Home > Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)(3)

Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)(3)
Author: P. Dangelico

A smile full of mischief now permanently fixed on his obnoxiously handsome face, he looks me over again. “Where from? New York?”

“New Jersey.”

“Jersey,” he echoes as he slow-nods. “That’s…different.”

“Why am I getting the impression that different is not a good thing.”

“It’s not a good thing,” he clarifies, and for some strange reason my heart sinks a little. Gaze fixed on the road ahead, he adds, “It’s a great thing.”

Chapter 2

Alice

“I don’t think it’s broken,” the campus medical center doctor, a middle-aged man with full cheeks and kind brown eyes, tells me while he examines my leg. “But I do recommend you go to the ER and get an X-ray. I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”

From a prone position on the gurney, I snap up on my elbows, shaking my head before the doctor can even finish his sentence. “Alice Bailey and no, I really can’t afford a trip to the ER.” Without warning, he lifts my ankle to bundle it in a flexible cold pack, and as soon as it hits my skin, I squeak.

Bad driver is standing next to him with his legs spread apart and arms crossed over bulging chest muscles covered by a worn blue t-shirt. He’s staring at the mottled red and blue thing, otherwise known as my lower leg, with his face screwed up like there’s an answer here somewhere just waiting to be discovered.

Here’s your answer, bud––there isn’t one. Not unless you have a time machine we can jump into.

“How did it happen?” Doc asks. I’m not sure if the question is directed at me, or the guilty party.

“My fault,” bad driver mutters. I don’t argue. We’re in absolute agreement on that front. The embarrassed smile he returns is, I will begrudgingly concede, an endearing one. Or at least it would be under different circumstances. The throb in my ankle has now become so painful it feels like it’s giving birth to a baby alien.

“How, exactly?” From the looks these two are exchanging, I take it they know each other pretty well. Doc pulls out cotton and a bottle of clear lotion and holds it up. “This shouldn’t sting,” he tells me right before he aims it at my skinned knees.

Never trust anything anyone says after “this shouldn’t.” Because sure enough, it frigging stings. Every time the antiseptic hits my cuts, a word bursts out. “He’s…a terrible…driver. The fucking worst.” My brown eyes latch onto green ones. “No offense.”

“None taken.” Bad driver turns away, chewing on his lower lip. Glad I can amuse him.

“She was walking up the street by the pool and I was coming around––”

“You hit her?” Doc finishes for him, looking justifiably horrified on my behalf.

Doc replaces the old ice pack with a new one and I nearly jump off the gurney. “I had to dive for safety––”

“You’re in good hands now,” the guy who almost killed me says. “Dr. Fred’s our team doctor. He knows all there is to know about soft tissue injuries.”

“Team?” Panting as the cold pack comes off and an ACE bandage is skillfully wrapped around my ankle, I’m reduced to speaking in single syllables. I couldn’t care less what either of them are yammering on about, but I have to do something to keep my mind off the ankle.

“The water polo team.” Dropping his arms, he points to his t-shirt. Emblazoned across it in faded orange…Malibu U Water Polo How Wet Can You Get?

“Umm…” is all I can come up with because––one, seriously? Two, who cares? Not me. Not this girl with the busted ankle, and the busted car, and a world of trouble. And three, the hell is water polo anyway?

My remark is met by two identical frowns.

“You know who this guy is, right?” Doctor Fred tips his head at bad driver as he’s securing the bandage with a butterfly clip. My gaze slides over, and bad driver meets my scrutiny with a bright, expectant expression. Am I supposed to?

“I’m kind of a big deal,” he deadpans with a smirk. “People know me.”

Huh? For a minute I’m mired in confusion. Is he serious? Is he a screaming megalomaniac as well as a shitty driver? But then the words grow familiar. “Did you just…quote the movie Anchorman?”

Mr. Big Deal’s gaze moves away, pink stains his cheeks. Roger that. I nailed it. Then again, I guess I should be grateful. Quoting the movie isn’t half as bad as if he were serious.

He shifts on his feet and I catch sight of a tiny dolphin tattoo etched on the outside of his calf, hidden amongst the sun-bleached man hair.

“Reagan Reynolds,” he finally mutters.

“Wait, wait…The Reagan Reynolds.” My eyes go wide for maximum dramatic effect. I probably should stow the bitch card but my ankle hurts something fierce and this guy is the root cause.

The Reagan Reynolds gifts me with another one of his half-cocked grins. “You know who I am?” He’s dropped the Ron Burgundy act. This is all him. He’s a little surprised and a lot pleased that I may know him.

My face falls flat. “No.”

Dr. Fred coughs and Reynolds’s smile promptly disappears.

I can feel my forehead getting very clammy. “I don’t know if the Tylenol is going to cut it, Doc.”

“I’m afraid we don’t dispense anything stronger. For that, you need to get to an ER.”

“Thank you for waiting with me,” I say as he parks the Jeep in front of my dorm two hours later.

“It’s the least I can do,” Reynolds replies through the tight set of his mouth.

It took a while for the painkillers to finally kick in, for me to feel more human and less Incredible Hulk, and once the pain became tolerable, Dr. Fred sent us to a medical supply store to pick up a pair of crutches. Reynolds insisted on paying and I didn’t argue since I inconveniently don’t have an extra fifty bucks sitting in my checking account.

Reynolds takes my new crutches out of the back seat and holds the passenger side door open for me. “You really should get that x-rayed,” he insists, worry etched in the V between his pulled-together brows. I wave at him to step back and position the crutches to stand. In the meantime, he watches on, unsure what to do. The swagger he’s been brandishing all afternoon seems to have deserted him, his expression steadily growing more troubled since we left the medical center.

I really can’t. I have too much to contend with right now without adding this guy’s “fragile male psyche” to it.

I hop ahead and hear him murmur, “I’ll grab your stuff,” at my back.

“I’m on the first floor,” I announce awkwardly as I punch in the code on the knob to get in. “So, you know…there’s that.”

I force a broad smile in the hope that he’ll lose the sullen attitude. More for my own peace of mind, seeing as he’s making me feel guilty and I’m the injured party. No such luck. The gloom and doom persists. Oh well.

Turning, I hop down the hallway. Thick silence trails after us. When we reach my door, he gently places my backpack on the floor.

“Give me your phone and I’ll punch in my number,” he says, quietly. His open palm comes at me and all I can do is stare at it. It’s huge and pale compared to the tan skin of the top of his hand, the topography marked by a series of calluses at the base of his long fingers.

“Why?” I don’t mean to be difficult but, with the exception of my immediate family, I’m not used to people wanting to help me without an ulterior motive. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember a single instance where that’s happened.

His lips quiver with a tentative smile. Until he realizes I’m serious, then his amusement swiftly changes to confusion. “In case you need help––” He shrugs. “I don’t know––with anything.”

Yeah, the last guy that offered to help me was the manager of the car wash I worked at and he wanted a blowie in exchange. I’ll pass, thank you very much. “I don’t need help. I’m good, thanks.”

His eyes widen and he pulls his hand back. Then he runs both of them through his hair, a move that lifts his shirt to reveal a tiny slice of heaven. A smooth, tan strip of skin with a teasing tail end of a V that disappears under the band of his low-riding basketball shorts.

Considering the circumstance, this should not get my undivided attention. And yet it does because, well, it’s in my face and I’m a healthy, red-blooded woman. Also, it may have been a while since I’ve gotten naked with a man.

A clearing of a male throat lifts my eyes. Caught red-handed.

I expect some note of triumph on his face. It’s glaringly obvious Mr. Big Deal’s a major flirt and used to girls falling at his beautiful feet, and yet his expression remains strangely blank.

He backs away slowly, leans up against the front door of the dorm, and holds it open. “Yeah…so…”

“Yeah, this was fun. Let’s do it again soon…ha ha. Or not.”

I’m hoping for a smile, a chuckle, something, anything. Instead I get…nothing. He blinks, expressionless. Not even a ghost of a smile. Only an awkward, grating silence. Wow, that got weird real fast.

“See you around, Alice from New Jersey.”

“Thanks for the crutches, the Reagan Reynolds.”

He gives me a lazy salute, and a moment later he’s gone, disappearing into the waning light of early evening.

Chapter 3

Reagan

What just happened? What in the fucking hell was that?

With my mind in overdrive, I pull the Jeep into the driveway of the beach house I share with three of my teammates. As if I don’t have enough shit to worry about. Now I can add nearly running over a girl with my car to the list.

I guess I should thank my maker that Alice Bailey isn’t the dramatic type. Although she definitely has a tendency for anger and sarcasm. The memory of her smart mouth puts a smile on my face. Goes to show you how totally fucked my life is that some chick calling me Dr. Moron turns into the highlight of my day.

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