Chapter Two

Chapter Two

The first week passes easily, without incident. Professor Skye doesn’t talk to me again. By the time the weekend rolls around I’m loaded down with so much homework I can’t even think straight. College is certainly nothing like high school and I’m still deciding if that’s a good or bad thing.


Sadie doesn’t talk to me much. She seems to have fallen into a small bout of depression; probably things to Jake’s constant calls and text. I’m proud of her for standing her ground, but I’m really starting to worry.

I  spend Friday evening writing two essays and filling out four worksheets. I finished a little before five in the morning. Now I’ll have two days to do nothing. I can already feel a routine in the making.

I visit my family Saturday, only out of obligation. They live in the next town over. Even growing up they never withheld their distaste for me and I with them. I tell them all about my school, which they ignore. I’m relieved when it comes time to leave. We say our goodbyes and I make a mental note not to return until the holidays.

It’s dark by the time I get home and Sadie is sitting on the couch, watching a rerun of The Notebook on ABC Family and eating out of the giant tub of ice cream sitting on her lap.

“Hey,” I say as I kick off my shoes in the doorway. She looks awful.

“Hi,” she replies miserably. I note she’s using a wooden spoon to eat the ice cream- time to do the dishes.

Her phone tings and she ignores it.

I glanced at the TV and see the movie is at the part where Noah and Alie are forced breakup.

I jerk the remote away and change the channel to MTV. “Why are you watching that hideousness?”

Sadie sniffles. “Alie loved Noah so much…”

“Enough!” Geez. I sound bossy, even to my own ears. Sadie glances up at me with big, tear stained eyes and I continue. “We’re going out to eat. Get dressed. No wait- first…” A smile breaks out across my face and I’m sure I resemble the chesire cat.

****

Sadie giggles into her palm. “Dude, where did you even find this?” She giggles again, then hiccups.

“We live in a college apartment complex,” I reply, squinting at her. My eyes can’t decide what to focus on; her face across from me or the blue smoke floating lazily around. It’s like trying to look through a microscope someone keeps focusing and refocusing.

“This was such a great idea,” Sadie says. ” I wish I had thought of it. I don’t think we’ve done this since sophomore year.”

She’s right. God, I hope I can still drive like this.

“You know what I don’t get,” Sadie says. She readjusts herself on the couch, pulling her legs up under her butt. “Why do men think it’s okay to go screw a random whore when they have a nice, respectable pussy waiting for them at home? And do the random whores even feel bad about it? Do they know what it’s like to be waiting at home while..?” Her dopey, marijuana induced smile fades.

Crap. Too deep! Too deep!

“I’m thinking Denny’s for dinner.” I reply, pretending not to hear her. The truth is, I don’t know the answers to questions and I really don’t want to see her cry again.

Avoiding uncomfortable situations is my specialty, thanks to the life that I grew up in.

“I could definitely go for a diner burger.” My subject change works.

****

I forgot how amazing Denny’s is; or, I should say, how amazing it is after you’ve smoked three bowls.

“Do you think – I mean, why do we need air to survive? I mean really think about it. Why are we made the way we are?” There are endless possibilities.

God, I’m so stoned. And I really have to pee.

Sadie is too busy munching her burger to pay attention to me.

By the time I return, Sadie has finished her plate and is scrolling absently through her phone. She looks up when I sit down and suddenly a big smile spreads across her cheeks. “Hey,” she says.

I regard her carefully. I’ve seen that smile before. “Hi,” I reply.

“You wanna do something fun?”

****

This is, by far, one of the stupidest things we have ever done.

” I thought you said the strippers were dudes.” I gap as a half naked lady, carrying a tray of drinks, struts by us.

“The place is called Gents! I thought it meant ‘Gents’ as in dudes. Like male strippers!”

“Gents as in Gentleman’s Club! Sadie! Omigod, we have to get out of here!”

The low lighting and fog machine make it that much more difficult to locate the exit. Plus, I’m still high as balls. The smell of sex and sweat hangings the air, making it hard to even think straight. Everyone seems to be touching everyone… It’s too crowded. I feel the claustrophobia creeping up on me, raising the hair on the back of my neck.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I groan, but when I look over Sadie seems to have disappeared among the crowd of perverted, sweaty men.

I’m all alone… I feel like I can’t breathe. A loud buzzing rings in my ears, drowning out the Tove Lo blaring over the speakers, and I get the feeling that this is what fainting feels like.

“Lena?”

Wait- is that? NO.

“Lena!” He sounds more urgent when I don’t reply the first time.

I force myself to look up.

Professor Skye isn’t wearing his usual teaching a tire. Instead he has on casual jeans and a grey t-shirt. And right now, he looks concerned and almost angry. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” I grumble, trying weakly to push away the hand that’s studying me. God, this is humiliating.

“Don’t tell me you came here alone,” he growls.

I shake my head and wince when the room spins. “I came with a friend.” Why does he care?

“Well, where is he? Surely your friend wouldn’t be stupid enough to leave you alone in a place like this?”

“She,” I correct him, ” probably ran off to find the bathroom or something.” Where the hell is Sadie?

Hold on…. What is my professor doing here?

“Lena, are you high on drugs?”

Shit. Fuck. “No.” My lie is obvious.

“How did you get here?” He demands.

“I drove.”

“Under the influence?”

Wow. He sounds mad. Oh, God. Am I going to get kicked out of school? My stomach twists at the idea of losing my scholarship. That, plus the mega claustrophobia attack, and I spill my dinner up all over the floor of the club.

“Jesus Christ!” Professor Skye barely jumps out of the way in time to avoid being splashed. He quickly reaches forward and pulls my hair back from my face. “Well, go get help!” He shouts at someone from over his shoulder.

The ringing is back louder than ever. “Sorry,” I groan.

“I’m taking you home.” It isn’t a question.

“But my friend-“

As if on cue the crowd parts, probably to get away from the girl who just vomited everywhere, and I see Sadie. She sitting on Jake lap, her lips pressed against his.

WHAT?

“It seems she has other arrangements.”

I glanced at him and he staring down at me, his lips pressed into a tight line. I can’t help the crashing wave of betrayal. She brought me here under false pretenses and then ditched me to make out with her ex.

“Just take me home,” I whisper.

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Chapter One

Author’s Note: This novel is completely unedited and unbeta read. THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT. Any and all mistakes you find are mine and mine alone, and will be fixed once this draft is completed.

 

Chapter One

The first day of school is always nerve wracking. The first day of college, however, is practically panic inducing. After all, it is the first day of the rest of your life. Or so the high school guidance counselors spend four years beating into our brains.


I frown at the contents of my closet. I have absolutely nothing to wear. Normally, I’d just throw on simple jeans and a t-shirt (Hell, sometimes I wouldn’t bother changing out of the sweatpants I had slept in the night before) but today is different. I want to make a nice, professional first impression with my professors.

“Hurry up!” my best friend and roommate, Sadie Johnston, calls from the kitchen. “I don’t want to be late. You’re my ride, girlie.”

I sigh and decide on my only dress- a pink poke-a-dotted frock that comes to rest just above my knees. That and a pair of black tights, my sneakers, and my gray jacket, and I’m ready.

“Whoa.” Sadie says when I enter the kitchen to grab a quick breakfast. She raises her perfectly plucked blonde brows at me. “What’s the special occasion?”

“Har har.” Sadie is effortlessly beautiful; blonde hair, thin, perfectly clear skin. “Do we still have some peanut butter left?” We’ve been living off peanut butter sandwiches all summer. The life of a new college student.

“Barely. It’s in the cabinet.” Sadie leans against the counter and sighs. “So Jake and I broke up.” Jake is Sadie’s on again, off again boyfriend

“Seriously? Sadie why do you put up with him?” It’s always the same story; They’re together and happy one minute, the next minute one of them cheats on the other (she’s far from innoncent), they break up for two weeks, and there they go again. It’s been going on since freshman year of high school.

I don’t know. Maybe I don’t understand because in all my nineteen years I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Sure, I’ve been on plenty of dates, and some of them were really nice guys… but there was never really a spark. Maybe I’m just not what you consider romantic.

Sadie doesn’t reply. In the years that this has been going on, she has long since learned not to answer that question.

“Are you nervous about today?” Sadie changes the subject, and I can’t help but wonder why she even brought it up in the first place.

“Definitely,” I reply, using a butter knife from the drawer to try and wrangle up enough peanut butter to make a sandwich.

“Same. I hear the professors at PSU are seriously strict. Like, they’ll kick you out of class in front of everyone if you look at them the wrong way.”

I roll my eyes at her dramatics. “What classes do you have today?”

“Art Appreciation, History of Music, and Study of the Liberal Arts.” Sadie is an art major, if you couldn’t tell. She wants to teach high school choir. “You?”

“English Lit., Creative Writing, and Journalism.”

She pours two cups of coffee and hands me one. Though she drowns her’s in cream and sugar, I drink it straight. I prefer my coffee black and bitter, and strong enough to leave a tangy aftertaste.

I finished my sandwich in three bites and check the time on my phone. “We should probably get going soon. If the professors are as bad as you say, I don’t even want to chance it.” I down the rest of my coffee and grab my keys.

Thankfully the little apartment complex where Sadie and I live is only a ten minute drive from the University, with city traffic. We arrive with twenty minutes to spare.

The school is gorgeous, of course, and made of some kind of gray brick and thick glass windows. A large water fountain decorates the front courtyard, spitting cool, clear liquid high up into the clear summer sky.

My first class, English Lit., is in the A building. I say my goodbyes to Sadie, who’s class is on the other side of campus, and we make plans to meet up for lunch after class.

I double check my schedule, just to be sure. It would be straight up humiliating if I accidentally walked into the wrong classroom. My cheeks warm at the thought.

To my dismay, I’m the first one to arrive, and when I check my phone it says I still have ten minutes to spare. I sigh. You would think at least one other new student would want a few extra minutes to get ready. Hell, the professor isn’t even here yet.

As it turns out, I’m not alone for very long. About five minutes in, a frustrated looking nerdy boy in round glasses comes sprinting in. Literally sprinting. He struggles with two obviously heavy backpacks, one on each shoulder. And, of course, out of all the empty seats in this empty classroom, he decides to sit right next to me.

“Hi,” he says after he settles himself in. He offers me his hand. I notice he has a sparkly brand new Rolex on his wrist. “Name’s Josh Aarons. Arts major.”

I smile as a shake his hand. The way he introduces himself is so…cartoonish. Silly. “Lena Kinney. English Lit.”

“Lena,” he repeats thoughtfully. “That’s a nice name.” He seems overly friendly, overly confident, overly…everything. “I’ve been here a few years so if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” Definitely overly confident.

“I won’t. Thanks.” I smile at him. He’s a sweet little guy. My smile quickly fades and I suck on my bottom lip. “Actually… The professors. Are they really as bad as everyone says?” After all, that’s the one thing I can’t wrap my head around. Thanks, Sadie.

“Nah. The usually pretty cool if you get your work done and turned in on time-“

“Joshua Aarons. What a pleasure to see you here…again.” The professor has finally showed up, bringing with him a flood of dozing students.

Holy fuck. He’s hot. In an older man, Alan Rickman-y sort of way.

What was his name again? A quick glance at my schedule in front of me informs me that his name is Professor Jared Skye.

Damn.

His hair is a light fading brown with streaks of silver running through the sides, and perfectly combed. His eyes (timeless and strangely young), staring directly at me, are an icy blue, almost gray… And the way his gray suit fits his body…the way his pants fit low on his hips…

He smirks at me, and moves his gaze to the whole of the classroom, to the sleepy students using their seats.

I flush, realizing I’m staring with my mouth hanging open like a moron, and quickly look away. Well, there goes that first impression.

“You alright?” Josh asks, noting my flushed cheeks. I nod, not trusting my voice.

“So for many of you,” Professor Skye says, sanding his hands together, “this is your first year college. Yay. Congratulations. You got through the easy part.”  He turns his back and scribbles on the chalkboard. “My name is Professor Skye and I will be your English Literature teacher for the remainder of this semester. Now that that’s out of the way, if you could all take out your notebooks…”

The confidence in which he holds himself is extremely disarming and I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one so… affected by him. I glance around the room. If anyone else is then they’re hiding it well.

I’m a bit surprised that the class goes by so quickly. It’s nothing major; mostly just going over what we’d be learning this semester. I’m grateful the professor gets right into it and doesn’t bother with introductions. The entire period I find myself trying to understand Professor Skye’s  personality. He gives off a strange vibe; he knows us but he doesn’t want us to know him. I can’t help but be intrigued.

“Maybe I’ll see you around later… Or something?” Josh says, lifting his packs onto his shoulders with more than a little difficulty. His face is flushed a bright pink.

“Sure.” I can’t help but smile at him. He really is nice.

“Sweet!” He gushes and sprints out the door. He’s obviously one of those kids that look like an Anime character. I frown after him, hoping I hadn’t been too friendly.

Of course, I am the first to arrive and the last to leave.

“Lena,” a smooth voice, like the surface of stone sanded by years of erosion, draws my attention from stuffing my notebook in my backpack.

Once again I am taken aback by how attractive he is. I want to ask how he knows my name, since he hadn’t bothered with introductions, but for some reason I can’t find my words.

“Professor.” I manage.

He smirks and leans against the desk in front of mine, crossing his arms against his well sculpted chest. “I read your transcript and I was seriously impressed. I look forward to having you in my class this semester. I think you’ll do very well at PSU.”

“Thanks.” I reply lamely. “I hope so.”

“I know so.”

Before I can reply, a pretty older woman strides into the classroom. She’s dressed in all white. Even her hair hangs in silver waves down to her chest. Is she his wife? “Jared.” She says tartly and her tone has me raising my eyebrows.

He doesn’t drop my gaze when he replies. “I’ll be right there.”

“Actually, I should probably get going… I’ve got lunch plans.” I grab my backpack and head out. “See you tomorrow.” I mumble back over my shoulder. He’s still leaning against the desk, staring at me.

That’s…intense.

The woman glares at me as I pass by.

I give Sadie the details on the strange encounter over sushi.

“I wonder if he reads everyone’s transcript,” I muse, picking at my Philly roll. I suck my lower lip into my mouth; a nervous habit I’ve had since I was a little girl.

“Probably,” Sadie replies. “And I bet you’re right about that woman being his wife or something, and she was being bitchy because you guys were alone. I wouldn’t like that either.”

Hmmm. That makes sense. Then again, what would I know?

Her phone tings and I know exactly who it is when she doesn’t bother checking it.

“Begging you to come back already?”

“He wants to get back together…but keep an open relationship.” I see tears swell in her eyes.

“No.” I choke on my soda. Despite everything, I feel awful for her.

“It’s whatever.” She shrugs. “Are you gonna eat that ragoon?”

The rest of the day goes by in an exhausting blur. Unlike Professor Skye, all my other professors insist on making each student stand up, state their name, and two facts about themselves, like we’re in the first grade. It’s beyond humiliating.

I’m surprised by how tired I actually am by the time I finally get home:  the con of a lazy, relaxing summer.

A bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup for dinner and I hit the hay, thankful there was no homework on the first day of school.

That night I dream of good grades and empty classrooms.