Zach (A College Bad Boy Romance)

By: Jane S. White

“I figured out what to write my paper on!” Zach exclaimed. Michelle couldn't help but smile at his enthusiasm. She had been trying for this long to get him to take his school work seriously that it was extremely rewarding to feel like he had finally taken her advice seriously. And she could tell he really had finished reading the essays and put some thought into them.

She leaned back on her bed, listening as he spoke excitedly about his train of thought as he had read the essays, and how he was able to relate them to his own experiences, not only as a football player but as an all around person, who he was as a son and a brother. He went far with his idea, and when he finished speaking, he looked suddenly vulnerable and fragile, as if Michelle would laugh at him for speaking out about anything but football.

He looked at her curiously, his face tense, but there was something written on her face that was hard for him to read. She looked beautiful, actually, sitting there casually, leaning back with her full breasts pushing against her simple blouse, taking her glasses off, tucking them up on top of her head to grin up at him. She had a really, really nice smile, and he found himself staring unexpectedly at the beautiful glow her face took on as she digested what he was telling her.

“I think that's a really good idea, Zach,” she said, leaning forward and clasping her hands together. “I want you to go into your room, right now, or if it's too hard to focus in there, come in here with your laptop and write it all out. That's going to be your term paper. You know how to do the thesis and everything right?”

He nodded uncertainly and she smiled comfortingly. “Well anyway, just write and I'll help you organize it later, okay?”

Zach grinned and bounced out of her room and into his own, and closed the door.

Not long after that, she heard a knock on his door and Allie's voice ringing through the walls, telling him all about a party that night, or the two of them could stay in and... Michelle groaned, thinking that she would have to listen to grunts and moans for the rest of the night, but she was filled with pride and relief when she heard Zach's voice firmly telling Allie that he was busy and that he would see her around. Allie slammed his door behind her and stalked down the hallway, and Michelle high-fived the wall of Zach's room before getting a grip on herself. So what if he turned Allie down? They would be back at it next week once the term paper was handed in.

She sighed, unable to get her mind off Zach. When he was passionate, which he so often was, it was so hard to keep her eyes off of him. He exuded so much radiant energy that her whole little dorm room had seemed to light up with his excitement. She had never spent so much time with somebody so dynamic and magnetic before. Why was it so much harder to remember how annoying he was when he was being so...well...sweet?

Michelle leaned back in her bed, chalking it up to one of life's great mysteries. All she knew was that she was glad she could help him, and that deep down inside, even though her friends would probably think that she was crazy, she always cheered for him when he was out on the field and scored a goal.

Chapter 7

Michelle and Zach worked hard on perfecting his term paper, and waited anxiously for the results. Zach hadn't made any mention of upholding his end of the deal, after all, he thought pretty lowly of Levi and in some way or another, thought that Michelle was too good for him and could find a much better nerd to be with, but he knew that they would have to get around to his side of the bargain too.

One afternoon, Michelle was summoned to the door by loud, intense knocking. She opened the door, concerned, and slapped Zach on the shoulder when she realized it was just him, bouncing up and down like a happy child.

“God, I thought they were evacuating the building or something!”

Zach laughed. They had actually had to do this a couple of times already. Most of the time, the co-ed kids, particularly the sporty ones, would get a little bit too rambunctious and cause a lot of problems. There had been popcorn explosions, stink bombs, fires, and even a threat of poisonous gas just since they had moved in next door to each other. Zach himself had caused an evacuation when he called to complain about the mysterious smell in his room, only to discover it was Michelle's revenge bologna. He knew it had been her but he didn't narc on her to the school board, instead opting to take the brief reprimand about cleanliness.

He could hear Michelle laughing her heart out through the walls, and even though it was annoying, her laughter had been contagious and he had simply escorted the men out of his room once the situation was under control before he found himself bursting out laughing himself.

“No, something great happened though. Come on, grab your jacket. I'm taking you out!”

“Taking me out? Zach, where -”

“Come on!” he said excitedly, hopping from one foot to another eagerly. He was clenching some papers in his hand and she felt she had no choice. She grabbed her jacket and keys and followed him out of the building.

“Get in,” he said with a smile, motioning to his convertible. She had never been in a car that fancy before, especially not with a man so attractive, and felt like the whole campus was watching their every move with curiosity. Zach seemed oblivious so she got in before anybody could make a big deal of it to their faces, or his good mood wore off. For some reason she was excited to see what he had in mind.

“This is kind of weird,” Michelle said.

“No, just relax. I'm taking you out and you're just going to have to deal with it.”

She quirked a smile at him and he grinned back. The wind whipped back his golden hair and they drove outside of campus and to an area she had only visited once or twice since she moved into the dormitories. It was a fancy area of a suburban neighborhood, with a sunny strip mall. First he pulled into a restaurant and parked there, leading her inside. They enjoyed lunch together, and finally, after ordering his food and telling Michelle to get whatever she wanted, Zach told her the cause for celebration.

“My teacher loved the term paper,” he said, handing the crumpled paper over to her. She read the teacher's scrawled writing, urging Zach to submit the essay to the school paper. “I mean, I'd never submit it, that would be nerdy, but isn't that great? I feel so...I mean I can stay in football!”

Zach was beaming at her.

“It's not that nerdy, the teacher thinks you could inspire the student body to-”

“Screw that,” he said, interrupting her. The implication of having his essay published seemed to terrify him. What would his friends say? It was best to keep this a secret between the two of them. All everybody else would need to know was that he had passed his term paper and could play in the championships.

“All right Zach, whatever you say. But I read the essay too, I think it would really be inspirational if you shared it. You have a lot of great things to say, and maybe people would start to see more to you than just the football star.”

“Nobody needs to see more to me than that, it's all I want to be. And now I can play in the championship game! It's all thanks to you,” he said, surprising them both by taking her hand. “Thank you.”

“You could have done this on your own, Zach, if you wanted to. I just lit a fire under your ass so to speak,” she said, blushing. She pulled her hand out of his, feeling suddenly very shy and annoyed at herself for enjoying his attention so much.

She could tell that he was proud of his work, and being praised by a teacher was something new and rewarding to him, but he was too embarrassed to admit it to anyone. She knew the look though, she had it often enough herself. It always felt good to have your intelligence praised. Poor Zach wasn't used to it, though he could have been if he had cared as much about school as he did about football.

“Still, it's time for me to hold up my own end of the bargain.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, quirking her eyebrow at Zach.

“We're going to turn you into a hot chick,” he said, his eyes glimmering.

“What are you talking about?” Michelle asked, laughing. Zach grinned. With a smile like hers, it wouldn't be that hard.

“Come on, I'll show you.”


Zach dragged her to a designer clothing store in the mall.

“I want you to buy at least three outfits here,” he said. “This place is super popular right now, and I think it would be conservative enough to get you a date with that Levi guy.”

“Levi said you two went to high school together,” Michelle said as they walked through the aisles. “Oh my god Zach, I can't afford any of this!”

“No, no,” Zach laughed. “I can. I promise.”

“I don't want you to deplete from your beer fund,” Michelle said wryly.

Zach grinned.

“Don't worry, Nerd Love, you'll never touch my beer fund.”

She shook her head, biting back her smile before he could see it and think that he had charmed her, and they spent about an hour in the store together, laughing and picking out outfits for Michelle. She wanted to stick with sensible things, but Zach pushed her into trying on a dress and she secretly loved it, though she didn't let him see. It was too embarrassing and weird.

“Okay, next I want you to come with me into this department,” he said, leading her by the arm, “where this lady will help you figure out which colors of makeup suit you the best. I'm going to go get a slice of pizza and come pick you up here, all right? She'll show you a little bit of what to do and I can show you the rest back at the dorm.”

“How in the world do you know how to do makeup?” Michelle laughed.

“I was also in the drama club,” he said with a wink. The unspoken truth resonated between them as well – he'd had many, many women around long enough to pick up a trick or two. There was nothing to prevent him from gleaning some makeup knowledge over the years.

“Anyway, you have fun with Marcia over there and I'll be back soon and we can grab you some contacts, or glasses with a thinner frame for you.”

Zach gave her a little wave before disappearing around the corner, and her eyes lingered after him. Somehow she found herself missing his company as Marcia helped her to figure out that she was someone who worked well with a “fall” color scheme, and she learned a few tips and tricks from the kind older woman, who Zach seemed to know well. When he came back, he winked at Marcia and led Michelle out of the store, into another where they refitted her lenses into nicer frames and got a pair of contacts just in case.

“What do you know about flirting?” he asked when they were back in his convertible.

“Basically all I know is that I've never done it,” she said with a blush. Zach suddenly slammed on the breaks and zoomed into an exit. A car honked at him and he smiled and waved at them. It did nothing to appease the other drivers, but it made Michelle laugh.

“That was dangerous.”

“Yeah, but we didn't die or anything. No problem.”

They drove in pleasant silence for a few minutes and headed into a wooded area.

“What is this place?” she asked, looking around.

“It's a park, conservatory place. Protected from poaching and stuff like that. The forest is safe. There are trails and tables. We have to practice.”

He pulled into a parking space and climbed out of the car, rounding the car to open the door for Michelle. She pushed his hands off the door and he shook his finger sternly at her.

“Rule number one, let the guy do stuff for you sometimes. It's great to be all independent woman and everything, but if Levi were to open the door for you, you should let him. Makes the little weenie feel important. That's all he really wants anyway.”

Michelle raised her eyebrows. Apparently Levi and Zach had a bad history together.

“Anyway, let's walk a trail. We'll make it short.”

“All right,” Michelle said uncertainly.

They wandered into the forest, the blue sky and green trees vibrant and pleasurable. Zach put his arm in hers and she jumped, startled.

“Rule number 2, guys will do unpredictable things. If you like them, you have to take it in stride or you'll feel really embarrassed. We'll go over this again later.”

Michelle laughed and nodded. Zach was actually a pretty good teacher, but she couldn't get used to the feeling if his strong hands touching her body, the warmth and heat of him so close to her. She knew he was perfect under his clothes, she had all but seen him in his full glory as he leapt between the showers and his dorm room. Maybe she resented it so much because she knew there was no way he would ever really be interested in someone like her and it made her feel really angry. Whatever it was, her irritation toward him was diminishing right now, and when it was just the two of them together, no past memories or other women around, Zach was actually a really fun person to be around.

They rounded the trail, it was a short one just as Zach had said. Twilight was beginning to dance over their heads and the sun was setting in a vibrant array of bright colors – pink, blue, red, orange. Suddenly, Zach's deep blue eyes were piercing into hers, his strong hands on her frail shoulders. They gazed deeply into each other's eyes, and suddenly it seemed as if the earth was going to stop moving. She noticed a small mole on his cheek that she had never seen before, the perfect way his lips curved, their fullness and the sheen of his blonde hair, tousled from the convertible ride.

He had been just as startled as the sun brought out the colors lurking in her hazel eyes, greens, browns, even gold and blue. He couldn't peg their true color, and gazed deeply into them, his heart quickening and his mouth becoming dry as her gentle eyes looked into his. Her mouth looked so supple and delicious, if he could just taste her lips for only a second, nobody would have to know...

Suddenly he snapped out of it. Of course everybody would find out he had been crushing on the geek squad. He pulled away slowly and swallowed hard.

“Well anyway, you did better this time,” he said, clearing his throat.

Her face reddened deeply and both of them stared at the ground until they reached the end of the trail and climbed in his car to head back to campus.

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