A brisk draft of air wafted through the dormitory room and I shivered. Silently cursing the unpredictable fall weather in Phoenix. It had been going from warm to chilly, I swear, you’d think a desert like this couldn’t get cold at all! Why mom had chosen to send me to college here I still didn’t understand. Arizona was pretty I had to admit but it was probably the most boring place on earth. Tugging my blanket higher around my shoulders I turned my attention back to the small PC in my lap. Please don’t crash on me buddy! I thought feverishly as I quickly typed out the paragraphs. Just one more paragraph, I promise! A small glitch crossed the screen and I grimaced as the screen went black, Fuck! I glared at the computer, seriously? Once again it had crashed. Most likely deleting my entire report. I pinched the bridge of my nose irritably before snapping it shut and tossing it on the sofa beside me.
“You need a new one, don’t you?” my roommate Melissa looked down at me, giggling at the glare I shot at her, “Hey come on, Kurtis invited me to a party tonight. I told him we would be there too.”
“I don’t go to Theta Ki parties Missy,” I grumbled, “Those idiots get way too drunk and there’s no way I’m drinking anything, we have finals coming up,” I frowned thinking, “Besides, what if the cops get called again?”
“Dusty, I swear, you’re going to wind up collecting dust in a house full of cats if you don’t stop holing yourself up in this dungeon,” she rolled her eyes holding out a shopping bag, “Besides, I’ve already decided that you’re going. So put these on, okay?”
“Kind of presumptuous of you don’t you think?” I raised an eyebrow, “Just making decisions for me like that?” I glanced into the bag at the black halter top and scuffed denim mini skirt and tossed it on her bed. “Definitely not wearing that anyway.”
“Dusty!” she whined and flopped down beside me on the sofa. “Jesus, you’re such an introvert! For me, just this one last time, let’s go.” turning her big doe eyes on me she pouted. “We’re best friends, and it’s been forever since we’ve been out to do anything together! Please, please, please?”
I rolled my eyes, “Fine jeez, but I am not wearing that!” she immediately got a mischievous gleam in her eye.
“Wuss,” she smirked, “I think they would make you look hot.”
“Who said I wanted to be hot at a party with a bunch of drunk morons?” I snapped glaring at the offensive bag as she shoved it in my lap again.
“Dusty, I know you, you’ve been taking self-defense classes for the last six years,” she grimaced, “Honestly, I would personally hate to be the idiot who tries something on you that you don’t want.”
“I don’t want to go Missy.” I sighed looking down at the bag, Hell, why not? Maybe she was right. I needed someone. But that doesn’t mean I need an idiot frat boy drooling all over me in a drunken stupor!
“Put ‘em on their asses girl,” she chucked my chin and jumped up excitedly. “I have to go get ready. They said it was going to be around eight so not much time!” she disappeared into the bathroom.
I sighed and stood up, turning to my dresser to find something more sensible to wear. “Don’t even think about it!” Melissa stuck her head out of the bathroom door glaring at me accusingly, already guessing what I was about to do. “You’re wearing the outfit I bought, your clothes are too boring.”
“I don’t want to be interesting,” I scowled, “I’m telling you; this is a bad idea.” I dumped the outfit on my bed, inspecting it distastefully. Yeah, there's no way in hell!
“Don’t make me put a bicycle lock on your dresser!” she threatened, “You’re not wearing the Stepford housewife clothes tonight end of discussion!”
Growling under my breath I quickly changed into the slinky outfit. Melissa never backed down. She was like a dog with a bone. She just kept gnawing until something gave. I took a look in the mirror and frowned at the pale green-eyed girl gazing back at me. I don’t know who Melissa thinks she’s fooling. I highly doubt anyone will even pay any attention to me anyway. Turning around swiftly I went to find my brush and attempted to tame the tousled brown mane of hair hanging low down my back. After a few minutes, I hissed in frustration and pulled it back with a hair tie.
“Ooh, slacker chic hair,” Melissa came out of the bathroom looking me over approvingly, “I like it!” She looked downright sexy in a skirt even shorter than mine and a low-cut tank top that barely held her in.
“Melissa, are you out of your mind?” I hissed. “Please tell me that’s not what you’re wearing tonight, it’s freezing!”
She winked at me, “Don’t you worry about me. I know exactly what I’m doing,” she grabbed her knee-high boots and slid them on. Then tossed me a pair of strappy sandals, “Come on, let's go!” she grabbed my arm after I slid the shoes on and drug me out the door quickly.
We picked our way across the block to a deep thumping noise, damn it sounds like this one is going to be a wild one. I thought wearily as Melissa excitedly pulled me across the front lawn. We were almost immediately engulfed in a crowd of partiers. The music was deafening when we finally got to the front door, Melissa was swept up within minutes by Kurtis. I glared at her back as she practically climbed up his chest. Ugh, my eyes need a chemical wash! Shouldering my way through the pulsing crowd of revelers I found the back door and ducked out. I guess I should go find a nook. This place is just going to get wilder. Glancing around quickly I started walking towards the tree line along the back fence. I felt guilty for ducking out on Melissa. But who am I kidding? She probably won’t even notice I’m missing honestly, I thought brutally to myself. I almost got to the trees when someone grabbed my arm.
“Where do you think you’re going gorgeous?” a tall shirtless goon was weaving over me drunkenly. “How ‘bout you come spend some time with me?” he grabbed me roughly, sliding his hands up my back under my shirt.
Mortified, I brought my knee up sharply between his legs and he fell to his knees groaning. “You bitch!” he lurched out with his free hand and grabbed my ankle bringing me down as I tried to back away.
I gasped as the impact with the ground knocked the breath out of me. “Get off of me!” I snarled as he tried to climb over me. Wrenching my arm free, I jammed the base of my hand into his jaw as hard as I could and he rolled off of me stunned.
Scrambling to my feet I darted into the trees, running until I felt safe. Finally coming to a stop, I leaned over gasping for air, my hands were shaking uncontrollably. Damn it! I knew I shouldn’t have come! After a few minutes of trying to catch my breath, I straightened up and glanced around. “I guess I’ll just have to find my way back to the dorm now. There’s no way in hell I’m going back to that stupid party.” I snapped out loud to myself.
“And here I thought I was going to have to interfere.” a male voice startled me and I immediately fell into a defensive stance. “You take care of yourself pretty well for such a small girl.”
I bristled indignantly, facing the unfamiliar man that stepped out of the trees in front of me. “Watch who you’re calling little,” I growled as he hit my sore spot. “Who the hell are you?” He didn't look like a student.
He was easily six feet tall. Wearing dark denim jeans and a black jacket pulled over a white t-shirt. I couldn’t make out what it said in the dim light coming from the moon. Fielding’s had a dress code and this definitely wasn’t it. He smiled languidly, flashing a perfect white smile.
“Who me? I’m nobody important.” his sharp amber eyes were unnerving. I backed away a step glaring at him.
“Why are you on campus property?” I demanded sharply and he laughed. “You’re not a student.”
“No good reason I suppose,” he said, giving my fighting stance an amused look as he ran his hand through his unkempt black hair. “Feisty one, aren’t you?” he narrowed his gaze and I stiffened.
“I’ll call campus security,” I threatened, backing away as he stepped closer. “I’m serious!” there was something off about him, my scalp prickled. Why does he feel so dangerous?
“Calm down,” he said, straightening the small pair of spectacles on his nose and extending a hand. “My name is Liam Cross.” I eyed his hand critically. “Come on, I don’t bite.”
“You think I’m stupid enough to let some strange man grab my hand in the woods in the middle of the night?” I scoffed and his eyes widened, he looked surprised.
“Well, we aren’t strangers anymore,” he said lightly after a moment. “Now you know my name. Do you need help finding your way back to the campus?” His question caught me off guard.
“I can find it on my own thank you,” I said stiffly, this guy is pretty persistent. “Are you going to follow me if I leave?”
“Of course not,” he said looking offended. “I’m not going to force my company on you, you’re free to go.”
Hesitantly I backed away, feeling with my feet. He made no move to follow me so I turned and dashed down the first trail I found. It seemed like an hour later and I was still stuck on the trail. Damn, I think I’m lost. Maybe that guy could have helped me. I shook my head swiftly, slapping away the thought, No way! Why was he even out in the woods anyway? The thought nagged at my mind. I turned a bend in the path and gasped, Liam was sitting on a rock calmly. I was right back where I started. He looked up an amused glint in his eyes.
“The offer still stands,” he teased, laughing as I growled in frustration and spun around heading back down the trail.
What an arrogant jerk! I looked around at the dark woods nervously. A chill breeze blew softly through the leaves and I shivered. Damn Missy, why did I listen to her? It’s the middle of October! I thought longingly of my usual sweaters and jeans. I wandered a little farther and stepped into the clearing again. This time he looked frustrated when he gazed up at me. I cursed despite myself. What is with these woods!
“Look, just let me at least lead you back to the party,” he said, staring hard at the ground. “I said I won’t hurt you, what else do you want? You’re more likely to catch pneumonia wandering around out here in the woods dressed like that.”
I flushed and glared at him. “I don’t want to go back to the damn party. I want to go back to my dorm!” he looked up at my outburst, a teasing smile on his face.
“I don’t know where your dorm is, maybe you should show me.” he suddenly looked downright wolfish.
I faltered, taking a step back. “I can find my way there from the party.” my face felt red hot, that came out so wrong!
“Heh...you’re cute.” he stood up and offered his hand. His perfect white smile dazzled me. I flinched at his unexpected praise. “Come on, let's go.”
“I believe I can manage myself,” I said, quickly sidestepping his arm. “Thank you, I’ll just follow if you don’t mind.” he raised a brow questioningly but shrugged and started walking.
“Crap, he’s so tall!” I muttered to myself as I struggled to keep up with him, suddenly regretting how short I was.
He glanced over his shoulder at me after a while and paused so I could catch up. “You need some help?” he said as I came to a stop, huffing for air.
“No, I need you to slow down.” I gasped between breaths. “Not everyone is as tall as you.” my feet were starting to hurt.
He laughed, “well not many people are as short as you.” He shot back and I glared at him. Jerk! He crouched down watching me trying to catch my breath grinning. He wasn’t even breathing hard.
“You’re not very nice.” I groused at him; my palm was itching to slap that smug grin off his face. “Calling girls short is rude.”
“I don’t think it’s rude,” he said, giving me a quizzical look. “I think you should consider it a compliment, you’re very beautiful.”
“Why would I do that?” I straightened, finally! I can breathe! Glaring at him I crossed my arms, “people make fun of me for being short.”
He narrowed his eyes, “Well that makes them the jerks then, doesn’t it? I think you’re just fine the way you are.” he paused as if checking himself and stood up suddenly. “It doesn’t matter, come on, you need to get back to your dorm.”
I started after him confused, Huh? Ouch! The pain in my foot was sharper than before, I stumbled into his back. He glanced back at me and sighed. “Please don’t hit me, okay?” he said surreptitiously. But before I could say anything he leaned over and swept his arm under my legs, scooping me into his arms.
I stiffened mortified, “Put me down! I can walk!” I struggled against his arms and he turned abruptly, sitting me on a rock, “Wait what are you…”
He kneeled and yanked off my shoe before I could argue. “You were saying?” My entire foot was an angry red and raw from the inside of the shoes. Well, nobody said Melissa was an expert on picking out sensible shoes. “Why are you wearing these ridiculous things anyway? They don’t suit you.”
“I wasn’t planning on hiking tonight!” I snapped, yanking my foot away. “And I don’t remember telling you to touch me.” I snatched the shoe out of his hand and stood up, hobbling down the trail painfully.
He trailed along behind me for a minute. “Tough too, I think I’m in love.” he chuckled under his breath. “Prickly and beautiful, like a succulent.” I blushed.
“Stop flirting with me!” I snapped turning on him. “You don’t even know who I am. Besides that, it’s just plain creepy!”
He laughed cutting ahead of me and continued leading me up the trail. Soon I could hear the pulsing music ahead. “Ok, here you are, back at the party.” turning to me, he gave me a disarming smile. “It was nice meeting you...uh sorry I forgot I didn’t catch your name” he held out his hand for me to shake.
Well, he did help me. Sighing, I reached out to shake his hand. “It’s Dusty, thank you.” he grasped my hand. His much larger one engulfed mine. A hum ran up my arm at the contact and he yanked his hand away surprised. What the hell was that?
He furrowed his brow looking distracted. “No problem, I’ll see you around, okay?” he turned and disappeared into the woods again.
Well, that was the weirdest experience of my life. Shaking my head, I turned and trudged through the trees towards the sound of music.
“Oh my god! Where have you been?” Melissa descended on me as soon as I ducked out of the tree line. “You look horrible!”
I glanced down at myself, there was dirt and small tears in the clothes from my trek. “Sorry Missy,” I said looking back up at her. “I got kind of lost.”
“What were you doing in the woods?” she cocked her head, obviously she had been drinking. Her eyes were too bright and she had a flush across her pretty cheeks.
“I was just looking for a corner, you know me,” I said as she frowned. “I don’t do parties; I needed a quiet spot.”
“You met a guy, didn't you?” Suddenly her eyes narrowed and she gave me a mischievous look. “Come on, spill it dust bunny” She quipped out my nickname, grinning at my scowl.
I thought briefly of telling her about Liam but then dismissed the idea. She'll freak out, especially if she knew he wasn’t even a student at the university. “How much have you been drinking?” I said changing the subject.
She glared at me suspiciously. “I only had like two, or maybe three, I’m not sure.” a guilty grin crept over her face, “You should have one, it really helps calm your nerves and I know you’re stressing about finals.”
“No thank you, I believe I’ll keep my brain cells.” I sighed heavily as her smile turned into a pout, here we go.
“Why don’t you want to have fun with me anymore?” she simpered, crossing her arms across her chest. “You’re getting so uptight like you don’t even want to hang out with me anymore.” without waiting for a response she strode back across the yard and disappeared into the rabble.
“Damn it.” I hissed under my breath. Why does she always play my guilty cards? Heaving a frustrated sigh, I shoved my way roughly through the drunken crowd towards the front door.
“That’s the girl!” I heard a voice and whipped around. The jerk from before was glaring at me. “She’s the one who hit me.”
Along with two other guys he grabbed me, dragging me out the front door. “Get your hands off me!” I snapped, elbowing them sharply.
They dropped me on the grass unceremoniously. “You think you can come to our party and hit our brothers?” one snarled, “I think you need to learn a thing or two.”
“Your brother deserved it,” I growled looking at the bruise on his chin smugly as I pushed to my feet. “He needs to keep his hands to himself.”
“You little bitch!” shirtless lunged at me, knocking me to the ground again and pinning me down. “I can touch whoever I want.”
I heard two muffled thuds behind him and suddenly he was lifted off of me and tossed to the side. “I believe the words out of her mouth were, keep your damn hands to yourself.” a familiar voice made me stiffen, Liam?
Liam reached down and pulled me to my feet. Brushing me off as he glared at the three guys. “I suggest you return to your drinking and leave her alone.” he snapped.
The guys climbed to their feet sizing him up angrily. “Who the hell are you?” one of them snapped rubbing his jaw where a bruise was blossoming.
“Yeah, mind your damn business dork!” the other snapped, a similar bruise spreading across his cheek.
Shirtless glanced around at his two goons. “This is Theta Ki property, and you’re not a brother. This is our business, keep your nose out of it.”
“I’m making it mine.” Liam said coldly, “You think you can just go around assaulting women?” his eyes had a dangerous gleam.
“You call that a woman?” Shirtless sneered, I bristled. “Are you kidding me? Look at her, she could use a good fuck. Then we’ll talk about her being a woman.” he opened his mouth to say something else but was cut off abruptly.
Liam swung sharply, I cringed at the sick crunching noise as his fist made solid contact with brittle bone. Shirtless sat down hard on the ground. My hands flew over my mouth as blood poured down his chest. “You watch your disgusting mouth!” Liam snarled.
The other two guys lunged at Liam, throwing punches. I watched in silent awe as he fell into an almost animalistic fighting stance that I had never seen before and threw them off easily with a few well-placed jabs. They collapsed onto the ground near shirtless, clutching their faces moaning.
“You broke my nose!” one slurred through the blood, “What the hell, you bastard!” The other guys looked up at Liam warily. Deciding I wasn’t worth the fight, they quickly gathered up their bloody brother and disappeared back into the revelers.
Liam turned to me with a smile, he hadn’t even broken a sweat. “You okay?” His friendly chat confused me. “They didn’t hurt you, did they?”
“Why are you still here?” I finally said, ignoring his question. “I’m not some damsel in distress. I didn’t need your help, I had it under control.” he raised a brow at me.
“I hung around, I wanted to see you punch someone else.” he smirked, “My apologies, I’ll leave then.” he turned to walk away.
I bit my lip, well he did help me, maybe I should be nicer. “Hey Liam!” he turned around at my hesitant voice. “Thank you, again.” Damn, two times in one night, this guy must think he’s Batman or something. “Um...you can walk with me I guess.” I blushed; I hope this isn’t a bad idea.
“Is that gratitude?” he laughed as he strode back to me. “I didn’t think you possessed any ice princess.”
“Name calling gets you nowhere.” I snapped as we walked back across the silent grounds. He walked along beside me with his hands tucked into his jacket pockets. I glanced at his silent profile from the corner of my eye as he kept his steps measured to mine. Staying so close to my side I could feel the heat emanating from him. He sure is a cute jerk.
“You keep staring at me like that I might think you’re interested in me,” he said playfully without looking at me. Shit! How did he see me? I glanced away quickly without answering.
Finally, we made it back to the doorway leading up to the dormitories. “Well, I guess we’re here now,” I said awkwardly, shuffling my still bare feet. “Thank you for walking with me.”
“No problem,” he said, grinning broadly and staring up at the looming dormitory. “Which floor are you on?” The sudden query surprised me.
“Why do you care?” I said, narrowing my eyes at him. “Hey, what were you doing in the woods anyway?”
“Because I wanted to know if you were going to need a lift. These places don’t have elevators and I’m sure your feet don’t feel so great right now.” he glanced down at my feet pointedly, distracting me from my question.
“Guys aren’t allowed in the dorms,” I lied quickly. “I’ll make it just fine, I’m only on the third floor.” What’s with this guy?
He grinned wickedly, “Are you afraid of me?” I backed up instantly, glaring at the ground. “I’ve been to this university before and I know for a fact that male students are living in this dorm. Because it was my dorm as well.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being cautious!” I snapped and turned away to escape into the doorway. A sharp twinge of pain shot up from the sole of my foot and I collapsed on the sidewalk wincing. “Ouch! Damn it!” I cradled my foot gingerly.
He crouched down beside me and scooped me up again. “Just tell me where to go.” I tried to wriggle out of his arms but he jostled me sharply. “Stop being stubborn, I’m just trying to help.”
I crossed my arms over my chest grumpily. “Third floor, room three forty-seven.” I snapped glaring at him. “What was that you were saying about people keeping their damn hands to themselves?”
He gave me a razor-sharp smile and I shivered. “I’m not trying to hurt you; I’m just helping a friend.” God, he’s even more adorable up close!
“Who said we were friends?” I growled as he strode purposefully through the door. “I don’t even really know who you are.”
“Well first off, I’m a substitute professor. I’ll be covering for Mrs. Treymor for the rest of this semester.” he said, chuckling as my jaw dropped, “Second, I can safely say that we’re acquaintances at least. I’ve saved you twice and now I’m carrying you to your room.” he gave me a teasing smile and I immediately looked away blushing.
“Well, that still doesn’t explain why you were in the woods,” I muttered, trying to change the subject. “Mrs. Treymor is my Wildlife Sciences professor.” I was majoring in photography. I loved taking pictures of animals so I took her classes to understand their environments better.
“Oh, so you’re going to be one of my students?” he raised a brow, “That’s...interesting.” We passed the second floor silently.
“I suppose it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Cross,” I said trying to break the silence, he looked down at me oddly. “I’m sorry I was rude.”
“Oh no, you can call me Liam,” he smiled down at me. “Don’t apologize, I like it when girls have spunk. The swooning types are no fun.”
“What?” I sputtered, did he just? No, I shook my head firmly as he set me gently on my feet outside my dormitory. This guy is out of my league, and besides, he’s my teacher, he must be older than me too. I frowned at the direction my thoughts had taken.
“You’re upset about something?” he looked down at my frowning face speculatively. “I can carry you inside too if you want.” a small grin curved the corner of his mouth.
“Uh no, I can manage!” I said swiftly, blushing to the roots of my hair. “Thank you, Mr...um...Liam.” I stumbled over his name.
He laughed lightly and tapped me on the forehead, “You’re cute when you blush,” I was sure I could fry an egg on my skin right now, “Well. I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow for class.” he said brightly. “Have a good night, Dusty.” turning he swiftly disappeared down the hallway.
I turned around and ducked through my door quickly heaving a sigh of relief. Jesus what is wrong with me! I palmed myself in the forehead. Was it just me or was the new professor flirting with me?
“Who was that?” Melissa nearly scared me out of my skin. When did she get home? “Wait, was that a guy?” her eyes narrowed at me.
“Did you walk here by yourself?” I said, trying to distract her from her question. “When did you leave the party?”
“That’s not answering my question.” she quipped, ignoring mine completely. “I just heard a guy's voice, spill it dust bunny.”
“It was just a friend,” I said defensively, glancing around for an escape from her penetrating gaze. “He walked me home.”
Her eyes lit up instantly. “You did find a guy!” she clapped her hands excitedly “See? I told you the outfit would work!” she chirped gleefully and sat down in my desk chair looking at me expectantly, “Tell me about him.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” I said, wincing as I hobbled across the room and sank onto my bed gratefully. “I hurt my feet walking in these stupid shoes so he was making sure I got home.” I threw the offending sandals at her feet grumpily.
“Ooh what a gentleman.” she hummed, her eyes glinting mischievously. “Is he cute? Please tell me you’re going to see him again.”
I sighed, collapsing back onto my pillow. “I have no choice; he’s filling for Mrs. Treymor.” her jaw dropped.
“A professor?” she looked shocked, “Wow, I didn’t know you had a thing for older men Dusty.” a smirk curved her lips.
“We don’t have a thing!” I snapped, rolling away from her to look at the wall. Yeah, in my dreams probably my subconscious said wistfully. That guy is way out of my league. “He helped me, that’s all.”
“Okay, whatever you say,” I heard her get up from the chair and fall onto her bed. “Guys don’t just randomly help girls for no reason. I think he has the hots for you.” she giggled.
I threw my extra pillow across the room at her. “Go to sleep, you’re drunk.” I growled, “I don’t date teachers.” she sighed and after a few minutes I heard her snoring lightly. “Thank God!” I muttered and swiftly got up to change out of the outfit she had given me.
Finally changed into my own clothes, I fell back on my mattress frowning. Why did he help me anyway? The thoughts tumbled around my head. He called me cute...Tossing around fitfully I finally fell asleep.
About the author
I am a single mom of four who is also a published author! I use writing as a second income to help me raise my kids so every little bit helps! I write Erotic Fantasy novels and poems. if you love my work thank you! I appreciate your time!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives