“Rachel.” She twisted back around to face me. “Seriously, that is getting old. He already checked it out and it’s a nonissue. Stop acting like you don’t want to date him.”

“I don’t! Who wants to date a man-whore?”

“He isn’t a—well . . . eh.” She made a face. “Well, yeah.”

“Exactly!” Blake was rumored to be screwing most of the females he trained as well as . . . well . . . he was rumored to be screwing pretty much any female he passed. Whether the rumors were true or not was up for debate. But seeing as he didn’t try to squash them and the horde of bimbos was never far from him, I was leaning toward their being true.

“You haven’t dated anyone since Daniel. You need to get back out there.”

“Yes I have. Candi, just because I’m not constantly seen with a guy, like you are, doesn’t mean I don’t date.”

I had gotten kind of serious with Daniel at the beginning of our second year at UT. But apparently six months was too long to make him wait to have sex and he ended up cheating on me. I found out two days after I’d given him my virginity.


After him I’d gone out with a few guys, but they didn’t last much longer than a date or two and an “I’ll call you later.” Not that there was anything wrong with those guys, I was just more interested in being done with school and Texas than getting my “MRS degree” or risking catching a disease.

I sighed to myself and headed toward our door.

“Are you going to find Blake?!” Candice was bouncing in her seat and her face was all lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning.


“What—Candice, no. It’s after midnight! I’m just done talking about this. I’m going to wash my face so I can go to sleep. And I’m not gonna hunt him down either; if he asks me out again, then I’ll say yes.” I grabbed my face wash and was reaching for the knob when someone knocked on the door. I don’t know who I was expecting it to be, but I wouldn’t have thought Blake West would be the one standing there in all his cocky glory. From the look on his face, there was no doubting he’d heard part, if not all, of our conversation. What the eff was he doing in our dorm?

He pulled one long-stemmed red rose—that was unexpected—from behind his back and looked over my shoulder, and his cocky expression went completely serious. “Hey, Candi. Do you mind if I steal Rachel for a few minutes?”

I turned around to look at her and she was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Traitor. I looked back at Blake and he let out a short laugh at my question-mark expression.

“That is, unless you’re busy or don’t want to. It looks like you were headed somewhere.” He looked pointedly at the hand that wasn’t holding on to the door.

It took me a few seconds to look down at my hand and realize he was looking at my face wash. “Oh . . . um, not. No. I mean. Busy. Not busy. I’m not busy.” Wow, that was brilliant.

Blake’s lips twitched and his head fell down and to the side to hide the grin he was failing at keeping back.

Trying not to continue looking like a complete idiot, I took a deep breath in and actually thought about my next question two different times before asking it. Okay, fine, I thought about it four times. “So, what can I do for you?” Yeah, I know. Now you understand why that required a lot of thought.

“I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few minutes.”

“Uh, you do realize it’s almost one in the morning, right?”

His head lifted and he looked sheepish. That look on this man was so different from anything I’d ever seen, and I almost didn’t know how to respond to it. “Yeah, sorry. I think I fought with myself for so long on whether or not I should actually come up here and talk to you, it got a lot later than I realized.” He jerked the rose up in front of him like he’d just remembered it was there. “This is for you, by the way.”

“And here I was thinking you just walk around holding roses all the time.” I awkwardly took the rose from him, looked at it for a few seconds, then let it hang from the tips of my fingers. “So, Blake . . .” I trailed off and searched his eyes for a second before he took a step back.

“Can I talk to you out here for just a minute? I promise I won’t keep you long.”

Yeah, well, the fact that I’ve turned you down for the amount of time it takes to make a baby and now you’re standing at my dorm room door at one in the morning is kind of creepy. But of course we have history, you’re incredibly hot now, and I’m thinking about as clearly as Candice does. So, sure. Why the hell not? I followed him out into the hall and shut the door behind us but stayed pressed up against it.

“Rachel . . .” He ran a nervous hand through his hair and paused for a second, as if trying to figure out what to say. “The school year is about to end and you’ll be going back to Cali over the summer. I feel like I’m about to miss any chance with you I may have. And I don’t want to. I know you liked me when we were growing up. But, Rach, you were way too young back then.”

“I’m still five years younger; that hasn’t changed.”

He smirked. “You and I both know a relationship between a thirteen-year-old and eighteen-year-old, and a twenty-one- and twenty-six-year-old are completely different.”

So? That doesn’t help my argument right now. “Well, you and I have both changed over the last eight years. Feelings change—”

“Yes.” He cut me off and his blue eyes darkened as he gave me a once-over. “They do.”

I hated that my body was responding to his look. But honestly, I think it’d have been impossible for anyone not to respond to him. Like I said. Adonis. “Uh, Blake. Up here.” He smiled wryly, and dear Lord, that smile was way too perfect. “Look, honestly? I have an issue with the fact that you’re constantly surrounded by very eager and willing females. It’s not like I’d put some claim on you if we went on a couple dates, but you ask me out while these girls are touching you and drooling all over you. It’s insulting that you would ask me out while your next lay is already practically stripping for you.”

His expression darkened and he tilted his head to the side. “You think I’m fucking them like everyone else?”

Ah, frick. Um, yes? “If you are, then that’s your business. I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry. But whether you are or not, you don’t even attempt to push them away. Since you moved here, I’ve never seen you with less than two women touching you. You don’t find that weird?” Was I really the only person who found this odd?

Suddenly pushing off the wall he’d been leaning against, he took the two steps toward me and I tried to mold myself to the door. A heart-stopping smile and bright blue eyes now replaced his darkened features as he completely invaded my personal space. If he weren’t so damn beautiful I’d have karate-chopped him and reminded him of personal bubbles. Or gone all Stuart from MADtv on him and told him he was a stranger and to stay away from my danger. Instead, I tried to control my breathing and swallow through the dryness in my mouth.

“No, Rachel. What I find weird is that you don’t seem to realize that I don’t even notice those other women or what they’re doing because all I see is you. I look forward to seeing you every day. I don’t think you realize you are the best part of my weekdays. I moved here for this job before I even knew you and Candice were going to school here, and seeing you again for the first time in years—God, Rachel, you were so beautiful and I had no idea that it was you. You literally stopped me in my tracks and I couldn’t do anything but watch you.

“And you have this way about you that draws people to you . . . always have. It has nothing to do with how devastatingly beautiful you are—though that doesn’t hurt . . .” He smirked and searched my face. “But you have this personality that is rare. And it bursts from you. You’re sweet and caring, you’re genuinely happy, and it makes people around you happy. And you have a smile and laugh that is contagious.”

Only men like Blake West could get away with saying things like that and still have my heart racing instead of making me laugh in their faces.

“You’re not like other women. Even though these are the years for it, you don’t seem like the type of girl to just have flings, and I can assure you, that’s not what I’m into, nor what I’m looking for with you. So I don’t see those other women; all I’m seeing is you. Do you understand that now?”

Holy shit. He was serious?


I nodded and he smiled.

“So, will you please let me take you out this weekend?”

For the first time since he’d come back into my life, he actually looked unsure of himself. I was still in complete shock, but I somehow managed to nod again and mumble, “Sure, where do you want to go?”

He smiled wide and exhaled in relief. “It’s a surprise.”

I frowned. How did he have a surprise planned if he hadn’t even known I was going to say yes? “And by ‘surprise,’ do you mean you have no clue?”

“No, it’s just a surprise.”

I started to turn into Candice and whine that I wouldn’t know what to wear but was interrupted by my own huge yawn, which made me sound more like Chewbacca. I covered as much of my face as possible with the hand that wasn’t holding the rose and laughed awkwardly. “Oh my word, that’s embarrassing.”

His laugh was deep and rich. “It’s late and I stopped you from going to sleep. If for some reason I don’t see you for the rest of the week, I’ll pick you up at seven on Friday. That sound all right?”

“That sounds perfect. I’ll see you then, and, uh, thanks for my rose.” Before he could say anything else, I turned the doorknob, gave him a small smile, backed up into the room, and shut the door in his still-smirking face. “Holy hell,” I whispered, and let my forehead fall against the door.

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