1. Transfer Student
My foot is rhythmically tapping the floor over and over again. Tap.Tap.Tap. Every nerve in my body is skyrocketing and I can’t stop fidgeting. I clench my hands together tightly, forming small fists to help combat my shakiness. This was the last thing I wanted. I had dreamed ever since I was a little girl to attend my old university. It was the place my parents both attended, met each other, and fell in love. Even my older brother Trey went there, and I was hell-bent on following in their footsteps. But even our most carefully laid out plans can fail. And sitting outside the administrative office at this new university, miles and miles away from my friends and family, I can sufficiently say my college plans have been crushed.
I’m now stuck in this densely populated part of Indiana where I know absolutely no one. My parents thought it would be brilliant to ship me off here, where I have an estranged aunt and uncle who I never knew existed, to continue my studies. Safe and far away from them and every nightmare that plagues my hometown.
“Raine Kahn?” A woman’s eyes wander around before settling firmly on my slouched figure. “The dean is ready to see you.” Thanking her, I stand up and begin to gather all my belongings before I stand in front of Dr. Nelson’s office. Preparing myself mentally, I plaster a large grin on my face as I open his office door to greet him enthusiastically.
“Dr. Nelson! What a pleasure to meet you.” His handshake is strong and to the point, and I take a seat in front of his desk when he gestures for me to do so. “Raine is it? I’m glad to see you have chosen Ball State as your university choice of transfer. According to your transcripts, you are a remarkable student. You graduated from high school top of your class, your extracurriculars are outstanding, and your previous college professors speak highly of you. So I guess the real question here isn’t why we here at Ball State should choose you, but moreover why you chose us. I’m curious why you decided to transfer your second semester of freshman year. The University of Kentucky is a great school, and you were doing well there. Why did you decide to transfer?” I release a deep breath. I should’ve expected this question but I didn’t think someone would ask me so soon.
“Well, first off, I wanted to thank you profusely for accepting my transfer here. I think I can find something valuable at Ball State. As for the answer to your previous question, I felt like I needed a change of scenery. My whole life was spent in Kentucky, gearing up to attend university there. I think this will be a great opportunity for me.” Lies lies lies. I’ve become a master manipulator these past few months, but my charade had finally come to an end. I could only hide what was happening for so long before I cracked and everyone around me could witness my fragments.
I could hardly tell Dr. Nelson the real reason I had to transfer so abruptly and uproot my life. I could barely admit it to myself sometimes. It took all my courage to talk to my parents and then tell all my friends and professors goodbye. They were just as much a family to me as my parents and Trey are. I’ve never been so far from them before. But this place is supposed to mark my fresh start. I’m determined to make it a hell of a one.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for here then Ms. Kahn. You know where to go to find out your dormitory room and the times your classes start, correct?” I nod affirmatively, shaking his hand once again before exiting his office swiftly. Once I’m able to get my room key I walk back out to the visitors parking lot where my aunt Trish and uncle David have been waiting patiently.
“All set kiddo?” David asked while he continued to remove my luggage from their SUV. I had taken refuge in their home for the past few weeks while waiting for second semester to begin. I have no idea who my roommate is going to be, but I can only hope she’s tolerable. I don’t need any trouble while I’m here.
“Yep. Got my class schedule and room keys.” I jangle them around for further emphasis. “Are you excited honey?” Trish asks and I somehow manage to keep the same smile on my face despite the weird feeling settling in my stomach. These two were never a part of my life growing up. Even during Christmas or any family get-togethers, they remained absent. Yet they took me in when I needed it the most, opened their home to me, and have treated me like their own daughter.
Trish and David never had any kids and I can’t help but wonder why. They’re amazing people from what I’ve seen so far. Why would they isolate themselves from the rest of our family? Perhaps it’s further secrets between them and my own parents. I can hardly judge anyone for being secretive given my past behavior, but I feel like I’ve been outed on having a true relationship with my aunt and uncle. I have a chance now to remedy that though.
“As excited as I can be under the circumstances. This isn’t quite where I planned to be at this time in my life.” I happily accept my aunt’s warm and inviting hug. “I know doll. This is the cards life has dealt you though. Just remember: none of this is your fault. I hope you don’t ever blame yourself.”
“I won’t Trish. Or at least I’ll try hard not to.”
“We love you, Raine. Even though we haven’t been around for much of your life, these past few weeks spent with you have proven what a wonderful young woman you turned out to be. Take this chance here to start fresh. Make friends with good people and make smart choices.” David says, a proud gleam in his eyes. Once they help me carry my stuff to my dorm room I squeezed them both tightly as we said our farewells. I try hard to bat down the unsettling feeling in my stomach, which was a result of how much I’ve been saying goodbye to the people I love as of recently.
It shouldn’t be like this. I shouldn’t have had to leave behind everything and everyone I knew and loved for a mistake I made. A beautiful, reckless mistake that had a thundering heartbeat and an unforgiving temper. He brought me the most tragic happiness and sorrow.
He ultimately led to my downfall, one individual strike at a time.
My roommate is nowhere to be found when I finally settle in my new room. Half of my belongings are unpacked while the rest of my stuff remains either scattered around my portion of the room or stuffed in my bags. The room is decent I guess, not nearly as large as my old dorm room.
My roommate has a ton of pictures hung up beside her bed, and I can already tell she’s a sociable person. I don’t know what her natural hair color is since in every picture she’s rocking a new shade. But what I do know is she’s stunning, and I can only hope her many male suitors don’t follow her back here nightly. The last thing I need is any guys lurking around.
Sighing deeply I fall back onto my mattress, feeling utterly alone. Plugging in my phone, I power it up only to be bombarded with an influx of messages. I grin as I see tons of messages from my friends asking how I’m settled in and telling me how much they miss me. I go to reply to my mother first, reassuring her that everything has gone fine and yes, I have eaten something today. Once I begin to reply to some of my friends and old classmates they enter me into a group chat that gets wilder by the minute.
Raine baby! Have you replaced us yet?
I roll my eyes at Ryder’s text. He’s been trying to get with me since the school year began. I had to turn him down one too many times, and I always made sure he couldn’t stuff me full with too much alcohol when we all went out partying, which reassured that I would never wake up the next morning at his bedside. Now that would be mortifying.
If by “us” you mean you, then no, I haven’t. I don’t think there’s anyone else like you in the world.
I immediately burst into giggles at my friend Quinton’s next text.
Give it a rest already Ryder! She never wanted to get with you when she did go here, and now there’s no way you’d ever have a chance.
She sends another text almost immediately.
Not that you ever did.
They begin their own banter for a while and I’m so busy laughing that I don’t notice when the door opens. “I’d love to know what’s so damn funny.” I immediately jump at the sound of a female’s raspy voice and turn my head to examine who must be my roommate. Her hair is dyed an aqua shade and rests pliantly on her bare shoulders. Her exuberant brown eyes are outlined with multiple coats of mascara and when our eyes finally connect I notice the small gap between her two front teeth as she grins at me impishly.
“Hey! I’m Mirriam, but most people call me Mimi. I guess we’re roommates now.” I accept her handshake and widen my eyes when it feels as if she can pull my arm out of socket. Jesus, what is in the food here?
“I’m Raine. It’s so nice to meet you!”
“Right back at ya Raine. You look bored out of your mind all cooped up in here and I thought you were mental when I heard you cackling to yourself.” My face is set to flames when she says this.
“Uh, yeah I was just texting some friends and they said something funny.” I murmur, trying to brush off her comments and my embarrassment. She raises a delicate brow.
“You’ve got a bit of an accent, you’re not from around here, are you? Where’d you transfer from?” I watch as she paces over to some drawers I had assumed were hers, seemingly searching for something while waiting for my answer.
“I’m from Kentucky and transferred here from there.”
“This might sound a bit random and insane, but Raine, how would you like to go to a party with me?” I blanch at her offer. Multiple warning signs go off in my head. A party means being around a ton of people I don’t know with the added effect of drugs and alcohol. Ever since him, the word party has had awful connotations. The word now instilled a fear in me that he placed there. But he’s no longer in my life and I’m not stuck underneath his thumb. Yet I’m still reluctant.
“I appreciate the offer Mimi, but I’m not so sure. I just got here today and I think I should focus on settling in.”
“Nonsense! You’re new and you don’t have any friends around here. This is a perfect opportunity to meet new people! I’ll take you under my wing and introduce you to some people. It’ll be roommate bonding!” Aw, what the hell.
“Okay, sure. Just let me get ready.” What a mistake this night would turn out to be. I guess trouble finds me wherever I go.
And it is always so sinfully beautiful.
Coming to this party was a mistake. This place is so packed I can’t even hear myself think. Far too many people have knocked into me ever since I showed up. For the first hour, I followed Mimi around like a lost puppy as she continued to introduce me to so many people I can’t even begin trying to remember their names. Then, when she caught sight of this burly dude she was quick to scamper off, after promising to be back in a minute. I haven’t seen her since.
So now I’m stuck at this party full of strangers in some strange, unknown location. A few random, but friendly, people would stop to talk to me but something far more important would always snatch their attention. I keep comparing this party to the ones we’d have back home. The whole gist is the same, loud music and even louder people. But I used to be the life of the party, outgoing and adventurous. Now I’m some unknown social recluse.
“You looking for some company? My friends and I are doing beer pong. You don’t have to play but you can still hang.” A girl with short, choppy brown hair steps up to me to say. She’s abnormally tall, stalking over my five foot five frame as she smiles at me in a cheerful manner. She’s wearing a pair of cute, quirky glasses that cover a pair of inviting green eyes. Seeing as I have nothing better to do, I accept her offer and follow closely behind her as she maneuvers her way out of the room I’d been occupying. We go down a set of stairs into a basement area where a huge group of people are surrounded by a large table. Black leather chairs and loveseats are positioned around the basement, and a small glass table is sat in front of them.
“I’m Georgia by the way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around, like at all. Of course, there’s a ton of people here I don’t know but most are still recognizable.”
“That’s probably because I’m new around here. I just transferred from Kentucky.”
“That’s so cool! What’s your name?” We walk up to the table where beer pong is being played and stand towards the outskirts of the group assembled there.
“That’s such a pretty name! And you are so gorgeous by the way!” I grin at her compliment. “Thank you. And thanks for inviting me to hang out down here with you, I lost my roommate who invited me here.”
“It’s no problem. Here, let me introduce you to a few people.” We walk over an abandoned corner of the room where a few people are sat. They greet Georgia enthusiastically once they catch sight of her and I can feel their curious gazes on me.
“Hey losers! I want you guys to meet Raine. She’s new here and I just saved her from a lame night spent alone upstairs.” Everyone greets me and I try to remember all their names as they’re supplied. There’s Tristan, who is a blonde with glowing blue eyes and an easy smile. Next, there’s Keira, who’s super slim with long black hair and brown eyes. Jackson, who’s been eyeing me up and down since I walked over here. His hair is cropped close to his scalp and his electric eyes are a bit unnerving. And there’s another guy sat a few seats down from them all and his attention was lost in the girl perched on his lap. He was breathing in her lips as if he’d never take another breath if they parted.
“Who’s that?” I ask Georgia, and at that moment he looks up from his girl, his piercing gray eyes stunning me into silence. He’s magnificent, his long legs folded royally underneath him. His shoulders are narrow, and my eyes slide down to his muscled arms that are gripping her waist with an iron force. His face is unbelievably handsome, his pretty pink, wet lips pursed with insistent thought. He has dark, caramel brown hair slicked back with precision and perfection. He’s hypnotizing and my breath catches when he smirks my way.
“Him? That’s Shane Rikers, our campus’ own man candy and fuck boy. He goes through girls like there’s no tomorrow, and even though there’s no denying how sinfully good he looks; he has a bad mouth and attitude to match.” All I can think when she says that is he’s trouble. And that is the last thing I need. But I can’t help but feel drawn to him, like every female in this room must be. That girl in his lap must be his conquest for tonight. I definitely know his type, more than I care to admit, but his stare was haunted and bone-chilling. It spelled out lust and mischief.
But I also saw what most people probably overlooked when they saw him: pain. His eyes are haunted with pain of some kind, and I hate to find myself wanting to know what that pain is. I know pain and heartbreak like the back of my palm, and this Shane figure is screaming of both.
“So he’s bad news.” I murmur, glancing away from him despite my better judgment. I could unwittingly spend the rest of my night staring at him. And that scares me.
“That dude is a dick. I don’t know why all the girls on campus act like dogs in heat around him.” Jackson scowls, obvious hatred burning in his eyes. I have to restrain myself from looking at Shane again. I don’t need to associate with someone like him. I need to squash my insane notion and quest of fixing people. Broken people are not my responsibility. In the end, they just ruin you, stepping on your cracked pieces and using them to fix themselves. My lesson has been learned.
“He has a fine ass, and according to some, a nice dick too. He’s a good time with a filthy mouth.” Keira says coyly while Georgia and I laugh at her remark. The boys just scoff.
“I don’t know,” I say, stealing a glance back at him. He’s reconnected with mystery girl, “maybe he’s just misunderstood.” They all burst into loud laughter at my words, Tristan and Keira even doubling over with tears. I am immediately filled with embarrassment.
“That’s cute Raine, honey. But Shane Rikers is all matter and no substance. What you see is what you get. And what is he? A good time that expires once morning comes. He’s got a bad attitude, hell, a bad everything. Don’t get caught up with him. You seem way too innocent for him anyways.” Keira changes the subject quickly after that, but my mind is stuck on the boy with dark clothes and an even darker personality. If only she knew that I had already seen darkness, loved it, and became addicted to its bitter taste. And I hardly escaped.
I didn’t need her warnings to stay away. I am prepared to run like hell from everything that Shane Rikers represents. Fresh starts don’t begin with gray eyes that speak of pain and anguish. They don’t have pretty lips. And they surely don’t have a poor reputation. I’m not here for Shane or those like him. I’m going to focus on my education, get my degree, and hopefully get the hell out of here one day.
I don’t have time for distractions. Not anymore. Not ever again.