Chapter 1- Late October
Third Person P.O.V
It’s late October, the wind was picking up and the buzz about Jonas’ Halloween party was blowing all around campus. It was chilly out, and the fall foliage was breathtaking to watch. Mackenzie Grey tucked her hands into the pockets of her vermillion hoodie. The leaves littered the ground in their warm colors. It was afternoon now and Mackenzie has had to sit through all three classes and listen to the freshmen sorority girls bitch and rave over Jonas Pierce, the new midfielder on the soccer team that transferred in from Excelsior College this fall.
Mackenzie was annoyed at hearing women that were supposed to embody independence and strength raving about men who probably had trouble keeping their dicks to themselves. All this, that Mac had thought were conclusions drawn based on watching too much Mean Girls. Then there was Tristen Morgan. Tall, lean, a nice guy, of course, girls on campus would be falling head over heels for these idiots, she thought. From what Mac had heard, he’s a second-year nominated team captain. Turned out, it’s quite rare for a second-year to be nominated for such a position.
Mac liked soccer, it was the cocky and misogynistic men that played the sport she couldn’t stand. She wouldn’t have anything to do with them. Especially after Xavier Sitch, her boyfriend of two years staked her through the heart. Her mother warned her to keep focus but she had other plans. The checklist. It was formulated when she decided after being homeschooled all her life she would go to college and experience the world. A big world that wasn’t just her living room, study, kitchen and her bedroom.
She couldn’t think about that now. She was heading to her psychology class that she had been looking forward to all week. Her professor, Dr. Simms was starting a new topic in Social Psychology: Attraction, Romance and Love. Mac was indeed intrigued by these things that were concepts to her, words if you will. She couldn’t possibly imagine them being anything but a construct, an illusion but when she saw her parents: Naomi and Alan, it made her want to believe that these concepts weren’t just... well concepts.
As Mackenzie walked briskly, almost a jog, her mind couldn’t help but be everywhere. The only place she would rather be was in her class preparing to hear all about these outlandish concepts of human attraction and love. Everything about it fascinated her.
So many people... Around me, shuffled past me, glanced at me. My palms and legs tingled and burned slightly like a thousand tiny ants were running around on my limbs. My palms tinged with sweat, so I took my glasses off, just to unnecessarily clean them, so it would look like I was just one of those normal nerds doing nerd stuff.
Pretending, with all the force I can muster, that the sweat dripping off my brow isn’t a result of undiagnosed paranoia. Alarms went off in my head. Do I look or not? Would it be rude if I looked? Or does that only apply to staring? I scowled at the internal, but trivial, conflict in my head. Maybe I should get my phone out and pretend I’m more interested in the internet than the gay couple sitting on the bench by the elm tree eating each other’s faces as I walked past. My heart skipped a beat when my eyes betrayed me and look, after obsessing for what felt like hours, although a measly three minutes.
I fought my parents to let me go here and if they knew these were the things I was being exposed to; my father would lecture as he booked me a flight home, while my mother packed my bags. I smiled at the image of the unbothered couple in my head, thinking to myself that this is college and ‘love’ doesn’t last. Five months ago, I would have never been this paranoid. They homeschooled me throughout high school and although deciding to go to college, was my idea. My ex-beau, Xavier, convinced me that Quinton University would be my dream come true. He had promised he would show me what it was to ‘live’. I guess living also meant sleeping with my sister.
The campus was busy today, just like every other day, and even though it’s almost been two months since I’ve been on campus, I couldn’t help but feel as if everyone was out to get me. In the back of my head, I knew I wasn’t the centre of the world and no one would EVER notice me but still... Every day had been like this, just me freaking out about the possibility of people looking at me. Even though I was hardly anything to notice. I swept my wavy black hair out of my eyes to focus on the phone’s screen saver that’s my zodiac’s constellation.
My untamed eyebrows furrowed as a message notification pops up on my phone. Xavier. The blood drains from my head, my pale skin paler, swiping it off my screen so I wouldn’t be bothered to stare at his name any longer. The message he sent, making me feel all unsettled, “Hey babe, can we talk? I’ll see you at Jonas’ party on Friday night.” is what it said.
It’s annoying how he has the balls to still text me like this after being exactly seven inches deep inside my sister. I dumped him one week after moving into my dorm room, I would’ve done it sooner but if my parents knew we weren’t together anymore, the confidence they had in me staying so far from home would evaporate faster than I could say ‘hey mom and dad’. I stuffed my phone into my pocket, not interested in pretending to be normal. Instead, I imagined all the ways, I’d like to make Xavier a eunuch.
My phone went off, again and again. I frown and tried my hardest to ignore him. Then it stopped. A headache came on, so I quickened my pace to get in some shade since the evening’s sun was rather harsh. Then my phone rang. I plucked it from my pocket and answered straight to the point. Not having any of Xavier’s bullshit. “What do you want?”
“Is that any way to talk to your parents?” My mom’s voice, my eyes widened and I could’ve hit myself in the head from the embarrassment, my face warmed itself.
“Oh hey mom, sorry about that, I thought it was Maya. We fought yesterday.” I lied.
“Over a thousand miles from home and you and your sister still can’t get along?” My mother said more like a question as she chuckled. I heard the loneliness in her voice as if she wished I’d come home. She called every day to see how I was doing, or so she said. But I know she was hoping to call and for me to tell her I wanted to come home. Dad didn’t call. After my first week, we just stopped talking. He was the parent who was super against everything. I nodded to reply to her remark, aware that she couldn’t see me.
“How’s Dad?” I asked, genuinely wanting to know, not like every other time that I’ve only ever asked, sarcastically so, because my mom haggled me to call him.
Mom was silent for a bit, then I heard her sigh, “He misses you, Mac.” And I didn’t reply. Dad was totally against me leaving Colorado to go to Uni in an unfamiliar country. If I stayed and had gone to community college, that, he would have preferred, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to go out, see the world. Take it in. Before I left, we got into this tremendous fight. His last words were, “Call me when you’ve discovered the world isn’t as great as you’d hoped.”
She changed the subject when she sensed my discomfort. Moms had a special bond with their kid so she must’ve known I was reliving the memory or was utterly speechless. “So how’s Xavier doing?” I panicked a little. “He better be taking care of you.” She said it jokingly, but I knew she meant it.
I took a deep breath, ready to spill the lie I practised plenty, “Of course mom, he always does.” I force a laugh and gag internally. My stomach felt uneasy as I remembered my ‘boyfriend’ thrusting his hips into Maya, moans in sync like tango dancers; I cringed. “I’m actually on my way to meet him before class.” This morning’s breakfast slushed around inside me and I keep myself from heaving my guts out in public.
Then I heard my father’s voice and I said nothing. “That’s great darling. Let him know I said hi. I’ll leave you to it. I love you, honey.”
“I will. I love you, Mom.”
I hung up as I walked into the campus building, where I’m supposed to have class. Another bullet dodged. I hated lying but I had little to no choices. I needed to prove I could be on my own. Make friends, network and enjoy myself. No boys. Just me. I repeat the checklist in my head, like a chat of some sort. I didn’t know it yet but my step-by-step checklist wouldn’t work in such an unpredictable environment with no controlled variables. I should have made my checklist all-inclusive. No, no one. Just me. I sighed to myself and muttered, “I hope college is worth all this shit.”
The sweat on my brow from the heat outside rolled down onto my temple. The air conditioning hit my skin and a chill enveloped my body, neck down. My stomach flipped and my palms sweat even more now. I couldn’t help but feel sick and then this morning’s burrito apologized for what it was about to do next with a burp and in a rush, it followed. I ran to the restroom, and as I bent over the toilet in the stalls, I let out the contents that had been upsetting my stomach. I was surely going to be late for class after this.
Anna, the most gentle and caring roommate in the world... not... had given me her leftover burrito for breakfast since I was late for my first class. Anna did her own thing while I lurked in the shadows of our dorm room. She did the bare minimum and I was fine with that. I had never been the most likeable, even my sister had her reservations about me. Why? I couldn’t tell you. I had never had any friends being homeschooled and all so no wonder I hadn’t developed any social skills.
She was a freshman studying Biology, from what I’ve seen she was a party girl, ran with the popular crowd and was smart. I’d never seen her read a book but I could tell. I think a lot of people wanted to be her, not me though. Although I would love to possess her flawless skin and blue eyes, everyone had their issues and I was grateful that mine was as mundane as they were. The typical controlling parents, sibling rivalry, that was normal or at least I hoped it was.
After being hunched over the toilet, I slowly stalked out of the stall. A guy was standing there, hands under the faucet, water running over his hands. I lean against the wall to gather my bearings. He was tall, a single cross earring hung from his left ear, his locks down and resting on his shoulders. My heart dropped. Had I mistakenly entered the men’s room? He grabbed a piece of paper towel and looked at me briefly before looking into the mirror again, unfazed...
“You should tell him, no?” he said, the Canadian accent hot off his tongue and his voice, femininely soft but heavy with dominance. Then he left without another word. I didn’t understand what he meant. Tell him? Who did he mean? I pondered his words as I washed my hands and hurried out of the bathroom.
I was late to class, the anxiety crept down my shoulders and into my gut. If I hadn’t already unloaded the docks, I would have blown chunks outside the lecture hall. I took a deep breath, contemplating going in or hiding out here till the class ended. That would not allow me to present for his lecture. I had never been late to Professor Simms’ class, but surely he wouldn’t make a big deal out of it.
I heaved a hefty sigh and pushed the door open. All heads turned, all eyes on me since the stupid door decided to creak louder than a snack bag in the dead of the night. I walked in and embarrassingly walked up to the front of the class where I regularly sat. Then Professor Simms continued, ” We spend our lives craving it, searching for it, and talking about it. Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed. It’s called the greatest virtue. What exactly is this?”
A young man with cropped hair and veneer-like teeth, two rows behind me answered, “Love.” I took off my hoodie as the lecture was warm.
“Ahh, yes. Love. It is as fascinating as it is complex. Particularly, romantic love seems to be a beautiful mystery we find hard to explain.” Professor Simms sits on his desk and presses a button which changes the projected slide, “Yet psychologists have a lot to say about and why we fall in love. According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment.”
Professor Simms continued and as he spoke, I wrote notes. The class went by in a gif, and I was left with more questions than answers. The students that were probably way less enthusiastic and thankful the class was over filed out, mumbling. I was packing when Professor Simms called to me as he walked up to me, “Mackenzie, is everything alright?” He pulled on his jacket, “You’ve never come to class late before.”
“Yes professor, it was just one of those days you know.” I smiled at him. “About the topic: isn’t love just a bunch of chemical substances that influence behaviour?”
“No,” he looked at me in thought as he scratched his growing beard, “They do play a part in it but that’s not all love is. Psychology explains the concept; however, it’s not an experience.” I nodded pretending to understand.
“Thanks, professor,” I grab my bag and head out after waving at him from the door.
I headed back to the dorm deep in thought. I knew what falling in love felt like so was he implying that I truly hadn’t ever been in love? We were young, Xavier and I but I knew for sure that before he cheated I would’ve done almost anything for him. A gust of wind woke me from my thoughts and I mentally rolled my eyes at the fact that I didn’t wear a hoodie today.
Third Person P.O.V
Dr. Tomas Simms, psychology professor and ex-military, spotted a vermillion hoodie where Mackenzie had been sitting. She had to be long gone by now so he brought it with him, making it a point to give it to her at his next class. Then he marched out of the empty class, briefcase in hand. He went to an on-campus coffee shop where he purchased his regular: a cup of black coffee and two sugars, no cream. He was having a very good day today, though he had to mark plenty of research papers for a couple of over-achieving juniors. Tomas had missed his chance to get coffee this morning since he attended a staff meeting. He hated those. The headmaster didn’t talk about much, all she did was reiterate plans that had already been loosely discussed. Unnecessary talking, he thought and scorned the idea of how gathering at such early hours reminded him of being in the army.
On his way out he ran into a student, Jonas Pierce, the young man that had participated in his class earlier that day. He jumped away from the piping hot coffee. It aided him but his delayed reflexes had caused him to spill coffee onto Jonas' forearm. Tomas stood there, just looking for a moment as if he was in shock, his eyes wide open and his mind anywhere but present in that moment. Jonas hissed and groaned, the pure look of pain was evident on his pretty but distressed face. He grabbed his arm, and then the commotion from outside the shop snapped Tomas out of his trance. He used his spare napkins to pat Jonas’ arm dry, he apologized continually, “Sorry, the iron grip ain’t what it used to be, eh.”
“I’ve got it, ” Jonas told Tomas as he took the napkins from him, “It’s all good professor, it’s not bad at all” Jonas lied.
Realizing that Jonas didn’t want a spectacle, he gave in nodding as he marched off to his office. He locked the door, sat in his seat around his desk and took lungfuls of fresh air. He rested his briefcase on the ground next to him and the hoodie over a chair in front of his desk. His heart was racing in his chest and he loosened the tie around his neck. He leaned back and closed his eyes and with that, he thought back to the incident at the coffee shop.
The coffee hit his skin the way Tomas remembered nukes parting water at sea. The hot black liquid engulfed his tanned forearm in its heat. Tomas saw him but he was too late to stop it. He moved out of the way as if on instinct and Jonas' face twisted in agony. He grabbed his arm tightly and his veins protruded. Tomas' heart sped up at the internal image in his head and his member was aroused by the detailed memory. It was so intense that Tomas didn’t want the adrenaline to wear out before he got to relish in it. He stroked it from inside my jeans. The images were vivid. He remembered his moans and groans like velvet on the skin. Tomas got harder.
He freed himself, holding his member loosely in my hand stroking up and now his shaft slowly before the moment replayed itself. Jonas bit his lip and Tomas could see him holding in profanity, likely caused by his presence. After being mesmerized by him, Tomas patted his skin dry with the napkins he had; his skin was red with irritation and he swooned from the idea of stripping him naked and burning him with candle wax before forcefully making him orgasm. Tomas tensed as he stroked up and down his shaft, the pleasure taking him on a high. Up, and up and up.
Jonas opened his eyes and looked at Tomas, his eyes grey with evident pain and the frown on his face and then Tomas hit a plateau. Then he unsealed his mouth and Tomas heard the ache, quivering in his voice and with that, he soared high into the heavens before crashing with uncontrollable tremors. He grabbed some paper towels and filled them with his seed while his chest rose and sunk. Tomas relaxed, letting the high die out, revelling in satisfaction.
Before beginning to work, he cleaned himself up and marked some papers. Halfway through the research papers, there was a knock on the door, Tomas straightened up and invited them in, “Come in.”
It was his wife, standing there, at the door in a red dress and a bottle of champagne in hand. “Happy Anniversary!” She greeted him; he got up, hugged her and took the bottle from her hand.
“Happy Anniversary love,” He pecked her on the lips, invited her in and closed the door behind her. “I thought we were celebrating when we got home.” He got a pair of wine glasses from a nearby cupboard and handed Rebecca, his wife and mother of his two sons a glass of her own.
“I couldn’t wait so I thought I’d surprise you at work.” She smiled lovingly at Tomas, if only had she known, so much so that at the corners of her eyes had made crinkles. She sat in the chair in front of his desk. She glanced at the chair and noticed the hoodie, “What’s this?” She asked.
“A student of mine left it behind in class today,” Tomas responded gesturing to the hoodie with the wine glass, an unbothered look on his face. He popped the bottle open and poured the champagne. The explanation he had given her must’ve been enough because she turned her attention away from it without query.
“To another twenty-five years with the woman I love.” He toasted, she giggled like a school and clinked her glass with mine.
“To the perfect husband,” she toasted.
To be continued...