No, no, no. They did not save my ass!
Caving, I took a seat on the bench in the middle of the aisle and planted my head into my hands.
“What’s wrong? This is good news.” She took a seat next to me and began removing her shoes and socks.
“No, I think I’d rather be in trouble with the Dean than indebted to those jerks.” They wouldn’t have covered for me unless they wanted to administer the punishment themselves.
“Aren’t you applying to Columbia? I don’t think they’re interested in bright, young, scientific minds that have a penchant for assaulting guys. Just saying, anything is probably better than this winding up on your record.”
She rose, finished stripping down, and headed to the shower with her towel. I stayed there a few moments, contemplating her final words. She was right. I had a lot going for me if I could keep my eyes on the ball. My grades were great, I was fluent in French, had a year abroad under my belt and a slew of note-worthy extra-curricular activities. I could survive whatever Jared had up his sleeve.
My first day back at Shelburne Falls High School was more eventful than I would have liked, but I was being noticed in a positive way. I might actually leave my senior year with a few good memories, like homecoming and prom.
Grabbing my towel, I headed for the showers.
The hot water cascaded down my back, giving me the kind of chills you get when you’re cozy and enjoying something completely pleasurable. After the workout Coach gave us, I ended up lounging under the exhilarating pressure of the shower for longer than anyone else. My muscles were exhausted.
After coming out wrapped in my towel, I joined the other girls at the lockers, who were mostly dressed and going to dry their hair.
“Get out. Tatum stays.”
I jerked my head up at the masculine voice and audible gasps. I zoned in on Jared…who was in the girls locker room! I clutched my towel, which was still wrapped around my body, and pulled it tighter as I frantically looked around for Coach.
A chill ran over my body. His eyes were on me as he spoke to everyone else, and it made me disgusted with my sex to see how everyone scurried away, leaving me alone with a boy who had no right to be in here.
“Are you kidding me?” I heaved at him as his advancing steps matched my retreating ones.
“Tatum”—he hadn’t used my nickname Tate since we were kids—“I wanted to make sure I had your attention. Do I have it?” He looked relaxed, his beautiful eyes bore into mine making me feel like there was no one else in the entire world but us.
“Say what you have to say. I’m na**d here, and I’m about to scream. This is going too far, even for you!” I stopped retreating, but my frustration was evident as my voice raised and my breathing quickened. Score one for Jared. He’d surprised me, and now I was completely vulnerable. No lifelines and…no clothes.
I clutched the towel at the top of my br**sts with one hand and hugged myself with the other. All of my important parts were covered, but the towel rode up just under my butt, leaving most of my legs exposed. Jared narrowed his eyes at me before they began to fall downward…and kept going. My mind swirled and my face flushed with heat as he continued checking me out. His intimidation tactics were stellar.
No smirk accompanied his violation. He didn’t eye-fuck me like Madoc did. His roaming gaze was reluctant, as if it was involuntary. His chest heaved slightly, and his breathing got heavier. Tingles covered my body, and another sensation I was a little pissed off about settled between my legs.
After a few moments, his gaze met mine again. The corners of his mouth turned up.
“You sabotaged my party last week. And you assaulted my friend. Twice. Are you actually trying to assert some force in this school, Tatum?”
“I think it’s about time, don’t you?” Surprising myself, I didn’t blink.
“On the contrary,” he said, leaning his shoulder into the lockers and crossing his arms, “I’ve moved on to more interesting pastimes than punking you, believe it or not. It’s been a very peaceful year without your smug, I’m-too-good-for-everyone-else f**king face around these halls.”
His biting tone was old news, but the words cut me, and I clenched my teeth.
I mocked him with fake concern. “What—are you, big, bad Jared—feeling threatened?” What the hell was I doing? I had an out. He was confronting me. I should be trying to talk to him. Why wasn’t I trying to reason with him?
In an instant, he pushed off the lockers and invaded my space. Walking up to me, he placed his hands against the locker doors on both sides of my head with his eyes glaring down at me. I suddenly forgot how to breathe.
“Don’t touch me.” I’d meant to yell, but it came out as a whisper. Even with my eyes to the floor, I could feel the heat of his stare mauling me as he hovered. Every nerve in my body was on alert at his proximity, and every little hair on my skin stood on end.
Jared moved his head from side to side trying to catch my eyes, his lips inches from my face. “If I ever lay my hands on you,” he said low and husky, “you’ll want it.” He brought his lips in even closer. The heat of his breath covered my face. “Do you? Want it, I mean?”
I met his eyes and breathed him in. There was something I was going to say, but I completely forgot it as his scent invaded my brain. I liked it when men wore cologne, but Jared didn’t wear any. Good. Awesome. The jerk just smelled like soap. Yummy, delicious, musky bodywash.