Set up: Extremely shy Charlie is being harassed by a few pot smoking jerks as she waits just outside the near empty university for her ride:
His friends began laughing now too as if she’d just said something hilarious. “Okay okay,” he said a little too amused. “Don’t go. I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Ross and this must be your first year here right? Because I know I would’ve noticed a beautiful thing like you before.”
“Yep,” she said feeling her face warm from the compliment. “First year.” She flung her bag over her shoulder just as he lifted his hand toward her.
“That hair wow. It’s… so bright. ”
Charlee cursed her bright head. Her entire life all she wanted was to go unnoticed—blend in with everything but this hair had and would always be the bane of her existence. Even after Drew’s plan to make it less noticeable she still may as well sit there screaming “Look at me! My heads on fire!”
She smiled faintly and tried making her way around Ross.
“Wait, wait.” He stepped in front of her and stared at her hair with an almost perverted expression. “Are you red everywhere, Charlee?” he murmured but loud enough for his friends to hear because they burst out laughing and were already falling all over each other.
Her face was instantly ablaze and she looked away.
“Can I touch it?” he asked.
With a jerk of her neck she was facing him again. “What?” She stepped back away from him.
He took a step forward with a sardonic smile that made the hair on the back of her neck stand. “I meant the hair on your head not on…”
“No you can’t,” she gasped glancing around wishing to God she’d spot Drew’s car in the parking lot somewhere. “I gotta go.”
His friends laughed even more now. “Burn!” One of them said covering his mouth because her having to go was apparently side-splitting.
Ross didn’t seem quite as amused as they were now but he still managed to smirk. “C’mon, red,” his hand toward her again. “I just wanna see if it feels as soft as it looks.”
“Sorry, I gotta go,” she repeated.
She started to walk around him beginning to feel a little nervous about how deserted the campus suddenly felt. This wasn’t unusual for a late Friday afternoon and normally she wouldn’t care but being alone here with these three obviously high guys was really starting to unnerve her.
His hand touching her made her gasp again. Ross held her arm as she tried going around him. “I’m asking nicely.” His voice was low and deliberate now.
Charlee tried to shake his arm off her but he held it firmly.
“Let her go.”
They all looked up at once and Ross immediately laughed. A heavyset boy she recognized quickly as Walter, a guy on both her chess teams stood there looking a bit unsure of himself but he cleared his throat and spoke even louder the second time. “I said let her go.”
Ross dropped her arm and took a few steps toward Walter. “You’re gonna tell me what to do, fat boy?”
The voice in Charlee’s head screamed for her to get out of there. She was free to run now but she couldn’t. She couldn’t just leave Walter there with these three pothead assholes.
“J-just let her be is all I’m saying.” Walter looked about as scared as Charlee felt.
“Yeah? Or what?” Ross asked taking a few more steps toward Walter. “What are you gonna do fat ass?”
“Let’s go, Walter.” Charlee said walking toward him but Ross stopped her grabbing her arm again.
“I said let her go!” Walter pushed Ross making him tumble back off balance for a second but he recovered quickly and swung landing his fist solidly on Walter’s nose.
In the next few seconds while Walter brought his hands to his bloodied nose Ross swung at him again. Charlee screamed at him to stop when she saw Walter lose his footing and tumble to the ground in pain. Ross began kicking him in the stomach and chest and his friends joined him, kicking Walter merciless. Completely panic stricken now and terrified that they were going to kill him especially when she saw one of Ross’s kicks go for Walter’s head, Charlee begged them to stop. She thought for sure security or someone would’ve come by now but unbelievable there was no one around and that’s when she saw him.
Out of nowhere a guy ran up to Ross and with one swift powerful punch to the face he knocked him out cold. Charlee was too stunned to move even when Ross’s body dropped lifeless at her feet. He never even knew what hit him.
“You okay, Walter?” The deep resonate sound of his voice barely registered as she finally pulled her eyes away from the body lying at her feet. Looking up she watched the mystery guy bend over at Walter’s side. Ross’s friends were long gone running the moment they saw Ross drop like a sack of rocks. The guy hadn’t bothered going after them too concerned about Walter instead.
Mesmerized she now couldn’t take her eyes off him as he lifted Walter’s big body effortlessly, helping him to his feet.
Charlee hadn’t even noticed Drew had driven up until she honked. Coming out of her daze she turned to Drew stepping away from Ross’s body and lifted her hand at Drew to give her a second. “Are you okay, Walter?”
Walter nodded but looked away. He seemed upset or maybe just embarrassed. “Are you sure? I can ask my friend to take you to the emergency room if you want. We can also call the cops.” She turned to Ross who was still lying on the floor but appeared to be coming to. “We can try and keep him here until the cops come.”
“He ain’t going anywhere.” The guy assured her with a lift of an eyebrow.
Her eyes met with the guy’s intensely serious eyes for a moment. She’d never seen such heavy lashes on a guy in her life and she was having an awfully hard time keeping her eyes off his big arms. Looking at his face now she could see he was probably her age but he had the body of a man—a full grown amazingly built man. With his toned arms and shoulders alone, add to that his more than confident demeanor, he was a complete contrast to Walter who stood there still spitting out blood.
“I’m good.” Walter said after wiping the blood away from his nose again.
Drew honked again. Charlee knew she was in a hurry but she felt terrible about just leaving Walter there.
“Go ahead.” Walter said already starting to walk away. “I’m fine really.”
She hurried to him before he could get too far and gave him a quick hug. “Thank you. I’m so sorry this happened.”
Walter nodded and gave her a small smile. “It wasn’t your fault. Don’t worry about it.”
Of course Charlee felt entirely to blame but she wouldn’t argue with him. She glanced at the guy who’d really saved the day suddenly incredibly grateful that he’d showed up when he did but dare not attempt to even ask his name much less hug him. Instead she smiled softly. “Thank you, too.”
He winked at her the intensity suddenly gone then flashed one of the most breathtaking smile she’d ever seen. In an effort to not become completely mesmerized again and make a fool of herself she glanced away from his lips and his near perfect teeth. Instead she focused on the skin on his big arms. Being so pasty white, her entire life she’d envied people with skin like his so perfectly tanned. She felt almost ashamed that any thoughts about Walter’s well being had been completely snuffed by visions of touching this incredible guy’s skin.
Another honk from Drew yanked her out of said visions and she turned to Drew then waved back at Walter one last time. “I’ll see you next week.”