Rebecca Washington is a girl in control. Well, at least when it comes to acing her college classes. The rest of the time, she seems to be at the mercy of everyone else. Like when she’s dumped in front of her peers, hit on right afterwards by a jerk for some stupid bet, and then paired up with the same jerk for a lit project.
In order to maintain her perfect GPA, Rebecca will need to give a stellar presentation while ignoring the prodding eyes that will be staring at her. When her partner, Derek, starts to ease her fears of public speaking with his laid back attitude, she’s forced to confront her new feelings about him and his charming smile. Rebecca knows falling for a guy who teases her for being a prudish nerd can only end badly, but what if it’s just another thing out of her control?
Derek grinned. “What do you think about your ex's girlfriend?”
“Obviously that she’s annoyingly beautiful and, apparently, fun.” The word left a bad taste in her mouth.
“I could say the same about you right now.”
Rebecca felt her face redden even more. She pushed her bangs behind her ear, trying to find something else to stare at other than Derek’s mischievous eyes. Nothing seemed worthy.
“I know we’ve been doing well with the whole friends’ thing,” Derek started.
Rebecca cocked an eyebrow. “What now? Are you going to make fun of me?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said. “I was just wondering if, as a friend, I’m allowed to ask you to dance.”
She let out a choking laugh. “Here? We’re at a party.”
He gestured to the several groups of people who were dancing. “People dance at parties.”
“I don’t think we should.”
“Because you don’t want to, or because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself?”
“Maybe the latter,” Rebecca mumbled to the ground.
Derek took her hand, pulling her to the center of the living room. At first, their position terrified Rebecca, until she realized it was the most popular dancing spot. In the crowd, she felt shielded from prying eyes, like it was just the two of them.
There’d been times, when Rebecca was home alone and listening to music, where she’d danced. But she had never done so in a public setting or with someone else, and in heels too. She bit her lip nervously as Derek guided her hands around his neck.
“Relax,” he muttered. “It’s just a dance.”
His statement didn’t reassure her at all. Her heart beat faster as she realized that she could feel every inch of him. They were so close. Her head was practically resting on his shoulder, and her body was pressed firmly against his.
The feel of his hands on her waist made her shiver, her crop top inching up slightly as they began to move. Rebecca tried to focus on the beat, but it was really no use. Her fingers clasped together as she mentally reminded herself that playing with Derek’s hair was not a friendly thing to do—even if it looked really soft.
They swayed together, his hands staying rigidly in place. Rebecca wondered what he was thinking about and why he’d decided to dance with her, but it was no use. Derek was likely someone she’d never fully understand.
The song switched to something with a faster pace and erratic rhythm, but Rebecca hardly noticed. Derek moved a hand away from her hip, leaving Rebecca feeling a little colder, until he used it to brush a piece of her fallen bangs behind her ear.
She had no idea how her legs and hips were still moving because, on the inside, Rebecca was totally, completely still. Her eyes fluttered closed as she felt his breath on her neck. Every single one of her nerves were on fire, zapping around in her body like lightening. Rebecca had never felt more alive … or scared.
One of her hands drifted down to Derek’s chest, and she pressed against it. She hoped that he’d know she was trying to get away, but he only pulled her closer to him. Rebecca let out a gasp, clutching his neck and shoulder tightly.
“Are you having fun?” he asked softly.
Rebecca nodded once, unable to muster up anything coherent. Her brain was shutting down, and she wished it was from embarrassment or anger. No, this was something entirely different. So often Rebecca felt like two-halves of her were always in disagreement, but now, every part of her felt the same. She didn’t want him to let go.