Flustering Ford: Prologue
Release Date: March 25th
Sixteen years ago…
Don’t look at his ass… Don’t look at his ass… Dammit, Abe, you have no self-control! I tried to smoothly move the heavy Calculus book over my lap, praying Ford didn’t turn around too quickly and catch sight of the boner I was sporting. If popping wood was an Olympic event, that gold medal would be mine. Huh…and Dad says I suck at sports. I snorted and glanced up—oh god…did he catch me staring?
Ford tilted his head, his expression a mixture of amusement and dude, you’re fucking weird. I quickly dropped my gaze. “What is that?” he asked.
I groaned internally and screwed my eyes shut as heat warmed my skin. It would be great if the floor opened up and swallowed me whole. He saw you, dumbass. This is when he rips your spleen out through your mouth and hands it to you.
The guy fit his name to a fucking T; Bradford Ashton was built like an F150 and easily outweighed me by at least twenty pounds. Cautiously, I opened my eyes again, shocked to see Ford wasn’t about to tear me limb from limb.
Instead, he stared at the shelves above my desk, and there went that flush of warmth again, flooding my face and ears. “They’re, uh…Happy Meal toys.”
“Like, from McDonald’s?”
“Yup.” No matter how hard I tried to brace for it, the sound of Ford cracking up still hit a nerve.
I got up in a huff and crossed my room, stopping right next to the jackass currently getting a big laugh at my expense. “Laugh it up, but most of those are worth money now.” I looked up and to the right, pointing at the little figurines. “Like those… One more and I’ll have all eighty Furbies. A collection like this will probably be like hundreds of dollars one day...once I find the last Furby.” Chancing a glance at Ford, I waited for the guy to bust out laughing again, but instead, he looked back at the shelf and shrugged.
I breathed a sigh of relief after dodging that bullet. He shocked the hell out of me, though, when he started asking about the others in my collection.
We didn’t hang in the same crowd in school. Middle school had been different; we’d still been trying to figure out where we fit in. A few months into freshman year clearly defined those groups. Ford, of course, fell into the jock category. Almost four years of football and being treated like high school royalty made the difference between Ford and me painfully obvious.
I’d known since middle school I wasn’t like the other guys in my class. It held me back from trying to become some popular kid with way too much focus on me. I didn’t want the attention; I wanted to graduate and get to Harvard.
Ford, however, was usually the center of attention, especially now that he was back on the market after breaking up with—you guessed it—the captain of the cheerleading squad. Six feet of hard muscle under smooth, tanned skin, with honey brown eyes and a gorgeous smile—complete with pearly white teeth. How the hell was that fair? It should be a rule that someone didn’t get to be both well-built and hot as hell. It threw the whole teenage equilibrium off. Either he gets a hard body that can help him pummel an entire football team or a gorgeous face that can help him pound an entire cheerleading squad—but not both. Of course, if I had my way, I’d choose a body that could help me pummel the football team. Except, by choose I meant hand myself over on a platter naked and by pummel I meant finally give up my V-card.
Shit, not again…
I cleared my throat, abruptly spinning around and sitting back on the floor by the side of my bed. Quickly, I grabbed the heavy textbook, once again blocking Ford’s view of the one-eyed purple snake trying to make its way out of my shorts.
When Ford didn’t make a move to come sit down, I cringed and looked up. There was no mistaking how my shorts had tented or how I’d been staring right at Ford when it had happened. I was still caught off guard, though, because there wasn’t disgust in Ford’s eyes. There wasn’t even anger or awkward tension. What the hell?
Ford shifted his eyes down, staring at the Calculus textbook like if he tried hard enough, he’d be able to see right through it. Nope. Don’t go making shit up. Those mesmerizing eyes slowly lifted again, catching on me and sending a tempting message to my dick. Ignore the snake charmer… Ignore the snake charmer…
“What are you doing?” Ford asked, a deep laugh rolling out.
It was then I realized I’d squeezed my eyes shut again. All I could hope was that I hadn’t actually said the whole snake-charmer mantra out loud. I forced my eyes open when a big, warm body sat right next to me on the floor. We were both leaning back against the side of my bed, and suddenly, I found it hard to breathe. Was there really a need for the guy to sit so close? His cologne was getting all up in my senses, sending wakey-wakey vibes to my dick.
“I, uh…I think we should start. You need to pass Calculus and English Lit if you want to graduate.” Why the hell had I agreed to tutor the guy a few days ago? Snake charmer…
Ford brushed a strand of chocolate brown hair off his forehead—because, of course, the guy had to have the trifecta of hotness: dark wavy hair, gorgeous eyes, and that enticing dimple in his left cheek. Just once in my life, I wanted to feel how soft Ford’s hair was or taste the indentation in his smooth skin.
“Which one do you want to do first?” Ford asked.
“Huh?” I asked, completely confused. Man, was that a loaded question. Uh, both?
Ford barked out a laugh and shook his head. “Calc or Lit, Manning?”
Oh, right…that. “Whichever one you want.” I tried to make the response sound completely casual, but the longer Ford held my stare with such intensity, the more anxious I got. Could it be that Ford was…?
No. There was no way.
Bradford Ashton, star quarterback and Barnegat High god, was most definitely not looking at me like he wanted to see how many licks it took to get to the center of an Abraham pop. I snorted again but quickly averted my eyes when Ford looked like he wanted in on the joke.
“Okay, let’s start with Calc…” I decided because, holy shit, if I didn’t distract myself now, I was bound to get myself in trouble. Nothing could deflate my dick like derivatives and integrals. I turned my head and found my face inches from Ford’s. Sucking in a breath, I cleared my throat and opened the textbook.
Should I just ask him? Yeah, because that’s not awkward or anything. Calc is hard. Are you? Speaking of limits, do you have any? If what was under that textbook was any indication, Abe Manning was definitely gay or, at least, curious.
The rumors about Abe had started around the middle of junior year. There’d been talk of him seeing a guy in the next town over for a few months, but if it was true, he’d been really good at hiding it. I knew that game all too well. Hell, I even knew it better than I knew football.
As I listened to Abe go on about shit we were never going to need in the real world—at least, I wouldn’t—I studied the guy’s profile. His reddish brown hair was cut short, he had a slight bump on the bridge of his nose, and his hazel eyes kept drifting over to me but immediately moved back to focus on the book every time our eyes met. He was a decent looking guy—okay, he was hot in a nervous, geeky kind of way. Hot enough for me to try and figure the guy out—because I had an idea.
It was probably the dumbest idea I’d ever had, and I’d made some pretty stupid mistakes in my life so far. After a couple days of this tutoring shit, I’d decided I could trust Abe, but I still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to just ask the guy already. The perfect opportunity landed in my lap when Abe said we had to study upstairs in his room after spending the last two days at the dining room table. Abe’s younger sister had friends over, and they were watching a movie in the living room. No sweat off my back. The whole point of all this was to get a little alone time with the guy.
“Okay, so—” The phone on Abe’s nightstand started ringing, and Abe reached up and grabbed it. “Hello? Oh, hey, Cassie. No, I can’t right now.”
Oh no…Cassie from my Calc class? Quick say something to—
“I’m helping Ford study for Calculus so he can pass the final.” He paused, and I could hear Cassie’s faint voice filling in the silence. “There’s only one Ford in our school, Cas.” Abe turned to me and chuckled, rolling his eyes. “What do you mean?” The smile faded as Abe’s eyebrows drew together. He shifted his gaze and stared down at the floor. “But he said—” Abe’s head whipped up as he glared at me then pushed the textbook off his lap and quickly stood up. “I don’t know, but I’m about to find out.”
Shit. It was my turn to squeeze my eyes closed just to get away from the daggers shooting out of Abe’s gaze.
“So, funny story… Cassie—you know Cassie from your Calc class—said you’re acing it. So, if this is all some kind of joke—”
My eyes popped back open when I heard the tremble in Abe’s voice. “It’s not a joke.”
“What did you have to get me to do? I know the rumors about me; I’m not stupid or deaf.”
I stood up, but when I took a step toward Abe, he flinched and stepped back, bouncing off the wall. I held my hands out in front of me to argue, opening my mouth to come up with something, anything, that would get Abe joking again, because this plan was going up in flames.
“No one knows I’m here. This isn’t some kind of set-up, I swear.”
“Whatever. I want you to leave.”
“Are the rumors about you true?” I rushed out. Abe paled and stood there blinking rapidly. Oh fuck, is he gonna cry? “I mean, shit… Look, I’m not trying to…” I took a deep breath, but that pause was long enough for Abe to push off the door, grab my backpack off the floor, and shove it against my chest with more force than I thought he was capable of.
“I said leave.”
Now or never. Now or fucking never…
I pulled the backpack from Abe’s hands and dropped it on the floor. Abe’s eyes widened as he took a step back, so I did the only thing I could think of to salvage the situation.
I grabbed Abe’s arms, yanked the guy toward me, and with one last thought that this might be a really bad fucking idea…I kissed him.