Authors: Carter Ashby
Addy And The Smart Guy
Copyright © 2015 Carter Ashby
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Digital Edition. Personal use rights only. No part of this publication may be sold, copied, distributed, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means mechanical or digital, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Cover Design by Quirky Bird
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Other Works by Carter Ashby:
Big Girl Panties Trilogy
To my husband and children.
2 years ago
For the first time since meeting Dr. Greyson McDaniel, Addy found her body responding to a different man. She'd begun to despair that she'd die alone because she couldn't stop loving a man she couldn't have. She'd feared that her taste in men was so specific she could only be satisfied by tall, intellectual men with piercing blue eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses, and long, dishwater blond hair falling into their faces all the time.
But then Joel swooped in, dressed in workout clothes, a soccer ball under one arm, fresh off a friendly game on one of the nearby fields. He'd been walking toward the dorms, and Addy had been walking away from them. Addy, dressed in her usual pencil skirt, blouse, and tight ponytail, wouldn't even have looked at him if he hadn't stopped dead in front of her and said, "Wow."
Addy had looked up then.
Joel had smiled the most charming, toothy smile she'd ever seen. "You look like Marian the Librarian. Except, you know, not blond."
At which point Addy returned his smile in full force. Anyone who could reference old movies had an immediate shot at her heart. "And you look like trouble with a capital T," she'd replied.
That night, the two of them had ended up in a bar, drinking and singing show-tunes badly. It was the most fun she'd had in years.
Now, as she sat in her last class for the day, she couldn't help thinking about the next date.
She already knew Joel's intellect was somewhat wanting. Sometimes she had to repeat things using smaller words. But he was a film major and a soccer player, was very sweet, and had an incredibly gorgeous body. As Professor McDaniel finished his lecture, Addy found her thoughts wandering to Joel, wondering if he'd be shirtless when they went out with his friends on a boat ride tonight.
At the sound of the bell, Addy packed up her bag and stood, then stopped. Joel was walking in the door, searching for her. As soon as he saw her, he beamed, brought her a red rose—cheesy but sweet—and kissed her on the cheek. Addy avoided looking at Dr. McDaniel. She didn't know why, but it didn't seem right doing this in front of him. She took Joel's hand and led him to the door.
Addy stopped and turned. Dr. McDaniel came toward her, giving Joel a polite nod, clearly dismissing him as he turned his eyes down to Addy. "I'd like to have lunch tomorrow," he said. "We need to talk about your paper."
"Yes, definitely," Addy said. They always needed to talk about her papers. In fact, she sometimes made lunch dates with him to talk about other people's papers, or papers she'd written for other classes, or ideas for papers that were yet to be assigned. In all, she had lunch with Dr. McDaniel once a week.
Dr. McDaniel took a step back. He was so tall, Addy had to crane her neck to look up at him, which was saying a lot, because she was tall, too. "I hope you'll study hard tonight and tomorrow," he said, his eyes darting quickly toward Joel. "The test on Friday won't be easy."
"I will, for sure. Thank you, Dr. McDaniel." She hated how breathless she sounded.
He gave her a nod and turned to go back to his desk. Addy hurried Joel out of the room. The rest of the afternoon would have been so much more fun if she didn't have Dr. McDaniel's words haunting her. Study hard tonight…she told herself that he was just concerned over the grades of one of his favorite students. But somewhere deep inside, she knew that the words really meant: 'Don't sleep with him.'
She didn't. She did make out with Joel in his dorm room for a while, but as soon as his hand reached her breast, Addy jumped back, thanked him for the date, and fled.
The next day, she joined Dr. McDaniel for lunch at their usual table. He had his grilled chicken salad, and she had her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and potato chips…as usual. Addy didn't dwell on the oddity that she had a regular lunch routine with this man who was so far beyond her reach.
"I made some notes in the margins of your paper," he said. "I emailed it to you."
"Thank you. I'll look them over and make changes."
"You know, it was so well done, I gave you an A. No changes necessary. Just some things for you to think about. Maybe we can get together and discuss them. I really think you'd benefit from some kind of field work. Have you given consideration to the Peace Corps?"
"I have," Addy said. "I'm just not sure I'm ready to go, yet. I mean, so far from home and all. So far from the people I care about. What do you think, Dr. McDaniel?" she asked, and then waited for his eyes to meet hers. When at last they did, she saw that he understood exactly what she was asking. Not his permission, so much as his blessing. Somehow, he'd managed to tie himself to her, and Addy wasn't sure she was strong enough to cut that tie herself.
Apparently he wasn't either. After a long moment of deliberation, he said, "You could do grad school first."
"I could," she replied.
"My teaching assistant graduates this year. You could apply for the job to help offset costs."
Since she was paying for school herself, without her parent's money, this actually sounded quite helpful. With the added benefit of being closer to Dr. McDaniel, though she knew in her heart that that was the wrong motivation. "I could do that," she said. "Wouldn't it be best to get some real life experience, first?" She held her breath, wanting him to ask her to stay, but also wanting him to let her go.
He hesitated before looking down at his food. "There's no right or wrong way. You can volunteer any time. If you don't feel ready to leave, yet, grad school is a good option for you."
Now it was on her, and she realized that she wouldn't leave. That as strong as she always believed herself to be, she wasn't strong enough to break free of whatever force was holding her near this man. "I have a date tonight," she blurted out. Why had she said it?
He looked up in surprise. "That soccer player?" he asked, barely masking his disgust.
Addy felt suddenly pleased. "Yes. Joel Wilson. He seems really nice."
Dr. McDaniel's eyes darkened. "I'm surprised you have time to date. I hope it doesn't affect your grades."
She bristled at this, unable to identify what about his words offended her. "It won't," she said defensively.
When he didn't appear to have anything more to say, Addy gathered up the remains of her lunch, stuffed them in the paper bag she'd brought them in, and stood to go.
A hand on her wrist arrested her. She turned to face Dr. McDaniel, who was now towering over her. For the first time, there was vulnerability in his eyes…inappropriate vulnerability. "Not him, Addison," he said. "Anyone but him."
Addy gaped at him, her mouth open, her face warming. He'd never used her first name, before. The sound of it shocked her to her core. But there was anger, too. She jerked her wrist out of his grip. "I don't think you're in any position to be talking to me like this, Dr. McDaniel," she said, spitting out his name like a bad seed. She turned on her heel and left.
That day, she broke off her date with Joel, telling him she didn't want to see him anymore. She threw away the information she'd been saving on the Peace Corps. Then she started the application process for grad school.
One of the major downsides of maintaining serious friendships—moving day. Addy thought perhaps that since she wasn't a man and didn't own a truck, she might skate by. But Zoey called her that cool, March day and demanded Addy be there on Friday to help her move.
Zoey and her boyfriend Kellen had been arguing for three months over which one of them would move in with the other. Addy wasn't sure how Kellen had managed to win against possibly the most stubborn woman on the planet. It might have had something to do with Maya, Addy's other best friend. Maya and her two children had moved in with Zoey several months ago, escaping an abusive marriage. Now that Maya was back on her feet and able to pay rent, Zoey likely didn't feel as obligated to stay around and take care of everyone.
Addy arrived in her hometown around four o'clock that Friday afternoon. Five minutes after crossing the city limits, she pulled onto Zoey's street. Kellen and his best friend Jayce both owned pickup trucks, which were parked side-by-side in the driveway. So Addy parked on the side of the road.
She'd changed into jeans, t-shirt, and tennis shoes for this little chore. The clothing was more comfortable, but she always felt a little wild, a little free, when she was dressed in anything other than black. Black skirts, black slacks, white blouses, tight ponytails—just the way her mother had always dressed her. Jeans just felt so…human. So earthy. So bourgeois. She liked it.
As Addy climbed out of her car, a tall, powerfully built young man strolled out, running a hand through his black hair, his expression blank behind dark sunglasses, tattoos covering one arm and peeking out of the sleeve of the other. He stopped when he saw her. His lips turned up in a smile. "Hey," he said, by way of greeting.
"Hello, Jayce. I was hoping those trucks would already be loaded down."
He shook his head and met her in the middle of the yard. Lowering his voice, he glanced over his shoulder as if the devil was at his heels. "Zoey won't let us just load everything. She's drawing a map to make sure everything is packed properly by room and weight and a whole bunch of other factors."
Addy winced. "You know, she keeps her anal-retentive tendencies at bay most of the time. You only notice it if you look around her house and realize everything is at right angles and meticulously cleaned."
"Well she's full-on bat-shit crazy at the moment. I'm thinking maybe you and Maya could take her to the bar for a drink, so Kellen and I can make this happen while you're gone."