Classes at the university alternated every other day. With that in mind, Alia sent up a small prayer of thanks as she slid into the truck. As Era drove them to school, Alia was utterly pleased to know Jack would not be waiting for her in first period. It was a different day and a different class. A brand new start. So Alia casually walked through the halls of school with a hop in her step.
However, these light steps eventually slowed and in each passing moment, her lips curled lower and lower from a smile, to a frown, to an angered sneer. A crispy bacon and campfire smoke scent grew stronger and stronger with every step she took. The smell was overpowering as she stood in the doorway to her classroom.
She spotted the culprit right away and froze, her hazel eyes burning furiously. Well, technically she had been right, Jack was not waiting for her.
A short, curvy, brunette was seated before Jack on his desk, her capri-clad legs swinging seductively off the side. Jack's honey eyes shone like amber and were completely focused on the girl before him.
But as Alia stayed fuming in the doorway, she noticed his irises slowly peel themselves away from the brunette and shift in her direction. If Alia was not mistaken, she saw his nose twitching. He must have scented her.
DUCK! immediately flashed through her mind.
Without hesitation, Alia hunkered down into a ball on the floor. Unfortunately, the professor had just arrived and made his entrance a second later. Not assuming a student would be crouched at his feet, he kept his gaze fixed on the sliver of steam rising from his cup of java and tripped bluntly over the speed bump known to some as Alia.
When the professor tripped over her, she was knocked flat on the floor, her back laying there like a perfect target. Jack's eyes zeroed in on the coffee, watching in fascination as the brown liquid spilled from the professor's hand and dumped over Alia's form.
The hot liquid spilled on her white sweatshirt, which acted as a thin shield. The coffee quickly spread through to her pink tank top underneath and then to her skin. With an undignified yelp, she crawled out of her sweatshirt and then stripped the thin tank top off over her head.
Dropping her clothes to the floor, Alia pressed a cool hand to her back, trying to ease the pain away.
"Too cute," Jack thought with a wry smile. Alia's long, lean arms were gently stroking a giant red splotch on her back.
"A-hem," the professor broke into the awkward and stiff atmosphere.
Alia stilled, her whole body flushing a maroon shade, matching the wound on her back. "Uh-oh," she said. Her arms immediately left her back and wound around her front. How had this happened to her?
Her eyes were closed as she bent her knees to the floor. One hand left her body and sought out the clothes she knew had to be around there somewhere. As her fingertips grasped the rumpled fabric, she heard boisterous, male laughter. Jack.
Everyone else in the class stared speechless. The professor finally recovered from his shock, and began to apologize profusely. He shuffled to the desk, tearing through drawers looking for napkins or something.
All the while, Jack laughed. He laughed hard, loud, and long. Alia glared as her lips quivered with a growl. If she were not already so embarrassed, she would have lunged at him and taken a bite out of his neck. And not the claiming kind of bite, either, but the disciplining kind.
"Jack! the professor yelled. "If you think this is so funny, then you can lend Alia your shirt!"
"Sure thing, Professor. It would be my honor," Jack said, wiping away a tear he was shocked to find real. He had not laughed this hard in years.
Smiling widely, he stood from his metal chair and seductively peeled his shirt off with a wink to the brunette still sitting a few inches away. The other girls were all watching too, some quite obviously and others secretly.
Alia's eyes were transfixed upon the brunette, her hazel eyes burning holes into the midget.
Jack's soft black shirt smothered Alia's face. She inhaled deeply and mentally cursed as she retained a groan. So good. Why did he have to smell so good? He was like roasted bacon, fresh, roasted bacon and fire. Spicy and meaty and...Alia growled. How dare he do this to her! She ripped the shirt from her face and threw it onto the floor before stomping on it repeatedly with her sandal-covered foot.
"I would rather go shirtless!" she yelled to no one in particular.
The teacher made a strangled noise, and Alia looked at him to see what was wrong. He was...blushing?
Frowning, Alia turned to the rest of the students to see wild expressions worn by each of them. Jack was smiling wolfishly with a look daring her to go ahead. Alia frowned deeper, tracking her thoughts to recall what she had just said. Realization, albeit late, finally set in.
"DANG IT!" she yelled. She swiped Jack's shirt off the floor and left for the bathroom. As she stomped her way, she swatted the dust off the fabric, hating Jack more and more.
A few minutes later she reentered the classroom with her hair pulled back under a headband and Jack's loose shirt enveloping her body. It was still warm. The shirt's hem covered half of her butt while the sleeves nearly reached her elbow. Reeking of his scent, the shirt was much too comfortable. Alia wanted to curl up within its soft depths and sleep like she was hibernating. The class appeared to have recovered from the morning shock, most of the students minding their own business.
"Again, Alia, I am so sorry. I did not see you there. What were you doing on the floor?" Professor Alves asked as she swiped her bag off the floor and and walked to her seat.
"With all due respect, sir, I think I have suffered far too much humiliation today. I don't really feel like going through more willingly, especially when fate may have something else planned for me later," she groaned as she slipped into her seat.
Professor Alves nodded with a shrug of his shoulders and then called out names for attendance. The class was theater, but the school put it in the same category as art. As one of the heads for the art department, Professor Alves taught a variety of those classes.
As an art major, Alia was delighted to learn he would be teaching many of her classes. Unfortunately, Jack was also an art major. Therefore he would be in many of the same classes as she.
Alia snuck a look at Jack. Ugh. He almost took away every joy she had in art. Almost.
Trying to focus on the professor, Alia kept sneaking looks back at Jack. He was wearing a black wife-beater, a look she despised, but his arms caught her attention. There was an intense tan line across the middle of his bicep, the line somehow accentuating the curve and dip of his lean muscle.
Alia sighed. She could remember tracing those seductive lines in bed. Even now her fingertips warmed at the memory.
Feeling Alia's gaze, Jack shuffled in his seat, leaning forward to place his elbows on the desk. As he moved, he purposefully squeezed his biceps. He smirked when he heard her small gasp.
As much as Jack had wanted to leave Alia in the past, he all too suddenly felt pleasure in knowing she would be in his future. Teasing her was almost too much fun. Almost.
When class let out, Alia walked down the hall trying to hide her giggles at all the stares Jack was receiving. At first she was mad that others were looking at her mate, but the looks were too funny! The girls' eyes nearly bugged out of their heads, one even appeared to be drooling.
Alia's emotions went from anger, to amusement, to disgust. Had the girls no decency? She could control herself despite being his mate. Those girls had no excuse.
After noticing she was walking in the same direction as Jack, Alia stopped for a moment, choosing to lean her forehead against the wall. Two strong arms circled around her from behind as a lime and pine scent flew into her nostrils with a tickle.
"Ah!" she yelped as she was lifted off the ground.
The person holding her nuzzled her neck, and Alia's stilled. Had the person just mock bit her? She could have sworn she felt the lightest nibble of teeth.
Once she was put back down, she swirled around to see Pressley grinning brightly. His green eyes were bright and flickering with amusement, however, they dulled and darkened when he saw what she was wearing. His smile fell into a confused frown.
Bending his six foot body down, he pressed his nose to the black material covering her shoulder. "Is that Jack's shirt?" he asked when he pulled back, tugging on the fabric over her stomach.
"Yeah. Long story," Alia answered with a shrug, avoiding Pressley's displeased eyes.
"Long story, huh?" Pressley asked, his tone playful. Alia nodded, staring pointedly at Pressley's green shirt. It was a simple tee, the lone decoration a small pocket. "I hate long stories. What a waste of time," he replied with another grin.
Alia laughed lightly, her finger rising to trace the tiny pocket over Pressley's heart. "I guess."
Next thing she knew, he shucked his shirt off, but unlike Jack, Pressley only wore bare skin and a six pack underneath. And also unlike Jack, there were no tan lines on Pressley's skin, just beautiful, sun-kissed flesh.
"Here," he said, putting his shirt in her hand. "Now, if anybody asks, you can tell them, 'Pressley didn't want me stuck in a jerk's shirt and sacrificed his own.' A perfect, short story."
Alia laughed and took the shirt thankfully. She hugged him quickly, giving his bare back a quick pat before breaking away. She shouted out her thanks as she ran to the bathrooms.
Pressley merely waved with an entertained laugh.