Sweet Rome (Sweet Home) (4 page)

BOOK: Sweet Rome (Sweet Home)
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“So, Rome, are you coming tonight—” Shelly tried to speak to me, not listening to the introduction taking place, but I shushed her. I needed to hear Molly. For some reason, I wanted to hear her speak again, wanted to know her deal.

That didn’t stop Shelly, though, and her hand skimmed over my stomach, her lips closing in on my ear. “
I said
are you coming tonight?! I—”

Whipping toward her, my face pulled into a hard expression, and I spat out quietly, “And
I
said shut the fuck up! I won’t tell you again.” Her beady blue eyes narrowed. She glared at Molly, then back to me, repeating the friggin’ routine a few more times, and I saw the moment she realized the newbie Brit had caught my attention.

Molly was still speaking. I shifted my focus back to her and ignored Shelly’s fury building beside me.

“I have loved religious philosophy for as long as I can remember, and I’m happy to be here to help Professor Ross in the lectures and seminars and to try and make the wonderful world of philosophy just that little bit more interesting!”

Shelly’s long nails began to dig into the arm of her chair as Molly spoke easily to the class. Her top lip curled and I just knew she was about to go into full-on bitch mode.

“I’ll be happy to answer any questions about—”

“I have one,” Shelly snapped, interrupting Molly’s speech. The whole class glanced toward her as she smiled an ugly, smug smile. I watched as Molly’s eyes searched the crowd and widened slightly when they landed on Shelly… and the placement of her hand near my crotch.

Jesus
.


Don’t
,” I warned for Shelly’s ears only, removing her hand, but she ignored me.

“Why the hell would you want to be a professor in philosophy? Don’t you think it’s a bit of a waste of your life?”

Molly was unfazed and simply replied, “Why not philosophy? Everything in life, on Earth, can be questioned—why, how, how can that be? To me, the mystery of life and the universe is inspiring, the vastness of unanswered questions floors me, and I love immersing myself in the academic journey of scholars both ancient and new.”

Tanya snorted. Shelly laughed mockingly. “How old are you, honey?”

“Erm… twenty,” Molly said, a red flush quickly covering her face.

“Twenty! And you’re already on your master’s?”

“Well, yes. I went to university a year young. I tested out of high school early.”

“Damn, girl, you need to stop being so damn serious and learn to live a little. Life’s not all about studying. It’s about having fun. Lighten the hell up!”

The blood in my veins cooled to ice. I was about to say something to shut Shelly the hell up, when she added, “I swear, I’ll never understand girls like you.”

I snapped my attention to Molly, who had moved from her lectern and placed her hands on her hips. A smile tugged at my mouth again as she stood there, fiercely getting ready to take on the megabitch of Bama.

“Girls like me?” she asked coldly.

She was one pissed-off Mary Poppins. I found myself liking her even more. She had spunk, was ready to fight for what she believed in.

“Bookworms, nerds… wannabe
professors!
” Shelly drawled. I was sure she still thought she was back in high school, only able to make herself feel better by picking on a new girl. Pathetic.

“Studying and knowledge, I believe, gives a person power, not money or status or what designer you wear,” Molly answered coolly, but I could see the fire in her golden eyes even through those fuck-off thick lenses.

“Really? You actually believe that?” Shelly asked, sounding less confident now.

“Of course I do. Opening your mind to unknown possibilities and learning how other cultures function, what they believe, gives people a richer, more holistic understanding of the human condition. Philosophy offers answers to an array of questions.

“For example, why do some people coast through life with ease, devoid of all compassion for others, whilst others—good, caring, and honest humans—are dealt blow after blow but somehow find the inner strength to carry on? Don’t you think if more people took the time to be conscientious to mankind’s troubles, then maybe the world would be a better place?”

I’d never heard anything like it. It was like she was profiling
me
. Everyone thinks if you’re from the richest family in Alabama and you can throw a ball to rival Peyton Manning, then you’re golden, no fucking worries in life. But then no one knows about
them,
about what I grew up with, about what I still go through every day, and no one knows because they wouldn’t understand. But for a brief second, I entertained the notion that maybe she would. She sounded like she spoke from a place of knowledge, from personal pain. I’d come to find that only others in similar situations could pick that out in someone else, like there was some kind of hidden signal that they were in a whole load of hurt too.


That
is why I study over getting drunk every night. The world deserves to have people who think of others before themselves, that strive to be less selfish and superficially concerned.” I took in her whole package from head to toe—perfect tight-but-curvy body, smooth, lightly tanned skin, face brightened by the argument—and I quickly decided she was kind of fucking hot under all that…
wrong
.

“I hope that offers you some insight to why I want to be a professor. It’s who I am and I’m very proud of that fact.”

I quickly looked at Shelly, who was rooted to her seat. Sure, she may have looks and money, but she sure as hell didn’t have a high IQ; in fact, I’m pretty sure a sea urchin had more intelligence than she did. I knew I was an ass, but seeing her sitting there squirming, witnessing this fashion-challenged brunette bring down a Bama titan, made my entire fucking day.

Before I could stop myself, I quipped loudly, “
Fuck
! That told you, Shelly!
Schooled
!”

A pissed-off gasp sounded beside me, but I couldn’t pull my gaze from the British brunette to even spare Shelly a glance. Molly stared back at me and her lips moulded into a satisfied smirk. My cock hardened. I’d actually made her happy.

Fuck.


Whatever!
Good luck fitting in around here acting like that!” Shelly snapped moodily. I knew I’d probably just made things worse, but seeing her belittled, when she did it so regularly to everyone else, meant I really didn’t give a shit.

The professor whispered something to Molly, and I zoned out as I watched her react to the professor’s words. Unintentionally, Molly’d gotten my attention, and Christ, if I didn’t feel like a stalker, eyes glued to her making her way down each row, handing out those bastard papers that only minutes prior were scattered all over the hallway floor.

Shelly staked her claim, almost straddling my thighs, as Molly approached our row. I missed if Shelly said anything to her at first. I was too busy trying to get a read of the new girl, absolutely wrapped up in the things she’d just said. That was until Shelly snapped, “Nice shoes, Molly. Do all future philosophy professors have such fantastic taste in fashion?”

I heard that slight loud and clear and decided that was it. I threw Shelly’s legs off mine—counting her lucky that I didn’t throw her right across the room—and hissed, “Quit it, Shel. Why do you have to be such a fuckin’ bitch all the time?” The other students didn’t dare meet my eyes. It was the only time I was glad I was a moody, scary fucker that no one dared mess with.

Molly’s feet shifted from side to side, and she looked everywhere but at me. She was mortified and clearly wanted to split.

I needed something from her first. I needed to know if she believed everything she said or if it was just some regurgitated academic shit for the sake of impressing her new class.

Her eyes fluttered to mine again and I breathed deep, asking, “You really believe what you said just now?”

She frowned as though it were a stupid question. “Which part?”

I felt Shelly and her Barbies listen in, but I needed to know, something in me
really
needed to know. “About life being unfair. About philosophy giving answers to why some people get dealt shit and others don’t.”

Determined eyes met mine, leaving absolutely no room for doubt, and she replied, “Vehemently.” And that was it. A wash of something soothing seemed to settle in my chest and yeah, it may sound soft, but it was the first time I felt like I could breathe in years. She knew pain too. She’d been through shit too. Someone could relate.

Molly turned to run to her desk and the class was dismissed. As I grabbed my bag off the floor, Shelly grasped my arm. “Rome, don’t forget about the initiation tonight. Your brothers are part of the task. Come too, okay?”

“Don’t count on it,” I said in response. I could feel Shelly’s hard stare as I sat in my seat, completely lost in my thoughts. I couldn’t move, too busy reflecting on the things Molly had said.
Why do some people coast through life… whilst others are dealt blow after blow?
As the room began to clear, I snapped out of my daze and quickly left.

The minute I exited the classroom, two arms snaked around my neck and I groaned. “Shel, fuck off!”

As I turned around, a pair of red, pouting lips protruded and large hazel eyes tightened. “Not
Shel
, Bullet!”

I sighed as I was pushed aggressively against the wall. “Caroline,” I greeted tightly as she rubbed up all she had against my cock. I ignored the watching students walking past, and no doubt Shelly too, which I actually decided would be a good thing. It’d piss her off, maybe get her to back off for a while.

“Come back to my dorm,” Caroline said seductively, her sharp nails slipping under my shirt and digging into the skin—she was one kinky bitch. I gritted my teeth at the pain and her eyes lit with arousal. She leaned in, right to my ear, and murmured, “I’ve been dreaming about your cock in my mouth all week.”

Christ
. I shut my eyes for a second, debating whether or not I could actually do this new change in lifestyle I’d set for myself, but I pushed her off, deciding to stick to my original plan. For the first time ever, Caroline and her wonder mouth held absolutely zero appeal. Time to put my plan into action—a cull on all
distractions
. She was getting too clingy anyhow.

Meeting Caroline’s hungry eyes, I stated, “Not happening. In fact, I’m cutting you out for good. Go suck someone else’s junk. I don’t want it no more.”

“But… but… why not? You never refuse me!” It was true, I never had before, but, hell, I was done.

“Things change.” Her nails, at my words, dug in farther into my stomach, and her face flushed red with anger. Glaring, I grabbed her wrists and pushed her away.


Change?
You?
Since when?” she shrilled.

“Since right fucking now! You’re not required anymore,” I shouted, and she blanched, storming off down the corridor. It was true. I did need to change. I was sick to the back teeth of the groupies, of the fame whores.
Ten months
. I reminded myself.
Just
ten more fucking months
. And I turned against the wall, head against the cold cream paint…
Just ten more months to get through.

3

“Nope, not going,” I said for the fiftieth time to Austin, Reece, and Jimmy-Don as we chilled in the lounge area of the frat house—me lying on my back on the couch, throwing a football up into the air, them watching some shit reality show about fuck knows what.

“What you gonna do, then? Stay here on your own?” Austin asked from his place on the recliner. Austin was ex-gang: Italian, heavily tattooed, piercings everywhere, ear plugs, the works—and looked as scary as all shit, but he was the best guy I knew and one of the only people I could actually tolerate.

“Yeah, I guess.”

A bunch of the guys—mostly Tide players—came bustling in the room, hyped up and carrying kegs. I sat up and flicked my chin at Porter. He was an asshole but still a teammate, so I put up with his loud mouth shit…
just
. “Why the fuck you all so happy?”

Porter stepped forward, rubbing his hands together. “Initiations, bitches! You know what that means: drunken pussy on tap.”

“They’d have to be drunk to fuck your rancid ass,” Austin remarked, and I smirked at his cutthroat tone. There was absolutely no love lost between the two wide receivers, history going back too far to get into.

“C’mon, guys, let’s go. We can leave if it’s a washout,” Reece said, a hint of desperation in his voice. When he came to school last year, Coach asked me to show him the ropes, you know, as the leader. I hadn’t been able to shake the little fucker since.

Rolling back my head, I groaned, throwing the ball at the second-string QB’s head. “Fuck, Reece, you need to get laid by your own efforts. I’m sick of your randy ass needing me to hook you up. You’re a football player. Fuckin’ use it for the perks! What’s the point of playing for the Tide if you can never get your own chick?”

He ducked, ignored my jab, and smiled. “I’ll take that as we’re going! Let me change.”

I rubbed my hands down my face in exasperation, hearing the door close as Reece left the room. As I looked back up, I noticed Austin staring at the floor and Jimmy-Don, my only other close friend, flicking his head at me, hinting that I should speak to him.

Shit. I hadn’t even noticed anything was wrong.

“You okay, brother?” I asked.

Austin darted his eyes up response. The three of us were tight. I’d known Austin my whole life, the two fucked-up kids from opposite sides of the tracks, finding each other through football. Jimmy-Don came along during our freshman year. He was a big Texan cowboy and the most genuine guy I’d ever met. Fucking hilarious too. Reece didn’t know us too well yet, and Austin didn’t fully trust him, didn’t trust
anyone
much. It was obvious Austin was preoccupied with something, and the minute Reece left, he’d dropped his shield.

“It’s my brothers, man,” he said in a tight voice. “Levi got roped into the crew, and fucking Axel let him do it, saying it was necessary to pay for my momma’s medical bills. Levi’s fourteen. He’s too young to be caught up in that crap! I ain’t got no money to give. Axel’s telling me to keep up football for the payout and they’ll handle everything in the meantime. I need to be drafted this year so fuckin’ bad.” He tipped his head to the ceiling, then dropped it again, his damn tortured eyes meeting mine. “Let’s go to this initiation tonight, Rome. I’ll go crazy if I stay here thinking about it all. I need to get out, need to forget all this shit for a while.”

BOOK: Sweet Rome (Sweet Home)
7.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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