He stood before me—naked.
A specimen of manhood who made Michelangelo’s David look like a damn stick figure.
I traced his thick neck… His bulging biceps… His rippling abs…
The lengthy appendage dangling between his legs…
I had to shut my mouth to keep from drooling.
I glanced at his face. Beneath a head of angel-blond hair, his dark, unblinking eyes recited Shakespearean sonnets.
They sang entire Ed Sheeran albums.
He wanted me.
And he could have me.
Right here in the middle of the classroom for all I cared.
Frustrated with lust, I drew closer.
On my tongue, my lover’s name tasted like the first bite of a hot fudge sundae…
Brittany’s voice—which had a timbre somewhere between nails on a chalkboard and a dying chihuahua—suddenly jerked me back to reality.
I was in art class, surrounded by fellow seniors, sketching the nude model in front of us.
I looked down at my own sketch on the desk…
Oh no. No no no no no no no…
Brittany cackled behind me as I tried to cover up what I’d done.
“HELEN DREW PROFESSOR HAMMOND! OH MY GAWD!”
Laughter erupted around the room as everyone craned to see my drawing.
It was true. I’d been zoning out, fantasizing about hunky Professor Hammond, and had accidentally drawn his head on the nude’s body.
And apparently I’d given him a gigantic dick too.
Helen, what is WRONG with you?!
I shifted through a spectrum of reds as Professor Hammond, our hunky instructor who drove teacher porn to the top of my browser history, got up from his desk and made his way toward me and Brittany.
“Settle down, everyone. We still have half an hour of class left. Go back to your own—uh…own…”
I squeezed my eyes shut to my classmates’ suppressed giggles.
I didn’t want to see Mr. Hammond’s expression when he saw my sketch; I wanted God to strike me down with a bolt of lightning.
“Not bad,” Mr. Hammond said in a low voice. He was silent for a moment—I realized that I wasn’t breathing.
“But next time, Helen…please follow the assignment.”
At half past three, I bolted from the classroom, my head retreating into my body like a turtle’s.
My childhood nemesis had embarrassed me again.
Brittany Childress had been making my life hell since freshman year in high school, and despite the fact that we were both seniors at Boulder State University—a semester away from true adulthood—very little had changed.
We actually used to be friends back in middle school, but ever since her dad had split, she’d been the world’s biggest bitch to me. I had no idea why. I didn’t have a dad either, but you never saw me taking it out on people.
Already I could see Brittany in my periphery, adjusting strands of perfect blonde hair as she jeered in my direction. Pretty soon the whole school would know about my newest sketch.
Fucking ho. I wish her tits would explode.
Sure, every female art student wanted to fuck Professor Hammond—some of the guys too—but none had ever drawn him naked. At least not in ~public~.
Warm, fragrant air eased my nerves as I stepped outside onto the quad. It was our last day of classes before spring break, and more than likely everyone would forget the episode by the time we returned to school.
I instinctually shuddered at the sound of my name.
Has news traveled that fast?
Am I trending or something?
I wouldn’t put it past Brittany and her wicked Twitter fingers; she was truly a twenty-first century skank.
I turned to see who had called me, and at the sight of Emma walking over from the student union, I breathed a sigh of relief.
It was just my BFF.
“What’s the matter, babe?” Emma asked, studying me. “You look tense. Still pissed about missing my party this weekend?”
Emma was planning a major rager at her parents’ condo the next night. They were on a cruise in Mexico, so we’d have the place all to ourselves.
Well, I wouldn’t.
“I mean…no,” I pouted. “But also, yes. Why did my mom have to pick ~this~ weekend to get married? I wanna get shitty. I need it after today.”
“I heard about the Professor Hammond thing.”
“What?! How did you—”
“Brittany posted it in her Instagram story,” Emma said with a shrug. “For what it’s worth, you draw a great cock.”
“Yeah, me and Picasso,” I grumbled.
Great. Brittany only has about a thousand ~followers.~
“Hey, look on the bright side,” Emma said as we crossed the campus to our dorm. “You’ll probably hump some hunky hillbilly this weekend.”
“I’ve already asked my mom, and there will be exactly zero prospects at the wedding. Unless you count my stepbrother.”
“Ooh, sounds hot!” Emma laughed. “Just like all that porn you watch.”
I just rolled my eyes at her.
Porn is fantasy. This is real life.
“I can’t believe my mom’s marrying someone she only started seeing six months ago. I mean, I haven’t even met the guy! It’s so unlike her.”
Mom had never done an impulsive thing in her life. She made a living selling arts and crafts on Etsy. I loved her like hell, but she wasn’t the spontaneous type.
“Love makes people do crazy things,” Emma said. “Or maybe he just has a really big dick. Maybe even bigger than Professor Hammond’s—”
“Gross!” I yelled, plugging my ears. “I do not want to think about my mom with her dirty old mountain man!”
We giggled like middle schoolers as I swiped my key card and led the way into our dorm.
Emma always made me feel better.
I packed up my trusty, rusty Corolla. Bear Creek was in the middle of fucking nowhere, and Mom was making me spend my whole spring break up there.
A week, according to Mom, to be filled with hiking…camping…swimming…nature…
In other words, everything I hated.
I was a city girl. I liked partying. Posting my lunches on Instagram. Hanging out in my PJs and binge-watching Netflix.
I wasn’t looking forward to spending my last school vacation up in the mountains like some hick.
I closed the trunk, somewhat comforted by the fact that it was filled with all my favorite snacks—along with a few handles of Smirnoff vodka.
I needed something to do in case Jack didn’t have Internet at his log cabin or whatever.
As I walked around to the driver’s side, I saw two guys strolling toward me.
One of them was Chris.
My heart backflipped in my chest.
I’d had a low-key crush on Chris since freshman year. Now that school was ending, I was getting that “now or never” kind of feeling. We were running out of time to get together. Not that I realistically thought that would ever happen.
I had no chance. Chris was tan, he played on the squash team, and he had teeth whiter than arctic snow. His parents were rich because his dad ran a pharmaceutical company or something, and they had a ski house in Vail.
I wasn’t the worst-looking girl on campus, but I’d always felt like I was one Twinkie away from fat camp. My curves made me self-conscious.
Add to that the fact that my mom had recently moved to what was probably some glorified double-wide out in the sticks, and I probably didn’t seem like much of a prospect to the most eligible hottie on campus.
I was sure he’d heard what’d happened in art class today. That snake Brittany had a thing for Chris, and she knew I did too. She was always looking for ways to sabotage me.
“Where ya headed, Helen?”
Chris sidled toward me, his sidekick Sean in tow. I had never understood why Chris hung out with such a creep—he probably felt bad that he never got girls.
My crush has a heart of gold.
I leaned against my car, trying to look casual. I tried to hide my shaking hands in the pockets of my jeans, but then remembered my goddamn jeggings didn’t have any.
“I’m driving up to the Rockies for my mom’s wedding.”
“The Rockies, huh?” Chris smiled. His teeth almost blinded me. “You know, my parents have a place in Vail. Anywhere near there?”
“No, um…not Vail,” I said, stumbling over my words.
“Aspen?” Sean asked.
“I’m… I’m going to Bear Creek.”
I felt my face get hot. Thank God it was getting dark.
Chris raised an eyebrow. “Bear Creek? Really?”
I nodded. He frowned, trading a look with Sean. I was sure they’d be laughing about this later.
“So, I guess you won’t be at Emma’s party…,” he said.
Was I losing my mind, or did he sound…
“No, not this time,” I said.
Chris nodded, brightening. “Well, have a good break. See you when we get back.”
He wrapped me in a hug. I nearly melted in his arms.
“Yeah… See ya,” I managed. “Have fun tomorrow.”
“We’re gonna get fucking smashed!” Sean snickered, a jagged smile appearing beneath his piggy nose. He smelled like week-old bong water.
“Watch out for bears up there,” Chris warned jokingly.
I chuckled. “I will.”
He flashed his million-dollar smile once more and turned to go. I fell into my car, swooning.
Is it just me, or were Chris and I…sort of…vibing?
I had to be imagining it.
WHY am I going to Bear Creek instead of Emma’s party?
I turned my key in the ignition, listening to the Corolla rumble to life.
The things I did for my mother…
A couple of hours later, I was driving dark mountain roads, utterly lost. Apparently, Bear Creek wasn’t just the middle of nowhere—it was the end of the fucking Earth.
I hadn’t seen another car in miles, let alone a gas station or a McDonald’s. So no McFlurry sunset for me.
Up here there were no streetlights. No telephone poles. No guard rails. Nothing on either side of me but trees. Trees and trees and more fucking trees.
I saw a yellow glimmer in the dark. A road sign!
I was supposed to meet my mom at some turnoff, but I didn’t have service up here, and my GPS had stopped working too.
Am I getting close to Bear Creek Lane?
Fuck if I know.
I slowed down as I got closer to the sign, squinting in the dark to make out the words…
Bears?! Jesus H. Christ.
I’d thought Chris was kidding.
As I kept going, the road became narrower. Windier.
The towering Rockies blocked the glow of the stars and moon. It was pitch black outside.
Where am I?
More nervous by the second, I turned down the Camila Cabello album I’d been listening to. Music was becoming a distraction as the driving got more difficult.
As I went around another turn, I saw movement in my headlights. I freaked out and hit the brakes.
Oh my fucking fuck…
My hands clenched the steering wheel as a massive shadow emerged from the woods…
And a goddamn GRIZZLY BEAR loped into the middle of the road!
The hairy beast paused in front of me, facing the Corolla with its glittering eyes.
It was staring right at me!