Stoichiometry: Calculations with Chemical Formulas and Equations - Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)

Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)


Chapter 11. Stoichiometry: Calculations with Chemical Formulas and Equations

MARTIN DIDN’T PEE on me. In fact, he didn’t even look at me or talk to me for most of the day.

Like the day before, the guys were up early practicing, Sam and I assumed our spots on the beach, and they arrived in the early afternoon for food. I left as soon as Ben arrived. He made me feel uncomfortable and icky—and I knew that was on me. I should have been able to ignore him, but I couldn’t. So I left.

I milled around the house, exploring, expecting Martin to show up. He didn’t. I found the music room—yes, this compound of excess had its own music room, with signed gold records from rock and country music legends lining the walls, signed concert posters, and pictures of a tall, lanky, geeky looking dude alongside several notable musicians and celebrities.

I recognized the geeky dude in the photos as Martin’s dad and noted they had the same thick hair and lips. They were likely the same height. But that’s where the similarities seemed to end. After inspecting the pictures several times, testing out the baby grand piano—it needed to be tuned—and discovering three beautiful Gibson guitars along the wall, I went back to my room and read.

Then I did some chemistry homework.

Then I took a nap.

Then I woke up on a man.

I didn’t realize it at first, because I suffered from post-nap confusion. When I did come to my senses I discovered I was half sprawled on a hard chest, and fingers were playing with my hair, brushing it back from my cheeks and neck, gathering it, twisting it, tugging it lightly.

I stiffened, shot upward, lifted my fists to defend my honor, and found Martin laying on the bed, his hands up like he surrendered.

“Whoa!” His eyes were huge and he gave me a startled smile. “Do you always jump up like that after sleeping?”

“Like what? A badass?” My voice was gravelly, still laced with sleep.

“Yeah, like a badass.”

I huffed, let my fists fall to my lap. “No. Only when I find Martin Sandeke on my bed.”

“Good to know.” His lips twisted to the side and his eyes swept up and down my form. “I’ll make sure to wear protection when I’m in your bed.”

“You should probably wear it even when we’re not in bed.”

“I always use protection.” He lifted an eyebrow meaningfully.



Oh…I get it.

Amazingly I didn’t blush. I just have him a half-lidded I’m not impressed glare which made him burst out laughing.

“You are such a guy.” I gave him a reluctant smile.

“What do you know about guys?” He repositioned himself on the bed, scootching up and placing his hands behind his back against the pillows.

“Admittedly, not much. My dad isn’t much of a guy.”

“What’s your dad like?” Martin sounded interested, his face suddenly sober.

“Well, let’s see. He’s a scientist. He’s always losing things. His socks never match. He loves baseball, but he can’t play it very well. He tried to get me to play softball. I’d always sneak my Gameboy in my practice bag then hide behind the bleachers and play Dr. Mario instead.”

“So he pushed you a lot?”

“No. Not at all. I think he wanted me to do it because he likes cheering for me…to be honest. He’s always the one taking pictures, at events, ceremonies, that kind of thing. He’s hardly ever in the pictures. I looked back at my high school graduation photos and realized he’d taken over a thousand, but he wasn’t in any of them. So I dressed back up in my cap and gown, did my hair the same, and—with George’s help—arranged to have a photographer come to the house so we could get some good shots.”

“Who’s George? Your ex-boyfriend? The one who didn’t know how to fool around?”

“No.” I glared at Martin, shook my head at his antics. “George is my mom’s personal assistant, he’s like an older brother to me.”

“Hmm…” Martin’s eyes narrowed a fraction, considering me, then asked, “Did your dad like that? What you did?”

I nodded, smiling at the memory. “Yeah. He did. He cried actually. Not a lot, just a little. The last time I visited him at work, I saw he’d hung up no less than six of the pictures in his office.” I laughed lightly, shaking my head. “He’s a goof.”

We were quiet for a long moment, sharing a stare. His mouth held a whisper of a smile as though he were living vicariously through my experience and found it a pleasant place to visit. It was…nice. Comfortable. Strange.

I cleared my throat, averted my eyes, finding this nice, comfortable, strange moment more disconcerting than the heated exchanges we’d shared so far. This felt like it could lead to something lasting and normal. We were Martin and Kaitlyn having a conversation, sharing things, like real people did. Not like billionaire playboys did.

“So, what about your dad?” I asked, because I was curious. I knew a lot about Martin’s dad because his dad was a genius, sickeningly rich, and seemed to be in the news all the time dating some model or actress.

“My dad…” The smile left his eyes, and the one that lingered on his lips looked false.

“Yes. The man who raised you.”

He barked a humorless laugh and his eyes closed. “He didn’t raise me.”

I studied his features—his full, delicious lips, strong jaw, high cheekbones, and thick lashes—his perfect features. So perfect. I wondered what it would be like to be perfect, or at least seen that way by the outside world. It seemed to me that perfect—the word and all its connotations—might feel a bit like a cage, a defined floor and ceiling.

“Tell me about him,” I said, knowing I was pushing.

Martin opened his eyes and the bitterness that had been absent the last few times we’d been together was back. Jaded, jerk-faced Martin.

“He didn’t come to my high school graduation.”

I blinked at him. “Oh?”

“No. He said later that it was because I wasn’t valedictorian, but I think it’s because he forgot about it. It didn’t rank in his priorities.”

“Oh,” I said, because I wasn’t sure what else to say. His eyes were hooded, guarded, taunting—like he was daring me to feel sorry for him. I wouldn’t though. Or, rather, I wouldn’t show it.

“He’s the smartest man in the world, did you know that? He’s taken all the tests, whatever the fuck that means, and overall he’s the smartest.”

I placed my hand on his thigh and squeezed. “There’s more than one kind of smart, Martin.”

“That’s true,” he conceded, his eyes losing focus over my shoulder as he considered my words.

Feeling brave, I added, “I don’t think any of those examinations tested for parent-smarts, or priority-smarts, or valuing-your-incredible-son-smarts, because if they did, he would have failed.”

His brilliant gaze refocused on mine and I was somewhat surprised to see the bitterness leech out of his expression, leaving only sorrow and breath-stealing vulnerability.

“You’re a good person, Kaitlyn.” He was frowning at me, like I was a puzzle or a unicorn, like “good people” were the subject of fairy tales.

I opened my mouth, then closed it, then opened it again. “Thank you. You are too, Martin.”

His answering smirk looked wry and his eyes moved to my neck, where I still had the purplish marks from our encounter in the cove.

Normal and comfortable conversation gave way to our baseline: sexual tension. His half-lidded stare grew hot, the intensity of it built a fire in the area of my pants. He was forever building fires in my pants. The figurative Bunsen burner forever alight.

“You’ve never lied to me before,” he said, his voice sultry and teasing.

“I haven’t lied yet.”

“Parker.” He gave me a knowing look.


“I’m not so good. You know that, remember? You called me a jerk-faced bully.”

“Well, so far you’ve been good to me, as far as I know.”

“I’d like to do more good things, better things, if you’ll let me...”

I was hot. My cheeks were flushed. I had to measure and regulate my breathing. The soreness between my legs was a lovely reminder of the good things he’d done, but so were the marks on my neck.

“No more hickies,” I blurted.

His eyes widened though he grinned. “Why not?”

“Would you like me to give you a hicky?”

“Hell yeah.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m going to call your bluff. I will give you a hicky.”

He held his hands out to his sides like he was offering himself to me. “Anytime, lambchop.”

“I’ll do it on your bottom and I’ll make them so big, you won’t be able to sit down.” I narrowed my eyes and pointed at him.

He groaned like a starving man taking a bite of the most delectable dessert, as though the very thought was more pleasurable than he could process.

I scoffed at him, snorting. “You’re a doofus.”

Then he sat up and scootched to where I sat, one hand sliding up my thigh into the hem of my cotton shorts, his other tucking my hair behind my ear. His eyes felt cherishing and a little lost. The effect of his triple assault—earnest eyes, caressing hands, sexy smile—potent.

“I told you before,” he paused, brushed a light kiss over my lips, leaving me breathless as he continued in a low voice, “don’t say it unless you mean it.”

I lifted my chin for another kiss, but to my surprise, Martin stood from the bed. I watched him, confused by his withdrawal, and wrapped my arms around my middle.

He glanced at me and must have sensed my confusion, because he explained as he walked backward to the door. “It’s late, you’ve been sleeping for hours. You missed dinner, again. I’ll get Rosa to bring you a tray before we leave, but we need to get going.”

“Going? Where are we going?”

His smile turned smirky and victorious as he said, “To the party of course.”

The party.

The bet.

I’d forgotten.



MARTIN WON THE bet, even though he’d cheated, and therefore Sam was in my room getting me ready for the party. She saw me coming out of my room with my hair in a ponytail, wearing sweat pants, flip flops, and a raggedy stained T-shirt that showed Chuck Norris destroying the periodic table. It read, The only element I believe in is the element of surprise.

She didn’t think my attire was appropriate.

Therefore she marched me back into my room, made me wait while she found some suitable clothes from her room, then dolled me up. She’d put me in a backless orange and purple paisley halter dress that made my boobs look fantastic. She also scrunched my hair with chemicals, separating my curls and somewhat taming the frizz.

To top it all off, she put makeup on my face. Again. It was some kind of personal record, makeup twice in one week. I gave her my resting bitch face while she applied mascara to my lashes.

“The straps of the halter covers your…,” her eyes flickered to my neck, “…it covers your love marks.”

I grumbled. “Just make me look pretty so I can throw myself off a cliff.”

“You are being ridiculous.”

“You know I hate parties.”

“You didn’t complain this much on Friday.”

“That’s because I had a mission. I had a reason to be there, an assignment. Get in, tell Martin about the plot, get out, go home. This time,” I lifted my hands—and my newly painted purple fingernails—then let them drop noisily with a smack on my thigh, “this time I’m window dressing. I’m the paisley curtains.”

“This dress looks great on you.”

“I know, I’m sorry. You are being so nice. I just need to complain.”

I wasn’t kidding when I’d said I hated parties.


I didn’t understand them. They seemed to bring out the worst in people. People laughed too loud, talked too loud, exhibited odd behavior, pretended to have fun when they weren’t having fun…or maybe that was just me. Maybe people did have fun at parties and I was the weirdo.

Despite my grumpy stance, I had to admit Sam was a miracle worker. I looked good.

We met the boys in foyer; they were dressed casually in shorts and T-shirts, but they all seemed to have taken special care shaving, administering product to their hair, and applying cologne. It was a variable hurricane of smells—all flavored Proctor and Gamble manly.

Yet some of my surliness receded when Martin looked up and our gazes met. When his eyes widened a little and he appeared to be some degree of blindsided by my appearance. His lips parted and his eyes dropped, moved up and down a few times, blinking.

Sam nudged me and cleared her throat, saying just loud enough for me to hear, “It’s not the dress and it’s not the makeup, it’s you.” Then she walked toward Eric, addressing her next comment to him, “This time I want to drive.”

“You drove last time.”

“Your point?”

He smiled at her, looking handsome and happy, then shrugged. “Fine, drive now, ride later.”

She hit him on the shoulder, but she laughed at his double entendre, and walked out the door. Meanwhile Martin pulled his eyes from me and I was a little perplexed to see a mask of boredom slip over his features.

“Hey Ray,” Martin said. “You got Parker? Griffin is going to ride with me.”

I felt like I’d just been pawned off and had no idea why. I didn’t even want to go to this party, Martin had insisted, and now he didn’t want to ride with me?

Ray glanced from me to Martin, then back again, his raised eyebrows and slightly parted lips betraying his surprise.

“Ssssure,” he said, hesitating, frowning his confusion. Martin and Ray exchanged a glance as I fiddled with the pocket of my dress, all the good feelings upon entering the foyer dissipating in the face of this strange exchange. As well, Ben was there and I could feel his slimy eyes on me. I wished my boobs didn’t look quite so fantastic in this dress.

Then Ray nodded with sudden vehemence. “I mean, absolutely.” He turned a bright smile to me. I was relieved to see how genuine it looked, and he offered me his arm. “I’d love to.”

“Thanks.” I gave him a tight smile.

Boys were weird and I hated them. Except Ray. Ray was nice.

We left first. He chatted amicably on the drive over, making me laugh with a story about how he fainted in high school when he had to dissect a stingray. He also had a really engaging smile and an openness about him and made me think we were friends, or he was my ally, or I could trust him not to eat my Chinese leftovers even when I wasn’t looking.

When we arrived at the house—another sprawling monstrosity, though slightly less sprawling—Ray ran over to my side of the cart and helped me out. We were the first to arrive, so he seemed content to loiter by the cart while we waited for the others.

Ray fit my hand in his elbow and gave me a big grin. “So, you and Martin, huh?”

“I don’t honestly know. Doesn’t make much sense to me,” I admitted, shrugging.

“It makes sense to me.” His words were quiet, softly spoken.

I looked up at Ray, surprised to find him looking down at me with equally soft eyes. “You’re smart, beautiful—”

I snorted, rolled my eyes.

“Wait, listen, you’re not pretty in a conventional way. You’re not pretty at all. You’re beautiful.”

I pressed my lips together and frowned at him, saying flatly, “And I have a really great personality, right?”

He grinned at that, looked like he was trying not to laugh. “Yeah, you do have a really great personality.”

“You’re nice, Ray.”

“No, you’re nice, Kaitlyn. And you have nice laugh and a great, weird smile with that cute gap between your teeth.”

I mock-scowled at him, pressing my lips together.

He seemed to hesitate as he studied at me, debating whether or not to give a voice to his thoughts. He must’ve decided in favor of the idea because he abruptly said, “You’re the girl that guys like us, if we’re smart and if we’re lucky that is, you’re the girl we marry. You’re the marriage girl.”

My jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out of my head. It took me three or four seconds to find my voice before I said, “What are you talking about?”

“I have two sisters, and I tell them this all the time. Be the marriage girl. Don’t be the hook-up girl. Don’t be her. She’s stupid and shallow. Yes, she gets lots of male attention, dressing in her sexy lumberjack or sexy nun costumes…for a time. But then she’s used up, hardened, disillusioned and desperate, because no one stays with the hook-up girl.”

I blinked at him, pulled my hand from his elbow, and backed up a step. “You’re disgusting and that’s completely misogynistic. What if the hook-up girl is using you just as much as you’re using her? What if she’s just having fun? This is the problem with society. When a guy sleeps around, he’s sewing oats. When a girl does it, she’s a hook-up girl.”

He held his hands up and shook his head. “I’m not going to defend society, I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying it’s biology. It’s evolution. It’s programmed behavior.”

“You do realize I’m nineteen, right? I may never marry. And I certainly won’t be getting married any time soon.”

“Doesn’t matter. Your independence, the fact you aren’t actively seeking your MRS degree—that the very idea is repellant—only makes you more of the marriage girl. You’re the polar opposite of the hook-up girl.”

I growled at him. He laughed at me.

“Listen, I’m not talking about the girl who wants to have fun and a good time with no strings attached. I’m talking about the girl who’s looking for a free ride after the ride ends.”

I snapped my mouth shut, scowling at him for real, and crossed my arms over my chest. I said nothing, because I knew that girl. Well, I didn’t know her, but I’d overheard her plotting with Ben on Friday to drug Martin.That was what Ray meant when he was talking about the hook-up girl.

“Ah…I see you know what I mean.”

I huffed. “I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore.”

“You. You’re not the hook-up girl, you couldn’t be if you tried. You’re the girl we marry.”

“How lovely for you, especially after you’ve spent your adolescence and early adulthood making girls like me feel like excrement.”

He gave me a shrug that would have been charming ten minutes ago. “I’m just telling the truth. It might not be easy to hear, but that’s the way of the world. You are the finest example of the marriage girl I’ve ever met. You’re beautiful. From what I’ve seen, you’re graceful under pressure, smart, capable, and drama free. You come from a family that’s historically famous for being brilliant and exceptional. You’re nice—like really, really nice—genuine, and you’re hilarious.”

“You think I’m funny now? Just wait until the party. There will copious pointing and laughing then.”

Ray ignored me. “That’s why you and Martin make sense. Because, if Martin is one thing, he’s smart. He may not be nice, but he is fucking sharp as a Katana. He’s never had to work for it, he’s never had to work for anything. He’s bored. He’s had his fun. He’s over the hook-up girls. He’s ready for what’s next and you are the Olympic gold medal, the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Academy Award of marriage material.”

The rest of the carts chose just that moment to show up. I heard Sam’s squeals of glee as she and Eric swung around the corner. They parked neatly and tidily in the space next to Ray’s. Herc and Tambor were next, followed by Lee and Will, Ben by himself, then Martin and Griffin bringing up the rear.

Meanwhile Ray was looking at me like an older brother or a father might look at his sister or daughter after delivering a hard truth about life. Like he was apologizing for the way things were, but not sorry to have delivered the message.

He stepped forward and offered me his elbow. “Did I ruin your night?” His tone was sober and apologetic.

I shook my head, took his offered arm, and said, “No.” He hadn’t ruined my night because I was going to a party. There was no way to ruin something that was already ruined.

“I’ve known him forever,” he whispered, as the engines of our companions’ carts turned off and they spilled out onto the gravel driveway.

“How long?” I asked, careful to keep my voice low.

“Since elementary school.”

I nodded, thinking about this, thinking about our bizarre conversation.

“He’s kind of crazy about you, Kaitlyn.”

My eyes cut to Ray’s. His mouth was a grim line. Before I could question him further, the others were upon us and our strange heart-to-heart was at an end.

“Let’s go!” Sam slipped her arm in mine and tugged.

Ray let me go with a small smile and a wave, and a look that said, Let me know if I can help.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to that, what look to give in return. So I turned my attention to the mansion in front of me and the task at hand. I couldn’t think about being Martin’s marriage girl, not until I was safely through the evening with the odious party at an end.

Then and only then would I examine this new development and try to figure out what, if anything, I was going to do about it.