Molecular Geometry and Bonding Theories - Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)

Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)


Chapter 7. Molecular Geometry and Bonding Theories

MUCH OF SAM’S surly mood dissipated after her fifteen-minute plane tour courtesy of the handsome Eric. I was both pleased and distressed by this turn of events. Since Sam’s attention was redirected—or best case scenario, it was split between me and Eric—this meant she wasn’t quite as focused on her role as my spring break chastity belt.

A very luxurious stretch limo picked us up. Inside the car, I sat next to one of the seven other guys; his name was Ray, and his parents had immigrated from Mumbi, India, when he was two. He was a biochemistry major, and he was five seat.

“Five seat?” I asked, my head titling to the side. “What do you mean five seat?”

Two more of the boys entered the limo, sitting on the bench across from Sam and Eric.

“Five seat in the crew boat. I’m a starboard,” Ray explained, flashing me a big smile when he saw I didn’t quite understand what he meant. “We’re all on the crew team together, in the same boat. I’m five seat, Martin is eight seat. He’s the stroke at the stern, the back of the boat.” Ray lifted his chin toward one of the other guys. “That’s our coxswain, Lee.”

I gave Lee a friendly smile. “What’s a cocks-twin?”

Lee chuckled and shook his head. “It’s pronounced cox-wain, not cocks-twin. Basically, I steer the boat and keep these guys from being lazy assholes.”

“Lee also gets to stare into Stroke’s dreamy blue eyes all day,” Ray added with a grin. “You should probably be jealous.”

I shrugged my shoulders convulsively, feeling acutely weird and self-conscious. “What…I…we…it’s…I mean…what are you talking about?” I sputtered as my hands did weird things, jerky movements in the air in front of me. “I’m not jealous. Why would I be jealous? I don’t even know the guy.”

Ray, Lee, Eric, and another of the guys whose name was Herc—who had obscenely large leg muscles—all lifted their eyebrows at me in unison.

“You’re his girl, right?” Lee glanced at his teammates as though to confirm this statement.

“That’s right,” Herc confirmed, his tone sure and steady.

I felt Sam tug at my shirt but I ignored her. At that moment three of the other guys entered the car; I’d recognized two of them as the pair of brown-eyed frat boys who’d been with Eric at the party the night before. The taller of the two, Griffin, had been handsy with me at the frat house. The other one, Will, had hit Griffin on the back of the head as they’d walked away.

The other guy’s name was Tambor. He had blond hair, darker than Ben’s, longish with pale highlights likely caused by the sun. He had deep brown eyes and an exceedingly stoic face. He and Herc were the shortest and the stockiest of the boys at an approximate and measly six foot one.

“So…where does everyone else sit? In the boat, I mean,” I asked weakly, wanting to change the subject.

“As you know, Martin is stroke, which is eight seat.” Ray then pointed to Eric. “Eric is a starboard, seven seat. Ben,” he paused and looked around the inside of the vehicle. Ben and Martin were the only two not in the car yet. “Well, Ben who isn’t here is port, seat six. We’ve already established that I’m starboard five seat. Griffin is behind me, port four seat. Then Will, starboard three seat. Tambor, port second seat. Last but not least is Herc. He’s the bow, first seat, in the front of the boat.”

“All the even seats are port seats, and the odds are starboard?”

Ray nodded. “That’s right. Port and starboard have to do with the sides of the boat. My oar is rigged on the starboard side; whereas Martin’s, Ben’s, Griffin’s, and Tambor’s are rigged on the port side.”

I nodded, picturing a crew boat I’d seen on TV during the summer Olympics. Now, considering how Martin had originally introduced everyone on the plane—referring to each of them as a number first before their names—this made a lot more sense. Their nicknames were their seat assignments, with Martin called Stroke and Herc called Bow.

Martin entered the limo just as Ray finished explaining port and starboard. I noted that a hush fell over the occupants; everyone seemed to sit a little straighter, the guys looking to him as though called to attention.

His did a sweep of the interior as Ben entered through the other door and shut it. Martin’s gaze paused on me, which sent heat to my cheeks and set off a buzzing in my stomach. Eventually he glared at Ray and his eyes narrowed by an infinitesimal margin.

Ray’s answering smile looked cautious. “I’ll just move over this way...” Ray schootched away from me, leaving plenty of room for someone to fill the void.

Martin followed Ray’s movements with his eyes, stared at him for a beat, then ducked and crossed to the now vacant seat next to mine. Martin then cast a dark glare around the limo, almost like he was warning them off his Chinese takeout leftovers.

Meanwhile I pressed my lips into an unhappy line. I was unimpressed with the dynamic of unspoken, but clearly understood, possessiveness.

Even if I were Martin’s girl—which I wasn’t—there was nothing amiss with me sitting next to Martin’s friend. I felt abruptly as though I’d just been peed on.

I didn’t want to be peed on.


THE REST OF the journey was eventfully uneventful. The limo’s journey to the marina was fifteen minutes. At the marina, men appeared—as though from nowhere—and loaded our belongings onto a boat. Then the men disappeared. The boat journeyed forty-five minutes to another, much smaller marina situated on a spec of an island.

At least it looked like a spec at first. Upon closer inspection, I estimated it was about four miles long and at least a mile wide. The lush tropical forests were dotted with obscenely massive luxury homes—some directly on the beach, some higher up on hilly cliffs. I counted seven as we circled to the dock.

We then loaded into five all-terrain golf cart-like vehicles, two per vehicle. I traveled with Martin, Sam traveled with Eric. We traversed a well-maintained dirt road to where I surmised we’d be staying for the next week.

I didn’t bring up Martin’s inappropriate behavior; this was for several reasons. First, drama repelled me. I didn’t want to start a conversation on the topic when others could overhear. Therefore I just put up with his hovering and the way he would stare down the other guys when they’d enter my radius.

Second, I didn’t know how to start the dialogue. What if I was imagining things? What if I was being overly sensitive? What if this was what normal relationships were like? If we’d actually been dating, I think I might have been able to navigate through the conversation, but we weren’t.

“Why are you so quiet?”

I’d been wrapped up in my thoughts and started a little at his bluntly spoken question.

“Uh.” I glanced at him. He was splitting his attention between me and the road. “Because I’m thinking about something.”

“What are you thinking about?” he asked. As usual it sounded like a demand.

I tried not to read too much into the tone of his voice; maybe Martin didn’t know how to ask nicely, another thing I didn’t like very much about him.

“I guess because I don’t have much experience with boys, so I’m trying to figure something out.”

“What is it? Maybe I can help.” He nudged me with his elbow.

I shook my head, not ready to talk about it yet. “I’m not ready to discuss it. I need some time with my thoughts.”

His intelligent eyes flicked over me, his expression growing distant and impassive. At length he shrugged, grim-faced, and gave his attention wholly to the road. We didn’t speak again until we arrived at the house.

And by house I mean not a house at all. It was a behemoth.

Once inside I marveled at the opulence. The giant foyer steps were a blue marble, resembling turquoise, with inlay brass. A grandiose and gracefully curving staircase dominated the left side of the entrance, while a three-story single-paned window provided natural light and a breathtaking view of the ocean beyond. In the center of the space was a wide fountain with a surprisingly tasteful sculpture of a mermaid blowing water out of a conch shell.

Everything was overly detailed. The wooden carvings on the staircase had carvings. The brass inlay danced beautiful oceanic patterns over the floor. Glorious mosaics of blue and copper decorated the fountain.

It was all too much. It didn’t feel like a house, it felt like the lobby for a huge, swanky hotel.

When I realized I was gaping, I snapped my mouth shut and glanced at Martin to see if he’d caught my oddball display of horrified amazement. He had. He was glaring at me. Again.

I was starting to wonder if I’d imagined his laugh back on the plane and if he were capable of anything other than heavily lidded severe stares. Don’t get me wrong, he still looked heavenly even when he was administering heavily lidded severe stares, but that was only if one wasn’t the recipient of said stare.

I was on the receiving end now, his focus on me, and he looked unhappy.

Therefore I gave him a buggy-eyed nose scrunch, followed by a full-on weird face—tongue out, eyes crossed, teeth bared like a rabbit—and then refocused on his features to see if it had made any effect.

It had. Now he was looking at me like I was a crackhead.

“Parker, what are you doing?”

“Making a funny face in an effort to make you stop staring at me like I murdered your beloved goldfish. What are you doing?”

I was pleased to see his eyes lighten with something like confused wonder, but before he could speak, the sound of voices entering the house pulled my attention back to the massive doors. I opened my mouth to announce where we were, but the words never came because Martin put his hand over my mouth—abruptly but gentlly—bringing my attention back to him.

He put a finger to his lips in the universal symbol for shhh then fit his hand in mine and pulled me around the fountain, down a hall, beyond the massive, three-story window overlooking the sea, through a large living room with a giant fireplace—fireplace? On a tropical Island? Rich people were crazy—and into a massive bedroom suite done all in sterile whites and shades of blue and sea-green.

He shut the solid teak door then backed me up against it, staring down at me, holding me in place with his eyes and the promise they held. My heart thudded painfully in my chest and I was drowning in his intense focus.

I opened my mouth again to say something, anything really, but it was lost because he was kissing me. The hot, urgent slickness of his tongue robbing me of my breath, his solid body against mine warming me beyond the humid stickiness of the tropics, permeating to my center.

We kissed and kissed then kissed some more. It wasn’t until he tore his mouth from mine that I realized I was holding fistfuls of his hair and was on my tiptoes.

His forehead met mine and he growled, a low sound laced with frustration, before he said, “You are too fucking cute.”

“You too.”

He exhaled a disbelieving breath, and swallowed. “I’m cute?”

“As a button.”

He chuckled, stealing another kiss. “I wish we were here alone. I wish…God, I just want you to myself.”

A prickle of unease made the short hairs of my neck stand at attention. On one hand, it was a lovely thing for him to say. On the other hand, he’d just figuratively urinated a circle around me in his blatant display of caveman possessiveness. Maybe I was overreacting, but I had no baseline for comparison. This was all very, very new territory for me.

I needed time to think, away from his lips and mesmerizing looks.

Luckily, I was pretty certain this place had some nice closets.


“HE’S THE ALPHA male.” Sam said this from my bed where she lay with her arms and legs spread out. I was next to her, my arms and legs also spread.

We weren’t touching. The bed should have had its own zip code.

After my lovely kisses with Martin, he informed me that the gargantuan and beautiful suite was mine. The voices of our co-travelers grew louder, closer, and so he told me to stay put. He explained people would be bringing in my luggage as well as food. Then he left.

People did arrive with my bags. Again, random people seemed to appear out of thin air—an older man in a suit directed a younger man where to place my things. Then a woman about ten years older than me showed up with a tray of decadent food, sparkling mineral water, and asked if she could draw me a bath or arrange for a massage.

I politely refused both, but insisted on introducing myself to these apparitions. Ultimately I had to press them for names because at first they offered me only titles.

The older man was the staff director - Mr. Thompson.

The younger man was one of the groundskeepers - Peter.

The woman was the house manager - Mrs. Greenstone.

I tried to modulate my tone to offhanded and nonchalant as I asked how many other staff members were present at the house. After Mr. Thompson listed the cook, cook’s aide, three other groundskeepers, and two maids, I stopped counting. The house staff outnumbered the guests.

Sam found me just as Mr. Thompson was taking his leave.

That’s right, taking his leave…like some grand butler from regency England. I’d entered the bizzaro world of the obscenely rich where baths were drawn and leave was taken.

Now Sam and I were munching on the tray of food and staring at the vaulted ceiling. An immense, beautiful skylight showed me the late afternoon sky was a cloudless blue.

Sam continued voicing her theory while munching on grapes. “You know, like a pack of wolves. He’s their alpha.”

I grimaced and twisted my lips to the side to hide my expression, not that she was looking at me.

“That’s silly,” I said.

“No, it’s totally not. They all…well…they all basically worship him, I think. Eric said that eight seat, Martin’s position, is arguably the most important seat in the boat. He sets the rhythm for the rest of the boat, pushes them. Even Lee, who freaking steers the boat, follows his lead. They do what are called ‘power tens’ during practices and races. It’s where they all row as hard as they can for ten strokes—well, Martin decides when and for how long. He’s only a sophomore and he has the most coveted spot on the team, and he’s team captain. The rest of the guys are juniors and seniors.”

“Maybe it’s because he’s from such a fancy family,” I said flippantly, because Sam was starting to make it sound like this stuff mattered. Granted, she was a competitive athlete, therefore I could forgive some of her wide-eyed expression and excitement in her voice.

Whereas I’d never understood sports and team dynamics. I’d tried playing soccer once; everyone was so serious about it. I kept thinking how silly it was to run around a grassy field, kick a ball into a net, and think of it as an accomplishment.

Finishing War and Peace, now that was an accomplishment.

“No, I asked Eric how Martin got his seat,” Sam said, turning to face me, her elbow and hand propping up her head. “He said Martin has the best erg time—it has to do the rowing machine they use, the ergometer or whatever it’s called—and that he has the best form by far. Honestly, it’s like Eric is brainwashed or has a crush on him or something. They talk about him like he invented the sport.”

I shrugged, but my mind was caught on the “pack of wolves” metaphor, Martin as an alpha to a pack of hard-bodied rowers. It might explain why every time he spoke it sounded like a demand. As well, it explained the pack mentality in the limo and on the boat. He was younger than they were. I wondered if all his dazzling wealth had anything to do with why he was able to command their respect so completely.

I could feel Sam’s eyes on me. I kept my attention focused on the sky.

After a while she said, “You are beautiful, you know.”

My eyes jumped to hers and I automatically frowned, her earnestly spoken words catching me off guard.

“What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

She gave me a little smile then pushed on my shoulder. “You, being beautiful. You are beautiful. You don’t focus on your looks or even seem to care about them, but you’re really quite spectacular to look at.”

I turned my head completely toward her and folded my hands on my stomach. “And you think this is why Martin is suddenly whisking me and my foul-mouthed friend off to private beaches? Because he thinks I’m beautiful?”

“It’s definitely part of it. The boy has eyes and urges.”

“Ha. Yes, he does...”

“But that’s not why, or that’s not all of it.”

“Then what is it? Why am I here?”

Sam was quiet for a minute, then asked, “Why do you think?”

I glanced over her shoulder, my eyes resting on the magnificent view behind her. The entire back wall of the suite was glass and overlooked the beach. The house was some feet above sea level. If I’d been standing I would see the white, sandy shore. But from this vantage point, all I saw was blue sky kissing the blue ocean at the horizon.

“I think,” I started, deciding to speak my thoughts out loud as they occurred to me. I needed to talk this through with someone and I needed to get out of my own head because I couldn’t get any further than, This makes no sense!

“I think he wants someone to be nice to him,” I blurted.

I brought Sam back into focus, saw her surprised expression, but then something like contemplation gripped her features.

I continued. “I think he’s tired of people judging him or making assumptions about who he is based on who his family is. I think he wants someone to be nice to him, like him, and show interest in who he is because he’s Martin, just Martin, and not because of who is family is, how much money he has…or what he looks like.”

“That sounds…well, actually, that sounds plausible.”

“I wonder,” I propped myself up on my elbow, facing Sam and mirroring her position on the bed, “maybe he really just wants a friend. I think I could do that for him.”

Her eyes narrowed on me. “I don’t think he wants you to be his friend.”

“But that’s what he needs,” I said, wrinkling my nose. “I think he trusts me because I don’t want anything from him. I think he just really desperately needs someone to talk to, someone who is on his side, and he’s confusing trust with…lust.”

Sam smiled her amusement, her eyes dancing over my face. “Or he’s confusing lust with trust.”

I rolled my eyes and fell back to the bed, again staring out through the skylight.

“But seriously,” she started, paused, then took a deep breath, “he’s kind of possessive of you, right? Like, how he stared down Ray in the limo. And I thought he was going to bite Griffin’s arm when he touched you while we were on the boat. It seems especially strange since you two aren’t even really together yet.”

Yet… O.o

“It is weird. I’m glad you said something because I wondered if I was just overreacting. And it’s all so fast.”

“No, not really. You’ve been lab partners for almost two semesters. From what you told me about your conversation with him against the pool table last night, for him, I think this relationship—in some form—has been going on for months, not hours. I suspect he’s been thinking about you far more than you realize.”

I covered my face with my hands. “How do I survive this? How am I going to get through this week? He needs a friend and all I can think about is doing very bad things to his body.”

“You’re starved for physical intimacy. He’s starved for emotional intimacy. Maybe you can help him and help yourself.”

“I don’t want to use him like that. I think his whole life people have been trying to use him.”

“I’m not talking about sex, Katy. I still don’t think you’re ready for that. You have a big heart and it would definitely get in the way of a no-strings arrangement. I’m just saying, there’s nothing wrong with fooling around a little with a guy you’re attracted to. Maybe…,” Sam reached for my hands and pulled them away from my face. She then lifted her eyebrows and gave me a pointed look. “Maybe you can help each other.”