The Atomic Theory of Matter - Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)

Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)


Chapter 2. The Atomic Theory of Matter

“I CAN’T BELIEVE you agreed to this.”

“Shut it, Sam.”

I tucked my long, straightened-with-a-flatiron brown hair behind my ears. Self-consciously, I smoothed the skirt of the little black dress she’d talked me into wearing, annoyed—for the twentieth time—that the hem of the skirt ended mid-thigh.

“You look hot, hooker. Just own it.” Sam nudged my elbow with hers and I grimaced.

If someone had asked me twelve hours ago how I’d be spending the first Friday night of spring break, I would have told them I’d be curled up in my bed against fluffy pillows, sipping tea, and eating shortbread while reading.

I would not and could not have fathomed I’d be on my way to a fraternity party dressed in lace-topped thigh highs, a black dress, stiletto heels, with my hair down, and wearing makeup.

That’s right. Makeup. On my face. With glitter eye shadow.

Also, my eyebrows were plucked. Plucked! Gah!

I rolled my eyes and huffed like the disgruntled recluse I was. I would rather shop for a bra than go to a fraternity party, and that was saying a lot.

“Oh, come on, Katy. There was no way we could get into the party wearing band T-shirts and men’s pants. This is a skirts-only party.”

I’d been educated earlier in the evening that a “skirts-only party” is a fraternity party where all the girls are required to wear short skirts. Upon hearing this news I briefly considered leaving Martin to his fate. In the end, my conscience wouldn’t let me.

Jerk conscience. Always making me do things.

“You act like getting dressed up is torture,” she continued. “You look hot.” Sam, who I suspected had been waiting for a chance like this since our freshman year of high school, didn’t sound at all sorry for me.

“I don’t look hot. I look ridiculous.”

“You’re a babe.”

“Shut it.”

“A hot babe. And guys are going to be wanting some of that.” She pointed at me and flicked her wrist, indicating my bosom and backside. “Especially ’dat ass.”

I grumbled, but made no other audible response. Inwardly, I cursed myself for the hundredth time that I’d failed to warn Martin about the plot I’d overheard in the chemistry lab earlier. If I’d just kept my wits about me I would be curled up with a book now instead of walking toward a den of inequity dressed like a girl.

Even though we were still two blocks away, I could hear the sounds of the party. My neck felt stiff and my hands were clammy.

The plan was quite simple. I would find Martin, explain about the plot and what I’d overheard, then we would leave. Sam wasn’t a frat party kind of girl either. Yes, she liked to get dressed up, but she called sorority girls “sorostitutes” and fraternity guys “fratilos.” She labeled them “group thinkers” and claimed they suffered from a herd mentality.

She was kind of judgey that way.

I hadn’t given sororities or fraternities much thought because…no point.

“I still don’t get why you don’t have his cell number. He’s your lab partner, right? And he was your lab partner last semester too?” Sam tossed her blonde curls over her shoulder.

Sam was a little shorter than me and was attending the University on a tennis scholarship. She was determined to get into Harvard Law and, therefore like me, she was focused, spent very little of her time looking for ways to sew oats. Her all-business attitude made her an ideal best friend and roommate.

“I just don’t. I don’t have his number.”

“Why not?” she pressed. She’d asked me this question several times as we were dressing—or, rather, as she was dressing me.

“Because,” I responded again, wiping my palms on the dress.

“Because why? What if you needed to get in touch with him about a project?”

“I’d leave him a note.”

“A note? Where? When? How?”

“In the chemistry lab, in the cabinet.”

“You pass each other notes?” Her tone turned teasing.

“No. It’s not like that. I’ll leave a note if I can’t make it on Fridays and he does the same. Or, if I’ve finished something without waiting for him, that kind of thing.”

“But why didn’t he want you to have his cell—”

I stopped walking and faced her. “He tried to give it to me, okay? He tried last semester to exchange numbers and I didn’t want to. Can you just drop it?”

“You wouldn’t take Martin Sandeke’s number?” she asked, as though the words I’d just spoken made no sense.

“That’s correct.”

“But…why the hell not? He’s…he’s…he’s Martin Sandeke!”

Because he’s Martin Sandeke. That’s why I wouldn’t take it.” I started walking again, my toes protesting the movement.

“Katy, you’ve been crushing on Martin Sandeke since the first week of class two years ago when you stalked him outside of physics, before you even knew who he was.”

“That’s because he’s physically beautiful and pleasing to the eye,” I mumbled.

“He tries to give you his phone number and you don’t take it. Why did you do that? Explain it to me.”

“Because, you know me, when I get drunk—even though it’s only happened twice—I drunk dial! I called Carter the last time it happened.”

Carter was my high school boyfriend who never seemed interested in physical intimacy unless we had an audience. Since he was my only boyfriend, I figured this was normal. We’d parted as friends.

But last year I left him a drunk message asking him why he never tried to sleep with me. When I woke up the next morning, and everything came flooding back, it took me three weeks to return his call.

When I finally did, he informed me that he was, in fact, gay. Additionally, he had appreciated my willingness to be his beard in high school. He also assured me that had he not been gay, he would have tried to get in my pants early and often.

It all sounded like pity.

Worst conversation ever.

Sam stopped me again with a hand on my elbow. “That was last summer and Carter is ancient history.”

“Can we just get this over with?” I pleaded, not wanting to talk about Carter or about my stunted romantic history.

Sam released an audible breath. “Katy, you’re beautiful and desirable—”

“Oh my God, no more teasing. I’m wearing the dress, aren’t I? I even let you put makeup on me.”

“I’m not teasing you. I’m trying to get you out of this perpetual funk you’re in. You hide yourself behind baggy clothes and eyebrows so thick they could be mustaches. Carter is a lovely person but he shouldn’t have used you like that. Now you’re all skewed in the head.”

“Can we not talk about this?”

“Only if you promise to get Martin’s number tonight.”

I shook my head, shifted on my feet. “I will not. I don’t want to drunk dial Martin Sandeke a few months from now. He won’t give me pity, he’s vicious. He’ll laugh in my face and make me cry.”

Sam tsked, rolled her eyes, and started walking again. “Fine. Whatever. Go through life repressing your sexuality because one boy—one stupid boy who was confused—used you to hide his own inner turmoil.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re not welcome.”

I let her snarky comment slide because we were on the same block as the fraternity house.

It was what one would expect from a fraternity house at an Ivy League school. Large, several stories, classically painted, manicured lawn littered with red solo cups and drunk partygoers. The mass of bodies—standing, sitting, leaning—spilled out the front door, down the sweeping staircase, and onto the grass.

At the entrance to the house stood two very large men. Actually, I got the distinct impression they were bouncer dudes. Both were dressed in fraternity polo shirts and their necks were as thick as my waist. They were chatting up a group of five, tall, sylphlike girls. Their eyes scanned both Sam and me when we mounted the ginormous wraparound porch.

In front of us, two girls in jeans and a guy—also in jeans—began crossing the threshold of the house.

“What do you think you’re doing?” One of the big dudes held his hand out and halted their progress.

The shorter of the two jean-clad girls shrugged and faced the big dude. “Goin’ to the party.”

“Nah-uh, this is a skirts-only party.”

The second big dude tipped his chin toward Sam and me. “You can go in, girls.”

Sam pushed me gently on my shoulder and we moved around the group stalled at the entrance. Once inside, Sam and I wove through bodies; I had no idea where we were going or how I was going to find Martin.

Looking around, I started to feel a bit better about my dress. It was black cotton, sleeveless, and shorter than I thought appropriate, but it was modest in comparison to some of the dresses and miniskirts we saw as we entered the gigantic entryway.

I did not, however, feel better about the crowd. People, people everywhere; dancing, making out, arguing, drinking, laughing. Even given the mammoth size of the foyer, the crush felt suffocating.

“Excuse me.”

I stepped to the side to allow three tall and handsome guys brush past. They looked almost interchangeable—intentionally long brown hair cut in the hipster style, tanned skin; two of them had brown eyes, the other one had blue. They were wearing fraternity polo shirts and all three slowed, their eyes moving over Sam and me with plain interest.

The last of the guys stopped; he grabbed my hips, then issued me a very cute and flirty grin. “Hey, who are you?”

I opened my mouth to respond that I was nobody and that he shouldn’t go around touching people without their permission, but Sam tugged on my hand and inserted herself into the conversation. She had to semi-yell in order to be heard over the surrounding music and voices. “We’re looking for Martin Sandeke. Is he here?”

The blue-eyed one of the trio huffed a laugh and shook his head. “Get in line, sweetheart.”

Sam tipped her head to the side, narrowed her eyes at him. “Listen, we’re not staying. This is his lab partner, she needs to speak with him about the class. Do you know where he is?”

The three boys exchanged confused looks; the one with his hands on my hips leaned forward to my ear. “You’re Sandeke’s lab partner?”

I nodded, finally finding my voice. “Yes. Both semesters. It’s really important that I speak to him about, um…a project we’re supposed to be doing over the break. Also, I’d really appreciate it if you would remove your hands.”

He blinked at me, frowned, then removed his hands and took a step back—or as much of a step back as he could manage in the crush. “You really are his lab partner?”

His eyes seemed to search my face with interest. In fact, all three of them seemed to be looking at me a little funny. I smoothed my hand down my skirt again and was thankful for the dim lights. Under their triple-handsome-perusal, I knew I was blushing uncontrollably.

“She is, she’s the astronaut’s daughter,” the one with blue eyes finally said, as though he’d just realized and therefore, recognized me. He said it as though I were a celebrity.

This was aggravating.

I pressed my lips together before muttering, “He’s my grandfather.”

“I’m in Professor Gentry’s class too.” Blue-eyes extended his hand, captured mine; his expression was probing and tinged with respect as it moved over my face. “You look really different outside of class. Did you do something different to…your face?”

I thought about responding that I’d be happy to do something different to his face, like punch it, but Sam spoke first.

“So, can you three amigos take us to Martin?” Sam seemed to dislike this last question about my face just as much as I did, because her tone held moderate aggravation. “We don’t have a lot of time.”

This was a true statement. It was already 10:10 p.m. and I knew, based on my eavesdropping, that the “drugging” would occur sometime around 10:30 p.m.

Blue-eyes nodded, still holding my hand. “Sure, sure. Follow me.” He tugged me forward.

Brown-eyes, the one who felt comfortable putting his hands on my body, winked at me as I passed. “Find me later, we’ll have some fun.”

His companion hit him on the back of the head and I heard him say as we left, “Not likely, dumbass.”

“I’m Eric,” Blue-eyes tossed at us over his shoulder. “Stroke is this way.”


“Martin is Stroke.” Eric turned briefly to explain. We made a chain, the three of us, as we wove through bodies of scantily dressed females and grabby frat boys. “He’s eight seat in the boat. It’s called the stroke seat because it sets the stroke rhythm for the rest of the boat. So we call him Stroke.”

I gritted my teeth through the jostling, ignored the body parts that pressed against me—or outright palmed my anatomy.

Martin was called Stroke. Somehow that nickname fit.

Eric led us to a staircase where another bouncer dude stood. He nodded once to Eric and smirked at Sam and me. I deduced he thought we were on our way to engage in a throupling (a threesome coupling). This, of course, caused my blush to intensify.

Jerk conscience.

I struggled to climb the stairs in the heels, almost asked Eric to stop so I could remove them. I was so busy debating whether or not to take off my shoes that I almost collided with Eric’s back when he stopped in front of a pair of overly large double doors.

“He’s in here.” Eric turned, tilted his head, then let go of my hand to push open the door.

“Thanks.” I nodded once and gripped Sam’s hand tighter as I moved to enter.

“No. No. She stays out here.” Eric shook his head and motioned to Sam.

“What? Why?”

“Only one girl at a time, unless both are invited.”

I glanced at Sam and imagined I wore a similarly stunned expression.

“Excuse me?” Sam asked. “What is he? A sultan? Does he have a harem?”

Eric smirked, his eyes moved over Sam with simmering appraisal. “I’ll keep you company, cupcake.”

“No thanks, dildo,” she responded.

This only made his grin widen, though he said, “You’re safe with me. I promise the only thing I’ll do to you is stare at you.”

She glowered. He narrowed his eyes mockingly, though his amusement and enjoyment at the exchange was obvious.

“I’m not worried about me,” Sam explained. “I don’t trust your boy around my girl, not in this house.”

Eric’s gaze moved over my dress; his grin waned, softened, like he knew a secret about me.

“Kaitlyn will be safe. But if she’s not out in fifteen minutes we’ll go rescue her together.”

I didn’t like what his words inferred or what they implied. I wasn’t a damsel. I wasn’t going to need rescuing. If anyone was a damsel in this situation it was Martin Sandeke. I was rescuing him, he just didn’t know that yet…

I addressed Sam, my voice lowered. “I’ll be fine. Martin’s not going to do anything. I’ll just tell him about the, um, the assignment and then I’ll leave.”

Sam was teetering, still undecided. After a prolonged moment she blurted, “Oh, all right.” Then she shifted her gaze to Eric. “But I’m timing this. I have a watch.” She held up her wrist so he could see the evidence of her time piece.

“Noted,” he said with a large smile, then held his hands up as though he surrendered.

Before I lost my nerve, I turned the handle to the door and opened it—only glancing back once at Sam before I stepped in and shut it behind me.