Zach (A College Bad Boy Romance)

By: Jane S. White







Chapter 8


That night, Michelle couldn't get Zach out of her head. He was too fricking sexy. When did the universe decide that men had to be that gorgeous? If he wasn't such a meatball she might have even acknowledged that he was probably the most attractive man she had ever seen up close. Not that Levi wasn't attractive. But he wasn't exactly drop dead gorgeous. Not like Zach. No wonder he had women wrapped up around his little finger. If he fixed them with that look, one so effective even when he was just joking around with the nerd next door, what did he do when he actually wanted to bring a girl home? She shuddered to think.

She dressed quickly and headed to class, unable to shake her memories of the night before with Zach. He wasn't actually as bad as she had always thought. They had a love-hate relationship, that was for sure, but when he was loveable, her mind had no room for anything or anybody else. It was a little bit confusing. She walked slowly back to the dorm, taking her time, hoping to see Zach in the hallways and see if anything that they had done the night before resonated with him the same way it had with her.

“Look out Zach, it's that bologna nerd,” Allie's shrill voice said, piercing the hallway. “Stay put, she might need you to kick her door in again. Did we tell you about...”

Allie turned to chatter with the rest of the group and Michelle looked at Zach expectantly, hoping for a hello, or at least for him to tell his idiot friends to shut up.

“Was there bologna in her apartment?” one of their dipshit friends asked.

“Tons,” Zach said, to her surprise. “Stacked to the ceiling. I don't think nerds eat anything else. It's like their staple food.”

Even when he was insulting her, he sounded a million times smarter than the rest of his friends. She felt hot tears leaking down her cheeks despite herself.

“Oh, you made the nerd cry!” Allie said, smacking Zach and laughing.

“I think she's got a man made of bologna in there somewhere, maybe he'll cheer her up,” Zach said. The group exclaimed low but delighted “Ohhhhs,” as if he had gone too far and it was excellent.

She looked at him in disbelief, her heart shattering into a billion pieces, and let herself into her room and closed the door gently behind her, never wanting to see Zach's face again.

***



Zach stared as Michelle's distraught face disappeared into her dorm room. He was shocked at his behavior, but for some reason he was angry at Michelle. Angry at her for what reason though? He couldn't figure it out. It had been so easy just to make fun of her, to save face and take out his anger at her, and his frustration at himself for being so worried about what his friends would think of him if they found out that he might actually have a crush on a nerd. That would be totally unacceptable, and somehow all of that anxiety had caused him to hurt her.

He had never felt like more of an asshole in his life, but what did it matter, she liked Levi. That asshole had been nothing but a bully and a player all their lives, and once Zach was tired of taking it and started working out, it turned out he had good enough hand-eye coordination that he would be able to whomp Levi. Once they had grown up a little bit more, Levi had taken his power hungry personality and focused it on other things, in ways Zach couldn't keep up, on his studies, and in student activities where he could feel like the number one man in charge. Zach couldn't stand him, and he was mad that Michelle could be smart but not smart enough to see through the facade and to the monster beneath. Good riddance to her anyway. He had what he wanted. He could play in the championship game.

“By the way,” Allie said, sauntering up to him and wrapping her arm through his as if they were a couple. “There's a party tonight. It's going to be killer. Let's go together!”

“Sure, whatever,” Zach said, his mind a million miles away. A party would do him good. It would remind him that there were plenty of other girls out there. Girls that weren't nerds and wouldn't be stupid enough to have crushes on Levi Fredericks.





Chapter 9


Michelle picked up her phone glumly.

“Michelle!” It was her friend Alissa. “Levi wants us all to come to this party tonight. He has a story he wants to do and was hoping for all of our moral support. Please come! Pleeeaaaaase!”

Michelle sighed up at the ceiling, wiping the tears out of her eyes and clearing her throat before she answered.

“Sure. Where is it going to be?”

Alissa told her the directions and Michelle promised to meet them there. She had her first habitual thought, that she had nothing to wear, but then she remembered the shopping spree Zach had taken her on, and the clothes that they had bought together. Although it made her chest burn with resentment toward him, she did feel slightly pacified knowing she had taken a good chunk of his money for the gifts, and dressed herself slowly, remembering how Zach had given her careful makeup tips before hurrying out of her room for the night as if he felt too embarrassed to continue. It had been cute at the time, but now she thought he was the biggest jerk who had ever existed and wished all her memories of him would be burnt out of her head forever.

Her heart thudded when she emerged from her dorm room and everybody in the hall paused to stare at her. None of them seemed to recognize her, and more than one man turned his head to look her up and down. She had taken the risk of using one of the bottles of hair product that Zach had bought for her, saying “Trust me!” and left her hair down in long brown ringlets, nothing like the frizzy mess she was used to hiding up in a ponytail. The dress she wore was form-fitting and revealing, and although it made her nervous, all the looks of approval she received boosted her confidence, and she walked with her shoulders thrown back to the party. Screw Zach. She would go win Levi's heart.

***



When she arrived at the party, she could hear the loud bass of the music throbbing behind the door. She took a deep breath and let herself in, scanning the room for her group of friends. Unfortunately, the first person who stood out was Zach, who was standing in the kitchen with Allie draped over his arm, batting her eyes flirtatiously at him. He had grown rigid and pulled himself away from her for a second, his deep blue eyes fixed on Michelle. Allie tried getting his attention, and when it didn't work she looked across the room, scowling when she saw Michelle.

Michelle scoffed and strutted away from them, suddenly seeing Tiffany dancing with Alissa. Levi was sitting perched on a stool sipping from a red plastic cup. His eyes grew wide when he saw Michelle and he stood up quickly, fumbling to put away the pen he was clutching onto.

“Michelle,” he said, his voice trailing off as he looked her up and down.

“Hi Levi,” she said shyly, happy that he was paying attention to her, but annoyed that it had taken this transformation for him to do so.

Before he could speak, her friends had pulled her into their little group and the three of them danced. Michelle felt more free and happy than she had in years, and both Zach and Levi watched her, their eyes fixed and unmoving. When Levi put his notebook and pen down and joined in the circle, finding a chance to dance with Michelle alone, Zach clenched his cup and tossed it down, marching out of the room, fuming.

Michelle was surprised by the eagerness that Levi was handling her with. He was being a little too handsy, but it was what she had wanted for so long that she didn't stop him.

“You look so hot!” he exclaimed into her ear. Tiffany and Alissa were exchanging glances and giggling together. This was scandalous to them.

“Thanks,” she said uncertainly.

“I can't believe you've never dressed up like this before, you should do it more often.”

“Maybe,” she said, her eyes following Zach as he crossed the room to the door, Allie following behind him. They were probably going to go out to have obnoxious sex. At least she wouldn't be home to hear it.

“Let's get out of here,” she whispered to Levi. His eyes widened and she took him by the hand, leaving the party with the man she'd had her sights set on from the beginning.





Chapter 10


They spent the night talking outside on the huge lawn of campus, laying on a blanket together. They kissed a little bit, but Levi was a little too eager and she pushed him away, hoping to get to know him a little bit better.

“So what happened with that woman from the cafeteria?” she asked. She had always felt kind of sorry for her. She sometimes brought her small child in on busy days when she couldn't afford a babysitter.

“I got the bitch fired!” Levi exclaimed, cackling up into the night sky. “You should have seen her face when I told her I was reporting on what she had done. She kept claiming she threw the hotdog away, pointing to the one in the trash, but I know she used it.”

“You got her fired? Isn't that a bit harsh?” she asked, feeling a little bit sick. That was somebody's life he was messing with.

“Do you want to eat floor dogs?” Levi asked, his eyebrow raised.

“I guess not,” she said.

“Exactly. Why don't you come here now, I want to touch you.”

Michelle pursed her lips but scooted toward Levi, who held her around the waist, letting his hands roam up her torso, gripping on her large breasts eagerly. She didn't find it particularly pleasurable and squirmed away.

“I have some work to do,” she said with a sigh. “I should get back.”

“Oh come on! Don't be such a buzz kill, you never do anything fun.”

“Levi...” she said, fixing a look on him.

“Oh, all right. But let's go out again later.”

“Sure.”

“Great.”

Michelle went back to the dorm room with her head spinning. Levi was turning out to be a little less than she had hoped for, but she probably shouldn't complain about it. At least she had the man she wanted.

She passed Zach's doorway, expecting to hear his familiar sex sounds.

It was silent and she went in to lay down and fell asleep with her head spinning.





Chapter 11


Levi and Michelle dated for a couple of weeks before the big championship game finally came up.

“Babe! Let's go to the game!” Levi insisted.

“Why do you always want to go to the games so bad?” Michelle asked, feeling bitter about the idea of attending and seeing Zach on his soapbox.

“When me and Zach were kids, we were kind of rivals,” Levi said. “I go to make a note of everything he does wrong on the field so I can have ways to taunt him later.”

“You're kidding me,” Michelle said, her eyes narrowing.

“No way. He's always been such a mama's boy. He would whine and cry all the time. I tried to toughen him up a bit, get him to be a man, but he didn't really take it too well. Then when we got into football together he thought he was sooo great. But I can tell when he fucks up and make a note of it. Just in case he needs knocked down a peg someday.”

“That's kind of messed up,” Michelle said, cocking her eyebrow at Levi.

“You look sexy when you do that,” he said, pulling her onto his lap. She squirmed away and sighed.

“We've been dating for like three weeks and we still haven't had sex. You do know that right?” he said with a big sigh.

“I can fucking count, Levi,” she said.

“Okay, okay,” he said, holding his hands up innocently. “Just saying.”

“Whatever,” she said.

“So are we going to the game or what?”

“Yeah, whatever.”

***



Zach scanned the crowd for Michelle, his heart in his throat. He couldn't believe what he was about to do, but there seemed to be nothing else. His mind had been consumed with her since the last time they had been in the park together. No other woman had ever held his interest that long. He had been afraid of what his friends would say to him about her, but there had to be a point when he made his own decisions about these things, right? Finally, he spotted her in the bleachers, sitting beside Levi. Enough was enough.

The whistle blew, and suddenly the big game began. The world seemed to slow down as Zach and his teammates worked their hardest. They all had winning on their minds, but all Zach could think of was Michelle. He loved her. He weighed the thought to himself silently in his head. He loved her. Love. He had never even considered the thought of loving someone before, and now that he did, it was surprisingly simple. Somehow the gorgeous geek had wormed her way into his heart.

The crowd cheered as their team scored a goal, and he high fived a teammate, glancing up at Michelle, whose features he could barely make out in the distance. He thought about waving to her but knew he couldn't do that. She was with Levi now. It had been tearing him up for weeks, but what else was he supposed to do about it? The night after the party when Levi started dating Michelle, Allie had been trailing behind him and trying to get him to have sex with her again. He had blown her off and since then she had doubled her efforts, taking it a little too personally that she wasn't the one on his mind.

It was time for her to know why. He had to be honest with himself, and with his friends. But it was time to keep his head in the game. He heard a call and turned, catching the football in midair and running with everything he had toward the end line. He pretended that he would find Michelle there, and that everything would be perfect. The seconds were counting down, the end of the game depended on him. If he could do this right, he could be a happy man.





Chapter 12


Michelle watched as Zach sped down the field. She was unable to take her eyes off his writhing, masculine form, and cheered despite herself when the rest of the bleachers erupted with deafening screams and cheers. He had made it, scored the winning touchdown. And now, he was doing something strange. He was pushing through his teammates, dismissing the cheerleaders, pulling his arm away from Allie. Climbing, climbing, up the bleachers, his pensive blue eyes fixed only on her.

His strong hands were pulling her up, until she was standing, facing him. The field was totally silent, quiet enough that you could hear a pin drop.

“Michelle,” he said, his voice quavering. For the first time in her life, she saw him as he truly was. Scared to be himself. “I was so unfair to you. I've been lying to myself for too long. I love you. I've always loved you. I've been afraid to admit it, thinking people would make fun of me, or that we couldn't possibly belong together because we're so different. But you're the only woman I want to be with. I even submitted my essay to the paper for you. They're publishing it. I want to be the man you see in me. I know I can. Please forgive me. Please be with me.”

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