Authors: Rebecca Brooke
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Fiction
Copyright © 2014 by Rebecca Brooke
Cover Design by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design
Editing by Ryn Hughes of Delphi Rose
Formatting by Kassi Bland Cooper of Kassi’s Kandids Formatting
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.
All rights reserved.
To Josh and Danielle, don’t let life pass you by.
THE FIRST TIME I ASKED
Emily out, over a year ago, I did it simply because of her looks. Almost every guy on the team was trying to get her to go out with them and, damn, were they pissed when I finally got to take her out on a date. That night was a wake-up call for me. I wasn’t a manwhore like other guys on campus were, but that didn’t mean I was looking to fall in love either. For me, college was a time to hang out with my frat brothers and my teammates. A time to drink and party, and not worry about girls. Not that I was immune, there were just so many other things I wanted to get out of college, and screwing a different girl every night wasn’t one of them.
Then I had that date with Emily and there was something so different about her. She wasn’t shy or overly girly, and she had no problem telling it how it was. It was a date unlike any other, and I knew I had to see more of her.
At first it wasn’t about love. We had fun together and that’s what I’d come to college for. But over time that connection developed into something else entirely. It took me a while to figure it out . . . and even longer to tell her. For a while there, things got a little rough. I was so freaked out by my feelings that I acted like an ass a lot of the time. Eventually, a friend of mine, Josh, set me straight and I decided to tell Emily how I felt. Turned out, she loved me as much as I loved her. It was time to take our relationship to the next level. Everything about her called to me and I wanted to make her mine.
Emily was my life.
THE CLOCK ON THE WALL
seemed to be moving backward. That, or time was standing still, much to my dismay. All I needed was for Emily to finish class and get to the park before I went insane. I didn’t know why I was so nervous. it wasn’t like she was going to say no. It was just that I wanted everything to be perfect—a moment we would both remember for the rest of our lives. I’d told Emily that we needed to run a few errands before we went to meet our friends, so hopefully she was still clueless as to where we were going.
“Hey,” she said, getting into the car and leaning over the console to give me a kiss. “So where do we need to go?”
“Just one place,” I said, backing out of the parking space.
“You’re being all kinds of shady. What’s up with that?”
Leave it to Emily to cut right to the chase. If I hadn’t been so nervous I probably would have rolled my eyes at her. Then again, that wasn’t always the best idea. “I want to take you somewhere. Can you calm down and go with it, for once?”
“All right, but this better be good.”
At least she had no idea what was going on. “It will be,” I said, staring straight out of the front window, afraid that if I looked her in the eye I’d give myself away. She had the uncanny ability to see right through me—every thought, every feeling. That was what had made it so hard for us a few months ago. She’d recognized that I was in love with her even when I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. Thankfully, I got my head out of my ass and told her how I felt.
Emily leaned over and turned up the radio, but when the sound of an acoustic guitar filled the air she grumbled and switched the station. Music was something we disagreed on. While I didn’t mind her music, she hated mine. Country just wasn’t her thing.
“Will we be back in time for Lauren’s game?” she asked after we’d driven for a few more minutes.
“Yes, I promise.”
Emily’s friend, Lauren, started dating one of my teammates about a month ago. Josh used to sleep with anything that walked, but when he met Lauren a few months back, it was like he changed overnight. Lauren was the star pitcher for the softball team, and tonight was the first home game of the season. I knew Emily wouldn’t want to miss it, plus we had plans to meet everyone for dinner afterward. When planning all of this, I had thought about waiting until the weekend, but I wasn’t sure I could wait that long without giving it away.
“What are we doing at the park?” Emily asked when we pulled into the lot. “I thought you had errands to run?”
I shut the car off and turned to face her. “No, I thought I could surprise you with a picnic.”
“Really?” Her eyes opened wide, a smile stretching across her face. There wasn’t a part of Emily that I didn’t love, but that, right there, was my favorite. It was a part of her most people never got to see. Most of the time she showed everyone her tough side, yet there was so much more beneath that, and every day I thanked my lucky stars that I was the one who got to see that part of her.
Leaning over the console, I pressed my lips to hers. “Yep. I’ve got everything in the trunk.”
The park was beautiful this time of year and it seemed like we had the whole place to ourselves. We laid the blanket under a tree, unpacking the take out I’d picked up. It wasn’t that I couldn’t cook, but I was too freaking nervous to concentrate. I figured it would be easier to stop by our favorite sandwich shop, especially since Emily ordered the same thing every time. No guess work involved.
Once we finished eating and we were lying on the blanket, Emily curled up against my side. I tried to settle my nerves. I knew if I wasn’t careful my hands would start to shake, and she’d pick up on that immediately and know something was up.
“Thank you for planning this. I needed to relax after this week.”
“You were making yourself crazy.”
She sighed. “I know, but with midterms and everything else going on, I felt like I was being pulled in a thousand different directions.”
I ran my hand up and down her back, stopping to twirl my fingers in her hair every once in a while.
“Well, now that midterms are over you can take a break.”
“For a little bit anyway. Before you know it, finals will be here and we’ll be heading into our senior year.”
“There’s still weeks before we get anywhere close to finals.” Emily wasn’t a good test taker. Every time midterms and finals came around, she would go days without sleeping, sometimes without eating, just to get in all the study time possible. No matter how well she knew the information, she was always afraid that once the test was set in front of her, she’d forget it all. With all of the math and science courses I had, tests were kind of my specialty, but no matter how many times I showed her different study techniques, nothing helped calm her nerves. It made me worry to see her so freaked out. Thankfully, being a history major required more research projects than actual tests, but there was always one that left her a mess for days.