(excerpt is unedited. project is untitled.)
It was stupid.
Like… insanely stupid to be bothered that a guy who wasn’t my boyfriend – hell, he wasn’t even just a friend… hell, I barely even knew him – was talking to another girl.
So… maybe the gigglers didn’t count. He had to talk to them, had to be nice. He was at work. In the library. As in… Ty worked at the library. As if he needed any other points in the sexy category for me.
But the other girl… the gorgeous one, with the locs. That girl counted, definitely.
I couldn’t hear their conversation anyway, and tried not to look, but what was I supposed to do when they were right in front of me? I cursed the people taking up the private study rooms – if I was there, I wouldn’t have to witness this – and tried to mind my business.
I was relieved when she finally walked away from him, and fully aware of how crazy it was to feel that way. But… he was fine, and I wanted him, and even though nothing would ever happen between us, a girl could dream, right? And his arms… exactly how much book shelving did one have to do for biceps like that?
I tore my gaze away.
I had to stop looking at him, before I got caught being a weirdo. I could wish for, and fantasize, and imagine, and – shit, where did he go? While I was visualizing what Ty might have underneath his royal blue BSU tee shirt, he’d slipped away from my line of sight, and of course I felt a little disappointed. But what I needed to do was get back to my work.
In the three years since Mekhi and I stopped being a “thing”, I could count on one hand – to specific, three fingers – the number of guys I’d been intensely attracted to, to the point of distraction.
There was Wes, in my senior year of high school, who was so quiet that everybody else thought he was weird, but really his home life was so fucked up that school was solace for him. He didn’t want the rest of us interrupting his peace. Well… not us. Them. He liked me. He kissed me one day, out of the blue, in the closet beside the teacher’s lounge. The next day, he and his mother moved away, and I never saw him again.
The summer between freshman and sophomore year, there was Reggie, from the football team, who I tutored for the computer science class he was making up so he could play next season. Brilliant at his chosen athletic, but just plain lazy with academics. He was gorgeous though, mahogany skin and broad shoulder and big hands, and he always worked hard to impress me. He was another one of those “everybody’s boyfriend” types, so I wouldn’t let him touch me, but I certainly looked. I was a huge BSU football fan that year.
And then… there was Ty: a potentially huge crush, happening way too fast, with no assistance from him.
“You know… you’re really living up to this Cinderella thing, with the way you keep running away.”
My heart leapt somewhere in the vicinity of my tonsils at the sound of Ty’s voice right in my ear, and the pleasant warmth of his breath on my skin. I swallowed hard, tempered my facial expression into something like neutral, then glanced his way.
“It’s rude to interrupt people when they’re studying. You know that, right?”
I had no idea why I chose such a pissy response, but I turned my eyes back to my screen, willing the rise and fall of my chest into a slower rhythm. Ty didn’t need to know he made my heart race. Beside me, he chuckled a little.
Because of the way he was sitting, straddling the bench-style seat, he was turned in my direction. Any attempt to calm myself was lost as he moved closer to me, and the heat of his gaze against my face just made adrenaline pump faster.
“What if I’m not interrupting?” he asked. When I looked at him again, his eyes were bright with amusement. “I’m helping you study.”
I couldn’t keep the skepticism off my face. “How exactly are you helping me?”
“I can point out a problem with the code you’re writing.”
Frowning, I looked to my computer, where I’d be been practicing writing several code snippets from memory for one of my programming language classes. “You’ve been sitting here for two seconds, and you’ve checked my code? How do I know you’re not just trying to make conversation?”
“Because,” – he covered my hand, which was still on the laptop’s touchpad, with his. Our gazes met, and he smiled. “I’ll show you the error.” I held my breath, unable to make my eyes leave his face as he guided my hand. Instead of the smoothness of the day before, his jaw was covered with a thin layer of hair. But rather than making him look scruffy and unwashed, it made the compulsion to touch him even harder to ignore than it already was.
“Right here,” he said, tipping his head toward the screen to direct my gaze there. Reluctantly, I turned my attention to what he was showing me, and sure enough, I’d typed the wrong thing.