Touch Me Not

By: Apryl Baker

Chapter One

The student union       of Boston University was packed, inside and out. The first day of moving into the dorms was always hectic, and by lunch, everyone wanted to just find a seat and sit down. Late August in Boston, while not hot, wasn’t cool either, so most wore shorts, tanks, skirts, and various other summer paraphernalia. A Dr. Dre Beatbox on one of the outside tables blared some upbeat playlist, and lots of the people assembled outside moved to the music. A veritable feast of hormones.

At least that’s how Nikoli Kincaid saw things. His gaze moved over the mass of bodies, categorizing all the women there. He couldn’t find a single one outside the newly arrived freshmen he hadn’t bedded over the last three years. Well, there were some, but he simply wasn’t attracted to those few. He never had sex with the same woman twice. It was a strict rule of his, and one he refused to break for anyone. He sat there and debated if he should pick up the cute little redhead who looked lost or the brazen blonde who eyeballed him with open lust.

Nikoli smiled at the blonde. He knew the effect he had on women and used it to his advantage daily. His grandmother called his good looks a curse; he called them facilitators of a good time. Hair the color of rich, dark chocolate and onyx eyes pulled women to him. His eyes were always full of the promise of mind blowing sex. His Russian accent only added to his allure. He’d had a woman twice his age tell him that once. He’d been a little grossed out at first being hit on by a woman who could be his mother, but he’d accepted a long time ago what his looks could do for him.

No better way to christen the beginning of his senior year than…his mouth dropped open, earning him a questioning look from the guy sitting beside him. Luther Conway had been his best friend since freshman year of high school and was the only person who really knew him. Hell, some days Nik didn’t know himself, but he could count on Luther to keep him grounded.

“She is not a freshman.”

“Who?” Luther sat up and scanned the crowd, his eyes coming to land on what caught Nik’s attention so thoroughly. Hair so black it glinted blue in any kind of light was held up in a high ponytail. Warm blue eyes rested on the guy she spoke with. Her small, delicate face radiated laughter. She was a stunning beauty who had no idea how beautiful she really was. Lily Holmes really had no idea the effect she had on men.

“Don’t even think about it, Nik,” he warned. “That’s Lily Holmes.”

Ah, the fabled Lily Holmes. He’d heard her name often. She tutored most of the football team and several members of his own frat house. How had he never laid eyes on her before?

“They’ll break every bone in your body if you hurt her,” Luther growled at him.

“It’ll be worth it.” He grinned and jumped up, the lusty little blonde forgotten as he sauntered over to meet Miss Lily Holmes.

Lily smiled, but inside she grimaced. All she really wanted to do was go find a quiet corner and sit for a bit. Not that that was even a possibility. She sighed as several of Adam’s football buddies came over. They all had to say hello, and then more people wandered over, the small crowd around the maple tree in front of the Student union       growing by the second. She’d promised to meet Adam here for lunch, but if he didn’t show up soon, she was going to bail. She needed to check with the bookstore to see if her lit book was in yet. As of yesterday, it still wasn’t in stock, but they were hopeful it’d be in today.

She scanned the crowd and sighed in relief when she spotted Adam heading her way. He looked so all American, boy-next-doorish with his sandy blond hair artfully spiked, laughing at his friend Mike Craft as the two of them pushed their way through the crowd. Lily smiled softly as they approached. Adam Roberts had been her best friend since third grade. She only wished he would wake up and realize how much more they could be, but she’d given up on that hope a long time ago. Now he was engaged to be married to Susan Williams, and she had to pretend to be ecstatically happy for him when all she wanted to do was cry. It sucked to be her, but then that was nothing new.

For two seconds, she wanted to growl in frustration. Sue and her little posse of sorority sisters were firmly attached. Adam had been so busy over the summer working for his dad and then spending what time he had left with Sue, that Lily had been put on the back burner. She’d been busy herself, interning at a literary agency in New York most of the summer. While she didn’t hold it against him—well, not much—she would like to sit down and eat one meal with him, just the two of them. She missed her best friend.