The Periodic Table - Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)

Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)


Chapter 3. The Periodic Table

I DON’T KNOW what I expected, but it wasn’t a pool table.

I hovered at the entrance to the room, just inside the small alcove, and watched as Martin and three other guys good-naturedly knocked the cue ball around with their pool sticks.

No one noticed me at first and this allowed me time to chant my synonyms silently.

Unsteady, uncertain, nervous, anxious, worried, panic…

Then the thought popped in my mind, Even though you don’t feel calm doesn’t mean you can’t be calm. This was something my mother had said often when I struggled with childhood angst, frustration, and disappointment. These words were an excellent mantra now.

I wasn’t concerned for my safety, but I was concerned. I’d gone through life hiding in cabinets, was perfectly happy to continue this practice once this task was over. I just had to get it over with first.

Propelled by this determination—to cross this task off my conscience’s list and go find a nice, safe cabinet to hide in—I gained a step forward and cleared my throat.

One of the guys was mid-laugh and I wondered at first if they’d heard me. But, eventually, four sets of eyes swung to my position, though I tried to focus only on Martin.

“Uh, hi. Hello.” I gave the room a little wave.

Martin, like the rest, looked at me like I was a stranger. However, I felt all pairs of eyes sweep up and down in a way that made me feel like I was a car, or a horse—one they were thinking about riding.

Heated anxiety seized my chest, tightness spread into my stomach. I balled my hands into fists and took another step into the room, further into the light.

“I’m looking for Martin.” I kept my eyes on him; at six feet away, he was the closest to my position.

Recognition had not yet registered when he replied sounding both bored and irritated, “What do you want?”

“It’s me. Um, it’s Parker. Kaitlyn Parker. I was hoping I could speak with you for…a…minute…about chemistry?” I bit my lip, waited for his reaction.

Martin visibly stiffened, blinked, and flinched when I said my name. His eyes—now focused and narrowed—moved over me once more, this time with obvious and renewed interest.

“Parker?” He took a step forward and laid his cue stick on the table; he sounded and looked baffled.

nodded, hazarded a glance at the others. They were alternately watching me then turning their heads to watch Martin’s reaction.

“Yep. I promise I’ll just be a minute, it won’t take—”

“Everyone out,” Martin interrupted, his voice a bit too loud for the space. It was a command.

To my surprise, his three companions set down their pool cues on the table and shuffled out as instructed, and without delay.

One or two of them caught my eye as they left, their expressions plainly curious but none of them spoke. Martin’s gaze never left my face; he seemed to recover quickly from the surprise of my arrival. The line of his jaw grew hard, and the muscle at his temple ticked.

I didn’t know what to make of the gathering storm in his eyes so I ignored it and attempted to think of a word to use in my synonym game. I also tried not to look at his lips.

I tried and I failed.

I couldn’t help it; the memory of his kiss—our kiss—arrived like a tsunami, flooding my body with something heated and tight. I felt overwhelmed by it, surrounded on all sides. I knew what he tasted like, how he sounded when he growled, what his hands felt like on my bare skin.

I tried not to shiver and failed at that too.

The door clicked behind me, but, to me, it sounded like a gunshot—because it signaled that we were alone. I gathered a breath and tucked my hair behind my ears. I needed to focus on reciting the speech I’d practiced in my head for the last five hours.

Then I could leave, my conscience could piss off, and this would all be over.

Ignoring the goosebumps he’d ignited with his scorching glare, I did my best impression of calm and said, “So, the reason I’m here—”

“Let me guess.” He crossed his broad arms over his broad chest, his broad shoulders stiff and straight, and leaned his hips, which were narrow and not broad, against the pool table. “Your level of interested has…changed.”

I squinted at him. “What?”

“You’ve changed your mind about me.” The way he said the words, deadpan and caustic, led me to the conclusion that he thought I was there to beg for more kisses, entrap him with my feminine wiles.

Little did he know, I possessed no feminine wiles. Only the willies and the hibby jibbies.

I squinted more. I was feeling flustered. He wasn’t supposed to talk. He was supposed to listen.

“No. It’s not that at all. It’s about the cabinet.”

He scoffed, like he didn’t believe me. “Nice dress.”

I glanced down at myself, my hand automatically lifting to my abdomen. “Uh, thanks. It’s borrowed.”

“Really?” He said really like he didn’t really believe me.

“Yes. It’s also little too short, I think.” I tugged at the hem, wishing it longer. “I was told I wouldn’t be allowed in without a skirt.”

His attention moved to where my hands were now fiddling with the edge of the dress, lingered there. Martin straightened from the pool table and crossed to where I stood—his steps unhurried, his gaze leisurely skating up my body. Again, I felt like a horse being perused for a ride.

“You could always take it off, the dress, if it makes you feel uncomfortable.”

A full-on, fire-alarm embarrassed flush rose to my cheeks. He stopped just in front of me. His eyes were shamelessly resting on the swell of my breasts with a suggestiveness that completely crossed the appropriate line.

It was so beyond appropriate it was…

It was…

It was inappropriate.

I gathered a slow breath, hoping to steady myself, and stomped down the rising wave of indescribable sensations plaguing my sensibilities—some pleasant, some not so pleasant.

“Listen,” I said through a jaw mostly clenched. “I overheard something when I was in the cabinet, before you arrived, and I thought you should know. That’s the only reason I’m here.”

His eyes flickered to mine, still hard, disbelieving. He was standing just a foot or so away and I’d tilted my chin upward to meet his glare.

After a pause, during which he studied my face, Martin said, “Go ahead, gorgeous. Enlighten me.”

“I heard two people walk into the room. So, I panicked and, yes, I hid in the cabinet. But, in my defense, I was already in there pulling out the reticulation equipment. Anyway, two voices—one female, one male—and they came into the lab together. Whoever the guy was when you walked into the lab, that was the same guy I overheard. The girl wanted the guy to drug you.”

Martin’s eyebrows bounced upward then pulled low when I said the word drug. I didn’t want him to interrupt me again so I spoke faster.

“She said she wanted him to drug you. They scheduled it for ten thirty tonight and he is supposed to make sure you stick around at the party. She said she would arrive at eleven then take you, drugged, up to your room and video tape the two of you. Then she said something truly disturbing—not that the rest of it isn’t already disturbing—but what she said next kind of blew me away because I didn’t know people could be that cold and calculating with no regard for basic decency.”

“What did she say?” he asked, his tone impatient. His eyes were still hard, angry, but the severity wasn’t focused on me. I didn’t appear to be the target—praise Bunsen and his burner!

“She said that if she got pregnant then it would be ‘a bonus.’”

Martin’s mouth opened then closed and his glare moved from me to the floor. He was visibly stunned. I watched his beautiful face as he processed the information, took the opportunity to examine him in a way I’d never allowed myself to do before.

He was painfully handsome. I kind of knew that before, but I really saw it now.

My chest hurt a little as I studied his features: square jaw, strong nose, perfect shape and size for his face, high cheekbones, like he had Cherokee or Navaho ancestry. Paired with his blue eyes, he was striking. I understood my previous reluctance to gaze at him directly. It was called self-preservation.

I tore my eyes from him and his exceptional form. I tried not to notice his decidedly swoony body—the way his jeans hung on his hips, the way his thighs filled out the jeans—and glanced over his shoulder.

“Well. That was what I needed to tell you so, I guess I’ll be—”

“Why should I trust you?”

My eyes moved back to his and I blinked at this question, because the answer was obvious. “Uh, what?”

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

“Why would I lie?”

“What do you expect in exchange?”

“Exchange for what?”

He shifted on his feet just a fraction of an inch closer. However, that fraction brought with it a menacing cloud of suspicion and unpleasantness.

For someone so beautiful, his expression was surprisingly ugly.

“What is it that you want? What are you hoping to gain? Is it money?”

My mouth fell open and my nose wrinkled again, this time in outrage. I looked at him, really looked at him—and this time I wasn’t seeing the outer façade of blinding beauty. What I saw was a guy who was bitter, jaded, and maybe a little desperate—for what, I had no idea.

Finally I said, “What is wrong with you?”

His eyebrows shot up. “What’s wrong with me?”

“Yes,” I countered, my hands coming to my hips. “What is wrong with you? I came here to help you, the least you could do is not act like a jerk-face.”

“Jerk-face?” he shot back, his eyes growing both hot and cold. “You show up here, looking like that, and you expect me to believe you’re not after something?”

“I already told you, jerk-face, it’s a skirt party! I wouldn’t have made it through the door if I hadn’t been wearing this stupid dress, jerk-face. If you don’t like how I look, jerk-face, then you can go yell at your stupid sorority brothers.”

“You mean fraternity brothers.”

“Sorority, sorostitute, fraternity, fratigalo—whatever! It’s all the same to me.”

“So I’m supposed to believe that you have no ulterior motive? If this is true then why didn’t you tell me all of this at the lab?” He gained another half step forward and, since I refused to back down, only inches separated us.

“Because you scratched my itch and then you kissed me—both of which freaked me out because neither of which are in the course syllabus for laboratory experiments this semester. And, furthermore—”

I didn’t get to finish because the door opened behind me and a voice I recognized called into the room. “Hey Stroke—dude, why are you up here? I brought you a drink. Some of my special hunch punch.”

I’d turned toward the sound of the voice and stumbled a step backward. Martin’s arm wrapped around my shoulders, brought my shoulders to his chest as the owner of the voice leaned halfway in—two red solo cups extended.

The guy, about two inches taller than Martin—therefore, very tall—walked through the door after a short pause. Behind him I could see Eric standing with Sam. They both peered into the room and I noted Eric’s face was apologetic as he glanced at Martin.

I tried to step forward but Martin’s arm tightened, held me still.

The stranger’s clear blue eyes moved from me to Martin, then back again. “Hey—Eric said you had company so I brought one for both of you.”

I knew this voice because it was him. The cuss monster from the lab.

I felt Martin’s chest expand on a slow inhale, his fingers were digging into my arm; it wasn’t painful but it was pointed, firm, meant to communicate a message—don’t move.

“Thanks, Ben,” Martin drawled, but the edge in his voice was glacial and he made no move to accept the cups.

Ben gave me a stiff smile, his eyes lingering on where Martin’s arm was wrapped around me, then he raised both cups. “You two should have a toast. Come down to the party.”

“Leave the drinks and go,” Martin said.

Ben frowned, glanced at the two cups and cleared his throat. “You should come downstairs, this is epic—”

“Go,” Martin repeated.

This time Ben nodded once and set the cups on a table by the door. “Sure, sure. I’ll come back in a bit to see if you need any more.” He held his hands up and backed out of the room, his eyes completing another once over of my body before he closed the door.

I exhaled the breath I’d been holding and, just for a moment, allowed myself to lean against Martin.

“That was him. That was the guy—I recognize his voice.”

I felt Martin nod, his chin and cheek against the side of my hair. We stood—still, quiet—for a long moment, then he turned me to face him. Both of his hands moved to my waist and he backed me against the pool table.

His eyes, guarded, but also tempered with curiosity, searched mine. I still saw desperation in his features and it still perplexed me. I didn’t touch him. Instead I braced my hands on either side of my hips where my body met the pool table.

At length he asked, “What do you want?”

I swallowed then responded, “I’d like to leave.”

He shook his head slowly. “That’s not what I meant. What do you want from me?”

I shrugged. “It would be great if you could tabulate the findings from last week’s assignment, but I’m not going to hold my breath.” He never did the tabulations and analyses. It was annoying.



His eyes dipped to my mouth and his voice was the softest I’d ever heard it, almost coaxing. “Kaitlyn…”

I stiffened against the feelings associated with my name from his lips, spoken in gentle tones.

I averted my eyes and my voice was a little strained when I said, “Martin, I honestly don’t want anything from you. I’d like to leave so I can change into my normal clothes, drink tea, eat cookies, and read a good book in my dorm room.”

“Kaitlyn, look at me.”

Once again, my neck flushed and my arms broke out in goosebumps.

I tried to ignore both the blush and the goosebumps. “I also want for you to forget any of this happened so that we can go back to being lab partners.”

He was quiet for a long time, but I knew—even though I refused to meet his gaze—that he was studying me, examining me like I was something new.

Then he said, “Why do you hide?”

The words startled me so much that my eyes instinctively sought his, and this was a mistake. His gaze—now a lovely blue fire—was taking a survey of my face, as though he were memorizing every detail. It was alarming and my heart quickened.

I tried for a shrug but it likely looked like a poorly executed, convulsive shiver. “Why do you care?”

His gaze met mine then flickered to my lips. “You have fantastic lips.”

I half choked, my eyes widening. “You care because I have fantastic lips?”

“And your eyes. They’re grey. I noticed them first.” His voice was just above a whisper; he sounded as though he was talking to himself.

I cleared my throat, not really sure what to say. But it turned out I didn’t need to say anything, because he continued.

“Early last semester you wore a tank top and your hair was down. You kept pulling it off your neck.” He lifted his hand and brushed the backs of his fingers against my swell of cleavage, skirting the neckline of the dress, a soft caress. “I tried to get your phone number but you wouldn’t give it to me.”

“I give out my number as rarely as possible, it’s one of my life rules,” I said dumbly.

“The red pants, the tight ones that show off your ass. You tortured me, bending over to get supplies out of the cabinet. That isn’t very nice.”

My voice was unaccountably breathless. “The corduroy ones? I only wear those when all my other laundry is dirty.”

“You’re better at chemistry than me, you ace all the tests.”

“I like chemistry, and you don’t study like you should.”

“Haven’t you ever wondered why I come on Fridays?” His fingers curled around my neck and his thumb traced circles along the line of my collarbone. He encouraged my head to tip backward.

“So that we can get a jump start on the weekly assignment?”

He shook his head. “You.”

My eyelashes fluttered. “Me?”

His held me captive with both his heavily lidded gaze and his caressing hands. Martin leaned forward, and he brushed his lips against mine. It wasn’t a kiss. It was more like he was using his lips to feel mine, to enjoy my softness.

“You,” he whispered again.

My fingers gripped the wood on either side of my hips and I successfully fought a whimper. The tightness in my chest eased and twisted, my stomach fluttered, my breath coming shallow and fast.

My brain wasn’t quite working properly because he’d muddled it—with his words, hands, and lips of temptation. Therefore, in a paltry attempt to defend myself from his seduction onslaught, I blurted out one of my greatest fears where he was concerned.

“You’ll make me cry.”

His eyes widened a little, moved between mine. “I wouldn’t.”

“You would. I’ve seen it, I see how you treat girls.”

His hand at my waist tightened. “I wouldn’t do that to you. You’re not…I know you’re not like that. We wouldn’t be that.”

“I don’t trust you.”

He sighed, but not with impatience. “I know.” He nodded. “But you will.”

He dipped his head again, placed a soft kiss on my lips, just a hint of his tongue. It wasn’t enough. My hands lifted on their own and gripped his shirt, staying any retreat he might have planned. I didn’t do this on purpose. In fact, I didn’t know why I did it.

“Martin, I can’t—”

“You can.”

“I’m not—”

“You are.”

“You don’t—”

“I do.” He kissed me again and shifted his weight more completely against me. Martin crowded my space so that he filled every inch of it. Four of my senses were overwhelmed by him—the smell of his cologne, his hot and hard body against mine, the taste of his mouth, the low growl in the back of his throat when our tongues met and mated.

Briefly he drew his mouth from mine, and demanded, “Say you’ll spend the week with me.”

I blinked, started to protest. “Martin, this isn’t—”

He kissed me again, placed my arms around his neck, then his hands moved up my ribs and his palm cupped me through the thin material of my dress. His thumb drew tight circles around the center of my breast.

He growled, “Say it. Spend the week with me.”

I moaned, because…aroused.

He bit my lip, sucked it between his. I moaned again.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, Kaitlyn.” He breathed the words suddenly, like he didn’t mean to say them out loud, but they burst forth unbidden. “I want you to spend the week with me. Say yes.”

He kissed me again, quickly, then trailed wet, hot kisses over my jaw and behind my ear to my shoulder. He bit me—hard—and sucked on my neck in a way that made me squirm and my breath hitch; all the while his large hand massaged my breast and tortured me through the fabric. His other hand had moved to my bottom and pressed my center to his.

“Martin…” was all I could manage, because…really aroused. And, not that I was an expert, but judging by the hard length against my stomach, he was also really aroused.

“Please, say yes,” he breathed into my ear.

I said, “Yes…”

“Promise me.”

“I promise.”

To be honest, I said it but I didn’t mean it. In that moment, I said yes because he’d asked me to—and he’d used the word please and I didn’t want all the good feelings to stop—not because I had any intention of spending the week with Martin Sandeke, Hercules, jerk to women, and apparently king of seducing naïve and intimacy starved virgins.

Regardless, my words seemed to be enough for Martin because he smiled against my skin and stopped talking. He also moved both of his hands from their shockingly effective ministrations and encircled me in his arms. His mouth moved back to mine.

This time the kiss was slow, less urgent, gentle, and sweet. It felt like a prelude, a beginning. When he lifted his head, I opened my lids to find him gazing down at me, his eyes alight—blue flames.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow,” he said. His voice was different, softer, deeper…content.

“What?” I blinked at him.

“Be ready at eight.”


“You don’t need to pack much.” He kissed my nose, released me from his arms, threaded his fingers through mine, and tugged me toward the door. “I hope you like private beaches.”