Only For You(8)

By: Genna Rulon

Chapter Two

* * *

“One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.” -Josh Billings

I arrived home and proceeded to make a pot of coffee, finding solace in my drug of choice. Feeling more like myself, I headed to the bathroom to restart the day.

Once showered, I applied make-up while examining my reflection. An oval face with blue-green almond shaped eyes, slightly upturned nose, and full lips greeted me. No one part was exceptional, but the effect of the whole was pleasing. I had been called pretty or cute most of my life—except when I glam-up on special occasions—then I was elevated to “beautiful” status. While beautiful was an appealing compliment, it also required far more effort than I was willing to invest on a daily basis. I had learned to be content with cute and pretty in recent years.

Needing comfort after my trying morning, I selected my new dark wash skinny jeans before sneaking into Sam’s room to steal her cream Merino wool sweater; it was chunky, soft, and warm, just what I required. It was a rarity I could borrow Sam’s clothing as she was five feet one and slender, compared to my five feet seven hourglass figure. I returned to my room and zipped my knee-high brown leather boots. I loved these boots—if an equestrian and a motorcycle boot had a baby, these would be their chic offspring.

Discovering it was already 9:40, I hustled to make my 10:00 class. With luck, I found a spot in the metered lot near my destination. Happy with the pleasant turn my day had taken, I smiled as I headed to class, stopping to obtain yet another coffee from the cart inside.

Thankfully this would be a small class of thirty students at most. The benefit of being an upperclassman was most of the advanced courses were intimate when compared to introductory level courses that often exceeded one thousand students.

I selected a seat in front, learning long ago that all professors granted higher marks for class participation to those seated in the front row. The drawback to this ploy was you could never be late or skip class without notice.

Placing the coffee on my desk, I pulled my laptop from my oversized purse. After booting up my precious—yes, that sounded like voice of Smeagol from the Lord of the Rings in my head—my desk was jarred as someone settled in behind me. Receiving no apology, I was prepared to scold the ill-mannered culprit, but Dr. Forster entered the room, derailing my reprimand.

“Good morning future corporate giants. It’s a pleasure to see so many familiar faces. Welcome to Business Strategy.”

As Dr. Forster distributed the syllabus, he briefly recounted the course description. Following his first lecture of the semester, he thanked us for our attention and kindly dismissed us twenty minutes early—I loved when professors wrapped early the first day. The sound of students preparing to depart echoed behind me until the professor spoke.

“I’m sorry everyone. I neglected to take attendance, a consideration in your final grade. Before you depart, allow me to correct my oversight. Feel free to respectfully exit once I have called your name.”

As the roll call began, I shut down my laptop and slid it into my purse. I was poised and ready when he called my name—“Carsen, Everleigh.”

“Present,” I responded as I quickly reached for my belongings. In a moment of sheer clumsiness I knocked over my coffee, groaning at my inelegance while assessing the damage. Mercifully, the cup was nearly empty, but enough spilled to require minor clean up. Frustrated I hunted through my bag for the tissues playing hide-and-seek. I considered feigning ignorance and leaving, but I would feel guilty if I left the mess—stupid conscience.

At the exact moment my fingers connected with the crinkly rectangular package, I heard the unthinkable—“Charles, Hunter.” I halted all movement as if I had looked directly at Medusa and turned to stone, not a muscle or hair shifted. From the seat directly behind me, I heard, “Here,” in the same low baritone that chastised me earlier.

I was reeling, a slight wheeze escaping just before the chorus of “Sweet As Hole” began playing through my mind, causing an unsanctioned laugh to spring forth. I slapped my hand across my mouth desperate to stifle the sound. Unfortunately, the hilarity of the song coupled with how apropos it was for the man seated behind me would not be contained. Hell, I was tempted to turn around and inquire if he had ever met Sara Bareilles personally as it clearly was her ode to him. At that thought, the last of my composure crumbled. With effort I managed to remain silent, but my shoulders shook with muted laughter. Wiping the desk with shaking hands while caught in clutches of my humorous musing proved challenging.

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