Bond Polarity and Electronegativity - Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)

Elements of Chemistry (Part 1) ATTRACTION (2015)


Chapter 8. Bond Polarity and Electronegativity

SAM SPENT THE night with me. Having her there helped. But despite the heavenly bed and the sound of the ocean in the background, I didn’t sleep very well.

Sam and I hadn’t joined the boys for dinner. Instead we opted to sit on the balcony overlooking the sea and study. This was my idea. I needed more time to think, to consider, to plan my next move with Martin. I was certain he needed a friend much, much more than he needed a girlfriend, now I just needed to convince him of this fact.

Mr. Thompson stopped by to check in and make sure everything was to our liking. I asked about having dinner in the suite and he said he’d pass the message along. One of the maids brought us dinner. Her name was Rosa and she reminded me of my paternal grandmother; her big smile was sweet and she promised us cookies if we ate all our vegetables.

She also brought me a note from Martin. In his scrawling, masculine, chaotic script it read:


I’ll be down at the beach tonight. Come find me.


I was relieved he didn’t come by or press the issue of me taking dinner in my room. I needed space and time and…basically all the known dimensions available to me, maybe even the assistance of invisible dark matter. I wasn’t ready for a moonlight stroll on the beach with Martin yet. The sky had too many stars to be anything but fatalistically romantic.

After eating, Sam and I studied some more. I opted for the giant shower with seven heads—despite the fact the bathtub was the size of a small swimming pool—then worked on a term paper until midnight when we went to bed.

It was early when I woke, the sun just making an appearance and the light still soft and hazy. I pulled on my bathrobe and walked to the window, wanting to catch the purples and oranges painting the sky before it surrendered to blue.

I got my wish and then some. The view was epically spectacular. The white sandy beach and calm water called to me in a way I’d never experienced. Suddenly, I wanted to go swimming. Right that minute. I needed to leave the manufactured luxury of the big house. The genuine beauty of nature called to me.

I quickly changed in the bathroom, careful to lather myself in super high SPF, and grabbed two oversized beach towels.

I also packed a canvas bag with a leftover bottle of water from the night before, my current book, a big hat, sunglasses, and other beach essentials. I exited out the balcony door and picked my way down the path to the beach. The path consisted of ten stone steps and a hundred feet of the finest, softest sand I’d ever touched.

Once there I dropped my belongings, discarded my T-shirt, cotton shorts, and flip flops, and walked into the salt water. The water was crystal clear, the temperature cool and refreshing, and was nearly as calm as a lake. It felt like heaven.

For at least an hour I floated, swam, searched for shells, and just generally enjoyed the alone time with my thoughts in this beautiful place. When my fingers became prunes, I reluctantly abandoned the water for the shore.

I arranged one of the towels under the shade of a big palm tree and rolled the other towel into a pillow for my head. Then, I read my book, drying in the sea air, and lazing about like a lazy person. This was the kind of unscheduled relaxing I’d embraced since starting college.

I was maybe four pages into my novel when I heard the noise; it was a chant—faint then louder—of baritone voices. Lifting onto my elbows, I set my book to one side, holding my place with my thumb, and peered around for the origin.

Then I saw them. All nine of the boys—looking remarkably like men—out some distance from shore; far enough away I couldn’t quite make out individual faces, but close enough I could plainly see they were all shirtless. And it ought to be noted that they should always be shirtless. In fact, they should be disallowed from wearing shirts…ever.

They were rowing, their boat flying over the water. I strained my ears and realized they were counting backward from ten.

I followed their progress, marveling at how they moved so quickly and with seemingly so little effort in perfect unison. I wondered what that must be like, being part of something so perfect, so harmonious. It was…well, it was beautiful.

The closest I’d ever come to something like that was playing my music, losing myself on the piano, or jamming with my Sunday night bandmates. But we weren’t perfect. We were far from harmonious, however sometimes we’d have a good night where everything felt right and effortless, like we were flying on the music we’d created together.

Just as suddenly as the rowers appeared they were gone. The boat went around the edge of the cove and their chant grew fainter, farther away. I stared at the spot where they’d disappeared for a minute then reclined back on my towel, watching the horizon.

“Holy crap. That was something.”

I turned my head slightly and found Sam standing on the beach, her hands on her hips, and her attention focused on the bend of the cove. She was wearing an itsy bitsy bikini that showed how hard she worked on her tennis game.

“Hey, you there. Good-looking female,” I called to her. “Why are you up?”

“Because I bought this damn bikini last year and this is my first chance to wear it.” She sauntered over to where I reclined and spread out her towel. Her spot was somewhat in the sun, but I doubted she minded the opportunity to tan. I didn’t want to take the chance of blinding someone, so I liked my spot in the shade. With my paper-white complexion, the glare off my thighs would likely burn retinas.

She turned to me to say something else, but then the chanting became audible again. Sure enough, the boat came back into view. Eight muscled rowers sweeping the water with their oars, Lee at the stern facing Martin. Their arms and shoulders flexing, their stomachs and backs rippling. The movement of their bodies was as mesmerizing as it was arousing. This time they were close enough I could almost see their facial expressions, see the sweat rolling down their necks and chests.

From where I sat, they looked stern, focused, maybe a little bit in pain, but still beautiful. Heart-achingly beautiful. My mouth went completely dry.

Sam and I watched them for almost a full minute before they flew past and were once more out of sight.

Then, she fanned herself. “Yeah. I am totally going to have sex with Eric. That was hot.”

I said nothing, because once again my dirty thoughts were at odds with what I knew was smart, with what I knew was right.

Martin needed a friend.

I would be that friend.

I would.

And my pants hated me for it.


THREE OF THE groundskeepers brought brunch down to the beach under the oversight of Mrs. Greenstone. And by brunch, I mean they transported what looked like the equivalent of a fancy outdoor restaurant down to the beach. A large buffet was spread out on a huge wooden serving table, and beautifully carved dining tables and chairs with deep cushions were set up on the edge of the water. A sideboard with china, crystal, linen napkins, towels, suntan lotion—and basically everything else one might want for the beach—was set out with practiced and aesthetically pleasing efficiency.

To top it all off, several large arrangements of tropical flowers were placed on the tables along with little packets of aloe set on ice to chill.

I glanced sideways at the opulence, feeling out of place with my modest, black two-piece that was three years old, my turquoise Walmart flip flops, and my gas station sunglasses.

To be honest, the excess repelled me in much the same way the size and luxuriousness of the house had repelled me when we first arrived. I wasn’t against people being rich. Nor was I against people owning and enjoying nice things.

I guessed the problem was that everything was too big, too much, too shiny, too new, too sterile, too impersonal. I felt like all the real details that mattered—the smell of the ocean, the sensation of sand beneath feet, the soft sounds of the sea meeting the shore, the rustle of wind through the palms—were lost in the ostentatiousness of the house and its sprawling splendiferous shadow.

Where Sam and I had set our towels was a good two hundred feet from the fancy buffet and beneath the shade of a palm; however, the spot was clearly visible from the trail. We were both on our stomachs and reading when Herc, Ray, and Ben appeared from the house path.

Ray gave us a little wave and an amiable smile, Herc gave us a little wave that I imagined was friendly for him, and Ben gave us a leering look and no other acknowledgement. I silently wondered again why Martin had invited Ben as all evidence pointed to the fact he was an unsavory sort. The guys crossed to the impressive brunch spread.

No sooner had they made it to the tables did Eric and Griffin jog past. Eric skidded to a stop when he saw us and gave Sam a bright smile. Griffin lifted his chin and waved politely, then made a beeline for the food.

“I’ll be right back.” Eric held out his index finger to us in the universal symbol for give me a minute. “I’m starving.”

“Take your time.” Sam shrugged, and I saw she was doing her best to appear unaffected. “It’s not like we’re going anywhere.”

“Yeah. Good.” Eric’s eyes moved over her body—not in a leering, I’d-hit-that kind of way, but rather in a damn-you-must-work-out-and-I’m-impressed kind of way—his eyebrows doing an adorable double jump of appreciation as he scanned her. Then he shook his head as though clearing it and slowly turned away. In fact, his steps were almost halting as he walked to the buffet yet turned back and glanced at Sam twice.

Sam, however, was looking at her book. But I could tell she wasn’t reading. When he was out of earshot, she asked in a near whisper, “Did he look back?”

“Yes. Twice.”


I smirked and looked up at the guys. Unable to help herself, Sam lifted her eyes as well.

They hadn’t bothered yet with shirts and were still clothed in spandex shorts that ended just above the knee. Really, they should have been naked. Their outfits left nothing to the imagination.

I quickly refocused attention on my book, my cheeks red from sudden exposure to male fineness, but Sam gaped for a few minutes longer.

“Thank you, Katy. Thank you for being Martin Sandeke’s lab partner. Thank you for having no idea how amazing you are. Thank you for driving him wild with your clueless indifference. Just…thank you for this moment.”

I rolled my eyes behind my sunglasses and flipped onto my back.

“You’re welcome. Never say I didn’t get you anything, especially since there are four more shirtless rowers on their way.”

“I will die happy here, today, in this spot,” she sighed.

“In your puddle of lust.”

“Leave my puddle of lust alone. Get your own puddle.”

A few moments passed in relative silence, relative because the sound of the boys’ conversation drifted to us, though none of the words were decipherable. I was actually able to concentrate on my book for about ten minutes before we were interrupted.

“Hey, so what do you think so far?”

I turned my head and found Eric kneeling in the sand next to Sam’s towel, splitting his attention between both of us. I rolled to my side then sat up, pulling my knees to my chest. Sam, however, continued to lounge on the ground.

“It’s really nice,” I said with feeling, because it was nice and he was being nice, and it’s nice to be nice.

Then, because I wanted to say something more than just nice, I added, “The beach is exquisite. I’ve never seen this kind of sand.”

Eric gave me a friendly smile. “Yeah, this is our second year. Last year Martin brought us down for spring break and I’ve been looking forward to it since we left. I love this place.”

“I can see why,” Sam said, “it’s gorgeous.”

Eric’s gaze rested on her for a beat before he agreed, “Yeah, gorgeous…”

My eyes flickered between the two of them, obviously sharing a moment, and I tried not to make any sudden movements. I adverted my gaze to the cover of the book I’d discarded and realized I had no recollection of what I’d been reading.

Eric was the first to speak, and he did so with a charming grin. “So, Sam. Would you mind helping me put suntan lotion on my back? I’d like to go for a swim but I’m sure the stuff I put on earlier is mostly gone by now.”

“Sure,” she responded immediately, then hopped to her knees, grabbed her lotion, circled behind him as they both stood, and applied a generous amount of liquid SPF and UV protection to his torso.

He was facing me, so Sam was behind him. Therefore I was treated to her facial expressions while she touched his body. At one point she mouthed the words Oh my God, her eyes growing large. I had to roll my lips between my teeth to keep from laughing.

After the longest lotion lathering in the history of forever, Sam moved to step away but he caught her hand.

“Want to go swimming?”

She nodded, a big smile on her face. All her earlier attempts to keep it cool must have melted away…for some inexplicable reason.

Without a backward glance or a wave or an, I’ll see you later in my direction, the two of them took off for the ocean. I watched them go feeling a mixture of excitement on Sam’s behalf, and worry, also on Sam’s behalf. She obviously liked him a lot. And I supposed he was likeable enough. But neither of us knew him very well.

“Hey. Kaitlyn, right?” someone said from behind me.

I turned toward the voice at my back and found Ben—the cuss monster, would-be drugger, self-admitted rapist, and blatant leerer—hovering at the edge of my towel. My stomach tightened with trepidation.

“Yes. That is correct. I am Kaitlyn,” I said, not meaning to sound as robotic as I did but unable to help it. This guy wanted to hurt and extort Martin, and that alone was enough to make me dislike him with the heat of magma.

“Hey, so,” his eyes moved over me again, where I was curled into a ball on my towel, “I need help getting this stuff on my back.” He held up the bottle of suntan lotion Sam had just discarded.

“Okay…?” I peered at him, not understanding why he was telling me this.

We stared at each other for a beat. He was quite good-looking, very well built, very tall, and he made me exceedingly uneasy.

At length he huffed. “So, I need you to put the lotion on my back.”

My frown deepened and I shook my head. “Um, no thanks.”

“No thanks?”

“That is correct. No thanks.”

His eyes darted between mine and he appeared to be confused. “You’re not going to do it?”

“Correct. I’m not going to do it.”

Ben’s confused expression morphed into a sneer. “What’s the big deal?”

I tightened my arms around my legs. “It’s not a big deal. I don’t touch people I don’t know, it’s one of my life rules.” The nice thing about having life rules is that you can make up new ones on the spot when it’s convenient. Not touching people I don’t know hadn’t been a life rule before this minute, but it was definitely on the list now.

“We’ve met.”

“Yes, but I don’t know you and I don’t want to touch you.”

He stared at me for five seconds, but it felt like an hour, his pale eyes growing mean and angry. Abruptly, he blurted, “Why are you being such a bitch about this? I just need some fucking help here and you’re acting like a fucking bitch.”

I flinched at the words—even his expletives were redundant and unimaginative—and then pulled my gaze from his, opting to stare at the beach and wishing I’d forced myself on Sam and Eric. They were in the water, floating, talking, and probably not cussing at each other.

Even though you don’t feel calm doesn’t mean you can’t be calm. My mother’s words came back to me.

“Go away,” I said. My heartbeat and the pumping of my blood roared between my ears. My body was beyond tense, like it was bracing for a physical blow, and I felt abruptly cold and removed from my surroundings, like I was in a tunnel.

“Fine, fatty. I don’t want your fucking chubby-ass fingers on me anyway.”

I closed my eyes, waiting for the sound of his departure and trying to calm my heart. But he didn’t leave. I felt him hovering there, just beyond the little island of safety that was my towel. I was about to launch myself up and away to the water, when he spoke again.

“Yeah, glad you’re having a good time. This place is pretty great.”

I frowned my confusion—which had momentarily paralyzed me—but didn’t open my eyes.

But then Ben said, “Oh, hey Stroke,” just as I discerned a new set of footsteps approaching from behind me. Martin was walking over.

I exhaled a slow breath, my insides still feeling like icicles, and slowly opened my eyes. I kept my attention affixed to the shore as I didn’t want to look at this Ben person again, probably never.

“Hey,” Martin said from someplace nearby and over my shoulder. “What’s going on?”

“Ah, not much. Just keeping Kaitlyn company.” Ben’s voice was remarkably different, friendly, affable. “But since you’re here, I’ll just go grab some food. Do you want anything? Can I get you something?” Ben was obviously directing this solicitous question to Martin.

I wondered briefly if Martin should invest in a poison tester of some sort. I wouldn’t trust Ben with a snake I didn’t like, let alone to bring me food that wasn’t tainted with arsenic.

“No,” Martin said.

I nearly laughed, despite my brittle state. Martin’s simple no sounded like so much more than a no. It sounded like a warning and a threat, like a dismissal and a command. I was impressed how much distain he’d managed to pack into a single syllable word.

“Okay, well…” At last I heard Ben’s feet move against the sand. “I’m starving so I’m going to eat. See you two later.”

I remained still even when I was sure Ben had left. I couldn’t quite pry my fingers from where they held my legs tightly tucked against me.

Growing up, I’d struggled a bit with my size, but not in the way most people approach size frustrations. I struggled and worked to accept it. I wished I could be different, yet because I trusted my mother and her assurances there was nothing wrong with me or the way I looked, that the baby fat was normal for me and that my body would shed it eventually, I never fought against the rolls.

I was a pudgy kid and very, very short through most of my childhood; then, during my sophomore year of high school, I stretched out and grew four inches basically overnight. I grew another two inches in my junior year.

But I’ve never been lean and firm; rather, I’ve always been soft and curved. I did rather like the line of my waist, however, because it tapered dramatically beneath my ribs, then flared out again to my hips—an hourglass, my mother had said with a smile, defining it for me.

She told me I should be proud of my healthy shape and healthy body, and love and treasure it because it was mine. No one, she said, could tell me what to think of my body. If I let another person’s opinion matter I was giving him or her control over me, and I had complete control over my self-image.

That’s what she said.

But that wasn’t the truth, not really. Because even though I knew Ben was a bottom feeder of the worst sort and his opinion mattered just as much as the coruscations in the sea, words like fatty hurt, no matter the source.

I felt Martin’s eyes on me and I wished I had a shirt, a bathrobe, or a big plastic trash bag to cover the imperfections of my shape. Furthermore, I wished I’d junk punched Ben when I’d had the chance.

Martin moved, walking on Sam’s towel and sitting next to me. I lifted my chin and kept my eyes on the horizon; I was not yet ready to look at him. I was still trying to gain control of my scattered feelings. I was also attempting to suppress the self-consciousness creeping from my chest to my throat and choking me. I was this awkward, pudgy girl, the color of chalk, sitting alongside a muscled and bronzed Greek god.

Martin stretched his long legs in front of him; he rested a hand behind me so his arm and chest brushed against the bare skin of my arm and back. The contact was a spark in my tunnel of frigid numbness. Then he leaned forward, nuzzled my cheek softly with his nose, and placed a gentle kiss on my jaw. Unexpectedly, I felt myself melt.

“Hey, Parker,” he whispered, then kissed the hollow of my cheek. “What’s wrong?”

I shook my head even as my body instinctively leaned into him, my shoulder resting against his chest. He felt good, solid, warm.

“Why is that guy here?” I asked.

Martin glanced over his shoulder to where his teammates were eating, then faced me again. “Did he say something to you?”

I cleared my throat then answered with another question, “Why would you invite him? After what he tried to do to you.”

He exhaled softly, then brushed the back of his fingers down the length of my arm to my elbow; his eyes followed the path. He seemed to be studying my hand where it gripped my leg.

“Because he’s strong and we, the boat, need him to win.” His voice held an edge of ire, but I knew it wasn’t directed at me.

I slid my eyes to the side, considered this news and Martin’s expression. He didn’t look happy about having Ben there. In fact, he looked angrily resigned. I got the impression he wasn’t used to making compromises, and this one felt wrong and unwieldy.

“He tried to drug you,” I stated with a fervor that surprised me, feeling outraged on Martin’s behalf.

“I didn’t say I trust him. I said we need him. Trusting and needing someone are usually mutually exclusive.” Martin lifted his dazzling eyes to mine. This close I was startled to see they were the exact color of the ocean. Flecks of green, silver, and turquoise radiated from his pupil like a starburst.

“But sometimes, rarely…,” he started, stopped, his attention drifting to my lips briefly, “you meet someone you need, who you can also trust.”

He stared at me and I stared back, feeling muddled and disbelieving the implication of his words. He allowed me to struggle for a full minute, then he reached for my hand and pried it from my leg, holding it lightly, reverently.

“Kaitlyn, did Ben say something to you? Because if he did I’ll get rid of him.” Martin’s eyes narrowed by a fraction and his gaze grew penetrating, searching.

I gathered an expansive breath and turned from Martin’s probing stare. His obvious concern was doing strange things to me. This protectiveness didn’t feel like possessiveness, and I wondered how often I’d lamentably mistaken one for the other.

I didn’t want to lie. But if Martin could live with Ben trying to drug and extort him for the sake of team cohesion, then I guess I could live with a few nasty words.

Of course, there was the whole Ben drugging girls for undefined reasons issue...

I looked over the water as I spoke. “Martin, I didn’t tell you this on Friday when I saw you at the party, but you’re not the first person Ben has tried to drug. When he was talking to that girl, he made it sound like…like he’s been drugging girls for a while. That can really only mean one thing, right?”

I peeked at Martin and his scowl was fierce. He said through gritted teeth, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll handle Ben. He won’t—” he stopped, exhaled slowly, “he won’t be doing that again.”

“But what about what he’s done so far?”

“I’ll take care of that too.”

“He’s so awful. He’s…he’s like ammonium dichromate with mercury thiocyanate. He’s the college boy equivalent of the bowels of hell.”

Martin’s smile was sudden and its unexpectedness seemed to take us both by surprise; he laughed lightly at my analogy, but he also looked concerned. “Hey, did he say something to you? Before I came over?”

“I don’t like him,” I said, then rushed on when I feared Martin would see I was being evasive. “He’s unpleasant and creepy and I don’t want to talk about him anymore. Let’s talk about chemistry.”

I felt rather than saw Martin’s small smile because he’d leaned forward and nipped my shoulder, his lips hovering against my skin. “Yes, let’s talk about chemistry. We have excellent chemistry.”

I leaned a tad to the side and away because his soft lips, sharp teeth, and hot mouth were overwhelming to my chest, stomach, and pants.

“I meant our assignment. I brought all my notes, I think we should start on the literature search this afternoon.”

“Na-ah.” Martin lifted his head, placed my hand on his thigh, and then gathered several stray strands of hair away from my face. He tucked them behind my ear. “We’re leaving. You and I have plans.”

“Plans? What plans?”

“I know a place where we can be alone.”

“Other than the fifty spare rooms back at the house?” I said, then immediately felt myself burn scarlet at the unintended insinuation. “Ah…I mean…that is…what I mean is…oh blast it.”

He watched me struggle under his suspended eyebrows, a whisper of a smile on his face, then cut in when I tried to hide my face in my arm. “No, the place I have in mind is better. Lunch is packed. Come on.” He squeezed my arm then pulled my hand as he stood, tugging me with him. “We need to get going.”

I snatched my hand back and quickly covered myself with a towel.

I tried not to look at him, mostly because he was magnificent. Unlike the others, he was clothed in board shorts that ended at his knee. His shirtless torso was flawless and completely smooth. He looked like a golden statue, cast in hard relief by the sun, but warm to the touch. And that was just his torso! I didn’t trust my gaze to venture downward to assess the flawlessness of his legs…or elsewhere.

My heart and the area previously defined as “my pants” both twisted and tightened at the sight of his perfect body. I felt pinpricks and tingles all over and a little lightheaded as I turned away from him.

“Let me get changed first,” I mumbled without thinking. “I wish I’d invested in a burqa or a moomoo…”

Martin gripped the towel as I tried to wrap it under my arms, bringing my attention back to him.

His expression was again fierce, his eyebrows lowered in a frowny scowl. “What did you say?”


“What are you doing?” His gaze flickered to the towel then back to mine.

“Getting my things.”

He yanked on the towel and I held it tighter. His frown intensified. As he surveyed my face, I felt very much like I was being examined under a microscope.

Martin took three full, measured breaths, his hand now stubbornly fisted in the terrycloth, before he asked again through clenched teeth, “What did Ben say to you, Parker?”

“Nothing important.” I tilted my chin upward and shrugged. When he looked like he was going to press the issue further, I let go of the towel, letting the weight of it drop in his grip.

Martin looked troubled, but his attention strayed as though he were compelled, as though he had no choice but to look at my body. I tensed, fought the urge to cross my arms over my chest, and glanced at the sky, letting him look.

It didn’t really matter. We were at the beach for Bunsen’s sake! Sooner or later he was going to see me in a bathing suit. I repeated my mother’s sage advice, If I let another person’s opinion matter then I was giving him control over me; I alone had complete control over my self-image. I held still for as long as I could.

Then I heard him sigh. “Fuck me…”

My eyes darted back to Martin and I found him looking at my body with a mixture of pained hunger and appreciation. The profanity had slipped from his tongue like an odd caress.

“Excuse me?” I questioned, though I almost asked, Was that a request?

His gaze jumped to my face and he stepped forward, tossing the towel to the sand. He didn’t touch me except to fit the fingers of my left hand in the palm of his right. “It’s an expression, Parker. It usually means a person is surprised.”

I squinted at him. “What’s surprising? Is it my ghost-like skin? Does it scare you?”

I saw his mouth tugged to the side just before he turned from me and pulled me toward the house path. “No. Your ghost skin doesn’t scare me.”

“Is it—”

“You’re fucking, goddamn gorgeous, Parker,” he said roughly, a half growl, and without looking back at me.

Startled, I snapped my mouth shut, as a pleased and pleasant warmth suffused my cheeks, chest, and stomach. For the first time in my life I found I didn’t mind the use of curse words.