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Second Chances

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When a second year University student Chloe goes through a bad break up, she ends up meeting an old crush. Did he remeber her and does he still hate her for what she did?

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Chapter 1 The Perfect Man

It was a rainy October evening and Chloe was having a bad day. The semester had only just begun but she had already been given a big essay assignment, spilled soup on herself at lunch and didn’t have an umbrella. So now she was trudging to the bar, soaking wet and shivering.

She stopped at the entrance and could hear the bustle of conversation inside. All she wanted was to go home. On top of the school work, she had work tomorrow evening but Stefanie pleaded for her to come join them for drinks and she couldn’t refuse.

“Chloe! Over here!” A voice called out, the instant she stepped a foot inside. Stefanie was waving energetically across the room. Somehow, she found a table in the packed bar and managed to keep three spots free. Chloe made her way through the throng of people and sat down with a heavy sigh, then plonked her head on Stefanie’s shoulder. Chloe’s wet hair draped over Stephanie’s top and she pushed her away gently, with a worried look on her face.

“Chlo, why are you soaking wet?”

“It’s raining,” she mumbled.

“Yeah, but why aren’t you wearing anything? You know your top is see through right?”

“I know,” Chloe sighed, sitting back up and looking down at her wet top. She couldn’t get the stain out of her sweater, so she spent the whole day covering herself with her arms.

“I spilled soup on my sweater, I had nothing else.”

“Honestly, I can’t leave you for one day,” Stefanie sighed, eyeing her.

“It’s fine,” Chloe grumbled.

“Couldn’t you have gone home and changed? Isn’t Carlo’s place basically on campus?”

“Heya, what are you drinking?” John, the third part of their little group arrived. He dumped his bag on a seat opposite, ready to head straight to the bar.

Chloe didn’t even know when they became a trio, when she came to university last year, she mostly kept to herself. She found it hard to get close to people and she always had to work a part time job to pay for expenses, so she didn’t go to many parties. Somehow, Stefanie and John became part of her life though. They had a few assignments together last year and then they started sharing lunch and next thing Chloe knew, they were stuck together all the time.

Chloe suspected that John had a crush on Stefanie, but then again most people in their grade did. Petite and sporty, with pretty brown eyes and gorgeous dark skin, Stefanie was not just good looking but effortlessly cool. Her bold and bright personality meant that she made friends easily and was quite popular without even trying, which is why Chloe found it particularly surprising that Stefanie paid attention to someone like her. Introverted and always working, Chloe had little time for things like make up, hair and fashion, choosing a practical look over something flattering.

But despite her great looks and charm, Stefanie either didn’t seem to notice all the attention on her or care, and was extremely laid back, which is one of the reasons her and Chloe got on so well.

“Cider please,” Chloe said.

“Make that two, thanks John,” Stefanie said not taking her eyes off Chloe. John smiled at them and walked off but Chloe noticed his face sink when Stefanie didn’t give him the time of day. The moment he was out of earshot Stefanie squeezed Chloe’s hand tight, making her look at her.

“Stef, it’s just a top, I’ll be fine.”

“You might get a cold,” Stefanie protested.

“I might not,” Chloe stuck her tongue out and Stefanie narrowed her eyes.

“Cheap tricks won’t work on me, why didn’t you go to Carlo’s, did you guys have a fight?”

It was just like Stefanie to jump to that conclusion. Since they became friends, Stefanie had been very protective of Chloe and she especially didn’t like Carlo, Chloe’s boyfriend.

“No we didn’t,” Chloe said instantly.

She wasn’t really lying, they hadn’t had a fight, she just hadn’t heard from him for a few days. Though it all seemed to be going well, lately Carlo was acting strangely distant. Coming home late at night or not at all, then acting like nothing happened. Chloe suspected that if she told Stefanie this, she would probably have a go at him.

“No? Then did something happen? You know he’s got a reputation…” Stefanie trailed off and it was Chloe’s turn to frown. Of course she knew he had a reputation.

Carlo was one of the best looking guys on campus. Tall, of hispanic descent, with jet black hair and dark eyes with a build of a greek god, Carlo was not the type of guy Chloe would ever imagine herself with. His looks and warm personality made him popular with women and men and as a medal winning forward of the basketball team he was often surrounded by both. This was exactly the reason why Chloe was so reluctant to go out with him in the first place.

“Stefanie, please,” she said, her tone serious. A warning to stop prying.

“Where is he tonight?” Stefanie demanded instead.

“Out with friends,” Chloe shrugged. It was probably true anyway. “We don’t have to spend all our time together,” she added. In fact she preferred not to hang around with Carlo on campus. His many admirers didn’t seem to think much of him dating a standard girl and she was uncomfortable with their openly jealous and hateful stares. Stefanie looked at her for a while. She seemed torn.

“Listen Chlo, I don’t want to get involved, but I got this picture the other day…”

She reached for her phone but Chloe quickly placed a hand over it and pushed it away. She didn’t want to see it. Many tried to tell her that Carlo is going to cheat on her and people went through silly efforts to prove that to her, but she knew what they were all actually trying to say, there was no way someone like her could date someone like him.

What most of them didn’t know was that it was Carlo who chased her for months, until she finally gave in. They didn’t know what he was like with her. Loving and caring, he made her feel like the only woman in the world. That inevitably, is what made her fall in love with him.

Though she wouldn’t say it to Stefanie, the fact that she also bought into these rumours, rather than trusting her friend hurt more than whatever picture she had to show her. Stefanie noticed the expression on Chloe’s face and opened her mouth to explain herself but John came back with drinks.

“Here you go,” he said, sitting down and sliding them across the table.

“Thanks John!” Chloe turned to him, grateful for the interruption. She could tell Stefanie was still staring at her but she didn’t want to talk about it.

The truth was that Chloe also felt unsettled by Carlo’s recent behaviour. They started going out last spring and had a wonderful summer together. Chloe kept on expecting it to end, for his interest to wane but it didn't. In fact, when the semster started Carlo suggested she move into his flat and surprised, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. But now there was the fear slowly creeping in, that maybe something was wrong. The thought was suffocating and tonight was not the night to think about it.

“Chloe, have you seen your shirt?” John asked carefully, clearly trying not to look at her chest and she blushed and quickly covered herself with her arm. She had completely forgotten about it for a second, distracted by her conversation with Stefanie.

“Here, take my jumper,” John said instantly, pulling his hoodie off and handing it to her. Chloe eyed it reluctantly for a moment, though most knew Carlo as an easy going, friendly guy, he could get irrational and jealous when it came to Chloe. She didn’t know what he would say if he saw her in another guy’s hoodie.

“You better put it on,” Stefanie said, trying to block her off from the view of the guys at the bar, blatantly staring.

“Thanks,” she accepted eventually and pulled the hoodie over her head. Carlo wasn’t here afterall and she didn’t know if he’d even be home tonight, so there was no harm in it.

“I am going to go to the bathroom and clean up."

Chloe slunk off to the bathroom embarrassed, followed by a few predatory looks. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her brown, straight hair was tangled from the rain and drooped over her shoulders. She looked tired, the green of her eyes accentuated by the redness, her mascara smudged under her eyes, leaving dark shadows. The whole ensemble together with the oversized hoodie made her think of a drowned rat.

Chloe wiped her eyes with a tissue, and brushed her hair, making her look a bit more presentable. Though she didn’t really like wearing makeup, ever since she was with Carlo she felt like she had to put in a bit of an effort. Carlo would of course tell her she is beautiful regardless but at least she felt like she tried.

Feeling better, Chloe returned to her friends and with a few more ciders in her stomach her embarrassment and tiredness seemed to fade. John and Stefanie were also psychology majors so they spent the evening sharing their mutual displeasure about the latest essay assignment. The second year was already more challenging than any of them expected and Chloe knew she would have to spend most of her time in the library. In between the part-time job and studying, she wasn’t sure how she was going to juggle a social life as well.

It was Chloe’s turn to get the drinks and she walked off to the bar. She gave her order to the bartender and leant back against the bar, observing Stefanie and John alone. They looked good together. John was a handsome guy, with chestnut brown hair and a great smile. A swimmer in his spare time, he had nice broad shoulders and he was genuinely nice. Though Stefanie was reluctant to let him hang out with them at first, his funny, chilled out character fit in well with them. Chloe was surprised that she was so reluctant to give him a chance. She smiled leaning on her fist, Stefanie was the warmest friend but she was a right ice queen when it came to guys.

Lost in her own thoughts Chloe didn’t notice someone approaching her when suddenly two muscular arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her in close. The familiar smell of cologne filled her nose.

“Carlo?” she yelped in surprise.

“Who are you smiling at?” he whispered in her ear. His hot breath on her earlobe alone made her body tremble excitedly.

“Stefanie,” she said quickly. She was already wearing John’s hoodie, there was no need to draw attention to him. She twisted around to face Carlo, and he loosened his arms to let her.

“What are you-” he cut off her question by giving her a kiss. Chloe tried to push him away, surprised. She was uncomfortable with so much PDA at the bar but Carlo didn’t care, as usual. He broke the kiss off but kept his arms around her, then glanced down at her hoodie and his eyes narrowed.

“Now what is my girlfriend doing wearing another guy’s hoodie?” he asked, his voice dangerously low.

“I got wet, John leant it to me," she said defensively, tapping him on the chest in reprimand.

She was startled by his sudden appearance and questioning. He had basically disappeared for three days and now he showed up out of the blue and was grilling her. Somehow, despite all her intentions, she found herself justifying herself rather than telling him off. Carlo didn’t seem pleased with her explanation. His hands moved down to her hips and he grabbed the edges of the hoodie. Her eyes widened guessing what he was going to do. She barely managed to blink when he pulled it off her in one fluid motion.

“Carlo!” she called out angrily but he just grinned at her. This was so like him, to tease her and do as he pleased. It was almost like the angrier she got the more he enjoyed it. Hushed murmurs surrounded them and Chloe could feel herself blush, he never cared about what anyone else thought though. Carlo’s eyes travelled down her top and darkened when he saw that it was see through. His grin had disappeared and was replaced by something more sinister. When he looked at her like that, every part of Chloe’s body tingled.

He threw the jumper on the floor and picked her up in his arms, making her yelp again. She instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck.

“Put me down Carlo,” she demanded, embarrassed but he shook his head.

“No, I need to cover you up."

“I can just wear the hoodie."


She struggled, uselessly trying to get him to put her down but his grip was like steel and she had no effect on him.

“Carlo you’re embarrassing me, we are in a bar,” she whispered urgently in his ear.

“Then we should leave.”

Without waiting for an answer he turned and started carrying her outside.

“I can’t, I’m here with my friends, I ordered drinks,” she protested hitting him with her fist, but he ignored her. Instead he walked up to their table, where Stefanie was watching the whole thing with a scowl on her face.

“I’m taking Chloe with me," he announced and thinking she was going to die of embarrassment Chloe buried her face in his shoulder. Maybe no one would recognise her.

Stefanie started to protest but Carlo didn’t listen, he wasn’t the biggest fan of hers either. He carried Chloe outside without another word.

“Are you still mad at me?” he squeezed Chloe’s side, prying the answer out of her. She hasn’t said a word to him for the last ten minutes. Embarrassed and furious, she wanted to disappear into the ground and hit him at the same time. Not only did he humiliate her in front of everyone, he took her away from her friends. She knew she was going to get an earful from Stefanie later, who couldn’t really stand Carlo anyway.

“Come on," he cooed, stroking her back with a big hand. She tried to get out of his grip when they left the place but he wouldn’t let her down so she had given up struggling. What bothered her more though, was that she was quite comfortable in his embrace and she could feel her anger failing her.

“I am sorry, but when I saw that hoodie on you, I went a little crazy,” he chuckled. It was typical Carlo, he just did what he wanted and then laughed, said something sweet and got away with it. Though she wasn’t angry at him anymore, she couldn’t help but feel upset. She hadn’t seen him for three days, though she slept at his place. He’d either show up super late and leave early or not show up at all, with no explanation of where he’d been. When he did show up he acted like this, leaving her no room to question him.

“You can’t do that Carlo,” she grumbled finally. They were nearly at his place and she knew she’d have to speak to him eventually.

“I know,” he murmured, she could tell he was smiling as he kissed her neck. His hot lips instantly made blood rush to her ears. He intensified his kiss and bit her gently making her skin tingle.

“Carlo,” she complained but there was not much fight in her voice. No matter how obnoxious he could be and how much he frustrated her, she couldn’t help herself around him. He had a way to make all her defences crumble and her anger fade with a few soft words and kisses. Annoyingly, this persistence of his somehow really ended up making her fall head over heels for him.

He opened the door to the apartment, not letting go of her. Chloe could hear sounds of TV in the living room, his housemate Mike was probably home. She pushed herself away from his chest, expecting to be set down but Carlo squeezed her tighter and kissed her instead, pressing his lips hard against hers. Startled, Chloe didn’t react for the moment, but then she gave into the kiss and his tongue made its way into her mouth. Warm and sweet.

Carlo didn’t bother saying hello and carried her straight upstairs, not breaking the kiss apart. He placed her on the bed and quickly started undressing her. Their breathing quickened and Chloe’s head started spinning from the ferociousness of his kisses. She wanted to be mad with him and push him away, but he looked up at her, while running a tongue down her stomach and that look in his eyes, so full of love and passion, melted all her doubts away.

“Where have you been these last few nights?” she asked finally, laying on his bare chest, feeling tired but satisfied. Carlo stroked her hair gently, the occasional brush of his fingertips against her skin tickling her.

“I was busy, sorry,” he said sleepily. Chloe couldn’t help but feel a knot tighten in her stomach. Why did he have to be so vague? “I won’t disappear like that again,” he added and she gulped. He must have guessed what she was thinking. Feeling annoyed with herself for letting other peoples' doubts creep into her mind, she squeezed him tighter. In answer to her hug, he wrapped his arms around her and twisted so she was completely embraced by him. He looked her in the eyes, their faces inches apart.

“I love you,” he whispered and kissed her nose and Chloe tilted her chin up to meet his lips.

“I love you too,"she answered quietly and he smiled, his eyes closed. He seemed to drift off to sleep after that but Chloe laid there for a while looking at his beautiful face. The thick black eyelashes, a straight nose and full lips. This perfect man was hers and no one could take that away from her.

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