I open the door with my elbow and carry the pizzas Maddox bought inside the kitchen. Maddox is still
by the car, probably picking up all the bags of food he got me.
He is sweet, and I waltz into the kitchen wearing a smile.
I put down the boxes on the table and begin searching for a knife. I hear footsteps and expect to find
Maddox behind me, but its Zendra and her latest conquer, Henrik. “Oh, you got me a pizza?” Zendra
opens the first box and sends me an evil smile. She is definitely planning on stealing one of the boxes.
I straighten my shoulders, and for once in my life, I speak up. “Uh, that pizza isn’t for you.” “But you got
two of them?” Zendra shrugs. “I also don’t think you need to eat two of them, and I’m hungry. So thank
you for the—” “That pizza is mine.” Zendra falls silent, and her eyes almost pop up from their sockets
when Maddox strolls into the kitchen. He walks toward the pizza boxes and glares at both Zendra and
Immediately, Henrik steps out of the way with a little yelp. The smaller male knows better than to
challenge the pissed-off football player, and Maddox growls while closing the box. “If the pizza is cold, I
will put you to blame.” Maddox’s intense eyes are set on Zendra’s face. She takes a step back.
“Maddox, hi… I didn’t know you were coming over. I thought you and Michelle broke up?”
“Nope,” Maddox says. “I’ve just been blessed not to see your ugly mug around here lately… Also, you
and that other roommate owe me money for eating from my stuff.”
Zendra’s jaw drops to the floor. “Excuse me?”
“Yeah, I bought food for Michelle, and I have a hard time believing she ate all of it, but it’s okay… Leave
twenty dollars on the counter, and I will consider us even. The food cost more than that, but I’m feeling
nice today. Just don’t do it again.”
Henrik holds up a finger as if he has a question, and Maddox narrows his eyes. “Yes?” “Uh…” Henrik
scratches the back of his head. “What happens if we accidentally take from Michelle’s food?”
“Oh, let’s see,” Maddox pokes his scruffy chin with one finger and dramatically hums. “If you do it, I will
beat you up since you’re a man, and if the girls do it, I will just spread to every jock on campus that you
have an STD,” he winks at Zendra. “It will make it harder for you to continue living your life as a cleat
I almost choke. Maddox is hardcore, and his evil promise might have been too harsh. Zendra stares at
Maddox, who is paying her no attention. He looks at me and nods toward my room. “You coming?”
“Yeah, I just…” I clear my throat. “I just had to get the knife.”
Maddox gives Zendra the “I’m watching you” glare before walking forward with a hot guy swagger. I
rush after him, aware of Zendra’s eyes following us the entire way down the corridor.
Once inside my room, Maddox flops down on my bed. He holds the pizza boxes, waiting for me to sit
next to him before taking the knife from my hands. He cuts my pizza for me. “I really don’t like your
roommates…” Laughter bubbles up my throat. “I’ve noticed.” “Why don’t you search for another place
to live?” I’m handed my pizza box, and Maddox opens his own. “There must be better roommates than
Zendra and Ciara.” My mouth is filled with salami pizza. “Probably not this late into the semester…” I
dry my lips on the back of my hand. “But I can try looking for another place, I guess…” “You should,”
Maddox looks around my room, eyes seeming to grow sad at my lack of furniture. “If you want, you
could stay over at the frat house more often…” His words baffle me. Wouldn’t take mean we would be
forced to share a bed? Is that normal?
I blink in confusion. “Really?”
“But isn’t that weird?”
“Well, no… Or yes…” Maddox seems uncomfortable. I almost notice his face is redder than usual. “I
mean…” he sucks in a deep breath. “There really isn’t an easy way to say this.” By now, I’m more
bewildered than before. “Is something the matter?” Maddox looks at me. His blue eyes roam over my
face until my heart thuds from their intensity. He is taking up most space on the bed-and the air inside
my room. “I like you, Michelle,” Maddox says without breaking eye contact. He seems to have a more
challenging time than usual finding words. His face is all red, and he actually looks insecure.” And while
I know dating should come first, you can… You can stay at my place whenever you want if you decide
to… If you want to…”
I’m gaping like a goldfish. My brain has not yet processed Maddox’s words, yet I manage to whisper. “If
I want to what?” “Go out with me.”
That sentence makes the rest of his words finally settle into my brain. Maddox likes me. He claimed I
wasn’t his type, but he likes me. Which means he probably said that to protect his pride.
Because he likes me.
All the blood rushes to my head. It doesn’t matter how often I think about his words; I still don’t quite
My words part to whisper. “You like me?”
“Do you mean that?” “Michelle,” he begins. He seems serious. I catch my breath and stare at his
moving lips, feeling my sweat glands open. “Do you want to go out with me? I think… I think we could
be really good together. Do you believe me?” Holding my breath, I nod.
I know Maddox is only asking me out, yet it doesn’t feel like the typical situation when a guy asks you
out and then sees you see them one or two times until they decide to never call you back again.
This feels more serious, a moment I will be replaying years from now-when I am sitting alone, old and
grey, and knitting socks in a house full of tabby cats.
“Michelle?” Maddox is blinking at me. He hasn’t proposed. He is only asking me out on a date, yet I’m
already rocking on the edge of an emotional meltdown as it is.
And while I know I’m supposed to give some sort of response, I can’t manage words. My mind is as
empty as my mouth. Luckily, my body chooses that moment to speak for me. I lean closer to Maddox
and stand up a little from the bed to kiss him. Because he is there, and there is no better response. 1
It’s just a soft brush of lips, warm and flighty. Sitting back, my heart is performing somersaults while
Maddox is frozen. His eyebrows are cocked in surprise.
Eventually, he speaks. “I would have asked you out days ago if I knew it would get me that.” I shrug at
him, blushing. “Better late than never, right?” His smile is slow. “I guess that’s true.” We stare at each
other, and that’s when the reality of the situation finally sinks in: Maddox asked me out.
Panic hits my brain and makes me stand up because suddenly I can’t sit still. Is it just me, or is the
room warmer? Maddox tilts his head at me. “Where are you going?” “To the bathroom.” Because I need
to wash cold water over my face to ensure I’m not dreaming this.
Maddox keeps the smile on his face. “Don’t shit for too long, or the pizza will get cold.”
The mouth on him!
My eyes narrow. “I’m not going to do number two!” He teasingly grins at me. “Whatever you say…” I
glare at him, and my skin burns as I head out the door. I hear Maddox breathing a laugh behind me. It
makes a thousand shivers run up my spine. I can’t believe he asked me out! What now? How am I
supposed to act around him now?! And how do I prevent myself from messing this up? Shit, I’ve
probably already messed it up by going to the toilet when I should be inside my room-cajoling and
flirting with him!
I’m hyperventilating by the time I reach the shared bathroom. My skin is burning, and I can’t stop my
brain from spinning out of control.
Maddox asked me out.
He likes me.
I like him.
I’m about to date the star quarterback on campus!
It doesn’t take a few splashes of water to calm down. I suspect I would need to dive straight into an ice-
Gosh, am I dying?
How the heck do I stop my heart from racing?! Suddenly reality is better than my dreams, and · I’m
terrified because I know I will somehow mess this up.