High Stakes

(A New Adult Novella)

Betting on Seduction . . .

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College jock Blake Holland never backs down from a challenge, so when his douchebag teammate bets him that he can’t seduce Catalina Vega by Devil’s Night, his pride gets the better of him—and he finds himself accepting. He thought it would be easy, but the more he gets to know her, the more he falls for the sexy librarian. Easy? Famous last words.

With an illness she hides from everyone, virgin Catalina Vega doesn’t date. Like ever. It’s safer to hide behind her books. But when it comes to Blake, she’s throwing caution to wind. Seriously, how she could hate him and want to kiss him at the same time?

As the chemistry between them becomes too hard to resist, they give into temptation, ignoring the secrets hanging over their heads.

But secrets have a way of coming out . . .

 

Chapter 1:

Cat

“Ms. Vega!”

“Huh?” I mumbled. My gaze quickly traveled to the front of the classroom as blood rushed to my ears.

Professor Tate’s fingers raked through his elegant blond hair while his bright blue eyes scowled at me. “This is the third time I’ve called your name, Ms. Vega. Is there something more interesting on your desk than my lecture notes?” His normally smoky voice was nearly at a shout.

Shit. I hadn’t heard him. Oh, no. Not in class. Not again. My stomach knotted, and the metal taste in my month was unbearable. I despised being the center of attention, and I fidgeted in my seat, trying to gather my wits. I swallowed hard. “No, sir.” My voice was barely above a whisper, and I blinked away the stinging of tears that threatened my eyes. I hated being weak and vulnerable, but that was exactly what these episodes did to me.

“Very well.” He pointed to the seat in front of me. “Then please wake up Mr. Holland.”

I shook away the murkiness of my mind and noticed the blond silken hair spread on the edge of my desk. Fucker. He was the reason I’d been put on the spot. I wanted to kick his chair as anger raged beneath my skin. Instead, I held my breath and used my fingertips to tap the broad shoulders of the douchebag lightly snoring in the chair in front of me. He stirred, but didn’t wake. The room whispered with laugher. With a sigh, I tapped him again with a little more force. My hand trembled. The muscle beneath my fingers flexed and his body jolted. Bright green eyes widened and pierced into mine. Confusion covered his face, and I pointed forward, rolling my eyes. His intense stare darkened as he looked fiercely at me. He had the nerve to be pissed that I had woken up his sleeping beauty ass. He griped as he lifted his head off my desk.

The corners of Professor Tate’s lips turned up into a sneer. “Thank you for joining us, Mr. Holland.” He rolled his eyes. “As I was saying, you will all be paired up with a classmate to complete your final project, which is worth seventy-five percent of your total grade in this class. You will both be graded equally, so if your partner doesn’t do their share of the assignment, your grade will also suffer. My teaching assistant, Angela, has broken down the class into pairs. Please stay seated as she assigns you a partner and topic for the final project. Have a good day and see you next week.”

My heart was still racing from my most recent episode. The first day back after midterms was already a huge fail. I couldn’t believe that it had happened in class while my name was being called. I was mortified. The doctor had said the medication would stop the epileptic episodes, and it had been working for nearly two year, but now there were these staring spells. The throbbing in my chest amplified. If the medicine wasn’t working properly anymore, I was in major trouble. My mother would finally be able to make good on her threats and take me out of school. I tried to remind myself that it was just one little staring spell. Maybe I was just daydreaming. It was no big deal. Still, the knot in my stomach twisted as nausea washed over me.

I glanced at this Holland guy, expecting to still see the back of his golden head, but instead, I caught a glance of his perfectly shaped behind in dark blue faded jeans. Damn, he is tall. My neck strained while checking out the length of him. Stretched across his broad shoulders was a black and green jacket with a gray wolf on the back. Of course he was a college jock.

“Good, you’re both right here.” Angela’s voice came from behind me. Her wide smile and big brown eyes could brighten anyone’s mood. “Blake and Catalina, you two will be partners.”

Holland turned when Angela called him ‘Blake,’ and his stare sliced into mine. This douche is my partner? My heart pounded in my chest. He had such a dominating gaze. Something about the way he looked at me made me feel exposed. I wanted to beg her for a new partner, but I couldn’t manage any argument under his piercing stare. His captivating green eyes were only the beginning of his devastatingly beautiful face. A strong jaw and dimpled chin were barely visible behind a five o’clock shadow. Angela continued explaining the project, and I attempted to listen, but her words were muffled in my ears. He licked his full lips, and my heart pounded in my chest. She handed us both handouts, and I absently took them as she walked away. When I glanced in his direction again, he was gone, and I was still standing like a statue.

My phone started buzzing in my hand with a call from my mom. I tapped ‘ignore’ on the phone screen. I didn’t feel like answering. She was just going to question me about my medication, my eating, and sleeping habits. After my staring spell a few minutes ago, I wasn’t in the right state of mind to lie. Bundling into my jacket and fluffy scarf, I hurried out of the classroom, then slammed into something hard. Ouch! Large hands encircled my waist and pulled me away from the warmth against my face. My heart hammered as I tilted my head up the six-foot-something frame and found Blake’s intense green eyes staring back at me. His deepened gaze halted me.

“Sorry,” I managed to mumble. His hands were still around my waist, and I backed away slowly. The strong grip loosened and fell away.

“Watch where you’re going.” The corners of his lips turned upward, and he brushed his jacket with his hands as though he was wiping my germs off of him.

With a quick glance at Chase Manchester, chuckling to Blake’s right, I pinned Holland with my glare. The blood raged beneath my skin. “Whatever. Look, we need to meet to go over our assignment.”

“I don’t have time. I’m sure you can manage on your own.”

I couldn’t believe the nerve of this prick. But judging by the company he kept, like jerk-boy Chase, I shouldn’t be surprised. Chase’s idea of hitting on a girl was slapping her on the ass, which he’d done to me at the library. I wanted to smack the smug grin off Blake’s face just like I’d smacked Chase after he’d slapped my ass. Instead, I lifted my chin and pointed my finger in his face. “Listen, jock-boy, I won’t be doing this project on my own. You will do your share of the assignment.” My body trembled as I stormed away. If this guy thought I was one of those girls to jump when a hot guy said so, he had another thing coming.

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