on a nearby chair and tipped the pack upside down, spilling all my belongings to the floor.

Horrified, I bent down and fumbled frantically to gather notebooks, texts, pens, and stray little pieces of papers with embarrassing doodles on them. Haphazardly shoving stuff into my bag, I was so busy watching what I was doing that I didn’t pay attention to where I was going. As I surged to my feet, I totally missed the guy coming down the aisle to find a seat for the next class.

That is, I didn’t notice him until I plowed into him, ramming my bag into a very taut, very sturdy stomach.

He grunted in pain, and I screeched in surprise.

I’d like to say I’m usually much more graceful. But I’m not the best liar in the world either, so yeah, I confess; I’m a total klutz.

Losing control of my book bag, I spilled everything inside onto the floor. Again.

Note to self: Zip my freaking backpack closed next time.

“Oh, my God. Sorry,” I said, instantly falling back to my knees. “I didn’t see you. I’m so sor—”

I glanced up and forgot what I was going to say.

From fifty yards, he’d taken my breath away. From ten feet, I’d been ready to have his babies. With a bare foot of nothing separating us in that cramped aisle between desks, there I was, on my knees in front of him.

Need I say more?

“Holy crap,” I squawked.

What the hell was he doing here? He wasn’t supposed to be here. Okay, maybe he was. I didn’t know his class schedule. But I certainly wasn’t supposed to be bumping into him…or sitting on my knees in front of him with my face mere inches from his—

Good God, how mortifying.

Hotness stared down at me, looking as startled as I felt.

“I…sorry—sorry.” I rushed out the words and blindly reached for my things, inadvertently shifting closer to his crotch as I snagged a handful of stray papers.

He lurched backward, dislodging two of my textbooks that had landed on his sneaker.

“Are you okay?” I bit my lip as I looked up, hoping I appeared as apologetic as I felt. But looking at him was always such a distraction. I was so breathless, I probably sounded like a one-nine-hundred operator when I said, “I’m so sorry.”

He had the look of a lifeguard with his lean build but wider upper body and defined muscles covered by some deliciously golden, sunbaked skin. His face was the most appealing feature about him. His incredible tan made the whites of his eyes and his perfect teeth stand out. It also drew more attention to his full lower lip, his dimpled chin underneath, and the gray intensity of his eyes above. Insert dreamy sigh here, because their brilliant pewter color reminded me of a cloudy sky right before a gentle rain shower.

“I’m fine.” He gave me a tight smile. A get-away-from-me-because-you-smell-bad kind of smile.

Oh, God. I repulsed him.

He finally bent down and retrieved the books that had been lying on his feet. When he handed them to me, I mumbled, “Thanks.” I was determined not to bawl in the presence of the gorgeous gigolo I repulsed.

Unintentionally—yes, unintentionally, jeez! —my hand brushed his as I took the books. Sparks of electricity shot up my arm. I gasped and jolted backward, shocked—both literally and figuratively—by the current that crackled between us. It nearly made me drop my books again.

Needing to know if he’d felt it too, I glanced up and shoved my hair out of my face, only to discover how strained and uncomfortable he appeared. His face had darkened to a dull red as if he were holding his breath to keep from smelling me. Every female instinct in me wanted to reach out and trace the wrinkles in his brow he was making as he frowned.

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