Chapter 1: Violet
Sam slides onto the chair parked next to me about thirty seconds after class begins. His jean-clad leg presses up against mine as he settles in. Not taking my eyes off the professor, who has already launched into the lecture for the day, I whisper from the corner of my mouth, "Nice of you to join us, Mr. Harper."
Even though I'm not looking his way, I know he's grinning from ear to ear. I can all but feel it. His smiles are as blinding as the sun. Heat radiates from them in heavy waves. Any minute his warm breath is going to feather across my-
"I had to haul ass all the way from the stadium." He snorts before adding, "Coach scheduled a midafternoon practice just for the fun of it."
Well...that last comment is debatable. It's early November, and damn chilly out. The Bulldogs have been on an incredible winning streak this season, which means ramped up practices and workout schedules so they can keep their number one seed going into the playoffs. At this point, everyone in their conference is looking to tear them down.
I glance at him and notice that his dark blond hair is all shiny and wet from the shower he must have just taken. His bright blue eyes spear mine with a sparkle of mischief simmering in them. His cheeks are flushed, and his breathing is just a bit labored.
I'm slammed with the realization that this is probably how Sam looks right after a rowdy bout of s*x. Something hot slides through me before settling deep in my core. Not knowing where the hell that thought sprang up from, I abruptly shift my body away from his. My brows pull together in bewilderment.
What the heck is that all about?
Not that I want to dwell on what it means, but those kind of pesky thoughts regarding Sam have been cropping up with a disconcerting amount of frequency lately. It's like I blinked one day and suddenly he looked different to me.
That being said, I need these feelings to go away.
Sam and I are friends.
Good friends. And I don't want that to change.
We met when I moved in with my grandparents who live next door to his family. That was eight years ago, and we've been tight ever since. Somehow, we lucked out, both of us choosing to attend Barnett University.
I wanted to stick close to my grandparents since I'm all they have, and Sam plays football for the Barnett Bulldogs. He was offered full rides to play at half a dozen other Division I programs, both in and out of state, but chose to stay local as well.
Needing to refocus my runaway thoughts, I murmur under my breath, "I'm hoping for your sake that you finished up the paper that's due today on the power of the judiciary over the legislature." I keep my gaze focused straight ahead. The last thing I need is to incur the wrath of Dr. Rickets.
"Yup. Freshly printed with references cited up the ass."
I almost snort but rein it in at the last moment. References had better be cited or Rickets will come after you with both barrels blasting. He's flunked people in PS 345- the Judicial Process for less. Since Sam and I are both in the pre-law program, we have a lot of the same classes. Although, this is the only one we have together this semester. We end up hunkered down at the library on a fairly regular basis.
Rickets continues droning on as Sam gets his laptop up and running. After about fifteen minutes, he leans toward me again, breaking my concentration. Unfortunately, laser focus is required because this class takes dry to a whole new and challenging level. "Are you planning to hit the Sigma party tonight?"
I'm on the verge of responding when our professor's sharp voice slices through the stale air of the classroom.
"An answer if you please, Mr. Harper."
My belly drops about eleven stories. Even though I try not to let Sam distract me, I hadn't been aware of a question being thrown out.
Sam, however, doesn't miss a beat. "Within limits, judges do, in fact, make law. Common law is their creation, and statutes require their interpretation. All law must continually be aligned with the Constitution. But at the end of the day, the Constitution means what judges decide it does."
If Rickets is at all impressed by the fact that Sam answered without even blinking, he doesn't let on. Although, by the way our professor presses his fleshy lips together, I'd have to say he's disappointed not to have caught Sam by surprise. He continues lecturing in a monotone voice, biding his time before springing yet another complex question on some unsuspecting student just trying to muddle their way through this class so they can graduate.
Almost leisurely, Sam stretches out his body in the seat next to me. As he does, the bottom of his soft gray cotton T-shirt rides up giving me a distracting view of rock-solid abdominals before I force my gaze away.
I seriously don't understand what's going on with me lately. I mean, it hasn't been that long since I've been with a guy. Certainly not long enough to warrant me noticing the taut ridges of my best friend's six-pack.
But I am.
I am so noticing them right now.
And that is all kinds of wrong.
"So, you in or out for the party?" he asks.
Annoyed by the unwanted feelings that keep popping up within me, I shake my head before muttering, "Can we discuss this after class? I'm trying to focus here."
The key word is trying.
Clearly, I'm having a difficult time with that. Which doesn't make the least bit of sense.
There is no way I should be having these kinds of thoughts about Sam. It feels, I don't know-incestuous.
We've known each other since we were fourteen years old. For goodness' sake, I used to crawl into bed with the guy when we were in high school. Sam was the only one who could chase away the nightmares. That being said, nothing ever happened between us. There certainly weren't any wandering hands during the middle of the night. No copping a cheap feel. No I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours. He would simply hold me in his arms while I slept.
That was it.
Up until recently, I never thought of Sam as anything other than my best friend.
Which is precisely why these thoughts are disturbing on so many different levels.
Unperturbed by my abrupt tone, he shrugs before slouching further onto his chair. "Sure."
Sam has-for all intents and purposes-a photographic memory. So, chit chatting the class period away is no biggie for him. All he has to do is read something once and it's locked in for life. I'm not going to lie, it's annoying to people like myself who have to study their asses off to pull decent grades.
Even though Sam doesn't face the same academic challenges that I do, he lets me borrow that big brain of his anytime I need it. He's pretty great about studying with me or re-explaining concepts that I don't have a firm grasp on.
After another thirty-three minutes, which is precisely three minutes past the end of class, Rickets finally releases us back into the world. People scatter from the room as if they're fleeing for their very lives. Rickets dearly loves a captive audience and is always reluctant to turn them loose when his time draws to an end.
As soon as we clear the door of the classroom, Sam slings his muscular arm around my shoulders as we make our way out of the poli-sci building. It may be bright and sunny out, but there's a cold northeasterly wind whipping its way through campus. I'm bundled up in my silver North Face coat and Sam is wearing his football jacket.
"I hate this weather," I grumble right before Sam tugs me closer. The guy radiates heat like a furnace. That being said, I can't help but snuggle into his warmth as the wind continues to slap at us with icy cold fingers.
"Better?" His lips are so close to my ear that the husky cadence of his voice sends an unexpected shiver skittering down my spine. My gaze flies to his, praying that the hitch in my breathing has gone unnoticed.
He flashes a brief smile but doesn't seem any wiser to what's going on within me. A little sigh of relief escapes from my lips. I don't understand why I keep reacting to him this way. It's disconcerting. Not to mention, embarrassing.
The first couple of times it happened, I shrugged it off as a fluke.
Unfortunately, we're moving past fluke and toward-
Nope. Not going to go there. Because I definitely don't think about Sam like that. Furthermore, I don't want to think about him like that.