Stupid GirlBy: Cindy Miles
I couldn’t help but grin. Tessa’s drama was … entertaining. “That describes about, oh, probably most of the guys on this campus, I’d imagine. But how do you know all this about him? Aren’t you a freshman?”
Tessa bobbed her head. “My older brother is on the baseball team with him,” she said. “He warned me away months ago. Says Brax is an arrogant ass.”
I rubbed my chin with my knuckle. “Again, you just described probably ninety percent of all guys at Winston.” I held her gaze. “So you don’t actually know girls he’s been with?” I asked. Some of what she was relaying sounded more like hearsay, rather than firsthand experience like she wanted me to believe. Gossipy, and having been on the other end of that word, I totally hated it.
“Well”—she cleared her throat again and her face screwed up— “let’s just say I’ve heard plenty, and the sources I’ve heard it from are trustworthy. Besides, he doesn’t try to hide it. He’ll tell a girl he’s a one-night-stander. That I have heard myself. And that means the same as bang ‘em and dump ‘em, right? But I do know guys he’s beaten the shit out of. That’s all the proof I need.” She regarded me, and tucked her straight hair behind her ear. “I’m a little surprised that he came onto you, though. Oh,” she said, catching herself. “Shit. No offense. That came out way worse than how I meant it.”
I shrugged with indifference. “No offense taken. But he didn’t come onto me. He was just being nice for plowing me down.” That was mostly true. The kiss wasn’t a come-on. He’d basically said so himself. It was a … what’d he call it? A reaction.
“Right. Brax doing something just to be nice.” She shook her head. “Maybe. But what I meant was: Brax Jenkins usually goes for a certain type.” Tessa shrugged and glanced me over, from my dusty boots, to my worn, hole-in-both-knees jeans, white tank and thick wad of mousy brown braid. Not to mention, zero make-up. “You’re about as opposite from that usual type as it gets.” She smiled, and her white teeth shone bright against her tanned skin. “But in a totally good way. You don’t want him bothering you, anyhow. Like I said, Olivia. Trouble.” She twirled a finger by her ear. “Maybe even a little loco. You’ll see. He’s like, all over campus, flirting up a different girl every day, scoring a different girl every weekend. So says my brother.”
I nodded. “Thanks for the heads-up, but I promise you—the last thing I’m looking for is a relationship. With Brax Jenkins or any other guy. My full concentration is on school.” I gave her a hesitant smile, hoping that wasn’t too much info.
“I’m from Lubbock. A lot of kids come here from there. What about you?”
And just that fast, Tessa changed gears, so I went with it. More than likely I’d never even run into Brax Jenkins from Boston again. Ever. I was pretty positive he didn’t hang out at the library or the observatory, and that’s where I’d be spending most of my time. Tessa didn’t need to tell me how polar opposite I was from Brax; that was beyond obvious. And, absolutely no big deal. I certainly wasn’t about to become his or anyone else’s throw-backs, conquests, or whatever else you call it, that was a sheer certainty.
What I accomplished here at Winston would set the pattern for the rest of my life, as well as the future of my family’s ranch. I had plans. And nothing—or no one—would stand in my way. That kiss? Yeah, it’d been shocking, to say the least. But now that I knew he’d probably done the same thing a dozen times that day? Chalk it up to experience. One I wouldn’t be repeating.
I smiled, and answered. “Born and raised on a small horse ranch in Jasper. Just north of Abilene. Three brothers, my mom, and grandpa. ” I was pretty sure all the gritty details of my small ranch life mucking out stalls, repairing fences and getting flung from insane horses wouldn’t interest Tessa, so it was my turn to change gears. “Want some help getting your stuff in?”
“Thought you’d never ask!” Tessa leapt up and headed for the door.
We trudged downstairs and crossed the parking lot to Tessa’s silver Jetta. It was loaded to the gills with clothes and shoes. More than I’d ever seen. In. My. Life. I shouldered several duffels and stacked three boxes high in my arms. The heavy scent of hair products and perfume permeated from the top one. My Grandpa Jilly would call her a girly girl.
“My brother Cole’s bringing the rest of it with his truck later on,” Tessa offered as we started back to the dorm. Made me wonder if Tessa had noticed how small of a space we’d be sharing. I wasn’t sure a truckload was going to fit, on top of what we’d carried in from her Jetta already. I’d brought minimal stuff, all of it easily contained on my side of the room.
As we walked down the hallway, Tessa looked over at me. “My god, woman, what do you do? Work out 24-7? Your arms are seriously cut.”
I gave a brief glance at my bared arms, which just looked skinny to me. I laughed. “Just a lot of chores, I guess. Ranch work. Breaking horses.”
“Ugh. I hate chores. And I’m pretty sure I hate horses, too.”
We dumped the couple of loads off at the dorm, and over the next hour and a half I got to know my roommate a little better. Tessa’s mom was from Mexico, which explained her gorgeous tanned skin and fluent Spanish. A pre-nursing student, she still had all of her core to finish. Her eyes bugged when I told her how many core classes I’d completed before I’d graduated high school.
“Astronomy major? Damn woman, your brain must be the size of a basketball in there.” She pointed to my head and her nose squinched up. “I hate science.”
“Okay, let me get this straight.” I smiled. “You want to be a nurse, but you hate science and chores?”
Tessa stared, blinked, then barked out a squeaky giggle. “Yeah, but I love people, and I want to be a labor and delivery nurse. Not much intense science involved there, right? It’s all gravity, baby! Pretty much just a push and catch sort of deal!” She laughed, and so did I. Surprisingly, I felt at ease with Tessa. If someone had pointed her out and said we’d be friends, I’m not a hundred percent positive I would have agreed. We were just so very opposite. Yet, I liked her.
A tinkling sound came from Tessa’s cell, and she grabbed it off the bed, her fingers flying over the keys as she responded to a text. “Cole’s out front! Let’s go!”
We met Tessa’s brother outside, and for some reason my eyes slipped to the spot of lawn where Brax and I had fallen and met. Kissed. Brax had such arresting features, and Tessa was right about those eyes. Shocking. I mentally shook my head to push all dangerous thoughts of Braxton Jenkins out, and glanced at Cole. He and Tessa looked alike, for the exception that Cole didn’t have blonde streaks through his hair. His was buzzed cut, and you could tell he was an athlete; strong build, tall, broad shoulders. He was a cute guy, and I was pretty sure he knew it. Tessa introduced us.
“Hey,” he said quickly. He barely acknowledged me with a glance, and it had lasted all of a half-second. He turned to his sister. “Let’s get this stuff out of here, huh? I got somewhere to be.”
“Don’t be such a shithead, Cole,” Tessa snapped. She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and we started unloading Tessa’s belongings. When she suddenly and loudly cleared her throat, I looked up and she winked at me. “Cole, by the way … how ’bout Brax Jenkins was over here hitting on Olivia earlier?”
I laughed lightly, totally embarrassed, and passed a fast look at Cole over the top of my boxes. “He was definitely not hitting on me.”
Cole glanced at me, and quickly weighed me in from my boots to my hair. It was so plain on his face that he, too, was doubtful Brax Jenkins had any interest in me at all. Still, he put in his two cents. “I’m not gonna talk shit about my teammate, but just like I tell Tess. Stay away from him. He’ll hurt you.”