Zach (A College Bad Boy Romance)

By: Jane S. White

“Listen, babe,” he had said. “This isn't something serious, you know. It's just a little fun. Now come here...”

The girl had been crying all day after that, trying to text him and beg for a second chance. The next time Michelle had seen him she was livid and cursed him out, telling him that if he was brain dead his looks wouldn't make a damn bit of difference in the future, and he should be more careful with the way he treated girls.

On another occasion, Zach had been standing outside his dorm room with a group of football players, and one of them started making fun of Michelle. Zach laughed along and did nothing to defend her, so the next day, she had slipped rotten bologna under his door while he was out. By the time he came back, the whole place reeked and Michelle had the last laugh.

Their petty rivalry went on and on. Zach shook his head as he thought about it, soaping up his lean, athletic body and patting himself dry. He dressed quickly so he wouldn't be late for a meeting with his coach.

“Morrison,” coach said gruffly. “You're in some shit if you don't deal with this.”

“Deal with what?” Zach asked, taking a slip of paper from his coach's hand.

“This class – seems you won't be able to play football if you don't pass. Your last shot is to ace a term paper. If you can't do that, then you're going to be out. You can kiss football good bye.”

“But coach, how am I supposed to pass this? I don't know anything about this stuff!”

“Maybe you should have been paying attention instead of goofing off!” his coach said, smacking him upside the head with a rolled up playbook. “All I know is you had better find yourself a tutor or you're going to be watching the championships from the bleachers.”

Coach gave Zach a long, hard look before he nodded. He would have to find a tutor.

Chapter 4

Zach made his way miserably to the food court at the University. There was no way he would be able to live with himself if he wasn't able to play in the championship game. This whole team would hate him, and he would be blamed for letting the school down.

Across the room, he saw Michelle standing next to the student body president, Levi Fredericks. Levi was a grade-A asshole, at least in Zach's book. But for some reason Michelle was looking at him as if he were some kind of Greek God that came down to earth.

Zach chuckled to himself about how unlikely it seemed that Michelle would ever have a crush on anybody. Especially with the way she seemed to judge him and all the women who came out of his dorm room. Would finding a boyfriend tame the beast? He laughed again at the thought, before an idea occurred to him. Michelle was really smart, so maybe she would be able to help him pass his term paper.

Levi left Michelle alone to wait in line for pizza. Zach took the opportunity to saunter over to her, grinning with an arrogant look on his face. She sighed deeply and rolled her eyes, looking away from him.

“You like him don't you?" Zach said with a delighted grin.

Michelle just gazed off into the distance, her expression darkening. He could tell that she couldn't stand him any more than he liked her, and knowing that his teasing was getting on her nerves made him want to do it more.

“This makes me want to film a documentary on nerd love,” Zach said. “You two would be so dweeby for each other, it would be perfect.”

“Go to hell, Zach," Michelle mumbled.

“Speaking of nerds, something funny happened today. The coach told me that if I don't pass this term paper, I won't be able to play in football anymore. I have to find a tutor.”

“What does that have to do with me?" Michelle asked, still not looking at Zach. She crossed her arms over her breasts and frowned.

“Well, you're the biggest nerd I know, studying at all hours of the night. I thought maybe you could help me out."

“Yeah right," she said. “Why don't you ask, 'oh, Allllliiiiiiieeee' to help you out?"

Zach laughed despite himself.

“All right, suit yourself,” he said casually with a shrug. “It's not like my options are limited."

Except that they were. Zach didn't know any other person with brainpower that rivaled Michelle's, so he sat in the cafeteria, watching her with Levi thoughtfully. When Levi left without a second glance back at Michelle, but Michelle kept her puppy dog eyes fixed on his back, a sudden and powerful idea struck him. He thought back to how unexpectedly good she had looked in her towel. Zach had been surprised by how shapely and attractive she was – that is, once you got her out of those glasses, peeled off all her clothes, and got her a little flustered. If he could just convince her to soften up her look a little bit, she probably wouldn't have any trouble finding a boyfriend. That would make her a lot happier, maybe even happy enough to leave him and his conquests alone. It also gave him the leverage he needed to convince her to help him to study.

“Hey there, nerd love," he said, approaching her table and sitting down as if they were friends.

“Oh my God, Zach, what do you want now?”

“Listen, let's make a deal. I'm pretty much a professional at how to date. Why don't you let me give you some pointers? We'll fix you up and get you out on a date with that dorky Levi guy.”

“Levi would never want to date me," Michelle said, crestfallen. It had an unexpected bearing on Zach, and he felt a tug of guilt. Levi would be stupid not to want to date her. Who else would match his dweebiness? It was obvious that Michelle had low self esteem, and she had probably been thinking about how inadequate her appearance was when it came to attracting the men that she liked. It was the perfect chance for Zach to act. It was now or never.

“I know exactly what men want," Zach said. “I mean, last time I checked I was one.”

This got a little smile on Michelle's face.

“Look, I saw you in the hallway in your towel. You're not unattractive, necessarily. You're a little nerdy, but we can work on that. Just let me help you. All you have to do is to help me write my term paper and you will get the guy of your dreams. I promise. I will talk to him myself if I have to.”

Michelle sighed deeply and was quiet for a moment before finally nodding reluctantly.

“All right, you have a deal. Let's meet tomorrow at six."

Zach's handsome face lit up with a broad smile and she rolled her eyes again. What had she gotten herself into?

Chapter 5

The next day, Michelle spent a lot of time preparing her dorm room for the study session. She laid out the books and had her laptop turned on in case they needed to use the Internet to for research. Zach arrived half an hour late, a bag of Cheetos in tow. He grabbed a chair and sat backwards on it, with his legs spread widely and his arms folded over the back of the chair, leaning his chin in the crook of his arm as he watched her like she was a foreign specimen.

She had to admit that it was strange having his larger-than-life presence in her tiny dorm room. He was something of a celebrity on campus, and, not one to act star struck, she liked to keep their interactions to a minimum. But now, here he was, waiting for her to help him. It felt very surreal.

“So what is the topic of your term paper?" she finally asked him.

He shifted uncomfortably and leaned over to the backpack he had slung over onto the floor beside himself. He pulled out a beer and opened it with crisp hiss, chugging down a large gulp of it before popping the back of Cheetos open.

“Help me figure that out," Zach shrugged. “That's why I'm here.”

“How am I supposed to help you if you don't want to make any effort for yourself?” Michelle demanded. “That's not how tutoring works.”

“Don't you want to land Levi?” Zach asked, his deep blue eyes gleaming in the lamp light. She thought she could make out flecks of silver and gold in them the longer she met his gaze.

“That doesn't matter – I can't tutor you if you don't actually let me help you out. What are you going to do for the rest of your life if you just depend on everyone else to do your work for you?”

“Lots of people do that, it's why I'm studying business!” Zach said pointedly. “I'll have something to fall back on when football is over.”

“Right, smart idea in theory, but if you're not actually learning anything in your business class, how successful do you think you're going to be?”

“Football will get me plenty of money to coast on,” Zach pointed out.

“That's only if you get scouted for a professional team. What if you get an injury and can't play football anymore? What are you going to do, rely on Alissa's professional cheerleading, aka, waitressing, salary to pay for your Cheetos?”

Zach fumed but he didn't fight her any more about it. He pulled the book glumly to himself and started to read where Michelle told him to, leaving half an hour later, claiming a headache. Michelle watched him leave, shaking her head in frustration. Some people couldn't be taught, she decided. And Zach was surely one of them.


The next night, Zach returned to her dorm room and they had a study session much like the first. The first step was to get him to actually read the essays, when he had only read one of them. If he was able to finish them, then he could pick a stance and start his paper. But she quickly got tired of him expecting her to do his thinking for him, and told him not to come back until he had finished reading the essays. Until then she had her own work to do.

With that, she showed him out and left to go to the food court, where she ran into Levi. His head was bent over a notepad and he was scribbling furiously, glancing from time to time at one of the stalls as a scowling woman handed out hot dogs.

“Hey Levi,” she said, approaching cautiously. She didn't want to interrupt his work flow, but she was also burning with curiosity. If he replied tersely, she would leave him alone. If he used more than one word, she would pursue conversation.

“Hi Michelle,” he said, glancing up briefly to smile at her. She took it as a good sign and sat down across from him.

“What are you writing about?” she asked. She could only imagine the scathing words jumping to life on the paper.

“That woman dropped a hotdog on the floor and served it. I called her out and she treated me like I didn't have eyes in my own head. So I'm reporting on it.”

“Oh, I see,” Michelle said, hiding a smile. Levi was so passionate.

“How are you?” Levi asked. “Tiffany told me you're tutoring Zach Morrison.”

“Yes I am,” she said with a heavy sigh.

Levi scoffed and glanced up at her.

“Tough break. How'd he talk you into it?”

Michelle suddenly found herself blushing. Levi had his nose back down into his notebook though, so he didn't seem to notice.

“He's annoyingly persuasive,” she said vaguely, shaking her head to herself. That boy was way too used to the world bowing down to him and worshipping the ground that he walked on. If she was able to resist his charms, maybe it would have brought him down a peg, at least enough to make him seem a bit less obnoxious.

“I know what you mean,” Levi said, suddenly closing his notebook and pushing his chair back. He stretched, buckling his lean chest out and leaning his head back against his hands. “That guy has everyone on the team jumping through hoops for him. They basically worship the ground he walks on. It's so demented. And girls follow him like they're brain-dead!”

“I have a feeling talking to Zach long enough would make anybody brain-dead,” Michelle said, feeling a twinge of guilt. He was actually trying really hard now that she had told him to read the essays. He had even caught her completely off guard with a surprisingly in-depth analysis of one of the author's main points. He was a lot smarter than he let on.

However, her unkind comment elicited a laugh from Levi.

“You can count on that,” he said. “Are you busy? Want to sit down?”

“No, I'm not busy,” Michelle lied. In truth, she had been on the way to the library to get a book she needed for her own term paper. But she was on top of things enough to take a small break, at least for Levi. She sat down across from him, lost in his dark eyes and charming smile.

“You know, I knew Zach for years,” Levi said. “We go way back.”

This was news to Michelle. She looked at Levi in surprise.

“Wow, really? I didn't know that. How did you two meet?”

Levi was quiet for a moment before answering.

“I played football. Not quarterback or anything, but I was on the team for a little while in high school.”

“That's crazy, I had no idea! You two went to the same high school? You're like night and day, how strange.”

Levi nodded.

“Anyway I just know how he is. He's a total jerk. He always plays women and expects people to fall all over him and praise him just for walking into the room.”

Levi sounded especially bitter, and Michelle was surprised. Levi usually seemed so calm. Maybe something bad had happened between the two of them.

“Yeah, he's not very considerate of other people,” Michelle agreed. She glanced at the clock and frowned. The library would be closing soon. Suddenly, her phone vibrated in her pocket and she nearly gasped out loud in surprise. She was relieved that she didn't, she didn't want to embarrass herself in front of Levi. She took it out to see who it was and found a text from Zach.

“Sry. Finished reading. Come bk?”

She heaved a heavy sigh and slung her bag back over her shoulder.

“Oh, you're leaving already?” Levi asked, his face falling. Michelle was secretly heartened by his disappointment.

“Thanks for taking some time to hang out Levi,” she said, giving him her most dazzling smile. “But the meat head awaits.”

Levi snorted and shook his head.

“Good luck with that,” he said.

She left him at the table and he went back to scribbling furiously in his notebook.

Chapter 6

Michelle headed back to her dorm room, a nervous knot in her stomach. Things had ended kind of badly with Zach the last time she'd seen him but he was in a cheerful mood. Something had gotten him excited.

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