For the Ridiculously Happy One Shot Challenge
Rules: Has to be a One Shot - Has to be more than 2500 words - The main pairing must be het - The story must be ridiculously happy so no angst or hurt/comfort - The phrase "for the Ridiculously Happy One Shot contest" must be in the summary - Can be any rating, but keep lemons to a minimum - Must be in the category Fiction Romance - Can be in the P.O.V of either the boy or girl - Must be submitted before May 11 - PM annoyance the URL of the story - The story must use irony - The girl must be significantly shorter than the guy, and he should make at least 3 comments about it - You may submit up to 3 stories - Submitted stories will be judged by voting
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Summary: She got lost in the way his body leaned over the pool table, the way his hands held the cue loosely but expertly, the way his arms moved as he made his shot, but even more so, the way his eyes were narrowed in concentration.
They stumbled into the bedroom, the door closing behind them with a soft click. His hands slid under her shirt, and his fingers danced softly across her stomach.
"Just to be clear," he whispered breathlessly, "this isn't what I had in mind when I asked you up here."
She pulled away from him and looked up at him. Her eyes were slightly glazed over, her cheeks flushed red, and her lips parted. Her breaths coming quickly, she raised her eyebrows. "You wanna stop?"
His grin was lopsided as he pushed her gently back against the door. "Hell no," he drawled, catching her mouth with his and sliding his tongue teasingly into her mouth…
The sound of laughter brought Eden Miller out of her reverie. Blinking, she looked around for the source and saw a horde of students heading toward the entrance to Montgomery University's main library, spilling out its double doors and into the sun-filled courtyard. Some were stretching their neck and arms, while others stood together and talked, laughing and joking around. Probably discussing what to do with their mid-semester break, Eden guessed as she slouched down in her seat and glared at them milling about outside. While they no doubt will spend their break at the beach or out shopping, Eden was going to be lucky to find time to eat, sleep, and shower in her week off.
So far, her final year at school had proved to be more difficult and time-consuming than the previous three years combined. Her teachers had begun to put even more pressure on her and her fellow peers to get their assignments and homework done on time, and Eden was starting to feel it. Not only did she have to finish her Greek Philosophy essay by Monday to be handed in on Tuesday, she also had a take-home exam to complete, one three thousand word essay on the influences of the work of Aristotle on Psychology today, and a presentation to put together. She could foresee late nights for her for the next week.
Not that she should be complaining. She had made the decision to transfer to Montgomery University to complete the last year of her four-year degree, and while she missed her family and friends, she had come to like the campus on which she lived and studied. She was just feeling grumpy knowing that so many other people were going to have a relatively easy, laid-back break while she was going to be working non-stop every day. There was also the fact that she couldn't stop thinking about Dante Mancini and her night with him one month ago. When flashes of his tattooed arms filled her head, she told herself in a stern voice to stop thinking about it. You have work to do, Eden, she thought, and thinking about Dante isn't going to help you finish your assignments.
Sighing, she straightened in her seat and glared down at her notebook. She had been in the library for going on four hours now and she still hadn't managed to finish the first draft of her Greek Philosophy essay. She only had the conclusion to write now, but her mind was refusing to cooperate. She didn't blame it. If she had a choice, she'd just chuck it all in and call it a day. But she couldn't. She needed to get it done sooner rather than later, so that she'd have more time to work on everything else during the week.
Tapping her pen against the notebook, she re-read the last paragraph she had written, but she could hardly understand the words looking back at her. Her usual neat and loopy handwriting had become a lazy chicken scratch over the past hour. Seems her hand was refusing to cooperate with her, too. Smoothing out the page, she slowly deciphered her writing and re-wrote the paragraph. She wasn't sure how many words her essay was comprised of so far, preferring to write out her assignments by hand first, but she was sure she was either close to the limit or just over it. She only needed a few more sentences to wrap her arguments up, but everything that came to mind sounded too repetitive.
Groaning in frustration, she threw her pen down onto her notebook where it skidded across the page and landed on the table. Closing her eyes, she rubbed them tiredly, trying to prevent the headache she was sure was beginning to form.
"Now what did that pen ever do to you to deserve such treatment?"
Eden's hands paused and her body stiffened at the sound of his voice. Lifting her head, she looked at the boy – no, the man, standing in front of her. Clad in old, torn jeans, and a black Led Zeppelin t-shirt, he stood in front of her casually – almost lazily, like he didn't have a care in the world. Which he probably didn't, Eden mused, her eyes drifting over him appreciatively. She took note of the way his shirt clung to him in all the right places, and the way the muscles in his arms tensed and flexed every now then, causing the tattoos that covered them to look like they were moving of their own accord. She remembered the way those arms had held her, the way his hands had touched her softly and gently.
Snapping her head up, she blinked away those thoughts and looked into his grey-green eyes. They were framed by the blackest of black lashes and sparkled mischievously as they stared back at her. The corner of his mouth lifted slowly as his mouth formed his famous lopsided grin. Eden's heart just about skipped ten beats.
Clearing her throat awkwardly, she reached out and picked up the pen saying, "Hey Dante" in the process.
"Hey yourself, Shorty," he said, as he pulled out the chair opposite her and slid into it gracefully.
Eden scrunched up her nose at the nickname. "How many times have I asked you not to call me that?"
Dante chuckled. "I don't believe you've ever actually asked," he said. "More like told me."
"Whatever," she mumbled, rolling her eyes.
"You know I mean it in a good way. I like that you're shorter than me."
"I'm not that much shorter," Eden said defensively, though both she and Dante knew that was a complete lie.
"No, your five foot three frame is not at all considerably shorter than my six foot four frame," Dante replied sarcastically. "Not at all."
Throwing a crumpled up piece of paper at him, Eden scowled and leaned over her notebook, pretending to work and trying hard not to think about the last time she had seen Dante Mancini. She could feel his eyes following her every move, however, and soon, she couldn't take the scrutiny any more.
"What what?" He smoothed out the piece of paper and started scribbling something on the back of it.
"What do you want? What are you doing here?"
"I saw you through the window," he jerked his thumb over his shoulder without looking up. "Thought I'd come in and say hi."
"Okay, then, hi."
When he didn't leave, Eden rolled her eyes and sat back in her chair slouching down slightly. Folding her arms across her chest, she asked, "Seriously, what are you doing here?"
He looked up and frowned. "You shouldn't slouch down like that," he said, dodging her question easily. "It makes you look even shorter."
"Don't change the subject."
Looking back down at the paper, he said softly, "You've been avoiding me."
It was a statement, not a question, and in truth, she had been avoiding him. Something she had found rather difficult considering Dante was somewhat of a social creature and was either friends with everyone or knew them through a friend of a friend. She had lost count of how many times she had spotted him on her way to class and how many times she had quickly changed her route to avoid running into him. She had discovered parts of the campus she hadn't known existed as a result.
"I've been busy," she lied. "You know how it is."
"Not really, no." He looked up and added with a wink, "One of the perks of being an art student."
"Well, being a liberal studies student with a major in Ancient History is hard and time-consuming."
He raised his eyebrows. "Oh, I don't doubt that. But surely school doesn't take up every single minute of your time."
"It's my last year," Eden shrugged. "I've been pretty busy so far."
"You weren't too busy to enjoy a party a month ago," he commented.
Eden clenched her jaw and looked down at her lap. "A month ago the mid-semester break wasn't about to start. I wasn't swamped with assignments then."
He nodded slowly. "But you are now? You have been since then?"
"That's what I said."
Again, he nodded slowly. "Okay, you don't want to talk about it. I can accept that. So what would you prefer to talk about?"
Eden stared at him in disbelief. He was busy scribbling away to notice the expression on her face. "I'd prefer to finish my essay and go home, actually."
"Sounds good to me." He looked up and smiled. "You finish up and when you're ready, we'll go back to your place and hang out."
"Uh…" Eden started, frowning. Before she could utter another word, though, Dante interrupted her telling her that he was going to go back to her place and they were going to hang out, whether she liked it or not.
"How else am I supposed to get you to fall for me?" he asked, grinning cheekily.
Eden frowned. She really wished he would stop scribbling on that paper. "Dante…"
"I know what you're going to say," he cut her off, "but I don't really want to hear it."
"You're kind of annoying like that."
He grinned. "I know."
Shaking her head, Eden looked away and smiled. Memories of the first time she had met Dante suddenly filled her head. It had been her fifth week at the new university, and her two housemates had practically dragged her out on a Friday night claiming that she needed to relax and have some fun for once. She had been unenthusiastic about the outing at first, not really being one to enjoy drinking and partying – or social situations, for that matter – but eventually decided that she did indeed deserve a night off from her studies.
The bar her housemates, Teresa and Madison, had taken her to had been busy that night, but having been there many times before, Teresa and Madison were able to secure a booth, which they settled in for the night. After four drinks and lots of laughing, Eden was buzzed. It was then she first noticed Dante Mancini. He had been in the process of taking his shot during a game of pool, his friends standing around him and cheering him on. For some reason, Eden hadn't been able to take her eyes off of him. She got lost in the way his body leaned over the pool table, the way his hands held the cue loosely but expertly, the way his arms moved as he made his shot, but even more so, the way his eyes were narrowed in concentration. They had been intense, and she had been able to tell when she looked into them, that he had blocked out any and all distractions.
Madison had noticed her looking at Dante because a few seconds later, she smiled and told Eden who he was. "He's single," she added, her eyes twinkling at Eden in amusement.
Eden rolled her eyes. "Obvious, much?"
Madison threw her head back and laughed. Teresa chose that moment to return to their booth with more drinks. When she asked what Madison was laughing about, Madison pounced. "Eden here was just blatantly checking out Dante."
Teresa's eyebrows lifted as she smiled and glanced over at the pool table, obviously not needing an explanation as to who Dante was. "Not a bad choice, Eden. You know he's single?" she asked sliding in next to Madison.
"Yes, I was just told," Eden nodded, taking a sip of her Malibu and Coke.
"Why don't you go over and introduce yourself?"
"What, I can't just appreciate the looks of a guy from afar? I have to go over and try and hook up with him, too?" Eden asked.
"Oh hell no," Madison said. "Appreciate all you want, but there was a look there…"
Madison thought for a moment. "I don't know. It was like time stood still for you when you were looking at him."
Eden glanced at Teresa and then back at Madison before bursting out with laughter. "That was so cheesy, Madison," she managed to get out, clutching her side in pain. Teresa joined Eden in laughter, the two of them mocking Madison for her remark.
"Oh shut up!" Madison said. "You know what I mean!"
When they finally stopped laughing, Teresa said, "Seriously Eden, you should go over and talk to him."
Eden glanced back at Dante. He was now standing with one hand in the front pocket of his jeans and the other hand holding a mug of beer, talking to the guy standing next to him. Even from her seat across the room, she could see the tattoos on his arms, and while she had never really fancied guys with tattoos before, Dante made his tattoos look good. She felt an instant attraction to him, too, which she had never felt with a guy before. It was a little overwhelming. As if sensing someone looking at him, he suddenly looked in her direction, but before he could notice her and make eye contact, Eden looked away.
"Nah, I don't think so," Eden finally said in reply to Teresa's suggestion. "He's not really my type."
Her housemates dropped the issue quickly, sensing that Eden didn't want to discuss it any further. In truth, Eden had felt too shy to approach him that night. She had noticed that he was friendly with a lot of people at the bar and felt that if she had approached him, she would have only made a fool of herself.
Eventually, it was Eden's turn to buy a round of drinks, so after taking her friends' orders, she ambled over to the bar and waited in line. When the girl serving her placed the three drinks on the bar and told Eden how much it would be, a voice interrupted them over Eden's shoulder.
"This round's on me."
Turning to look over her shoulder, Eden found herself staring into the dark grey-green eyes of Dante Mancini. Looking away quickly, she said, "You don't have to do that."
"I know I don't have to, but I want to." He pulled a couple of bills out of his wallet and handed it over to the girl behind the bar. When he shoved his change back in his wallet and his wallet back in his back pocket, he picked up two of the drinks, and said, "Lead the way."
Picking the other drink up, Eden manoeuvred her way through the crowd and back to her booth. Madison and Teresa raised their eyebrows when they saw Dante following Eden, but they didn't say anything.
"Hey Dante," Madison said cheerfully.
"Ladies," Dante greeted easily. Turning to Eden he added, "I know these two, but you, I don't know."
Teresa quickly introduced them. "Eden transferred here at the beginning of the year."
"Ah," Dante nodded slowly. "That would explain why I've never seen you around before." Then, looking her over slowly, he added, "Although, as short as you are, it'd be understandable if someone happened to miss you in the crowd."
When Eden blushed in embarrassment, Madison quickly came to her aid. "He's just teasing, Eden. He can't help it. He was born that way."
Dante placed his hand on his chest. "Oh, your wit. It kills me."
"So did you win your game?" Teresa asked, nodding her head in the direction of the pool table.
"Of course I did. How else do you think I paid for your drinks?" Teresa reached out to smack him, but he dodged her hand easily, laughing as he did so.
When someone called his name out, Dante looked over his shoulder. "That's my cue, I'm afraid." Turning back to the booth, he nodded at Madison and Teresa before looking at Eden. "It was nice meeting you, Shorty. I'll see you around campus, hopefully."
As she watched him walk back to his friends, Eden silently thought that that was probably going to be the last time she ever spoke to him. They were just too different, and ran in different circles that she couldn't imagine how they'd ever run into one another again. A week later, however, run into him she did. He had been outside her class one day claiming that he had just been walking by when he saw her in class and decided to wait for her, but she knew that either Teresa or Madison – or both – had told him where he could find her. He had asked her to have lunch with him, but she declined and rushed off to her next class. That didn't stop him from constantly popping up unexpectedly every three or four days. It also didn't stop him from asking her out, but she declined his offers. He never seemed to take it to heart, though, and when she asked him why, he shrugged and said, "You're going to say yes one day. I know you will. And until then, I can wait."
For the next five months, Dante pursued Eden eagerly. She often wondered why considering they really had nothing in common. Not to mention the fact that she had declined his offer to hang out more times than she could count. Any other person would have given up after three rejections. Not Dante, though. Madison teased her by saying that the boy was in love, but Eden didn't believe that. He barely knew her to be in love with her.
Then, one day, Eden had finally agreed to go to a party with him. When he had voiced his invitation, Eden intended to answer him with an automatic, "I can't" but instead found her voice and mouth forming the word, "Yes." Dante had been thrilled.
"I told you you'd say yes eventually," he had said, winking at her. "No woman can resist my charm."
When the night of the party had arrived, Eden had become a nervous wreck. In the five months that Dante had pursued her, she had acknowledged that she was attracted to him, but dating was the last thing on her mind. After all, she had purposely transferred to a different university in order to do away with the unnecessary distraction that boys and dating could be, and yet she had agreed to do just that – go on a date with a boy she found she couldn't stop thinking about. Talk about irony. Madison and Teresa had reassured her that going out with Dante was a good thing, and that they would be attending the party, too, so if she needed an escape route, she could count on them.
Feeling better about everything, Eden arrived at the party in good spirits. Dante had picked her up on time and had even brought her flowers. On the way over to the party, he had apologised that their first date was just that – a party – and explained that when he had asked her to go, he hadn't been anticipating her to agree. Had he known that, he would have picked a better location. Eden didn't mind, though. She preferred the idea of there being a lot of people she could mingle with if things got awkward or she and Dante didn't click.
Not that she had to worry about that – an hour after arriving at the party, Eden found herself being pulled upstairs by Dante who wanted to find a quiet room to talk in. When he found an empty room though, Eden had felt an overwhelming desire to kiss him, and so, completely unlike her, she leaned toward him and did just that. What had meant to be a simple and innocent kiss had quickly turned into something more.
A loud bang brought Eden back to reality. Jumping at the sound, she saw a girl a few years younger than her looking guilty as she picked up a large book off of the floor. Looking away, Eden started when she found Dante smiling at her knowingly. Losing herself in her memories, she had completely forgotten about him sitting across from her.
"Thinking about me, were you?" he asked arrogantly.
"Not everyone thinks the sun shines out of your ass, you know," Eden snapped, blushing.
He smiled. "No, just you."
"I do not think the sun shines out of your ass."
"Maybe not," he shrugged, "but you do like me."
"You think pretty highly of yourself, don't you?"
"I just tell it like it is, Eden," he said seriously, using her first name. "I know you like me. And I like you. And I don't regret what happened that night."
"You think I regret it?" she asked, frowning.
"You're the one who's been avoiding me," he pointed out.
"I was the one that initiated the whole thing," she argued. "If I was going to end up regretting it, I wouldn't have kissed you."
"At least you're admitting that we had sex," he said.
Eden sighed. "What do you want from me, Mancini?"
"Why can't you admit that you like me and that we'd be good together?"
"I didn't transfer to this university to find some guy to date. I came here to finish my degree and graduate."
"You can't do both?"
Eden hesitated and then looked away. She could do both, but she didn't belong in Lawrence, Montgomery. This was not her home. It was just a place she was living in until she could go back home. If she started dating Dante properly, it would only make her leaving that much harder. She was also afraid that being with him would make her not want to leave and she didn't know if she'd be able to handle living so far away from her family.
"Alright, it's clear you don't want… whatever this is to go any further," Dante said, pushing his chair back. Eden watched him stand up, part of her glad that he was finally leaving and part desperately wanting him to stay. "If you change your mind, you know where to find me."
Eden's jaw tightened. She didn't want him to leave, but she didn't know how to explain how she was feeling. "Dante, I…"
"Yes?" he prompted when she paused.
"I… I'm sorry," she said finally, biting her bottom lip and cursing herself for her cowardice.
Dante frowned slightly, and then nodded and walked away. She watched his retreating back even after he had left the building. His long stride took him across the courtyard and around the corner, disappearing from her sight. She stared out the window deciding whether or not to go after him. After what felt like forever, she finally looked away and stared numbly at the table, hating herself for not having the guts to admit her feelings.
Sighing, she closed her notebook and began to pack her belongings away. There was no point trying to finish up her essay now; there was no way she'd be able to concentrate. When she pushed her chair back and stood up, she noticed the piece of paper Dante had been scribbling on. Picking it up, she stared down at the image looking back at her. It was a drawing of her. Dante had drawn her portrait. She wasn't just merely looking at her own face, though. She was looking at her face the way Dante saw her. As she took in her own wavy hair, her own cat-shaped eyes, her own upturned nose, and even the dust of freckles across her cheeks and nose, Eden found that she was unable to contain the smile that was slowly forming. Dante had managed to capture Eden's fiery and lively nature in the simple drawing that even Eden herself couldn't see when she looked in the mirror every day. He had also added a hint of vulnerability to the drawing that Eden hadn't realised she had. It was obvious from the drawing that whatever Dante's feelings for Eden were, they were strong, and so, biting her lip, she made her decision to go after him. Grabbing her bag, she pulled the strap over her head, and with the piece of paper still in her hand, she raced out of the library and in the direction Dante had gone.
Rounding the corner, she searched the parking lot behind the library. When she was sure he wasn't there, she backtracked and searched the parking lots to the left of the library. He was in the far left one, leaning against a motorbike, his arms folded across his chest. As she approached him quickly, she saw the lopsided grin on his face.
Stopping two feet away from him, she smiled. "You waited."
"I knew you'd come to your senses. You just needed some incentive." He motioned to the paper in her hand.
Looking down at it, she nodded, her smile getting wider. "Is this really how you see me?" she asked, holding the paper up so he could see the drawing.
Tucking her hair behind her ears, she cleared her throat nervously. "I'm sorry about before. You were right. I do like you. A lot."
Taking a deep breath, Eden blew it out and looked up at him. "But I don't want the day to come when I have to choose between you and my home; my family and friends."
"Who says you have to choose?"
"What, you're going to follow me back home when I graduate?"
He shrugged. "If we're still together then, sure; why not?"
Eden shook her head, frowning. "I can't ask you to do that."
"Good thing you're not asking then."
"Your life is here, Dante. You can't just leave."
"My life is my art, and I can do art anywhere I want," he corrected her. "Besides, we haven't actually started dating yet. Why are you talking about leaving already?"
"I guess I just… like to have a plan. To be prepared."
"Don't you find that boring?" When Eden didn't say anything, he added, "Look, how about you get on this bike, we go back to your place and hang out, and we see where this thing goes. Whatever happens, happens."
Eden looked up at him and wondered how he could be so casual about everything. In a way, she hated it because all her life she had been organised and prepared, and being blasé about things was a foreign concept for her, but in another way, she found it refreshing that he could just shrug things off and get on with life.
Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "Whatever happens, happens," she agreed. "But I don't know if I can get on that bike with you."
Dante pretended to look hurt. "Don't you trust me?"
"I don't trust the bike. And if I get on, I might just squeeze the life out of you."
Dante shook his head and chuckled. "Get on, Shorty," he ordered.
Eden screwed her nose up. "Okay, you really need to stop with the Shorty crap."
"Uh, because I hate being reminded that I could very well be mistaken for a ten-year-old?"
Dante looked at her seriously. "You know why I like that you're short?"
"I make a good leaning pole?" she asked sarcastically.
"No," he replied, rolling his eyes. "Because when I do this," he stepped up to her, wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and drew her against his body, "you fit perfectly."
Pulling away from him, she looked up and cringed. "That was really cheesy, Mancini."
"Good thing I like cheese, then," was all he said as he stepped away from her and threw his right leg over the bike. Settling down, he patted the seat behind him. "Now get on."
Shaking her head, Eden clutched her bag in front of her and straddled the bike behind Dante. "You're such a dork," she said, wrapping her arms around his waist and tucking her head down against his back.
"You love it."
Kicking the bike into life, Dante reversed and then accelerated out of the parking lot. As the wind whipped past her and the bike rumbled beneath her, Eden smiled against Dante's back, glad that she had made the decision to transfer to a different university.
Author's note: Inspired by a dream I had one night a little while ago. Let me know what you think! Thanks :D
Also - Lawrence, Montgomery and Montgomery University are places I randomly made up. If either happens to be a real life place, that's just pure coincidence.