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by Lux Zakari
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: How far will one woman go for love? Introverted and insecure Valerie Mercer was promised that during her senior year of college she would finally attract attention from boys?but never dreamed that would include Michael Vartanian. Good looking, troubled and every parent's nightmare, Michael is adamant on introducing Valerie to a world of both pleasure and, inadvertently, heartbreak. His interest in Valerie is dependent upon the mood and fidelity of his on-and-off-again girlfriend, Breeze. Nevertheless, Valerie lets her hope and desire override common sense and soon finds she can't deny Michael anything?no matter what's at stake. Content warning, explicit sex, prolific drug and alcohol usage, profanity.
eBook Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc., 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: December 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [307 KB]
Reading time: 197-276 min.
August 26, 1974
Worshipful and adoring, boys waited in Valerie's future like a long stretch of ruby carpet. At least, that's what she'd been told. She could have anyone she wanted if she did the right things. Though the jury remained undecided on what those right things were, her mother's sister, Linda, swore she had the answers. With increasing skepticism, Valerie had previously taken her aunt's advice--grow out her hair, resist the urge to wear blue eye shadow, retain mystery by never talking about herself too much--with zero to lukewarm results until she reluctantly tried a ruthless diet and exercise regime in the spring. She'd barely noticed her body changing at first, but she was the only one.
Further proof of her effect on the male population came one morning in the form of shrieking brakes followed by a car door slam. Valerie looked up from the orange she peeled while crossing Kenton College's student parking lot to see a beat-up brown coupe screech to a haphazard halt in a free spot. Then Daniel Travato scrambled from the vehicle, juggling a few notebooks and papers and wearing a giant smile. "Wow, I thought that was you." His feathery hair drifted into his eyes as he approached. "Long time, no see. You look amazing!"
"Thanks." Valerie's face warmed as her fingernails bit into the orange's peel and tugged the rind away.
His gaze dropped to her legs, which suddenly felt too bare beneath her short denim skirt. "I've never seen you look so ... I don't know. Wow." Did his cheeks turn pink or did a sunburn still linger on his skin? He let out an embarrassed laugh. "Sorry, forget I said anything. How was your summer?"
"Pretty good. What about you? What've you been up to?"
"Torturing myself as a swimming counselor at Archley Pines." He grinned as he fell into step beside her, and they crossed the campus's dewy lawn toward a series of benches clustered around a metal sundial sculpture. "Going into it, I had no idea how much kids played with their food. I can't tell you how many times I had to say, 'That hotdog's not a telescope, take it out of your eye,' or 'Eat your sandwich, not your scabs.' It got to the point where I dreaded going to the cafeteria."
A giggle exploded in Valerie's throat as they sat on one of the wooden benches. "Hopefully you taught them a thing or two though."
"About swimming, perhaps. Table manners, no."
Valerie finished peeling the orange and, after tossing the rind in a nearby trashcan, she split it into two pieces, one which she held out to her friend.
His eyebrows rose and an unmistakable blush filled his cheeks as he accepted it. "Thanks." His attention dropped to the fruit, which he divided yet again. "So you're pretty and sweet..."
"Stop." An appreciative laugh escaped her as she took a bite. They watched the students passing by and finished their shared snack in silence, Valerie shy but enjoying herself. Unused to her new body and the approving glances it attracted, she often felt more embarrassed than flattered, but had to admit she didn't hate the male attention. Daniel was different, though; he was her friend. Still, she couldn't remember a time a guy slammed on the brakes and parked like a blind person just because he saw her--there probably hadn't been one. Shannon would crack up when she heard this.
Daniel cleared his throat. "When's your first class?"
She swallowed and wiped the orange's juices from her lips with the side of her hand. "Nine."
"Same here. We should carpool someday."
Before she could respond, an amber-eyed young woman with her dark blond hair gathered into a ponytail stopped in front of them, a hand on her hip and an eyebrow arched. "Val, what've I told you about talking to strange boys wandering around campus?"
Valerie gave Daniel an apologetic look. "You remember Shannon."
"Of course." Daniel gave Shannon a nod and a smile as he stood. "And I'd like to stay and catch up, but I have to get a coffee or I'm gonna pass out in the next twenty minutes. Shannon, it was great seeing you again. And Val, you still need to tell me about your summer. What do you think? Meet me in Farley around noon for lunch and regale me with tales?"
"Sounds good." Valerie waved as he ambled down the path toward the student union building.
Shannon narrowed her eyes at Daniel's retreating form, shaking her head with a look of mock regret. "Boy, I hate it when you leave, but I love watching you go."
"Give it a rest."
"You two were looking very cozy before I showed up. What were you talking about? Did he say how gorgeous you are?"
Valerie unsuccessfully tried to hide a smile. "Actually, kind of."
"I knew it." Shannon gave her a giant grin as she took the vacant seat beside Valerie on the bench. "Face it, Val. You lost about twenty-five pounds since spring, so expect people--i.e. guys--to notice and wanna screw you."
"Please. For once, let's pretend we're normal American adults with healthy sexual appetites who can talk maturely about what Daniel Travato looks like naked. There's no way you could go to one of his swim meets and not fantasize about that body. The boy is gorgeous in all the right places."
"Daniel was my study buddy for Lit last year. I can't think of him like that."
"I think if someone's your 'study buddy,' you're required to think of him like that."
Valerie shook her head. "If only poor Rick could hear you now."
"Good thing poor Rick's safely tucked away at Rockhurst then." Shannon shook her head, her long ponytail swaying from side to side. "All right, so you don't want to talk about it. Just be ready, that's all I'm saying."
"Ready for what?"