Posts tagged “popularity

Her Champion: Chapter 12

Posted on 23/06/2013

campusdormA warm shiver ran up her back and wrapped around her shoulders at his last words. Tamar reached for the wrap and bit into it. ”Oh definitely better.” She smirked up at him. ”I think I’ll keep you for a while longer.” She took another bite.

“Lucky me,” he echoed and forced himself not to watch her take another bite. He stole her fork and stabbed a piece of enchilada to pop in his mouth. “I’ll have to make sure I feed you more often.”

Tamar tilted her head to look at him curiously. ”Trying to fatten me up?” She then drew her legs out from under her and shifted to rise from the bed, eyes catching a pair of iPod speakers at his desk. ”What music are you into?”

“Trying to convince you to keep me around.” He stretched out on the bed, eyes following her as she walked. “I listen to a little bit of everything but mostly country. Don’t you dare laugh.”

Her eyes widened as she turned to look at Dylan, a smile tugging at her lips. ”Country huh? Would’ve never guessed that.” She placed her hands on her hips, smile morphing to a full grin. ”Well now you got me all interested. Play me something.”

“Do I even want to know what you would’ve guessed? I gave you a front row seat to my concert when we first met and you didn’t appreciate it. You’re not getting anything else out of me.”

Tamar laughed, recalling his one-man show. Could he pull off a smoky Southern drawl? ”I wasn’t prepared for it that time.” She walked back to the bed and grabbed his sleeve. ”Come, you can’t tell me something like that and not give me a taste of it.”

“I can. I know when my musical talents aren’t appreciated.”

Tamar rolled her eyes. ”You want your ego stroked. Is that it?”

He laughed and slid off the bed, using one finger to coax her to look at him. He cleared his throat and softly began to sing. “I got a funny feeling the moment that your lips touched mine. Something shot right through me. My heart skipped a beat in time. There’s a different feel about you tonight. It’s got me thinkin’ lots of crazy things. I even think I saw a flash of light, felt like electricity.” He stopped then and cleared his throat once more. “Good enough, Your Highness?”

Tamar stared up at him as he crooned his own rendition of Toby Keith, a song that made her smile whenever it came on the radio. She lowered her gaze to his lips before slowly lifting them to his eyes again. ”Decent enough…” The corner of her lips lifted in a gentle smile. ”Bravo.”

“Give me my props, woman,” he demanded softly as he searched her eyes, unsure of what he was looking for but looking all the same. Not for the first time, the desire to kiss her struck him but he was a man of his word and she had yet to give permission.

Tamar stepped forward, the melody now ringing in her ears as she kept her eyes on his. Her hands moved from her side to rest on his arms. ”Just one. Y’know, to congratulate you on your singing…” She said in warning, tugging at his sleeves to bring his head closer to hers. Her gaze moved to his well-shaped mouth, remembering how warm and firm it was on hers. ”Just one,” she said and closed the distance, planting her lips on his own. Her eyes closed instantly.

His hands slid up to cup her face and draw her further into the kiss. He couldn’t explain why any tension left his body as if he’d only been waiting for this or why she drew him in like no other woman had. All he knew was that she was giving him one kiss and he wanted it to last. She felt and tasted like sunshine. He wanted to swallow her whole but he held back. He wouldn’t risk spooking her, not now when she was finally coming to him. Slowly, reluctantly he pulled back, lashes still lowered. “One more?” he whispered against her lips.

Tamar blinked at her heavy eyelids, her fingers splayed along the lengths of his toned arms. She could feel her entire face tingling underneath his palms pressed against her cheeks, could feel the warmth from her shoulders all the way down to her toes that had stretched up to meet him halfway. His warm breath tickled her lips and it took everything in her to pull her mouth away. She traced his face leisurely with her eyes. ”One song, one kiss…”

“You’re violating some kind of labor law, I’m sure. That’s not even minimum wage.” He was already searching for another song.

Tamar smirked, lifting her hands to cover his own still cupping her warm cheeks. She pulled his hands down. ”I only can afford one… for now. Save your song for another day, Sinatra. I should get going.” One quick glance out the window at the darkening sky told her it was time to take her exit.

He smiled at her choice of words. It was good to know she was planning to kiss him again in the future. “You’re not walking across campus alone. You should already know that.” He reached behind her into the closet for his football jacket.

Tamar eyed his jacket and for a brief moment, was reminded of the stark difference between them. ”I could always call Bekah,” she answered as she stepped back to the bed to put on her shoes. ”No need to walk with me,” she answered, reaching for the empty food containers.

“I’m not real happy with the idea of the two of you walking alone either.”

Tamar paused at stacking the plates and smirked at him. He was being protective…already. Cute. ”Relax, we’ve done it countless of times.” She shrugged her shoulders, straightening up. ”Besides, darlin’, these shoes ain’t just made for walkin’.” Tamar bit back a laugh as she stuck out a booted foot.

He laughed, just barely resisting the urge to pull her into his arms for a hug. “They’re certainly made for something, sweetheart. Stop trying to distract me. I wasn’t there to protest before. At least wait until she gets here if you’re going to be stubborn.”

Tamar smiled, lingering again over the crooked smile on his lips. ”I can do that. Let me throw these out and then I’ll call her.” She started for his door.

He reached around her and grabbed the styrofoam boxes from her hand. “I got that. You call Bekah.”

She released her hold and tugged her phone from her cardigan pocket. Dialing the number, Tamar walked back to Dylan’s bed and perched there just as Bekah picked up the call. ”Come walk home with me. Sinatra won’t let me leave except if you come.” After giving her amused cousin directions to Dylan’s dorm, she disconnected the call and shook her head, though a smile played at her lips. Bekah would never let her live this down.

“Way to make me sound like an awful guy.” He tossed his jacket on the bed beside her. “Wear that when you go out.”

Tamar eyed the football jacket before looking up at him, brow cocked questioningly. ”I have a sweater on. It’s not that cold, Sinatra.”

“You and Crystal both.” He groaned. “That flimsy thing is not a sweater. It’s too thin.”

”I’m the one wearing it and it’s not thin,” Tamar insisted softly. ”Wearing your jacket on top of it’ll only make me burn up.”

“If you get sick I’m not going to be happy,” he warned frowning at her.

“Hey, Crys is he–” Tonio broke off mid-sentence as he entered the room. He spotted Tamar seated on the bed and smiled. He shut the door behind him, discreetly shooting Dylan a look. “Hey Tamar, it’s nice to finally meet you. I’m Tonio.”

Tamar quickly glanced at Dylan before looking back at Tonio. ”Hello Tonio…” she said hesitantly, not sure what this man had heard about her; from the rumors or from Dylan. Either way, she tensed slightly as he approached her. ”Whatever you’ve heard about me, more than half probably isn’t true,” she said with a soft smile.

Tonio laughed and looked at Dylan again. “I don’t know. Ramsey’s a pretty trustworthy guy.”

Dylan rolled his eyes. “Thanks a lot, Tonio.”

Tamar smiled despite the surprising bout of nerves that hit her. ”Well, I guess I’ll have to trust him too then.” She peeked up at Dylan, wondering just how much she could let her guard down with this man.

“So I take it you two got everything all patched up?” Tonio asked looking at the two of them.

Dylan made a show of turning his back to his roommate and looking at Tamar. Seeing those beautiful blue eyes focused on him was still like a shock to his system but he tried to keep it together. “Please excuse my nosey so-called best friend. He forgets his sense when he gets around women.”

Tonio just chuckled. “Just remember who helped you out this morning. I know where you sleep, bro.”

Before Tamar could ask about the favor Tonio had done for Dylan, a soft knock sounded on the door. ”That’s probably Bekah…” She rose to her feet and shuffled to the door, pulling it open. She rolled eyes at her cousin’s Cheshire grin. ”Behave,” she warned quietly, pulling it open for her to enter.

”Oh so you’re answering his door now too,” Bekah teased softly as she entered, lifting a hand to wave. ”Hey Dylan…and friend.”

“Hey Bekah,” Dylan greeted, pushing Tonio playfully after hearing his whispered comment about Tamar’s comfortability in their room. “That’s Tonio, friend and overall pain in the butt.”

Tonio nudged him before grinning at Bekah. “Nice to meet you, Bekah.”

Bekah grinned back. ”Looks like you’re in good company, Tonio. My cousin thinks I’m also a pain in her caboose. We should leave them alone one day and hang out, y’know, plot our revenge against this ungrateful bunch.”

Tamar rolled her eyes again and grabbed Bekah’s arm, pulling her toward the door. ”Time to go.”

“Hey, hold on Tamar! I’m liking the sound of this, Bekah. I know an ungrateful person myself,” he said purposely looking at Dylan. “Revenge is always good.”

Tamar laughed, tugging Bekah with her out to the hallway. ”Don’t let her influence your good judgment. Goodnight Tonio.” She nudged Bekah’s leg with her knee. “Dylan, later.”

”Tonio, we’ll talk soon,” Bekah called over her shoulder as Tamar practically dragged her out of the room. ”What no goodbye kiss for Sinatra?” She asked in teasing as they approached the stairwell.

Tamar’s cheeks warmed, pushing the door open. ”Shush… Besides, I wouldn’t dare in front of you, or I won’t live it down for days.”

“Weeks,” Bekah countered as she hooked one arm under Tamar’s, grinning from ear to ear as they strolled down the stairs.

<<Chapter 11 || Chapter 13>>

Her Champion: Chapter 11

Posted on 19/06/2013

metropolisTamar drew in her bottom lip as his warm breath by her ear sent warm shivers across her shoulders. ”Like what?” She could think of many things that would definitely make the audience go nuts.

“Since I’m still waiting for permission, you could always just give me a little peck. Right here.” He tapped his cheek, doubting she’d follow through with it but enjoying teasing her anyway.

She heard the teasing in his voice and her lips quirked up. Tamar peered up at him and saw the laughter in his gray eyes. Cocking a shapely brow, Tamar turned slightly to face him and her eyes lowered to his mouth. Then she reached for his sleeve to pull him down and closer to her level. Tilting her face, she slanted her lips right above the corner of his mouth. Tamar’s cheeks warmed and she almost closed her eyes as his masculine, inviting scent sought to overwhelm her…then she heard the audible gasps around them. Then she released his sleeve and stepped back, looking back up at him. ”Good enough?”

Dylan licked his lips, concentrating on breathing evenly when he turned his head to look at her. If he wasn’t a man of his word, he wouldn’t have stopped there. He would’ve drawn her into his arms and taken the kiss she’d hinted at. “Woman,” he said quietly. “I need permission. Soon.”

Tamar smirked at him despite her tingling face. ”We’ll see.”

“You’re cute when you blush. Stop tempting me,” he murmured, tracing a finger along her cheek. This was a woman who would play with him when others wouldn’t, he realized. Who would challenge him and keep him on edge, wondering what she would do next.

Tamar nudged his finger away with her cheek and turned to the two gaping students in front of the line. She frowned and their gazes averted quickly, busying themselves with invisible lint on their clothes.

Tongues would be wagging, he acknowledged silently when he followed Tamar’s line of sight. He just couldn’t bring himself to care. This was what he wanted. It had been too long since anything other than football and his family had demanded his attention. It was worth checking out and investing in a little.

They reached the front of the line and Tamar relayed her order before stepping aside for Dylan to give his. Focusing her eyes on the menu even afterward, Tamar hoped that he didn’t intend on them eating here. Whenever she bought food, which was rare, Tamar always carried her meal somewhere private from the mocking and disdainful stares… And that was when she hadn’t done anything but breathe and exist. Now having witnessed her kiss  their golden boy, there was no telling what the mob of students would do, even with Mr. Golden Boy in attendance.

Dylan glanced over at her as he pulled out his wallet and found her steadfastly avoiding the eyes of everyone around them. He was reminded of the article and the way Neecy had spoken about her. He didn’t want to subject her to the stares and whispers the entire time they were together. He wanted her at ease, comfortable with him. Frowning, he handed the cashier the money. “Make those to-go.”

Tamar hid her smile as she watched him. It was as if he could read her thoughts or at least could understand. That alone was enough for her…for now.

“What?” he asked with a smile when he caught her looking at him. He passed her the Fanta before grabbing his own drink and moving along the length of the counter to wait for their food.

She shook her head mutely and merely walked with him, hands in the oversized pocket of her cardigan. Maybe she could get used to this; having someone like him shield her from their scorn. Tamar frowned lightly, slowing to a stop at the edge of the counter. She didn’t want anyone else to feel obligated to her, more than the ones responsible for her.

Dylan accepted the containers of food passed over the counter to him and turned to Tamar. “What’d I do now?” he asked teasingly.

Tamar eyed him curiously, wondering if he was this nice to all his friends. She smiled gently. ”Still trying to figure that out.”

“You’re still smiling so it can’t be too bad. Let’s find somewhere quieter.”

Tamar nodded and walked toward the exit, eyes following them the entire way. Once they stepped out onto the street, Tamar heaved a sigh. ”I feel like I just added another year to my life…” The weight of their stares were not getting any lighter.

“I could throw this week’s game,” he joked, steering her around the building and across the cross. “But that would somehow end up being your fault. Maybe if I play better, that’ll be your fault too.”

”I didn’t think I had that kind of influence. Should I be flattered?” Tamar said in half-teasing, strolling beside him.

“Absolutely,” he said easily. “If you came to the game Saturday night I’d be trying to impress you so I’d play better.”

She raised a brow. ”Is that a hypothetical invitation or a real one?”

He smirked. “Come to the game, Tamar.”

”I don’t understand or like football,” Tamar answered easily.

“But you like me. Shouldn’t you come support your friend?”

Tamar laughed, slowing to a stop as she looked up at him, hands on her hips. ”Who said anything about liking you? I’m just bored.”

“So you were projecting?” he accused laughing. “You’re the one playing games. Quiet girl working on a spring project; get the jock’s attention and make him want her.”

”So did it work?” Tamar blinked up at him, one corner of her lips curled up in amusement.

“I’d give it an A. Maybe an A plus. You’re pretty good at these spring projects.”

She rolled her eyes and laughed. ”I’m glad I rate high on your list, Sinatra.” Tamar pushed around him to walk ahead.

“So does that mean you’re coming to the game?” he asked following after her laughing.

”I’ll think about it,” she called over her shoulder. ”Where are we going?”

“Given the way your last thinking time went, I’m not sure I’m satisfied with that. You okay with heading back to my place?”

Tamar smirked. ”You move fast, Casanova…” Her eyes traveled up his torso and stopped at his lips before moving up to his eyes. ”Lead the way then.”

“I’ll be moving faster if you keep looking at me like that,” he warned starting for Spencer Hall.

Tamar eyed the building, knowing that there would be plenty of staring going on inside. ”You still need my permission, don’t forget that, Casanova.”

“Dang. I was planning on kissing you senseless once I got you in my room.” He chuckled when she rolled her eyes. “Are you thinking about giving it anytime soon? Just so I’m prepared.”

Tamar shook her head, folding her arms across her chest. ”I’m being considerate here, what with you having a game later… Don’t think you can handle the distraction.”

“How generous of you,” he drawled balancing his drink on top of the styrofoam boxes to open the door. “But I think I’m more distracted thinking about doing it again…”

”Doing what again?”

His voice lowered and he focused on her face. “Kissing you.”

Tamar smirked up at him. ”Open your door, Casanova.”

“So you’re going to let me go into the game distracted? You have no sense of school spirit.” He shook his head in mock disappointment as he drew his keys from his pocket and unlocked the door.

Tamar stepped inside, hands still in her pockets. ”I’m doing your team a favor. Maybe someone else can get a chance at fame…” Her eyes scanned the room.

He laughed and kicked the door shut behind him. “I don’t think people are going to see it that way if I choke. Bed or desk?”

”Excuse me?” She choked in laughter, her cheeks tingling at the thought of him pulling her up against the desk.

“Where did you want to sit?” He set the boxes down and turned to shoot her a questioning look.  The blush stealing across her cheeks made him laugh. “You really think I’m wild, huh? We can go with that question too.”

”Food, Casanova,” Tamar muttered, walking over to perch on his bed.

“Too bad,” he muttered as he opened her container and set it before her on the bed. “We can renegotiate later.”

Curling her legs under her, Tamar reached for her food container. ”Nice place, Sinatra. Who’s your interior designer?”

“Are you going to judge me if I tell you it was my sister?” he asked grabbing his own food and dropping down on the bed beside her. “She always manages to change or add something every time she visits.”

Tamar glanced up at him, her lips curled in a slight smile. ”That’s…different.” Sweet. Unexpected.

“She doesn’t give me much of a choice about it,” he grumbled and bit into a quesadilla. “If she comes back and it’s not how she left it, I get in trouble.”

Tamar laughed softly. ”Younger or older?” She cut her enchilada into small bits.

“Four years younger. She’s a senior in high school. A little monster in other words.”

”Sounds like an angel…” Tamar leaned in, elbows propped on her knees. ”I wonder where I’d be with a brother like you…” She mused aloud, eyes twinkling with mirth.

“Did you not hear me? Mon-ster. She gets it from our mom of course. My grounding influence is the only reason she’s a straight A student involved in pretty much everything a girl can be involved in at school.”

Tamar nodded, sobering as she thought of her senior year in high school. Soccer tournaments, Debate team, Spanish symposiums. Choral concerts. ”Must be a busy girl… A handful.”

Dylan smiled lightly. “Yeah, she is but she handles it well.” He paused and that smile faded, thinking about how much better she could have been handling it if he’d managed to follow through with his own responsibilities.

”I’m sure.” Tamar took a bite, licking the cheese off her bottom lip. ”Will she come to this college too?” She tried to picture a female version of Dylan and fought a smile. No doubt the girl would hold on her own among the masses.

Dylan stiffened at the question and set the quesadilla back in the box, reaching for his drink. “Maybe.”

She glanced up at him then. ”Touchy subject?” Her eyes scanned his taut expression and nodded. ”I won’t pry. Don’t worry.”

He glanced over at her hesitantly. “Gonna take it easy on me?”

”I think I should…” She gave a gentle smile.

“I guess I might have to keep you around then.”

”Lucky me,” she drawled, smile still in place.

He sobered, studying her silently. “You’re really something else.”

”That’s what they say,” she answered, smile waning. Tamar  then straightened and returned her attention to the food. ”Ever wanted something so bad when you don’t have it, but when you do, it’s not as good?” Her eyes lifted back to his.

“Yeah. Oh yeah,” he muttered. “What is it for you?”

She twisted her lips. ”I don’t want to hurt your feelings…”

“The popularity? Or is it the attention of the popular kid?” He was surprised by how much that second possibility bothered him.

She laughed. ”No, I meant this enchilada. It looked so much more appealing on Bekah’s plate.” Her eyes danced with laughter. ”What, you’re wanting to rescind your offer already?” Tamar was intrigued that she didn’t want to hear it, especially if he did.

His laughter was a mix of relief and amusement. “You sat there and let me think you were having second thoughts and you’re talking about food.” He shook his head and offered his quesadilla to her. “And you can forget it. I’m not changing my mind. You’re stuck with me.”

<<Chapter 10 || Chapter 12>>

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