Home > Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(26)

Easy (Contours of the Heart #1)(26)
Author: Tammara Webber

I crossed my arms, offended on Landon’s behalf. “That guy looks like a social outcast. Landon is too smart to look like that.”

She covered her eyes and shook her head. “Okay. We’ll make Landon Plan B.” She eyed me, wearing her conspiracy-theory expression—eyes narrowed, lips puckered. “What do you really know about this Landon guy?”

I laughed. “A lot more than I know about that Lucas guy.”

“Except what he looks and tastes like.” She waggled her brows.

“Ugh! Erin. You have a one-track mind.”

She smiled deviously. “I prefer to think of it as target-driven.”

We skipped the Starbucks—part of Erin’s plan, though she lamented the sacrifices she was making on my behalf as we choked down cups of cafeteria coffee. Leaving me with strict instructions not to text or email either of them, she gave me one swift hug before being swallowed by a group of her sorority sisters—all of whom acted as though we were distant acquaintances at best—as they set up an afternoon bake sale.

A month ago, I’d been sanctioned as Kennedy’s GDI girlfriend; now I was only poor Erin’s non-Greek roommate.


Laundry rooms were located on each floor of the dorm, but since everyone on my floor decided to run loads at the same time, the washers were all full. Heaving the overflowing mesh bag into the stairwell, I hopped it down the concrete steps one at a time, hoping the residents a floor down were less moved to cleanliness, at least tonight.

Ten minutes later, I headed back upstairs with my empty bag. Stopping just inside the stairwell when my phone buzzed, I answered a message from Maggie reminding me to email a link she needed for a Spanish assignment we were doing together. Itching to text Lucas or email Landon, I shoved my phone down into my front pocket. I’d promised Erin I’d do neither. She knew how boys’ minds worked, while my years with Kennedy left me woefully unprepared for these sorts of complex maneuvers. Frankly, the rules for hooking up didn’t seem that much less tricky to me than the rules for finding a committed relationship, but what did I know.

The door beneath me opened and shut as I rounded the corner, and ascending footsteps sounded behind me. There were hundreds of residents in my building, and though we all used the elevator or the main stairs for coming and going from the building, most of us employed the persistently dank stairwell when moving between floors. The creeped-out, claustrophobic sensation was something I felt every time, and I forced myself not to sprint for the door at the top.

I jerked to a stop, realizing that I was moving forward, but my laundry bag wasn’t. Assuming it was hooked on the handrail, I turned to liberate it and was almost eye to eye with Buck. The end of the bag was caught in his fist.

I gasped and my heart stopped, as though the moment was suspended in slow-motion, and then it began pounding like heavy machinery in my chest. He stepped up to the stair just beneath me—and sneered down at me. “Hey Jackie.” Bile rose in my throat at the sound of his voice, and I swallowed. “Or no. I guess it’s Jacqueline now, right? Isn’t that what you said? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” When he leaned closer, I tried to back up the stairs and tripped, sprawling. I used the opportunity to scramble backwards and up toward the door, but he reached down and pulled me up easily, both hands gripping my shoulders.

“Don’t touch me,” I choked.

He smiled as though he was hypnotizing small, trapped prey. Toying with me. “C’mon, Jacqueline, don’t be like that. You’ve always been real nice to me. I just want you to be a little bit nicer, that’s all.”

His words weren’t slurred this time. He was sober and resolute, and the malevolence in his eyes told me that I would pay for my escape the night of the party. I would pay for what Lucas had done.

I shook my head. “No. I’m saying no, Buck. Just like last time.”

His eyes narrowed, and I could barely hear the curse he hissed from the blood pulsing through my ears. Run. Run. Run, it seemed to say, and I wished I could obey. I let go of the bag, and it fell at our feet.

“I know what happened that night wasn’t your fault.” He shrugged. “You’re a pretty girl, and obviously that guy had the same idea I did. He just got the jump on me ’cause I’d been drinking.” His breath fell over my face, hot, not a trace of alcohol. He wouldn’t trip if I twisted from his grip and ran. “So did he f**k you in your truck, or did you let him take you back to your room? I know Erin was with Chaz that night. Just like she’ll be tonight.”

I flinched from his vulgar words. I hadn’t gotten a text from Erin yet, but it wasn’t impossible that she was staying with Chaz tonight, or that Buck would know before I would.

One arm snaked around and grasped my hip, squeezing it painfully. The pain was nothing compared to the degradation of being pawed against my will.

“The stairwell is rank and uncomfortable, but doable. Why don’t we go to your room, instead? I’ll make it good for you, baby.”

His threat was obvious. If I said no, he would rape me right here. “S-someone could come into the stairwell any moment.”

He laughed. “True. Too bad you aren’t wearing that little skirt you had on the other night. I could put you against this wall and do you in two minutes without taking a thing off of you.”

My head spun. I strained against him, trying to move, even just a little, but couldn’t.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been caught with some hot little freak in an off-the-wall position. And hey—bonus—if you want to get Kennedy back for dumping you, then turning into the girl who’ll do anything, anywhere, with anyone, would make him crazy.” He shrugged. “You already started with that piece of shit—and who knows who else? So we can do it here, if that’s what you want.”

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