Dangerous to Know & Love(3) by Jane Harvey-Berrick

She’d been reading the same business studies textbook as him, which meant they must share at least one class. But she’d also been surrounded by orchestral scores, which made her a music major.

What a f**king waste of time. Daniel didn’t have any room in his world for people like her.

Despite his insistence that he had no interest in Library Girl whatsoever, he found himself wondering how her audition had gone. He couldn’t imagine that she’d have what the guys were looking for, but he wasn’t in a position to judge either. And that thought pissed him the hell off.

He’d text Roy later to find out.

Daniel would have liked to just go home and chill once he left the club, but Zef had told him to get lost for the whole evening, having some business to take care of at the house. Daniel was used to that and it didn’t really bother him. Zef was pretty cool most of the time.

So instead of going home and to his books, Daniel rode to the campus fitness center. He parked his motorcycle, locked away the helmet, and strolled inside. Throwing some weights around and running 10 miles on the treadmill would burn off some of his ever present nervous energy.

In the locker room, Daniel changed into sweat pants and a tank top, and carried his towel and a bottle of water into the weight room.

Two guys from the football team were already in there, but they ignored him and continued with their bench presses.

After nearly an hour, he headed to the training room where the treadmill, rowing machines, and fitness bikes were arranged in rows. There was a small group of girls already there, all wearing tiny boy shorts and crop tops. They eyed Daniel hungrily, and he automatically checked them out. The one with red hair was hot and definitely interested in him.

Daniel sighed and looked away. She wouldn’t be interested if she knew the real him. Besides, he preferred anonymous hookups to coeds. It was easier.

He focused on the treadmill and began pounding away, adding up the miles. He’d been in the zone for 25 minutes when he felt someone touch his arm, and he jumped.

It was the redhead.

“Oh, wow, sorry!” she giggled. “I said ‘hi’ like three times! You must have been really concentrating.”

Daniel smiled awkwardly, slowing the machine and springing down. “Yeah, something like that.”

“So, I was wondering: do you want to get a coffee? My friends have to go and I hate drinking coffee all alone.”

Daniel was internally assessing how to answer.

“I have to be somewhere right now,” he replied, thinking quickly.

He found he didn’t want to blow her off entirely, but he needed time to think about how to play it.

“How about we meet up tomorrow night instead? The Blue Note on West River Street, you know it? Bring your girlfriends.”

“Um, isn’t that place, like, dangerous?”

Daniel smiled.

“No, it’s cool. My friend works there.”

The girl’s face brightened.

“Well, okay, that sounds great. I’m Terri.”

“Daniel.”

She giggled. “I know.”

He frowned slightly, wondering if it wasn’t him she wanted to hook up with, but what his brother could offer. Well, if she was after anything else, she’d be disappointed.

“So, um, Daniel, what time will I see you there?”

“I’ll be there after 9 pm.” Your move, beautiful.

“Cool! I’ll see you there.”

She walked away, her h*ps swaying, and Daniel licked his lips.

As a general rule he didn’t date. Which wasn’t to say he didn’t have women, because that would be a fat ass lie. But maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf and try that dating shit. Maybe. It felt like he was taking a huge risk, what with everything he wanted to keep hidden. But this year was all about new beginnings. Right?

The relaxation he’d found during his workout evaporated as his uncertainty grew. Irritated with himself, he hit the showers and let the hot water heat his skin, calming him.

When he’d finished, he draped a towel around his slim waist and headed back to his locker.

“Hey, man.”

Daniel eyed the two jocks warily, mentally assessing how much room he’d have to swing a punch if they started something. They weren’t any taller than him, but they were both heavier by about 20 pounds.

The expression on Daniel’s face had the jock backing up and raising his hands.

“Whoa, easy, man! I just, um, wanted to ask you something.”

Daniel took a breath. “What?”

“Well, um, just wondering if, um… we heard girls really get off on that.”

He gestured toward Daniel’s chest.

“Some, yeah,” said Daniel, holding back a smirk, knowing exactly what the guy was going to ask him next.

“Dude, it must have really hurt!” said the other jock.

Daniel shrugged. “It was worth it,” and this time he couldn’t help a huge grin slipping out.

The football players raised their eyebrows and grinned back.

“You get that done in town?”

“Sure. TJ’s tattoo parlor will do it for you. They’ll do any type of piercings.”

The bigger guy went white, and Daniel wondered if he was going to faint.

“Seriously, dude?”

Daniel laughed. “Yeah, nipple rings are normal stuff for TJ’s. They’ll pierce pretty much anything if you ask them. Anywhere.”

“Man, I gotta sit down,” said the big guy, crashing onto one of the benches.

Daniel shook his head and smiled to himself. Pussy.

Pulling on clothes over his still damp body, Daniel checked his cellphone. Zef had texted the all-clear – he could go home.

He strolled into the parking lot and couldn’t help smiling at the sight of his motorcycle. She was a 1969 Harley Davidson that he’d bought as scrap and restored. It had taken him two years of saving up money from working weekends and summers at a garage, but he’d done it.

As he mounted the sleek machine, he saw Terri giggling with her girlfriends. She waved and he nodded back at her, feeling a shiver of anticipation mixed with anxiety.

When he drove up to his home, the road outside was lined with bikes and cars – looked like it was open house at Zef Colton’s. Again.

It was a well known secret that you could get pretty much anything you wanted at one of Zef’s parties. And Daniel had done a lot of partying over the summer. Luckily, the brain cells he had left after all the pot he’d smoked and all the booze he’d drunk, seemed to be in good working order. His college classes hadn’t presented him with any problems.

He looked enviously at the joint that was being passed around, but stuck by the promise he’d made himself not to get high or wasted on a school night. College cost good money, and he wasn’t about to piss away his future.

He felt someone tugging on his arm.

A pretty blonde girl was leaning against him to keep her balance. She looked like she was about the same age as him and Daniel wondered if she was a student. He hoped they didn’t go to the same college – he was trying to keep home life, such as it was, separate from school.

“Hey, handsome! You want to party?”

She held up a small plastic bag of pills and ran her hand down his chest invitingly.

He hesitated, then smiled and shook his head.

“Another time, beautiful.”

Daniel sighed. One thing that Zef’s parties had going for them – he never had any trouble getting laid.

He winked at the girl and headed up the stairs before her obvious charms changed his mind. At least his bedroom was private. He was glad Zef had agreed it was necessary to put a lock on the door. Pulling out his key, he stepped over a couple of bodies that were slumped in the hallway.

Music was pulsing through the walls of the house so loudly that Daniel could feel the vibrations in his bones. It didn’t bother him: he was used to it. His room, by comparison, was an oasis of calm.

He locked the door behind him and threw himself backward onto his bed. He had some homework to do before classes in the morning and afterward, well, he’d be hooking up with Terri. He tried to ignore the hardening of his c**k as he thought about her rosebud mouth and the things she could do with it – trying to study with a boner was a bad idea. He needed to concentrate.

But before he could open his books, Daniel’s phone buzzed in his pocket. His brother.

Wearily, he stood up and unlocked the door. He knew what was coming next and he didn’t feel like fighting.

“What the f**k you doin’, Dan? You were at the club!”

Daniel shrugged. “Yeah, so?”

His brother’s face was tight with anger.

“I told you to stay the f**k away from there.”

“Seriously? You’re going to do the parent thing here?”

“Don’t piss me off, Dan.”

“Jeez, I was just hanging. Don’t get all bent out of shape.”

“I mean it: stay away.”

“You can’t tell me what to do, Zef.”

“You better f**king believe I can.”

“Besides, I’ve got a date there tomorrow.”

His brother paused, his expression changing to one of surprise.

“A date? Like… a date?”

Daniel nodded.

“Huh. Is she hot?”

Daniel raised one eyebrow.

“Okay, little brother. But next time, take your date to a different club. Understand?”

“Whatever.”

Zef pushed him hard in the centre of his chest and Daniel landed with a crash on his bed.

“Asshole!” coughed Daniel, rubbing his chest.

His brother grinned and motioned for him to lock the door behind him again.

Well, that went better than he’d expected.

Chapter 2

Lisanne floated back to her dorm room on cloud nine. In fact, she felt so good she was probably on clouds 10 through 15 as well. She certainly wasn’t aware of the pavement beneath her feet.

The audition had gone well. No, the audition had gone great. She had been spectacular. She’d sure surprised those guys. They admitted they’d been blown away. None of them had expected such a full, bluesy voice to come out of that mousey little exterior. She didn’t even mind that they’d called her ‘mousey’: it was true.

“Welcome to 32o North,” said the scary looking one named Roy.

And they’d given her the job. She was in.

Rehearsals started in a few days with their first gig planned for three weeks time. They’d even given her a nickname on the grounds that ‘Lisanne’ had ‘too many damn letters’. To them she was LA, and she was one of them. They’d invited her back to the club on Tuesday to hear another band play. They wanted her company.

It had been fantastic except for one thing: she wished that Eyebrow Ring guy had stayed after all. She’d liked to have seen the look on his face when he’d found out, along with his friends, that she could really sing.

The thought confused her, particularly because he’d behaved like a jerk on just about every occasion they’d crossed paths.

But his friends had all been really cool, despite the way they looked. They’d listened to her respectfully, and hadn’t tried to hit on her. Well, she was used to that, but the respect was new, and she found she enjoyed it. A lot.

She couldn’t wait to tell Kirsty her news. Then she hesitated. It was one thing to sing some blues standards in an empty room during an audition, but it was a whole different ball game to sing someone else’s original material in front of a paying audience. She decided she’d wait until after the first rehearsal before she broadcast her happiness. By then she’d have a better idea of how it was going to work out. If at all. They might decide they’d made a mistake, or find someone better.

Kirsty was sitting cross-legged on her bed staring at her laptop, having at least six different conversations, if the ping of messages were anything to go by. Despite the tiredness that came after her desperate hangover, Kirsty gazed at her appraisingly and Lisanne had to look away.

“Wow, you look like you’re in a good mood. Who’d you do, Maclaine?”

Lisanne blushed, both from the coarse language and the implication.

“God, Kirsty! No one! I just had a good evening. Look, um, some… friends of mine have invited me out to this club tomorrow night, and I wondered if you’d like to come.”

Kirsty gave her a sour look.

“Some friends of yours invited you out to a club last night, but you were too busy doing your homework.”

Oh.

“Okay, I deserve that,” Lisanne admitted, “and I’m sorry, but will you? Please, Kirsty? I don’t want to go by myself.”

Kirsty huffed a bit more then said, “Who are these friends of yours? I’ve never seen you speak to anyone.”

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