(Oxley College #1)
Publication date: February 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Nineteen-year-old Olivia Dean has the perfect reputation, the perfect boyfriend, and an increasingly perfect CV. She has it all, until Christian breaks up with her in public, calling her out as a self-gratifying sexoholic: the kind that plays solo. But Olivia doesn’t masturbate all night — the only thing she does is sleep … right?
Now all the boys on campus seem to want her attention for the absolutely wrong reason — including resident hottie, Logan Hays. He’s pulling out his best moves to gain her attention, so resisting his sexy charm is hard work. With rapidly slipping grades, a disturbingly lurid reputation and demanding parents, Olivia must discover the truth behind her rumoured sleeping problem. If she doesn’t, the perfect life she’s worked so hard for may slip away, including the one person who has Olivia breaking all her rules — Logan.
What do you do when you’re asleep?
Shh! is a story about acceptance, learning to trust and in turn love while facing life’s unexpected difficulties.
NB: This book is of a mild heat level, and contains no explicit sex scenes.
At five p.m I was starving. After just the muesli bar for breakfast, I’d skipped lunch to avoid a potential repeat of this morning, which meant my stomach had jumped into full riot mode. Nervous about facing my fellow students, I pulled my big girl panties up and marched myself to the dining hall. It was early, so I wasn’t all that brave, if I were being totally honest with myself. The place should have been near empty.
There were half a dozen people in the common room, watching some crappy reality television show. I scooted around the back of the seats and up into the dining hall. Dinner smelled delicious—burgers—if my senses served me right.
Twirling my meal card around my fingers, I strolled right up to the servery and stood in line. The girl in front of me turned and I tossed a confident smile her way. She smiled back. The line wasn’t moving yet as dinner hadn’t officially started, but people began flowing in, increasing the number of voices in the room. I swiped my clammy hands on my jeans. This was the first time in more than a year that I’d come down to dinner alone. Generally I came with Christian and being alone was a little daunting. It was all cool, though. Savvy should turn up soon, then I wouldn’t look like a loner. She never responded to this morning’s text and I hadn’t seen her since Saturday night, but that wasn’t uncommon if she’d hooked up with a guy. Especially with how busy I’d be this year. She knew my Sundays were reserved for study, so she didn’t usually bother me then, and today we’d been at classes. Still, it was a little weird. She could have at least called to chat about Christian, surely she knew like everyone else.
My tummy grumbled like a truck moving at high speed. I glanced at the clock; it read five-thirty p.m. The line started moving, thank the lord. I glanced over my shoulder, and surprisingly the line curled all the way around the edge of the hall. Everyone had to be famished tonight, not just me.
I kept my eyes to the front and walked through the servery where I built my own burger: meat, egg, tomato, beetroot, no lettuce, and a slathering of tomato sauce—perfect. As I emerged out the other side, my gaze slid over the line, looking for someone who might join me, and the weirdest thing happened. Not a soul met my gaze. It was like they all deliberately looked the other way, or were engrossed in such deep conversation that they didn’t see me.
I’d never had problems with friends. People just … well … they liked me. It had always been that way. I liked everyone, and they all liked me back.
My tummy churned for reasons not associated with hunger. What the heck had I done wrong? I walked over to one of the many empty tables and set my tray down, then flicked my phone out of my pocket and pretended to check my texts. Savvy had replied and I’d missed it.
Sorry I missed breakfast. Catch you at dinner.
A string of girls who I knew—we’d all been freshers together last year—walked right past me, talking softly as if they thought I couldn’t hear, but when people are talking about you, it’s not hard to tell. And those girls were most definitely doing just that. The glances my way every few seconds were a dead giveaway when everyone else in the room was deliberately avoiding my gaze.
I ducked my head, and studied my phone again. Whatever was going on, it was weird. I was the captain of Oxley’s hockey team, netball team, in the social committee, and even campaigning for the university’s student council. I had lots of friends.
Savannah’s giggle sounded like it came from somewhere behind me. Thank gosh. I really needed to talk to her and figure out what was happening. The whispers and stares, the fresher at uni this morning, Dane on Saturday night, sexploits—Oh my gosh. Christian. I glanced over my shoulder, raising my hand to call Savvy over, but my heart dropped into my stomach.
Savvy was attached to Dane’s hip. Her arm hung around his waist and his rested on her shoulders. Christian walked in step with them and the two guys wore massive grins. I hadn’t seen Christian that happy since … well, since I couldn’t remember. I suppose now that I thought about it, lately he’d been kind of cranky and tired. Always tired.
I swung back around in my seat, hoping they hadn’t seen me, and there someone had sat in the chair opposite me: the tool from this morning. He stared like I was some porn star he’d just paid to watch. And he smelled like a brewery; not to mention his eyes looked a little glassy.
Those same eyes locked on my mine and he placed his flattened palm on his chest like he was about to dive headfirst into a heartfelt apology. Which frankly, he owed me. His hand circled over his left pec, going for his heart, but then it moved to the other side and—ohmygod did he just tweak his nipple? My heart pounded a little faster and I glanced away. The entire dining hall looked at us. But he was like a train wreck. I couldn’t stop my gaze sliding back. His hand trailed down his chest and disappeared under the table in the general direction of his groin. He moaned, then his arm started moving slow at first and increasing in speed, all the while his dark eyes held my gaze. Then the crazy guy rolled his eyes back in his head and yelled, “Yes. Aaa—aa—ash. Yes!”
He arched his back. What in hell’s name was this freak doing? It was like that old nineties movie where the chick faked an orgasm in the middle of a café, except this was some dude in the centre of the Oxley College dining hall and I wasn’t entirely sure he was faking it.
Spent, he flopped in the seat, his arms hanging beside it, then snapped his head forward again and his face split in a stupid grin as he pushed his chair back, placed an arm across his waist, and freaking bowed.
The whole room full of people thought this idiot was funny.
I couldn’t move. It was as if the air had frozen around me and I was a statue unable to even blink.
“My impersonation of the one and only Olivia Dean,” he shouted, loud enough for the whole room to hear.
Couldn’t the ground just open up and swallow me already? My cheeks burned so hot they should have caught fire. Blood rushed past my ears so loud that I couldn’t hear anything; my stomach lurched.
I was going to throw up.
I needed to get out of there, right now. Whatever held me in place snapped free. I shot to my feet and high-tailed it out of the dining hall, past a million staring faces. The common room was no more than fuzz at the edge of my periphery, Front Courtyard much the same. I cut across the back of block F and made a beeline for K, then darted up the stairs and into my room.
Whatever was going down, it looked like I was the centre of a joke I didn’t find funny or nice.
Author of the Collective Series; Forget Me Not and Remember Me. And Oxley College Saga; Shh! and Wait!