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The Deal (Off Campus #1)

By:Elle Kennedy

The Deal (Off Campus #1)
Elle Kennedy

   She's about to make a deal with the college bad boy …

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she  might be confident in every other area of her life, she's carting around  a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants  to get her crush's attention, she'll have to step out of her comfort  zone and make him take notice … even if it means tutoring the annoying,  childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend  date.

 … and it's going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after  graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he's worked  so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous  will help him secure his position on the team, he's all for it. But when  one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it  doesn't take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn't going to cut  it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a  lot like him.



HE DOESN'T KNOW I'm alive.

For the millionth time in forty-five minutes, I sneak a peek in Justin  Kohl's direction, and he's so beautiful it makes my throat close up.  Though I should probably come up with another adjective-my male friends  insist that men don't like being called beautiful.

But holy hell, there's no other way to describe his rugged features and  soulful brown eyes. He's wearing a baseball cap today, but I know what's  beneath it: thick dark hair, the kind that looks silky to the touch and  makes you want to run your fingers through it.

In the five years since the rape, my heart has pounded for only two guys.

The first one dumped me.

This one is just oblivious.

At the podium in the lecture hall, Professor Tolbert delivers what I've  come to refer to as the Disappointment Speech. It's the third one in six  weeks.

Surprise, surprise, seventy percent of the class got a C-plus or lower on the midterm.

Me? I aced it. And I'd be lying if I said the big red A! circled on top  of my midterm hadn't come as a complete shock. All I did was scribble  down a never-ending stream of bullshit to try to fill up the booklet.

Philosophical Ethics was supposed to be a breeze. The prof who used to  teach it handed out brainless multiple choice tests and a final "exam"  consisting of a personal essay that posed a moral dilemma and asked how  you'd react to it.

But two weeks before the semester started, Professor Lane dropped dead  from a heart attack. I heard his cleaning lady found him on the bathroom  floor-naked. Poor guy.

Luckily (and yep, that's total sarcasm) Pamela Tolbert stepped in to  take over Lane's class. She's new to Briar University, and she's the  kind of prof who wants you to make connections and "engage" with the  material. If this was a movie, she'd be the young, ambitious teacher who  shows up at the inner city school and inspires the fuckups, and  suddenly everyone's putting down their AKs and picking up their pencils,  and the end credits scroll up to announce how all the kids got into  Harvard or some shit. Instant Oscar for Hilary Swank.

Except this isn't a movie, which means that the only thing Tolbert has  inspired in her students is hatred. And she honestly can't seem to grasp  why nobody is excelling in her class.

Here's a hint-it's because she asks the types of questions you could write a frickin' grad school thesis on.

"I'm willing to offer a makeup exam to anyone who failed or received a  C-minus or lower." Tolbert's nose wrinkles as if she can't fathom why  it's even necessary.

The word she just used-willing? Yeah, right. I heard that a ton of  students complained to their advisors about her, and I suspect the  administration is forcing her to give everyone a redo. It doesn't  reflect well on Briar when more than half the students in a course are  flunking, especially when it's not just the slackers. Straight-A  students like Nell, who's sulking beside me, also bombed the midterm.

"For those of you who choose to take it again, your two grades will be  averaged. If you do worse the second time, the first grade will stand,"  Tolbert finishes.

"I can't believe you got an A," Nell whispers to me.

She looks so upset that I feel a pang of sympathy. Nell and I aren't  best pals or anything, but we've been sitting next to each other since  September so it's only reasonable that we've gotten to know each other.  She's on the pre-med path, and I know she comes from an overachieving  family who would tar and feather her if they found out about her midterm  grade.


"I can't believe it either," I whisper back. "Seriously. Read my answers. They're ramblings of nonsense."

"Actually, can I?" She sounds eager now. "I'm curious to see what the Tyrant considers A material."

"I'll scan and email you a copy tonight," I promise.

The second Tolbert dismisses us, the lecture hall echoes with  let's-get-the-hell-outta-here noises. Laptops snap shut, notebooks slide  into backpacks, students shuffle out of their seats.

Justin Kohl lingers near the door to talk to someone, and my gaze locks in on him like a missile. He's beautiful.

Have I mentioned how beautiful he is?

My palms go clammy as I stare at his handsome profile. He's new to Briar  this year, but I'm not sure which college he transferred from, and  although he wasted no time becoming the star wide receiver on the  football team, he's not like the other athletes at this school. He  doesn't strut through the quad with one of those  I'm-God's-gift-to-the-world smirks or show up with a new girl on his arm  every day. I've seen him laugh and joke with his teammates, but he  gives off an intelligent, intense vibe that makes me think there are  hidden depths to him. Which just makes me all the more desperate to get  to know him.

I'm not usually into jocks, but something about this one has turned me into a mindless pile of mush.

"You're staring again."

Nell's teasing voice brings a blush to my cheeks. She's caught me  drooling over Justin on more than one occasion, and she's one of the few  people I've admitted the crush to.

My roommate Allie also knows, but my other friends? Hell no. Most of  them are music or drama majors, so I guess that makes us the artsy  crowd. Or maybe emo. Aside from Allie, who's had an on-again/off-again  relationship with a frat boy since freshman year, my friends get a kick  out of trashing Briar's elite. I don't usually join in (I like to think  gossiping is beneath me) but … let's face it. Most of the popular kids are  total douchebags.

Case in point-Garrett Graham, the other star athlete in this class. Dude  walks around like he owns the place. I guess he kind of does. All he  has to do is snap his fingers and an eager girl appears at his side. Or  jumps into his lap. Or sticks her tongue down his throat.

He doesn't look like the BMOC today, though. Almost everyone else has  gone, including Tolbert, but Garrett remains in his seat, his fists  curled tightly around the edges of his booklet.

He must have failed too, but I don't feel much sympathy for the guy.  Briar is known for two things-hockey and football, which isn't much of a  shocker considering Massachusetts is home to both the Patriots and the  Bruins. The athletes who play for Briar almost always end up in the  pros, and during their years here they get everything handed to them on a  silver platter-including grades.

So yeah, maybe it makes me a teeny bit vindictive, but I get a sense of  triumph from knowing that Tolbert is failing the captain of our  championship-winning hockey team right along with everyone else.

"Wanna grab something from the Coffee Hut?" Nell asks as she gathers her books.

"Can't. I've got rehearsal in twenty minutes." I get up, but I don't  follow her to the door. "Go on ahead. I need to check the schedule  before I go. Can't remember when my next tutorial is."

Another "perk" of being in Tolbert's class-along with our weekly  lecture, we're forced to attend two thirty-minute tutorials a week. On  the bright side, Dana the TA runs those, and she has all the qualities  Tolbert lacks. Like a sense of humor.

"'Kay," Nell says. "I'll see you later."

"Later," I call after her.

At the sound of my voice, Justin pauses in the doorway and turns his head.

Oh. My. God.

It's impossible to stop the flush that rises in my cheeks. This is the  first time we've ever made eye contact, and I don't know how to respond.  Say hi? Wave? Smile?

In the end, I settle for a small nod of greeting. There. Cool and casual, befitting of a sophisticated college junior.

My heart skips a beat when the corner of his mouth lifts in a faint grin. He nods back, and then he's gone.

I stare at the empty doorway. My pulse explodes in a gallop because holy  shit. After six weeks of breathing the same air in this stuffy lecture  hall, he's finally noticed me.

I wish I were brave enough to go after him. Maybe ask him to grab a  coffee. Or dinner. Or brunch-wait, do people our age even have brunch?

But my feet stay rooted to the shiny laminate floor.