My nose scrunched in annoyance when the alarm went off noisily. I buried my head under the blanket and rolled left and right to dissipate its presence.
I should just turn it off, I know. But I have to be a little dramatic in the morning.
All these years and my habits remained unchanged.
I got out of the blanket and glared at the hell-bell ringing non-stop. I slammed my palm on it and sighed in relief when the shrilly noise was cut short.
I stared at my white ceiling for a couple of minutes. I should have gotten it painted. I had no idea why I left it bland. It looked boring at times to ogle at.
“Get up, Zoe. You don’t want to be late for Harper’s class.” I got out of bed and went to the bathroom to face another day of my twenty-one years long life. My face scrunched up once again when my eyes landed on the bird-nest on top of my head.
Aka, my auburn hair.
They were seriously untamed in every way. They annoyed me so much every morning that I was compelled to leave them as it is. But I didn’t want to be a laughing stock at the campus so, I dedicated fifteen minutes to their care against my will.
I loved my doe-eyes the most throughout my appearance. I was not bad looking. I just didn’t feel pretty enough if I took my parents into account. But I was pretty contented.
Everything was survivable.
“I should just chop them short” I muttered after undoing the last knot. “And mom will chop me to pieces later. Damn! I can’t have it easy.
I performed the daily rituals, took a satisfactory shower, and ran downstairs after getting dressed. No extra hassle and trouble needed due to the courtesy of my blessed skin.
The generosity of my mother’s genetics.
I lived alone in a two-bedroom house. My parents insisted on having it instead of living in a dorm room or renting a small apartment. A caretaker came twice a week for cleaning. I seriously never understood my parents at times.
Why would I need a place bigger than my needs?
I left my bag on the counter-top and turned on the stove to make a cup of coffee. I threw two slices in toast-maker and sat on the stool. I surfed through my phone while my breakfast was getting ready.
There was nothing special in my feed. Just the usual drama of students with their ever so dramatic life.
I never understood how they managed to fit everything among piles of assignments, tests, and quizzes. It was admirable but only to look at. I could only deal with one thing.
I got up and served myself toasty warm toasts with yummy peanut butter and a cup of steaming hot coffee. I ate in complete silence.
I enjoyed it. These peaceful meals all by myself.
I washed the dishes once I was done and headed out for another hectic studious day.
“You can do this, Zoe.” I cheered myself. “You have been doing it for past years and you can do it for one more year.” I was failing miserably. “And a quarter. I don’t want to go.” I slumped on the wheel in misery. “But mom and dad will kill me. Why God? Why are you so cruel to me?”
It was my choice and my dream to study Journalism. I had to fight a massive battle with dad. He wanted me to follow in his steps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But medicine was out of my league. I was not a dull student but I didn’t have the stomach to stomach all that.
I loved writing more than anything and everything media-related always fascinated me. I was glad mom stood on my side in this decision and dad had to bow out but not without giving me a warning. He knew of my social awkwardness and this discipline demanded a lot of it. I told him I would get by but I was so wrong.
The moment I stepped foot in my new world, I regretted my decision. I always ran away from social interactions and then I jumped in the whole burning pot.
I thought of running back multiple times but dad’s words were a non-stop alarm in my head. So, I prevailed. But now the ending was coming near and I was becoming restless.
I don’t know what is wrong with me.
My grades were excellent, my GPA was good and I was keeping up with being a good student who was never late for any class. There were no complaints against me and I participated in many writing competitions to earn extra awards and credentials.
I had a friend as well and I was not dying alone out of boredom in some hole.
Life was good but I still felt lassitude.
My phone pinged and I answered without checking the i.d. Only one person called me at this time.
“Hey, Oli!” I got out after gathering my stuff. “I am in parking. Just coming in five.” I locked my car and went towards my department. A crease appeared between my brows when I saw the decorations and banners around the place.
It’s that time of the year again.
“You paused longer than necessary. You forgot again, didn’t you?” I rolled my eyes at her giggles. “Really, Zoe? For being a straight-A student, you sure are deft.”
“I am not deft. It’s just unnecessary for me.” I watched girls squeal over the posters. “This party happens every year and the excitement never dies. Why?”
“Because it’s the only time all departments gather and have fun. Except for your old soul who prefers to curl up in a blanket and read a book.”
“Watch a movie or eat pizza too.” Olivia scoffed at this. “Well! I am not against it. Such things are not for me. Anyway! I am halfway to the class. I’ll see you.”
“Get me a soda, will you?”
There she goes again.
I never understood her fetish with high sugar carbonated drinks. And the funny part was Olivia didn’t even put on any weight after consuming them like oxygen.
“I am seriously envious of you” I took a detour towards the vending machine. “How come you don’t gain anything after drinking so much sugar. I gain an extra pound just by looking at them. Not fair.”
“It’s nothing like that, girl. You have an amazing body. Curvy and healthy. You should be thanking God for blessing your soul, not cussing at it.”
“Easy for you to say” I dug a coin out of my wallet and waited for my turn. “Hold up, will you? Let me-”
“Fuck!” I jumped back when that guy kicked the machine. His outburst made many heads turn but not in a weird way. They were gawking at him in a scoop-ish kind of way. Girls were giggling and squealing. Guys were...well being guys.
I frowned at his broad back and tall height. He was at least seven inches taller than me and very muscular.
Wow, Zoe. Way to go.
I shook my head when he stepped aside. I had just put the coin in when my phone buzzed again.
“I am comi-Hey! What do you think you are doing?” The said guy who assaulted the poor machine seconds ago stopped but didn’t turn. Arrogant ass. “That’s my soda. Get your own not steal from others.” I shifted my weight from one leg to the other and waited patiently for him to turn and return my can with an apology. He was going to make me late for my class. And I was not going to leave my drink.
It was my coin.
“If you didn’t pay attention, it was my coin before yours.” My words turned to dust when he turned. “So basically, this drink belongs to me.” I only blinked like a doll in response to his remark.
It has to be Isaac King of all people.
The notorious bad boy of the campus or probably throughout the world.
I didn’t know much but Oli told me Kings were one of the richest and most powerful families of America. They migrated from Italy almost five decades back and were now the natives and among the runners of New York. His family business was armament manufacturing and they sponsored the military as well.
And Isaac was their only heir.
He was given every right to do however he pleased because his family was one of the biggest sponsors of our campus as well. I should have known it was him when I saw his black jacket. But no, I had to be stupid and dig my grave.
“What?” His deep voice laced with annoyance and anger jerked me out of my thoughts. I looked at the drink in his hand that legally belonged to me and then at his face. His coal-black eyes literally turned blacker with anger.
Are that coin and drink worth my life?
“You can have it...Jerk.” I added the insult after much hesitation. I am going to run and never look back. Not that he will know or knew who I was. I lived low-key. Perks of being socially withdrawn came in handy at times.
“You-” I dashed past him and stopped when I was at safe distance. Isaac watched me bemused when I turned.
“I curse this drink on you. You damn drink thief ass-jerk.” I ran as fast as I could.
What did I wish on so early in the morning that I had to have such an ugly start?
Well, not physically ugly. Isaac was good looking and totally above average. But his personality was ugly. So, yup. He was ugly.
I just hope I don’t turn up dead by tomorrow or tonight.
I was saved by a stroke of luck. Harper wasn’t in the class. I entered and went straight to my seat next to Oli.
“Where is my drink?” Her brows scrunched and an angry pout appeared on her face. “You came this late and still forgot to bring my drink?”
“It’s because of you I had a brush with death” I waved the pencil in her face. “You should be praising lord that I am sitting next to you here ”
“Why?” Oli asked. “What happened?” I just shook my head when Harper entered. Oli kept pestering me. I knew what telling her about my encounter with Isaac could lead to, but I also knew she wouldn’t stop until she got every word out of me.
“I ran into Isaac and I cursed him with the drink because he took it from me by force.” I let the whole sentence out in one go and sat up straight. Oli stayed in the same position with her mouth hung open and eyes wide.
I had never seen the guy before. He was a student of business and was in Shanghai for the initial two semesters. But I knew of his sick reputation. Isaac was famous for every illegal activity one could do. But worse was his races and knock-out fights.
I couldn’t get how he was able to be number one in his academics.
“I am damn sure they feed money to alumni,” I muttered under my breath. There could be no other reason. The guy seriously looked like a gang leader. “I am sure he has one as well.” I nodded.
“You ran into Isaac?” Oli finally snapped out of her temporary paralysis and jerked my shoulder roughly. I hissed at her while watching Harper. Thank goodness, the old soul was busy with the slides. “You mean the Isaac King?”
“Do you know any other Isaac on our campus? Because all I ever heard from you is about that asshole.” Oli squealed. “Oli!” I clamped her mouth shut. She was going to get us out of this class. “Shut it.” She was not listening. She was practically dancing in her seat with stars in her eyes.
A brief knock on the door and we turned to look at the late-comer like the rest of the class.
Wuck the Fhat?
Oli squealed again and I clamped her mouth hard to avoid unnecessary attention. My heart was thundering in my chest. I lowered in my seat to avoid being caught by his scrutinizing black eyes.
“Isaac?” Harper’s surprise was more towards apprehension. She didn’t like her lectures being interrupted.
Even by the so-called owner of the campus.
“I’m looking for Zoe.” I am dead. “Zoe Bradshaw.” I am definitely going to die. I lowered further in my seat when every head turned in my direction.
Don’t give him my address, you idiots.
But Isaac already saw me. A dangerous smirk appeared on his lips when our eyes connected.
I love you, mom and dad.
“Can I have a moment with her?” He asked Harper.
“You are interrupting the class, Isa-”
“You can proceed,” Isaac interrupted her rudely which made the girls of our class ‘oooh’ dreamily. “I am sure she can catch up. After all,” his eyes found their way back to me. “She is your brightest student.”
“Whom I would like to refrain from associating with the likes of you. Zoe!” I got up with a bowed head. Oli was cheering me and I wanted to smack her hard for landing me in such trouble. Everyone was either giving me stink eye, watching me with sympathy or envy as I made my way towards the gates of hell. I mean the entrance of our class. “It should be first and last time.” Harper looked at Isaac coldly.
“Yes, Professor, and I’m sorry” I mumbled and walked out. She just nodded and closed the door. I couldn’t find the courage to face Isaac. My eyes went around the empty hallways and I cursed inwardly.
“I am standing right here” I flinched at his acrid tone. No point. I looked at him reluctantly. “It’s the first time I have seen you around.” Isaac cocked one brow in question. “You-”
“Look! I didn’t mean to be mean in the morning but you kind of asked for it. I mean your coin got stuck, it doesn’t mean you should go and stake a claim on others. That machine refused to grant you that drink. And you took mine. It was not fair. And this world should be fair. I mean we are talking about the balance of things. But how would you know of it? You were born on the wrong side. You know my ears are still hurting from the whining they had to bear because of your cold act. I-”
“Shut up,” Isaac pressed the cold coin to my lips. “You really chose the right discipline. Look how you didn’t even let me finish.” I just shrugged. “Interesting!” Isaac mused and stepped closer to me.
He invaded my personal space.
I tried to speak but Isaac pressed the coin hard against my lips.
“You cursed me and I didn’t like that” Isaac murmured huskily and bent his head to match my height. Why do I have to be five-five? It seemed so unfair at the moment. “I would like you to lift it off.”
How am I supposed to? That was not even a real curse. Idiot arrogant piece of ass-jerk.
“Stop cursing me, Zoe. I don’t like it.” My eyes went wide when he answered another one of my thoughts. Stupid facial expressions. “Now back to business.”
“Bu-” I just parted my lips slightly and he shut them back.
By pressing his lips to mine. Through the coin.
Did he just kiss me through the coin? My kiss? My first kiss.
Isaac pulled away and smirked arrogantly. I, on the other hand, was mimicking the statue of liberty.
“Now we are even” Isaac grabbed my hand and put the coin on my palm. “It is going to bring you so much luck.”
Luck, my ass. I am going to kill him with the same coin.
“Later.” I watched him walk away from me confidently. I blinked at last and touched my tingly lips.
“Eww!” I rubbed them furiously. “Eww! Eww! Eww! Bloody germs of a germongous.” I wanted to scream so badly. I never lost my cool but that guy made me want to rip my head off. He was so arrogant and infuriating.
What was the big deal? How dare he insult me?
Another wave of anger hit me hard when I saw the coin in my palm. I stormed inside the class while cursing him mentally.
Isaac King! Damn you.