Sweet Rome (Sweet Home) (3 page)

BOOK: Sweet Rome (Sweet Home)
3.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I sometimes asked myself why I was sticking around. I had my own money, a full scholarship, but the truth was I felt trapped. They completely controlled me and I hated that harsh piece of reality. I had no real family except my folks, and pathetically, I couldn’t bear the thought of being on my own. Plus, I did have some good memories of my daddy before the money changed him. I still remember the first time he took me to his office downtown, showing me off to his colleagues and proudly stating how I would one day be the CEO of Prince Oil, his protégé. I remember feeling important… loved even, but when the years passed and football became my passion, that pride my daddy had felt toward me seemed to fade, and it continued to spiral downward until there was nothing but contempt.

My parents were powerful and ruthless, and truthfully, I was terrified of what they would do if I shamed them publically by cutting myself off. Reputation was everything to the people they mixed with, and they wouldn’t tolerate any humiliation on my part. I only had ten months to get through before I could leave the state, leave
, only ten more months to keep up the charade.

Forcing myself back to the present, I smashed open the second set of doors, hearing the wood splinter against the wall, and stormed down the empty halls, pressure building in my chest with each step at the thought of getting hitched to Shelly.

Shittin’ Shelly Blair.

, I fucked her twice in high school and, stupidly, once freshman year, and she acts like we’re soul mates, in love. I’m not even sure I have the capability to love anyone. Had that shit beaten out of me a long time ago. It’s amazing how little emotion you can feel when you’ve been ripped apart on a daily basis, told you weren’t loved repeatedly, until your heart ceases to feel anything. Well, anything apart from anger—constant physical and verbal abuse just seems to help that shit grow.

My phone vibrated again, but I didn’t look; I knew it would be my daddy, demanding I attend tonight. Momma would have called in the big guns.

I’d answer and he’d tell me my refusal was “
Unacceptable, boy
!” Then he’d threaten me, blackmail me, tell me how much he and Momma hated me, regretted me, how he could make my life hell if I pushed him too far.

Same ol’ same ol’.

I turned the corner, fists clenched at the thought of having to sit next to Shelly for the next half hour, trapped in a room, no way out of her long-clawed grip, listening to some stuck-up old Brit drone on about damn religious philosophy, of all things. I was too fucking mad. I just couldn’t sit next to Shelly pawing at my arms, rubbing against my leg, hoping to make me hard enough to give in and fuck her after class.

Never. Happening. Again. My cock went limp just looking at her. She thinks she looks hot—all that big hair, expensive plastic tits, and fake red lips. But all I see is a fucking praying mantis, ready to rip me apart.

I set off, head down, toward the classroom, and then I heard it. Shelly’s laugh. The laugh that sounded like a thousand cats being strangled… slowly, painfully, one by one.

I wasn’t proud of what I did next.

Bullet Prince, star quarterback for the Crimson Tide, dived to the right and hid behind a staircase.

I flattened my back against the cold white wall, praying no one would see me hiding like a pussy, when a flash of movement to my right caught my eye. Some chick holding a mass of papers came flying around the corner, muttering to herself, checking her watch, brown curls piled on her head, thick black glasses, and the brightest fucking shoes I’d ever seen.

Neon orange.

I couldn’t help but crack a smile at her whole package, and I almost felt along my lips just to check it was actually there.

When was the last time I fucking smiled? That is, when was the last time I was smiling because of something other than looking at some asshole I’d knocked clean out on the floor?

Shaking my head in disbelief, I risked a peek around the corner and saw Shelly lock her eyes onto the chick and turn to say something to her friends, a spiteful smile on her lips. I tensed, suddenly feeling protective of the flustered brunette; the poor girl was completely unaware of what was about to go down.

I couldn’t help but stare at her. She looked so fucking tragic as she blew her crazy hair from her thick glasses, scurrying down the long hall, her plastic shoes squeaking against the tiled floor with each hurried step.

I was too preoccupied, hooked on the scene, and realized too late that Shelly was up to something. I could only watch as Shel shouldered into the girl as she passed, causing all her papers to fall to the floor.

Fury possessed me.

She’d always been a bitch, but seeing her do that to that innocent girl just made me pissed beyond measure. Hell, it wouldn’t have taken much, the mood I was in.

Shelly said something to the girl on the floor—I couldn’t hear what—but the brunette never looked up, kept her head down, ignoring what I imagined to be a shitty slight.

Why I ever dipped my stick in that was beyond me. I blamed it on too many head knocks in football. That and being too horny to function. I didn’t understand why Shelly had to treat people so bad. She had everything in the world and still, on occasion, showed moments of being a good person deep down. But those moments weren’t nearly enough to salvage any friendship we’d ever had. I just couldn’t work the girl out.

Stepping out of my hiding spot, I headed to tell Shelly to get the fuck on, but I was too late. She’d already sauntered into class, looking like the cat that got the cream.

As I approached the brunette, she leaned forward to reach for the papers that had landed way out in front, and I almost groaned out loud, my cock springing to life.

Fuck me.

That ass.

That perfect, curvy ass.

I quickly tucked my boner into my waistband and tried to think of something to cool down.
Jimmy-Don in a two-piece. Jimmy-Don in a thong. Actually…
I smiled derisively.
Shelly sucking on my dick…
Yeah, deflated like a defective balloon.

Running my hands through my hair, I stopped behind the new chick, avoiding staring at her ass in those short dungarees and those long, tanned legs that were just tempting me to reach out and wrap them around my waist.

Shit. My cock hardened again.

I opened my mouth to ask if she needed help just as she spat, “Fucking arseholes!” to herself and got to her feet. Her glasses crashed to the floor in the process, the shitty frames landing right next to my feet.

Time stopped.

What the hell was that accent? English, maybe? Whatever it was, it was the hottest thing I’d ever heard in my entire sorry life.

Before I could stop it, a loud laugh jumped out of my throat at the sweet, proper voice cussing. She paused, frozen, as she heard me behind her.

Her head bowed, her shoulders bunched, and the sigh she let out said it all—pure defeat. Hell, I knew how she felt.

I reached down and scooped up her glasses, then, holding her arm, spun her to face me.

Jesus. H. Christ.

Large brown eyes, full, juicy pink lips, smooth, clear skin, and a soft blush to her cheeks. She was so close I could smell her skin—sweet, like vanilla.

Damn, I needed to say something
, anything
, not just stand here like some creepy fucking weirdo.

“Can you see now?” I muttered, my voice sounding rough even to me.

Her eyes squinted and she looked up. Her lips parted, her eyes studying every part of my face from behind the huge frames. Brown eyes, long blond hair, tanned skin—I had the perfect outer shell, but one fucking bitter center.

I tensed, waiting for it to come, the moment she saw it was me—Rome “Bullet” Prince. The attention would piss me off and then I’d come off like an asshole.

Golden brown eyes drank me in—the usual—and then…

Snatching the papers from my hands, the chick tried to take off. No stuttered recognition, no flirting, just… rushing to get the hell away from me.

What the—

I wondered for a moment if she didn’t know who I was. But… nah, we were in Bama. She was at UA. Every fucker knew my face, whether I liked it or not.

Without realizing it, I took hold of her wrist. “Y’okay?”

She didn’t look up but politely muttered, “I’m fine.”


Still no eye contact.

Still no recognition.

“You sure?” I asked again—absolutely no idea why.

I saw it in her shoulders: she was done with the day. Her long, black lashes fluttered on her cheeks before her caramel eyes fixed on mine. The wind knocked right out of my chest, and I couldn’t seem to move.

“You ever have one of those days where everything turns into a bloody nightmare?” she asked tiredly.

English. Not English like the queen, though. Her accent had a lilt to it that I couldn’t place. Christ, but it was hot.

“Having one myself, actually.”

Her tight eyes softened and she sighed. “Then that makes two of us.” Full lips crooked into a smile.

My heart did something it never had before.

It felt.

It felt something… indescribable. Each subsequent beat seemed louder and heavier than ever before and I started freaking the hell out.

“Thank you for stopping to help me. It was very nice of you,” she said politely, the sentiment snapping me right back to reality.

Don’t think so.

Her eyes measured me, waiting patiently for a response.

“Nice. Not normally what people say when they’re talking about me,” I said, finally seeing sense. What the fuck was going on?

I watched as her lips parted slightly, sucking in a sharp, shocked breath. I had to get the hell out of here, away from her, and stop acting like some damn dumbstruck pussy. Hell, I was acting like Reece.

I walked off without looking back, realizing that was the longest damn conversation I’d had with anyone in a long time, and it didn’t involve anything about being the shitting oil prince of Bama or the next big football star. There was something different about her, something… intriguing. Like she didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of her, wasn’t caught up in the football hype. Her outfit and her reaction to me were proof of that. It was… refreshing, if not a little strange.

Almost as if I watched from a detached body, my boots abruptly ground to a halt and I looked over my shoulder. Brit girl was still standing on the same spot, still looking in my direction. “I’m Rome,” I offered, almost involuntarily, the words spilling out of my mouth as her eyes met mine.

Her long lashes fluttered down, touching the lenses of her glasses, and when they lifted, a shy smile transformed her face. “Molly.”

I nodded and licked my lips, roved my gaze down her body, then made my way to class.


“Rome Prince, I take it?” the stuffy new philosophy professor said with a raised gray eyebrow as I sauntered into the classroom, nodding a silent greeting and making my way to my seat on the back row. She’d no doubt been briefed; teachers knew the score when football was in season. Of course, those from outside the States never quite got their heads around the fact that we, the players, got special permission to miss classes when on away games, or could rock up late after practice with no repercussions.

Climbing the steps slowly, I avoided Shelly’s laser-beam attention until it was no longer an option. I slipped into my usual seat beside her, her snake arm sliding over my thigh as soon as my ass hit the wooden seat. Ally, my cousin, who I normally sat next to in class, couldn’t make it today, leaving me all alone with Shelly.


“Hey, Rome,” she said, all breathy, trying her best to be seductive. Shelly, to most of the male student body, was hot, but I knew the girl underneath, the one with all the personality of a gnat.

“Shel,” I answered flatly, not reacting to any of her strokes and caresses. My jaw ached from clenching it in annoyance.

A huge bang sounded, drawing my attention, and the door to the classroom suddenly burst open. Molly fell through, still doing a shit job of balancing all her papers. The whole class zeroed in on her awkwardness.

Straightening up and blowing her crazy hair from her eyes, she pushed her thick glasses back on her nose, flushed bright red, and began sidestepping toward the professor, her back almost pressed flat against the wall as she grimaced in embarrassment. She looked so goddamn cute all flustered, shuffling across the length of the whiteboard.

I snickered involuntarily, feeling my heart speed up again as she put down her papers and stood beside the professor, fidgeting on the spot.

this girl?” Shelly snarled under her breath, nudging her best friend Tanya beside her. I stiffened, feeling my blood rush through my ears. Shelly turned to me. “And did you just laugh?” Her mouth gaped open. I shrugged without answering.

“Didn’t think anyone dressed like that once outta kindergarten,” Tanya bitched.

Shelly leaned in closer to me, the smell of her strong perfume almost making me gag. She had me in her trap, but there was no point in throwing her off. She had my folks on her side, and if I wanted to get through this year without too much of their shit, I needed to stay
under their radar and not do anything to rock the boat… then crush the selfish fuckers when I got my draft ticket out of here and squashed all their fascist, money-grabbing plans.

The professor asked Molly to introduce herself. I watched, fascinated, as the clumsy, geeky girl transformed as she spoke: back straighter, chin higher, eyes brighter and brimming with confidence.

I sat back and listened intently to every word she said.

She was smart,
fucking smart, and this class’ new teaching assistant. Young, English, and already on her master’s, with a goal of becoming a professor in philosophy. And to top it all off, she was in Bama to help the professor write an academic paper. Shit. She put all the undecided fuckers I knew to shame.

BOOK: Sweet Rome (Sweet Home)
3.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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