Chapter 1 of Under The Mistletoe! – Ali Parker

Chapter 1 of Under The Mistletoe!

Set at UT Dallas, Texas — A big jock type is failing accounting, and the nerdy type-A cute blonde in front of him becomes his tutor, and teaches him so much more than 2+2.




The morning dew had turned to thin fingers of ice against the glass of my Cost Accounting classroom windows. The icicles, once sharp, blurred in my vision as my eyes started to close.

I sucked in a breath, determined to stay awake. I trapped my inner cheek between my teeth and chomped down hard.

Get it together, Alex.

No wonder my grades were tanking. This shit bored me to death, and Professor Tarrington’s voice was so monotone that it could be used as a sleep aid.

I glanced around the room at the others who were dutifully running their fingers over their laptop keyboards, happily typing away taking down every single word he said as if his word was law.

I didn’t dare bring in my old laptop to class. I had a reputation to protect. It worked only when plugged in, and the moment it was removed from electricity, it shut down. That could have been the reason I missed so much of Professor Tarrington’s lectures. Writing for the entire hour was torture on my hand. I wished I had some excuse about needing my hand for football but the most important limbs for a track star were my legs. Even though most of the professors were pretty chill about my grades that were mostly average, Professor Tarrington didn’t grade on a curve. He said that from day one. And I should have listened.

My chin started to drift lower, almost reaching my chest before I snapped my head up, blinking several times. The dull subject matter and the monotone voice aside, the real reason for my mind drifting was the lack of sleep from the night before. Our Throwback Thursday party that our fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha, hosted the night before kept me up late into this morning. I fell into bed with Kara, the sexy blonde, around six, and she distracted me enough that I barely had an hour of sleep before I had to wake up for class. Morning classes were the pits. Who the hell invented those? This was college! We were supposed to be having fun. If it were up to me, all classes would take place in the afternoon, giving us plenty of time to sleep off parties in the morning and keeping them out of the way of the parties at night.

AKA was one of the hottest frats on campus, and our constant stream of parties kept the girls coming—in more ways than one—so we had to keep up with the demand. As President, I delegated all the tasks to my brothers and pledges so that I could sit back and enjoy the food, drink, and females. It was the life.

At least it seemed that way every night. When it came to my classes, I was barely keeping my head afloat.

I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned my head back, trying to get comfortable in the plastic chair. I positioned myself behind the guy in front of me so I wouldn’t be caught resting my eyes. I needed a quick power nap to get me through the rest of my classes this morning. After that, I would dedicate the rest of my day to sleeping so I’d be able to get through the remainder of the parties this weekend.

The girl I slept with the night before entered my mind. The curve of her breast fit perfectly in my hands. I inhaled, remembering her scent…

Someone cleared his throat, breaking through my thoughts. I awoke, sucking in a sharp gulp of breath. Someone in a brown suit stood directly next to me. Then a packet of papers slapped against my desk.

“An F, Mr. Fuller,” Professor Tarrington said in a small voice. I could almost hear Mom’s clicking tongue behind his words.

A few of my classmates snickered. I looked at the clock. Only a few minutes had passed since I fell asleep.

His words rattled in my brain, and I looked down at the papers to see the big, red F glaring up at me, almost mocking my existence.


“I expect to see you after class,” he said, flipping over the test.

Couldn’t he have done that to start?

I glanced at the others sitting next to me, but no one cared about my test, they only cared about their own.

I rolled the packet up and shoved it in my bag. If it wasn’t in my sight, then I didn’t have to think about it.

I ran my fingers through my hair, gripping it hard. A sharp pain ran across my scalp, waking me up completely. I could have dealt with a C, but an F? I wanted to review the exam to see if any answer was correct, but how would that make a difference? This was my doing, and I was going to lose my scholarship over one stupid class. A required class for my bachelor’s in business degree. I only had one more semester to go after this one, so there wasn’t much time to take the class over again.

Senior year was supposed to be fun, not depressing.

After our professor passed out the rest of the tests, he stood at the front of the classroom with his copy. “Let’s go over these answers in preparation for the final exam.”

What was the point? Even if he gave me the answers, the concepts of this class eluded me. For any chance at passing, I’d need someone to give me the exact test so I could copy it word for word.

I was so screwed.

I dropped my head to my desk and listened to Tarrington go on and on, sounding as if he were speaking a foreign language. At least it was to me. None of my answers matched what he was talking about. It was as if I were in a different class completely.

Taking the exam after our weekend parties hadn’t helped. The words all came together in a jumbled mess, and I recalled writing down the first thing that popped into my mind. Obviously, my mind wasn’t on the same page as the professor’s questions.

“That’s all for today,” he said from the front of the room. “Even though we’re nearing the end of the semester, I fully expect everyone to continue with your studies. The final can make or break anyone’s grade in this class.” He glanced at his phone and placed it on the desk next to him. “You may go.”

Everyone grabbed their bags and raced for the door. I pretended to look for something in my bag so as not to alert anyone in class of my failing grade and mandatory meeting with the professor. My grades weren’t anyone’s business.

Two girls who I’d seen at the party last night in skimpy outfits went up to the professor. Both had big grins on their faces. I briefly remembered seeing the taller one’s ass rubbing up against one of my brothers. Now it rested on the professor’s desk, right near his hand.

He moved it away and took a step back. It was a subtle move but necessary.

The rumor around Professor Tarrington dating a student a few years back seemed to still followed him. A few of our older brothers knew the girl who seduced the young professor. The threat of losing his position at the university was the cherry on the shit Sundae. He probably would have chosen the girl over the job. Who knew.

I wondered how carefully the dean watched him from then on.

The girls were tag teaming the professor, gushing over how hard the test was, even though they clearly received a good grade.

Tarrington politely suggested the girls go to their next class and after him hinting at it more than once they left.

Once the room cleared, I stood up, shouldering my bag and made my way to the front of the room, holding my rolled up test in my hand. I was only going to stick around for five minutes tops. I already knew I was failing; I didn’t need him to rub it in my face.

“Mr. Fuller,” Tarrington said. “You know you’re in danger of failing this course. I’d hate to make you retake it next semester, but right now my hands are tied. You should—”

“I don’t need a lecture,” I said, knowing I was going to get one from Mom when she found out about my failing grade. I could never lie to her, but she was also footing the bill for my education and my fraternity dues. The only thing she asked in return was for me to graduate on time and be honest with her. It was the least I could do. “What can I do to pass this class?”

“The only thing I can suggest now is that you find a tutor.”

“A tutor?” Like hell was I going to waste my free time with some nerd. Besides, where was I going to get the money for that?

“Yes,” he said. “If you don’t buckle down right now, then you have no chance of passing. You have less than a month to find a way to bring up your grade.”

I sighed, hoping he could understand how ridiculous he sounded.

“Well, I have to go,” I said. I wanted to say “thanks for nothing,” but he was the only one controlling my future in this class.

I left the classroom feeling worse than I did when I received the failing grade. If a tutor was the only way for me to pass, then I would show Professor Tarrington that I could do it myself.

After the last of my afternoon classes, I headed back to my house off the UT Dallas campus. Once I reached the front walkway, my shoulders relaxed from the day’s stresses. Being home was the best way for me to unwind.

I went to the kitchen, the pledges and brothers greeting me with the AKA slogan on the way, grabbed one of the premade sandwiches that the pledges prepared each morning for the brothers. Turkey and cheese today. Even though I already ate lunch, I usually dined on a second lunch on the days after a big party. I was ravenous by the time I made it up to my room on the third floor. It was an attic space with two bedrooms. One for the president, me, and the other for my Vice President, Bret.

I woofed down my sandwich and cracked open my accounting book. My other homework would wait until Sunday when we took our day of rest from partying.

I barely made it through the first part of the assignment before my door burst open. If it were anyone other than Bret, I would have kicked them out.

He sauntered over to me, his eyes narrowed. “Alex, is that a book in front of you? On a Friday?”

I rolled my eyes at his condescending tone. “Yeah. I’m failing Cost Accounting.”

“I don’t even know why you bothered with a business degree, bro,” he said flipping my book closed.

I stuck my finger on the page before the book closed on it, reserving my spot. “Sometimes I don’t know why either, but it’s too late to change my major now.”

Bret scratched the shaved side of his head and adjusted his signature bow tie. Today it was black with red polka dots. He called it “ironic,” yet I found it idiotic. Even though I loved him as a brother, we were entirely different other than our commitment to the frat. I suppose it was easy for him to shirk his studies when he was heir to an oil fortune. That wasn’t the case with me.

“Did you forget about the Freaky Friday party? It’s starting in an hour.”

I looked at my phone. Shit. I spent over an hour on my assignment and barely wrote anything down.

“We have some hot ‘fresh meat’ on the way to the grinder right now,” he said with a wink. As if I didn’t know he meant freshmen girls.

“I should get this done,” I said to myself with Tarrington’s words about failing lingering in the back of my mind.

“Lame, bro,” Bret said. “It’s not an AKA party unless the president is there.”

I looked at my book as I slid my finger out from the pages. Bret was right. I worked too hard to keep my position at the frat to not get all the benefits.

There was plenty of time to study over the weekend. Right now, I deserved to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

“This president needs to party,” I said. Life was too short to worry about the little things.

Bret clapped a hand on my back, and we made our way downstairs to oversee our kingdom.

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