The couch was the pull-out kind, and the mattress as comfortable as the bed in my old dorm room, so I really couldn’t complain. Well, except for the fact that I had little to no privacy, sharing the space with a relative stranger. Kristen didn’t seem bothered, though, and walked around in her underwear most of the time – always changing outfits.
Kristen was majoring in Architecture, I learned, following in her father’s footsteps. Apparently, Hanson Barnes was something of a real estate tycoon. Basically, he was Mr. Monopoly. When Kristen told me of her father, I couldn’t help but wonder if he owned a top hat. I didn’t ask, though.
In the two weeks I’d lived in the Kappa Nu sorority house – or more like apartment complex – I hadn’t spent any time with Lucy outside of class. When I did see her in class, she could barely stay awake. She went out with Chelsea every night, and in the mornings, her eyes were bloodshot.
Kristen often stayed out late, too, so I had a lot of time to myself. Unfortunately, I was finding it hard to concentrate on my course work. I almost got called out on it in class, too, but some unknown student jumped in with an observation of his own and the professor’s attention was diverted.
One morning, I was waiting for Lucy to show up in class and as more and more students started filing in, I craned my neck to spot her in the auditorium. I almost jumped when someone plopped down in the seat next to mine and snapped my head around to scowl at Lucy for scaring me.
My words died on my lips, though, when I found myself looking into some of the darkest brown eyes I’d ever seen, a stark contrast to the guy’s blond, spiky hair. He was gorgeous, plain and simple. I realized I was staring and blinked, hoping my cheeks weren’t burning as hot as they felt.
“Um… sorry… that seat’s taken,” I blurted awkwardly.
“By your invisible friend?” the guy raised his eyebrows challengingly, mocking me.
“I have a friend, she’s just running late,” I said snappishly. There was something about him that instantly annoyed me and I couldn’t help myself.
“I know,” he said and got comfortable in his seat, “and I saw her this morning. Trust me, she’s not making it to class today.”
“What?” I frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She walked out of our frat house with Nick Fletcher. He said they were going boating or something lame like that,” the guy drawled and focused his attention on the professor, who was calling the class to order.
“What…?” I started, but the guy turned his mocha eyes on me and put a finger to his lips.
“Shh, class is starting. I’m not gonna save your butt this time,” he said, an amused grin tugging at his – dare I say it? – fully kissable lips.
I huffed and pushed back in my seat, opening my notebook loudly and staring straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the so far unnamed guy to my left.
As soon as class let out, the mystery guy blended in with the stream of exiting students and I collected my notebook and pen, shoving them in my book bag. As I got outside the auditorium, I pulled out my cell phone and texted Lucy, asking where she was. When I didn’t get a reply, I headed back to the sorority in a foul mood.
I entered the quad of our complex and, out of the corner of my eye, noticed someone by the pool. I turned my head, my eyes feasting on the expanse of back muscles at work. My steps slowed as I passed the muscular man, turning my head as I did.
Apparently, he noticed me, and turned his sea-green eyes on me. He had wavy dark blonde hair, the tips frosted by the sun, and a body I’d expect to find in a magazine of muscled men and heartthrobs. Not that I read any magazines like that, but anyway. His full lips eased into a smile and he straightened.
“Um… hi,” I said, timidly, for the second time in one day feeling my cheeks blush. It must be the weather. “Are you…?” I started, not finding the words.
“Ryan Taylor,” he introduced himself. “But everyone calls me Taylor,” he shrugged, his smile intact.
He was older than the average frat guy, I noted. Probably in his mid-20s, maybe even early 30s. So what was he doing here – cleaning our pool? Wait…
“I’m the pool man,” he said, gesturing to the telescopic brush in his hand.