“You’re the one calling my name,” he points out.
“I was pretending to try it out.” I sit up straighter, jerking my legs away from him. My ankle feels much better thank goodness. “But it’s not working for me. Shep is definitely not sexy.”
“Says the only female on campus who thinks that.”
“Please. You’re so arrogant.” I dart out my foot and nudge it against his thigh, surprised at how rock hard it is. The man is solid muscle, I’ll give him that. I bet he looks damn good with his shirt off. Or even naked.
Yeah. Don’t go there.
“See? You’re trying to touch me.”
“I’m trying to get you to stand up so I can get off this bed.”
“Why didn’t you say so?” He leaps to his feet, agile as a cat. And he’s a sneaky predator too. Scary. “Need help?” he asks, offering his hand toward me.
I ignore his outstretched arm and push off the bed, putting my weight gingerly on my twisted ankle but it’s fine. All better now.
I can make my escape.
“Since I just shut you down maybe you should go try and charm the panties off some other innocent girl,” I say, blinking up at him.
“You still owe me.”
Ugh. He’s not going to let this go. “And by owing you, are you implying I’m supposed to have sex with you? Please. I’m not your whore.”
“I never said that,” he says, all calm, smooth and irritating as hell. “But a bet is a bet. A deal is a deal. I won you fair and square.”
“Yeah, because my ex put me up for grabs!” I point out, immediately regretting that I yelled at him. It’s annoying, how serene he is when I’m all flustered.
“You two broke up?” I refuse to hear the hopeful note in his voice.
Refuse. Refuse. Refuse.
“We’d been headed in that direction for a while.” God, I’m trying my best for nonchalant but it’s difficult. I lift my chin. “Not that it would matter to you. You were making a play for me, believing I was involved with someone else.”
“Give me a break. You were willing. Don’t make me out to be the scumbag.” He jerks a thumb at his chest. His very broad, very nice chest.
True. Not that I’d ever admit it. And why can’t he back away a little bit or better yet, leave the room? He smells delicious. That same earthy, woodsy scent with the hint of citrus, and he looks damn good in those jeans.
“I expect you to pay up. I won that hand. I won you,” he says, his voice low, his gaze intense. And directed right at me. “If Joel the loser can’t come through then you need to.”
I gape at him. This entire situation is surreal. Why is Shepard Prescott so determined to—have me? I don’t get it. So I guess I should ask him. “Wh-what do you want from me?” I sound like a stuttering fool and I hate it. He unnerves me completely. I swear he was going to kiss me not even five minutes ago.
And I would’ve let him.
I squint up at him. Man, he’s tall. “What?”
“Your time. I won a girlfriend so I expect…a girlfriend.” He shrugs. “You’ll do all those girlfriend things girls do. Hang out with me. Wash my clothes. Feed me. Rub my back. Go out to dinner with me. Watch TV together.”
“Wash your clothes? Feed you? You make me sound like a maid.”
“Isn’t that what good girlfriends do?”
This guy doesn’t have a clue. “So that’s what you want from me?” I ask incredulously. “I thought you didn’t have girlfriends. That you don’t want a girlfriend.”
Jeez. Should I have just said that to him? It’s a well-known fact that Shep has never dated anyone seriously for the last three years he’s been on this campus. He has a revolving door of women and that’s it. I don’t want to be one of the many.
I don’t want to be with him, period.
“I definitely don’t want one. A real girlfriend would always want something from me. But you wouldn’t be a real girlfriend. You’re temporary. A girl I won in a bet.” His face lights up, as if he’s figuring out what a great deal this is. Which it is.
“And what do I get out of this?”
“Me.” He grins and spreads his arms out wide, like he’s a prize or something.
I want to sock him right in his smug as hell face. “No way.”
His smile falters and he drops his hands to his sides. “No?”
“Absolutely not.” I shake my head. “You’ll need to find Joel if you want him to repay this debt. I owe you nothing.”
I start to leave but he grabs hold of my arm, stopping me. His grip is gentle. I could pull out of his hold easily but I don’t. There’s something about the press of his fingers into my skin, his nearness, the way he speaks, low and steady close to my ear, that makes everything inside of me come instantly, achingly alive.
“You owe me everything. All that you have. And don’t deny that you want to give it to me because I know you do,” he murmurs, his breath stirring my hair.
God, his words…they do something to me. Has any guy spoken to me like this before?
No. Not ever.
We stare at each other, the air charged with unspoken tension. He sweeps his hand down my arm in a gentle caress, causing gooseflesh to rise on my skin and I want to step away. I tell myself to step away. Instead I’m tilting my head back, he’s moving his head down and oh my God, he’s going to kiss me. Fucking sexy Shep Prescott who knows just what to say to make me light up inside is going to put those perfect lips on mine in three…two…
“Hey.” The door swings open and there stands a guy I recognize from last night, his arm looped around the neck of a really short, really pretty dark haired girl who’s giggling uncontrollably. “Oh. Shep. What are you doing in here?”
“What does it look like I’m doing in here?” Shep asks tightly as I move away from him. Far, far away, so I can breathe again.
I take in a shaky breath, refusing to look at him. Because he knows. I know he knows I would’ve given in and I can’t give him that power.
The guy grins and holds his hand out toward me as he enters the room. “Gabriel Walker. A friend of Shep’s. I saw you last night. You have a most excellent backhand.”
Oh God, how embarrassing. “Jade Frost.” I shake his hand, momentarily dazzled by Gabriel’s good looks. Was there some sort of unspoken law that attractive men must hang out together? “Nice to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s all mine,” he drawls, earning a deathly glare from Shep.
“Quit flirting with her, Gabe,” Shep snaps. “You brought your own date.”
“I’m Meadow,” the brunette chirps. I shake her offered hand as well. Shep doesn’t even bother.
“Didn’t mean to interrupt,” Gabe says, grabbing hold of Meadow’s hand and the two of them start backing toward the door. “We’ll find another room.”
“No need. I have to go find my friend,” I say, walking toward them, ready to move past them and make my much-needed escape. “She’s probably worried about me.” Kelli was probably outside dancing and didn’t even realize I’d left her but they don’t need to know that.