“Tell. Me. Everything!” Candice practically shrieked, and I turned to narrow my eyes at her.

Like she hadn’t been listening.

“We’re going on a date Friday. That’s about it.”

“That is so not all that was said, Rachel! Ohmigod, did you swoon when he said all he’s seeing is you?”

“Swoon, Candice? Really? This isn’t one of your romance novels.” And yeah . . . I did kind of swoon. “And that’s exactly why I’m not telling you. You eavesdrop anyway, so what’s the point in going over it all again?”

“Because I want details of how he looked at you and how you reacted to him.”

Oh dear God, this was going to be a long night.

WHY BLAKE THOUGHT we wouldn’t see each other the rest of the week was beyond me, because sure enough he was the first person I saw when I walked into the athletic center the next afternoon. And surprise, surprise . . . he only had four girls around him that day. That wasn’t including the one he was stretching out on the ground.

Candice’s constant talking faded out as I watched him explaining why he was stretching those particular muscles. But I knew the girl wasn’t paying attention; all she could care about was that he was practically in between her legs.

The girl on the ground said something I couldn’t hear, and the runway-beautiful, mocha-skinned girl standing closest to me practically purred as she reached for his forearm, “Well, that’s just because Blake’s so good with his . . . hands.” The other four girls started giggling and I wanted to gag.

Blake’s head shot up and I realized I must have actually gagged out loud. Whoops. Our eyes locked for a few seconds before he quickly looked at the girls surrounding him and his position with the one on the floor. When he looked back at me, his blue eyes were pleading, but I just shook my head and walked off toward the back to get my out-of-the-classroom part of my course over with.


“Hey.” Candice nudged me. “Don’t get upset about that. They aren’t the ones who have a date with him on Friday.”

“I’m not upset about that.” I was upset about the fact that that pissed me off. What, did I expect him to change overnight just because we were going to go on one date? Or did his words last night really have me thinking I’d imagined his robot bimbo herd all year? And sheesh, why did I care at all? I didn’t even want to go on a date with him! Not really . . .

An hour and a half later, I’d successfully avoided his gaze, which I could feel like a laser on my back. But when I turned to put some equipment away, he was right there and there was no way I could avoid Blake in all his real-life Calvin Klein model–ness.

“You’re mad,” he said, and began taking the equipment out of my arms and putting it in the closet.

“Um . . . not? And I can put this away myself.”

“Rachel, I told you. I only see you.”

“Yeah, no, I heard you.” As soon as everything was put up, I turned away, only to quickly turn back around and face him. “Look, Blake, I don’t think Friday is a good idea.”

“Why isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s—you know . . . it’s just not. So thank you for your offer. But once again, and hopefully for the last time, I’m not going to go on a date with you. If you ever move back to California, I really hope this doesn’t make family dinners awkward.”

The corners of his lips turned up slightly. “All right. You done for the day?”

This was the first rejection he’d taken well, and it threw me off for a moment. “Um, yes?”

“Let’s go then.”

“Whoa, wait. Go where? Its Wednesday, not Friday. And I said no anyway.”

“You said no to a date with me. The date was on Friday. So we aren’t going on a date. We’re just going to go walk, hang out, whatever you want. But it’s not a date.” He stepped close enough that we were sharing the same air and his voice got low and husky. “If you want to call it something, we can call it exercising or seeing Austin. You can hardly count that as a date, Rach.”

I was momentarily stunned by the effect his voice and blue eyes had on me. “Um . . .” I blinked rapidly and looked down to clear my head. “I’ve lived here almost three years, I don’t need to see the sights.”

“Perfect, I don’t get out much other than to come to work, so I do. You can be my tour guide.”


“Come on, Rachel.”

Not giving me an option, he grabbed on to my arm and began towing me out of the building. I caught sight of Candice and she waved excitedly as she watched us leave.

Why was she smiling? I sure as hell wasn’t smiling, and Blake was practically dragging me away! He could have been hauling me off to slaughter me and leave my remains on a pig farm for all she knew, and Candice was just going to sit there and wave like a lunatic? Playground. Love. Over. Best-friend card officially revoked.

As soon as we were outside, I yanked my arm free and continued to follow Blake as he made his way off campus. Well, at least he was right about one thing: I couldn’t count this as a date. No way would I have worn baggy sweats cut off at my calves and a tight tank on a date.

“Are you still mad?”

I glanced up to see his stupid smirk, which I kind of hated right now. “Why would I be mad? I was just dragged out of a building to go walk with a guy I turned down for a date.”

His smirk turned into a full-blown smile. “Still mad,” he said, and looked ahead. “Although I always did find your temper adorable, let me know when you’re not.”

Thirty minutes later I was getting tired of following him around. Tour guide my nonexistent ass. He wasn’t looking at anything. He was walking with a purpose and hadn’t looked back at me since he’d asked if I was mad.

“So, this has been awesome and all. Are you going to tell me where we’re going now?”

“Are you going to tell me what you’re mad about?”

“I’m not mad!”

He slowed his pace so he was directly next to me and I was surprised to see him looking at me completely seriously. “Yes you are, Rach. If you didn’t want to go on the date on Friday, you would have never agreed, and you wouldn’t be following me right now.” I opened my mouth but he cut me off. “You would have gone back to your dorm and you know it. I was two steps ahead of you the entire time; you could have turned back if you were really mad at me.”

“You didn’t even give me an option to say no!” He raised an eyebrow and I huffed, “All right. Fine. Maybe I am mad.”

“And you’re mad at me.”

“Yeah, Blake, I am.”

“But not because I pulled you out of the building.”

Oh my word, he was so infuriating! “Uh, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m mad. Are you going to start telling me I’m not hungry either? Since you all of a sudden seem to know me so well?”

He pulled me to a stop and moved to stand directly in front of me, tipping my head back with his fingers under my chin. “You’re mad because of the girls around me when you walked in this afternoon.”


“And I told you I only see you. I’ll tell you that over and over again until you understand that. They mean nothing, nor do I notice anything other than the fact that they talk like they’re in middle school.”

“I don’t care about them the way you think I do. When I saw it, it just reminded me why I never wanted to go on a date with you in the first place. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“You’re lying, Rachel.” I could smell the mint from his gum and feel his breath on my lips, and suddenly I was wondering if I was lying. There must have been something in his gum that put me in a daze. “It’s fine to admit you were getting jealous. I hate seeing the way Aaron looks at you, and you work with him every day.”

I was so not getting jeal— Wait. What?! Aaron’s gay. I leaned away from his nearness and started to tell him when I realized we were on top of a bridge surrounded by a bunch of people just standing there looking toward the side like they were waiting for something. I pointed toward the people. “Uh . . . am I missing something?”

Blake looked a little smug as he glanced at his watch, then the sky. “Nope, give it a couple minutes. We got here just in time.”

Aaron, his sexuality, and the fact that Blake had gotten jealous over my flaming gay friend completely forgotten, I looked at the sky, then pulled out my phone to check the time. There was nothing special about the time from what I could tell. As for the sky, it was nearly dusk, and although it was beautiful I didn’t know why that was anything worth noting either. Glancing at the people and the street around us, I turned and saw the street sign and did a double take. We were on Congress Avenue.

“Oh no. No, no, no, no, no!” I started backing up but ended up against Blake’s chest. His arms circled around me, effectively keeping me there. I felt his silent laughter.

“I take it you know about this then. Ever seen it?”

“No, and there’s a reason. I’m terrified of—” Just then, close to a million bats took flight from underneath the bridge. A small shriek escaped my lips and I clamped my hands over my mouth, like my sound would attract the bats to me.

There was nothing silent about his next laugh. Blake tightened his arms around me and I leaned into him more. I’d like to say it was purely because my biggest fear was flying out around me, but I’d be lying if I said his musky cologne, strong arms, and chest had nothing to do with it either. This was something I’d wanted for years, and I almost couldn’t believe that I was finally there, in his arms.

I continued to watch in utter horror and slight fascination as the stream of bats, which seemed to never end, continued to leave the shelter of the bridge and fly out into the slowly darkening sky.

Minutes later, Blake leaned in and put his lips up against my ear. “Was that really so bad?”

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