1 Chapter 1: Destiny Calls

Chapter 1: Destiny Calls


“No, no, no, no, no! Turn on, you piece of crap! You can't do this to me now!” I mutter with frustration as I slam my fists against the steering wheel with a cry. This is definitely not how I expected the start of my prom night to go. Taking a few fortifying breaths, I caress the steering wheel and say a little prayer in hopes that my car will miraculously turn back on. Gazing down at my lucky bracelet, I clench my teeth and tighten my fists against the steering wheel. “Please, baby, please turn on,” I mumble nervously before I turn the key again. The car’s engine hiccups and sputters again. I guess my grandma lied when she said my bracelet was lucky. I contemplate wryly as I caress my hand against the delicate silver chain’s luminous surface.

My mom gave me the bracelet when I was five and made me promise never to take it off─ I never have. It was the last thing my mom gave me before she left us. I don’t remember much about her, but I remember her giving it to me. The only thing I remember is dad coming home one day and telling me that she left us and was never coming back. At first, I was angry that she abandoned us, but considering how cold my dad is, I can’t blame her—my dad’s like this big-time CEO at a private research clinic. As far as I can remember, he’s been a workaholic. I was pretty much raised by nannies until I was old enough to take care of myself. Even before my mom left, my dad and I have never had any real emotional interaction. Most of the time, he pretends that I don’t exist, and he never talks about my mom. I remember the one time that I asked something about her, he screamed at me and locked me in my room.

Reaching for my cell phone, I look at the screen and curse again. My battery died. I thought I had charged it before I left but realized I had forgotten to plug the charger into the socket. Stupid me, I thought the ten-percent charge would last until I got to prom. To make things worse, I left the house without the charger. Can this night get any worse? Now, I have no one to blame but myself if something happens to me because of my stupidity.

Pushing those morbid thoughts to the back of my mind, I slam my hand on the steering wheel and slump back down in my seat. What do I do now?

Gazing out the car’s windshield, I consider my options. I can’t call anyone, it’s pitch black outside, and I know that that I can’t stay here. Unfortunately, I’m also scared to walk out into the never-ending abyss stretching out in front of me. Taking another look out of my windshield, I feel the calm, soothing sounds of the night mock me with their serenity. It’s nothing like the tumultuous emotions that have been rolling around inside of me for the past few months. Tears well up in my eyes as I reflect on the nearly crippling ache of my emotions. It’s not just because of what is happening at this moment. No, this is a culmination of the underlying rift that has been occurring between my friends for the past few months.

Things were looking so positive at the beginning of my Senior year. Mara, Hailey, and I planned on going to dances together, meet boys, and plan our prom. That is, until everything began to fall apart between us. It all began when Amara and Hailey fell in love. We were the three amigas. The three best friends against the world. Everything was set to go right, and it did─for them.

I can’t blame them, though. It’s not their fault that they found happiness, and I didn’t. It just sucks to be the odd man out. We were even supposed to be roommates in college, but that didn’t pan out either. Amara and Haley are now planning to move in with their boyfriends, Kell and Carrick. It just sucks.

I mean, they're still around, but what am I supposed to do, follow them and their boyfriends around like a third wheel. What sucks the most is that they’re both dating brothers, so they do everything together. But it gets worse because of him─Rowan Cross, the guy of my dreams. The guy whom I’ve had a crush on for two years. The guy who doesn’t know I exist. He’s Kell and Carrick’s older brother. My stomach churns with depression every time I think of it.

Unfortunately, the only time Rowan and I have spoken has been when his siblings are around or when I’m covered in dirt because my car has stalled in the middle of the road. Yes, you heard me right; this is not the first time my piece of crap car has broken down.

This time I’m not fixing it, though. Not in this dress. Looking down at my crimson, strapless satin gown and its beaded belt, I pull back my hair and slip off my red strappy heels. I guess I’m walking to prom now.

Prom is being held at a beautiful hotel a few miles from Arcata. Unfortunately, you have to pass a rural part of Arcata to get there. I can see lights in the distance, but the distance is deceiving because I know I’ll be walking for a long time to get to them. Looking back at the darkened road fearfully, I will someone familiar to show up, but the road is empty. There’s not a soul in sight. Prom began an hour ago, which means everyone except me is probably there.

Regrettably, I couldn’t leave because I had to wait for Rory, one of my charges’ parents, to get home. Did I mention that I babysit neighboring kids for cash? Considering I’m going to college, every little penny mattered. I know you think that I’m rich because my dad is a doctor. But the reality is that I hate asking my dad for anything because he instantly gives me the third degree. Hell, I even bought my car with my own money. That’s why I couldn’t say no when Rory's mom begged me to watch him for a couple of hours. I’m definitely regretting it now.

Glaring down at my useless phone, I come to a decision. It’s pointless to sit here and feel bad for myself. I’ve never been that kind of person, and I’m not planning on being that kind of person now. Reaching for my clutch, I slip on my shoes, grab my car keys, and step out of the car. Before I begin to walk, I give my ten-year-old sedan

a withering glare. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a machine. But I need to vent, so get off my back.

Heart pounding wildly inside my chest, I begin to walk. I try not to cringe when I hear the sound of creatures scurrying in the forest or when birds let out mournful cries, but it is freaking scary.

Put one foot in front of the other Jules, don’t look back. I mutter the mantra in my head as I hasten my steps. Jumping up, I turn when I hear the cracking sound of branches. Fear overwhelms me as I gaze into the velvety darkness of the forest. Leaves flutter by, and the wind whistles, followed by the eerie gusting moan of the wind. Fists tight, I nearly crawl out of my skin when the sound of a loud horn and the roaring of a car’s engine reaches my ears.

Looking back at the approaching headlights, I almost faint when I see who it is. As if I conjured him up from my obsessive musings, Rowan Cross shows up in his candy apple red, 1973 Ford Mustang. Don’t be impressed by my car knowledge; I looked it up online after he changed my car tire a couple of months ago. I guess I’m doomed to always run into him when my car breaks down. People should write a country song about me. Something about a stupid girl, with a broken-down car and a faulty phone: it’ll be a hit.

I’m sure I’m blushing to the roots of my multicolored hair by now, which is a change from becoming pale with fear. Aren’t I just so damn witty tonight?

The car door opens, and out steps Rowan Cross in all of his gorgeous, masculine glory. His pale golden hair gleams beneath the dim lamp posts, and his tall body is complemented by the shadows. To my consternation, he’s wearing a suit jacket, a white shirt, black tie, and black jeans. Appraising his body, I bite my lip and stifle a groan. Oh, my goodness, this man is just too potent for my battered heart.

Unaware of my thoughts, Rowan tilts his head to the side and narrows his eyes. At least I don’t have dirt and grease all over me this time. “Hey, Jules, are you alright?” Well, this is progress; at least he didn’t call me Justine like he did the last time he fixed my car. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

I open my mouth to talk, but my throat is dry, and my tongue is heavy. Licking my lips, I manage to finally croak out. “My car broke down.”

He looks back at the Toyota, then turns back to me and gives me a smug grin. “I hate to break it to you, Jules, but your car is a piece of crap!”

His comment makes me roll my eyes in exasperation. “Yeah, I know.”

He smirks in response, then runs his gaze down my body, finally getting a good look at what I’m wearing. I squirm under his scrutiny and almost swallow my tongue when he licks his lips and huskily whispers. “I’ll give you a ride.” He waves toward his Mustang. For a moment, dirty thoughts run through my head. I mean, he said he’d give me a ride, what do you expect me to think?

Thankfully, I manage to keep those thoughts locked away in my dirty little mind. Nodding my head, I wordlessly stride to the car and slide into the soft leather seat. The driver’s door opens a minute later, and Rowan slips inside. My body heats instantly at his nearness. It’s as if the interior of the vehicle has shrunk with his dominating presence. His amber eyes gleam in the darkened night like golden jewels. I’m hypnotized by his beauty. It’s like I’m being drawn into his eyes. Unfortunately, I’m so enthralled by him that I don’t notice that he’s talking to me until he snaps his fingers in front of my face.

Kill me! Kill me now! Make a hole and bury me in it!

Humiliated by my fascination, I flinch back and blink my eyes. “Aw, sorry…what?” I sputter out, mortified.

Rowan gives me an inquisitive frown and speaks again. “I was asking you if you were on your way to your Prom?”

Breath hitching, I nod my head and inhale deeply. I need to get myself together before I make a complete idiot of myself. “Y…yeah. I was on my way to Prom.”

He nods his head and turns the ignition on the car. The damn car purrs to life like the well-honed machine it is. Stupid, sexy Mustang.

Relaxing back in my seat, I lick my lips and look straight ahead. I don’t know what to say. All I can think is that I’m in Rowan Cross’s freaking car. Thankfully, the sound of music fills the silence.

I love this song.

“Yeah, it’s a great song,” Rowan replies, startling me out of my reverie. Shit! I must have said that out loud!

Rowan quirks a brow raises the volume, and begins to sing along to “Hotel California.”

Of course, his voice is as beautiful as he is.

Swallowing hard, I look around for something to say, but Rowan beats me to it. “So why are you going alone to Prom? Didn’t anyone ask you?” He asks inquisitively.

My stomach turns at his words. The fact that I don’t have a date is a serious sore spot for me. Contrary to what my friends believe, I did have a date. I was supposed to go with Taylor Mathews, but he bailed on me days ago, and it was too late to get another date. It’s not like I was super ecstatic to go with him anyway. If anything, I’m amazed that he asked me because I know he has a crush on Amara. I guess since Amara is with Kell, I was the consolation prize. And since I didn’t have any other prospects, I accepted. And now here I am, a dateless loser who can’t make it to prom.

“I was asked…” I choke out from the lump in my throat. “…but he canceled. He told me he had an emergency of some kind.”

Rowan licks his lips and concentrates his gaze back on the road. “So, why didn’t you go with anyone else?”

I shrug as tears gather in my eyes. I feel like such a loser at that moment, and it doesn’t help that my crush is the one asking me about it. I don’t know if it’s that or the fact that my Prom experience has been really shitty so far, but I lash out. “It’s because I’m a loser!” I cry out. “I’m a big loser who has no date, a dead cell phone, and a piece of crap car, who can’t manage to get to Prom!” Sobs collect in my throat as tears glide down my eyes.

Rowan’s eyes widen at my outburst. “Shit, I’m sorry!”

Not wanting to hear another word, I raise my palm up to stop his apology. “Please, stop the car,” I mutter through my tears.

Rowan shakes his head, but my voice rises with my agitation. “Stop the car! Please, stop the car!” I scream out in an agitated panic.

I don’t know what has come over me at that moment, but I’m freaking out. Trust me; I’m never this crazy.

The car screeches to a halt, and before Rowan can say another word, I run out. I don’t know where I’m going or even why I’m leaving, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I feel like I’m suffocating in my misery.

Ears thrumming, I run into the forest. My heels dig into the ground, making it impossible to run, and my hair whips my face, but I’m determined to get away from the crushing pain.

“Juliet!” Rowan calls out behind me. “Stop!”

I’m not listening, though. I can’t. All I hear is the deafening sound of my heart beating and the howl of the wind. Tears blur my vision, and my legs cramp with every sprint. “Damn it, Juliet, stop!”

Rowan calls out as his strong arms wrap around me, and he tackles me to the ground. I struggle against his hold as he turns me onto my back and straddles my waist. “Stop! Stop it, Juliet! I’m not going to hurt you!” Rowan cries out, distressed by my erratic behavior.

Chest heaving, I seize my struggles and melt into the ground. Rowan releases a deep sigh as he gazes down at me and softens his hold around my wrists. “I’m sorry.” He mutters in a soothing whisper. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

Biting my lower lip, I gaze up at him from the blur of my eyes. He looks sad and contrite that I instantly feel foolish over my childish reaction. Closing my eyes, I shudder when he wipes my tears and caresses my hair. Warmth melds through my body at his touch, and a gasp escapes my lips when his firm lips touch mine.

The kiss is soft and sweet at first. His tongue gently parries and retreats against mine, making me moan with pleasure. Pulling my arms from his grip, I slide them down and wrap them around his neck. Our breaths mingle, and our bodies strain against each other. Groaning in pleasure, Rowan pulls me closer and deepens the kiss. My heart beats wildly as his hands travel up and down my back.

It’s a perfect moment. That is until Rowan’s body is flung back by an unknown force. Shooting up from my prone position, I watch in horror as Rowan’s body slams against a tree and slumps lifelessly into the rocky ground.

“Rowan!” I call out, freaked.

Before I can rise, something grips me by the neck and lifts me up from the ground. Mouth open with fear, I see that my feet are no longer touching the ground. I scream in terror and flail beneath the hand wrapped around my neck, trying to break loose, but it’s no use. Whatever is holding me is inhumanly strong. A frightening growl resounds through my ears as whatever is holding me carts my body deeper into the forest.

We don’t make it far when a ferocious snarl and roar reverberates from where we were. To my shock, Rowan rises from the ground and rushes towards us. But it’s not Rowan. It’s a monster. His eyes glow like gold fire, and his lips are pushed back against sharp looking fangs. His body seems to be larger, too, and his arms are stretched out with claws sticking out from the tips of his fingers. My vision whirls and my body becomes weightless when the monster that’s holding me tosses me to the ground. Excruciating pain thrums through my head when it bounces against the rocky floor, my ears ring painfully, and my teeth ache from being jarred.

Blinking my eyes to clear the pain, I slowly look up and almost vomit when I see a giant monster with a body builder’s body, a bald head, and a large mouth laden with sharp teeth─ aims a large ax at the creature that looks like Rowan. My mind balks at the idea that this is real.

I must be dreaming. I think desperately. There’s no way that I’m in the middle of a forest watching two creatures fighting each other.

Head pounding, I slowly rise on all fours and try to crawl away, but my legs refuse to cooperate. Nausea rolls inside my stomach, and my vision waivers. All I can do is sit there as the scene before me unfolds. No, it’s just a dream

The creature swings its ax toward Rowan’s head, but Rowan does this really cool rolling thing and rises to his feet, stabbing the creature in the stomach with his claws. A howl of pain escapes the horrid creature’s mouth as it clutches its shredded stomach, which gives Rowan the opportunity to flip over its head and wrap his hands around the creature’s neck. He manages to kick the creature in the back, but it's futile because a cloaked creature appears behind him and shoots Rowan with some kind of fireball. This time, Rowan’s knocked out cold. And that’s when the monster and the cloaked figure turn their sights on me. A scream lodges in my throat as the creature approaches…

Chest heaving, I shoot up from my bed and search the room, but the only thing that I see is the rising sun gleaming through the sheer curtains of my windows. I clutch my chest in hopes of calming my rapidly beating heart and lie back on the bed. It’s always the same nightmare.

Or, as my psychiatrist described it, my hallucinations. My father put me into therapy at his hospital after my emotional break down the night of our Prom. That’s right, the nightmare that I was having didn’t happen. I mean, my car did stall, but the rest of it did not actually occur. No, what actually happened was I got spooked walking alone in the dark, and when I tried to run, I fell and hit my head. Amara and Kell found me unconscious on the side of the road. How embarrassing is that?

I haven't told anyone but my therapist about the nightmare. No one knows that Rowan’s was with me in my nightmare. Or that in my dream Rowan is some kind of monster. It has been an even rockier few months for me since that night.

And the nightmares don’t help. Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve sleepwalked. That information I kept from my therapist. I’m scared that if I tell her, she’ll lock me up. And maybe I should be locked up because every time I’ve woken up after sleepwalking, I’d wake up in the woods with a weapon in my hand. The last time I woke up, my clothes were shredded, and my hand's hands were scratched and bloodied. Even though there was no blood on the weapon, I was so freaked that I checked the news for any stabbing victims within the area. None were reported.

Unable to let it rest, I called the Forest Commission. Thankfully, no mutilated human or animal bodies were found. I hung up before they could ask more.

It’s terrifying. Even though nothing has happened in the woods, there have been some scary things happening on campus. Several college kids’ bodies have been found near the campus, and it worries me that whoever is killing them will see me sleepwalking and hurt me too. I promise I didn’t kill them. The police say something ripped their heads off. The blade I wake up holding is small, and other than looking like I was dragged through the woods, the only bits of blood I find are from my bloody hands and feet.

My therapist says that I must have conjured Rowan up in my fantasy nightmare as some kind of rescuer. Thankfully, none of my friends know, or I’d be humiliated. To make matters worse, I see Rowan all the time, and he’s completely indifferent to my presence. I might as well be part of the wall. I mean, he’s courteous, but that’s all he is. I’m such a pathetic loser.

Not wanting to dwell on it, I rise from my bed and get ready for class. Unfortunately, since my friends changed their housing plans last minute, I was put on a housing waiting list, so I’m still living at home. I was so mad. I went to the housing department, and they explained that when my friends were dropped from the list, I was dropped too, and I had to start my application over again. It was a freaking nightmare to know that I was stuck at home. Like I said, my life sucks.

Amara and Haley offered to let me live with them and their boyfriends, but I turned them down flat. There’s no way that I’m going to live with horny couples. I’d rather stay at home.

As soon as I step into the kitchen, I see that my dad is sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper. I stifle an inward groan as I watch him sip from his coffee cup. Anytime my dad makes a morning appearance, it’s to lecture me about something I did wrong or to make me go into his office so that they can run tests on me.

As I sling my backpack across my shoulder, he calls out my name. “Juliet, come here.”

Jaw tight, I turn around and face my dad. Dad, like me, has multicolored blond hair and blue eyes. He’s not a bad looking guy, but I don’t dwell on it too much.

I drag my feet as I approach the table. “What’s up?” I ask with a casual tone.

My dad arches a brow as he gazes intently into my eyes. “How are your therapy sessions with Dr. Linksha coming along?”

I shrug my shoulders. “They’re going fine. Dr. Linksha is cool.”

His lip curls into a sneer at my words. “I don’t pay Dr. Linksha to be cool. Are you taking your medications?”

I shake my head as I ready for the argument that is about to go down. “No, they make me loopy.”

He snaps up from his seat and hovers above me with a scowl. His eyes heat with rage, and his teeth clench.“I don’t care if they make you loopy. You have to take them. Do you want to have another episode like the one you did on your Prom night?”

Tears gather in my eyes at his harsh tone. It’s always the same conversation with my dad. I don’t think he has ever said a kind word to me. Sometimes I even wonder if he hates me.

“No, I don’t,” I reply in hopes that it will placate him, but it doesn’t.

“Clarissa told me that you’re not sleeping well at night. It might be because you’re not taking the medications. Maybe you should come in so we can run some tests again.”

I roll my eyes as bitterness infuses my brain. Clarissa is our busybody housekeeper. She’s been with us since before I was born, and she despises me. Of course, she’s keeping tabs on me and reports anything I do to my dad.

At that moment, I begin to warm up to the idea of living with my sex-crazed friends.

Not knowing what else to do, I look at my phone screen and say. “I can’t take tests now. I have to go, or I’m going to be late for class.”

I’m almost at the door when dad stops in front of me and grips my forearm tightly. “This is not a request, Juliet. However, since you cannot be sensible, I’ve made the decision that you’ll go on a daily check-up at the hospital. You will be meeting with Dr. Kendrick every day, and you will be cooperative.”

My face drains of color as I gaze into my father’s impatient eyes. I can tell that he’s not going to budge. I just don’t understand why this is so important.

“But why? I’m fine.”

If anything, his expression gets colder as he stares me down. “This is not up for discussion.”

I’m aghast. I don’t know what to do. “You do know that I’m eighteen years old, right. I’m an adult, and I can make my own choices.”

He looks seriously pissed, which is not out of the ordinary for any reaction he has when I’m around. Most of the time, he either bitches me out for something or completely ignores me. Right now, I can see that a big lecture is coming. I knew I should have kept my mouth shut, but I’m so over everything.

Jaw tight, he crosses his arms in front of his chest and glares into my eyes. “Oh, and as an adult, you are paying all of your school bills, right? Where are you living, Juliet?”

I swallow hard, unable to reply. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but he’s right. He’s the one paying for school because I can’t afford to work and pay my loans. “Fine,” I reply stiffly. “I’ll go to see Dr. Kendrick. Can I go now?”

He doesn’t answer as he glares down at me. I feel like a bug under a microscope. I don’t flinch, though. “Very well, but one other thing. I’m throwing a dinner party for several of my colleagues tomorrow night, and I need you to be here.”

I shake my head. “I’d really rather not be at the party.”

His jaw tightens with rage. “This is not up for discussion, Juliet. You will come, and you will be well dressed because that is what I’m asking you to do.”

My stomach churns with anger. I hate that I don’t have control of my life. I don’t understand why my life has come to this. All I want is to finally be happy.

“Alright,” I mumble unhappily.

Before my father can say another word, I rush out the door. Thankfully, he doesn’t follow me again. I freaking hate going into his lab. His assistant and techs treat me like a lab rat. It’s scary and impersonal. And when I told my dad how I felt, he told me to suck it up. I know this is not realistic, but for once, I’d like for him to treat me like something other than a nuisance in his life.

I breathe a sigh of relief as soon as I reach campus. For weeks now, I’ve considered renting an apartment, so I don’t have to deal with my dad, but the rent is not cheap, and there aren’t many options.

Seeing that I only have ten minutes before class begins, I rush into the coffee shop, grab my morning coffee, and rush back out. Unfortunately, I’m in such a hurry that I don’t notice the figure walking my way before it’s too late. To my horror, the figure is Rowan, and my coffee spills all over his shirt.

“Oh, shit!” I cry out as the coffee dribbles down his Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt and scalds his chest. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” I cry out as I try to wipe the stain.

Rowan’s brow creases as I run my napkins across his toned chest. “Damn, Jules, what the hell? Are you trying to burn me alive?” He cries out as he slips the shirt over his head and uses it to wipe himself down.

Swallowing hard, I cringe when I see that his skin is red where the coffee dribbled. “I am so sorry.” I squeak out in embarrassment.

But then something happens. My embarrassment turns to desire as I get a good look at his rippling chest. There’s no word to describe how good this guy looks as he wipes at his chiseled pectorals, six-pack abs, and toned arms. He doesn’t have any other decoration other than a small cross dangling from a delicate chain around his neck. It’s damn sexy. Oh my god, I want to lick him.

I’m so caught up that I don’t hear him when he says something.

I have to blink my eyes to refocus when he snaps his fingers in front of my face and wakes me from my sex-hazed trance. For a moment, dejavu at his gesture strikes me, but it quickly fades.

“Huh? What?” I mutter stupidly, which makes me want to mentally slap myself.

Rowan’s lip quirks with amusement. “I said, my eyes are up here.” He points to his gorgeously fringed, golden eyes, square jaw, and high cheekbones.

A flush crawls up my cheeks as I realized he noticed me ogling him. Kill me now!

He arches a brow as he waits for me to say something.

Not wanting to give away my embarrassment, I clear my throat and mutter. “Gosh, are you okay? Sorry, I burned you.”

He looks down at his chest and mutters. “My chest will be fine, but the problem is I don’t have time to go home and change because I have class in ten minutes.”

Biting my bottom lip, I search around for an answer. My eyes stop as an idea forms. Before he can argue, I take his wrist and lead him to a kiosk near the quad. There are always rows of kiosks set up by students, advertising clubs, fundraising, and other things. This kiosk is advertising some kind of no-smoking campaign and selling t-shirts to raise funds.

There are two girls and an older woman standing behind the booth. It’s like time freezes when they all stop in their tracks and gape in Rowan’s direction. I swear they stop blinking as soon as their eyes land on Rowan’s half-naked form. It is almost amusing how one of the women misses placing folded shirts on the table, and I almost choke when her other friend trips over her chair.

I mean, I can’t blame them. Rowan is a feast for any woman’s eyes. To his credit, Rowan doesn’t laugh at them. But it’s funny how he’s unbothered by the fact that they’re eye-raping him. In fact, he seems bemused. When I think about it, he’s probably used to females reacting that way. How depressing is that for me?

He looks at the ladies, then back at me with a questioning frown. It’s had to concentrate, though, when all I see is how perfectly his low rise jeans mold to his firm ass.

“Is there a reason you dragged me here?”

Rolling my eyes, I wave my hand in front of one of the girls. “Hey, how much for that shirt?” I gesture to a black one.

The girl reluctantly shifts her eyes to me for a second before she turns them back to Rowan’s deliciousness. “F-F-Fifteen dollars.” She responds without looking at me.

I shake my head as I pull out a twenty-dollar bill from my wallet. “I’ll take one in medium, please.”

The girl doesn’t react, so I take her wrist, put the twenty in the palm of her hand, and nudge her toward the t-shirt. It would be almost comedic if it wasn’t so annoying.

As soon as she hands me the t-shirt, I push it into Rowan's hand. “Here. This should tide you over until you get a clean one.”

Rowan unrolls the shirt with a snicker. “Moms Against Vaping?” He reads the shirt with an incredulous frown. “You expect me to wear this?”

I raise my hands in surrender. “Think of it as ironic. Now put it on; you have five minutes left before class starts.”

Huffing in exasperation, he tosses me his soiled shirt and slips on the new one.

Whistful sighs follow as he slides the shirt down his chest and pats down the wrinkles. The freaking shirt molds to his chest like liquid silver. It’s amazing that he looks even more manly in the stupid shirt.

“Thanks, I guess.” He mutters with a surly scowl before he takes his bag and strides away.

I narrow my eyes as I watch his firm ass retreat before I turn away. Unfortunately, that’s when I notice that I’m still holding his stained shirt.

“Hey, you forgot this!” I wave the shirt as I call out.

Rowan turns but doesn’t stop his stride. “Return it to me after you wash it!” He calls out before he disappears around the bend.

At that moment, I want to throw the shirt away. But then I rethink my impulse. It’s not his fault that I spilled coffee on him in my rush. Instead, I tuck the shirt in my bag.

“Girl, you’re boyfriend is fine.” One of the girls calls out.

I turn and look at them as they nod their heads in agreement.

“He’s not my boyfriend,” I reply curtly.

The other girl shakes her head. “Damn, then you better lock that down before some lucky girl takes him. Hell, I’d take him any day.”

I roll my eyes in response. I’m not going to get into a discussion with some stranger—time to get to class.

Next chapter