10. we're just friends. I think.

Start from the beginning

"Hey, you're Ryan, right?" he asked, flashing me a disarming smile. He seemed familiar, but I couldn't place him.

"I am. And you are...?"

"Hunter. I play hockey with Ethan," he said. He gave me a crooked smirk and nodded his chin towards me, "Ethan must be crazy to let such a hot roommate move in with him. I think he's trying to torture himself."

Was he flirting with me? I wasn't hit by that immediate spark in the same way that I had been with Ethan. And he was still an athlete, which gave me pause. But he was cute enough and more importantly, he wasn't my roommate.

I could roll with it for now, I figured. It might serve as a good distraction from the puck bunny feeling up Ethan over on the other side of the room.

I laughed. "That's very sweet, but Ethan and I are just friends. It's totally platonic."

I left out the part where sometimes I wished it wasn't.

_____________________

 Rachelle was telling me some kind of story about her friends and a card game

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Rachelle was telling me some kind of story about her friends and a card game. Or maybe it was about her car's name.

I was nodding, but I wasn't listening. I was too busy watching Hunter and Ryan. Even from a distance, I could tell that Hunter was laying it on thick. That fucker.

Get away from her, you creep.

Rachelle batted her eyelashes and touched my arm, trying to flirt with me.

"Uh-huh," I said absently, still watching Ryan in my peripheral vision.

Rachelle and I hooked up partway through sophomore year. It was just a one time thing, nothing serious, and I hadn't called her after. In truth, I felt badly about that but I also didn't want to lead her on.

Ever since then, she was all over me whenever I ran into her. I wasn't interested and didn't know how to make it clearer without being rude.

After I broke up with Alexis, I went a little nuts and slept with a handful of girls right away, Rachelle being one of them. It hadn't helped my state of mind; in fact, it made things worse. So I decided to focus on hockey and school, and I stopped hooking up with girls altogether.

From then on, it was almost like there was a bet placed on who could get me to crack first. I'd been groped, propositioned, even followed into the bathroom. It seemed silly to complain, but sometimes I felt like a piece of meat or a conquest. Generally, the girls didn't take the rejection very gracefully, either; I had received a lot of accusations and insults about my manlihood after turning them down.

"I think Hunter has a thing for your new roommate," Smith murmured. So I wasn't overreacting. I clenched my jaw harder.

I knew that Ryan meeting Hunter was inevitable but I had hoped to keep them apart as much as possible. If warned her about him, I knew might look jealous. That wasn't the problem; at least, that wasn't the only problem.

It all came down to one simple fact: Hunter was a terrible person. Not just because of what he did to me, but because of how he treated people in general-- used them without any regard for their feelings, discarding them when he was finished.

Irritation and protectiveness flowed through me. And okay, maybe a smidge of possessiveness. At any rate, I couldn't stand by and watch it anymore.

"Ugh. Let's go rescue her," I said, heading in their direction before Smith could protest. Rachelle was mid-sentence. "Sorry Rachelle, friend in need over there," I added over my shoulder. She just stared at me, dumbfounded, her frosty pink lips agape.

"Hey, Ryan," I said as I walked up to them.

Damn, she looked amazing. Her Batgirl costume was tight in all the right places. The shiny material made her curves look unreal. I quickly reminded myself that wasn't the reason I had come over to talk to her.

"Hunter," I added curtly.

"Hey man," Hunter said amiably. He always tried to kiss my ass, but I wasn't having it.

I cleared my throat and suggested, "Ryan, why don't we go find Iz and Axel?"

A look of confusion flashed across her face. She could tell that I didn't like her talking to Hunter. So much for subtlety. I would have to backpedal later and make up some kind of excuse for acting that way.

"Um, sure. It was nice meeting you Hunter," she said, apologetically. As we walked away, she hissed, "Ethan, what was that about? Is he a creep or something?"

To be honest or not, that was the question. I debated how to answer her for a moment before deciding to shoot for a middle ground. "Kind of. He's a player and he can come on strong. I just didn't want him to bother you."

She frowned, but didn't say anything.

"Come on," I said. "Want to play pool? It's in the den. I think Iz and Axel might be in there too," I lied. Really, I just wanted to get her away from him.

Then it hit me: now I was actually telling falsehoods to get a girl to go places with me? I started to wonder if I was any better than Hunter.

What was wrong with me? It seemed like Ryan put me into a tailspin when she was around.

___________________________

Author's Note: Thanks for reading!

Anyone like Isabelle and Axel as much as I do? I have big plans for Axabelle (Izel?) after this one...

Anyone like Isabelle and Axel as much as I do? I have big plans for Axabelle (Izel?) after this one

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