Eliza is out on a first date, when the lights go out and someone other than the man she’s out with takes advantage of the dark to kiss her more passionately than she’s ever been kissed before.
Eliza held her tray and looked around, pretending not to notice all the empty tables in the cafeteria. She had a goal in mind, and it was fast approaching, in the guise of an athletic trio. She took a moment to indulge in the sight. All three guys were tall and wide shouldered, their T-shirts stretched over sculpted pecs and abs.
She gave them a little wave and got three matching nods in response. She lingered by the water cooler a moment longer, waiting for them to gravitate toward their usual table.
When they were finally seated, she took a deep breath.
Okay, this was it.
She approached them and narrowed her eyes in practiced speculation. “Hey. You’re in my psych class, right? I missed this morning’s lecture, and I was wondering if I could copy your notes?”
“Sure.” The teaching assistant held out his notebook. He had a wide, generous mouth, and his smile reached his baby-blue eyes. His straw-colored hair completed his Captain America look, and Eliza licked her lips as she took in his big palms and long fingers.
“Actually”—she indicated her lunch tray with a tilt of her head—“mind if I join you?”
The guy to her left slid one chair over. “Make yourself at home. I’m Leo.”
She sat and took his proffered hand. “Eliza.” She liked his handshake. She liked all of him, really. His skin was the color of dark chocolate, and he had the biggest, darkest eyes she’d ever seen. He winked. It made her cheeks burn.
“Michel.” This one sat across the table from her and offered a two-finger salute.
“Nice to meet you,” she said and smiled, before turning to the TA. “I feel like I should know your name, but…”
“Cal.” His palm was sweaty, and Eliza wanted to wipe her hand on her jeans. She didn’t.
“So, where are you all from?” She twirled the end of her blonde ponytail between two fingers. If she kept them chatting, they might forget she was supposed to be copying their notes.
She listened to them talking about their home towns and their athletic scholarships. She winked at Leo and smiled seductively at Mike. And she might have overdone it a little when she ran her fingers along her collarbone and bit her lower lip once or twice, while looking at Cal. What she was doing was wrong, but the end justified the means.
At least it would, if any of them noticed her efforts.
She licked her lips and batted her eyelids innocently, feigning interest on what Cal was saying about football.
She guessed it was football. At some point, she’d stopped listening, her mind occupied with thoughts of how she could decipher which of the three men could be into her.
It didn’t take a genius to realize Cal, Michel, and Leo were inseparable. They hung out together inside and outside of campus, studied together, and trained together. If one of them liked her, the others would know. All she had to do was make herself available. If she was right about one of them being her mystery man, her flirty-yet-not-aggressive routine should either get him to ask her out or get his friends to suggest they go out.
It wasn’t working so far.
In fact, they were talking to each other now, patting backs over their team’s victory—assuming the subject was still football—and ignoring her.
“Wow. Look at the time.” She glanced at her watch-free wrist. “I better get going.” To Cal, she said, “Don’t want to hog all your lunch-break time. I’ll take your notes with and bring them back tomorrow, if that’s okay.” She pushed back her chair.
He stood and helped her up. “We could—I mean, if you want, we could meet off-campus. For me to walk you through them. My writing is hardly legible.”
“No. It’s okay. I’m sure I can make it out.” Positive none of the men was interested in her, she smiled at the table and turned to go.
He curled a hand around her upper arm and tugged her to face him. “We don’t have to talk about the questions. We could talk about… class in general. Say, at The Zoo?”
Even if she hadn’t caught on, Mike and Leo’s wolf whistles would have clued her in. She smiled. “Say Saturday?” Also, someone needed to build a new bar in Sweetapple Bay, stat.
“I’ll pick you up at your dorm. Is eight all right?”
“Sure. See you then.”
He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Actually, you’re wrong.”
“You’ll see me tomorrow, in class.” His goofy grin said he was pretty darn proud of himself for making a joke.
Eliza decided to call it boyish charm. If he was her mystery kisser, a little goofiness could be forgiven. “Right. See you tomorrow.” She wiggled her fingers at the guys. “See ya.”
She’d bet good money they were all staring at her ass as she swished it side to side on her way out of the cafeteria.