When I finished a couple hours later, I put everything in my purse and called out good-byes to the too-awake baristas. As soon as I pushed open the door and walked out into the muggy night air, my phone went off and the words on the screen caused me to stumble and a chill to shoot through my body.


You look beautiful tonight.

Instead of bolting for my car like any sane person would have, I looked around until I found him. Well, running to my car wouldn’t have helped much; he was parked right next to it and leaning against the driver’s door of his shiny little Lexus.

How did he know I was here? If he didn’t know I was here, what is he doing here at two in the morning? Oh my word, he’s been following me! No, that’s ridiculous; come on, Rachel, get a grip. He is not following you. Frick, I really need to stop thinking the world and everyone in it revolves around me. He just happened to be here and saw your car. That’s all. Right? Right.

I took a few steps closer to the cars and took a deep breath as I dropped my phone back into my purse, trying to calm myself down. “Hi, Blake.”

“I was starting to think you would never leave. I’ve been out here for hours.”

Oh God, he has been waiting for me! Those words were creepy enough, but paired with the sexy, innocent smile they seemed even worse. I meant for my voice to sound strong and annoyed but it was barely a whisper. “Why are you following me?”

“Following you? I’m not following you. Candice told me you were waiting for me to pick you up from the study group. Jesus, Rachel, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost; are you all right?”

“Candice said what? No, I was definitely not waiting for you; I drove myself here. That should be obvious, since you’re parked next to my Jeep.” I didn’t know what was going on, but I wanted to get out of there and away from him. Now.

“Yeah, but your car isn’t starting. Which is why I’m here.” He said every word slowly, like I was a child or something. “Don’t you remember, Rachel? You called her almost three hours ago, but she was busy, so you told her to call me. Are you feeling okay? Come on, get in the car. I’ll get you back to your room.”


“I am not getting in your car, I’ll drive myself back!” With that I took the last few steps to my car, got in, locked the door, and put the key in the ignition. I turned it but nothing happened. There wasn’t even a click. What had happened to my car? I knew I hadn’t called Candice. And even then, if I’d wanted Blake to pick me up I would have called him myself. Someone tapped on the window and even though I knew who it was, I still jumped.

“Come on, Rach, this is dumb. Just get in the car and I’ll take you back. I’ll get your car towed in a couple hours.”

There was no point in trying to call someone else. It was two in the morning, everyone was asleep, and I definitely couldn’t walk back at this hour. I grimaced and opened the door.

“That’s my girl. Come on, let’s go.” He helped me into his car, then got in beside me. This time he didn’t put his hand on my thigh.

The short drive to the dorm seemed to take forever, and besides his asking me a few times if I was feeling all right, there was no conversation. Blake seemed genuinely concerned about me. Had I called Candice? Did I just forget about everything while I was writing to my parents? Is that why I went in to write to them in the first place? Maybe all the studying mixed with my caffeine high, which was turning into a major crash, had my mind all jumbled. I must have just forgotten. It would have been easy to grab my phone and check the recent call history, but something inside me tightened and I knew it would be the wrong thing to do. We finally reached the dorm, and just like that morning, Blake parked in the lot. Aces.

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” he asked for the fifth time since we’d gotten in the car. “You freaked when you saw me.”

“I’m fine, really, don’t worry about me. I probably just forgot and lost track of time in there.” I tried to make my smile convincing; I didn’t want him to walk me to my room. I got out of the car, ducked my head back in to thank him, and saw he was getting out too. Crap.

“You don’t really think I’m going to let you walk up there by yourself, do you?”

“Of course not,” I muttered. “I was just trying to be polite. It’s late and you’ve already been waiting on me for hours . . . apparently.”

He just laughed as he walked toward me, put his arm around my waist, and led me to my room. When we got there he reached out to open the door for me; at least the good-bye would be quick. But my happiness was short-lived; he walked me into the empty room and then turned to shut and lock the door behind us.

“Where’s Candice?” I couldn’t stop my voice from shaking. How weird that just Thursday I’d spent hours alone with him in this room and had felt comfortable and enjoyed my time with him. But now, being in here with him felt . . . wrong.

“She didn’t tell you when you talked? All she told me was she was busy,” he said a little too innocently.

I turned to face the room again to see if her cell was around; if it wasn’t I was going to call her immediately. Before I could find—or hopefully not find—her phone, Blake came up behind me and began kissing the back of my neck.

“Uh, Blake? Can you not do that right now? I need to find out where Candice is.”

Instead of stopping, he turned me around, pushed me up against my wardrobe, and resumed his place on my neck. I tried pushing him back, but it was useless. The guy was a rock and he wasn’t budging.

“She’ll be back when she’s ready to come back,” he breathed between kisses and little bites.

Well, I wasn’t about to wait for that to happen. I wanted him out of my room now. “Okay, I’m really ti—”

He quickly moved up to my lips, shutting me up, and his kisses became rough and possessive. Just as they’d been that morning, only these weren’t lasting three seconds. We were close enough to the door that he reached out to flip off the lights and caught me around my waist again before I could take advantage of the break in his strong hold. He started backing me up toward the bed, and I pushed as hard as I could against the hand holding my head in place. His only response was to push against me harder. My bed was high enough that it hit at the small of my back and helped me stay standing when he tried to push me down. When I didn’t immediately fall onto the bed, he pulled my head back to look at me, giving me the break I needed.

“You need to leave. Now!” My arms had been caught between us, but with the new space I put them against his chest and tried to push him back farther. Instead of moving away, he got a smile that turned my body to ice and my arms to Jell-O. This is what I imagined a crazy person looked like.

“You don’t mean that,” he growled as he pulled my face back to his.

Did he really think I was just playing hard to get? I wanted him off me! He let go of my waist and began searching for the bottom of my shirt, but even though my waist was free I still couldn’t move; I was caught between him and the bed. When he found it he didn’t waste time traveling up to grab my chest. I could feel him getting excited and it made me want to throw up. His lips moved back to my neck.

“Please. Stop.” I hated how small my voice sounded.

“This would be over sooner if you’d just lie down and shut up.”

Grabbing both sides of my waist, he lifted me onto the bed, pushed me down, and climbed on top of me. I tried to tell him to stop again, but nothing was coming out except for my rapid breathing. My body was shaking violently and I was dangerously close to hyperventilating. He bit my bottom lip, causing me to gasp enough that he could slide his tongue into my mouth. Blake’s knees were pinning my legs to the bed and I bucked my hips and pushed against his shoulders, but he still didn’t move. He gathered both my wrists in one hand and pinned them above my head. Tears pricked at the back of my eyes. I tried to move my head to the side so I could scream for help but he moved with me as he thrust his tongue in my mouth over and over again. I froze for all of five seconds before biting down on his tongue as hard as I could. He flew back with a pained cry and I tasted blood in my mouth. I was going to throw up. Before I could scream, his free hand slammed down on my throat and his face was directly above mine again. He growled as his blue eyes turned to ice and he just stared at me as I gasped for air.

“You’re going to regret doing that, sweetheart.” My vision blurred from my tears; the outer edges were turning black as I struggled to stay conscious.

Blake’s breathing deepened and the look that crossed his painfully handsome face terrified me. My mouth opened and shut, but I couldn’t pull in any air and I couldn’t make a sound. My arms gave up their fight seconds before my bucking hips did the same, and soon I could hardly focus on Blake at all. I prayed that someone would come and save me as the hand that had been holding my hands down on the mattress slid down and cupped me through my thin yoga pants.

I felt his hot breath on my ear. “I’ll make sure you never want to fight me again, Rachel.”

The hand that was cupping me went up and slid under my pants and underwear. I tried to roll away but it was taking everything in me to stay awake. Tears spilled over and fell down my cheeks. Just as my mind started shutting down, the hand clasped around my throat was gone and I began gasping for air.

Waves of dizziness washed over me, and the blackness slowly faded away. I heard the distinct sound of his zipper over my gasps and sobs and my head shook slowly back and forth. I felt like I was underwater and couldn’t find my way to the surface. His hand closed around my throat again and I frantically tried to pull in air and claw at his hand, but it was useless. My arms lost function quickly and the edges of my vision were going black again, and I begged the darkness to come quicker when he began moving inside me. I didn’t want to be conscious through what he was doing. I didn’t want to remember this. The sweet numbness began claiming me, and at that moment, the most beautiful sound in the world came from outside the door.

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