Dannilynn Kelly opened her dorm room door and tossed her sweater onto her bed.
Her roommate Sarah looked up and frowned. “Another date gone bad? Why are you still going out with him?”
“Maybe it was a mistake. I was going to tell him we were done.” She sighed. “I started to.”
Sarah slid her chair back. “But you didn’t, did you?”
“Not exactly.” Danni opened her biology textbook. She had three finals the next day. I shouldn’t have agreed to meet Steve. A big mistake.
She’d walked with him on campus, but then they went to his car, where he slid her blouse off her shoulders and began kissing her. Her plan to break up was swept aside when his fingers worked their way under the waistband of her shorts, his other hand fondling her breast. He knew how to make her body hum, even when she didn’t want it to. Why she hadn’t said she couldn’t see him anymore.
“He takes my breath away, Sarah.”
“Like every other girl he has sex with. What’s that mark on your neck? Did he give you another hickey?”
Steve had pressed his fingers against her throat, whispering it would help her come. But it hadn’t. Danni’d almost passed out before she managed to push his hand away. All that remained was a bruise and how she felt.
“Steve’s trouble, Danni. He picks up freshmen every quarter and drops them after he’s notched his belt. He may have stayed with you longer than most, but you’re just the latest… He suckered you good.”
He’d said he loved her that first time. Was it just so she’d say yes? Danni frowned and picked up a highlighter. She had to stop thinking about Steve and concentrate on her biology final. Not on biology with Steve. His or hers.
~ ~ ~
Two days later, Dannilynn met Meagan and Ellen in the parking lot and they drove to the campground near Mount Baker to celebrate the end of her Freshman year at Buckley College in Shoreville, Washington.
Meagan had said it would be fun. And it was—cooking hot dogs and burgers over an open fire, sleeping in the open, looking at the stars, surrounded by the evergreens that scented the air. But the second day, Steve and two other men joined them, doffed their shirts and shoes and jumped into the nearby lake donned in only their Jockeys.
“Didn’t I tell you the guys were coming?” Meagan answered Danni before she and Ellen, both from her dorm, headed for the lake. “Let’s race them to the diving platform!” Meagan pulled off her top and waded in.
Ellen, a junior Danni didn’t know that well, soon followed.
“Come on, Danni!”
She didn’t want to go swimming, but when Meagan yelled at her, she waded to waist depth and dove in. The guys were soon splashing the girls as they swam for the platform. When they reached the big wooden structure, Ellen’s boyfriend pulled off her bra and tossed it to Steve, daring her to retrieve it. Soon Meagan was playing the same game.
“First one to catch it gets her,” Steve shouted as he reached for Meagan. She leapt off the platform and swam toward shore.
“Hey, do your own, stud,” Meagan’s boyfriend challenged resentfully.
Steve swam up to Dannilynn and covered her breasts with his hands as he pressed her against the edge of the diving platform. “Right. You’re here. Give me some, Danni,” he murmured in one ear as he fumbled with the hooks on her bra.
“No, I don’t want to.” Her face burned with embarrassment. “And I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
His eyes glittered when his hands slid lower and began pushing down her panties. “Since when?” His hands continued to explore before she could push him away.
“Stop!” She splashed his face, her heart racing with fright and anger, wishing he would stop staring at her. His eyes reminded her of ebony stones in the fading light of early evening. Why was he always pawing her, even when she didn’t want him to? “No. I mean it.”
His grin faded to an angry scowl. He grabbed her hand and jerked her toward his chest as he bobbed in the water in front of her. “Hey. Girls don’t say no to me, Danni.” He mashed his lips against hers, a kiss that hurt, before he let her go and climbed onto the diving platform.
Sloan laughed. “You’re not good enough for her anymore, stud? I thought you said she puts out every time.”
“Never mind what I said,” Steve growled.
The rest of the afternoon, Danni kept her distance from the guys, hoping Steve would leave her alone, debating whether to leave early and hitch a ride into town. She reconsidered when Meagan said she’d drop her off if Danni stayed until the next day.
That evening, over beer and other drinks, the six of them ate dinner. Steve spent most of his time chatting up the other girls until they headed for the small tent they had erected closer to the trees.
“You sure you want to sleep in the open?” Ellen asked.
“It isn’t camping if I can’t see the stars,” Danni replied.
Steve rose from where he was kneeling next to the fire, toasting a marshmallow. He slid the flaming lump of sugar off the stick, and offered it to Danni.
She shook her head. “No thanks.”
He leaned closer. “You’re not still mad at me, are you? How about a truce?” His voice had that sexy growl she’d found so exciting when they’d begun dating.
He slid his arm around her waist, gave her a chaste peck on the cheek and offered her a beer.
She took a sip. “Okay, truce.” But she had to be firm about not wanting to see him again. Sarah was right. He wasn’t the kind of boyfriend she wanted anymore, even if he’d been her first.
Two more sips and she began to feel odd, dizzy. She stood up, swayed, and nearly fell down. “I don’t feel good.”
“Let me help you.” Steve walked her to her sleeping bag, his hands grasping her around the waist. She collapsed onto her sleeping bag.
Steve began unbuttoning her shirt.
“No.” She feebly tried to push his hands away. Why did she feel so weird, like her eyes couldn’t focus?
“Chill, Danni. I’m just trying to get you comfortable.” It was the last thing she remembered before descending into unconsciousness.
~ ~ ~
It had to be near dawn when she finally stirred and found her sleeping bag unzipped and open, barely covering her legs. She shivered in the cool air. She pulled the bag over her shoulders and fell asleep.
Hours later, someone shook her shoulder. “Danni, you awake?” Meagan asked. “Ellen is sick. I’m taking her home. Can Steve drop you off? So I don’t have to come back?”
Dannilynn rolled over and rubbed a hand across her face. The lake sparkled in the early morning light, blinding in its intensity as she squinted at Meagan. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay. What time is it?”
“Nearly eight. I think she had too much beer last night.”
Danni nodded. She didn’t feel that great herself. A headache had begun to pound her temples.
“Better put some clothes on. I guess you and Steve really got it on last night.” She turned on her heel and headed for the cars parked at the trailhead.
Danni sat up. She was naked? She reached for her blouse, saw that three buttons were missing. “How’d that happen?” she murmured to herself. She pulled on her bra, damp from the morning dew. Her panties seemed to have disappeared, and her shorts, lying nearby, were also damp. Why hadn’t she folded her clothes under the built-in pillow in her sleeping bag? She shrugged into her blouse and shorts, grimacing at their clammy feel, and headed for the bath house on the other side of the campground. The fire was out in the pit they’d used, a caution her father always insisted upon.
Danni was in the shower, rinsing her long tresses when Steve’s voice intruded.
“You in there, Dannilynn?”
She turned away from the water spray and opened her eyes. “I’ll be out in a minute.” She reached around the shower curtain for the towel, touching instead his hand.
“Here it is,” he replied.
“Thanks.” She dried herself off, wrapped the towel around her hair and reached around the curtain again, this time for her clothes on the hook next to the shower curtain.
The curtain flung back, and Steve stood there, grinning.
Her heart leapt in her throat. He reminded her of a carnivore ready to attack his prey. He held her shorts and shirt in one hand, her bra dangling from his wrist. “Come out and get them, Danni.”
She pulled the towel off her head and wrapped it around her body, blocking his view. “Steve, come on. I’m cold. I need to get dressed. Meagan said you would drive me home. Did the other guys leave?”
“Sloan’s still here.” His voice lowered. “But you need a lesson.”
She edged out of the shower and angled in the direction of his hand and her clothes.
“You embarrassed me in front of my friends. I don’t like bitches who tease. You’re not turning into one, are you, Danni?”
Her heart thudded in her chest. Something about his tone reminded her of her father whenever he was angry, insisting that she follow orders, do things his way. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Give me my clothes.”
“Why don’t you come unless you’re knocked out?” He dropped her clothes on the far bench. “Come and get them,” and he backed up two steps.
She darted toward the bench, clutching the towel around her, but Steve grabbed one end and stripped it away. With his other hand, he slammed her against the wall. Her ears rang and she slid to the floor, stunned.
“I should fuck you right here.” He straddled her, one arm pressing against her shoulders, preventing her from getting away, his other hand forcing her legs apart.
Her eyes widened and her pulse began to race.
“No! Steve! Let me go.”
But her words seemed only to antagonize him further. “Do I have to tell you again? No slut tells me no.”
She managed a scream before he slapped her once, twice and was fumbling with his zipper when voices were heard outside the bath house. Sloan, maybe? Steve released her and tossed the towel in her face. “No one tells me no. Remember that.” He turned on his heel and left.
Her eyes burning, shocked at his actions, Danni remained where she was for a long minute before scrambling to her feet and returning to the shower stall, not caring that the water was cold, as she tried to wash away the feel and smell of him. The terror he’d generated replayed in her mind.
When she walked out of the bath house and scanned the area, she was alone. She rolled up her sleeping bag and ran to the parking lot and the road. The second car that passed her slowed, stopped and offered her a ride home.