The Deal (Off Campus #1)(3)

By: Elle Kennedy


I was in a good place when I started college. My issues solidly behind me, my guard lowered. I was ready to date again, and I did. I dated several guys, but other than my ex, Devon, none of them made my body tingle the way Justin Kohl does, and that freaks me out.

Baby steps.

Right. Baby steps. That was my therapist’s favorite piece of advice, and I can’t deny that the strategy helped me a lot. Focus on the small victories, Carole always advised.

So…today’s victory…I nodded at Justin and he smiled at me. Next class, maybe I’ll smile back. And the one after that, maybe I’ll bring up the coffee, dinner or brunch idea.

I take a breath as I head down the aisle, clinging to that feeling of victory, however teeny it may be.

Baby steps.

*

Garrett

I FAILED.

I fucking failed.

For fifteen years, Timothy Lane handed out A’s like mints. The year I take the class? Lane’s ticker quits ticking, and I get stuck with Pamela Tolbert.

It’s official. The woman is my archenemy. Just the sight of her flowery handwriting—which fills up every inch of available space in the margins of my midterm—makes me want to go Incredible Hulk on the booklet and rip it to shreds.

I’m rocking A’s in most of my other courses, but as of right now, I’m getting an F in Philosophical Ethics. Combined with the C-plus in Spanish history, my average has dropped to a C-minus.

I need a C-plus average to play hockey.

Normally I have no problem keeping my GPA up. Despite what a lot of folks believe, I’m not a dumb jock. But hey, I don’t mind letting people think I am. Women, in particular. I guess they’re turned on by the idea of screwing the big brawny caveman who’s only good for one thing, but since I’m not looking for anything serious, casual hookups with chicks that only want my dick suit me just fine. Gives me more time to focus on hockey.

But there won’t be any more hockey if I don’t bring up this grade. The worst thing about Briar? Our dean demands excellence—academically and athletically. While other schools might be more lenient toward athletes, Briar has a zero-tolerance policy.

Fuckin’ Tolbert. When I spoke to her before class asking for extra credit, she told me in that nasally voice of hers to attend the tutorials and meet with the study group. I already do both. So yeah, unless I hire some whiz kid to wear a mask of my face and take the makeup midterm for me…I’m screwed.

My frustration manifests itself in the form of an audible groan, and from the corner of my eye I see someone jerk in surprise.

I jerk too, because here I thought I was wallowing in my misery alone. But the girl who sits in the back row has stuck around, and she’s making her way down the aisle toward Tolbert’s desk.

Mandy?

Marty?

I can’t remember her name. Probably because I’ve never bothered to ask for it. She’s cute, though. A helluva lot cuter than I realized. Pretty face, dark hair, smokin’ body—shit, how have I never noticed that body before?

But I’m noticing now. Skinny jeans cling to a round, perky ass that just screams “squeeze me,” and her V-neck sweater hugs a seriously impressive rack. I don’t have time to admire either of those appealing visuals because she catches me staring and a frown touches her mouth.

“Everything okay?” she asks with a pointed look.

I grumble something under my breath. I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone at the moment.

One dark eyebrow rises in my direction. “Sorry, was that English?”

I ball up my midterm and scrape my chair back. “I said everything’s fine.”

“Okay, then.” She shrugs and continues down the steps.

As she picks up the clipboard that contains our tutorial schedule, I fling my Briar Hockey jacket on, then shove my pathetic midterm into my backpack and zip it up.

The dark-haired girl heads back to the aisle. Mona? Molly? The M sounds right, but the rest is a mystery. She has her midterm in hand, but I don’t sneak a peek because I assume she failed just like everyone else.

I let her pass before I step into the aisle. I suppose I can say it’s the gentleman in me, but that would be a lie. I want to check out her ass again, because it’s a damn sexy ass, and now that I’ve seen it I wouldn’t mind another look. I follow her up to the exit, suddenly realizing how frickin’ tiny she is—I’m one step below her yet I can see the top of her head.

Just as we reach the door, she stumbles on absolutely nothing and the books in her hand clatter to the floor.

“Shit. I’m such a klutz.”

She drops to her knees and so do I, because contrary to my previous statement, I can be a gentleman when I want to be, and the gentlemanly thing to do is help her gather her books.

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