The first time Noah saw Ellie, really saw her, was when he was six years old, but it was nothing compared to the first day he saw her at Drake. They’d grown up in the same town, gone to the same school and had known each other their entire lives, but when he saw her that day, struggling with her luggage across the campus, it was like all those other years melted away. She was a revelation. Her long golden hair blew in the wind and sparkled in the sun. Her jeans were low on her hips and as she yanked at the bag she was carrying he got a glimpse of the skin above her waistband as the hem of her shirt lifted.
He didn’t know how many times he’d seen Ellie in the past, hundreds, maybe thousands of times. He’d seen her in short shorts and crop tops, he’d even seen her in a bikini, but the sight of her had never, ever made his body react so strongly. Lust, pure and simple, raged through him and before he could stop himself he was striding across the grassy lawn heading straight for her.
She looked up at his voice and her eyes widened. She was bent over in an awkward position as she tried to keep hold of her bag and he steadfastly kept his eyes on hers and didn’t let them wander over her body or down the gaping front of her t-shirt.
“Noah,” she said, her voice breathy.
“Do you need some help?” he said, indicating her bag.
She stood up and faced him, pushing her hair out of her face and causing the hem of her t-shirt to lift again. He didn’t look, well, he tried not to look.
“I didn’t know you were going to Drake too,” she said.
“Yeah, business,” he replied, “You?”
“History,” she said with a grin.
“Of course,” he replied with his own answering grin. “Where are you staying?”
“Just over there,” she said pointing to the large building behind him.
He turned to look. “Me too,” he said. He bent down and slung her overstuffed messenger bag over his shoulder and grabbed the handle of her suitcase. “Come on, I’ll show you around.”
He couldn’t explain the emotions that waged war inside him. His hands itched to touch her, to feel the soft skin of her body and the silky strands of her hair. He wanted to kiss her and the urge was almost impossible to curb. He could smell her coconut and vanilla shampoo as the breeze whipped her long, blonde hair around her and he decided it was his new favourite scent.
There was no explanation for what was happening to him and by the way she kept sneaking glances at him, he wondered if she was feeling the same. He had seen her nearly everyday of his life and not once had he imagined her naked and under him like he was doing now, not that he’d ever had a girl naked and under him, but he could well imagine what it would feel like and he wanted it to be Ellie.
They walked in silence across the campus and in through the doors of the dorm. She took him up to her door and unlocked it before stepping aside to let him take her luggage in. Her room was almost exactly a carbon copy of his, only it was a couple of floor above and a few doors down. He dumped her bags on the unmade bed, assuming that the made one was her roommates, and steeled himself before turning to face her.
“Hungry?” he asked, “I found a great burger joint not far from here.”
She shrugged, “Sure,” she said, “I could eat.”
They left the dorm and he led her to the diner where he’d eaten last night. He’d already been at Drake for a couple of days settling in. Classes started tomorrow and he wanted to get a feel for the place.
He and Ellie found a booth and slid in opposite each other. He picked up the plastic menu and hid behind it, trying to calm the sudden nerves that had come alive inside his gut. It was just Ellie, they had talked heaps of times, they’d fought heaps of times. There was no reason why he couldn’t have a meal with her and there was absolutely no reason for him to feel like a nervous wreck around her.
“You kids ready to order?” a cranky waitress asked as she snapped her gum and jutted her hip out.
He dropped the menu and looked over at Ellie.
“Yeah, um, I’ll have the double cheeseburger,” she said, “But can I get salad on that?”
“Sure hon,” the waitress said, “And you?”
“I’ll have the same,” he said, not being able to think with Ellie staring at him with her blue eyes. Did he know she had blue eyes? Did he already know that they were the most amazing color he had ever scene?
“Lemon soda,” Ellie said.
“Coke,” he said.
The waitress sauntered away and he couldn’t look away from the girl opposite him. When had she grown up? He remembered the six year old girl under the tree reading her book, he even remembered the feisty twelve year old girl who had yelled at him for something that he couldn’t remember, but he couldn’t ever recall seeing this young woman sitting opposite him.
“What?” she asked, quirking her eyebrow.
“Nothing,” he said, “You just look…different.”
She blushed and lowered her eyelids. The Ellie he knew didn’t blush, but then the Ellie he’d known hadn’t made his body go from zero to sixty in five seconds flat either. This creature, this stunning, incredible, wonderful creature in front of him was an Ellie that he hadn’t known existed and he wanted nothing more than to get to know her.
The way Noah was looking at her made her hot all over. Noah Jensen had been the star of a few of her fantasies in the last few months and now here he was, sitting across from her on a date. Was it a date? She didn’t know, but for the sake of her fantasies, she was going to pretend it was a date.
In all the years they’d known each other, Noah had never really noticed her. She had gone out of her way to try and get him to see her, but nothing seemed to work and that made her frustrated and angry. So had begun their feud. He didn’t even know what it was about and he probably thought she was a little crazy, but it didn’t matter now because here he was, staring at her across the table and looking like he wanted to eat her. And she was okay with that.
When her acceptance letter to Drake had come, she had determined to forget him and her crush. She would be meeting college guys and surely they had nothing on her small town dreamboat. The thought hadn’t ever occurred to her that they might end up at Drake together and she never imagined that they might end up in the same dorm. Even if she had known those two things, nothing would have prepared her to have him finally notice that she was a woman now. She shivered at the thought.
Their drinks and burgers came and she proceeded to dismantle her burger. He looked at her with a puzzled expression and watched her complicated process.
“What?” she asked.
He just shook his head and smiled. The smile lit up his face and tugged at her, low down in her belly. Oh she wanted him to smile at her like that again. She sipped her drink and then picked up her knife and fork, digging in to her burger. She had to concentrate on the menial task because it seemed even the simplest of brain functions was temporarily out of order. It probably had something to do with the closeness of the guy opposite her, hell, she knew it did.
They chatted about home and their folks and their upcoming classes and slowly she began to relax. It felt good to be with him and once the nerves had fled, it was kind of fun. She hadn’t expected to find a friend at Drake, none of the students she knew from home had gotten into the University, so it was a nice surprise to find Noah. She hoped they would see more of each other.
They talked way past the end of their meal and finally got the hint from the waitress that they needed to move on or spend more money. Noah hopped out of the booth and took her hand, pulling her to her feet. Her skin thrilled at the touch of his hand in hers and he kept hold of it as they walked out of the diner and into the fall evening.
She shivered as a breeze rushed past them, not having thought of bringing a jacket with her.
“Are you cold?” he asked and she nodded.
“A little,” she said.
He stopped and let go of her hand, she felt the loss keenly, but then he draped his jacket, still warm from his body heat, over her shoulders and she breathed in his scent. She closed her eyes for a moment, but they popped open again when he took her hand and began walking.
They walked around the university, neither of them ready to call it a night. She liked being with him, she enjoyed his company more than she’d ever thought she would. Yes, she’d had a crush on him, but she didn’t really know him. She knew his dad owned the local bar in their hometown and that his mother had died a few years ago. She knew he was smart, but only because their arguments usually involved school work. They had gone head to head a number of times in debate competitions, so she knew he had a sharp mind as well as a hot body.
Eventually they made their way back to the dorm and he walked her to her room. They stood in the quiet hall and looked at each other and anticipation bubbled inside her. She wanted him to kiss her, she wanted it more than she had ever wanted anything else in the entire world.
“I had fun tonight,” he said, stepping closer to her so that he was only inches away from touching her. She could feel the heat roll off his body and she had to suppress a shiver.
“Me too,” she said, her voice little more than a whisper.
He dipped his head and she held her breath. He paused, his lips not quite on hers, as if waiting for permission. She closed the distance, pressing her lips to his in her first real grown up kiss. His arms went around her and pulled her close, which was a good thing because her knees felt like they were going to buckle, and ran his tongue across her bottom lip. She opened willingly to him and he swept in, sweeping her away with his kiss.
She didn’t know how long they stood there kissing, but he eventually, reluctantly, raised his head and gazed down at her. She felt dazed, her mind foggy, as she looked back at him.
“Good night Ellie,” he whispered, kissing her once more, lightly, on the lips and then turning to walk away.
She watched him go, not sure she could move. She felt like a puddle of goo on the floor. Noah Jensen had just given her the best kiss of her life and she intended to have many, many more.