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Too Sweet: Chapter 6


I LEAVE THE CLASSROOM, avoiding eye contact with other students like I did in elementary, middle, and high school. I no longer have a reason to hide, but it’s a habit I can’t get rid of. After years of bullying, staying out of everyone’s way is second nature. I’m a master of avoidance.

Students from all over the country study here, but a big chunk moved from the same private high school in Newport. Thankfully, Jake Grey’s influential father shipped him off to Brown. With the instigator of the bullying I endured for years gone, the harassment almost ceased in college.

His friends still find it entertaining to call me names sometimes, though it doesn’t happen often, and no one pushed me, tripped me, or slingshot a spitball at me since graduation.

Makes for a nice change.

I’ve been fairly undisturbed for six months, minding my own business. Students hardly noticed my existence… until the Spring Break party. Now, the spotlight’s back on my face. Although in a different way than I’m used to.

People pass me by, looking me over with approving smiles instead of distasteful scowls. A few even say hey, Mia, as I rush down the corridor leading to the courtyard.

Looks like manhandling and humiliating the football captain works wonders on social status…

It helps that Brandon’s a jerk. Most want him to fall from the pedestal he put himself on. I may have wobbled the foundations a bit.

Still, I expected rude comments or the occasional pushing and shoving from his friends while Brandon took time off school to heal his nose, but no. Everyone is eerily nice, which is why I’m looking over my shoulder again.

Past experience has taught me that my peers only act nice if they’re planning something I won’t like.

A familiar silhouette catches my attention while I wait for the triplets, resting against a low pillar surrounding the half-moon concrete steps outside the main building.

Brandon and two guys from the football team exit the building, a pompous aura enveloping them like a green, foul cloud. His eyes lock with mine, and a flicker of anger shadows his entitled face before his lips twist into a sly smirk.

Damn it… I’m in so much trouble.

There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’m trapped, even out here in the open.

His nose might be healed, but his ego remains bruised. Knowing Brandon, I might need a bunker to survive his wrath.

“Well, well, well,” he snarls, prancing closer. “If it isn’t my feisty kitten.” He halts his minions with a flick of his wrist, then combs back his ash-blonde hair.

My pulse skyrockets faster than I can think.

Faster than I can blink.

I step away, not daring to turn my back on him: an animal on the prowl. A lion stalking an antelope.

An antelope that embarrassed him in front of his friends.

“I’m sorry,” I say, the first signs of nausea rolling in the pit of my stomach. I’m an utter wuss, taking a step back for each one he takes forward. Five steps later, my back hits the cold wall of the building. “I warned you not to touch me.”

“Yes, you did,” he coos, crowding my space, his stormy gaze roving my frame. What a waste of beautiful eyes—cold, grayish blue—on someone with such an ugly soul. I’ll give it to you,” he purrs, bracing one hand against the brickwork. “You’re a handful.” He bends lower, looking me over with a cunning smirk as his other hand rises to touch me. “But that’s why I’ve got two hands, kitten.”

So, so original. He’s a walking cliché, but his menacing tone starts a tremble in my knees. I wouldn’t put it past Brandon to get even by breaking my nose. A quake of fear stirs in my mind at the thought.

He won’t hurt you. Not here with so many witnesses.

I jerk my head to the side, my cheek brushing the bricks, and his fingers grasp thin air.

I wish I was made of tougher material. I wish I didn’t feel overwhelmed whenever I’m even an inch outside my comfort zone. The self-defense classes help, but courage is harder to muster against Brandon instead of the triplets. Even facing Nico isn’t half as unnerving. Despite his intimidating appearance, I know he won’t do anything I don’t want.

I can’t say the same for Brandon.

“Why so jumpy, kitten?” he smirks, brushing a few locks behind my ear, his touch gentle for a second before he grabs my jaw, turning my head. “I’ve missed every Spring Break party because of you. You owe me two weeks. Two fucking weeks of getting my dick wet. You’ll pay it back. Fourteen nights in my bed. Willingly.”

And to think I considered asking the jerk to punch my V card a few months ago.

He’d do it.


There isn’t a girl he’d say no to, and with his experience, it seemed as good an idea as any.

Thankfully, I never asked, but I confided in Callie—Colt’s girlfriend at the time. She seemed nice, and we hung out a lot. I wouldn’t have told her if I knew they’d break it off less than a month later. Once she was through with Colt, she blabbed to anyone who’d listen: my humiliating punishment for trusting someone other than the triplets.

Brandon’s been trying to pop my cherry ever since.

The roar of a loud engine steals his attention. He casts a glance over his shoulder, teeth gnashing.

“You have until I count to three to let me go,” I whisper, summoning tiny bits of courage lying dormant within me.

His hold loosens, but instead of letting me go, he inches closer, his lips brushing my ear as he speaks quietly. “I want that first, kitten. I’ll make you come so fucking hard you’ll beg for more. Say yes.”

“One,” I utter, my eyes jumping from Brandon’s face to his chest, then the ground. “You know I’ll hurt you. Let me go.”

A self-indulgent smirk tells me he’d like to see me try. He looks around again, his hand still gripping my jaw, the hold turning featherlight when he spots Cody crossing the courtyard.


“This isn’t over, kitten.” He dips his head, licking my ear. “You’ll break. will break you. Mark my words. Give up while you can.” He leans in even closer, his nose almost touching my cheek. He grips my waist, fists my dress, and inhales deeply. “Fuck… I might keep you longer once you’re mine. You have until next week to decide.” He pushes away from the wall, not waiting for anything else, and motions his buddies to follow.

I can’t move a muscle, glued to the spot, flush against the wall, my breathing irregular as dry heaves loom nearby.

Dropping my bag, I fall to my knees, searching for mouthwash. The peppermint scent helps control nausea and saved me from puking more times than I can count.

My hands shake. My eyes fill with tears, the scene embarrassing at best. The gazes of many onlookers burn holes in my skull, but I don’t dare check how many students have stopped to watch the free entertainment.

“Shit, what did Brandon say?” Cody crouches beside me, unscrewing the mouthwash. “There you go, Bug. Breathe.”

I inhale deeply, holding the back of my hand firmly against my lips. “He’s annoyed about his nose.”

“Yeah, I figured that much,” he mumbles, gently stroking my back. “Come on, I’ll take you home.”

Three more sniffs and I tuck the bottle back in my bag.

The first person I see when Cody hauls me to my feet is Blair—Brandon’s self-proclaimed girlfriend. She must’ve seen him invade my personal space and her jealousy is on display, foretelling trouble. She silently simmers thirty feet away, glaring at me like she imagines ripping the hairs from my skull one by one.

Cody drapes his arm over my shoulders, but the protective gesture doesn’t faze Blair. She stilettoes toward us, wearing a fake smile with a matching hard edge in her light brown eyes.

“You have a death wish, bitch?” She kicks the drama up a notch, hurling the contents of her takeaway cup in my face. “Whoops,” she chirps, beaming when the caramel latte drips from my eyelashes, down my chin, and the front of my knitted dress. “I must’ve tripped.”

“What the fuck!” Cody booms, taking a threatening step forward. “Are you out of your fucking mind?!”

The only upside is that the coffee wasn’t hot enough to burn. I’m on the verge of projectile-vomiting again when I hear Blair’s friends laughing, and in the distance, Brandon throws his head back, cackling like a demented hyena.

I’ve lived through fifteen years of this. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but the shame doesn’t lessen with time. It’s even more humiliating the older I am because this is juvenile. It shouldn’t be happening in college. I really hoped it wouldn’t. We’re adults for crying out loud!

Too bad not everyone got the memo.

“Get the fuck out of here, Blair, or I swear I’ll—”

“What?” She licks her lips, taking a second to look him over, her gaze lingering on his broad, muscular chest. “You’re all talk,” she adds, then her ponytail whips Cody’s face as she walks away with a triumphant smile, her head high, eyes on the green Mercedes parked where it shouldn’t.

Cars have no access to the courtyard, but just as Blair didn’t get the adult memo, Nico didn’t get the not-allowed memo.

I doubt he understands the meaning of the phrase.

He stands by his sporty car with Conor and Colt, Wayfarers pushed up the bridge of his nose.

I’m back in the hot seat. Ruled by him. Consumed by the pull whizzing between us. Mint won’t help me this time. It was bad enough being laughed at by half the students, but knowing Nico witnessed the adolescent drama is too much for my spineless self.

A tight pinch of pain squeezes my stomach when I turn on my heel, keeping a steady pace up the concrete steps.

Once inside, I sprint to the nearest restroom and slam the door with a bang. I burst into the first cubicle, hugging the toilet at the last moment.

Today’s breakfast, lunch, and two cups of coffee make a reappearance. My eyes water. Bitter bile burns my throat. Cold sweat coats my back as I heave, gasp, and shake, ejecting wave after wave of partly digested food.

This is why I always have mouthwash in my bag—to keep the puking incidents to a minimum. They started in middle school when Blair stole my clothes while I showered after gym class, right before lunch break, during which the football team had an emergency meeting ahead of their homecoming game.

Before the teacher came to my rescue, I sat on the floor, my arms and legs covering as much flesh as they could while the boys hollered, throwing cups of cold water at me so I’d flinch and accidentally flash them.

I’ve not taken a shower at school since.

Once my stomach’s empty, I lean on the cubicle door, breathing in through my mouth and out through my nose. I’m not surprised when the door opens again. Heavy footsteps reverberate through the space, the walk easily recognizable.

“You good, Mia?” Cody stops by the cubicle, his shoes peeking under the door.

“Yes. Same old, same old.” I force out a pathetic chuckle, wincing at the vile taste of vomit greasing my tongue.

With the mouthwash still in hand, I gather myself off the ground and leave the stall to rinse my mouth.

“You gonna tell me what Brandon really said?”

“Nothing new.” I spit green liquid in the sink. “He wants me in his bed, same as always.”

“I wish he’d back off,” he sighs, massaging his temples.

“He’s unhappy about missing the parties.”

I pull a toothbrush from my bag and brush my teeth twice before we leave the building. The courtyard cleared during the last ten minutes. It’s just me, the triplets, and Nico left.

He’s still casually leaning against the hood of his car, Wayfarers now resting on the top of his head. He slowly takes me in, bit by bit, the intensity of his gaze heating my cheeks.

I’ve been around him a few times, but I can’t get over his masculine energy: all testosterone, threat, and sex.

“I’ll drop Mia home and meet you at the dealership in an hour,” Cody says, but Nico’s silent, incisive attention remains on me.

“You go,” I say, picking my nails. “I’m going shopping.”

Cody frowns, wrapping an arm around my middle.

I shouldn’t have agreed to be his plus one for the Charity Ball. The triplets and I are like family. We’re physical. We hug. Colt spends most lunch breaks sleeping with his head in my lap, and Conor has me sitting in his when we share a box of ice cream. It’s purely platonic, but Cody… something’s changed lately. He kisses my head, holds my hand, and touches me more than his brothers.

“You’re in no state to go shopping. You need a shower, Mia. I’ll take you home.”

“Oh…” I glance at the brown stains on my dress, pressing the damp fabric. “I forgot about that. At least I smell nice.”

The triplets chuckle, shaking their heads, but Nico’s not amused. I thought we were past the glaring. Still, even the icy stare of his dark, almost black irises fuels my burning ache.

As a little girl, I watched too many fairy tales, dreaming up my perfect man early into my teenage years.

A true gentleman.


Handsome with a great sense of humor.



Nico’s a long way off that. Half the time, I don’t think I’m even comfortable around him. He rarely smiles, and there’s always that irritated spike to his voice.

I crushed on a few boys before. I’ve been on a dozen dates this past year, but I’ve never been attracted to anyone like this. Not one man who crossed my path thus far awoke the will to surrender my mind and body… until him.

Just my luck he doesn’t like college girls or blondes.

“Why did Blair spill coffee on you?” he asks. His clipped tone knots my stomach.

I don’t understand him. He’s a kaleidoscope of ruthless, crude, and arrogant ninety-nine percent of the time, but when we sat in his living room, he seemed at ease. I thought I broke through his tough exterior. I mean, he smiled. It’s probably sad that making him smile was the highlight of my day, but it was.

“She’s in love with Brandon,” I explain, pinching the hem of my dress. Maybe I should wring the coffee out… “He got too close to me.”

“So Brandon’s in love with you?”

Colt scoffs, scratching his chin. “Brandon’s only in love with himself. He wants Mia in his bed, and he’s frustrated she doesn’t want to be there.”

“He can’t stomach that she keeps shooting him down so he tries all sorts of stupid things to fuck her,” Cody adds, making me cringe.

If my age and hair color wasn’t a good enough reason for Nico to steer clear, the undeniable drama sure is.


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