Home > All Lined Up (Rusk University #1)(4)

All Lined Up (Rusk University #1)(4)
Author: Cora Carmack

While she fills up a cup, I try to look casual. I never know exactly how to hold my arms or how far to c**k my hip. The dancer in me doesn’t feel comfortable unless my posture is perfect, but that makes me stick out like a sore thumb in a sea of slouchy college kids.

My hands are floppy, dead fish. Or that’s what they feel like anyway as I try to arrange them in a way that doesn’t make me look like a mental patient. While I’m still trying to figure it out, a red cup enters my vision.

I follow a muscular arm up to that pair of smiling eyes.

“Pretty girls shouldn’t have to wait in line.”

I eye the half-full cup, then manage a casual shrug.

“I’ll wait. Thanks.”

Nothing about Stella’s stamp says I have to do something as stupid as take a drink from a stranger, no matter how good looking he is.

Stella moves aside, but not before waggling her perfectly sculpted eyebrows at me. Gawk-worthy guy slides down off the counter as I step up to the keg.

“You don’t trust me?” he asks.

This time I catch him staring at my legs, and how not covered they are by the outrageously short skirt Stella picked out for me.

“I don’t know you,” I reply, trying to sound at least a little stern and failing.

He smiles unabashedly and glances one more time at my legs. I only agreed to the stupid skirt because it has pockets, and I cannot resist a skirt with pockets.

Now I wish I had tried a little harder.

“So get to know me,” he replies.

God, do they make WD-40 for flirting? Because I am rusty. Not enough practice thanks to four years of high school with an overbearing dad as the football coach. Then again, this guy is scary gorgeous, so he would make me nervous no matter how much practice I had.

I hold out my hand and say, “I’m Dallas.”

He eyes my proffered hand, and I know I’ve made a mistake. Laughing, he takes my hand and bends to kiss it in a princely bow, and I can’t tell if he’s making fun of me or not.

“Dallas and Silas,” he murmurs, his lips still close enough to my hand that I feel his breath skate across my skin. “Sounds like fate to me.”

No one has ever been so audaciously flirtatious with me in my entire life, and it muddles my brain.

“Nice to meet you, Silas.”

I am thinking about how it will be impossible for us to have a couple nickname if we get together because every combination ends up just being one of our names when he laughs.

He moves closer to me, and instinctively I take a tiny step back.

“You’re never going to get to know me like that. Come on.”

He lays an arm across my shoulder, hooking me closer to his side, and starts leading me out of the kitchen.

“Wait. My friend.”

“She’ll be fine.”

I’m not worried about her.

“He’s right!” Stella calls behind me. “I am fine,” she announces to a group of three guys that she’s already managed to ensnare. Good God, it’s like she’s found her natural habitat. I envy her confidence.

I envy a lot of things about Stella.

He pulls me toward the living room, and I automatically fall into step with the rhythm of the music. But when I see the room packed full of grinding bodies and decorated with wandering hands, I panic. It’s not that I’m incapable of dancing like that. My tastes run more toward ballet, lyrical, and jazz, but I’ve taken a few years of hip-hop.

It’s not the movement that intimidates me. I can roll my hips with the best of them. It’s the intimacy I can’t handle. There are no secrets when your body is that close to another. Hell, it took me close to a year before I could comfortably press up against Levi that way.

Fat lot of good all that caution did me.

As much as I get annoyed with the way my father affects my love life, a really small part of me is glad to have him as an excuse to not get too close. As an excuse not to get hurt again.

“Bathroom,” I blurt out, grasping for another excuse. “I, uh, need to use the ladies’ room.” I thought ladies’ room might sound less embarrassing.

Wrong on all counts.

He gives me that look again like I’m behaving like the grandma who I apparently stole my personality from.

I cough and add, “Bathroom,” once more, like that somehow might clear the air of all the terrible, but yeah . . . this place is officially polluted. He raises an eyebrow, and I wait for him to ditch me because I am clearly the least cool person in this house, counting the dude asleep underneath the table in the foyer currently sucking his thumb.

But my weird doesn’t phase him. It’s a miracle. “Sure, there’s one upstairs, I think. Maybe we can find a quiet place up there to talk, too.”

Oh my Jesus. Make that miraculously scary.

His finger draws little circles on my shoulder, and I concentrate on swallowing down all the irrational excuses that I want to make to run away.

Claiming flesh-eating bacteria to get out of a private conversation might be overkill. Malaria might work, though.

As we climb the stairs together, my heart climbs higher and higher into my throat until it throbs on the back of my tongue. The two girls who’d been all over Levi earlier are still on the stairs, and when they see us coming, they sit up straighter. One fluffs her hair, her gaze darting between Silas and me, and I can see her confusion in her glossy-lipped frown. She stands as we near, petite to the point that she would look twelve years old were it not for the giant rack that has to completely throw off her balance.

“Hey, Silas,” she breathes.

He only nods back, but he smiles while he does it, and she looks grateful for even that little bit of attention.

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