The Guy Next Door

I was in love with him – the frat boy, the guy who lived across the hall. But he would only talk with me when he was drunk; otherwise, he'd act like I didn't exist. Talk about being unlucky in love.

"Bleh." I waved my hand in front of my nose, trying desperately to move the noxious cigarette fumes away from my face. "Do you really have to blow that in my direction?"

"It's not my fault that you're sitting on this side," came his lazy response, "so just move over here."

Grumbling a few profanities to myself, I slid off the trunk of his car and moved over to the other side of him. I hoisted myself up onto the car and laid down again, resting my head on his shoulder. He tensed up underneath me but didn't push me away. Instead, he used his free hand to reach up and run his hands through my hair, just like he did every time he was drunk.

I sighed at the contact, pushing myself closer into his body. I knew that moments like this never lasted for long. When the two of us were sober and ran into one another on campus or in the dorm that we both happened to live in, he would never say a single word to me. In fact, he barely even acknowledged that I was alive. He'd just stare at me for a moment and my heart would flutter while I hoped that he would say something… anything to me. But that never happened. He'd turn away and pretend that he didn't see me and that was what killed me.

The man that I was in love with only found me tolerable when he was drunk.

I still remembered the first moment I saw him; he had moved in across the hall at the same I did. As soon as I laid eyes on him, I knew I was done. I wasn't sure how long I had stared at him from our suite's common room, but I couldn't seem to pry my eyes away from him. He was wearing an Underarmour spandex shirt at the time, giving me an almost perfect view of just how toned his muscles were as he lifted the heavy boxes from the trolley onto the table in the common room with ease.

It wasn't until my suitemate came out of her room and smacked me on the head that I realized I might have been staring a little bit too intensely. As my best friend lectured me for checking out our new neighbors, I realized that he was now watching me the same way I had been gawking at him a few seconds ago. I immediately began blushing and slammed the door shut when I saw a small smirk slip on his face.

Over the next few days, I saw him everywhere I went. He always seemed to coming out of his room at the same time I was. In between class, I'd see him hanging out with a group of friends who were equally as attractive as him, garnering the attention of all the girls around him. I even had Financial Accounting with him, but he sat down next to a friend on the opposite side of the room I was on.

Not once did he come up to speak to me, even though I knew he recognized me as the girl who openly checked him out in his dorm room.

It wasn't until the very first Friday night of the semester that he finally approached me. I was clearly drunk and struggling immensely as I tried to shove my key into the lock. I heard someone chuckle from next to me through the blurry haze. I had turned around to start yelling at whoever it was, but I immediately froze when I saw it was him. The words I had wanted to scream were lost in my throat as I was rendered speechless by his gorgeous face.

"You're seem to be having a hard time with that; do you want to come in?" he had asked, holding open the door to his suite. Unsure of what to do or what to say, I stood there idly with my mouth open. He rolled his eyes at my frozen form and reached out to yank me inside. The moment he touched me, my breath stopped. I couldn't have imagined the spark as his fingers wrapped around my arm; I knew he had to have felt that same sensation. After he had gotten me into his suite, he quickly dropped my hand and headed to the mini fridge that sat next to their television. "Where did you go tonight?" he asked, tossing me a water bottle from the fridge.

"My friend was having a housewarming party. It got a little bit out of hand." I had sighed, opening the bottle he had given me. "What about you?"

"My frat had an event at Murphy's." He said, sitting down next to me on the couch. "PKA." He immediately answered before I could ask what frat he was in. "I'm Ryan Faulkner, by the way. And you are?" He asked, his dark brown eyes gazing down at me.

"Alison Cooper."

That night was the beginning of a tradition that we unknowingly began for the next seven months. Whenever he got drunk (which was almost every weekend), he would knock on my door and we would sit somewhere and talk for what seemed like hours. If the weather permitted, we'd sit on the balcony or on the trunk of his car and stare up at the sky. We never ran out of topics to talk about and week by week, I found myself falling for him on a deeper level.

It also didn't help that he took these moments to touch me in subtle ways. His fingers would skim against my thigh, run through my hair and flit down my face. He'd let his arm rest around me and pull me into his body so that we could cuddle together, but he'd never take it to the next level. Sometimes when he came back, he'd have the perfume of some other girl on him. Other times, he'd have what I assumed were phone numbers written on his hand but I never cared.

Ultimately at the end of the night, I'd be in his arms.

But unfortunately, this friendship we developed only seemed to be allowed during these drunken moments we shared. After our first night together, I had spotted him sitting on a bench with someone I assumed to be a 'brother' from his fraternity. I made the mistake of walking up to him and trying to start a conversation because his reaction was beyond cold.

He stared at me as if he didn't even know who I was and I could see his friend starting to crack a smile. Frustrated by his behavior, I spat out a 'fuck you' and walked away, determined to never talk to him again. That previous night, we had actually talked for more than five hours until the sun rose. Less than ten hours later, he was acting as if he'd never seen me before.

That night, I heard an incessant knocking at my door. Seeing as it was two in the morning and I'd just had a long girls' night with my two other suitemates, I was already falling asleep on my feet. The last thing any of us needed was an unexpected guest at this hour. I swung open the door while I still had a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth and almost gagged on it when I saw Ryan standing at my front door.

The shock of seeing him was overridden by anger when I saw his face. The blatant cold shoulder he had given me earlier that day wasn't forgotten and it took every fiber in my body to not slam the door shut. Defying logic, I opened the door and walked silently towards the bathroom to spit out the remaining toothpaste. When I walked back into the common room, I saw him standing there and staring at the corkboard full of photos that we had set up. "Ryan." I said, catching his attention. He turned towards me, his dark eyes not blinking as I instinctively took a step backwards into my room. "What are you doing here?"

Before I could do anything, he had covered the distance between us and pulled me into his arms. Whatever fight I had left in my body disappeared as soon as he crushed me against his chest. I could smell the alcohol on his breath so I didn't question him as he began mumbling nonsensical words, most of which I couldn't understand. I could, however, catch the mumbled apologies he was uttering for the way he had treated me earlier that day. I felt my icy exterior melt away as my heart thumped heavily in my chest. I'd only known him for a day and I was already a spineless mush in his hands. Not liking the way that his touch and his words were affecting me, I untangled myself from his arms. "It's fine, Ryan. Do you want to come in?"

After hesitating for a second, he nodded and shut the door behind him. We stayed up yet again until sunrise, watching reruns of Law and Order: SVU. Even as his buzz wore off, he sat next to me on my bed, betting on which one of us could guess the outcome of each episode.

As the hours passed, I still couldn't believe that this dark-haired Adonis was sitting in my room and hanging out with me, one-on-one when I knew other college girls were throwing themselves at him at his frat events.

Tonight was no different. His frat was having a mixer with their sister sorority but he had left early after I had texted him that the wine from my girls' night was making me sleepy. After not getting a response, I assumed that their mixer had gotten a little out of hand and wouldn't be showing up. Half an hour later though, he stepped into my room with a brilliant smile and half a dozen leis around his neck. I felt a little bad about dragging him away from what appeared to be an interesting night, but I couldn't say I was disappointed to note that he had left that behind to be with me.

"Hey." I suddenly heard him say as he tugged gently at my hair. I was forced to look up at him, the angles of his jaw line emphasized by the street lights. "What're you thinking about?"

I blushed and looked down, fiddling with the hem of my shirt. "You." I mumbled, already feeling the red-hot blush creeping up my cheeks. If I weren't tipsy, I would never have the courage to admit that to him. Of course if it were a normal day, I wouldn't even have the opportunity to talk with him.

"Oh, really?" I could almost hear the cocky smirk on his face, but I didn't dare to look up at him. "What about me?" His fingers resumed combing through my hair and I could only thank God that I had decided to take a shower before he came stumbling into my room a little after midnight.

"How we first met."

"Aaaah, yes." He chuckled to himself, putting out the cigarette on his car. "I remember that day perfectly." Suddenly, he used his other hand and turned slightly so that he could place it on my waist. Before I knew what was happening, he had pulled me over his body so that I was straddling his hips. I had no idea what was going on as I kneeled over him, bracing myself with my hands. I knew I was shaking from head to toe; if he didn't know how I felt about him then, surely he had to have known by now. "If my memory serves me right, you were very… fascinated… by seeing me move in." he grinned, bringing both of his hands to my waist.

I could only gape wordlessly at him as his hands tensed against me. I knew I was leaning closer and closer to him, but not intentionally. Just being so close to him appeared to be making my muscles weaker because for some reason I couldn't seem to be able to hold up my own weight with my hands. I eventually slipped to my elbows, leaving only a sliver of space between us. Using whatever strength I had left, I forced myself to respond to Ryan's last claim. "Well, it's not my fault that my neighbor is so fucking hot." I whispered and immediately I wished I could take it back.

Ryan froze the moment I spoke, his breath hitching as he stared at me. His hands wandered down as his fingers began rubbing heated circles against my hips, pushing the fabric of my shirt up so that he could slide under. I wasn't sure what he was doing, but God, I hoped he would never stop. I unintentionally let out a small whimper when one of his hands skimmed up the curve of my back, pushing my chest into his. He pushed himself up so that he could lean his forehead against mine. "Fuck, Alison." He groaned, letting his fingers slide under the straps of my bra, gently pushing them down my shoulders.

Heat raced through my entire body as I found my mouth going dry. He was about to kiss me; I knew it. The anticipation was killing me, but I wanted him to make the first move. I already knew I wanted it, but I wanted him to realize this as well. But I was only human, and straddling the man that I loved made me bolder than I should've been. I couldn't stop myself from tangling my hands through his soft hair, loving the low moan that vibrated through his chest.

That seemed to be all it took to knock down that last defensive wall of his. His hand reached up to the back of my head, cupping it so that he forced my lips down hard against his. Without missing a beat, I began responding to the kiss, letting him take the lead as he coaxed my lips apart. Feeling his tongue skim across my bottom lip and then into my mouth, I pushed my hips down against his in anticipation of what was coming next. His arms tightened around me, letting one hand slide to my side. I could feel his hand against the material of my bra as I pressed against him to get us as close together as possible.

I let my hand trail down his chest, pausing briefly at the band of his boxers. "Don't do that." I heard him hiss just as I cupped him through the thick material of his jeans. I loved how he tensed up beneath me, getting harder with every second. I moved my hand softly over his jeans, adding just enough pressure to let the friction do most of the work. I ignored his plea until he grabbed my hand, instantly stilling me. "I swear that if you keep that up, you won't be able to walk after tonight."

I almost choked when he said those words, seeing the desire pool into his dark eyes. Even though he said that to intimidate me, all it ended up doing was increasing the tension between us. Realizing that his words hadn't turned me off but just made me want him more, he groaned and pulled me down for another amazing kiss. Unfortunately, this one didn't quite pan out like the last one we had.

"Yo, Faulkner!" Someone yelled out and I heard a group of laughing guys come closer to us. Ryan cursed under his breath and my heart dropped, knowing exactly what was about to happen. The Ryan Faulkner that I kept for myself on these nights was disappearing because his friends were here. Even though he was allowed to meet my friends when they came over and had hung out with my suitemates while he waited for me to come home, I was never allowed to meet his friends. The only ones I had come to know were his non-fraternity brothers in his suite.

I didn't know how I was going to be able to get out of this one though, especially when it was pretty much obvious to anyone that we were making out on the trunk of his car. Without having him tell me what to do, I quickly rolled off of him and slid off the car. I began walking away, but was pulled back before I could take more than five steps. I stopped moving, thinking that it was Ryan silently telling me not to go. It wasn't until I heard Ryan's voice a little further away that I realized that in fact it wasn't him grabbing my wrist. "Jordan, let her go." He said, his voice much lower and more threatening than I'd ever heard.

At that, I turned around and saw one of his fellow fraternity brothers smirking down at me. Sure, he was attractive in that typical frat boy style, but something about him didn't sit well with me. Jordan ignored him and if anything gripped my arm tighter, pulling me closer to him so that one of his arms wrapped around my lower back. I was never bothered by the smell of alcohol on anyone, especially Ryan, but for some reason I almost wanted to puke when the scent of every possible liquor mixed together hit my nose. "I've never met you before and Faulkner usually parades around his girls. Who are you?" the stranger with no regard for personal space asked, leaning his face towards mine.

When he mentioned Ryan's 'parade' of girls, I couldn't help but feel my heart plummet to the bottom of my stomach. Even though I already assumed that this was what he did on a weekly basis at his frat parties, it was still painful to have to hear it from a second source. I couldn't believe that it bothered me more to hear that than the fact that some drunk idiot was manhandling me. "I'm-" I started to say, but Ryan curtly cut me off.

"She's nobody important. She was about to leave before you fuckers showed up."

That was the last straw for me. If he was going to sit there and claim that I was no one but some slut that he was ready to screw on his car, then I was done with him. Even if he didn't want to introduce me to his friends, there were so many better ways to get me to leave.

His words didn't seem to deter Jordan though, who still had a strong grip around my body. The grin on his face only got larger as he looked down at me. "If that's the case," he said, leaning down to my whisper in my ear, "give me a call some time. I'm sure Faulkner would be more than happy to give you my number." He bit my earlobe gently just as he pushed my hips tightly into his.

Given my still sensitive state from the moment between me and Ryan, my brain was barely functioning properly. While I had meant to push him away and knee him in the balls for being a disgusting, chauvinistic pig, I ended up letting out a gasp. "Get the fuck off of her, Shapiro." Ryan snapped. Even though my back was turned to him, I could hear the edge in his voice as he spoke; did he really want me away from his friends this badly? "We've got better places to be."

"You're a killjoy, man." Jordan laughed, walking back towards where the rest of the guys were standing. I took that opportunity to head back into the dorm, no matter how much my legs were shaking. How could Ryan have acted so callously? One moment, it was like everything I ever wanted had come true. But as soon as it started, the night was over and now he was back to being his fratty self. When it came to Ryan Faulkner, I'd forever just be that girl who lived next door.

"Why are you still so hung up about him?" Chelsea Bailey shouted as we walked down the streets of College town. "We just had a beautiful girls' night out filled with plenty of Long Island Iced Teas! You should be giddy! And happy! And drunk… like me." She ended with a giggle, flinging her arm over my shoulders.

While I knew I was drunk, it didn't mean that I couldn't still be upset as my mind kept replaying the events of last night. One moment, Ryan was kissing me like I was the only person in the world he wanted to be with. The next, he actually said that I was nobody to the group of people he hung out with the most. To say it stung was an understatement; I'd never had my heart crushed into such tiny, unfixable pieces before in my life.

When I had told my best friend and suitemate, Chelsea, what had happened, she immediately called up all our friends and told them that we were going out the next night. After all, she knew just how deeply I had fallen for him. She had been the one to knock me back down to Earth after I saw him for the first time in the dorm. She knew how much time we spent together, but she also knew how he maintained ridiculous restrictions on when and where we could be friends.

Sometimes she wanted to love the guy for my sake, but she still wanted to punch him in the face for treating me like shit.

"I am drunk." I retorted flatly as we walked up the steps into our dorm building. I took out my wallet, knowing fully that she'd be unable to. Tapping it against the wall, my ID inside unlocked the door and I guided her in. "I'm just not showing it as much as you are."

"So lame." She rolled her eyes as she ran up the stairs to our third floor dorm. When we reached our door, I couldn't help but stare longingly at our neighbor's door. Despite the shitty way he had treated me last night, I still wanted to see him.

There had to be something wrong with me.

When we walked in, Mona Gomez, my other roommate, was sitting on the couch and watching television with her boyfriend. I knew they had stayed in all night; she'd know if Ryan had come by. "Hey, do you know if Ryan was here?" I tried to ask as indifferently as possible, grabbing a bottle of water from our fridge.

"Uhh," she thought for a moment before she shook her head, "no. Sorry, I didn't see him."

I bit my lip and nodded; I was later than usual. I'd typically be back in my dorm around two in the morning but it was already well past three. Ryan never came back after three so obviously something was going on. Bolting our door so I could come back in easily, I stepped out into the hall and knocked lightly a few times on our neighboring suite's door.

The door was immediately wrenched open and my heart sped up. But when I saw his suitemate, Richard, standing there looking quite cross-faded, I knew that Ryan wasn't around. Sure enough, he already knew what I had stopped by to ask. "Sorry, Ali." He said, smiling softly at me, maybe hoping that would soften the blow of his words. "He's not here tonight. I'll tell him you stopped by though, if that's alright?"

A little broken but still in one piece, I nodded and bade him good night. I walked back into my room, my heart heavy with every step I took. I still had no idea what I had done wrong to get him so mad at me that when I laid down in bed, I couldn't fall asleep. In fact, I spent the next seven hours tossing and turning until I was sick of the sunlight pouring in through my window.

Had the very idea of Ryan Faulkner just let me pull my first all-nighter without the aid of caffeine?

I quickly changed my clothes and bumped into my suitemates who were all getting ready to go out. "I was just about to wake you up. We're getting breakfast now. You wanna come with?" Chelsea asked, pulling on her shoes. I shrugged, knowing that I probably wouldn't be doing anything productive for a while. I might as well try and socialize in order to regain some sort of sanity.

I quickly grabbed my jacket which I had thrown over the couch last night and pulled open the front door, only to stop in my tracks. I heard Mona and Chelsea yelp from behind me, but I seriously didn't give a shit at that moment. In front of me was probably the last thing I needed to see this morning.

Ryan stood there, half naked and flaunting his toned upper body. He was bent over, picking up the college paper that was dropped in front of our doors every morning. He was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, but that wasn't what I was focusing on. On his neck was a fresh hickey… one that I knew I hadn't given him. It wasn't there the last time I saw him, which probably meant that it was between the time he left me that night and now.

"What the heck, Alison? Let's go, I'm hungry." Mona sighed from behind me. As she said my name, Ryan suddenly straightened his back. His eyes bore right into me as he backed up into the frame of his door. My eyes were still trained on that damned dark bruise on his neck and with every passing second, I felt myself spiral further and further down. I don't even think the word heartbreak was the proper term to describe what I was feeling.

"You guys go ahead. I'll meet up with you later. Seriously, go." I managed to snap, turning around to push through the barrier my friends had made behind me. "I'll text you if you guys aren't back yet, okay? I need to take care of something first."

Chelsea pursed her lips but nodded curtly. I knew she could see Ryan standing a few feet away and I wouldn't be surprised if she'd already figured out why I was so pissed off. I walked into my room, slamming my door shut behind me. Part of me wanted him to stay the hell away from me, but the other part wanted him to come in here and explain to me just what I'd done to deserve this type of treatment. But even if I wanted him to back off, I knew it was useless. He could easily come into our suite if he wanted to; I had given him an extra copy of our key and he knew the code for the keypad.

Sure enough as I began taking off my jacket, I heard the front door click open. "Alison…" he called out, but I didn't respond. There weren't many places I could be, so it was no surprise when I saw my door open seconds later. "Can you please look at me?" His voice came out so raw and emotional, I had to do everything in my power to not turn around. Instead, I focused my energy on gripping my mattress tightly. "Please."

"Why would I want to do that?" I snapped, staring down at my bed. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm not in the mood to see that thing on your neck."

I heard him curse to himself as he took a few steps towards me. I could feel him next to me, the attraction between us still evident. It was taking every last bit of strength in my body to not reach out and cover his hand with mine. His fingers were clenching my sheets as he let out a breath. "You won't be able to see it." He whispered, bringing his head down into his hands. Sure enough when I glanced over, he had pulled on a collared shirt, hiding the mark on his neck. That did little to comfort me though, knowing that it was still there.

"Whatever, Ryan. It doesn't matter. You do what you want; I don't give a shit."

"No." He snapped back viciously, throwing me a little off guard. "I know that you give a shit. Don't give me that, Alison."

I laughed at that, shaking my head as I finally turned to face him. "You want me to care? Do you want me to tell you about how every fucking time you ignore me I feel like absolute shit? How that night… when you…" I trailed off, making myself take a deep breath so I wouldn't yell too much. I wasn't that type of person; I liked remaining in control of my emotions but Ryan had taken my ability to do that and thrown it out the window. I continued when I was able to find my steady voice again, staring straight at his face as I spoke. "I let my guard down for once around you. I didn't even care when your friends showed up because I knew that walking away would be the only way I could keep you. That's how much I want to be with you… that I'm willing to give up my own dignity and self-respect just so I could have two nights a week with you. I'm the one that cares about you while you sit there and take advantage of what I have to offer. So get out of my room, Ryan."

Ryan raised an eyebrow at that, taking a step towards me. His heated gaze was focused on me and before I knew it, I found myself once again, trembling in his presence. "You think I don't give a shit about you?" he retorted, seemingly disregarding everything except some of the last few words I said. "What time do you think our fucking frat events end? Did you honestly think that they were done by midnight or one in the morning? Fuck no. I left three or four hours early just so I could be with you. Every time you were in my arms, I just wanted to stay there with you… just the two of us. I wanted to spend my nights with you, Alison. So don't give me this bullshit about me not caring about you, because the truth is that I care too damn much about you. Can't you see that?"

I was blinking back tears by now, willing them to stop flowing. I wrapped my arms tightly around my torso, thinking that this could help. I wanted to believe him; I really did, but I found myself unable to. "No, Ryan, I can't see it." I said quietly, shaking my head as I stood idly by my bed. "You never introduced me to any of your friends, and I was okay with it. But that night… I thought… and then you just let Jordan touch me like that. You just sat there and let him bite me. And… just now when I saw it… can't you see how everything you're saying and doing to me make your words sound like complete and utter crap?"

Ryan was quiet for a moment and I felt him tense up. He flexed his fingers repeatedly before he finally decided to move his hand, resting it over mine. I didn't step back and let him grip my fingers tightly. "Shapiro fucking bit you?" he finally hissed, staring down at my bed. "Where?"

"It doesn't matter, Ryan. What's done is done and if that's the only thing you can focus on, then this conversation is over."

"No, this conversation isn't over. Now tell me where."

Knowing that he wasn't going to drop the subject, I sighed and gave in. "My ear. Why do you care so much now when you acted like you didn't care what he did the other night?"

"It's because I didn't notice. Do you think I would've let him walk away without doing something if I'd known what he did? Fuck!" he snapped, punching my mattress with the hand that he wasn't holding on to me with. I flinched when his fist made a dull thud against my bed. He faced me again, this time his eyes ablaze with anger. "Do you want to know why I didn't want you to meet them? It's because I don't want that shit happening to you; I don't want them to treat you like some other girl that one of the brothers picked up. Call me a selfish bastard, but I want you all to myself without having them know about you because I knew they'd pull some shit like what Jordan did."

He was fuming and his grip tightened around me with every word he spoke, but my God, he still looked perfect. He was running his hand furiously through his hair, not wanting to make eye contact with him but I knew him well enough to know that he was very pissed off. "You don't think I can stand my own ground?" I asked quietly. "I've put up with frat guys before I met you."

Ryan shook his head, moving so that he was standing in front of me. Unfortunately, I had moved so that I was leaning back against the mattress, letting my legs stretch out in front of me. Ryan took that moment to situate his legs on either side of mine, effectively trapping me between my bed and him. "These guys are different. You honestly can't tell me that the ones you've met in the past were as forward as Jordan was. Fuck, he's not even the worst one. You don't know them like I do when it comes to alcohol and women. I knew if they found out who you were they'd try and make a move if we weren't dating. And if we were, not that I'm saying I was expecting us to," he added hastily when he noticed my expression, "then they would've either still tried to fuck you or they would've told you everything I've done since I rushed two years ago. I'm not proud of my track record and I don't openly talk about it. I never wanted you to know about it."

"But it's part of who you are, you idiot!" I cried out, punching him in the chest. He faltered a step, surprised by the sudden punch that even I was shocked I'd unleashed. I knew I had his attention now, so I did my best to keep the momentum going. "You don't think I already knew you were a player? I'm not stupid; you're easily the most attractive guy on campus. I'd be kidding myself if I thought you weren't getting laid all the time at these frat things. You need to stop thinking that I can't take care of myself and that I'm going to push you away because I found out one thing about you."

"I know and I'm sorry about that. Please, believe me Alison." He sighed, cupping my face with both of his hands. He lowered his head closer to mine as I shuddered in his hold. "Please don't pull away from me; I can't lose you now." He whispered. Realizing that I wasn't pushing him away, he took that as an indication that I wasn't mad at him anymore when in fact it was just the physical effect he had on my body when he got too close. His lips brushed against mine lightly and I knew he could hear the soft whimper from the back of my throat. He tried deepening the kiss, but I finally managed to clear through the fog in my brain and pushed him back.

"No, Ryan." I shook my head, making him take a few steps back. "You can't just say these things and then kiss me, expecting me to forget everything. I understand why you did it, but you could have just told me in the first place. Not only that but did you forget about the fact that you were hooking up with another girl less than twelve hours ago? For all I know, you were fucking her while Richard answered the door."

A pained look crossed his face and for a split second, I believed my wild accusation was actually true. My mouth dropped open when he didn't react to my claim. "You have got to be kidding me…" I snapped, the last of my patience disappearing faster and faster. "Get out, Ryan. I don't want to hear anymore. Even if you wanted to prove something to your stupid frat brothers, it doesn't mean you have to bring some slut back to your room and fuck her when none of them are around. I can't believe I almost fell for all that shit you said."

"Alison, stop. I swear I didn't sleep with her. Some of the guys were asking way too many questions about you and what you meant to me. You know one of them said that he was going to try and fuck you before I got to, just because it's a competition to him and he knows it'd piss me off?" I paled at that. His reasoning made sense, but it didn't mean that it still didn't hurt that he couldn't tell me any of this until my heart was broken. If he had told me seven months ago, I wouldn't be this angry and certainly he wouldn't have gone out and hooked up with some other girl. "Not all the guys are like this, but some of them just push the boundaries just for the sake of one upping the others. If I showed I didn't care about you, he'd leave you alone."

"Why not just say that we're dating then?" I countered.

"I told you, some of those guys just don't care. They want what everyone else has and they'll do whatever it takes to get it. They're not all like that and I don't hang out with them, but that doesn't mean I can avoid them. I just wanted you to be safe and hooking up with that girl at the house was really the only way to keep them away from you. Can you at least please try and understand why I did it?"

I was thankful that he didn't step towards me so that I could think rationally as he spoke. I braced myself against my bed, holding myself up in preparation of what I was about to say. "I understand why you did it." I started, seeing the small spark of hope in his eyes. He took a step forward, but I quickly held up my hand to stop him. "But it doesn't mean I forgive you. All you had to do was tell me seven months ago, when we first started hanging out. I would've understood, Ryan. It still doesn't make sense that you wouldn't talk to me when you were sober. I'm sorry, Ryan. You really need to go."

Ryan stared at me, not moving an inch as I tried to appear as defiant as possible. Even though I wanted to stay with him and accept everything he had said, I just couldn't. I knew that I loved him; I still loved him despite all his faults and misconceptions. But I couldn't forgive him yet. I couldn't give in right now, especially when I still didn't know how he felt about me. While he had taken his time to explain to me that he wanted to keep me for himself, there was no indication whatsoever that he loved me as much as I did. Hell, for all I knew, he wanted to keep me as his hook-up buddy that no one else knew about.

"You want me to go? Fine." He snapped, throwing his arms up. "Whatever this was," he gestured in between the two of us, "is done. Have a good rest of the semester." I faltered slightly as he said those words, the rash reaction throwing me off balance. I was allowed to be angry because he had been the one to shut me out of his life; why was he reacting this way? Maybe it was better off this way, because whatever friendship the two of us had wasn't even a true relationship.

He had the willpower to walk away. He had the strength to pick up whatever was left of his dignity after he laid his soul out to me and slam the door behind him.

Me, on the other hand? All I could do was slide down to the ground, crying about the loss of the only one I loved.

Three weeks.

Three painstakingly long weeks without Ryan.

When the first week had passed, I assumed that he would come traipsing through my door as if nothing had happened. Instead, Friday night came and went, and the same thing happened Saturday. In fact, I never saw him around anymore. I'd see him in Accounting but as usual, he wouldn't give me a second of his time. The pattern repeated and before I knew it, April was coming to an end and May was just around the corner.

Who knew it was possible to avoid your next door neighbor for three weeks?

I was sprawled out on the grassy hill next to Chelsea and Mona, soaking in the sun on a surprisingly warm spring day. We weren't the only ones who had the same idea though; it seemed like most of the upperclassmen on this half of campus were outside, either reading or running around while playing catch. It was a bit noisy to concentrate, but I did my best to enjoy the afternoon.

Earlier, I had seen Jordan Shapiro throwing a football to another guy I had seen that fateful evening everything combusted. If these guys were around, I figured Ryan had to be somewhere in the vicinity.

I shook that thought out of my mind and turned back to the book I had to read by Monday. Thinking about Ryan never did anything good for me; for the days after my first Ryan-less weekend, I'd been unable to do anything. I kept zoning out during class and even forgot to do online assignments that luckily were only worth a few points. I realized then that I couldn't let him affect me like this; I wasn't about to be one of those girls who let their academic accomplishments suffer because of a guy.

"Hey, it's you." A voice suddenly called out. I ignored it though and continued reading my book. Glancing to my left, I saw that neither Chelsea nor Mona was moving so I wasn't wrong to disregard the voice. "Hey, I was talking to you." He said again and I felt the book get plucked out of my hands.

"What the hell?" I cried out, looking up to see what was going on. I groaned inwardly when I saw Jordan standing in front of me with a smug smirk. "Goddamn it." I grumbled. "Can I get my book back?"

"What? I don't get to know your name?" he said, sitting down next to me on the towel. I shifted away, making sure that I put a distance between us. Even though Ryan and I were no longer on speaking terms, I wasn't stupid enough to disregard his warnings. After all, I'd already experienced firsthand how much of a douche bag Jordan was the very first night we met.

"No, you don't get to know." I retorted, tearing the book out of his hands. "You should get back to your frat brothers." I waved my hand towards the general direction of the group of guys I'd seen earlier.

"Ah, so that means you were checking me out earlier." I heard him laugh, placing his hand on my knee. "I knew you'd want to get with me after that night." Before I realized it, he began sliding his hand up towards my inner thigh. I didn't actually react until he got dangerously close. I yelped, slapping his hand away.

"What the hell was that for, man?" I yelled, finally catching the attention of my friends. I saw the two of them glance up to look at me and immediately straightened up when they saw Jordan leaning a bit too closely to me. "Did I give you permission to touch me, you asshole?"

"You let Ryan do it and you barely know him." He snorted, leaning back against his hands to look at me. "How's it any different from me?"

"There's a huge difference." I replied, pulling my knees up to my chest. "He knows my name; you don't."

"Well, how the hell am I supposed to know if you won't tell me?"

I rolled my eyes and rested my chin against my knees. "You're a persistent son of a bitch, aren't you?"

He grinned at that and for the first time ever, I actually heard him laugh genuinely without an ounce of sarcasm or malice. Surprisingly, it actually made him sound like a decent human being. Why didn't guys realize that it was far more attractive to be nice than to be a complete asswipe? "I am; I'm glad you caught on to that. Seriously though, who are you?"

Hesitating momentarily, I held my hand out to him. "Alison Cooper."

"Well, Alison Cooper," he said, shaking my hand firmly, "it's nice to finally meet the woman who has Ryan Faulkner wrapped around her pinky finger."

"What the fuck?" I couldn't help but yell out as my suitemates glanced over at me. I waved at them, indicating that everything was okay. I turned my attention back to Jordan, who was still smirking expectantly at me. Had I heard him right? "You're shitting me, right?"

"Not at all. You don't think we didn't notice he no longer stuck around for our parties? The past two years, he was that guy all of us wanted to be like. He really does have a way with the ladies. But then this year, something changed. After the first weekend of the school year, he started going home around midnight. He'd never drink a lot and he stopped flirting with the girls. Everyone assumed he was just getting bored of this lifestyle, but I knew what it was." He tapped his temple knowingly. "When I saw you a couple weeks ago, I knew you were her because I'd never seen you around. I can admit I'm an asshole." he laughed as I rolled my eyes. At least he could see that. "I wanted to know once and for all if I was right. Based on his reaction that night, I'd say I was right; I've never seen him defend someone so adamantly."

My eyes bugged out as I stared at him. "So are you saying you fucking bit me just to get a rise out of him?"

Jordan laughed and nodded lightly. "Sorry about that; I was actually pretty drunk and you are really hot. I'm not surprised that Ryan's been hiding you from the PKA guys. I probably would have hit on you anyway, because that's what I do. The biting…" he chuckled lightly, "that was just me having bigger balls and taking it one step too far. But hey, at least now I know that you're the reason he hasn't been his usual self."

A bunch of guys start calling for him to come back to the crowd, seeing as he was the one still holding the football they had been playing catch with. He pushed himself off my towel, standing in front of me. "Well, Alison Cooper, it was truly an honor to meet you. Hopefully I'll be seeing you at the PKA formal when Ryan finally grows the balls to ask you out."

And with that said, he scrambled away, leaving me to think about everything Jordan had just said to me.

"Are you fucking kidding me?"

If I hadn't already been lying down in bed, I wouldn't have been able to hold myself up. I squeezed my eyes shut, not daring to turn away from the wall I was facing as I read my book. Even though I hadn't heard his voice in three weeks, I could still recognize it from a mile away. My God, he was still capable of making me melt on command with just the sound of him speaking.

I tried to maintain my composure despite the fact that I could feel my breath speeding up, but I didn't turn towards him. I didn't acknowledge that he was in my room, even though he knew I wasn't napping. I heard him stomp across my room and before I knew what was going on, he pulled me up from my bed and forced me into a sitting position. The moment I saw his face, it took my breath away. Anger was written all over his face, down to the sneer curling on his lips, but in my eyes he was still the epitome of beautiful.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Ryan." I mumbled, cringing slightly when his fingers dug into my shoulders.

"You don't know what I'm talking about?" Ryan spat rhetorically. "Let me give you a reminder. I heard from the guys that apparently you let Jordan feel you up on the Slope today. Does that help you out?"

I tried keeping my tone even, staring at him dead on. I attempted to maintain a look of indifference even though on the inside, as always, Ryan was wreaking havoc on my body. "You must have heard wrong because I was there and as far as I'm concerned, I didn't let him do it."

Ryan grimaced, clenching his teeth together. "This was what I meant by keeping you away from them; do you understand me? I don't want them doing this to you."

"Why do you even care? You were the one that said we were no longer friends. Why are you even here?"

"I'm here because I want what's best for you." He snapped, his hands dropping down to grip my thighs. I momentarily closed my eyes when he pulled me closer to him, forcing the memories of our one night to the front of my mind. "I don't want these guys touching you like that because I want to be the only guy who can." As he spoke, his hands slid to my lower back. He stepped between my legs, pushing his pelvis against mine.

Despite how my nerves were going into a frenzy, going crazier with every touch of his fingers against me, I still kept my eyes on him. "You have no right to want that, especially when you let them do that already."

"I don't give a shit." He hissed and before I could stop him, he pulled me up for a heart-wrenching kiss.

I didn't stop to think as I snaked my arm around his neck, trying to pull him up onto my bed. He caught on to what I wanted as he kicked off his shoes and pushed me down against the mattress. I knew I shouldn't be kissing him so desperately, dragging my nails up and down his back. I was in love with him… and as for Ryan? I had no idea what was going on in his mind.

His teeth softly scraped against my bottom lip until I parted my lips. His tongue immediately met mine and just like that first night, I was nothing more than a pile of mush on my bed. I reached for the bottom of his shirt, tugging it upwards. He pulled back from me and quickly discarded his shirt. My eyes immediately went to his neck, remembering what I had seen there the last time we talked. Luckily, he was now hickey-free and I temporarily forgot what I was thinking about when my eyes scanned down his toned torso.

I reached up to his chest, feeling the straining of his muscles as I slid my hands down towards his abs. Without missing a beat, he caught my lips again as I instinctively arched into his body. My leg hooked over his in an attempt to bring us as close together as possible. His arm automatically slid around my lower back to drive our hips together. I couldn't stop myself from openly moaning into his mouth, allowing him to deepen our kiss. He ground his hips into that one point on my body and suddenly all I could think about was feeling that sensation while he was moving inside of me.

My desire for him was at an astronomical level by now, as I allowed his hands to travel all over my body. One moment they were in my hair, the next cupping my jaw, before sliding down the length of my torso and then resting on my thigh. No matter where his hands were, I was highly aware of every touch of his fingers driving me insane.

His lips suddenly left mine, and the temporary emptiness made me groan as I sought for a way to relieve the tension building inside of me. Then his teeth scraped the sensitive skin of my neck, his tongue skimming my pulse. I gasped for breath as he lightly bit me; I tilted to the side to give him more access. His hands drifted to the bottom of my shorts, tugging lightly at the material. I could feel his fingers against the sensitive skin of my inner thigh as I became overwhelmed by the desire consuming my body. I was breathing heavily as he trailed hot kisses along the nape of my neck. That was when the alarms finally began going off in my mind. Gathering every last bit of determination, I found myself able to shove him away as memories of that morning filled my mind.

This was what that nameless girl had done to him that night. Just thinking of her filled me with spite and I remembered why we were no longer on speaking terms. "This isn't fair, Ryan." I choked out, this time unable to stop the tears as I slid out from under him. I pushed myself into a seated position, pulling my blanket up to my chin. I tried to subtly wipe away the tears, but based on the frown on his swollen lips, I knew he saw the tears. "You can't do this to me; not again."

"What am I doing to you, Alison? Please tell me, so I can figure out what I'm doing wrong."

"Everything, Ryan!" I cried out, pulling the blanket tighter around me. "You can't just throw yourself into my life and act like I'm the only person you care about on this entire campus. You can't just make me think you want to be with me, but only when you've been drinking. You can't kiss me like this, and then throw me into the arms of another man while you go hook up with some other girl. You can't do all of this to me and think that I'm going to be okay, Ryan. I'm not okay. I haven't been okay since the first moment I saw you, but you've never noticed. You've never noticed how fucking hard I'd fallen for you because you were too drunk to tell the difference between me wanting to sleep with you and me wanting to be with you. I love you, you idiot, but you could never see it."

My breaths were coming out in short huffs as I sat there, the adrenaline still rushing in my blood. Through my tears, I could see Ryan sitting on my bed, watching me intensely. He wasn't moving; I couldn't even tell if he was breathing. After a moment, he began inching towards me so that our arms were touching one another as he leaned against the wall. "I'm sorry, Ali." He whispered, leaning his forehead against my temple. "I'm so sorry. I know I fucked up so much and if I could, I'd go back to that first day I met you and kick myself for treating the most amazing girl I'd ever meet like shit. But I can't do that." His arm wrapped around my waist, pulling my side against his chest. "Can you forgive me?" His lips brushed against my ear lightly. "I can't go through these last three weeks again; I can't. When the guys told me what Jordan did to you, I just snapped. I knew you didn't want to see me again, but I couldn't stay away from you. I'm so sorry for everything."

I shook my head, bringing my hand up to his that was against my side. "I want to stay mad at you, but I can't." He let out a shaky breath, his hold tightening around me. "But I wasn't kidding when I said that I'm in love with you, because I am, whether I want to or not. No matter how badly you broke me, I still wanted to be with you. I don't know how much longer I can do this though…" I trailed off hesitantly.

"No, Ali, don't…" he whispered urgently.

"Hear me out." I cut him off, smiling softly in an attempt to calm his nerves. "I can't be just friends with you anymore. I can't be with you like this anymore if I can't get anything out of it. I need to think about what's best for myself and that means getting over you if you don't feel the same way about me. It's too-"

Ryan, in the middle of my speech, had starting tilting my chin towards him. His fingers gripped my jaw lightly until our breaths were blending together. As I was talking, I slowly began losing focus the closer I got to him and he knew it. "You can stop talking now." He whispered, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. "I told you once already, and I'm telling you again. I'm not losing you; I can't." He brushed our lips together, once… twice... a feather's touch each time. The kisses were so agonizingly tender that I thought my mind was conjuring them up for the sake of maintaining my sanity. "I love you, Alison, probably more than you realize."

I choked out a laugh when he said that, not sure whether I should laugh or cry at his admission. For months, we'd been playing this stupid game of miscommunication and both of us ended up getting hurt. Then after a few breakdowns and spats, everything was out in the open. We let our emotions out and made ourselves vulnerable to being hurt. But all of that pain was alleviated the very second he said those words and I couldn't help but encircling my arms around him. "Fuck you, Ryan Faulkner." I mumbled into his shoulder as he just laughed.

"I deserved that." He said, his voice muffled as his words got lost in my hair. "I'm not going to let you go, I hope you realize this. Most people wouldn't forgive me for the shit that I pulled, so I know how fucking lucky I am that you're still here. I'm not gonna screw this up; I'm not going to hurt you again. I couldn't believe how quickly I started falling for you; it scared me. I knew if I was with you while I was sober and you still had that effect on me… it was too much. I didn't realize how much I needed you and by the time I realized it, we weren't talking anymore."

I shook my head, not wanting to hear any more of his explanations. While I was grateful for the fact that he was pouring everything out now, it still hurt to hear his reasoning. I wanted to move past all of this with him by my side, not dwell on everything that had happened. "No more apologies, Ryan. What's done is done. I just want to know if you're willing to be with me."

"You know that's all I want." He said quietly, pressing a kiss against my jaw. I sunk into his hold, letting the feeling of his arms wrapped around me soothe me. As we sat in silence with him slowly combing his fingers through my hair, I couldn't help but think that all the shit we'd been through was worth this one quiet and serene moment. "Hey," he suddenly said, tipping my face up towards him, "PKA is having a casino night fundraiser tonight. Do you want to come with me?"

I gaped at him as he smiled at me. Was he honestly inviting me to an event his fraternity was having? When I got over the initial shock of his invitation, I finally found the courage to answer. "I'd love to." I smiled, kissing him softly as I felt him let out a breath I hadn't noticed he was holding. Was he that afraid that I wouldn't want to be with his friends after everything he'd said about them? "I didn't realize you guys did charity events, considering how you basically told me all of you guys were assholes."

"Not all of us, I hope." Ryan grunted, pulling me onto his lap so that my back was pressed into his chest. His hands slid to my inner thigh, pushing me down into his hips. My mind began spinning again as I leaned my head back into his neck, shutting my eyes as his fingers trailed up and down my leg.

"Not you. Don't worry." I sighed, just as Ryan kissed me. When I felt our desire starting to increase exponentially, I forced myself to pull back. "I love you." I murmured, gripping his hands as I spoke.

"I love you too." He smiled, untangling our limbs so that he could stand up. "I have to get you a voucher for tonight or else you can't get in. I'll come back after I settle that with Jordan. It won't take long."

He turned to walk out the door, but I quickly pulled him back by his arm. He looked at me inquisitively as I grinned at him. "Wait, so is Jordan going to be there tonight?" I teased, knowing fully that I'd get a reaction from him.

Ryan's expression was nothing like I'd ever seen before. At first he was confused it was replaced by a full-blown scowl. "You're hysterical, Alison. Absolutely hysterical." He retorted sarcastically, pulling me forward so that I was standing in front of him with a large smile on my face. He towered over me as his fingers tangled themselves in my hair, pulling my head back just slightly so I had nowhere else to look but at his face. "Doesn't matter though, because I know you'll be thinking about me the entire time we're there."

I didn't even try to deny his claim as he leaned down to kiss me again because I knew that this was all either of us wanted from the first day we met.

Author's Note

I write one-shots when I hit writer's blocks with my stories, can you tell? I hope you enjoyed this. Maybe the main character gave in too easily, but that's the way I do things :) As a disclaimer, I know not all PKA chapters and PKA brothers are like this. Note how I used 'some', not at all. There are guys like this, regardless of whether or not they're in a frat. Just wanted to emphasize that. Anyway, hope you liked it! I've got half of Eight Years and Rules done. Hopefully those will be done soon.

8/9/2013 -mff-