Date Published: July 2022
Publisher: Changeling Press
How likely is it that studious coed Melissa will fall for Richard -- former campus jerk and serial womanizer -- who’s trying to mend his ways and win her heart? Not very, since, having made it to the “friend zone,” he’s afraid to tell her how he feels. It’s even less likely because Richard doesn’t know Melissa’s already married to her childhood sweetheart, Sam -- who’s really Samantha.
However… it’s not impossible. Melissa is bisexual, she’s developing feelings for Richard, and her wife is supportive of her quest to discover what her bisexuality means. What does HEA look like for a loving, blended trio?
“WOW! That was one punishing hit on Harrison. Smashed high from the left! Slammed low from the right! No wonder he did a full three-sixty before hitting the ground. I bet it knocked the wind out of him. Wait a minute! He’s not moving, and his leg is bent out at a really troubling angle. The EMTs are rushing onto the field with a stretcher. Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looks. It won’t matter in this game. Harrison has given his team a twenty-one-point lead with just a quarter to play. But this young man is supposed to be headed to the NFL!”
When Richard regained consciousness, he was in a fog. He fought to clear his head but failed. He opened his eyes, but everything was out of focus.
“He’s awake.” It was his mother’s voice -- but with a serious measure of worry. “How are you feeling, honey?”
He hurt everywhere, and his mouth was so dry he had trouble forming any words. “Mo- Mom? Wha- What’s g- What’s going on?” he finally got out.
* * *
Ten months later
The young man tried to hurry up the stairs, but he was still having trouble using crutches. When he pushed open the classroom door, his backpack swung around and pulled him off balance. He let go of his aluminum aids to stop from falling, and the metallic clatter as they crashed against the floor drew everyone’s attention.
Every face looked his way. Few showed sympathy. Most wore thinly veiled smirks. Some openly displayed glee. He wasn’t surprised. He deserved it, and he knew it. A distinguished woman in a lab coat walked over and picked up his crutches. “Classes began a week ago, Mr. Harrison” -- she handed the crutches to him --”for everyone,” she added sternly. “And we begin on time.”
“I understand, Professor. There were complications with my surgery. I’m sorry. I thought this building had an elevator. It won’t happen again.”
She nodded. “Come with me.”
They walked to the farthest corner of the lab where a plain looking young woman was adding something to a beaker sitting on a blue flame. She was staring intently through her large protective glasses to see what kind of reaction it would produce. “Miss Teaberry,” her teacher interrupted, “this is Richard Harrison, your new lab partner. I know you wanted to work alone, but we don’t have enough stations. However, if you decide this partnership won’t work, I’ll respect that.” She looked at Richard seriously. “If so, Mr. Harrison will have to accept the consequences of his actions.”
“It’s fine, Professor. I promise to pull my weight.”
The young woman looked suspiciously at her new partner. “I’m Melissa.”
He gave her his best smile and extended his hand. “Sorry to mess things up for you. I’m Richard.”
After looking at his hand for a few seconds, she grimaced and shook it. She turned her attention back at the beaker. “I know who you are,” she added frostily. “You’re Dick Harrison. Let’s just get to work.”
He groaned inside. There was no question what she meant. Please don’t let this be a girl I slept with and have completely forgotten. I know I was bad. But that bad? He studied her face closely. “We haven’t met before, have we?”
She turned to face him. “No. But you dated my first-year roommate, Alicia Monti.” The accusing look told him everything he needed to know.
He winced. She was kind to say he’d “dated” her roommate. He looked straight back at her. “For what it’s worth, you have every right to be angry with me. I was a jerk to her -- and to more people than I want to admit. But life has kicked the shit out of me in return. Once I figure out how to get around with these” -- he held up one of his crutches – “I will apologize to Alicia -- and the others. They may not forgive me. But I at least want to try to do the right thing. In this class, I only want to be a good lab partner and not flunk out. Just tell me what to do.”
Melissa raised her eyebrow, eyeing him uneasily. “Are you being straight with me? This isn’t some sort of con?”
His face was somber. “No. I mean it.” His tone was repentant. “I know you have no reason to believe me. I also know that a week from now you’ll want to ask the professor to get rid of me. And not because I’m not doing my share, but because I’m rubbish when it comes to chemistry. Which will make me a pain in the ass as a lab partner. But this was the only science class with an opening. I need it to graduate, so I will do everything you want me to do. I promise I will work like crazy not to let you down. My fate is in your hands.”
Melissa pushed her glasses up her nose, silently eyed him for a while, and frowned. “Let’s see. You’re telling me I shouldn’t believe you and you’ll be nothing but a burden who will jeopardize my grade. That’s supposed to win me over?”
“I’m turning over a new leaf,” he replied seriously. “I’ve been told honesty and humility weren’t my strong suits. All I’m asking for is a chance.”
She examined the beaker again, then looked back at him. “OK. For this experiment, I want you to stir the liquid until I tell you to stop.”
“Done.” He settled on the stool in front of the beaker, took the glass rod she handed him, and began stirring the blue liquid.
Melissa neatened up their lab area, returned some chemicals to the storage closet, and came back with more. She jotted down some notes, then read in her textbook. A couple of times, the professor came by and asked, “Ready?”
When Melissa replied, “Not yet,” the teacher seemed puzzled. All the while, Richard stirred. He noticed that no one else in the class seemed to be stirring their beakers. Also, when the professor checked out their work, she told them they could leave. When one hand got tired, he switched to the other.
He and Melissa ended up being the last pair in the classroom. The professor came by one more time and glanced at the beaker. “Everything looks fine, Miss Teaberry. I need to leave. Is there a problem?”
“Not at all, professor. We’re just being extra diligent.”
She nodded. “Very well. See you next time. Be sure to clean up before you go.”
After the teacher headed out, Richard looked at Melissa as he kept stirring. “I assume I keep going.”
She didn’t even look up from her book. She simply pursed her lips tightly, looked at the page, and made a stirring motion with her hand.
Thirty minutes later she closed her book. “OK. You can stop.”
He rubbed his hands together to loosen them up. He’d been stirring for more than an hour straight. “What next?”
“Next?” Her eyebrows arched in surprise. “You’re willing to keep going?”
“If you want me to. Yes. I’ll even stay here alone and do stuff if you want. I know this was a test on your part. I have to prove myself to you. If you want me to keep going, I’m OK with that.”
Her look wasn’t altogether hostile. “How’d you know?”
“It wasn’t hard,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone else stirred for about thirty seconds. The prof checked their work. They left. I assume you’d already done the stirring before I got here. The only explanation was that you needed to see if I meant what I said. You were giving me a chance, and I want to thank you for that.”
She narrowed her eyes. Was he playing her? He seemed sincere. But didn’t guys like him know how to fake it so you’d believe them until it was too late?
“So, how’d I do, boss? Will you let me be your partner?”
She looked at him seriously. “As long as you do what you’re told and don’t blow anything up, I guess we should be OK.”
He nodded and smiled. “Not exactly high praise, but I’ll take it. Thanks. I mean it.”
After they cleaned up their lab space, she showed him where the elevator was. As they exited the building, he stumbled again on his crutches. She looked concerned. “Are you OK?”
“I’ll get used to them. I’ll see you in class.”
As Richard left the building and headed toward his dorm, he heard a shout. “Dude! Wait up.”
The tall, muscular young man came up and gave him a hard slap on the back. “Yo, dude! I heard you were back. Great to see you again.”
“You too, Alex.”
“I was afraid you were gone for good.”
“Having my career end was bad enough. I had to take time off for the operations, but I wasn’t going to completely ruin my life by dropping out.”
His friend looked at the crutches. “Sorry about the sticks, man. But I bet they’ll work great with the babes. A bunch of us from the team are taking the T to the Square to hit the bars. Come with. We’ll find some hottie to throw you a sympathy fuck. It’ll be like old times.”
“Thanks. But you and I both know the only reason the other guys from the team would be glad to see me is to rub it in.”
“No way, man. Everybody loves you.”
“Well, maybe you weren’t the easiest guy to love.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to study. No more ‘athletic A’s’ for me.”
“Right. That sucks. Man, school’s going to be a drag for you. Word is you even got saddled with some nerd as a lab partner. Is she hot at least? Any chance of hitting that?”
Richard winced inside. His tone became serious.
“It’s not going to be like that. I did a lot of thinking in the hospital. I’m done being a jerk who’s just looking to get laid. I’m not going to say nonstop sex wasn’t fun, but I’m not heading to the NFL anymore. I need a new game plan. A different life. I need to be a different person. I need to grow up. Besides, Melissa’s pre-med, not a party girl.”
“Wait! ‘Melissa’ as in Melissa Teaberry?” Alex laughed. “In that case, you don’t even have to worry about being tempted. The Ice Queen herself! I hear if your junk gets within a foot of her pussy, it’ll quick-freeze and snap off. You be careful how close you stand beside her.” He chuckled and poked Richard in the chest.
“C’mon, dude.” He frowned. “Not cool. She’s being fair to me. And we both know I don’t deserve it.”
“Sorry, man. Just having fun.” Alex slapped him on the arm, then gestured in the direction of his friends. “One last chance. You sure I can’t lead you astray with some drunken debauchery? It’ll be like old times. Fuck ‘em and dump ‘em.”
“Nah. I’m good. New leaf, remember?”
Alex narrowed his eyes as he looked at him. “New leaf? You? We’ll see. When you come to your senses, you know where to find me -- balls-deep in some luscious pussy. Later, dude.”
Richard watched Alex as he walked away. He sat on the bench in front of the reflecting pool and looked into the waters. A profound sense of shame washed over him. A year ago, he’d prided himself on being a man-whore. I can’t believe I used to be that guy. I was such an asshole.
He also knew that his former teammates had absolutely no interest in seeing him. They had tolerated his arrogance because they had to. For years he’d been told how gifted he was as a quarterback. He was going to the NFL. As far as he was concerned, he was doing them a favor by winning so many games for them. They rode on his coattails. He’d be one of the greats. They would be sentenced to boring jobs. He walked with a swagger and was conceited and condescending.
He shivered with disgust. No more. You’re getting a second chance. Don’t blow it.
* * *
About the Author. . .
Originally from the East Coast, Jane is married and has returned to Massachusetts after living in California for a while. She's written a few nonfiction books in connection with her current job, and has decided to transition to erotic romance as her next career.
Jane writes fun, upbeat stories. No dark, brooding, broken, tortured guys who need fixing. Just great, handsome, smart, sexy, "real men" whose only weakness is being unable to resist the women she pairs them with. She especially wants her heroines to be as sexy and passionate as they desire. She likes her heroes to be their equal -- sexy, devoted, and romantic. No matter what, you can count on the fact that her couples end up in love and having great sex! OK, maybe they have the sex first!
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