I swear I was minding my own business, just walking down Mill Ave toward a restaurant I promised I’d meet my calculus study group. The February air was warmer than usual, so I’d been able to wear a long dress instead of needing jeans or a jacket, but all of that couldn’t have prepared me for him.
I’d just walked through the breezeway area of the Brickyard building when I found my back pushed against the wall. Given my past, I should’ve come out swinging, maybe went for his balls, but instead, I let his spicy scent engulf me as his soft lips pressed against mine. His hands tangled in my thick auburn hair as he tilted my head to deepen our kiss.
Aside from his cologne and his lips, I didn’t get a good look at him before I found myself in this position, but I yield to him anyway. Just as I start to melt into his embrace, he pulled away just enough that his warm breath still touched my swollen lips and I could lift my heavy lidded brown eyes to take in his teal eyes.
I didn’t even know someone could have eyes that were so unreal. My breath caught in my chest as I stared into his blue-green eyes, the black ring around his irises making the color look even more incredible. Too long, jet black hair is swept over his forehead and I thought I’d just fallen in love.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, holding my gaze. “Can you see if there are any guys on the street looking around like they lost something?” he requested.
Shifting my eyes over his shoulder and slightly down the sidewalk, I saw what he was asking. Two extremely large, extremely scary men were arguing with each other and gesturing back toward our direction.
“Yeah,” I whispered.
“Okay,” he nodded, reaching down to lace his fingers through mine. “Ready? One…two…three…GO!” he whispered loudly, taking off back through the breezeway leading back toward the Arizona State University campus. Before I was fully able to register what was going on, I found myself being dragged with him, running at my top speed to keep up.
“What’s going on?” I called after him.
“Where’s your car?” he shot back.
“I walked from my dorm,” I supplied, starting to pant with the exertion of the run, my adorable bejeweled flip flops cutting into the tops of my feet.
“Shit,” he cursed, shooting a quick glance behind us and changing course. “We’ll have to lose them on the train,” he said, pulling me toward the light rail station and pushing me on ahead of him just as the doors on the eastbound train closed.
As the train lurched into motion, I finally looked back in the direction we’d come to find those same men running toward the station. Luckily, we’d been much faster than them. Before I could catch my breath, the station that would drop us off in the thick of campus approached and I found my hand, once again, entwined with the stranger beside me.
“Get us to your room,” he commanded, pulling me from the platform toward one of the liberal arts dorms. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t a liberal arts major.
“This way,” I groaned with an eye roll and dragged him in the opposite direction, still not entirely sure why I was just going along with him. “Wait,” I stopped in the middle of a busy walkway, soliciting angry glances and people dodging us to continue on their way. “Why am I doing this?”
“Help me, please,” he turned me toward him again and pleaded, those dangerous teal eyes keeping me from refusing him. “Once we get somewhere safe, I’ll explain. I promise.”
“Fine,” I allowed, knitting my brows and pulling him toward my room again, weaving through lunch time University traffic.
“Shit,” he choked when we finally approached my dorm. “Honor dorms.”
“And?” I asked with a slight sneer.
“Nothing,” he shook his head and continued to follow me. “You’re too hot to be smart enough to live here.”
“I promise not to take offense to that,” I said, leading him through the courtyard area toward my room on the sixth floor. The dorm had the best set up to hide out my new friend. My scholarship had me living with three other girls in a suite-like set up. My assigned roommate, however, was playing house with her boyfriend of three minutes off-campus, which meant that I had the equivalent of a single.
As soon as we breached the door to my bedroom, I broke from him and folded my arms over my chest. I couldn’t think about how cold my hand felt now that it wasn’t in his. I was smarter than this. I shouldn’t be losing my shit because he kissed like some kind of God. It just meant he had practice, lots of it.
After watching my sister for the last seven years give up a chance for a better life over and over again for me, I knew that getting tangled up with the man in front of me would be a colossally bad idea. He’d already involved me in whatever he’d been running from, and dumb little me had run right along with him. Did bad boys have stupid elixir on their lips that had inexperienced girls following them wherever they led?
“You’re safe,” I said, finding my voice for the first time since we made it to my room, which somehow seemed smaller with him in it. “Explain.”
“Thanks,” he nodded, sitting on my absentee roommate’s bed. “Why do girls think it’s okay to lie?” he asked me, point-blank.
“That’s not explaining,” I answered, tapping an impatient toe on the thinly carpeted floor.
“Whatever,” he mumbled before taking a deep breath. “There’s this girl-”
“That’s already been established, can we get to the part where two big ass guys chased after us? Or maybe just to the part where you thought it was okay to accost me on the street and drag me along for the ride?” I interrupted, trying and failing to keep the anger out of my voice. Now that we were out of the situation, I was mad. “I had plans, you know. Plans that I’m now missing thanks to this little clusterfuck you’ve pulled me into.”
“I’m Finn, by the way,” he offered, giving me a smirk that, I’m sure, made most girls swoon. But I wasn’t- fuck, who was I kidding, I was totally one of them. “And I didn’t see you trying to pull away. In fact, I believe there was avid participation from your end,” he pointed out, causing whatever warm and fuzzy feelings his smirk set in motion to die on the spot.
“Regardless,” I rolled my eyes and signaled for him to continue.
“And you are?” he prompted.
“Pissed off and about to kick you out of here unless you tell me why I needed to find you shelter.”
“Fine,” he sneered, but sparkle in his captivating eyes gave away how much our banter was affecting him. “So, I have this friend,” he paused to stand and clear his throat before he began pacing the length of my room in front of me. “He had this girlfriend, and well…”
“You slept with her?” I asked, not able to hold back the disgust in my voice.
“No! Fuck no! But, she made him think that we had to make him jealous. It back-fired on her, and he dumped her. But, then she showed up yesterday with her dad claiming that I got her pregnant,” he rambled, running his hands through his already disheveled hair. It was so black against his pale skin that it didn’t look real. I actually had to fight my own instincts to reach out and run my fingers through it. “…there was a fight and it turns out that her father is a very dangerous man who thinks his little skank of a daughter is a princess. So I have to wait another six weeks so she can get an amnio DNA test that will rule me out as the daddy,” he finished, stopping in front of me as my mind tried to fill in the blanks of his story I’d missed while I’d been day dreaming about fondling his hair.
“Hey! Why do you have to call her a skank? She’s probably just a scared girl who doesn’t want her dad to know that she tried to dupe her boyfriend,” I defended.
“Really? You’re defending her? So it’s okay to push parentage off on me because I didn’t drop to my knees and beg her to let me fuck her when she tried to stick her hands down my pants?” he asked a string of questions calling attention to the fact that he probably was the victim in this scenario.
“Okay, you’re right,” I sighed. “So she didn’t just lie to make your friend jealous? She really did want to hook up?”
“Hook up? That’s adorable,” he smiled a full grin for the first time and it was only slightly mind blowing. “I think her plan was for him to show up while I had her bent over the back of my couch because about five minutes after I pushed her off me, he showed up calling out for her as if he expected her to be there waiting for him.”
“What a bitch,” I breathed, moving to my bed and sitting down. “No one has the right to touch you without your permission,” I shook my head, trying to clear out the memories playing through it.
“Hey,” he whispered, calling my attention to where he was, now kneeling in front of me and searching my expression. “Are you okay? I didn’t mean to hurt you or scare you. I’m sorry I didn’t ask permission before I forced my lips on yours. I, I was just desperate to disappear and you were right there. I didn’t mean to take advantage of the situation,” he said, his eyes wide with some unknown emotion.
“I wasn’t talking about that, but thank you,” I offered him a small smile, touching his shoulder briefly but pulling back when awareness zinged through me. His eyes still held mine captive as we seemed suspended in the moment. My pulse raced and my breaths came heavier as something seemed to shift in the air.
“Britton,” I croaked.
“What?” he asked, a little dazed as he sat back from me, shaking his head.
“My name. It’s Britton.”
“Oh,” he smiled again. “It’s nice to meet you, Britton.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Finn,” I agreed, smiling back at him.
“So, can you hide me for a few weeks?” he asked, shooting me a hopeful look.
“Six weeks isn’t a few weeks, it’s several,” I pointed out.
“Semantics,” he waved off.
“Won’t people miss you?” I asked, crossing my legs and arms at the same time.
“I’ll keep in touch, but, honestly, no,” he said, making me a little sad that he could disappear for six weeks without anyone in his life really missing him. If I went missing for six hours, my sister would be tearing apart the entire Phoenix Metro area to find me. I know that because it happened, unfortunately.
I didn’t have much, but at least I had people who cared about me. If I was to believe the person I just met was trustworthy, he had no one.
“Yeah, you can stay,” I agreed. “What are you going to do for clothes?” I asked the obvious question.
“It’ll be taken care of,” he assured me, flopping on the empty bed again.
“Okay,” I said, more to myself than to him, lying back on my own bed and staring at the ceiling.