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If You Dare: Chapter 2

Before

Violet

There’s a half-naked man in my dorm room.

He pushes off the bed with neatly made pink sheets when he spots me, nothing but a white towel wrapped around his waist. I nearly drop the heavy box of books in my hands. We stare at each other in silence, both of us at a loss for words.

He’s the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen in person. The kind of beauty that only seems to exist on magazine covers. The kind of beauty that embarrasses you just by noticing it because you know you’ll never be able to look away. Dark, wet hair that drips onto his bare shoulders, bulging biceps that make my mouth go dry, tanned stomach lined with a six-pack, and startling blue eyes that are like magnets, pulling me in.

He must be my roommate’s boyfriend. Good for her, though I’ll probably die of jealousy.

“You the new roommate?” He flashes a lopsided smile like he can read my thoughts.

“Yeah,” I squeak, immediately hating myself. “I’m Violet.”

Guys this gorgeous don’t know I exist, let alone talk to me. I’m completely out of my element. I have no idea what to say, where to look, how to stand. I’m starting to forget how to breathe.

“Don’t worry, I won’t make it a habit of walking around your dorm in a towel.” His low baritone sends tingles all the way to my toes. “I helped my sister move her stuff in, and I needed a shower. I’m just waiting for her because she has my student ID.”

Brother.

My heart practically dances before I remember that he could still have a girlfriend. A guy this gorgeous can’t walk around in girls’ dorms half-naked and not have a million of them lining up to date him.

He strides toward me, planting his hands on the box. My heart stops at his nearness. He’s a giant in front of me, his eyes a darker shade of blue the closer he gets. I pray he can’t hear me swallow.

“I’m Wes.” He takes the box and places it on the empty bed. To my horror, he pries it open.

“Wait, don’t—”

But he’s already picking up a book and examining the cover, then the blurb on the back. I want to melt into a puddle and not be conscious anymore. A romcom with a cutesy illustrated cover and a blurb about two coworkers who can’t stand working together until an assignment forces them to collaborate and they fall in love.

I cannot let my new roommate’s brother read my stash of alpha male romance novels.

“Wow, you read a lot of books. You must be smart.”

Some small ember deep in my chest flickers at the compliment.

Other than my mom—who heaps praise on me to counteract my nonexistent self-esteem—no one has ever said something positive about my book collection. Usually, I only get questions about why my nose is always in a book and why I’d rather be reading than just about anything else.

A slender girl glides into the room, her curtain of blonde hair trailing behind her. She grimaces when she spots Wes. “Ew, put some clothes on. You’re scarring my new roommate.” She flashes a megawatt smile and wraps me in a hug that has a lot more strength behind it than I’d suspect from someone so petite. “Hey, roomie!”

Chloe and I have been texting for a few weeks since we got the notice we’d be roommates, coordinating what each of us would bring and ensuring the other isn’t a serial killer. Like her brother, Chloe is absolutely stunning. Bright blue eyes, pearly white teeth, pert button nose. Angelic and lithe in a way that makes you want to poke her to make sure she’s real.

“You need help moving your stuff in?” Wes asks me.

“My mom’s helping me.” I glance over my shoulder, but she must still be chatting with the RA about how they need to keep an eye on me since I’ve never been away from home before. Naive and completely unprepared for the real world. For navigating conversations with beautiful half-naked men in my room.

“I’ll help,” he says simply.

My heart beats faster, already imagining our forced proximity for the next hour, getting to breathe in his cologne and watch him lift my heaviest belongings with those biceps that could crush my skull. “That’s okay. You just got a shower. I don’t have that much stuff.”

“It’s no big deal—”

“Stop talking to us while you’re naked!” Chloe shields her eyes and holds out his student ID. “Put some damn clothes on. You’re grossing us out.”

Wes flashes a cocky grin and gestures to his abs. “What do you think, Violet? Is my body gross?”

God no.

“Out!” Chloe commands and Wes finally listens, snatching his card and chuckling while he heads out the door.

As soon as he’s gone, Chloe glides across the room like a wraith and flops onto her bed, propping her head up in her hand. Her side of the dorm is already fully decorated with fairy lights, paper lanterns, a desk organizer, a photo rack full of pictures, and wall art of her skating across ice with a foot in the air.

She’s got that unobtainable, cool-girl aura. The type of girl who would’ve overlooked me in high school, surrounded by friends who were way more fun and exciting and bold like her. Nothing like me.

“You think my brother’s cute,” she accuses.

My eyes practically bug out of my head. If I was still holding my box of books, I’d definitely drop them. “What? No!”

She sighs. “It’s fine. Everyone does. But I’m going to tell you this now: my brother doesn’t date.”

“Hon, that RA is a cutie! If you don’t ask him out, I will.” Mom bursts into the dorm, dragging my suitcase behind her. She ditches it in the doorway when she spots Chloe and flings her arms out. “You must be the famous Chloe!”

My roommate hops off the bed to meet Mom’s hug like they’re old friends reuniting and not total strangers. “About time I got famous.”

“You’re a figure skater, right?” I ask.

“Future Olympian,” a deep voice cuts in.

Wes leans against the doorway, now completely clothed in long shorts and a white T-shirt. Even with clothes on, I still struggle to make eye contact with him.

“Says the future NHL player,” Chloe says. “Mrs. Harris, this is my annoying big brother, Wes.”

Mom takes Wes in before whipping her head around to me and whisper-yelling, “Forget the RA.”

Oh my god. I’m going to kill her.

Wes’s brows furrow. “What?”

Chloe loops her arm through Mom’s like they’re already besties. “Don’t worry about it. Come on. You said you’d move all of Violet’s stuff into our dorm.”

“I said I’d help,” he corrects, even as an amused smile pulls at his lips.

“I heard all.” Over her shoulder, Chloe winks at me.

I already have a good feeling about her. About both of them. Except I think I actually stand a chance at becoming Chloe’s friend.

But the gorgeous, totally unattainable hockey player? I don’t stand a chance with him.


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