Read Catch My Fall Online

Authors: Ella Fox

Catch My Fall (2 page)

Chapter Two

 

It took almost half an hour to get back to sleep last night, but I managed it.  Sometimes the dream fades away and I’m able to get back to sleep fairly quickly. Other times it stays with me for hours and I don’t get back to sleep at all. It’s bizarre to think that just six months ago I was able to sleep through the night without a care in the world. I’d give any amount of money to turn back the clock and have that carefree existence again. I’m just thankful that last night wasn’t an all-nighter because I definitely don’t need the added stress of being sleepless, today of all days.

Looking myself over in the mirror, I let out a low sound of disgust.  I’m not even sure how it’s possible that I spend as much time and money as I do on products and flat irons, only to have a touch of humidity turn me into a walking advertisement for awful hair.  I was dumb enough to open the window over my bed last night after I woke up from the nightmare, and I slept the rest of the night with it open.  It was a stupid thing to do, and my hair
was paying the price.  I’m starting my freshman year at Evermore University in Amarillo and I’m stressed out enough without having to worry about going to school looking like I plugged myself in.

I’m not the type of girl that’s super fashionable… at least, not anymore.  That was my old life, and the inclination to spend an obscene amount of time stressing out about my appearance feels like it was surgically sliced out of me.  I don't go crazy with
makeup and I don't spend hours primping to get ready for a trip to the mall anymore.  The only throwback to my more stylish self is my devotion to my hair.  It’s the one feature that I pay close attention to and although I hate to do it, the rain has left me with no choice but to throw my hair up into a ponytail.  My hair has become a security blanket for me and having it pulled back makes me feel like I’m naked.  When my hair is down, if someone takes notice of me or makes me feel uncomfortable, all I need to do is hide behind my hair and that’s that.  It really sucks that I’m not going to have that option today.

I'
d already done very light makeup, just a touch of mascara and some light lip-gloss, so after throwing on a pair of black leggings, a silver gypsy-type tunic, and a pair of ballet flats, I was ready to go.  I grabbed my tote bag and headed off to my first class of the day, Business Math.

I had taken the time to learn my route the day before, so I got myself to my first class
on time.  As is habit with me, I chose a seat at the back of the room. I hate sitting close to the front.  In my mind, that section is reserved for ass-kissers and the late-to-class.  I’m not an ass-kisser, and I’ve got enough anxiety without ever having to add being tardy to the mix.  Ergo, I’m a back row sitter. 

Looking around the classroom, I thought about how much Macy would be enjoying the first day of college
if she were here.  Before that horrible night, Macy had been one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever known.  She loved getting out and being social…right up until the moment that she didn’t trust in people anymore.  Watching that light go out of her is something that I will never forget. 

I jumped like a scalded cat when I heard a sexy male voice say, “Excuse me.”

I turned to my left and found myself looking into a pair of beautiful chocolate colored eyes. I couldn’t help but stare at him as I took in all of his features.  Amazingly sexy mouth, strong nose, perfect cheekbones, those rich chocolate eyes and the sexiest dark brown hair I’ve ever seen were enough to render me speechless.  I stiffened involuntarily. He was probably used to girls losing it over his face.  I’ve dealt with enough cocky, good-looking assholes who think they can have who and whatever they want, and I’m never going back again.  Schooling my facial expression into something I hoped was just enough to convey a ‘not interested’ vibe without coming off as totally bitchy, I stared him down and waited for him to tell me why he had gotten my attention.

Gracing me with a smile that I bet he’
d spent hours perfecting, he said, "I’m sorry to bother you, but I forgot my pen.  Do you have an extra I could borrow?"

What kind of student forgets their pen on the first day of class?  I
bet he was too busy practicing his ‘Blue Steel’ face in the mirror to notice that today was important.  Snapping to attention, I dug through my bag before turning back and handing him a pen. 

"Sweet!  You're a lifesaver."

Giving him a tight smile I nodded. "No problem.  You can keep it."

When he
opened his mouth to say something else, I turned my head away and started fiddling with my iPad. I didn’t want to get into any kind of conversation with him, and my body language definitely conveyed that message.

He was
insanely hot, but my commitment to keeping a wall up around guys like him was firmly in place. The rest of the class passed without further discussion with Chocolate Eyes (yeah, I’d given him a nickname… shoot me!), not that it bothered me.

I did have to remind myself about twenty times NOT to look at him.
  It
really
shouldn’t have required reminders.

* * *

There was a gap in my schedule after my Business Math class and I decided to use the time to hit up the cafeteria for a coffee and some food. I spent so much time trying to deal with my hair emergency this morning that I never ate anything and now I was starving. 

It wa
s just my luck that the cafeteria was so crowded that after paying for my yogurt, banana and coffee, I had to search for a seat.  I was happy to find an empty table, but unfortunately it was right in the middle of the room.  I went tense all over as I tried to muster up enough courage to make my way through the throng of people to the table.  It’s not like I’m trying to be a social pariah for life, but I’m very unsettled around groups of people I don’t know. Realizing that there was no time like the present to immerse myself in the crowd, I took a deep breath and headed for the empty seat.  It was a two top table and it felt like I hit the jackpot having it all to myself.

Just as I started to eat my banana I saw someone wearing a pair of jeans
walk up and stop next to me.  Looking up, I found myself staring into the chocolate eyes of the hot guy I’d been sitting next to in Business Math.

Giving me a
smile, he gestured to the seat across from me.  “Anyone sitting here?”

My first reaction was
how lame
.  I was not going to take it well if he started throwing out pick-up vibes.  I answered his question with a tight shake of my head as I prayed that he wasn’t going to be a nuisance.  Placing my hand over my coffee, I pulled it toward me so that it wasn’t near what was about to become his side of the table. He drew the chair back and sat in the empty seat and, just like that, my solitary table had been co-opted by Chocolate Eyes, which was the very last thing I wanted or needed.

Once he was comfortable in his chair, he graced me with another one of his million-dollar
, panty-melting smiles.  “Thanks for letting me sit here.  That’s twice that you’ve saved my ass today.  I owe you one… or two.  How about you let me know when you want to collect on that.”

Christ, he really must think he’s God
’s gift to women.  With a shrug of my shoulder, I answered, “You don’t owe me a thing—it was a pen, and the table is in a public place.”

After that
I went back to eating my banana and ignoring him.  We didn’t know each other, and I didn’t want to get to know him, so there was no need for idle chitchat.  I was sure he could find any number of girls to hang onto his every word—I just won’t be one of them.  I could feel that his eyes were on me and I did my best to ignore it.  I was doing a pretty good job until he spoke again.

“Hey.”

Taking a frustrated breath, I met his gaze.  He seemed uncomfortable and I could tell that he wasn’t used to girls not hanging on his every word.

“Yeah?”

“Do I offend you somehow?  I showered this morning and brushed my teeth, so I know it’s not that I’m killing your nose with some wicked body odor or a bad case of ass breath. But the way you’re acting tells me you think I’m some kind of super-creeper.”

My mouth dropped in s
hock at his words.  “Um, I’m shy.  Sorry.”

He stared at me for a minute in silence and it almost felt like he was searching for something in my face.

“You’re new here.  Freshman?”

“Uh, yeah.  Is it that obvious?”

That earned a chuckle from him.  “I’ve never seen you before and I would have remem—um, yeah, sorry.  I wasn’t trying to be rude.”  Sticking out his hand he said, “I’m Tristan Chamberlain.”

He’d backed me into a corner, and I had no choice but to accept his hand.  My skin tingled when he touched me, and for a minute I forgot what I was supposed to be saying to him.  The silence went on for a beat too long as I stared into those beautiful
chocolate eyes. 

Clearing his throat,
he pulled his hand back.  “Let’s try this again.  I’m Tristan and I’m a sophomore.  What’s your name?”

Jesus, Mary
and Joseph, how lame could I be?  I could actually feel my cheeks turning beet red as my heartbeat sped up to doubletime.

“Sorry! 
My name is Mia Reeves… and I, um, didn’t get enough sleep last night.  Clearly I need to drink a lot more coffee, because I’m out of it.  I swear that I’m not normally a space cadet.”

He nodded like he understood and didn’t punctuate it with a look that indicated he thought I was an airhead, which made me feel better.

“So you’re new to the school and the area.  Are you an out-of-stater?”

I was
ridiculously stressed out about having this question thrown my way because I knew that people were going to ask it again and again, at least for these first few weeks of school.  I’m terrified that I’ll meet someone here that knows someone back in my hometown, or worse, that someone from my high school will be here.  So far I haven’t seen anyone, but that doesn’t mean they’re not here.  Evermore is fairly new, really small, not as highly rated as the other Universities in the state, and it didn’t present at the college fair at my high school. No one that I know of planned to come here, which, in addition to being close to where Macy’s facility is located, is the reason why I’m here.  I don’t want anything to taint my shot at a new life.  My therapist and I spent the last three months creating coping mechanisms for me to use in case I see someone I know, but I’m just praying that I won’t. 


I’m from a little suburb outside of Dallas, but I didn’t want to go to school there.  Evermore is building a solid reputation and since I didn’t want to go to school in a big city, here I am.  How about you, are you a local?”

“Yeah, I’m local.  I grew up
in the area and I live about ten minutes away.”

I searched my brain for something to add to the conversation, but I had nothing.  Finally I settled on something that had as much depth as a discussion of the weather.

“Since you stayed local, I guess you must love the area.”

Giving a careless shrug of his shoulders he answered, “Once upon a time, I wanted to go to college in
California, but, you know… life happens.  I grew up and running away no longer held the appeal that it once did.”

I was trying to decide
how to respond to that when I heard someone calling my name.  Looking over Tristan’s shoulder, I saw Darby making a beeline for me.

“Hey Mia, hey Trist. 
I’m going to pull a chair over and sit with you guys.  There’s an empty chair in the corner over there but other than that there’s nowhere else to sit.”
Darby set her tray down before she sped across the room to grab one lone chair sitting in the corner. The entire time I watched her, I wondered how she knew Tristan.  After pulling her chair to the table, she dropped down into the seat before reaching out and punching him in the arm. 

“Tristan Chamberlain,” she said firmly
. “If you’re trying your bullshit on this girl, I am going to kick your ass!  I don’t have it in me to listen to another girl lose her marbles when she figures out that your Malore ass is
really
never going to be interested in committing.”

His e
yes flew up to meet mine and I was surprised to see what looked like embarrassment in them.  In my experience, guys like Tristan think they’re the best things since sliced bread and there is absolutely no shame to their game.

“Stop calling me that, you know it drives me mental.  There’s nothing to worry about anyway.  I met her this morning in Business Math and then I got here and needed a seat so I threw myself at her mercy. She’s pretty much been giving me the cold shoulder since the second I met her, so you don’t have anything to worry about. How do you know her?”

My eyes went back and forth between the two of them as I watched them talk.  The dynamic between them was very comfortable and I could tell they’ve known each other for a long time.

Gesturing to me with a giant smile
, she said, “Mia’s my roommate and soon to be best college friend.  That means hands off, butt-face. Don’t make me call my mom to tell her that you’re trying to Malore yourself out to my new friend, ‘cause she will break your ass if I do.”

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