Magnetic (new adult contemporary romance)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LINKS TO MY OTHER BOOKS

Copyright

CHAPTER1

 

There was a time that Samantha Lyle would have told you that Magnetism was all in a person’s mind. Sure, she had heard all about the science of love and attraction, and watched all the chick-flicks that called it fate, but it seemed a little too sappy for her. Seeing a man across a crowded room, and being drawn to him, in such a way, that one’s actions are uncontrollable, it just wasn’t real. She hated it when people would say, “it was out of my control,” or “it was meant to be,” and then just let life hit them upside the head. She was a realist, someone who knew choices were meant to be made, and that one must suffer the consequences of those choices, no matter what they were. Growing up a farm-girl in a small town, she believed the saying, “you reap what you sow,” in fact, she lived by it. It is not as if people are a crop, destroyed by a simple change in the weather, powerless to stop and make their own decisions. This is real life; they should be able to decide what they want.

The problem was, no one explained to Samantha that accepting something outside of one’s control was the hardest choice of all. To allow fate was to accept a force far greater than yourself, far greater that any person can ever understand. To deny fate was comfortable, you just go on living your mundane life at the cautious pace it has always been. No, accepting fate was by far the hardest choice of all; you had to be brave, brave enough to risk everything.

The summer after Samantha’s senior year seemed to take forever. Leaving her daddy’s wheat fields in Ritzville, Washington to go to the big city of Seattle for her undergraduate studies was all she could think about. Every college she applied to had accepted her for fall term; she had more choices than any other senior in her graduating class. The bright pink sleeve on the desk in her bedroom held nine academic scholarships, evidence that Samantha was one of the smartest students to graduate from Ritzville High School.

People in town said she would be lost in the big city. That attending the University of Washington, U-Dub as the locals called it, was a mistake for a farm girl like her. Some said that Washington State University, Wazzu, with its more rural setting would better suit her personality; better yet, Eastern since everyone knew Wazzu was a party school, which they doubted she could handle. The locals speculated that when she got to college she would probably be found in her room with her nose in a book. They wondered if she was too naïve for the big city, too trusting of people in general.

Samantha had the physique of a woman who worked out every day, but she had never set foot in a gym, unless the school gymnasium counted. Her slender waist, toned arms, and abs were from hard work on her daddy’s farm. Most men considered her eyes the color of the morning sky and her long-brown hair as dark chocolate, but not her. She would tell you her eyes were plain blue, and her hair was nothing but a nuisance. If her daddy would let her, she would have cut it all off years ago, but her mama had had long hair, and come hell or high-water, Samantha would keep hers. So she did, but to compensate for the annoyance of its length she usually kept it off her face, and out of her way by braiding it or tucking it up under a hot-pink Cabela’s ball cap.

Heracceptance at U-Dub had changed her life, no longer was she regaled to the title of “you know, the girl whose mother died a few years back.” Samantha planned to take Seattle by storm. She had waited so long to be free from the societal labels of her small town, to step off the precipice of her youth into the arms of adulthood. Nothing was holding her back.

Her daddy teased her that the car hadn’t needed to be packed a week early, but Samantha wanted to make sure she didn’t forget anything. Excitement exuded from every follicle of her body the morning she accelerated onto the I-90 East on ramp towards Seattle. She had leased a studio loft above some professor’s garage close to campus, and she had miraculously registered for her first choice of classes, at her preferred days and times. Everything was perfect.

 

 

 

Pulling her little car up the driveway of the well-groomed home where she would be renting the studio above the detached garage, Samantha looked around. The two-story Craftsman was the largest home on the block and the only property that had off street parking that wasn’t alley access. Being so new to the big city, she didn’t know what a luxury that was. Few homes had off-road parking, and if they did, it was never reserved for a tenant

Dr. Black, her new landlord, was a world-renowned biochemist at the U-Dub College of Science and had received a scientific achievement award for his contributions to emerging technology, specifically Nano technology. Geek didn’t even begin to describe him, but he offered cheap rent, and that was all she cared about.

“Hello, you must be Samantha,” he walked towards her, offering his hand to shake. He was average height, with black hair graying at his temples. The look would have been distinguished on him if it wasn’t ruined by the plaid shirt tucked into pleated trousers that were pulled half way to his armpits.

“Yes, sir, I am.” Samantha offered her hand in return, and they shook.

“Let’s just drop this sir business, the name’s Derek, unless, of course, you end up in one of my classes and then it’s Dr. Black.”

“Alright, thanks Derek.”

“Why don’t I take you up and show you your space? It’s not much, but it’s better than a lot of places around here.” Derek led the way as Samantha followed him up a narrow set of stairs at the far end of the garage.

Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out aset of keys and unlocked the door. “After you,” he said as he held the door open for her to enter.

Samantha took a step into the room, slightly tripping over the threshold. She jerked her head towards it as she thought,note to self, remember the raised threshold, and try not to trip next time.

“Oops, be careful there, I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” Derek had the posture of a man who was prepared to catch her, or at least go to her aid if she fell.

“Thanks, but I’m OK. I may be a klutz, but I normally don’t trip over the same place twice.” She flashed him a smile and then began to inspect the room. It didn’t take long. The kitchen wasn’t much more than a fridge, three-burner stove with the tiniest oven she had ever seen, a dual sink, and three feet of countertop with a little shelf above it that held the microwave. Off to the right, at the end of the fridge, was a five-shelf-steel rack with ivory curtains hanging to hide whatever contents she chose to keep on it; likely food. The main room sported a scruffy couch that had plainly seen better days. It faced a group of windows that overlooked the side of the main house. She was glad that the house only had three small windows and none of them appeared to be the main rooms of the home. If she was lucky, she’d be able to open the curtains without losing any privacy. At the end of the couch, facing away from the windows, was a small desk and chair. Finally, at the far end of the room were her bed, four-drawer dresser, small closet, and a nook for the bathroom with a matching ivory curtain to those hanging over the kitchen rack and windows.

It wasn’t much to write home about, but it was close to campus. She could see herself enjoying it for at least the next four years. She turned to Derek and said, “It’s perfect, I am glad you saved it for me, sight unseen. It was hard to get away from helping my dad on the farm this summer just to find an apartment.”

“Your family farms, do they?”

“Yeah, I guess you could call it a family farm. It’s just my dad and me, and now that I’ve left for college he’ll be on his own.”

“What do you raise on the farm?”

“Wheat. The irrigation in the area is sparse compared to places like the Columbia Basin, so we need crops that thrive with less water.” Samantha caught some of her Eastern Washington small town twang coming out in her speech. Something she had promised herself would never show through, her goal was poise and sophistication. Strike one, and she’d only been here ten minutes. She would undoubtedly have to try harder.

“What will your dad do now that you’re gone?”

“He’ll hire one of the local boys to help out. There are plenty of them who need jobs.”

“I see.” Dr. Black had clearly run out of farming related questions and was ready to get the conversation back on a topic that he knew well. “Do you know what you will be studying?”

Samantha looked a littleawkward as she answered; clearly he had hit on a sensitive topic. “No, just generals for now. To be honest, I hope I’m sitting in a class, and something just whacks me over the head and says here’s what you should do with the rest of your life.”

Derek chuckled at her admission, “Don’t hold your breath that it will happen that way, but what the hell, it might.”

Samantha smiled at him, she knew amajor wouldn’t just pound her over the head, but she could hope, couldn't she? Ready or not college, here I come, she thought as she allowed her eyes to roam the room one last time.

Handing her the keys, Derek laid out his weak ground rules. “I don’t care whom you have over or how long they stay as long as all loud music is off by midnight. You’re too young to drink, so don’t do it here. I’m not going to get in trouble because you got caught with alcohol. I’m not your father so don't call me if you get busted. Follow these simple rules, make sure your rent is on time, and we will get along just fine.” He walked to the door and asked, “Do you need anything else?”

“Nope, I think I can handle it from here.”

“Great, if you have any questions just knock on the front door. Either my wife, or I will answer.” Derek turned to leave, waving over his shoulder. “Bye Samantha, remember if you need anything just ask.”

“I will thanks.”

Samantha stood at the door surveying the studio, a smile of satisfaction on her face. With a skip of excitement, she ran down the stairs and began carrying her scant belongings into her apartment.

 

 

 

It took just over an hour for Samantha to unpack her car and carry all of the items to her room. Her couch was covered in clothes, the three-feet of counter with kitchen wares, and the floor with everything else.

It took the rest of the evening, but soon she had her tiny apartment organized. It almost felt like home. Almost.

Thesun was waning low in the sky, but it wasn’t quite nine o’clock. Her dad was likely to be in from the fields by now. She dialed his number, and he answered on the first ring.

“Samantha, honey is that you? What took you so long to call? I expected your call hours ago.”

“Hi dad, I miss you too.” Samantha giggled into the phone, her father’s anxiety evident on her first day away from home. Away from him.

“Ha ha, you think you know me so well, do you? So, you made it alright, no car trouble, or anything like that?”

“Nope, no car trouble. I made it here just fine. This place is incredible. I am close enough that I can see campus from my new apartment, but I don’t have to live in a stuffy dorm with tons of morons.”

“Well, I think you should have considered it. There are those RA people that could help you out, and you’d make a lot more friends.”

“Dad, c’mon! RA’s are just glorified babysitters for people too stupid to figure out school on their own. As far as friends go, I highly doubt I’ll have any trouble making friends with people in my classes. Lay off, you worry too much.”

“I’m your father; it’s my job to worry. You’re two hundred miles away; I can’t just run over and help you on a moment’s notice.”

Samantha had been having the same conversation with her dad ever since she announced she was going to attend the U-Dub rather than Wazzu. He considered Wazzu close-by, despite that fact that it was 100 miles from the farm.Close is relative, she thought.

“There’s no need to worry now. I am here, I have a fantastic studio, and I already unloaded the car and put everything away. Tomorrow I am going to walk the route of my classes and go to the University Bookstore to pick up my books and supplies. All-in-all dad, I think I’m good.”

“Fine, I’ll stop worrying, but you make sure to call me every week. No, every day.”

“Dad,” Samantha rolled her eyes in exasperation even though he couldn’t see her, “I’ll call you weekly, but send you a text nightly.”

“Every morning and every night,” he tried to persuade.

“Nightly!”

“Very well, but call me twice a week.”

“Dad!”

“Fine,” he sounded like a chastised child, “once a week, but remember I’ll accept a call at any time if you decide to call more often.”


Page 2

“Night dad,” she droned into the phone.

“Night,” he said and then hung up.

CHAPTER 2

 

Samantha’s first night in her own apartment had been everything she ever dreamed of. The city lights were bright; the sky never quite dark as it was back home, on the farm. Her hearing tuned in to all of the sounds around her. Sirens blared in the distance. Somewhere a dog barked. She could hear people talking as they walked down the sidewalk. It seemed that the city never slept. All of it excited her.

She woke early, and quickly got ready towalk the route that would take her to her classes. She planned to finish her morning at the bookstore purchasing her books and supplies. She resisted the urge to wear her first day of school outfit. Her best friend, Kari, had insisted she buy it when they went shopping in Spokane last month. Kari had called itJade and Jeans, and she was dying to put it on again. Never had Samantha owned such sophisticated clothing and could hardly wait to see if she caught anyone’s eye. Since the shopping trip, she had tried on the skinny jeans a few too many times, excited by how they showed off all of her curves. Kari had crooned about how perfect the jeans looked on her in the store and she, for once, agreed.

As hard as it was, she resisted the urge to wear theoutfit and instead embraced her femininity. Samantha stepped into a wispy mini-skirt with matching blouse. Her father had no idea that she owned the skirt. It was another that she had bought when she was with Kari. She adorned her ears, neck, and wrist in a matching set of jewelry, and then slipped her feet, with hot-pink toenails into her strappy sandals.

The fall air in Seattle was stillwarm enough to wear the skirt, although she was sure before long the cold would banish it to the back of her tiny closet.

Grabbing her brown leather messenger bag she set off from her apartment with strength and vigor. Her bag gently bounced against her hip as she picked up her pace.

The second Samantha’s foot stepped up the curb and onto campus she took on an air of confidence. There were students everywhere. The concrete walkway that led down the center of campus had paths angling off in all directions creating triangular patches of grass that students were lounging on. Everywhere she looked there were groups of friends or lovers.

The more lovers she passed that were locked in passionate embraces the more she recognized her own loneliness. No friends. No boyfriend. She was utterly alone, in the largest city she had ever been to.

The realization of her loneliness did nothing to alleviate Samantha’s mood as she walked through the lecture halls that would host her undergraduate general education courses. Each room held upwards of three-hundred students; three-hundred students that she didn’t know. The more she toured her lecture halls the more she understood her insignificance at U-Dub.

With a somber mood, Samantha walked to the University Bookstore located at the edge of campus. She overheard some students refer to the road asThe Ave, even though it was technically calledUniversity Way. The college slang was clearly going to take some time to get used to.

Pulling out herclass schedule from the side pocket of her bag she began the hunt for her course books and materials. The bookstore was packed, hundreds of students hovering around the shelves comparing their course lists to the spines of the texts. Samantha looked around her, a distinct impression of being watched raising the hairs on the back of her neck. She didn’t see anyone who looked out of place, or who seemed to be paying any particular attention to her. She went back to collecting her textbooks.

It wasn’t long before Samantha’s arms were piled high with books. It was difficult to juggle them while she inspected her class list to determine what she was still missing.

Again she felt a pair of eyes watching her.

Scanning the store once again her eyes fell upon a devilishly handsome man standing at the end of the aisle. He wasn’t watching her, but she couldn’t help but let her eyes linger on him. He was sexy, drop dead gorgeous. His black cotton T-shirt was stretched over his bulging biceps. He was slightly tanned but not so much that it looked like he sat around in a tanning bed all day. Samantha considered that he must be the campus God. Her eyes sought out his. He felt her eyes on him and looked up. Their eyes met. His were the color of chocolate and barely visible from underneath his slightly shaggy brown hair.

Samantha barely resisted the urge towalk up to him; his eyes beckoned her to come. Continuing to resist she backed away from the bookshelves. He watched her intently, even began to take a few steps towards her. Samantha wasn’t sure what to do; she quickly turned to retreat, but caught her sandal on the side of the carpet and began to fall. The man was immediately at her side, catching her. “Whoa there, careful now. Here, I have you.” Powerful hands clasped around Samantha’s waist, but it wasn’t enough to stop the cascade of books. They fell to the floor in a scattered mess.

He steadied her on her feet and then leaned back to look into her eyes. Samantha’s eyes met his; she couldn’t look away had she wanted to.

“Are you alright?” he asked, still looking deep into her eyes.

“Uh, yes … I am fine.” Samantha stood up and ran a hand through her unruly hair. Dropping her eyes to the floor she saw her books all over. Gritting her teeth with frustration she swore under her breath, “Damn.” Squatting down she began to gather her books.

The campus God introduced himself, apparently not caring about themess at their feet. “My name’s Darren, nice to meet you.”

Theheat of more than fifty sets of eyes witnessing her act ofgracehumiliated her. Samantha scanned the crowd warily as she continued to gather her dropped books. “Nice to meet you Darren.” She didn’t give her name in return.

Darren scanned her body from head to toe, appreciating every sexy curve of her breasts, waist, and legs. He couldn’t help but notice that her flirty skirt barely stayed in place in her current position.

“It’s customary when a person introduces themself that you return the favor and tell them your name in return,” he said as he squatted next to her, reaching for the last few discarded books. “Do you need some help with your textbooks?” His question was rhetorical since he had already begun to help her, but it kept the conversation flowing, which he was grateful for.

“Yes thank you. That would be lovely. My name is Samantha.” Darren stopped collecting her books, and instead watched her for a moment. He noticed that she was instinctively stacking the books in order by size and thickness. It was obvious that she was a freshman, and a cute one at that.

Samantha’s plight was palpable, a crimson blush on her cheeks.

“Here, try this.” Darren held out a shopping basket, in the trademark U-Dub purple and gray, for her to place her books in.

She reached out with her free hand and accepted it fromhim. Their fingers brushed sending an electrifying pulse straight through her body. It settled in that warm spot right between her legs. She could feel her panties damp with desire.

Samantha arranged all of the books in the basket and then stood. “Thank you for your help, I think I can handle it from here,” she said as she better positioned her messenger bag over her shoulder.

“Are you sure?” he asked, not convinced that she would be able to carry the weighted basket that was overflowing with required reading.

“Yes,” then proving her point she bent over to pick it up. As she bent, her pert little ass bumped into him, and her dress hiked up her thighs under the shifting state of her messenger bag.

Darren’s hands flew to Samantha’s hips. His male instincts screamed that he should make love to her long and hard. He had seen her over the top of the bookshelves, biting her lower lip in concentration as she inspected the spines of each book, comparing them to her course list. He had moved and positioned himself at the end of the aisle so that when she reached it he could create the opportunity to talk to her.

Catchingher fall and coming to the rescue of her books was more than he bargained for. Standing at the bookshelves with her bent over in front of him an aching in his groin pulsed, and he desired to pump against her a few times. It was hard for him to resist the urge, but with their relatively large crowd he instead took a deep breath and willed his hands to let go; although he allowed his eyes to linger. Darren had an excellent view of her white-lace panties that played peek-a-boo with those standing behind her, most importantly, him. He wasn’t disappointed with the view, although it played further turmoil with his ability to restrain his arousal. Something about Samantha was driving him to distraction; more than any girl ever had. He breathed deeply to maintain control of himself in such a public place, glad that he had worn his loose jeans, rather than the tight ones that he usually wore.

Quickly standing up, Samantha’s eyes were as round as saucers. She whipped around, her hair getting caught in her sticky lip gloss, now drawing his attention to her lips. “I’m … I’m … sorry, I didn’t mean to … um … you know.” She was nervously biting her lower lip with her teeth, the same thing she had been doing when he first noticed her.

Darren stood with is feet rooted looking down into her blue eyes. She was shorter than him, but it wouldn’t take much to dip his head and kiss her. His desire to kiss a woman had never been as intense as it was now. He took a step closer to her, closing the distance between them.

Samantha too was drawn to him but embarrassed at herclumsy actions. She began to back away, holding her basket of books in front of her, but she didn’t get far as she backed herself into the bookshelf with nowhere to go. Darren reached out and took the basket from her. “Here, let me help you. At this rate, you will never get these books purchased.”

“Thanks,” Samantha said. Her fingers brushed his a second time, sending the same burst of energy coursing through her body, and settling in the same area, right between her legs. “I think I am done. I should leave before I create some sort of catastrophe.”

“I think it’s too late for that,” he teased as he leaned in close to her, his piercing eyes tearing at her soul. Darren breathed in the fresh scent of her heavenly perfume.

“I’ve been known to be a little klutzy, although it was my intention to leave that behind when I moved here.”

“Where did you move from?” he asked as he followed her to the check-out counter, the hem of her flirty skirt caught under the edge of her leather messenger bag, exposing the bottom of her adorable butt cheek. His fascination with her strengthened with each word that she spoke, and he walked close behind her trying to block everyone’s view of her ass.

“Ritzville,” she answered.

They found the emptiest checkout and stood in line, he leaned forward and whispered against her ear; his breath burning her soul. “Don't panic Samantha, but the hem of your dress is caught on the side of your bag and your ass is showing.”

He heard her sharp intake of breath as her right hand swung around to check. She wiggled a little and pulled at the fabric. Looking around, Darren could see that a large portion of the male population was watching with rapt attention.

“Hand me your bag.”

“What?” Samantha responded.

“C’mon give it to me. I’ll take it so that you can arrange your …” he cleared his throat and licked his dry lips, “dress thing.”

“It’s not a dress, it’s a skirt,” she retorted as she threw her bag on top of the basket of books that he held and tugged on the skirt. “I can assure you that it will be banished to the back of my closet, never to see the light of day after this.”

“Such a shame, for it’s a cute little number.”

She scolded him with her eyes, and then glanced at the movement in line ahead of her. The line wasn’t moving fast, but they were able to move up the length of one person. Samantha turned back to Darren and continued talking, “Thank you so much, I owe you big time. First you catch me, and then you rescue me multiple times. Where I come from that’s chivalry, and chivalry must be repaid.”

“I’ll take my payment in the form of a kiss from the fair maiden.” He puckered his lips and raised his eyebrow, daring her to offer his requested payment. She thought the look was charming and barely resisted the urge to kiss him right then and there.

“Ah, so you’re a player. You rescue women only so that you may partake of the sweet nectar of their sugary kisses. No, I think your chivalry deserves reward, but a kiss would take a truly heroic act.”

“Let me take you to dinner then.”

“I’d like that,” Samantha responded. How could she not agree, he was hot as hell, and had saved her several times. In her book that had potential written all over it. She was dying to kiss him, but was afraid that he would have expected his offer of compensation right then and there, and she had no intention of offering, or receiving the first kiss from this Greek God in the middle of a crowded bookstore no matter how tempted she was.


Page 3

Samantha made it through the checkout effectively draining theaccount that held her scholarship money for her first term books. Stepping out of the line she squatted, near the door, and loaded her books into her messenger bag. She should have thought of this sooner, but only three fit, which meant the remaining books and supplies would have to be carried in the flimsy plastic shopping bags. All of a sudden she dreaded her walk home. Already she had had enough adversity for a day and could only assume that it would get worse as she progressed homeward. Her greatest fear was that someone who saw her today would recognize her in a class tomorrow as the girl who wore that silly little skirt and bore her ass for the world to see.

Darren came to her rescue again. Without asking, he reached down and with his muscled arm picked up her messenger bag and extra bag of books. “Here, let me walk you to your car.”

“I didn’t drive today. I thought it would be nice to walk around campus.”

He laughed and then walkedaway, still holding her books. “I’ll drive you home,” he called over his shoulder. “Why in the world would you not drive on the day you were picking up your course materials?” He paused, and then glanced at her again. “Oh right, I forgot you’re a freshman, you don’t know any better.”

“I bow to your superior knowledge, if only I had someone older and wiser to guide me through the labyrinth of university do’s and don’ts.”

Darren shot her a sexy look but didn’t respond to her bating.

They walked to the parking lot behind the bookstore towards his Jeep Wrangler. He lifted all of the bags into the back with the fluid motions of his strong arms, then walked to the passenger side and opened the door for Samantha. His jeep was lifted and a little awkward for her to climb into in her short skirt, but he’d already seen everything, and she was dying to get home so she climbed in. Never before had she longed for her work boots and jeans as she did right now.

Darren walked around the front of the jeep to his side and climbed in. He started the engine while Samantha buckled her seatbelt.

“So, where do you live?”

“Honestly I am not sure what the address is, but I know how to get there.”

“Point the way,” he said as he pulled out of the parking lot and followed her directions.

“So, are you from here or are you a college transplant like me?” she asked.

“I’m from Bellingham.”

“No Western for you?” she inquired. Western, Central, and Eastern Washington University were three other State universities in Washington. Honestly, they weren’t much in the form of rivals to U-Dub and Wazzu, but if you didn’t get into one of the two big one’s you still had a place to go.

“Nah, once I graduated I was itching to get out of town. I considered Wazzu, but Pullman is too small of a community. No wonder it’s considered a party school, there’s nothing else to do there but drink and have sex.”

Samantha blushed at his admission, everyone knew it was so, but few ever stated it so bluntly.

“Right here,” Samantha pointed to her driveway. He turned in, and then parked the jeep. She removed her seatbelt and turned towards him in the seat. “I really appreciate all of your help today. I have no idea how I would have made it home without dying of mortification, or my arms falling off from carrying all those books.”

Darren killed the engine, and then both of them got out of the jeep. He walked around to the back, and reached in, removing her bags. Samantha tried to take them from him, but he shookhis head no, “Lead the way; I’ll take them in for you.”

Turning, she quickly led the way up the stairs into her apartment.

Darrenset the books on the floor inside the door and glanced around, the room had a feminine edge to it though it wasn’t overly girly like some of the other apartments he had been in the first two years of college. He didn’t see any Anne Geddes photos of babies dressed like bumblebees haphazardly perched on oversized flowers, or any life-sized posters of Robert Pattinson as a sparkly vampire. That was a telling sign and spoke highly of her sophistication.

“Would you like to come in?” Samantha asked after he set her books down. “I can offer you a glass of water.” She chuckled before responding, “I haven’t gone grocery shopping since arriving yesterday, so I don’t have much else.”

Darren stepped further into her apartment, “That’s alright, water is perfect, and you know how thirsty a man can get carrying all the books for pretty ladies.”

“Oh, you carry books for all the girls do you?” she questioned over her shoulder as she filled a glass with water.

He had sat down on her couch and was assessing the room when she handed him the glass. He took it from her, drank a few gulps, and then asked, “What time shall I pick you up for dinner?”

“Oh, are we going tonight? I wasn’t sure what day you intended.” Samantha sat upon the edge of the couch at the far side from where he was, careful to pull her skirt over her legs. She sat holding her own glass of water.

“Well by the looks of your sparse kitchen, today is as good as any other.”

Samantha glanced around her then responded, “I guess you’re right. What time, hmm?” She looked at the clock on the desk and then asked, “How does six o’clock sound?”

“Six o’clock it is. Any food preferences?”

“No, I don’t really know what is around here yet so I’ll let you surprise me.”

“Great, I’ll be back at six then.” Darren stood and began making his way towards the door, Samantha followed him.

“Do you need me to write down the address or do you think you can remember where it is?”

“I can find it again,” he said confidently as he opened the door and stepped onto the staircase landing outside.

“Bye,” Samantha said softly as she leaned against the door-frame watching him toy with the keys he pulled out of his pocket.

Hedidn’t respond, and he didn’t leave; instead he just stood there watching her. Taking a step towards her he reached out his hand and took her fingers in his. He glanced down at the place where their hands met. He could feel an invisible pull. His eyes sought her’s and magnetically they were drawn to each other, neither could resist the invisible connection that they shared. Samantha reached out and pulled him into a kiss. A kiss that he equally reciprocated.

A shiver raced down her spine when he parted her lips with his tongue. His hands slipped around her waist, and he pulled her close to his chest as her arms wrapped around his neck, and her hands dug into his shaggy hair. Samantha leaned in and pressed her body hard against him. He slowly circled his tongue around hers and then sensuously plunged it into her mouth. She was a novice in the art of kissing, but with Darren it came naturally. He withdrew his tongue, and she felt the sudden loss. Samantha pulled him back, and sucked on his tongue taking him inside of her, she encased his neck with her arms, pressing her whole body into him. Darren groaned and then renewed his tantalizing kisses. One hand slid down her ass and then squeezed her thigh. Samantha leaned her weight on her right leg and then wrapped the left around him, the situation giving him greater access. His hand continued to caress her, following her slender leg all the way to her knee. He squeezed, and she giggled in his arms.

Pulling away he looked deep into her eyes and said, “I have to go, but I’ll be back.” He let go of her and briskly turned and fled down the stairs to his jeep. He fired it up and drove off, the whole time Samantha watched him from her doorway, every molecule of her body filled with excitement.

CHAPTER 3

 

Samantha was showered, shaved, plucked, dried, curled,perfumed, and made up with make-up by a quarter to six. All that was left was her outfit. She had decided that herfirst day of schooloutfit would be perfect for her first date with Darren.

Stepping into the skinny jeans she pulled, tucked, and wiggled until they were buttoned at her waist. Lifting her arms high she scrunched the Jade blouse and dropped it over her head without messing up her hair. She accessorized the flimsy fabric with a chunky necklace and bracelet and then added a bling belt. Samantha looked hot, and she knew it.

There was a knock at her door, and she placedthe back on her earring as she swung the door open. Darren stood on the other side, sexy as hell.

“Come in, I just have to grab my boots,” Samantha said as she walked to her tiny closet and pulled out her soft leather boots that came just below her knee.

Darren watched as she sat upon the edge of her bed and pulled them over the top of her jeans. They hugged her calves, adding to thedefinition of her legs. Darren couldn’t help but stare, she was gorgeous.

Picking up her favorite oversized chocolate brown sweater, purse and keys she turned to Darren and said, “Ready.”

“Great, let’s go.”

Darren opened her door for her and then watched as she jiggled the key in the door, lockingher apartment. He grabbed her hand as they walked down the stairs to his jeep. He had the hard-top on, which she was grateful for. Her hair would already be a problem to brush out with all the hair spray she had used; she didn’t want to add wind-blown. Opening the door for her, she climbed in. Before he shut it, he leaned in and planted a soft kiss on her unsuspecting lips. He pulled away, closed her door, and ran around to the other side to get in while she ran her tongue over her lips that he had just abandoned. Oh how he sent shivers through her.

He pulled out of the driveway and they had gone a block before either one of them spoke. She enjoyed the companionable silence, but thought it a little awkward on their first date. “So, where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise,” was all he said. He then looked at her, flashed a smile, and then turned his attention back to the road.

Mergingonto I-5 South Darren relaxed a little in his seat, frequently glancing at her as she watched everything with interest.

“Did you come to Seattle often while you were growing up?” he asked.

“No, I lived so close to Spokane that there wasn’t much need to come to Seattle. We have all the convenient shopping as well as an international airport. I mean, I’ve been here before, just not often.”

“I love Seattle and the big city, though I am a country boy at heart.”

“That’s a little contradictory don’t you think?”

“No, not really,” he explained, “I grew up in an average sized community with all the comforts of country living. I love outdoor activities like camping, mudding in my Jeep, and hiking, but I also love the stylish lifestyle of Seattle. I love sitting in a jazz club listening to a local group. I like to take walks on the pier and feel the salt air on my face. I love the fast paced living of downtown where everything you need is within a short walk from your apartment. I like the endless activity of the big city, but I also love the tranquility of the quiet mountains and ocean.”

“I see what you mean.” Samantha pondered what he said. “I suppose I am not sure what I am yet. I’ve yet to experience anything exciting, but I can tell you that the big city is what made me choose U-Dub over all the other colleges.”

“Other colleges? Did you apply to many?”

“Yeah, quite a few. To be honest I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, and I still don’t know what I want to major in. What are you majoring in?”

“Pre-Medicine, I want to be a Cardiologist.”

The Greek God is ambitious,she thought as she watched him while he drove.

He tookthe Union Street exit ramp and headed west towards the water. Turning onto First Avenue he pulled into a parking lot, and took the first parking spot he could get. Looking at her he asked, “Are you ready?”

She nodded her head yes and allowed asmile to cross her features. She was excited to be walking around the streets of Seattle with her date. None of the warnings that her father had issued when she called him earlier that evening were registering.

The fall air was cooling so Samantha slippedon her sweater and tied the belt at her waist. The colors complimented her outfit perfectly, and she was convinced that she looked every bit as amazing as he did. Darren was wearing a comfortable pair of jeans, similar to the ones he wore earlier in the day, only she could tell they were newer with a buttoned down collared shirt tucked in at his waist. His leather Doc Martens matched his belt, and his sleeves were casually rolled above his elbows, which further defined his biceps, and showed off his forearms. Opening her door and helping her out, he reached around her to shut it. Their bodies were close, only inches away from one another.

Darren looked at her, and her eyes widened, then she froze, the onlymovement her body made was the blinking of her beautiful eyes. Her soft lips parted, and she licked her lips. Suddenly Darren’s entire body screamed to kiss her. He could see that she wanted it as much as he did. Gripping both of her arms, just below her shoulders, he pulled her close and with the softest, most sensual touch that he could muster he captured her lips with his own and kissed her. He kissed her with every ounce of desire that he possessed. He kissed her like he had never kissed another woman. Darren could barely contain the passion he had for Samantha, letting go of her shoulders, he grabbed her around the waist and backed her against the jeep. His lips pressed solidly against her’s, his tongue teasing her’s to play with him. She tasted like peppermint.

Samantha melted into his arms, arching her breasts against his chest. He marveled how well their bodies fit together, and he pressed his hips against her’s, his erection growing in size with each sound and movement that they made. Blood coursed through him with a savage heat, he desired to ravage her, never let her go until his lusts were fully satiated, but something in him held back. Again he experienced their magnetic kiss. As much as he hated to admit it, it scared him and with that thought he took a step back, forcing his lips to leave her’s, forcing his body back under control.

Something akin todisappointment flashed across Samantha’s face, it devastated Darren, he couldn’t disappoint her. Taking one step towards her and clasping both of his hands at the nape of her neck he plunged his tongue back into her mouth, drinking in her essence while he tangled his fingers through her dark hair. Samantha wrapped her arms around him and tucked her fingertips into the back pocket of his jeans, pulling him closer. She could feel the strength of his erection, a sensation she had never felt before, but one that she was extremely pleased to discover. Their kiss was passionate but far shorter than either of them would have preferred. Darren pulled away again, leaning his forehead against her’s. Her eyes were half-closed in a daze of desire. “I was born to kiss you,” he whispered, “but if we keep on at this pace, we will not make it to dinner, and God help me, I would take you right here in this parking lot if I thought we could do it without getting taken to jail for indecent exposure.”

Samantha smiled against him. She may be a virgin, but she fully understood where their desires were leading and what he was insinuating when he said he wouldtakeher. Her stomach performed a few acrobatic flip-flops at the thought. She’d never even had a boyfriend before, and her only experimentation with kissing had been at Kari’s sixteenth birthday party when everyone played spin the bottle. Kissing Jacob Siler in front of a group of twenty wasn’t her idea of a kiss. His breath stunk and his lips were soggy. Nothing like the kiss she had just experienced with Darren. This one made her toes curl.

Reaching for her hand he intertwined his fingers through her’s, and they set off towards their destination. When they reached the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street Samantha recognized where they were. “Are we going to Pike Place Market?” she inquired.

“Yes, have you been there?”

“I’ve been once or twice, but I just walked through quickly since we were on our way to the ferry.”

“It’s my opinion that you haven’t experienced the market until you have visited at least ten times.”

Tilting her head to one side, Samantha asked, “Why do you think that?”

“Just think about it, the market is enormous; about nine acres. It’s one of the oldest markets in the country and is constantly changing. There are several levels, and even some winding alleys throughout. You can experience sights, sounds, tastes, aromas, and textures all in one place. If a person takes their time and gives the market their due respect, they will find many elements to amaze, delight, and inspire them. The problem is people don’t take the time. They only see it as afarmer's marketof sorts, and don’t give it its due respect.”

Darren spoke with a passion rarely witnessed bySamantha; she looked around as they crossed Pike Street and stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the market. Her eyes were open to the possibilities.

“You’re really passionate about the market aren’t you?”

“Yes, I suppose I am.” Darren squeezed her hand as he spoke.

“It looks as if the market is closed,” Samantha said as they stepped into the market hall where most of the shop grates had been lowered and locked.

“Yeah, sorry about that. The main market closes at six, butLowell’sis still open for dinner, that’s where we are going.”

An Asian woman was pulling down the gate on her flower stand nearby. Darren dropped Samantha’s hand and walked towards her, pulling twenty dollars out of his pocket. “If you can spare a minute, I would love to purchase any set of flowers for my girl here.” He nodded over his shoulder towards Samantha who stood off to the side embarrassed.

The woman scrutinized Samantha for a moment, then nodded yes and stepped back into her flower stand. She rummaged through a few flower wraps, apparently looking for something specific. When she had found it, she returned holding a beautiful bouquet mix of red flowers wrapped in brown parchment. She raised her hand and held out her fingers, “Five dollars, normally seven, but for you five.”

Darren handed her the twenty, flashed a grateful smile, and walked back to Samantha holding the flowers. He placed them in her hands and kissed her cheek, “Here beautiful, these are for you.”

“Boy, you forgot your change!” she bellowed at his back.

“Keep it!” he called over his shoulder.

She bowed and called after him, “Thank you, and come back for more flowers anytime.” Darren waved to the woman and then laced his fingers through Samantha’s, and they walked toLowell’s. Samantha could smell the sweet scent of the flowers as she carried them in her arms.

“I hope you like this place; it’s been one of my favorite places to eat since coming here with my grandfather when I was growing up.” They reached the door to the restaurant which Darren held open as Samantha walked in. He placed his hand on the small of her back, guiding her forward towards the hostess.

“Dinner for two?” she asked.

“Yes,” Darren nodded, “overlooking the sound please.”

“This way please.” They followed the hostess to their seat.

She led them to a table at the back of the restaurant. It was positioned in front of a large picture window with a gorgeous view of the Puget Sound. Darren pulled out her chair, and she sat down, gently setting her flowers on the table, right next to her.

“Oh how lovely. What a sweet man you have, I think he’s a keeper.” The hostess cooed at the flowers as she set the menus in front of them. “Can I start you off with something to drink?”

Darren inquired about Samantha’s preferences and then ordered, the hostess walked away, leaving the two to look out over Elliott Bay in companionable silence.

“The view is breathtaking. I can see why you love this place so much,” Samantha said, still looking out over the piers and water below.

“My grandfather used to bring me here for breakfast, he would tell me about the days when it wasn’t a busy restaurant, but rather a coffee roaster and cafeteria that fed people that came here for their fresh produce. Oh the stories he would tell.”

Samantha smiled as she watched Darren reminisce about the memories of his grandfather. Sheadored the dimple on his chin that peeked through when he would give her a half-grin. It was quickly becoming one of her favorite facial features.


Page 4

A waitress walked up with their drinks and introduced herself. She took their orders and then left them alone again.

“Were you close to your grandfather?” she inquired.

“About as close as any kid could be. We lived in the same town as my dad’s parents, so I was able to see them anytime I wanted. My grandfather came to Seattle a lot when I was a kid, and I tried to tag along anytime I didn’t have school. I adored my grandfather.”

“Is he still around? I heard you say adored, in the past tense. Is he …?”

“Yeah, he died about ten years ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Samantha felt guilty, she had just hit on one of the biggest first date no-no’s, according toCosmopolitan Magazine. Never talk about ex’s, divorce’s, or death.

“Nah, don’t even think about it. My grandfather was old, he lived a wondrous life. I am proud of him, and hope I become half the man he was.”

Samantha leaned forward, her eyes focused on Darren. Her ankles were crossed under the table, and her knees pressed together when she felt his foot lightly touch her leg. She thought it was an accident at first, but then she felt it again, his leg lightly touching her’s. Just enough pressure to know he was there, but not so much to intrude upon her personal space or become threatening.

“I rode on that Ferry once.” She pointed out the window to the boat below, eager to start another conversation that would slow her heart rate.

“Oh yeah, did you enjoy it?”

“Yes, I loved it. My grandparents live on Bainbridge Island, we went for a visit.”

“Just one visit?”

“Well, perhaps a few, but I really only remember one of them well.”

“What made that particular ferry ride so special?”

Samantha sighed, she just led the conversation back to the very subject she was trying to get away from,death.“My mother had just died, and my father wasn’t in a good place. I was alone, on my way to stay with them for a while.” She didn’t say anything else.

“Now I’m the one who’s sorry.” He reached his hands across the table and held her’s, they both looked out at the pier, watching the cars load onto the ferry, and the foot passengers walk across the deck. Darren gently rubbed his thumbs across her knuckles causing electrifying bolts of desire to pulse through her. Neither of them said a word, they just enjoyed being together.

A bunch of loud andobnoxious women walked past, bringing their attention back inside the restaurant. “No way, what are you doing here?” One of the women stopped at their table, her full attention on Darren. His head snapped towards her at the sound of her voice; he was speechless.

“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” she teased.

“No, I mean, hello … how are you Melissa?”

“I’m well Darren, who’s the latest girl?” Darren visibly cringed at her choice of words.

“Samantha, this is Melissa, a friend of mine from U-Dub.”

Samantha held out her hand, which Melissa accepted, and they exchanged courteous greetings.

Darren sat watching them with a curious expression.“It was nice to see you Melissa, I hope you have a nice evening.” He turned his attention back to Samantha, effectively dismissing Melissa from their table where she stood.

“Bye,” she managed to say as she walked away. Samantha watched her go.

Darren regained her hands in his, and resumed his attentions, but Samantha was un-nerved, the second cardinal don’t of first dates was effectively there on the table,ex’s. Jealous women are never rational.

“So, how do you know Melissa?”

“Oh, you know, we met our freshman year and have been friends ever since.”

“Friends?” she questioned.

“Yeah, just friends.” Samantha visibly relaxed, and Darren was glad they had escaped a difficult conversation.

Their dinner arrived, and their attention was drawn to their plates. Discussion of food, drinks, and international travel became the safer topics of conversation, and the more information they shared, the more relaxed they became in each other’s company. They had so much in common. The sun was setting over the Sound as they finished eating their dinner.

Darren called for the check, paid, and then helped Samantha out of her chair and into her sweater. He picked up her flowers and handed them to her, then took her hand to leave the restaurant.

“May I have just a minute to use the ladies room?” Samantha asked before they exited.

“Of course, I’ll wait for you up front.”

“Can you hold these?” she asked, handing him her flowers. He reached out and took them from her.

Samantha hurried to the bathroom, not wanting to keep him waiting. When shestepped out of the stall, Melissa was waiting for her.

“I see he’s taking his girl’s to the same old haunts. You’d think he’d come up with some other idea as a first date location. I assume it’s a first date, isn’t it?” Melissa looked at Samantha who nodded in a hesitant agreement. “Oh, and he gave you flowers. Did he tip the woman with a twenty? He’s generous that way.” Melissa was practically sneering as she spoke to her.

Samantha’s eyes grew wide at the audacity of the woman, but still she wondered,How did she know?

“I bet he told you all about his poor, dead grandfather who used to take him to work with him, and tell him old-stories of sitting here atLowell’sdrinking coffee.”

Samantha was gettingextremely nervous and fidgeted with her hands in the water, washing them an unusually long time.

Looking directly at Samantha, Melissa let one last volley fly, “It’s only your first date honey, get out while you can. I should know. I fell head over heels for him, gave him everything he wanted, and as soon as he got tired of me, he moved on to the next woman. He’s taken countless women’s virginity. He can see a virgin coming from a mile away. Am I right? You’re a virgin aren’t you? He may be easy on the eyes, but he’s a demon with your heart.” Melissa flipped her hair and walked away, not looking back. Samantha was a mess of confused emotions.

Stepping out of the bathroom Samantha sought out Darren and the two left. He tried to take her hand, but Samantha deftly moved her flowers into the hand nearest him, effectively blocking his advances. The two walked to the piers below, this time the silence eerie rather than amiable. Both of them could feel the tension between them, but Darren was at a complete loss about why. They had enjoyed such a romantic dinner together, he didn’t know how her mood had changed so fast.

With the tension between them so thick, they didn’t last long walking along the docks and soon returned to his jeep. They climbed in and drove back to Samantha’s apartment, very little conversation took place, and what they did have was strained.

Samantha touched the velvety softness of the flower petals that lay on her lap, willing herself not to cry. Then she would think of Melissa’s words, her heart would harden, and it took every ounce of her will-power not to rant accusations at him. She had been drawn to him, almost magnetically, from the first moment that she fell into his arms. She knew she was naive to believe that she could have such an instant attraction to someone that she met only hours before, but she couldn’t deny it, the attraction was intense.

She longed to clear the air andconfront him about what Melissa had insinuated, but didn’t think she had the right to, after all they had only known each other a few short hours. No, the best thing to do was to drop the relationship before it even began.

Darren drove a little more aggressively than he had on their way to dinner, feeling the strain, unsure where it had originated. The oversized tires of his jeep roared over the roadway, a sound almost calming to Samantha as it reminded her of home, of driving in her father’s pickup.

Pulling into her driveway, he threw the jeep intopark and sat in place for a moment, neither initiated conversation or attempted to get out. Samantha made the first move, “Thank you for dinner. I had a nice time.”

He half-laughed at her ridiculous attempt at small-talk. “I did too.” He threw back at her.

Opening the door she stepped out, grabbing her purse and keys from the floorboard. He joined her, making sure she madeit inside safely. No matter how awkward their date had turned, he was a gentleman after all. She rattled the keys in her door, then swung it open, and reached inside to flip on the light. He had moments before she would walk inside, which would effectively cut her out of his life forever. He was sure of it.

“Samantha, I am not sure what happened when you came back from the bathroom, or whatever, but I had a really enjoyable time, up to then. I would like to see you again, but I’m getting the vibe that you don’t want anything to do with me. Am I right?”

She didn’t answer, but shrugged her shoulders in an indifferentI don’t knowmotion.

Darren was upset, he couldn’t get her out of his head since they met today, everything had been so perfect all day, thenbamshe goes to the bathroom and doesn’t want anything to do with him.Women are so fickle,he thought as he turned around, ready to walk down her stairs. “Look, I can’t fix what you won’t tell me.” Darren turned and ran down the stairs, retreating to his jeep as fast as he could.

Firing up theengine he backed down her driveway. He stopped when he looked at her seat and saw the flowers. “Damn,” he said as he looked back and forth between the flowers and her lighted windows. He could see Samantha pacing inside, her hand continually raising to her cheek and wiping away errant tears.

“What the hell?” he questioned. Taking the jeep out of reverse and driving back up the driveway he got out and slowly walked back up the stairs to her apartment. Hesitantly he raised his hand and knocked at her door. She didn’t respond at first, and he knocked again. Shyly she answered the door, a handful of tissues wadded in her left hand, and her eyes red and puffy from the tears she was already shedding.

“Hey, we need to talk, can I come in?” Darren asked, holding up the flowers as a sort of peace offering.

“No, it’s late, why don’t you just call me sometime.” Samantha stood against the doorframe, her arms crossed in front of her.

“That’s way to convenient, at this rate you will never accept a call from me. C’mon, a man deserves to know why a date that was going so well turned sour in the course of five minutes. What the hell Samantha, one minute we are in lover’s paradise, having the most incredible date of our lives and the next, you won’t even look at me.”

She didn’t say a word, she just looked at the floor in silence. Darren became frustrated, unsure what to do next, but willing to try almost anything. They had the most incredible connection, something he had never felt before, he would do almost anything to get it back. “Seriously, you’re not going to tell me anything? Can I at least come in and try to talk to you?”

Samantha didn’t say anything, she just stood there looking at him, contemplating.

“For the sake of bugs.”

“Bugs, what? What are you talking about?” Finally, she made eye contact with him.

“Standing around with the door open is attracting all the bugs. It’s dark out, and we have the light on.” He pointed to the light above their heads that was swarming with little bugs.

“I can’t believe I am falling for such a lame excuse as bugs, but I know you’re right.” She swatted at a fly that buzzed around her face and let him in, taking the flowers from him and placing them in a pitcher full of water. She wished she had a pretty vase, but the pitcher was all there was.

He slipped off his jacket and laid it across the arm of the couch as he sat down. He leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees as his thumbs massaged his temples. His hair fell forward, and as she walked over to sit at the other end of the couch Samantha longed to run her fingers through it. Despite everything, she was still drawn to him by an invisible fascination that she could hardly resist.

Samantha unzipped her leather boots and kicked them off. They landed across the narrow room underneath the window. Darren looked up to see her feet, covered with thick wool socks, tuck up under her. She still wore her oversized sweater, but she started to remove her jewelry and set it on the desk at her end of the couch. Neither of them said a word, but Darren just watched her. Seeing her in the comfort of her own apartment, performing such a simple task as removing jewelry was something he had never watched a woman do before.


Page 5

“Darren, I know we had a great time tonight, but I just don’t think it’s meant to be.”

“What are you talking about? I know you felt what I did, how can you just give that up? I know we only met today, but I’veneverfelt with anyone what I feel with you.”

“Not even Melissa?” Jealous women are never rational, and Samantha’s jealousy was at the peak of the mountain. She’d been jealous the moment Melissa had walked up to their table, but it was nothing to the bitterness that she felt once Melissa had accosted her in the women’s bathroom.

“Melissa? What?”

“Oh come on Darren, fess up. I’m just one in a long line of unsuspecting women that you meet and prey upon just to get your sexual fix.”

“Sexual fix? What are you talking about?”

“Yeah, well Melissa told me all about you.”

“She did, when?”

“When I went to the bathroom.”

Things were beginning to make a littlemore sense to Darren, though he was wracking his brain trying to figure out what the bitter hag had said. He couldn’t think of a singletruthfulthing that she could accuse him of.

“I have no idea what you mean when you say sexual fix, but I can tell you about Melissa. Will you listen?”

Samantha nodded her head, and Darren began to explain his connection to Melissa. “Melissa was the high-school lover of my freshman roommate, Jared. She spent hours at our apartment. I even wondered at one point if it would be better if I moved out so that she could move in. Initially she only came around when Jared was home, but then she began to stop by whenever the urge struck her. I tried to avoid her, but it seemed the more I avoided her, the more our paths crossed. One weekend Jared went home because his mom was sick and his father had to go on a business trip. His task was to care for his younger siblings; anyways Melissa was in my apartment when I came home from a party. There she was lying on my bed with some skimpy red lingerie. The truth is, I rejected her, and she’s hated me ever since.”

“Even if all of that is true, it doesn’t refute her accusations against you.” Samantha eyed him, she wanted to believe his story, but there were too many other elements that she couldn’t let drop.

“Accusations, what does she have to accuse me of?”

“Being a player, more-or-less.”

“More-or-less, how so?”

“Well for one, she said that Lowell’s is where you take all women on your first dates.”

“Not all, but I do take those that I have a particular interest in there.”

“See, how would she know that?” Samantha was sure she’d just tangled him into a web and soon he wouldn’t be able to lie his way out.

“Really? Think about it Samantha. She was my roommate’s girlfriend. She was around to hear about each and every date I went on my freshman year. I took at least three women to the restaurant. It’s not hard to conclude that I like to eat there.”

“What about your grandfather?”

“What about him?”

“Melissa said that you use the same old story to con all of your women. Try to convince them that you have a sensitive side before …” She trailed off.

“Before what?” Darren was trying to keep control of his anger, but he was beginning to fail.

“Before … you know.”

“No, apparently I do not know.”

“Use them to get your sexual fix.” Samantha blushed as she spoke the words, but she could see Darren’s anger rise.

“My God and you believed her. I thought you were smarter than that.”

“How would you know how smart I am? We’ve barely known each other half a day. How am I supposed to know who, or what you are?” He looked over to her. She sat with her hands clasped in her lap, the fury in her eyes piercing him.

“Why I’ll be damned, here I thought fate just handed me the woman of my dreams. Someone whom I could love and who may love me in return and what do I get instead? Some skittish little girl who thinks I’m a sex crazed maniac. Well I don’t need this shit.” Darren grabbed his jacket off the arm of the chair and started walking towards the door. He was angry and unable to listen to anything else, but he still heard her when she whispered, “I don’t believe in fate.”

Part of him ached at her admission to not believing in fate. He thought all women believed in fate, in love at first sight. His sister was always spouting some nonsense that someday she would meet the man that she was destined from birth to be with. That she would see him across a crowded room, and know that he was her undying love. Darren had always hoped she was right, but honestly, until this morning, until he had met Samantha, he doubted that love worked that way. Samantha had changed that though, he had begun to believe his sisters fanciful notions, but no, he had been right after all. Fate, love at first sight, those things didn’t happen in real life. He opened her door and before walking out threw back over his shoulder, “Welcome to college sweetheart. Just remember, there are bitter ex-girlfriends for almost every man on campus, funny thing is, Melissa’s not even an ex-girlfriend, just a crossed wannabe lover. You better grow up and learn to use that pretty little head of your's or you’re going to have a lonely four years.” Darren walked out the door, slamming it behind him.

Samantha burst into tears, unable to control the ache she felt in her heart.

CHAPTER 4

 

Darren climbed into his jeep and slammed his hands upon the steering wheel,how could she believe such a base and vicious attack,his mind screamed. Firing up the engine he squealed the tires out of the driveway. He drove carelessly all the way back to his apartment, not caring if he got a ticket.

Samantha lay in bed all night, replaying theday’s events over and over in her mind; running into Darren at the bookstore, kissing him in the Seattle parking lot, the flowers, and the dinner. In addition to it all, she couldn’t get Melissa’s accusations out of her mind. Deep down she knew they weren’t warranted, both her mind and her heart confirmed it, but she just couldn’t stop the jealousy. The thought of another woman having Darren, her Darren, was too much to handle, and as a result, she wasn’t thinking clearly. All rational thought was lost, and now so was he.

To make it all worse, she chastised herself for thinking of him asherDarren. Sure she had felt the magnetism between them from the very start, but her mind screamed at her to grow-up and think logically. That stuff only happens in the movies, or at the very least to women who are not her.

Lying on her bed, Samantha closed her eyes to go to sleep, but instead Darren’s eyes were staring back at her in her mind’s eye. She recalled every sensation of his kisses, the taste of his tongue as he thrust it into her mouth to drink her in. The weight of his body hard against her. Samantha shivered despite the heat that was coursing through her body. The more she tried to push him from her mind, the more the thoughts of him lingered at the edge of her consciousness. She got up and went to the bathroom to splash cold water upon her face, but nothing helped, she could still feel him against her. Her whole body shuddered at the sensation.

Lying back upon her bed, she wrapped her body around her pillow and willed herself to sleep. Shehadn’t slept long when she awoke from her first sexual fantasy dream. Her breasts ached, her thighs were tight, and her panties damp from the wetness that seeped from her most womanly place. Shaking her head to clear it, she watched the moon-lit shadows cross her walls. The more she tried to forget the more detailed her dreams became. Stretching out her full length on her bed, she could feel Darren’s hands wrap around her waist, she could feel his groin press against her. Samantha squeezed her ass and lifted her hips against his invisible power. It almost felt better. Even now, she could feel the caress of his hands at the base of her neck, the warmth of his breath upon her mouth.

Samantha wanted to scream, she’d barely known the man twelve hours, and already she knew that if he wanted it, she would give him her virginity, no questions asked.

The next morning when she woke, it was as if shehadn’t slept at all. The sensations of Darren’s touch, the passion of his kisses were dangerous thoughts to Samantha. If she lingered on them too long, she was unable to do anything else.

Getting out of bed and taking a shower to clear herhead was necessary. Her mind lingered on their animated conversation from the night before and the more she thought about it, the more she hated to admit that he was right. She hadn’t used her brain, she hadn’t rationally thought through a single thing. Nope, she acted foolish, like a silly high-school girl rather than the mature woman that she wanted to be. Now, as a result, she had just lost the man of her dreams.

 

CHAPTER 5

 

The first week of classes was hell for Samantha. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t forget Darren. She tried to reason that she had only known him one day, but that didn’t help. Her mind played tricks on her everywhere she went. She could swear she saw him coming down the sidewalk towards her, her heart raced, and her palms went sweaty, just to realize that the man wasn’t Darren, in fact, he looked nothing like him. She saw him in the library, at the student union building, even in one of her lecture halls, each time again disappointed when she looked a second time, and it wasn’t him.

Mark Flattery, another freshman in her American History class, had noticed Samantha since the first day. He always found an available seat near, but not so close that he drew attention to himself. Although he didn’t know her, he could tell that she had recently suffered some type of loss and that she was deeply affected by it. He watched her close for a full week before making his move and approaching her.

“Is this seat taken?” Mark asked.

Samantha looked at the empty seat next to her, and the other fifteen nearby, slightly irritated that he would want to sit so close when there were plenty of seats scattered around the room. “Um, no it’s not taken.”

“Great,” he said as he sat down.

He leaned closer to her as he introduced himself. “I’m Mark, what’s your name?”

“Samantha,” she answered.

“Such a beautiful name, for a beautiful woman,” he crooned, raising his eyebrows and flashing a dazzling smile.

Samantha rolled her eyes,this guy thinks he’s so smooth, she thought.

“I’ve seen you in class each day, but you always sit by yourself. What’s up with that?” he asked.

Samantha shrugged hershoulders, “Nothing, I just don’t know anyone in this class.”

“Well, you know me now, how about I just plan on sitting by you every day. What do you think of that?”

“Suit yourself.” Samantha was more annoyed by his too chipper voice, than his actually wanting to sit by her. Having a friend in class wouldn’t be so bad. At least she could tell her father she’d finally made a friend. He was already threatening to visit her in Seattle. Three nights ago he had figured out that she was down about something, and ever since he hadn’t stopped calling. She was tempted to give in and tell him a man broke her heart so that he would laugh at her, tell her to get over him, and move on, but she didn’t want to hear it, she didn’t want to move on. She wanted Darren.

She swore if she could see him again, just once, that she would make it right. She would apologize, ask his forgiveness, even beg if she had to. All she needed was one more chance.

Samantha had tried everything to find him. Every day she looked she hated herself more for not learning his last name, for not getting his phone number, for not finding out where he lived. All she knew was that his name was Darren, he grew up in Bellingham, and he drove a green Jeep Wrangler; hardly enough information to find him. Like searching for a needle in a haystack. She had Googled his name, searched for him on Facebook; she even went to admissions and asked for his contact details. He didn’t exist on Google or Facebook, though she was unsure how he had managed that since almost everything and everyone could be found on one location or the other. Admissions wouldn’t give her his information, for all they knew she was a stalker, but it didn’t matter anyways; she didn’t even have a last name, just a first name and a hometown.

“So, what’s your gig?” Mark asked.

“Gig?” she questioned.

“Yeah, what are you majoring in? What kinds of things interest you? What do you like to eat? It’s an open-ended question that a thousand different answers will suffice. I’m just throwing it out there as a conversation starter. If you would prefer that I ask something more personal, I will.” Mark looked deep into her eyes as she stared at him with unease. “Would you go to the movies with me?” he leaned in and asked.

Samantha leaned away from him, arching her head sideways to provide the most distance between them as possible. “What? No!”

“Why not?” he acted hurt, but she could tell he was secretly amused.

“Why not? Well, … because I don’t even know you.”

“That’s why the date was invented. You see it’s common for a boy,” he sat up straight and pointed both thumbs at his chest, “to see a girl that he likes,” he then pointed both fingers at her, “and then ask her out on a date. They go out, share a pleasant time, and viola they get to know one another.”

“I know how a date works, but I’m just not interested.”

“So, I can assume you have a boyfriend then?”

“No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“So, I’m guessing that you prefer other women?”

“What? No, I don’t prefer women, I prefer men.”

“Perfect then, I am a man, and like you, I am not encumbered with a significant other.” He leaned towards her again, “Although I would like to be.”

“Look, I’m just not interested.” Lucky for Samantha, the lecture began, and Mark sat back in his seat only slightly put off by her rejection. He would try again at Thursdays lecture.

And try again he did on Thursday, then the following Tuesday and Thursday, and then the following lectures the week after those. Mark’s persistence at first was annoying to Samantha, but then at some point it turned cute. He started off each class begging her for a date, and then closing it with one last attempt just hoping she would say yes.

“At some point this is going to get old, me asking, and you rejecting every day.”

“Perhaps, although it’s not old yet.” Samantha teased. It had been a whole month since her disastrous date with Darren, and although she still thought about him constantly she had regained some of her playful nature.

“You know, your original argument of not knowing me is no longer valid. We’ve known each other three weeks now.”

“Hardly, you’ve sat next to me in class, talked to me a few minutes before and a few minutes after. I think we’ve known each other less than an hour, collectively.”

“Oh come on, you can’t be serious, the two hours of lecture each week count also. We are up to at least six hours of lecture and one hour of extracurricular. That’s a total of seven hours. Plus, doesn’t persistence count for something?”

She did have to give him that, he was determined. Looking slyly at his face out of the corner of her eye she accepted. “I guess when you put it that way it sounds pretty reasonable. Sure, I’ll go on a date with you.”

“You’ll go? YES!” he said, then with no shame whatsoever he shouted amongst the crowded pathways between the buildings, “Samantha finally agreed to go on a date with me.”

Mortification spread across her features.

“Great, I’ll pick you up tomorrow. Can you text me your address?”

Samantha grabbed her phone out of her back pocket, punched in his number and texted her address to him. Rather than being excited for her date, her heartsunk at the realization of how easy she had just been given a method to contact Mark. Why couldn’t Darren have asked her to text him? Why couldn’t she have been smart enough to love him when she still had a chance?

Mark saw her face fall as soon as she hit the send button on her phone, he didn’t know what caused it, but he didn’t care, she had finally accepted his date. He had a perfect spot all picked out to take her.

 

 

 

Mark was punctual in his arrival at her apartment, in fact, he was ten minutes early, and she had to scramble to finish accessorizing her outfit before opening the door.

“You’re early,” she scolded as she opened the door for him.

“I wanted to make sure that you didn’t decide to stand me up at the last minute.”

“I would never do that to you. If I hadn't planned on coming, I wouldn't have accepted, or at the very least, texted you that an emergency came up.” Samantha reached for her jacket and wallet and followed Mark out the door. He strode ahead of her and hastily got into his little hatchback car.

Samantha stood next to her door for a moment until he yelled, “It’s open,” from inside the car. Her heart longed for Darren. Opening the door she looked down where he was wiping food crumbs off the seat and throwing empty energy drink cans into the back.

“Sorry about that, I guess I should have cleaned out my car, but honestly it didn’t cross my mind.”

“It’s alright,” she said as she sat down on the seat, keeping her hands in her lap so that she didn’t touch anythingnasty.As he backed down the drive, she couldn’t help but compare his car to Darren’s jeep. Darren’s jeep had been clean, and best of all, he didn’t even know she would be in it. It was obvious that he valued his vehicle and regularly cleaned it. Mark’s probably hadn’t been cleaned out since the day he bought it. The car smelled like left over food and dirty clothes, Samantha wanted to gag.

Luckily the drive to the far side of the campuswasn’t long and soon Mark parked his car in the parking lot of the church on the corner ofThe AveandNE Pacific Street.Stepping out of his car Samantha breathed deeply the fresh, crisp fall air. September had gone, and October was in full force, red, orange, and yellow leaves littering the ground in a rainbow of fall colors. Mark called to her from around the front of the car. “Over here.” They walked about a block down theBurke-Gilman Trailuntil they reached the University Planetarium. Mark reached for her hand as he opened the door for her.

The empty feeling of her hand in hisdidn’t go unnoticed by Samantha. She longed for the spark that she had felt just being near Darren. She yearned for the sensations that he invoked though every fiber of her being at the mere thought of him holding her hand. Her face flushed as she thought about Darren.

Mark noticed her heightened color and attributed it to the fact that he had reached for her hand. He was excited that she was beginning to feel for him what he had felt for her this past month. Samantha noticed his attentions turned towards her and longed to direct them elsewhere. She loosened her hand in his, expecting him to let go, but he didn’t.

“Where are we?” she inquired.

“The campus planetarium.”

“I’ve never been to a planetarium, though I have always wanted to,” Samantha said nervously.

“You’re in for a treat then.” They walked around the building, looking at the artwork and photographs of planets and the night sky. Samantha enjoyed all of it, the uniqueness of their location appealing to her, some of the scenes even bringing back memories of sitting on her front porch, back home, looking at the stars against the pitch-black sky. Part of her yearned to be home, to be where it got dark. When she arrived in Seattle she thought it a novelty that the sky never darkened because of the hustle and bustle of the city lights, but now that she had been here more than a month she missed the stars. The missed the ebony night sky.

Touring the building took less than thirty minutes, Mark had held her hand the entire time and the only sensation that she could remember was his palms getting sweaty. Samantha longed to pull her hand free, but she didn’t want to offend him.

“Well, are you ready to go into the actual planetarium?” Mark asked as he guided her towards the door into the dark room.

“Yes,” she said with a genuine smile of interest. She may not be interested in him, but she was truly enjoying the location and planned to come back again when she could peruse the room a little more leisurely.

Dropping her hand he opened the door and guided her inside with his hand resting on the small of her back. Samantha instinctively arched away from his touch, unable to let hishands linger where Darren’s once had.

As they entered the planetarium it was flooded with light, and then as the door closed behind them it wasagain drenched in darkness. Samantha paused, waiting for her eyes to adjust, and then twisted her head every which way to take in the sight around her. She had read that the university had partnered withMicrosoftto enhance the resolution of the projected images, but nothing prepared her for the sight she witnessed. She actually sighed at the majestic view around her, she was in heaven.

 

 

 

Darren Riggs had been irritated when the planetarium doors had opened to admit a couple. He had felt particularly on edge the past few weeks, unable to shake Samantha from his memory. He just didn’t understand it, he’d only known her one day, but that’s all it took; one day, half a day if he admitted it to himself. She was the only woman he was attracted to. A month before he could have asked out any number of women on a date or entered into a relationship with quite a few that he had once considered attractive, but not now, not after meeting Samantha. The worst part about it was that the more he pinned away for her the more frustrating the situation became. Everywhere he went women were offering him their numbers, asking him to call. They waited for him after class, caught him exiting the library, even stood outside the men’s locker-room waiting for him to change after his workouts, all so that they could try to get a date with him.

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