Promises

Fluff & Humor!

My announcement was met with complete, utter silence from my close group of friends; not a very good sign. Frankly, I had been expecting a sympathetic slap on the back at the very least. I mean, I wasn't that heartbroken but, c'mon, it's nice to get some commiseration when your girlfriend, one of the nicest girls you've come to know at your university, dumps you for your new roommate whom she claims is a "total hottie." Okay, so she's not the smartest one of the lot, but she is nice and sweet.

"Well, she was always a slut." Gavin, my best friend, finally sighs while rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. "But – Clark, how in the funkin' name of everything that is holy did Stephen steal her away from you?"

She was not a slut. At least, I didn't think so. Okay, well compared to other girls she wasn't a slut. And she was nice. Sometimes. So, okay, she was nice when it suited her but still. "Don't call her that." I grumbled annoyed but not overly surprised, Gavin had never liked Holly anyway. To be completely honest, I really hadn't either. She was just there that one time at a party and I was also, well, there so it just kind of worked out…and then the next day I felt like an ass and asked her to be my girlfriend. I swore never to leave my Pepsi unattended at a Frat party ever again after that. "And I don't know, maybe she saw some good qualities in him that I don't have or something."

I glared when Jack and Peter, my two other friends, started snickering. So what if poor Stephen was a complete geek with a prolonged acne condition from his teenage years? Give the guy a break, apart from being an exceptionally smart guy he had to have some other redeeming qualities…right?

"Tsk." Peter wagged a finger at my nose and said, "She's after boosting up her grade from a C+ to a B in Chemistry man, 'tis the only explanation…I'd do you over Stephen any time, any day dude!"

"Me too!" Jack added loyally.

Had I not picked up on their slightly glazed looks, monotone tang and half empty vodka bottle I would have been seriously worried. As it was, Gavin and I shared a grin while the other two guys helped themselves to another shot of the alcohol. There were several reasons why I didn't drink and Gavin did so only on occasion, making sexual advances on our fellow frat brothers being definitely one of them. While I had opted out of living at the Frat House and had rented out a shared apartment instead, all three of my other friends still resided at the House and I visited them quite often. Today was not a party night at the House but that didn't seem to faze Jack and Peter. Sometimes I honestly wondered how those two had managed to get into our Frat which was one of those Honor Society slash Community Service themed ones. Half our guys had a steady 4.0 GPA and the other half had to maintain a minimum of a 3.4 to keep their membership.

"Anyway," Gavin continued, "you better do something about it soon Clark or your reputation will go down the drain."

I raised an eyebrow, "Pft."

Cue humiliating contradictory chance incident.

"Jack!…mmm…don't you look yummy this fine evening!" Catherine placed a sloppy kiss on my friend's cheek and proceeded to sit on Peter's lap. "Hello darling!"

Now that girl was a slut. She was a pledge for our sister sorority house and Peter's "little sister" during this school year. Tonight, Catherine was dressed in a skimpy leather mini skirt and a lacy, see-through top, I mean how much more obvious could she get? I glanced over at Gavin ready to roll my eyes when I noticed he was too busy staring at Cathy's tits to spare me any attention. "O, c'mon!" I jabbed my elbow on his ribs and glowered at him, "Are you for real dude?"

Gavin gave me a sheepish grin. He knew how much I disliked girls who just threw themselves at men; I have an issue with this type of behavior. Granted, the fact that I'm older brother to teenage triplets might have made me paranoid for life, but still. This was no type of behavior for a young woman!

No, I'm not gay just a conscientious objector, thank you very much.

"O, hello Saint Clark." Catherine sneered at me. Damn, I hadn't realized she'd heard me. "Why aren't you at like a monastery or something?"

"Hello Cathy." I said pleasantly through gritted teeth. "Why aren't you like at a whorehouse or something?" I finished mockingly and not so gentlemanly. That girl always knew how to push my buttons.

Gavin coughed to cover up his snort and Jack gave a lazy smile when he heard Catherine choking with fury.

"Hey! No calling my little sister a whore!" Peter protested and was rewarded by a promising smile from the girl sitting on his lap and a squeeze to his crotch. Honestly, how did I become friends with these guys again?

Catherine then turned to me, a mocking smile on her face. "No, it's okay Petey." She purred keeping eye contact with me, "Let him relieve some stress. He probably already heard what Holly has been saying about him."

I knew I shouldn't take the bait. In the end, I didn't even really have to since Gavin beat me to it. "What'd she say?"

"That he's a really terrible kisser and that even that geeky roommate of his knows how to pleasure a girl better than he does!" She crowed triumphantly.

Heat flooded my face. Oh shit! Don't let her say what I think she's about to-

"She also said they never fucked after that one time when he picked her up…" Catherine grinned like a cat ready to eat her prey, "Holly thinks she was his first screw and that now that she dumped him he won't have the balls to pick himself up again!"

Damn, she said it.

Fuck, everyone was looking at me.

"What?!" I snarled defensively, "It's not true!"

Jack raised an eyebrow, "Which part?"

I choked. Er…Wasn't he supposed to be drunk and, therefore, missing out on my humiliation? "C'mon guys! This is ridiculous. We all know I could have virtually any girl I want on this campus." That, at least, was true since both my parents had incredibly good features that they'd passed on to all four of their offspring. Regardless, I was reasonably smart, a natural athlete, a member of our university's soccer team, actively involved in student activities and generally liked by everyone. "Hey, does it even remotely look like I'm pining for Holly? I'm definitely on my feet." I assured them, inside I was fidgeting nervously.

Would they buy it?

"Prove it." Catherine smirked.

Perhaps not.

I wanted to run the hell away from that dare, instead I shrugged nonchalantly, "Yeah, okay."

"Kiss me!" She said immediately. When all four of us guys raised our eyebrows, Catherine flushed and tittered uneasily. "Just joking gawd!"

"Make out with the next girl to walk through that door." Gavin suggested after a pause pointing to our front entrance, "That'll shut Cathy and Holly the hell up. Show them you're not scared to be spontaneous and that you're no virgin!"

Riiiiiiiiiiiight. "Well, obviously I'm no virgin." I said wryly in a cocky voice that belied my inner turmoil. "But whatever, I'll do it." Shit. The truth was I had no desire to do such a thing. Perhaps now would be a good time to fess up. The night I met Holly was captured as only a blur in my mind. I have since suspected the presence of an illegal substance on my non-alcoholic drink because the next day I remembered nothing from the night's activities and the only proof that anything had happen was a naked Holly drooling all over my also very naked self.

Since then, I had barely made out with her a couple of times and rarely, make that never, touched her inappropriately. This might make me sound like I'm batting for the other team but, quite frankly; it comes right down to me being an old fashioned type of guy. Yes, laugh all you want but it's true. I'd always wanted to share that part of me with someone I truly cared for. In the end, I had only had sex with some random girl instead of making love to the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Which brings me to - I'm such a jerk. When I do meet the right girl I swear I'll offer her my right cheek and the chance to slug me one hard. Okay, so now you're wondering why, if I feel this way, I'm still willing to make out with the next random girl to walk into our House. Simple.

I'm a guy.

Its okay for me to have my own personal code privately in my head, but it's quite another to voice it out loud to my friends. It's hard. Girls are much better at expressing their feelings than we are and I have no intention of having my entire Frat House laughing at me. Sensitive guys have egos too, you know.

"…now! Clark? Clark!" Basically everyone was trying to get my attention.

"Huh?" I was completely spacing out. "What?"

Gavin elbowed me in the gut and pushed me forward in the general direction of the door. I could hear Catherine protesting in the background but I had no idea why. Hadn't she been the one to initiate the dare? I looked up and froze in my tracks. Oh shit.

A young woman wearing an elegant knee-length cocktail dress was fussing irately with the navy blue ribbon tied into a bow at the side of her head. She was medium height, slender, and sophisticated judging by the slight wrinkling of her nose as she scanned the room and spotted many of our rowdy members hanging out in boxers, holding beer in their hands. I briefly wondered what Emma Thorpton, of all people, was doing here in Frat Row. My question was quickly answered when I spotted her brother William pushing her completely into the room.

"Hey guys!" Our president bellowed out raucously. He was wearing an expensive Armani tux and a huge grin, "Boring dinner with the Board tonight, somebody amuse me!" His father, whom I was sure I would be meeting very, very soon, was the Dean of Students.

It all happened so fast I have trouble remembering the exact details.

Emma happened to glance away from her brother and right into my eyes. She smiled slightly and I forgot all about bolting back to my friends and demanding a different target. She had a beautiful smile, gorgeous green eyes. I took a step forward and Emma frowned; she looked away noting that she had made a mistake by making eye contact. A huge mistake.

"Hi Will." I said licking my dry lips, "Nice seeing you man."

He gave me a hearty slap on the back and beamed, "Malone, how's it going dude? You know my sister? Em get over here, meet my bro Clark."

At the time Emma had been half way out the door, she cringed when her brother call her back. She had probably seen something in my face that had warned her off, hell she still saw it because she approached me cautiously. "Good evening, Clark." She offered me her hand and I took it, stunned. Good evening?! Girl, where have you been all my life!

"Nice to meet you, Emma." My voice broke, I know it. "I've seen you around."

She smiled; her brother snickered. Her face was all over campus on the campaign posters for new Student Government President. I'm such an idiot. Now she was looking at me strangely and I knew exactly why when she glanced pointedly at our joined hands. I hadn't let her go. O, well, might as well make the reason for my expulsion from school worth it.

"Hey Will?" I spoke out loudly over the now noisy common room, "You still up for some entertainment?"

I think I heard Gavin gasp from somewhere over my shoulder. I scowled, did they really think I was such I wimp I wouldn't do it?

"Why? You up for it Malo – MALONE?!"

I think she knew what I was up to even before I closed the distance between our bodies by pulling her hand and resting it on my chest. Emma Thorpton narrowed her eyes at me and peeked behind my shoulder to stare at my friends. I don't know what she saw but it must have confirmed her suspicious. Damn, she's such a smart girl. However, she didn't pull away and when my lips tentatively brushed her mouth she simply closed her eyes.

They were so soft and moist. I could feel the heat pool at the pit of my stomach and my lips tremble as I lost contact then dipped again to gather her lower lip between my own. It was such an innocent kiss, not the make out type I was supposed to be taking from her. She sighed into my mouth, but did not return the kiss. I pulled back aghast…Emma's whole body was trembling.

My heart skipped a bit, I'm such a fuckin' ass. "Are you oka-"

William had me slammed against the wall within seconds. "What the fuck man?!" He bawled, then quite in a different, gentle tone he called over his shoulder, "You okay Em?"

"Yes. Let him go, Will." Her voice was quiet but shaking, "Don't hurt him…it was nothing."

Her brother cursed and swiveled his head from my pathetic self to her pleading eyes. He sighed in frustration and smashed his fist in my stomach. He turned to Emma with an apologetic smile as he let me fall to the floor, "I tried Sis, but he deserved it. Are you okay?"

Hoots and cat calls drowned out her reply and everyone else in the room got over the spectacle I had created. Oh shit. What had I just done?! My gut was throbbing but I couldn't muster enough energy to care. I'd felt something during that kiss, innocence – a repressed desire so much like my own before I'd met Holly. I couldn't believe it, it had to be true…but if it was…Shit, she's never going to forgive me.

"Emma!" Everyone was stunned when I yelled out her name as her brother ushered her out of the House, "Emma, wait!" I ran out into the dark street still calling her name."Wait!"

She did.

And so did her brother.

"Clark get the fuck away from my sister!!"

I winced, "Listen I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry. I don't know what I was think, that was so uncalled for and I was being such an ass, I'm really, really sorry-"

Emma's jaw had dropped open. "Did he just apologize for kissing me? Am I that unattractive?" She looked over at William for confirmation.

Fuck.

"No! No, no! I didn't mean it that way I-"

Will's fist was half-way to my face when her laughter froze both my dodging and his attacking self. Confused, we turned to stare at her sardonic expression, "Look, you're both such idiots. If I hadn't wanted Clark to kiss me I would have moved out of the way. He's not very subtle and neither are his friends." She gave me a crooked smile, "I'm head tutor at the Literature Department and I expect Cathy was trying to get on my good side by waving that napkin that read, 'kissing bet!' behind your back, Clark."

I paled.

Will reddened, "Why didn't you move away then?!" He growled accusingly, "You're just a little girl Emmy-"

She glared at him unbelievingly, "That right there is why I let a random guy kiss me!" Emma rolled her eyes, "I'm not a little girl anymore Will, I'm twenty years old and you and daddy will just have deal with it because I'm ready to be a woman!"

Now he was choking on air apparently.

"Granted that was my first kiss, but I'm definitely ready for more!"

I knew it! I was her first kiss!

"And since I'm no slut; Will meet my boyfriend Clark." She spared me a still heated glance, "Clark Malone, right?"

Oh shit. Now it was I who was choking on air.

When her brother tried to wildly protest, Emma raised a single finger, "One word – Barcelona."

Will shot me one last seething look, swore we would "talk" about this later, and turned angrily on his heel.

We were alone.

Emma and I.

Damn, I was going to piss in my pants.

"Look-" I began with every intention of offering her the reigns in our apparently new relationship, she beat me to it.

"As for you!" Emma hauled her arm back and, before I knew it, she slammed her fist into the right-hand side of my face. "There that's all I have to say about tonight. Now, where are you taking me tomorrow for our first date?"

I grinned goofily not knowing what to say. She punched my right cheek! I could die happy tonight…if it didn't mean never seeing Emma again.

We never did get the location for our date planned out that night. Emma thought it was quite pitiful of her to have only been kissed once in her entire life. She reasoned it was my fault and demanded I make amends immediately. Mindful of my unforgivable negligence I readily complied and between that, telling each other our lives' stories, and going back to fixing my mistake the night flew by and I had to drive her to her dorm.

Later the next day I called her, "Hey, love, two questions."

"Hmm?" I could hear her flipping through the pages of a book as she talked to me and I smiled.

"Where to tonight? Any place you want."

She named a funky burger place and I laughed. So much for sophisticated.

"Next question?" She asked sweetly after warning me her brother would be haunting my blood with a smirk in her voice.

I chuckled, "What happened in Barcelona?"

There was a pause in her response.

"I'll tell you that on our first wedding anniversary…" She trailed of quietly, I knew she was blushing.

My heart felt like it was about to explode. "Is that a promise?"

"Yes."

One of the reasons that I love my wife Emma so much is that she always keeps her promises.