Bekah waited until Dylan was a  few feet down the hall before she shuffled back inside and closed the door behind her. Then she looked over and saw Tamar sitting with one hand by her mouth, gazing in front of her. Bekah hid a smile and pushed away from the door toward the bed. “That was something…” she said casually, perching beside Tamar. “Did he kiss you?”

Tamar’s face fired up again and she flung a seething glare at her cousin, jerking her hand down from her tingling mouth. “Did you glue your entire face to the door, Rebekah?” She pushed off the bed and walked toward the chair, but remembering that Dylan had once sat there, she shuffled back. Just imagining his face was enough to send her whole body in flames.

Bekah giggled, swinging her legs over the bed. “This is awesome! My reclusive cousin attracts the attention of a college star! Shall I tell Aunty and Uncle or will you?”

Tamar spun around. “Don’t even think about it.” She swallowed hard and licked her bottom lip, then all of a sudden, she remembered the feel of Dylan’s firm and warm mouth against hers. Quickly she bit on her tongue and moved toward the bathroom. “I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure out what next to do.” She pushed open the bathroom door and gaped at her reflection in the mirror. “That boy…” Her fists clenched tightly, turning quickly away from the mirror.

Bekah fell back on the bed, cackling in uncontrollable laughter. “This is… awesome!” She finally settled down when Tamar returned quietly to the room and lifted her head. “It’s not a bad thing, you know…”

Tamar eyed her suspiciously, settling down on her computer chair instead.

“He seems like a very nice boy.”

Tamar looked down. She couldn’t deny that. “He is.”

“Very handsome… No, borderline sexy.”

“Bekah… please.” She lifted a glare to her cousin.

“Okay, fine,” Bekah lifted a hand. “Seems like he has a good head on his shoulders and he’s respectful… And he’s definitely interested in you. Exhibit A, he kissed you.”

Tamar clenched her jaw. “Mention that again, I change my locks and never speak to you again.”

Bekah smirked, undaunted by her cousin’s threats. “Then who’ll cover for you when Uncle Caleb calls to check up on you?”

Listening to Dr. Malek’s gentle but insistent berating wasn’t on her list of favorite things to do. Tamar rolled her eyes. “Fine. Finish.”

“Give him a chance, Tammy. Go on a second date. It won’t hurt, trust me.”

“Yeah, I took your advice the first time and see where it landed me.”

“Thoroughly kissed, you’re welcome.”

Tamar twisted her mouth, choosing to ignore her cousin and her wayward thoughts of Dylan. He had no place in her mind and she had no time to waste keeping him there.


Days had passed without Dylan running into Tamar. That hadn’t stopped Tonio or Crystal from pestering him for details about the girl he’d cancelled his plans for. The two had been relentless, joining forces to tag team him until he finally gave them her name. He hadn’t been able to get her or their kiss off of his mind and that left him unsettled. He was used to being able to dismiss a girl without much trouble but Tamar stuck and she didn’t seem to be getting unstuck anytime soon. He wasn’t sure if he liked it.

On day two he gave in and allowed himself to use the number she’d programmed into his phone. Only when it began to ring did he start to relax. It wasn’t a rejection hotline number.

A click sounded as someone answered the phone. ”Malek speaking,” a male voice answered, sounding distracted.

Dylan frowned, glancing at the phone to make sure he had the right number.  That wasn’t Tamar on the line.  He cleared his throat quietly and brought the phone back to his ear. “Hello. I’m looking for Tamar?”

There was a noticeable pause, then the sound of a chair squeaking as if the person was sitting up. ”Tamar isn’t here. Who is this?”

Just as he’d expected. This wasn’t a number that would connect him to Tamar. Not while she was at school anyway. He froze then, making the connection to her last name. The little minx! She’d given him her father’s number! He had two choices; hang up and give up on the whole thing or beat Tamar at her own game. His lips slowly curved into a wicked grin.

“Mr. Malek, my name is Dylan Ramsey. I’m a student at Covington with your daughter and she’s…an amazing individual. I’m very interested in getting to know her better. As her father, you deserve to be aware of that interest.”

Again with the thoughtful pause followed by a low clearing of throat. ”I see. And my Tamar is aware of your… interest?”

Dylan smiled at the thought of their first date and the kiss that had followed. The memory of the almost dazed look in her eyes for those first few seconds after wouldn’t leave him. “Yes sir. She and I have talked about it.”

A low chuckle filled the air. ”And she gave you my number instead of hers after you two talked,” he said, amusement in his voice.

Dylan didn’t bother trying to hide his laugh. Busted. “I’m still working on that. She doesn’t think I’m serious. I’m sure you understand how stubborn she can be.”

”A maternal trait, no doubt,” Caleb sighed. ”But she is a sensible girl for sending you my way first… You must be serious then, I presume,  since you managed to stay on the line long enough to introduce yourself to her father?”

It wasn’t until that moment, those words, that Dylan began to acknowledge just how serious he was about pursuing Tamar. It had long since stopped being a flirtatious game. “Very serious, sir.”

”I see…” another definitive pause as Caleb mulled over the young man’s words. ”Well, it’s been a long time since I was ever able to convince my Tamar about anything. You had better work harder on that instead of reaching out to me.” He sighed. ”But thanks anyway for doing it all the same. You sound like a decent fella.”

“I will and thank you. Would you just mention to her that I called?”

Caleb chuckled softly. ”Sure, next time I speak with her. Good luck.”

“Thank you again sir,” Dylan said with his parting words before hanging up. The call had gone better than he’d expected and he was certain it had gone even better than Tamar had expected. He wished he could see her reaction when her father mentioned the call.  His smile grew. He had a feeling he’d be hearing from her soon enough.


Tamar gritted her teeth as she punched in the numbers she’d been forced to scribble on her palm after an unexpected phone call from Papa. She still couldn’t believe the boy had the gall to hold a real conversation with her father. She would have to set him straight now. Pulling the phone to her ear, she listened for the dial tone.

Dylan was in the middle of stripping down after an intense workout when the buzz of his phone vibrating on his desk drew his attention. He didn’t recognize the number, but answered it anyway, pressing it to his ear as he ran a towel along his neck. “Ramsey.”

Tamar’s lips tightened as his face appeared in her mind’s eye. ”You really have no sense of propriety, do you?”

He grinned at the sound of Tamar’s disapproving voice. Sooner than he’d expected. “I can pull it out when necessary, Tamar. Calling to set up our date?” He could already see her rolling her eyes at his assumption.

”Meet me at the jogging trail by the south entrance in ten minutes.” Tamar disconnected the call without waiting for his response.

Dylan shook his head in disbelief. She hadn’t even given him time to agree. He glanced down at the football pants he wore and shrugged. There was no point in getting dressed when he’d have to come back and shower. Her ten minute demand didn’t even give him enough time for that. He re-strapped his gloves and started out the door. He’d add another few minutes of cardio to his workout, he decided, and jogged out to meet her.

Leaning against the brick post of the south entrance gate facing the narrow jogging path, Tamar replayed her father’s teasing words about her making friends quickly. She snorted a laugh and pushed away from the post when she spotted him meters away. Tamar almost swallowed her tongue as she watched him stride toward her; sweat and tight muscle rolled into one admittedly attractive man. The assured and purposeful way he swung those toned arms of his had to be some kind of crime.

Dylan smiled, closing the last few yards between them, taking the opportunity to observe her. Her hair was piled back up in that bun again. It was growing on him. The thick framed glasses still made him want to take them off and look into those stunning blue eyes without obstruction. He could still remember the last time they’d been together, the way her soft lips had yielded under his. He cut off that thought and reminded himself he’d just finished working out. She didn’t seem like she’d appreciate his sweat on her.

“Hey, pretty girl.”

That casual drawl of his reminded her why she’d called him over. Taking a step to meet him hallway, her eyes studied him from his perspiring forehead to his broad shoulders and toned upper body covered by a faded jersey. Then she lowered her gaze to his narrow hips and long, muscular legs covered in closely-fitted pants. He’d obviously just returned from football practice. Her gaze lingered on one leg before she closed the gap, assailed with the scent of sweat and man. Fighting off the heady feeling, she swung her foot, connecting at his right shin.

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