Authors: C.C. Brown
Tags: #romance, #love relationships, #love romance, #adult and young adult, #sex and relationships fiction
Cover Art provided by Laura Shinn
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are
fictitious. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the
imagination of the author or are used fictitiously.
This book is dedicated to my husband, whose undying
love and support pushed me to write and complete Red Flags. Without
him, it would still be a bunch of scribbles on a piece of
“Cara, hurry up! We’re going to be late for
class,” Chelsea yelled. She was my teammate, roommate, and best
friend. We had late night class that started at seven o'clock, and
as I glanced at the clock, it was already six fifty-five. By my
calculations, we would be, at the least, about five minutes late.
The walk from our on campus apartment, down to class was about 10
minutes long, so by dashing through the doors now, I could save
face and make a fashionably late entrance into the wonderful world
of Management 457.
As I grabbed my supplies and stared at my
disheveled appearance in the mirror, I was ambivalent towards my
look, my need to shower, and my overzealous desire to sit through
an hour and thirty minutes worth of managerial studies. I yelled
back to Chelsea, “don’t rush me; I need a shower—badly!” I heard
her footsteps and as I looked up from the mirror, she was hanging
on the door to my room, smirking at me, and goading me to forget
about how I looked and to get to class.
“What does it matter what you look like? We
had practice, now we have class, and then, you can come home,
shower, and turn that mop on the top of your head into something
Only Chelsea could say something so negative,
make me laugh, and do it with a smile. In all actuality, she was
right. My hair was a mess, but I was only going to class, so that
shouldn’t have mattered. On the contrary, she was a beacon of
beauty. She stood there with her luxuriously tanned skin, long
stork legs, impeccable hair; the color of the wet sand that sits
along our pristine San Diego beaches, and green eyes the shade of
an emerald rock shimmering in the sun. Chelsea Peters was the
prettiest girl I had seen in a long time, and I often envied her
and her impressive good looks.
I, on the other hand, didn’t view myself as
highly. At five foot six, I wasn’t as tall as Chelsea, and while my
light, caramel skin gave the look of a natural tan, my mop top, as
Chelsea referred to it, was always a source of contention for me.
It was overly curly, and at times, to a fault. The only compliment
I would ever truly give myself was the fact the shade of brown in
my hair was a perfect match to the hazel of my eyes. Other than
that, I was nothing special. No one would ever see me as the
beautiful model type like Chelsea; they would always see Cara
Pinkston, the best friend of most men’s wildest dreams.
We left our apartment and while Chelsea had
time to shower and get dressed, I was still in my Southern San
Diego University softball gear, and full of dirt. Chelsea had been
on my ass about finding a quality guy to date; since she had a nice
guy and felt obligated to feel guilty whenever I tagged along as
the third wheel. “Cara, seriously… that guy in your class tonight,
he always eyes you. He has that come-fuck-me look in his eyes, I’ve
seen it.” I gave her the I-don’t-think-so look and shook my
“Why do you think I would want to be with a
guy who gives me those looks? I think I’m worth a little more than
that.” I sarcastically responded to Chelsea for her oh so pleasant
“I’m just saying Cara, he’s hot, you need a
man… and he obviously wants you. Stop being such a prude and go
after him already.”
I nudged her in the back, shook my head at
her again, and we both laughed. Chelsea was a blunt girl, no
nonsense, and full of advice; sometimes, full of unwelcomed
I finally arrived at my class, and just as I
thought, Professor Velez was in front of the class, with those
nerdy, Urkel-type of suspenders on, with his pants too high, and
his shirt completely tucked in. He didn’t have a bad face, but his
attire distracted from the positives he possessed. He was
knowledgeable in the subject matter, but was unnecessarily dry and
often times, found himself quite humorous; when he was anything
but. I took my usual seat, towards the back, in the corner, away
from everyone so that my grotesque appearance was seen by only a
limited few. The classroom’s florescent lighting made my dirt stand
out, so I tried to stay hidden as much as possible.
After shifting in my seat from taking out my
pens and notebook, I looked up to find HIM walking through the
door. Mr. Fuck Me Eyes, otherwise known by his government name of
Jason Bradley, had once again taken my breath away. He was tall, at
least six foot one, tanned skin, big brown eyes, and luxuriously
shiny mocha Frappuccino colored hair that flopped wildly all over
his head. His style was of a typical San Diego guy, but his accent
said he wasn’t from here. I couldn’t quite put my finger on its
origin, but I thought it added to his appeal.
I found myself trying to shun Jason, and for
what reason, I would not be able to fully articulate. I know
Chelsea has been nudging me in the direction of Mr. Bradley, and
she would kill me if she knew that every class meeting he asked me
simple little questions-- that I often times blew off, but there
was something about him that threw up big warning flags, with the
police sirens, and speeding fire trucks to boot. He was amazingly
hot, that could not be disputed, but I usually listened to my
instincts and they were telling me that Jason Bradley was to be
Discreetly eyeing him, I noticed that he
wasn’t making his normal round to his seat which was usually about
three desks in front and to the left of me, but he was in fact
coming to my little smelly, dirty corner of the room. I must have
looked like a deer in headlights as he smiled that All- American
boy smile while motioning to the desk next to me.
“Just wonderin’ if this seat is taken?” He
said with such a husky voice, filled with a sweet touch of Southern
I looked at him, speechless and smiled… my
awkward, I-just-want-to curl-up-smile. I finally got the courage to
speak and replied with a feeble, “no.”
Jason sat down and took out his pen and one
sheet of paper. How could he possibly take Professor’s Velez’s
notes with one sheet? I had no clue, but I stared straight ahead at
the board and tried to focus on the fact that I had a class that I
should be learning in, and not worrying about this incredibly
delectable guy sitting next to me, while I reeked of dirt, and knee
I snapped back to reality and realized that
if this unnecessarily hot guy was going to forsake himself to be in
my presence, I should at least try to make it pleasant. I took my
travel size cucumber melon hand sanitizer and lotion out of my bag
and first cleaned my hands, then moisturized them. It was the least
I can do.
I noticed Jason eyeing me intently while I
gave myself a pseudo cleansing, and I felt the temperature in the
room rise. He started writing, and since Professor Velez was no
longer writing on the white board, I wondered what Mr. Bradley was
jotting down on his paper.
A few seconds later, he slid the paper over
to my desk and it read:
Why are you putting that stuff on? You really should
have someone else do it for you.
I immediately blushed, and contemplated not
writing him back, but those big brown eyes were eyeing and willing
me to respond, so I gave in.
Because my hands are dirty, and I am more than
capable of doing it myself.
I slid the paper back to him, with a curt
smile, and an inward chuckle. This guy came to class on a
He immediately wrote but stopped himself and
scribbled out whatever it was that he had originally written down.
He gave me a sly, sideways glance, and started writing again. This
time, he passed the note over with a silent arrogance attached to
You may be capable, but I am willing.
I turned as red as my caramel skin would go,
and felt a sudden rush of flutters in my stomach. I was not used to
guys coming on to me with the Chelsea Peters level of candor, and I
was shocked that I actually liked it.
I giggled as I contemplated my next retort,
and unwillingly drew the attention of Professor Velez.
“Is something funny Miss. Pinkston?”
I flamed red with all eyes on me, and with
quivering lips I answered with a simple, “no.”
Jason’s eyes were locked on me and he had a
sly grin on his face that told me that he knew he had hooked me,
which was exactly what I was hoping to avoid.
I responded to him and asked:
You may be willing but am I willing to let you?
He seemed impressed by my ability to play
coy, and in all actuality, I was too. He wrote down on the
Well, are you willing?
Here came Chelsea in a male form, and while
she was exactly three classrooms down, learning how to teach
literature to young children, she was never far from my thoughts. I
was flustered by this point because I had no answer. Of course I
was willing, but that was my libido talking. The sane, rational
part of my body -- my brain, was telling me to tell him NO. I wrote
down on the paper:
I just might be.
Just as I was about to slide the paper back
to him, he shook his head at me and mouthed, yes or no? I wanted to
run, because unlike Chelsea, I didn’t possess the innate quality to
read, and stand my ground when it came to men. I tended to get shy
and reclusive. Jason Bradley was making me answer his question, and
my answer would determine where we went from there. I put my pen to
the paper and immediately wrote,
He didn’t even take the paper from me, just
flashed an amazingly bright, sparkling smile, and at that moment,
Professor Velez announced that we could take our 10 minute
I looked over at Jason and he finally
formally introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Jason, and your name is?”
I tried very hard to look him in the eye, but
at that moment, I was overcome with reticence, and while holding
out my hand, I responded with, “Hi, I’m Cara… Cara Pinkston.”
He shook my hand but for a strange, and
uncomfortable reason, he didn’t let go. He brought my hand up to
his nose, and gently ran it under his nostrils -- sending a flurry
of butterflies scattering throughout my belly.
When he finally let my hand go, he said, with
that oh so captivating Southern drawl, “so why has it taken this
long for you to talk to me Cara Pinkston?”
I immediately answered, “Because I was
waiting on you to speak to me.”
Feeling triumphant, and like I did have an
inkling of Chelsea in me after all, I flashed him my biggest,
Jason eyed me speculatively, and asked, “Do
you live on campus, or is there a far drive you have to make after
I wondered where his inquisitive questioning
was going so I answered his question with a question. “Why do you
want to know? I shouldn’t really let a stranger know that
He shrugged and replied with, “well, being
that we have introduced ourselves, I guess we aren’t really
strangers now are we?”
He got me. So I gave in and let him know that
I did in fact live on campus, in an apartment with two other
ladies, and proceeded on with an annoyingly long tirade about why I
came to class the way I did. He listened, intently, smiling every
so often, and when I finished he asked a simple, “Do you think I
care about the way you look in class?”
I was taken aback by his question and
immediately began to blush again. “Part of your allure is the fact
that you come to class, filthy as hell, and yet, I can’t turn away
from you.” A twinkle went off in those big brown eyes that were
slowly starting to melt me from the inside out.
My mind was now racing, and to myself I
thought, oh Mr. Bradley if you only knew the gross amount of time
spent in front of my mirror ripping myself to shreds over my
appearance. I lowered my head and smiled only to have Mr.
Confident/Cocky -- not sure which name to pin on him at this point,
grab my chin and lift my face.