According to campus legend, Carlisle Cullen had already fucked six women in our anatomy lab before we’d even unzipped the cadaver bags. He may have been smart and gorgeous, with a smile that could turn otherwise brilliant women into bumbling idiots, but given his reputation for never going out with the same girl twice, his continued success at luring people to his bed defied logic.
It wasn’t that I was surprised his technique worked—I was surprised it worked here. The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine was ranked among the best in the country, and the women around me were extraordinarily intelligent. It was with an almost-academic fascination that I watched Cullen interact with my female classmates. I couldn’t determine if they actually believed they could reform a player, or if they were just so in to him they didn’t care.
I had no cause to interact with Cullen until the day it was determined I’d share a cadaver with him and two other male classmates. After observing a moment of silence to honor the life that once occupied the body before us, Cullen flashed me his trademark (and allegedly panty-dropping) smile.
“Ladies first,‚”he said, offering me the privilege of making the first cut.
The second my scalpel pierced the skin, Cullen passed out cold, knocking me headfirst onto the lab table. He was suitably embarrassed when he regained consciousness, and vowed to “make it up to me.‚”For some bizarre reason, he thought the easiest way to accomplish this would be to take me out to dinner.
Did Cullen genuinely believe all women lived and died for a chance to go out with him?
I told him to go fuck himself and resumed work, all the while wondering if he genuinely believed that a single date with him would be so mind-blowing it would erase the memory of how his fainting spell caused me to get cadaver juice in my hair. No one was that good in bed.
When it was his turn to wield the scalpel, I backed away from the table so he wouldn’t bring me down with him if he fainted again. In the absence of anything else to do, I assessed his work from behind. Okay, so maybe I was assessing his behind. His ass was quite the specimen; what a pity it was attached to such an asshole.
When lab was finally over, I bolted for the door. I wanted to go home, have some whiskey, and scrub until my skin was raw. Something told me there wasn’t enough Flex in the world to eradicate the smell of the death from my hair. Maybe I was just imagining it. I angled my face to take a whiff and came to the sad realization that not only was the stench real, but the guy I had to thank for it was walking beside me.
I chose not to acknowledge him, hoping he’d go away.
“Are you intentionally ignoring me?‚”he asked.
“Of course not; that would require effort.”
We continued to walk in silence until he escorted me across Walnut Street, and my curiosity got the better of me.
“Is this something you do often?”
“No,‚”he stated emphatically. “Until this morning, I’d never passed out in my life. Wait, that’s not exactly true. One time when I was sixteen, I drank three bottles of Thunderbird on a dare. I challenge anyone to consume that much alcohol and not lose consciousness. Anyway, my point is that I’m not squeamish.”
“I meant follow people home from class.”
He laughed, and I studied his appearance. He was tall and blond, with broad shoulders and perpetual stubble that accentuated the cleft in his chin. Like everyone else in gross anatomy, he was wearing standard-issue scrubs, except he actually looked good in them. The cheap blue fabric somehow accentuated his eyes and his package.
I no longer wondered why, despite his reputation, he had so many women wanting to play doctor with him. My prior assessment was wrong—he wasn’t extremely good-looking; he was a fucking god.
The problem was that he knew it.
“Only the ones I’ve pushed into cadavers. Look, Esme; I just wanted to apologize to you again and let you know my invitation was genuine–”
“As were my regrets.”
He smiled, and dimples formed at the corners of his mouth. “Yes, well, I don’t think you meant to say no.”
“Not used to being turned down, I take it?”
“You haven’t turned me down; you’re just going to require a bit more convincing.”
I stopped walking when we were in front of my building. Though sanctuary from my would-be suitor was only a few feet away, I didn’t run inside to my apartment. Despite the fact Cullen was presumptuous and mildly annoying, I still found myself enjoying his attention.
“It may seem hard for you to wrap your mind around, but there are women out there who are smart enough to see through your shit.”
“What shit would that be?”
“Your desire to take me out on a date to apologize to me is nothing more than a pretense to make me number seven.”
“Seven?‚”he repeated, clearly not understanding.
“I’m told the cadaver isn’t the only female in lab whose anatomy you’ve studied in detail. Rumor has it, there were six who came before her. Actually, now that I think about it, whether or not they came has yet to be established. Wait! I know what you should do!‚”I bounced up and down in mock enthusiasm. “Why don’t you ask the cadaver out on a date? She also was involved in this morning’s mishap and deserves an apology just as much as I do. You won’t have to feed her or get her off. I guarantee you, she won’t care about your reputation or put up a fight.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “What if I told you that challenges appeal to me?”
“I’d tell you that you just met your match.”
“In that case, what do you have to lose? You get a meal out of it, maybe see a movie. If you’re as immune to my charms as you claim to be, nothing I say or do will have any effect on you. At the end of the night, we can part ways and you don’t have to have anything to do with me outside of class.”
“So if I go on one date with you, you’ll leave me alone?”
“Absolutely. I should warn you, though, that after a night with me, the last thing you’ll want me to do to you is leave you alone.”
Before I could formulate an appropriately biting response, the front door of my building opened.
“God, Esme.‚”My younger sister appeared on the front stoop. “I thought the whole point of us getting a place together was so we wouldn’t have to sneak around to get laid. You can invite him inside, you know.‚”She didn’t even try to hide the fact she was sizing up Cullen. “Not bad for the second week of class.‚”She extended her hand to him. “I’m Esme’s sister, Maggie.”
His eyes darted from Maggie to me as he shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Maggie. I’m Carlisle, and you must be twins.”
Maggie and I heard this all the time—we had the same red hair and green eyes, and we were both tall, thin and covered in freckles. If not for Maggie’s unfortunate spiral perm and penchant for dressing like Madonna, it would be nearly impossible for someone who didn’t know us to tell us apart.
“Just in the Irish sense,‚”she explained.
“You mean you’re of Irish descent? What does that have to do with being twins?‚”he asked.
She rolled her eyes. “We’re Irish twins.”
He looked completely lost. “I thought we already established your ancestry.”
Maggie looked at him as if he had two heads before turning to me and whispering, “He’s not the smartest guy in scrubs you’ve ever brought home, but then again, if his mouth is otherwise occupied, there’s no need to talk to him.‚”She smiled at Cullen as if he were the village idiot. “It was nice meeting you, Carlisle. See you around.”
After Maggie hurried off, Cullen turned to me, smiling.
“How about I pick you up on Friday at six?”
“I haven’t said yes.”
“No,‚”he conceded, “but you’re going to.”
“What gives you that idea? I mean, I kind of hate you.”
“Really? Then why didn’t you go inside twenty minutes ago?”
“I’m going inside now.”
I could hear him laughing even after I slammed the door in his face. I let him have his moment, knowing full well that on Friday night, the last laugh would belong to me.