A/N: Twilight's not mine. But I thank Ms Meyer for the inspiration! The original chapter was beta'd by PTB (thanks!) and then a more refined version by Max of The Sparkly Red Pen (thank you!). Any lingering errors are my own.
Last year's flood of NFL scouts seems to have dried up for UW's hotshot QB Edward Cullen.
Have his off-field antics put paid to his pro prospects?" - College Football Round-Up
Observers and gossips alike called them flavors of the week for a reason. The girls were all certain to make ESPN, Sports Center, and Pink Cleats highlight films if they kept his attention longer than seven days.
But they never did.
I knew next to nothing about sports, but I'd learned a thing or two about Edward Cullen during my first two years at the University of Washington.
I knew better than to play that game, knew better than to imagine anything as trivial as a relationship with him. Cullen didn't do relationships. To be perfectly blunt, he didn't do girls like me.
But my libido – she was a whore of a different flavor. She wanted to prostrate herself before him, open herself wide and invite him down for a taste. For all my whorish musings, though, I didn't entertain the idea that my particular flavor could entice him into Day Eight. But that realization didn't stop me from indulging in days one through seven fantasies.
But good golly, if only my vocal little whorish self could convince good girl Bella to at least try.
My skin positively tingled in his presence. I'd read my fair share of romance novels – and then some! I'd read about the electric current on contact with The One. The quickening pulse, the shallow breath, the heated skin...
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. The novels were pathetic when held up against my twice weekly Cullen-inspired fantasies. Incomplete, faulty shadows of this reality, I mused, gazing at the back of his head. The renditions of infatuation in those novels fell far short of how I felt in the presence of Edward Cullen, quarterback extraordinaire and Udub's claim to football glory.
I shared one class with him: Advertising and Market Research. I craved anonymity so hovered near the back of the lecture hall. Edward, who I couldn't imagine having ever experienced an anonymous moment in his gilded life, sat front and center, hedged in by giggling sorority girls, jocks, and assorted hangers-on.
I recognized this attraction for what it was: a carnal response to a sadistically attractive man. Moth to flame. Craving the forbidden, the unattainable. From my spot behind him, all I could see was wide, muscular shoulders, a thick, heavily corded neck and shaggy hair some sexy shade between auburn and brown.
When I thought about this attraction with my logical, good girl self, who also sneered at how much time I wasted drooling over the delicious Mr. Cullen, I knew he wasn't someone I really wanted to be with. I didn't really even know him. How could I want someone I didn't know? This was purely physical, that trite animal attraction the romance novels loved to carry on about but managed to convey only a pale shadow of the pure lust I felt in the mere presence of this man.
But that understanding didn't stave off the craving. The burning just beneath the surface of my skin that would only be assuaged by his touch. The sensible acknowledgment didn't stop the over-the-top lurid fantasies – and certainly didn't put an end to the Tuesday and Thursday morning daydreams I'd entertained since beginning my second to last year at Udub.
Something whizzed past my right ear and my gaze snapped to the brightly-colored candy as it disappeared under a desk that the sugar addict in me instantly recognized. Who would waste an M&M like that? I slanted a mean look at Alice. Alice made googly eyes at me, and I knew she'd busted me mooning over Edward – yet again. I slouched down on the desk and focused on the professor.
Edward Cullen was not the only male in the room and when it got right down to it, he wasn't even the most important male in the room.
I focused on Professor Banner droning on and on in his boring monotone. Images flashed on the huge screen behind him.
"You'll be designing an ad campaign from top to bottom," he finished, flipping off the screen. "Your score will account for fifty percent of your final grade. Groups assigned today are permanent; no drama, no changes. I have absolutely no interest in your thoughts or opinions of your assigned partners. Who you get today is who you're stuck with for the duration, so suck it up."
I snorted a little laugh. One of the things I most appreciated about this professor was his directness. He seldom left any ambiguity to what he wanted; he made it perfectly clear. He began to count off students before anyone had time to put up a fuss. He pointed to the far right of the room, first desk, bottom row. "One," he said and continued pointing.
"Two," the next student called out. So on and so forth. Edward's deep voice laughed out a seven, which caused a few snickers and giggles. Seven happened to be his jersey number, too. The next seven was a student I didn't know, a slender guy with pale hair and a nervous demeanor. The next was one of the Plastic Janes.
Alice and I had contrived the tag one boring night to label girls who made it more than obvious that their desire to achieve social success far outranked their hopes for academic achievement here in the Land of College. They endeavored to snare the ultimate Trophy Boyfriend – acquiring a degree was just incidental, unless it was a coveted MRS degree. Harsh, terribly judgmental of us, but as I saw said Plastic toss her board-straight blonde hair over her shoulder in a classic Plastic Jane move, I couldn't be too hard on myself. She was already preening for the infamous Cullen. I already felt pity for the rest of that group-
Oh no...I inhaled a sharp breath, darting a startled look to my left, to the student who'd just called out "six" beside me. No, no, no. The gods couldn't be so cruel...Oh, but it seemed they could. "Seven." My voice squeaked. I cleared my throat and said it again as though repeating it would cement this disastrous moment firmly in my brain. "Seven."
Alice laughed as she called out her stupid, overly lucky "Eight!" I shoved a book sitting on her desk, feeling childish but entitled as I slumped down in my chair. How the hell would I survive the semester stuck in a project group with my fantasy guy?
"That's gonna be all kinds of fun, Bella." She laughed again, but before I could share my opinion, she'd swiveled in her chair to search out the rest of her group.
Alice assumed I was just crushing on the too-handsome-for-my-own-good quarterback, but I knew it wasn't that simple. I'd crushed before. Who hadn't? Those classic feelings - all fluttery, light, and effervescent – they came and went with the seasons. They left you feeling, well...all fluttery and light and effervescent.
That was not at all what I experienced when my thoughts settled on Edward. My gaze drifted to him, yet again. He was tall, built, hotter than should be humanly possible, with that edge of unattainability just suckering a girl in. Yes, what I felt should be all fluttery and light.
Instead, I yearned to score my nails down the wide expanse of his chest, to open my mouth and drag my tongue along the sensual curve between his throat and shoulder. I wanted to mark him, carve myself into him until I was as under his skin as he was mine, until his every breath was flavored with my scent, until his eyes burned with my image, only mine. I wanted to possess him. And worse, I wanted to be possessed by him, in every dark and sensual way my torrid little mind could conjure up.
I dragged in a deep shuddery breath, forced it out slow and even. I needed to get a grip.
My future was laid out before me and a quickie with the campus super player didn't figure into it. I knew myself, and I couldn't handle a quickie fuck with no attachments. The blonde Plastic Jane slipped smoothly from her seat to saunter toward Edward. His head tilted down in her direction, his body language confident and easy. With that little tableau unfolding before me, I couldn't helped but be reminded that I wasn't his type either, even if I could handle some nebulous non-relationship with him. I had to smirk at myself. Here I was shooting him down in my mind, when in reality, the man had never even noticed me, not in two years.
The sounds of desks scraping and conversation starting signaled the end of class, pulling me out of my silliness. Groups were trading contact info and picking up the project plan from down front. The Jane and the boy I didn't know were already chatting with Edward.
I turned to find Alice to see if I could drag her down with me, chicken that I am. But she was still bouncing from foot to foot with three other girls, her project group, apparently. Lucky her. Looked like I'd have to suck it up and go meet my own all by my lonesome.
Big girl panties, Swan. Move it!
One foot in front of the other, I cautiously made my way down the huge steps that still managed to worry me and my clumsy self and approached the other Sevens. The Jane was still flirting, spreading her version of college love, so I dashed past them for the project papers stacked on the professor's desk. Grabbing four, I turned back to my group.
"Mid-afternoon doesn't work for me this week. Coach has us doing two-a-days."
God, even his voice slid right through me, stealing my breath and threatening to leave me a puddle of goo on the floor. I stiffened my spine and crept closer. Best to get a date settled on quickly, exchange our deets and get the hell out of here. Much longer and I'd run out of oxygen and backbone.
"We'll need to exchange numbers, Edward, so we can coordinate study times," Jane murmured suggestively. How did she do that? Work that inviting tone into such a simple sentence? Was Effective Seductive Communication a Freshman class I missed?
He dug his phone out of his jeans pocket and gave it to her, sleazeball player that he was.
I ripped a page from my notepad, tore it in pieces and wrote my number down three times before passing it to my fellow Sevens. I avoided eye contact with any of them. Plastic Jane took the scrap but didn't look up from Edward's phone; Edward did one of those male chin lifts, but his attention was clearly elsewhere. Janes had uniforms and cleavage guidelines for membership. Blondie excelled in the skimpy reveal-all shirt department as Edward's appreciative observation attested. The last of our group took my scrap and passed me one of his own.
Mike and a number was scrawled across the otherwise blank white scrap. I looked up and dared to meet his eyes. He grimaced at me, and I knew he was wondering if he was doomed to either fail or do all the work on this project himself. It was more than evident Edward and the blonde were making plans for something besides an A&M study session. I tried to convey with a look that I was on board, ready to fully participate, so he wasn't totally screwed. He nodded in acknowledgment.
"So," he muttered then, breaking into the whisperings between our other partners. "No mid-afternoons, but what about mornings or evenings?"
Before I could respond, Cullen pulled his attention from the blonde. "Nights work best for me, man."
"Just not Wednesday night." I had a standing appointment, something that couldn't be changed.
Irina, as identified by the second slip of paper in my hand, practically crooned her own response. "How about tonight? At least to start, until we work out a regular schedule."
Cullen nodded. "Text me a time and place, babe. No earlier than eight." This was directed to Irina and an instant later, Edward Cullen strode away.
A/N: Thanks so much for reading!