Used Ch. 03bynerd4music©
Author's Note: I know, I know. I suck hardcore. Sorry about the ridiculous wait. I blame the end of college. Thanks for the patience kids and all the wonderful feedback. You guys rock something fierce. I'll be submitting the next installment later this week (seriously...I promise!) As always, keep those comments and votes coming! ~ n4m
Nate groaned in satisfaction as he collapsed onto the bed. He rolled onto his back, taking Jamie with him.
"Damn," he breathed.
She stared up at him. "You're still jealous."
Nate grinned. He wasn't going to admit seeing her dance with the other guy affected him. It was the day after the Sweetheart Social and he still wasn't giving in.
"Say whatever you want, Kincaid. I ain't ever been jealous of no other man."
Jamie smiled. "Yeah, whatever." She glanced over at the clock. "Shit. It's nearly noon." She made to get up before he pressed her body closer to his.
"What's the rush, darlin'? It's the weekend."
"Some of us actually have things to get through. I've got a campaign plan to pore over as well as some other errands." She sat up, her legs straddling him. Nate admired her dark breasts, the nipples tightening in the cool air of his bedroom.
"Campaign plan? Whose campaign are you running?"
She laughed. "It's not like a political campaign. It's an event I'm planning with my group for my final portfolio project. For my capstone class. Why are you so interested?"
Nate shrugged. "I thought it was political. Thought maybe you'd be working alongside some stuffy ass conservative that'd try and cop a feel under your skirt."
She shook her head, smiling. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I'm public relations major, Harlow." Lifting off him, she stood up and began to search for her clothes.
He smiled. "Makes sense. Didn't realize you were a PR major."
"Because you never asked." Clipping her bra back on, she faced him. "Wait, why are you so interested?"
He shrugged once more. "It's just a question, Kincaid. Can't a guy be curious?" He watched as she slid into her jeans and threw on her tank top.
Running her fingers through her hair, she sighed. "Damn, I really need to bring a comb with me. Now I just look like I have sex hair."
Nate laughed. "I like your hair that way." He rose from the bed, standing naked save for navy boxer briefs. Jamie had to admit it; he was an impressive looking guy, even at twenty-two. The hard planes of his sculpted chest were beautifully tan.
He seemed to always have a permanent tan, even in the early spring of the upstate New York weather. He was broad-shouldered and an overall fox. But Jamie decided his best feature was his eyes. They ranged from ice blue when he was irritated to a soft sky color whenever he looked at her.
Yes, she had noticed the looks he'd been tossing her way recently. How could she avoid them? She had seen that look before with guys she messed around with. His long stares coupled with the jealousy could only mean one thing.
Nate Harlow was falling for her.
Jamie pulled a pair of black flip-flops out of her large black purse, slipping them on her feet. "I should be going," she said.
He grabbed her arm, pulling her close. "Why you always runnin' away? Stay for a lil' bit."
Jamie gazed into his eyes. They were that hazy sky color again. "No time, Harlow. I gotta jet." Kissing him soundly, she winked before hurrying out the door. "Text you later," she said.
In reality, Jamie could have stayed. Her group meeting wasn't until three. But she felt as if she had to get out of there. Being with Nate was becoming too...familiar. They had been hooking up for over three weeks and Jamie was feeling like a break was necessary.
The sex was good. Actually it was amazing. But even that was starting to change. She started noticing little things, like how he tried to keep her close after climaxing. Before, he would casually move aside and let her have her space. Lately, after bringing her to a pleasurable release she would feel his strong arms snake around her, drawing her body to his.
The act was small, insignificant. But to Jamie, it was a warning sign of things yet to come. As she left the ATO house, the sun shone brightly. It was a good day to walk and clear her head.
She needed to process some things. Was this just an act with Nate, or was he seriously starting to feel her? Nora's words and warnings consumed her thoughts. How can he be the Nate that tries to hold me after sex and still be the asshole Nora spoke of?
Easy, her brain replied. He's playing you, just like you're doing to him. The thought of Nate just pretending, going through the motions of "caring" made her feel oddly better about things.
Slipping on her earphones, Jamie let the sounds of Massive Attack's Teardrop soothe her as she walked slowly back to her apartment.
She tried to avoid the niggling voice in the back of her mind; the one that told her she wasn't fooling anyone.
Two weeks later...
"Congratulations, Mr. Harlow. It appears everything is in order."
Nate gave his academic advisor a toothy smile. "Seriously, Dr. Pearson?"
The older gentleman nodded, his watery green eyes sparkling. "Indeed young man. You are all set to graduate, and with honors. You can pick up your chords at the bookstore." He extended his hand. "Again, congratulations Nate. You've done so well."
Nate shook Dr. Pearson's hand soundly. "I couldn't have done it without your guidance, Dr. P. I owe you one."
Dr. Pearson laughed a hearty sound that filled his already cluttered office. "I certainly will take you up on that offer someday, Nate. Remember your old professor when you're making those millions."
Grabbing the blue backpack at his feet, he stood. Saluting the elder professional once more, he left the office. He couldn't help the grin that slowly spread on his handsome face. It was amazing how things were falling into place. After four years of hard work, he was graduating at the top of his business class.
Nate's fraternity brothers were amazed at how he managed to perform all his president duties as well as the extracurricular activities while still pulling off a 3.8 GPA. He supposed he had his father to thank for that.
After his mother succumbed to breast cancer when he was only nine years old, Nate watched his father struggle to grieve properly for his beloved and still care for his only child.
He quit his job as a tax attorney in a prestigious firm to take a larger salary cut, working as a professor in a local college back in Tennessee to assure that his summers and vacations were spent with his son.
Their existence was a relatively happy one. Trent Harlow made sure his son wanted for nothing and had everything necessary to achieve. He stressed the importance of academics and learning about the world. Nate remembered while his friends spent summers at baseball and basketball camps, he was going to the local museums and writing weekly book reports.
He had the reputation of being a likeable kid, but somewhat of a bookworm. His blond hair was on the long side and slightly unkempt, his beautiful blue eyes hidden behind black frame glasses. Girls found him aloof, yet adorable. Growing up, he was always on the lanky side, and with his father's insistence, he worked out regularly.
"A healthy brain needs a healthy body," Trent would tell him.
When it came to role models, Nate couldn't think of anyone better than his father. Since the death of his mother, his father was cooler than any superhero. He was smart, charming, and handsome.
There was only one problem: his love life. Trent Harlow found it increasingly difficult to date after his wife's death. Nate couldn't understand, even at his young age, how someone as amazing as his father couldn't keep a steady girlfriend. He seemed to find all the bad apples in Nashville.
"These modern women have no use for an old-school guy like me," he would say to Nate after coming home from another dismal outing. Nate would see his father get his heart stomped on by women time after time, but his resilient nature wouldn't allow him to quit. Trent also stressed respect for women to his son. "Don't let a few sully your viewpoint, son. A good woman just takes time to come around. I got lucky once, maybe there's second round in there."
He would be lying if he said that watching his father strike out with women didn't leave him bitter. He questioned how other people didn't seem to care about love and it was practically thrown in their direction, while his father longed for a companion and continually found himself coming up short.
The elder Harlow eventually settled himself into a comfortable pattern. He began to write novels; nothing big, just mysteries and thrillers. Eventually Nate's father was published and two of his books became minor bestsellers. With his earnings he was able to pay in full for Nate's tuition.
Though his way was paid, Trent wanted his son to work. "My son will know the value of a dollar," he said in that faux-gruff voice Nate had come to love. During his freshman and sophomore years he was a student aid in the design lab. He was carrying a full course-load, working, and pledging Alpha Theta Omega. It was hard work, but he did it because he knew he had to.
Being in New York was like being transported to a different country. There were rich kids in Nashville, but not like this. Kids at his upstate university acted like things had to be given to them on a silver platter. He didn't think many of them worked a day in their life. As he walked out of the Business building, he couldn't help the slow smile that spread on his face. He couldn't wait to call his father and relay the news.
Even more than his dad, he wanted to tell Jamie. It was weird, the way he suddenly wanted to include her in other aspects of his life besides just the bedroom. He could feel himself slowly getting used to being with her, and maybe that wasn't a bad thing.
No, the problem would be getting her to lift the 'no attachments' ban.
If anyone had said that he would ever be hung up on a girl, he would have just laughed. He was Nathan Harlow, dammit! Girls practically fell at his feet since puberty hit and he lost the glasses. The city girls at Colson University adored his Southern twang and gentlemanly charms. Though he was known to "fuck 'em and forget 'em", he still had the reputation as a decent guy.
The longest relationship he'd ever had was with Christa Phelps. For two months, Nate was stifled by her manipulating and demanding behavior. Christa made him think he was control when all along, she held the reins. In the end, she dumped him like yesterday's garbage, cheating on him one night at an ATC party and blaming him for it.
Nate wasn't surprised at her callous behavior; he had come to expect that sort of thing with relationships. Girls pretended to be sweet and innocent, but he knew better. They were snakes in disguise, at least the majority that he'd hooked up with.
And then there was Jamie, who was upfront about her intentions. Nate thought he'd be able to set aside feelings in the midst of passion, but he couldn't predict that he would start to feel something other than lust for the girl. He didn't even know much about her!
He couldn't deny the way his body seemed to fit hers. The curve of her waist, the slope of her sinewy form; the way her dark legs fit perfectly around his waist. Her chestnut eyes always held a mystery behind them, as if she knew something he didn't. He loved kissing her lips, like two dusky pillows invading his thoughts nearly every moment of the day.
When he wasn't with her, he spent hours fantasizing about what to do to her when next they met. He smelled her in his sheets, and days after hooking up he swore he could still taste remnants of her on his lips.
It had been at least three or four days since he heard from her. Nate figured it was due to both of them being busy. Finals week was looming ever closer and graduation wasn't too far behind. Time to wrap up loose ends.
Nate sighed. It was time to figure things out once and for all. He needed to talk to Jamie, figure out where she stood in all this.
Maybe then he could understand why he couldn't stop thinking about making her his for real. *********
"Maybe I need to get some new friends," Jamie huffed loudly. "You know, ones that don't belong to a sorority."
Nora laughed. "Dude, I promise this is the last function I drag you to."
"Don't worry, Nora. It's not you who's making me go this time."
Nora stopped brushing her hair, the round brush hanging mid-air. "You mean Nate actually asked you to be his date?" She stared at her roommate through her vanity mirror.
Jamie plopped down on Nora's bed, smiling at the hot pink comforter set. "Yeah, he did. I said yes just to shut him up. And now I have to get dressed up for some ridiculous formal."
She was referring to the Greek Formal, the end of the year banquet that invited all the Greek organizations on campus to come together and celebrate. Awards were given out for the most philanthropic house and the like. It was a nice way for the houses to get together and show off.
Jamie had resigned herself to Nate going stag and showing up later that night. She was taken aback and had said yes out of shock.
"Wow," Nora remarked as she swept her blond curls into an elegant chignon. "I didn't think he had the balls to do that."
Nora eyed her roommate. "So, are you going to let him know tonight?"
Jamie knew where this was headed. "Let him know what?"
"That you have feelings for him."
"Nora, can we please just for one night squash the Nate Harlow-Jamie Kincaid love saga?"
"Hmm, that may be hard to do. Seeing as how you're going with him to one of the biggest Greek functions of the school year."
Jamie rose from the bed. "I only said yes because I figured he was going to come over later tonight anyway. And you know what? Hanging out with him isn't so bad. He's actually a decent guy."
"Yeah? I'm surprised you've gathered all of this 'nice guy' information. Apparently you really can learn a lot about someone while you're on your back." Nora gasped and covered her mouth.
Jamie felt as if her roommate had slapped her.
"Jamie, honey I'm so sorry," she started. "I didn't mean..."
"Is that how you really think of me? That I'm just some dumb whore?"
Nora shook her head hard, tears threatening to spill from her amber eyes. "No, I didn't mean to hurt you. I—I'm just really worried about you is all. I can't stand to sit back and watch you make a big mistake. Nate is a mistake, Jamie. A huge one. You're going to get hurt."
"You know whenever you talk about a new guy or whatever I don't bash him, even when I think he's absolutely wrong for you." Jamie could feel her throat beginning to seize. She and Nora never fought. "But I would have never implied you were a whore."
Jamie stalked to the doorway.
"Jay!" Nora called after her. "I didn't mean for it to come out like that."
Jamie whipped around. "I am so SICK of people judging me for my actions. I'm tired of everyone acting as if I'm this mousy moon-eyed twit who doesn't see Nate Harlow for who he is. Nate has been upfront with me all along. Can I really say the same thing about you?"
"Yeah, you can." Nora replied. "I didn't say you were a whore, Jay. I said you can't base a ballpark theory like that just on a relationship that is purely sexual. You can't even call what you guys are doing a relationship. It's just basically fucking and hiding feelings."
"Well, we all can't be the sweet virgins, can we?" Jamie shot back. "I need to be away from you right now. Don't worry; I'll keep my distance from you tonight. Wouldn't want the skank to soil your white dress." She left quickly, slamming Nora's bedroom door.
Stepping out of the shower, Nate wrapped the dark towel around his waist. He was lucky; as President of ATO he had a private bathroom. The new brothers and the rest had to share communal bathrooms.
Nate could remember what that place looked like; it was a warzone on an average night, but the night of the Greek formal, it was even worse.
He slipped on a pair of black boxer briefs and flicked a piece of lint off his tailored suit, mentally thanking his father for his advice. "A man should have one good suit, and a host of damn shirts to mix and match," Trent Harlow would say to his son.
It was the one splurge he knew he would actually get some good use out of. It cost a pretty penny, the slate grey Gucci suit, but it was definitely worth it.
Nate was nearly dressed, buttoning his dark navy blue dress shirt when there was a knock at the door. "Yeah?" he called out.
The door opened to reveal a very dapper looking Matt in a well-cut black suit. "Hey man, you almost ready?"
Nate nodded. "Yeah," he replied, shrugging on his suit jacket. "How are we getting to the hotel?"
Matt smiled. "Glad you asked, dude. As President and Vice President of Alpha Theta Omega, you and I will be accompanied by Daniel Eisenberg better known as our social chair in our stretch limousine along with our smoking hot dates. The rest of the senior members will be there as well. As for the rest of the brothers? I told them to catch rides or hoof it. No matter, 'cause we'll be showing up in style dude!"
Nate laughed. "I gotta hand it to you, Matt. You definitely know how to sell an idea. Anyway, who you takin' to the formal? I haven't heard you mention any lovely ladies."
Matt's blue eyes twinkled. "Ahh, well see it's a surprise. Actually it's a surprise for all."
"You didn't hire an escort like last time, did you? We all know how well that turned out." Nate was referring to last year's Greek Formal when Matt decided hiring a date would be like playing Hot Girl Roulette, except he definitely did not win that time.
Nate laughed as his friend shuddered audibly. "Nah, I have definitely learned my lesson with that one. No. A good friend of mine Brea is hooking me up with her twin sister Bryn."
Nate whistled. "Brea Sinclair? That girl is fuckin' gorgeous. Nice one man."
Matt smiled gleefully. "Dude, I know! And she's her twin, so you know she'll be slamming. I'm getting some tonight." He cast Nate a sly glance. "Speaking of getting some, where's your girl? I thought you'd have your hands full right now."
"Nah, she's gettin' ready for tonight."
"Wait, Jamie's your date?"
Nate dabbed on his favorite Versace cologne. "Yeah, she is. Is that a problem?" "No," Matt replied. "I just didn't think you guys were rolling like that."
"Rollin' like what?"
Matt shrugged. "Oh, you know. I didn't realize things were relationship-serious."
"I'm not sure where things are right now, man. We're just having fun."
"I got you, dude. But how long have we known each other?"
"Since freshman year when you held my legs during the keg stand at that first pledge party."
They laughed. "See," Matt said. "I always got your back. That's why I'm going to give you a bit of advice: this chick, she's just another Christa."
"Dude, I'm serious. The only difference is that at least she's honest about using you."
"What the hell would she be usin' me for? Free liquor and party invites?" Nate could feel himself getting irritated and he tried to keep to keep it in check.
Matt held up his hands in a surrender gesture. "Don't shoot the messenger, man. We've just been noticing things, is all...and hearing things. It's not like you guys have been out on an actual date, right? It's just sex, Nate. Plain and simple. The fact you're getting so worked up about it leads me to believe that you might want more from it."
So the whole fraternity had been talking about him behind his back. "Well Matt, you and the other ladies need to pull up your skirts and finish this gossip tea party. What I do with Jamie Kincaid is my own damn business and no one else's." He hesitated for a moment. "That bein' said, I appreciate you havin' my back. But believe me; I can handle someone like her."