“Hey baby, could you go out and get more coffee?” My sister called from the ensuite bathroom in her dorm room. I was visiting her at college, which meant she was using me as her personal assistant all over again. Lucky me.
“Yeah whatever…” I called back getting up off of her futon. At least it meant I would see something besides her untidy room for a change. I grabbed money from her wallet. Her coffee. And I headed outside pulling my coat back on. At least hopefully this way her boyfriend had the chance to show up and they could get it on leaving me to explore this place. I had wanted to go here originally and when she heard, she just had to apply and get in. It was still my dream school though.
I wandered until I found the campus Starbucks and I went inside feeling my nose begin to thaw and fill with the smell of coffee. I looked at the coffee bags and grabbed a couple of the ones she liked before going to the counter. I ordered a hot chocolate extra hot and paid before going to the end of the bar.
“You know they say coffee stunts your growth, shortie.” A guy sitting at the table near the bar said with a cheeky smile. He had a messy fringe falling in his face still damp from the snow earlier.
“It’s not for me.” I said maybe a little sharper than I needed to. His eyes widened in surprise before a cocky smirk spread over his lips.
“Aww… Little girl hasn’t adjusted to coffee yet?” He said in a condescending voice.
“Oh just bite me.” I snapped letting him get to me.
“I’d be happy to…” He said trailing off expecting me to give my name.
“Y/N. And don’t even touch me.” I said crossing my arms.
“Ashton. But that looks like it’d be fun.” He said with a pout. I narrowed my eyes into a glare.
“Oh yeah? Too bad for you.”
“You know what the trick to banter is?” He said leaning closer to me over the counter. My heart gave a heavy beat but I masked whatever I was feeling.
“What are you? A hormonal fifteen year old?”
“Hormonal twenty year old actually.” He said sounding proud of himself.
“Ah… You sound like a grandpa now.” I said.
“And how old are you?” He asked.
“I am eighteen.”
“So you’re legal.”
“And so not into you.”
“If you’re oh so not into me, why are you still talking to me?”
“It’s fun bantering with you.”
“I hope that’s you admitting there’s sexual tension.”
“A man can dream.”
“Is this a wet dream kind of thing now?”
“Wouldn’t you like to find out?”
“Uh, still no actually.”
“Ah come on, say you want the challenge. You’re bored anyway, am I right?”
“What’s that got to with you?”
“Absolutely everything, since I’m bored too… Why don’t I take you out to campus?” He said. I had nothing better to do actually, so I found myself going along with him. He gave me a tour of the school, his own personal and private tour I needed to feel lucky about going on. At some point, he lead me into the music department practice rooms. He’d steadily become less of a jerk over time and I found that I was enjoying myself with him. He was funny and confident and smart but also a bit geeky and awkward. Honestly, I probably liked that he was a bit awkward best…
“And this is where I pass my time, writing songs no one will ever hear.” He said broadly sitting behind a drum kit.
“Why won’t anyone hear them?” I asked sitting on another stool.
“’Cause I’m not famous, if you didn’t notice. Not exactly plastered on billboards.”
“So? Let me hear something. I’m someone at least.” I shrugged.
“You kind of need more in a song than drums, you know.” He said turning a bit pink.
“Yeah, but you can’t have a song without drums.” I replied.
“Why would you want to listen anyway?” He asked looking at me through narrowed eyes. My heart started racing. I knew it was a bit foolish but I also knew I was getting a massive crush on him in only a couple hours and all I had been thinking about for the past little while was if he would try to kiss me.
“I don’t know, maybe I just want to hear you.” I said shrugging.
“Why do you care?”
“I’m asking the same question.”
“I just want to hear you.”
“Maybe another time.” He said deflating on the drum stool.
“How do you know they’ll be another time?”
“Because I’m going to get your number and call you. Then I’m going to go out to wherever you live and pick you up and take you on a date.” He said standing up and walking toward me. I felt my heart doing gymnastics tricks in my chest.
“I don’t know, I like you.”
“Because you’re the best banter I’ve ever had?” He shrugged. He was right in front of me by then, less than a foot away.
“Is that really an answer?”
“It’s really my answer.”
“I can’t get anything more romantic than that?”
“Oh very funny, real comedic.”
“Oh come on, just sweep me off my feet; it won’t be hard.” I said leaning toward him.
“Well… I suppose I could manage that.” He said letting his hand rest against my cheek as he bent toward me.
“I believe you could yes…” I said and he smiled coming closer.
“Alright…” He said coming closer. Not even a second later, I felt his lips softly pressing into mine.
Finally I managed to slip away while my sister had another hissy fit in her dorm about how the décor just didn’t go together. That was not my problem but I felt a bit bad for her roommates. They had to deal with her type A personality now.
I tugged my hair up into a ponytail going to the park in the middle of campus with a soccer ball under my arm. I had to get the stress of the day and my sister out somehow before I went to family dinner later. That was not going to be fun. My mom would be tearing up and my dad would be more stony than usual and my sister would send her food back four times because it just wasn’t good enough the first few times… I never understood her obsession for details but hey, she would finally be out of my hair now. Or at least out of trying to fix my hair all the time.
When I got to the park I found a flat corner area of it and sat on the grass. It was itchy but I would get up in another moment, I just needed to tighten my laces. I brought my headphones up into my ears playing rock music loud. I pushed myself up and began going around dribbling the ball between my feet.
I didn’t want anyone to approach me but someone of course had to…
I felt someone tap my shoulder. After I composed myself after jumping three feet in the air, I turned around…
To see a really hot shirtless guy with fluffy brown hair and toned muscles and when he saw my mouth fall open a bit, he flashed a cocky smirk.
“You want to go one on one with me?” He said running a hand through his hair. I was distracted for a second imagining running my hands through it before I answered.
“Nah, I was thinking rugby.” He said with a killer smile.
“No, I was thinking soccer too…” He said laughing. “I’m Calum.” He said holding out his hand. I shook it feeling just a bit awkward.
“I’m Y/N, nice to meet you.” I said letting some of my awkwardness show but he just chuckled.
“Alright, the goals should be there and there.” He said pointing to two sets of trees. I nodded tightening my ponytail. I may be awkward but I was also competitive.
“Got it. Ready?” I said taking off my iPod and putting it with my sweatshirt off to the side. He nodded taking off his headphones.
“I’ll warn you, don’t get distracted by my rippling muscles.” He said with a wink. I rolled my eyes trying to play it off like it wasn’t going to happen when I knew it was far too possible.
“In your dreams.” I countered going with him to the center of the tree field we’d outlined.
“Winner gets the other a smoothie.” He said with one last super cocky smirk.
“Deal.” I said squatting down my eyes zeroed in on the ball.
We played against each other hard. Of course he started off going easy on me until he realized I was so not going easy on him. Then he went hard on me. It was as if we were getting it on all or nothing except it was over a smoothie.
When I was going to score while he was chasing relentlessly after me, I tripped on a root and sprawled out onto the ground. Tears sprung to my eyes as I looked at my leg; an angry scrap went all the way up my shin littered with specks of dirt while my ankle whined in protest to movement. I dug my teeth into my lip hard; I didn’t want to cry, not in front of Calum. Not in front of him. I rolled over onto my back pulling my leg up to my chest inspecting the wound as I tried not to cry. I sniffed gently wiping off the wound.
“Hey…” I heard as Calum threw himself onto the ground next to me. I flinched.
“Sorry I tripped.” I whispered bringing my legs even closer to my chest.
“Not like you brought me down too, and I am sorry you tripped. Don’t say sorry for this kind of stuff.” He said gently moving until he was in front of me. I smiled weakly still struggling to keep my tears in.
“It hurts.” I said in the quietest voice I had and he leaned closer to my face.
“You’re trying not to cry, huh?” He whispered smoothly raising his hand to my cheek. I felt my eyes widen as my lips trembled.
“It hurts.” I repeated, just loud enough for him to hear.
“I’m sorry sweetheart, here, let me look at it.” He said dropping his other hand to lay warmly over my skin. The most absurd thought entered my head for that moment; I hadn’t showered and I was still sweaty so why did he have to touch me when I wasn’t clean smelling like my soap and shampoo?
“What do you know about wounds?” I said trying to calm the choking tears in my throat, trying to keep them locked up there.
“Maybe I am a pre-med major.” He said gently stretching out my leg with his warm palms.
“Maybe I don’t believe you.” I said sucking in a breath as he touched the scrape.
“Yeah, you shouldn’t; I’m undecided.” He said with a chuckle. “But it looks good to me.” He said. “Do you want me to walk you home?” He said and I shook my head.
“Home is pretty far. I’m just visiting my sister…” I said pulling my leg back into my chest.
“I can take you back to your sister.” He offered.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” I asked sniffing again.
“I want to be with you right now.” He said simply.
“I’m sorry I fell. No one had even scored…” I said and he started laughing.
“Honestly, you think I care about the score?” He said shaking his head.
“What do you care about?” I asked suddenly.
“Right now I care about you and making sure you’re ok, then maybe getting some food.” He said leaning closer to me.
“Ahh, you’re hungry?” I asked leaning back; the pain was going away.
“Maybe, just a bit but I’m usually hungry.” He shrugged.
“Ah well thank you for the game…” I said moving to get up.
“No wait. I will take you back and I won’t leave to let you give me sustenance for my troubles of walking you home.” He said confidently. I sighed as he helped me stand up.
“Alright, what do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know… Maybe I want to eat you?” He said leaning toward me as I supported my weight against his arm.
“Eat me?” I asked.
“Yeah, like this.” He said leaning in and suddenly his lips caught mine.
“Yeah whatever, I’ll go to Gamestop to get the present for your boyfriend.” I groaned heaving myself off of my sister’s bed in her room. She thanked me profusely. She wasn’t one for videogame stores but I didn’t mind them therefore, when it was her boyfriend’s birthday present, I got the money to get him a videogame and other stuff. I shoved my hands deep into my pockets as I walked before I entered the store in the strip mall down the street. I went into the store and started looking around.
I wasn’t the biggest gamer. I was just passive about it. Sure, I’d play but I wouldn’t like lust after playing… I would just do it if I was really bored. I definitely didn’t fit with the gamer title.
I picked up the title my sister told me to get and realized I had enough to get him a really cool controller so I added that in. I walked around to the counter, passing a worker up on a ladder. That turned out to be a big deal.
Just as I passed the ladder, I heard something bang above my head.
“Watch out!” I heard someone shout just before something hit my head. I felt my body sink into the ground as my eyes closed and the world faded away.
“Hey, hey, wake up please…” I heard someone saying close to me. My body felt like lead, heavily sunken on the floor. I didn’t think I had broken anything but my head hurt a bit.
“What…?” I said in a low, groggy voice. It took more effort than usual to open my eyes but seeing a boy a foot from my face with bright red hair woke me right up. Damn. He was cute.
“Thank god you’re conscious. I keep telling them not to trust me on the ladder; six feet of clumsy giant is never good above people’s heads. Not to mention, I constantly drop things…” He said shaking his head as he pressed his hand into my forehead. “You don’t have a fever at least.”
“Why the hell would I have a fever from getting hit in the head?” I counter glaring at him. He turned red although he didn’t match his hair at all. It’d be hard to get that color naturally on skin…
“I don’t know!” He defended.
“And at six feet, aren’t you already over people’s heads?” I continued rubbing my head. I finally felt the cold from the ice pack he had been holding on it.
“Can we rule out that you have a concussion if you’re so quick on your feet?” He said with a sigh.
“I don’t know… What fell on me?” I asked sitting up a bit. I was glad when my head only pounded a little, not enough to make me want to pass out again.
“Only an xBox box… You should be fine but you went down…” He explained. “Do you know your name?” He asked holding me back from sitting up anymore.
“No, I totally forgot the name I’ve been using for eighteen years.” I said with an edge. “It’s Y/N.” I said and he chuckled.
“Pretty sharp, huh? I’m Michael. I’m sorry I dropped that on you…” He said and I shrugged.
“Don’t worry. I think I’m fine. How long was I out?” I asked looking around. I wasn’t in the store that I’d fallen in but I could hear the same noises through the door at the end of the couch I was on.
“I barely got you into the break room before you were conscious again.” He said.
“Glad you didn’t kidnap me.”
“Nah, I don’t play like that. I just play video games…” He said laughing.
“Ah, I figured, since you work here and all.” I said with a smile.
“Oh so you can be friendly?” He said laughing.
“Sorry, I’m used to being defensive…” I shrugged.
“Makes sense, I did drop a box on your head.”
“And you said sorry.” I said making a point that it was the end of that.
“So you’re not mad?”
“Not really… I drop stuff on myself all the time…” I said with a shrug.
“Hey same!” He said a little louder than he had been; I winced.
“Loud.” I said scrunching up my face.
“Oh sorry…” He said frowning.
“It’s ok.” I said.
“I really am sorry.”
“I really don’t mind. It’s ok.” I said and he gave a soft smile.
“Why don’t I give you something to make up for it?” He said and I raised my eyebrow in question.
“Well, I can’t let you get your game and controller for free but my shift is almost over. We could go out.” He said thinking.
“Out where?” I said and he deflated.
“Sounded almost like a date for a second.”
“It could be a date…” He said trailing off.
“What? I just meant you!” I said in a voice that was protesting the idea a little too much.
“It’s cool if you don’t want to just respect a man’s pride…” He said looking down.
“No, it’s not that I don’t want to…” I said looking for words.
“So if I wanted to kiss you, what would you say then?”
“I wouldn’t say anything…” I said slowly.
“But you wouldn’t reject it?” He said imploringly.
“No, I wouldn’t reject it.” I said slowly. He slowly came closer.
“So since I want to kiss you, I can?” He said his face now inches of mine.
“I’m not gonna say no or push you away…” I responded.
“Will you kiss me back?” He said coming closer.
“Would you let me kiss you again?” He asked.
“And kiss me back again?”
“And do it all multiple times?”
“Yes…” That seemed to be the last of his questions…
He finally brought his lips to mine…
And yes, we did kiss multiple times after that, too.
I groaned flipping my hair over my shoulder as I stared at the pile of clothes on my sisters bed. No way all her crap would fit in this tiny dorm room but I didn’t want to be around when she realized she couldn’t keep her entire shoe collection with her partly because if I said that she’d just say that I just wanted the shoes for myself… Which I do but she doesn’t need to know that…
“Hey, where’s the rest of the clothes?” My sister said coming in.
“You left your spring outfits at home, remember?” I said trying to keep the exhausted sigh out of my voice.
“Oh right… Is this everything?” She said gesturing to the pile of stuff. I nodded.
“Yeah…” I said trailing off.
“Alright, can you take the boxes down stairs?” She said and I nodded picking them up. Now, I’m not big or tall so once I had all of them in the easiest way to carry them, I could hardly see as I slowly tiptoed my way down the stairs. Or at least I was heading down the stairs until, at one of the landings, I crashed into someone else and my butt met the stairs. Painfully. And the boxes slid everywhere.
“Crap, sorry! Are you ok?” The guy said from the position he landed in next to me. He had quiffed blonde hair and a black lip ring and blue eyes and I had to suck in my breath just to make sure breathing still worked…
“I’m good. Sorry… I couldn’t see through the boxes… Are you ok?” I said rubbing my arms. He smiled faintly, turning a bit pink.
“I’m good. Here. You helping someone move in or are you attending?” He said picking up some of the boxes.
“Helping my sister move in but she’s about to start her dramatic breakdown and I want to disappear for a couple hours… Anyway you don’t have to help me…” I said reaching for the boxes.
“How about I help you out more than with the boxes?” He said and I raised my eyebrows. His face was pinker than it had been before but he didn’t give me any of the boxes.
“What do you mean?” I said taking his hand when he offered it to help me get up.
“My family, we just helped the younger of my older brother move in and we’re heading out to dinner; I think my mom wouldn’t mind if you came…” He said scratching the back of his head tugged his hair. I felt tingles through my arm where he’d helped me…
“I couldn’t possibly…” I said clutching the boxes toward my chest.
“I’m inviting you. Here, we can take these down stairs and we’ll go meet my family. If you still want to turn me down, then you can.” He said with a flash of a confident smile. I felt my mouth open a bit but the stranger feeling was my head nodding.
So we went outside and tossed the boxes before we walked back into the dorm heading toward the boy’s wing.
“So I am the youngest of three, my older brothers are more manly than I am but I’m better at math, still the baby. What I really want to do is music… I play guitar… What about you?” He said as we let all the bustling new students push their overflowing carts into the elevators. We had to wait a while before an elevator came along that had enough room for us.
“I just want to write maybe I don’t know… I have just one older sister and she’s the queen. I’m probably not even the princess compared to her. She gives my parents a lot to deal with so I didn’t… I wasn’t the one that got to ask for a lot so well maybe my parents will notice it more now… Anyway, that’s a lot to unload onto a stranger, sorry. Oh and my name is Y/N.” I said leaning against the elevator wall. We were alone…
“I’m Luke… It’s nice to meet you and it is easier to unload on strangers…” He shrugged.
“Not everyone is a stranger anyway, just the weird ones…” I said just commenting to myself.
“Hence strange strangers.” He said and I laughed.
“They are quite odd, those strange ones…” I added. I heard his laugh. I liked his laugh. I wanted to hear it over and over again. It was the first of many things I found I liked about him. I liked his smile. I liked his eyes. I liked his mom. I liked his brothers. I liked his voice. I liked the things he said. I liked nearly everything about him.
The biggest thing I didn’t like about was that he probably didn’t feel the same way about me.
“Alright, I’ll walk you back. Where are you staying?” Luke said as we finished dinner with his family.
“Do you know the area that well?” I countered with a laugh erupting over the table.
“I can find a hotel; phones have GPS.” He said rolling his eyes.
“I can just call my parents.” I said and he waved at me dismissively.
“No, I’m going to walk you.” He said with a keen determination.
A few minutes later I found myself walking along with him on the streets of campus.
“So… What music do you like?” He said suddenly.
“Oh popular music, but I can find something good in everything.” I shrugged. “You?”
“Good Charlotte inspired me and I like rock.” He said and I smiled.
“Nice. And you said you play guitar right?” I said and he nodded.
“I could play for you sometime.” He said looking at the ground as we walked, a blush once again sweeping his cheeks.
“How could you ever reach me again?” I said in a sadder voice than I wanted to.
“I could get your number now.” He said and I sighed.
“Yeah… But we could live at opposite ends of the country.”
“Hmm.” I said.
“Hey, I’m bad with this stuff ok?” He said as we got onto the elevator.
“So am I.” I said with another sigh.
“You’re being more of a downer, are you ok?”
“Once you get me to the door, it’s goodbye.” I said as the elevator opened and we began the slow walk to my hotel room door.
“No it’s not.” He said as I stopped outside the door.
“How can you be so sure?” I said looking into his eyes.
“Because….” He said and he leaned in. I felt his lips brush over my cheek. “It’s only goodnight.”