Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 2: Hope You Have a Great Life!

My class schedule is amazing.

Most of my classes start late in the morning, which gives me ample amount of time to sleep.

And yeah, I take my sleep really seriously.

I feel like a god waking up this morning, no alarm needed. Laying on the soft satin sheets, I scoot to the edge of the bed, and check the time on my phone. I purse my lips. Perfect. I had about an hour to get ready, and grab a drink from the college cafeteria.

I make my bed, then stroll into the bathroom to freshen up. Stripping down and twist the faucets, I allow the water to rain down on me. It’s usually this time of the day in which I can be at peace, alone with my own thoughts. I mean, I’ve always been alone, apart from when I’m with Cara. My parents care for me, but they have an empire to run, so they are often not at home.

My dad and mom, both being the co-ceos of Woods and Co, are practically workaholics. The office is their second home. Sometimes, I will not see them for days, because they’re busy making a fortune.

But when they are at home, they are seen arguing over practically everything, the recent stock market crash, horrible employees, nasty clients, and even petty things like the broken coffee machine in the office pantry. So when I’m in the shower, the soft patter of water calms me down, and drowns all the other noises around me.

I press my hands to my face as I shiver under the stream. Sucking in a sharp breath, I cleanse myself. My dark brown hair is drenched, sticking unto my body. I grab a towel, wrap it around my body and head for my room. Slipping into a a nice top and some skinny jeans, I make a mental note of calling my parents. I know they are probably too busy to answer my call, but I should probably let them know how I’m doing. Before I leave, I dial my mom’s number on my phone and press call.

She answers on the last ring. Her voice is business-like over the phone. ” Margaret Woods.”

I take a deep breath. “Hi, mom.”

A slight pause. “Hello, baby.” Her voice turns soft, “How’s moving in with Cara?” “It’s alright.” I say, sighing.

I snatch my bag and head for the living room. I scan around and find Cara sitting at the edge of the island table, with a cup of tea. Her hair cascades over her shoulders in a tangled heap, but nevertheless, she still looks amazing. She’s watching something on her tablet and she doesn’t even notice my presence in the room.

“I’ve already unpacked all my things.”

“That’s good, baby.” She murmurs, but she sounds distracted. She must have been doing something important before I interrupted her with a call.

“Yeah,” I reply. I decide to tell her about the incident on the stairs yesterday. Just thinking about it makes me blush. But I should probably leave out the part with Nate. Mom always never likes talking about boys. I doubt Nate will be an exception.

“You’ll never guess what happened yesterday, though. I was carrying boxes up the stairs and tripped. Now I have a sprained ankle. But no worries, because I got it patched up.”

I expect there to be concern but there is none from her. “Glad to hear you’re alright.”

“I’m about to leave for the campus right now,” I inform her, unsure of what else to say. “Kind of excited, actually.”

“Hmmmhmm, that’s good, Alex.”

My relationship with my mother has been on the rocks ever since she stepped up as co-ceo of the company. I used to be quite close to her back in the days, but nowadays, I feel disconnected from her. She seems almost like a stranger to me now.

I roll my eyes. “How’s work?”

“Work’s fine,” She says. I hear her furiously typing on her computer.

An awkward silence passes.

“Can I talk to dad? Is he there?” I say, forcing a small smile on my face. Cara looks up and hands me a cup of tea. I gladly take it and drink from it.

I wait for a response. I hear tapping of keyboards for a few second before she replies. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

I lift my eyebrows in confusion. “Why?”

She sighs. “Your father’s not in the greatest mood these days. Something huge has come up, and he needs to sort things out before things get real messy.”

Huh. That’s weird. My dad has never had ‘something huge’ come up before. He is a skilled businessman, always knowing the crafts and tricks of the business world. Basically, he’s never had a setback before. I wonder what changed. Maybe I should call him later and ask what has happened. But then again, maybe he would not want me to call him.

“Oh.” I say. “Ummmm.. Tell him I said hi.”

“Will do, honey.” She replies, distracted once again.

Cara passes me a quizzical look and I just shrug. She knows my complicated relationship with my parents, and she’s always there for me when I need her. I love her for that.

Another long silence stretches, but this time, my mom is the first one to speak again.

“If there isn’t anything else...” Her voice trails off. Tears burn at the back of my eyes. She sounds like she’d rather do anything than have a simple conversation with me.

“Um, no.” I say, keeping my voice steady.

“Bye, honey.”

I smile, heartbroken. “Bye. I love you.” And then she hangs up.

I slump into the chair, dejected. Cara leans forward from the opposite of the table, concern filling her eyes. She lifts her shoulders and a smile passes her face.

“It’s nothing.” I wave her off, taking another sip of my tea.

It is fine. I am fine. I cannot convince myself otherwise.

Cara stands up, and tugs at my hand, grabbing her keys. “Come on. Let’s go.”

I stand up almost suddenly, but then my right leg gives out on me, so I have to grab the edge of the table for support. “Whoa. Wait... where are we going? Campus?”

Her blue eyes burn into mine. “Yeah. Well, we’re going to get smoothies, and then to class, because you need to get your mind off it.”

“Get my mind off what?”

She smiles at me. “Exactly.”


Stony Brook Commons, our apartment, is less than twenty minutes from college.

Cara doesn’t exactly have a car, so she often carpools with me in my brand new

Cadillac. Honestly, I think she doesn’t want to get her own car, because mine is- in Cara’s words- ”absolutely amazeballs."

It’s true. My baby is awesome. My parents bought it for me as my high school graduation present. I guess it’s their way of saying “sorry we’re always not around because we’re too busy making money, so here’s a new gift to compensate for that! Hope you have a great life!”

After parking a few blocks away, Cara and I walk towards the building in front of us.

One look at Boston College, and one word fills my mind. Beautiful. It stands gloriously over the low hill, looming over the students mingling around below. The vast expanse of green cloaks the infinite ground as benches are scattered on the surface of the greenery. The natural architecture that surrounds Boston College can easily steals one’s breath away.

The freshmen can easily be spotted from of the rest of the students that roam around the campus. They always seem more overexcited than the rest.

Cara and I grab some smoothies before heading to class. We sit by the bench and sip from our drinks, quietly admiring the place. She doesn’t ask me about my parents, and I don’t feel like talking about it either. She knows my situation with my parents, so I don’t have to explain. We talk for a little while, but after that, it is the silence that we find comfort in.

After a while, I check my phone for the time.

“Crap, I should be getting to class.” I mutter, throwing the cup into the trash can beside the bench.

Cara looks up, pouting. “Really?”

I shrug. “Don’t you have classes too?”

She frowns. “Yeah. But mine only starts in half an hour.”

I grab my bag and sling it over my shoulder. I bat my eyelashes at her. “Well, I’m going to go first. Don’t want to be late on my first day.”

My best friend rolls her eyes. She makes a face. “Goody-two shoes.”

I nudge her shoulder and laugh. “Shut up.”

I drag myself into creative writing class about fifteen minutes early and pick the most inconspicuous seat in the middle of the amphitheatre-style classroom. The class is already half full, and I stare at the people surrounding me. They’re mostly clustered in groups with their friends.

Okay, perhaps I should have branched out this morning and gotten myself some friends because I seem to be the only one sitting alone.

This sucks.

I don’t want to look like I’m loner, so I take out my spiral notebook and slap some pens on my desk as company. My phone chimes and I check it to find an unknown number has messaged me.

I see you. ;) - Nate.

I lift an eyebrow. I look around the class but I can’t spot him. Is he even in this class? Looking back at my phone, I shoot him a message.

I don’t remember giving you my phone number. And where are you, stalker? :) My phone chimes again.

In front of the class.

I scan the room once more, and my eyes fall on him. Nate stares back at me with a huge grin on his face. Today, he has his dark hair flipped back, and he wears a

simple grey shirt with jeans and sneakers. His eyes lock with mine, and my face is on fire.

He’s in front of the class, but he’s standing by the door. He obviously doesn’t take this class, because he’s wary of the people staring at him. I lift my hand to wave hello, trying to be subtle.

My phone beeps.

Hi.

Then, it beeps again.

How’s your leg?

I type on my phone, smiling to myself.

It’s better now. Thanks for asking.

Then, I shoot him another message.

Did Cara give you my number?

He doesn’t answer for a while. He looks up at me again, brows knitted in a curious expression settle on his striking face.

Yes. He replies. Just now.

I roll my eyes. My fingers fly over the keyboard of my phone.

Don’t disturb me. Class is starting soon. :)

I see his chest rise and fall, and I think he’s chuckling.

Not exactly here to see you, Alex.

My cheeks burn. I’m embarrassed that I have jumped to the conclusion he’s here to see me. Then why are you here?

Keeping an eye on Daniel. He’s in this class, and from the looks of it, he’s not feeling well. He’s got this major hangover.

My mouth opens. Daniel. Daniel. Daniel.

Nate points to the direction beside me and I see him. Daniel.

Fuck.

When Nate had first mentioned him yesterday, I didn’t think it would be him.

But it is.

God, it is.

His blonde hair is a mess of waves falling into his face, casting shadows over his ocean blue eyes. Thick lashes frame them. His cheekbones are broad and well defined. Oh god, his lips. They look full and soft. A hint of stubble shades the strong curve of his jaw. He doesn’t have dimples like Nate, but he doesn’t have to.

His biceps bulge underneath his shirt, which catches the eye of some other girls sitting at the back. They whisper amongst each other, and giggle, possibly thinking of ways they could ask him out later after class. But there’s one thing I agree with them, it’s that he looks beautiful.

Just like how I remembered.

Too bad his personality is so full of shit.

My phone vibrates again. You okay? Nate asks.

Tearing my gaze off Daniel, I type in a reply. Yeah. I’ll text you later.

;) Can’t wait.

Daniel looks around the class and finds the empty spot beside me. No. No no no no no no no, he’s so not going to sit next to me- Aaaaaand he sits next to me.

I muster a groan.

He doesn’t look like he knows me, because he glances at me briefly and looks away, clearly uninterested. I can’t believe he doesn’t recognise me. Perhaps he chooses not to remember me, if that even makes sense.

Fortunately, the lecturer decides to show up, ten minutes later than scheduled. She sets her briefcase down, and starts to introduce herself. I try to listen to what she’s saying, but I just can’t. I think she just said her last name. Wellings? Hemmings? Or was it Lemmings?

Urgh.

I can’t ignore the guy next to me. His presence is shadowing my mind and my sight.

Why

Why

Why

Is Daniel Kerrington, out of all the places in the world, enrolled in my college? Why is he here, sitting next to me in the exact same class, at the exact same time?

Why is the world being so god damned cruel to me?

I need to distract myself from him. I focus my attention on the lecturer. She’s talking about the concepts of writing, but I can’t even fathom what she’s saying. I try to write down on my notebook, but the words are so messy, and jumbled, even I don’t understand what I’m writing.

I tilt my head to the right, just a little bit, to look at him. He seems to be doing a better job than me in paying attention, despite his hangover Nate had told me about.

His presence scorches me like he’s the freaking sun.

He’s biting on the cap of his pen, looking forward. He’s not taking any notes, and I wonder why he even has a pen with him. I lift my gaze, but quickly look away for the fear that he would look at me and immediately recognise me.

I try to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if he’s in the same class as me, it doesn’t matter that he’s also possibly my neighbour.

I was going to have a hard time avoiding him for the next four years of my life here.

But I have to try. After today, there is no way I’m going to cross paths with him again.

After the lecture is finished, I quickly shove my notebook and my pens into my bag and rush out of the class. I feel a sense of relief when I reach the doors, panting.

Maybe I hadn’t handled my meeting with Daniel- if you can even call it a meeting-, but I don’t think I have to do so again.

I lean against the wall, and tell myself to calm down. After normalising my breaths, I start to run, navigating my way through the hallway to the left.

Wrong move.

Daniel is there, backpack slung over his shoulder, staring straight at me. His expression hardens when his eyes meet mine.

I immediately stop my tracks.

“You.” He says, and my heart tears through my ribcage. He recognises me.

God dammit.

I was hoping I could ignore him for the rest of my life here, but I guess that’s not going to happen now. Putting on a brave face, I turn to look at him.

He steps forward, his eyes hint of disbelief. “You’re the girl from that restaurant. The bitch.”

“What the hell did you just call me?” The words fly out of my mouth before I can have a chance to stuff that back in.

Instead of answering my question, he merely laughs. Then, he flips me the middle finger. “Screw you.”

I lose it.

Clenching my fist, I hit him square in the face.

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