With his fauxhawk, sleeve tattoos, and visible piercings, Ridley Corbin has the whole badass vibe going on in spades. The image serves him well as the self-proclaimed protector of the underdog, and he wants nothing more than to be Alex Firestone's hero.
Alex, a mild-mannered library assistant, has moved to Slater, a quiet college town, hoping to hide from his past. He keeps to himself, but that doesn't save him from catching the unwanted attention of the campus bully. But not all is as it seems. Alex's past comes calling, and it's time he becomes top dog.
RIDLEY CORBIN was the protector of the underdog, a role he’d come into as a direct product of his upbringing. A squirrely little kid, he had buckteeth, bright red hair, and was a good ten pounds and two inches shorter than the next smallest kid. A runt, and an ugly one at that, he’d been bullied nearly every day of his first three years at Gates Elementary School.
During those early days, he’d drop to his knees next to his bed and beg God for a little brother or sister. It would have been cool to have had a sibling to play with—even if he or she were forced to play with him by their mom. Apparently something had gone wrong during his birth, though, and they’d had to pull out Mom’s baby box. But hey, at least the prayers had been good for something—he got a puppy.
The summer between third and fourth grade, Ridley thought he’d gotten the next best thing to a sibling. Brock Hanners moved into the house next to his, and Ridley thought that, since they were the only two kids on the cul-de-sac, Brock would want to play with him. He was wrong.
Brock was huge; well, at least to Ridley’s scrawny little ass he was. Much to his dismay, Brock bullied him too. He used to steal Ridley’s bike, take his toys, even came over once and knocked down his clubhouse. Granted it was only a couple of kitchen chairs and old blankets and he was the only member, but it was his. Instead of the friend he had hoped for, Ridley found himself even more miserable after Brock moved in. He was being picked on at school and now bullied at home as well.
However, Ridley was a smart kid and Brock, well, he wasn’t too bright. Brock had been held back a couple of years—hence why he was so much bigger than everyone else. So when classes resumed in the fall, they came to a little agreement. Ridley would do Brock’s homework and Brock would keep Ridley safe at school. Brock was like his own personal bodyguard. Not a perfect arrangement, but he learned some great study habits doing the work of two, and it saved him a crap-ton of ass beatings.
Brock moved away during their junior year of high school, but by then Ridley had had his teeth fixed, his hair had changed from Bozo red to a nice chestnut color, and, most importantly, he’d grown. He was still scrawny, but he was inching up on six feet and had a wicked bank shot.
It would have been easy to become one of those kids who felt that just because he’d been bullied his whole life, it was now his turn to be the bully. Instead, he became more like Brock, except Ridley did it for free and he was a lot smarter. Okay, he was nothing like Brock. He never took advantage of someone and he’d never failed a class, but he did take to the protector part.
So it was only natural that he was on the move as soon as he heard Kyle Bouche’s familiar sneer—Hey, nerd boy. Where can I find a book on Gustave Courbet?—on the other side of the books he was searching through. Damn, he hated that guy. Kyle was the big man at Slater University. Quarterback for the football team, student body president, as well as president of his fraternity, blah, blah, blah. Ridley didn’t normally pay attention to the shit that went on around the campus, couldn’t care less. He kept his head down, stayed to himself, and worked hard to keep his grade point average at a 4.0. The only reason he knew about Kyle’s activities was because the fucker liked to brag about them. Personally, Ridley thought Kyle was a complete and utter dickhead.
Ridley eased his way around the aisle, and there in the next row was Kyle, smirking at Alex Firestone. Ridley was about to step in and teach Kyle a few manners, but stopped when he saw Alex glare at Kyle and say, “Look it up on the computer like everyone else.” Alex then went back to sorting the books in his cart.
Ridley tensed and his hands tightened on the Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood he was holding as Kyle moved up close to Alex. Kyle puffed his chest up in an obvious attempt to intimidate Alex. The idea made Ridley crazy and he wanted so badly to slap Kyle up against his thick head. The little bantam rooster had no idea who he was messing with. Yes, Ridley fancied himself protector of the underdog, but with Alex the need was even sharper. It was personal. If Kyle laid so much as a finger on Alex, Kyle would be washing the cold blood from his face later. Ridley had to bite down on his lip to keep from laughing at the irony.
“Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” Kyle snarled.
Ridley shifted slightly, fighting back the urge to pounce when Kyle put the cart between him and Alex and leaned in close. He couldn’t see Kyle’s face but clearly saw the narrowed gaze and challenging look Alex gave him in return.
“Yeah, you’re the guy who is going to use the computer to search for your book like everyone else,” Alex informed Kyle without so much as flinching.
Alex worked in the library, and although Ridley didn’t really have a need to be in the library—with his major in mechanical engineering, most of his studies were done hands-on or on the computer—he found himself drawn there anyway. Basically he was there to gawk at the star of his wet dreams, Alex Firestone. No, he wasn’t a freaky stalker. He just hadn’t built up the nerve to approach the sexy man. Okay, it might have been bordering on stalkerish since he’d been doing quite a bit of gawking over the last six months, but damn, it was Alex Firestone.
Alex was the same six-foot height, and although he tended to wear dress shirts and slacks that were a bit big for him, Ridley could tell Alex had an impressive build beneath the cotton material. He also had the most amazing gunmetal-blue eyes Ridley had ever seen. Oh, and then there was the fact that Alex had a head full of unruly blond curls and the biggest and sweetest dimples ever. He also wore heavy-framed black glasses, and the bow ties he sported were just too adorable for words. Basically, Alex worked the fuck out of cute.
Miss Fenton pushed past Ridley and snapped at Kyle, “Can I help you, young man?”
Alex didn’t so much as blink nor take his gaze from Kyle as the librarian stepped up to them with her hands on her wide hips. Ridley suspected Alex knew Kyle was a fucking coward and would probably attempt to sucker punch him if he looked away. Alex wasn’t only adorable, he was smart, a combination Ridley found very appealing. Fake alphas like Kyle Bouche, with all their posturing and crowing, usually played dirty. Ridley knew the kind all too well and he was actually hoping the egotistical bastard was stupid enough to try something. It had been a while since he’d thrown down and he was itching for a good fight. The idea of doing it to protect Alex, earn a few brownie points with the man, was all the more appealing.
“I said, can I help you, young man?” Miss Fenton asked again as she stepped up closer still. “Oh, Kyle, I didn’t recognize you. How are you, son?” Her tone instantly went from angry to sickly sweet once she recognized whom she was talking to.
For a long, tense moment, Kyle didn’t move nor did Alex take his eyes from him, but when Kyle finally turned to Miss Fenton, there was a fake smile plastered on his face. “I’m great, Miss Fenton. Wow, you’re looking good. Is that a new haircut?”
Miss Fenton was about a hundred years old—or at least she looked as if she were—never married—big shocker there—and was as wide as she was tall. Not to mention she had a reputation for being a raging bitch—something Ridley had personally witnessed—so Kyle’s compliment was like everything else about the man, fake.
“Oh, you little charmer, you,” Miss Fenton giggled. “Now what can I help you with?”
Kyle laced his arm in Miss Fenton’s and pulled her along. “Aww, sweetie, you’ve already helped with putting a smile on my face with your presence. But if you could point me in the direction of where I can find a book on Gustave Courbet, I’d much appreciate it.”
Ridley shook his head when he heard Miss Fenton giggle again and offer to escort Kyle to the correct location. Hundred-year-old mummies with nasty dispositions should never, ever giggle, nor should one try to make them. It was just—Ridley shuddered—gross. Kyle may be a major shit, but he was a hell of an impressive actor. There was no way in hell Ridley could smooth talk the cranky ol’ bat. Obviously, Kyle didn’t care what kind of person someone was as long as he got his way. Kyle was the kind of douchebag who’d sleep with the walking mummy if he thought he’d get an advancement of some sort. Ridley shuddered again.
Alex watched Kyle and Miss Fenton until they disappeared before he returned to his work. Ridley watched with astonishment as he finished shelving the last couple books from the cart. The man wasn’t only cute, smart, and had a sexy ass, he was brave. Alex seemed to be the kind of guy who didn’t back down or let bullies intimidate him, even if at a disadvantage. Alex definitely tripped all Ridley’s triggers.
When Alex met Ridley’s gaze as he moved down the aisle, he grinned and shrugged. Ridley could only nod in response. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Alex out, say something, anything, but Ridley’s mouth was dry and he couldn’t get anything out past his restricted throat. Christ, Alex got him all tongue-tied and feeling like an awkward school boy with just one look. Once again, Ridley failed to grab hold of a perfect opportunity to talk to the man. Instead he stood there like a complete knob.
Frustrated, Ridley took his book and headed to the large open area with plenty of workstations. He scanned the area; most of the tables were occupied by students with their noses in textbooks.
Brittney looked up at him and batted her lashes. “Hi, Ridley,” she whispered and waved.
Ridley swallowed down his groan. He didn’t know Brittney’s last name, although she’d told him several times, he just didn’t care. He gave her a curt nod and kept moving. He was normally friendly with most people, but he’d learned not to engage Brittney a few months prior. While she was cute, even if a little nerdy, she was annoying as hell. She was always twirling her mousey brown hair in her fingers, popping her gum, and good lord the girl could talk, and fast. He’d lost the gist of the conversation more than once while he stared at her, trying to figure out when the hell she would take a breath. It seemed like she could chatter for hours without taking one.
Ridley took a seat as far from Brittney as he could and opened his book, flipping through the pages without looking at them, keeping an eye out for Alex. He caught one man sitting at the far end staring back at him with a suspicious expression on his face. Ridley waved and smiled charmingly. The guy instantly looked away. He got that a lot. People got a glimpse of his heavily tattooed arms and facial piercings and assumed he was a thug. Or maybe he stood out more in this environment because he rarely—okay, never—brought a backpack, notebook, or pen to give the appearance of doing any kind of research or actual homework. Instead he always grabbed a random book, flipped through it without ever reading a single word, and watched Alex. Now that he thought about it, he really was totally a freaky stalker.
An hour later Ridley was still flipping through the pages of the same book when he noticed Alex grab his coat and shrug it on as he headed for the main entrance. Not only had Ridley spent his time checking Alex out every chance he got, but he’d also been having a bit of a talk with his inner chickenshit. He wasn’t used to dealing with that part of himself. Once he’d overcome his rough elementary years, Ridley had grown into a pretty confident guy. He’d never had an issue with his sexuality, nor had he ever been afraid to approach a guy before. Again, his only excuse was this was Alex Firestone, the most amazing fucking man he’d ever laid eyes on. Still, Ridley was able to wrestle down the nerves, pop a mint to help with the dry mouth and throat, and chase after Alex.
Alex stopped on the stone steps outside the library and looked back at Ridley with a wary look.
“It is Alex, isn’t it?” Ridley asked with a grin. Of course he knew his name, but it was the only thing he could come up with to get Alex talking. Actually, Ridley was pretty fucking proud he’d gotten that much out, considering the fact that his stomach was churning and he was so goddamn nervous he wanted to puke.
“Yeah,” Alex responded hesitantly. “Do I know you?”
He held out his hand. “Ridley Corbin.”
The instant Alex placed his hand in Ridley’s, he swore he felt sparks. When Alex shook it, that little spark ignited and heat rushed through Ridley.
“Do I know you?” Alex asked again.
“No, we’ve never met,” Ridley said with a shake of his head. “I’ve noticed you a couple of times on campus and I asked around until I found out your name,” he lied, sort of.
It was a hell of a lot more than a couple of times, but Ridley wasn’t about to tell Alex he’d noticed him a few hundred. How creepy would that sound? After the struggle he’d had finding the courage to approach Alex, Ridley sure as hell didn’t want the guy running and screaming, or worse, taking out a personal protection order against him. Ridley tried his best to give Alex his most charming smile but wasn’t sure if he pulled it off. Alex’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Ridley’s mouth. Hopefully it was the silver ring in his bottom lip that caught Alex’s eye and not something stuck between his teeth.
“You didn’t need the stealth tactics. You could have just asked me what my name was.” Alex’s grin turned sly. “You know, during one of all those times you were in the library.”
Oh damn, busted. Only Alex’s gaze wandered down Ridley’s body appreciatively, and it caused some of the nervousness to seep away. Apparently he was intrigued and Ridley hoped that meant he was interested.
“I was just heading over to the diner to grab a bite to eat. Care to join me?” Ridley offered.
“Thanks for the invite, but I’ve got something I have to take care of,” Alex said with a shrug.
It would have been nice to take Alex to dinner, spend a little time getting to know him, but Ridley didn’t dare push too hard, and he sure as hell didn’t want to sound desperate. “Okay, maybe another time?” Ridley asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Alex responded with what sounded like sincerity, but then he turned his back and tossed over his shoulder, “See you around.”
Alex tromped down the steps, and Ridley struggled to find something to say, unwilling to let Alex get away just yet. “Wait,” he called out and hurried down the stairs to catch up. “I couldn’t help but notice the way Kyle was fucking with you. You have any problems with that asshole, don’t hesitate to let me know, okay?”
“Thanks. I’ll be sure to let you know if I need a knight in shining armor,” Alex said with a wink.
“Let me give you my number.” Ridley patted his pockets. Shit! “Got a pen?”
Alex pulled one from inside his coat and handed it to him. Ridley patted his pockets again like he thought a notebook would have magically appeared in the two seconds since the last time he’d checked them. Before thinking it through, he grabbed Alex’s hand and wrote his number across his palm and then opened Alex’s coat and slid the pen back into the pocket of his dress shirt. “Talk to you soon, Alex,” he said with as much confidence as he could muster.
Alex cocked his head and looked at him with a strange expression on his face. Ridley would have given just about anything to know what he was thinking. It was a struggle not to squirm under Alex’s scrutiny, but somehow he managed. In fact, it was a major fucking relief when Alex finally nodded and with a smile said, “Yeah, talk to you soon.”
Ridley stood there, no doubt drool dripping from his chin as he watched Alex walk away. His pert butt swayed with each step he took, holding Ridley’s attention. He liked the way Alex moved, his sexy-as-hell swagger was fucking hypnotic, and Ridley’s body heated further, a tingling sensation settling into his groin. It had been a while since he’d been laid, and after all the time he’d spent fantasizing about Alex, it was getting to the point where even a slight breeze would cause his dick to perk up.
Alex disappeared into the crowd at the end of the block, and then Ridley stuffed his hands into the pockets of his coat and headed in the opposite direction. He whistled as he walked, avoiding eye contact with anyone, ever aware of the ache between his legs. A man could only ignore the needs of his body for so long. He was getting tired of spending all his nights with nothing more than thoughts of Alex, a bottle of lube, and his right hand for companionship.
It wasn’t just the previous six months he’d been stalking—checking out—Alex since he’d been laid. He’d moved from southern California to Slater more than a year prior, having been awarded a full-ride scholarship. Slater was a small town located in the upper peninsula of Michigan and didn’t have a lot to offer outside the tiny university. Much to Ridley’s dismay, he learned soon after arriving in Slater that the town was completely lacking in any kind of nightlife. Ridley had never considered a study group or sporting events a form of satisfying entertainment. The closest dance club was thirty miles away, and during the winter months, it may as well have been three thousand.
He’d always enjoyed a very… fulfilling sex life before he left home. He’d always been insatiable, and dammit, he wanted a fucking blow job at the very least. Having someone who looked like Alex consuming his thoughts made the unfilled desires all the more intolerable. Somehow he had to not only convince Alex to go out with him, but get that sexy fucker in his bed.
OMG, the sex scenes between Alex and Ridley are HOT.
Read the full review at
Serious hot and dirty loving had me drooling like a fat man over a plate of bacon.
This book was just so much fun I can’t even tell you.
Ms. Peterson has done it again with this book.
BAMF is a powerful story in so many ways...
The sex in this story is absolutely off the charts intense and I think some of the best that I’ve read in a while.
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