Early August. The first day of college and I was already waiting in line at the cashier’s office to fix a problem. It was taking forever. I teased my fingers down through my long blonde hair waiting for the next available register. I twisted my straight hair into soft curls that touched clear to my hips as the boring minutes past.
Stepping to an open teller, I started discussing my account.
The minutes past and the clerk got it all fixed up. I walked away with a smile. As I opened the door to the hallway, I took one last glance around at the noisy crowd. I met the glance of another cashier down the line. He suddenly stopped what he was doing and stared at me with a shocking intensity. His mouth formed a word I couldn’t hear.
He was remarkably handsome. Native descent. He was basketball player tall and had long dark black hair that hung soft around his thick shoulders. His skin was richly tanned. His shirt clung to his shoulders and chest where you could see the outline of every muscle. I couldn’t see the color of his eyes, but they were still gazing at me as intensely as I was gazing at him.
I smiled and bit at my lip, embarrassed to be caught staring at him, but even then couldn’t rip my eyes from his. An electricity seemed to buzz in the air that had me stuck to the spot unmoving. Just then his lips grew to a brilliant grin. My heart fluttered my chest at the sight of it.
We both had each other’s complete and total attention.
It was at that point the brown-haired boy he was helping followed his gaze and looked back at me in question. I dropped my gaze to the floor and realized I was still holding the office door open. Hurriedly, I twisted out the door and the dark-haired boy and I watched each other as I inched along the long row of glass windows then out of view.
Once out of his view, the electricity seemed to clear but my joy of life nearly exploded.
I walked across campus dancing the entire way. For some reason I was suddenly incredibly happy to be at college. I had been so frightened the last few weeks, but after I got my account settled, I knew coming was the best decision I had ever made.
Unlocking the door to my dorm room, I looked around at my new home. It was a small room with two twin beds, two basic oak desks, and two large dressers lining either side of the room. The bathroom was down the hall and shared by everyone on this side of the floor. It wasn’t the nicest place to live, but it seemed like a friendly place to stay.
Sara walked in the door then. She was a dark-haired girl with brown eyes and an olive complexion, dressed in head to toe black. She was my new roommate and I hoped that we would get along as well as we had the past day. She put her books on her desk and smiled at me. “Hey Kate. So how did your first day of classes go?”
I placed my book bag down on the edge of my bed and flicked on my laptop. “It was great. I had some problems with my account, but they are settled now.” A smile twinkled across my face as I remembered the handsome dark-haired boy.
It didn’t escape her notice.
“Oooh,” she teased. “Do I detect a bit of a smile? Meet someone?”
I shook my head and looked back to her. “No, not exactly. There was a really good-looking boy in the office, but we didn’t talk or anything. He had a great smile though.” I looked out the window dreamily as I thought of it.
“You should go back and ask him out.”
I twisted in my chair as she sat on her bed. “Naw. Good looking guys like that already have girlfriends.”
“It couldn’t hurt to ask.” She shrugged.
I turned back and typed my password into the computer. “It could. Besides, I’m not here for boys. I’m here to learn,” I told myself unconvincingly.
She laughed as I heard her pull out her cell phone and begin to text. “Right. You keep telling yourself that.”
The days went by and Sara and I got to be good friends. We always hung out when she wasn’t in classes or with her boyfriend. I was more than happy to have someone to talk to.
I thought about the boy from the office constantly, but never had a reason to go back. I had dreams about him nearly every night but tried to be happy with how things were. It didn’t seem like a good idea to put my heart out there by seeing him again. He was too far out of my league and if he did have a girlfriend then I wouldn’t have to be hurt.
She caught me looking wistfully out our second story window and watching the students stroll around the dormitory sidewalks. As always I was studying the boys’ faces trying to see if maybe that boy would be around.
I could look at least couldn’t I?
“Alright Kate. Enough moping!” Sara called from behind me. “We are going to the office. Now.”
I turned quickly to face her. “Why would we need to do that?”
“Because you have been looking out the window for that guy every single day now. We are going to see him.”
My face went pale with fear, but I tried to play dumb. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
She rolled her eyes as she grabbed my brush and began pulling my hair out of the usual big messy bun on my head. “You won’t admit it, but you want to see him again. I can see how you look at guys. You are looking for that boy from the office.”
I had tried to be so careful not to talk about him again. I didn’t know she noticed. “It’s that obvious?” I asked quietly.
She placed the brush down after combing through my hair and pulled me out of the chair. “Come on. We’re going.” Her tone was final.
I pulled my eyebrows down and pinched my lips in a narrow nervous line. I was bound not to like how this ended. “He may not even be there.” It was a terrible excuse.
“Well, that may be, but we have to at least try.”
Inwardly, I desperately wanted to try.
I trudged behind her across campus to the cashier’s office. My hands shook and I began to feel perspiration dot at my forehead. My breathing and heart rate sped with anticipation. Feeling nervous, but my excitement built with every step.
I would see him again!
Minutes later, I stood at the edge of the row of cashier windows and swallowed my fear like I was drinking a rock. Slowly, I peered into the glass from the side. I checked every teller and no dark haired native glanced back. I stepped out further and gave each person another look. I breathed out a deep gloomy breath when he really wasn’t there. I had gotten worked up for nothing.
I felt heat sting behind my eyes and blinked it away. Was I really going to cry? Why did it matter so much to me to see some random boy again? Stupid. He was just a guy.
No he wasn’t, my heart argued.
“So… he’s not there I take it?” Sara asked cautiously beside me watching my expression turn gloomy.
I shook my head with disappointment.
“Well, why don’t I take you for an ice cream then? You look like you could use some chocolate. My treat.”
I gave a sad forced laugh and turned around to her. “Yeah, that would be great.”
“Okay let’s get going.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me past the office doors on the way to the cafeteria.
On the other side of the doors were pictures of everyone who worked there. One caught my eye right away and I stopped dead as my eyes focused in on it. Sara was pulled back when I stopped without her and she followed my glance.
Sara looked at the small picture taped to the glass. “Asher, huh?”
I turned to her quickly. “What?” My heart fluttered in my chest.
She pointed to a tag under the picture. “Asher. That’s his name.”
I looked to the tag. Asher Dames. I smiled. “Asher.” It was like a name of a friend I always knew. A name of someone that was like my sunshine or the air I breathe. The name seemed to suit him perfectly.
She whistled. “He’s totally hot. No wonder you’ve been digging on him.”
My hand raised to touch at the glass in front of his picture. The beam had never left my face.
“We should go ask them for his number.”
My hand fell and I turned to her with wide horrified eyes. “No, no, no. I couldn’t do that.”
“I could. I’ll go ask.” She grinned slyly.
Shaking my head back and forth quickly, a look of panic now adorned my face and I clutched at her arm. “No, please don’t! We didn’t even talk. He probably didn’t even notice me.”
“Oh come on, let’s at least go ask about him. You’ve been dreaming about this Asher daily now and you’ve barely even looked at him.”
A taller blonde boy in surf shorts stepped out from the office. “What about Asher?”
Sara looked back to him and answered like it was a casual question. “My girl here is in love with him.”
My mouth hung open and I choked on air. “What? No. No!” The red-hot heat of a blush instantly stung my cheeks.
A large smirk spread across his boyish face as his eyes trailed down my body. “So. You’re the blonde sweetheart huh? He talks about you a lot.”
Sara grinned, “Oooh, so he knows her?”
But I felt like I had been punched in the gut, body beaten to a bloody pulp. He did have a girlfriend. It felt like my worst nightmare. He talked about her. He loves her.
Of course he’d have someone already.
I sped through my words. “No. I don’t know him. We’ve never met. Sorry, we’ve got to go.”
Grabbing Sara’s arm again, I raced off with her tugged behind me. I couldn’t leave her there alone to embarrass me further.
“What was that about?” She growled as I slowed far away from the building. “He was talking about you too.”
I scowled over at her. “I’ve never met him, remember? We barely even looked at each other. He’s been talking up some blonde babe girlfriend and I really don’t want to be around when they show up together.” That would hurt me more than anything, I added silently.
I could picture her now. Tall and gorgeous. Barbie perfect. The most beautiful girl you’d ever seen. Ideal for him in every way.
She was his.
Weeks past and I stayed away from the office like it housed a plague. I couldn’t chance seeing him or his office friend again. Or even worse, his beautiful girlfriend.
Plus, I didn’t need to worry about that. I was at college to learn and grow for myself. Not to date around.
Yes, uh, that.
I started focusing on my schooling and throwing myself into learning all I could for my major. I was at classes or in my dorm room. I didn’t socialize. I didn’t go out. I just studied, and for some reason that didn’t seem to bother me.
During high school I was always out and about surrounded by friends and making trouble with boyfriends, but now it just didn’t seem necessary. Actually, it didn’t even sound appealing. Not a single guy had caught my attention since that one in the office and as much as I tried to forget him, his face was never far from my mind.
I was boring.
Sara and her boyfriend drug me out to football games and a few activities once in a while, but after a while they stopped asking.
Even they gave up on me.
My life was just doing, not living.
Once when I was daydreaming during a dinner alone at the local hamburger joint, my heart leapt for joy. I sat up high and ready to jump from my chair to greet him, girlfriend or not.
He was there, Asher was there!
…but I had to stop my thoughts because, no, it wasn’t him. It was another native tanned guy who was extremely tall. They could have been brothers though. I stared at his back in shock. My heart had taken the jump so fast. Was I really just going to throw myself at some guy? That wasn’t me. I felt embarrassed at my feelings. The dark boy turned to me probably realizing there were eyes on him, and quickly I slunk back down in my chair and pulled my hoodie over my head. He didn’t need to know that I was staring.
Why did I get so worked up over someone who was just tall? That was nothing. That boy was driving me crazy. I realized I just needed to get that office boy out of my head.
Out of my head.
Okay Boy. That’s over. That’s done. That’s what he was, just office boy. I’m done with him. No more of this constant searching and getting excited over silly skin color and height. I just need to be happy with me. I will forget him. Easy.
I tried to forget. I really did. Really? Pining over a boy that looked at me? Come on Kate. Get real.
But trying and doing were not the same thing.
It was mid-November when the school paper wanted to do a story on the preschool program where I worked. It was fun. They came and interviewed the students and children and we all donned our best dress and took a class picture. Really, I was only an aide in there as I earned credits, but I guess all the time away from socializing put me in there a lot. Probably I should be embarrassed, but I couldn’t be, the children were just so sweet and I loved every minute being around them.
When the paper came out, it made me smile. The children all did so great for the picture. Although I had to laugh at one of our boys, his face was such a crazy cheesy smile. The article was great and it was awesome that they even put my quote about working with the children in.
I walked home and put the paper down on my bed and went and looked in my mirror. I pulled the pencil out of my hair that I was using to hold it up into the messy bun I usually wore on school days. I loved the length, but it was just too hard to work with it flying everywhere. Every time I’d bend to play with one of the children it would be in my face, so I was in the habit of keeping it up. I flipped my head a bit and watched as it cascaded down my back. My hair was so long. It was one of the things I liked best about my appearance. It fell in golden waves and just touched the edges of my hips. I had been growing it out for the past eight years. I tried combing it to one side like I did for the picture. It looked so pretty.
A knock came at the door, and I put down the brush to answer it. As I did my face went blank.
No, the whole world went blank. I couldn’t believe who was standing there.
I stood frozen; absolutely in shock. How was he standing here? Was it a miracle? Dream come true?
My stomach tightened.
This had to just be another one of my dreams. Right?
Did I eat some bad seafood I wasn’t aware of, and now I was hallucinating? He looked incredibly real. I would have reached out and poked his face had it not been for him speaking.
“I’m sorry,” he said in a low handsome tone. “I had to find you. Sara said you were here.”
I couldn’t get words to form. He was there. And he was more handsome than my thoughts had been able to remember. His voice filtered perfectly into my ears and felt like a striking chorus. An angel’s breath of beautiful music. It was the first time I had even heard him speak. I was in complete awe seeing him standing there before me after all that time.
“You’re Kate right? I’m Asher. Asher Dames.”
I nodded, my voice not working.
“I know we don’t know each other, but I saw you a while back and thought you were the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.”
He remembered me too?
What happened to his girl?
I tried to swallow, anything to get me back to reality, but it just wasn’t happening.
Before I could try to do anything else, Asher was shoved inside, and Sara gave a sly grin before closing the door behind him.
We were alone.
He turned at the closed door and nearly panicked, “oh, sorry, I didn’t know she would…”
‘It’s okay’ is the first words you want the most handsome man ever to walk this planet to hear out of your mouth? Gah, stupid girl. Point a gun and shoot me dead.
He looked back to me and grinned, his lips turning into a more beautiful painting than any Monet. The sight made me smile as well.
What was I supposed to do? Oh yeah, say something intelligent.
“Hey,” he said back with a bright smile.
“So, you just wanted to say hi?”
He chuckled. “I’ve been trying to find you.”
My heart thudded. “You wanted to find me?”
“How did you find me?” I internally rolled my eyes. Very intelligent Kate.
He just shrugged a bit and said, “paper.”
“Right,” I twisted to look at the newspaper on my bed. Okay, time to breathe. I looked up to him and tried to smile, “so what? You saw the paper and came right here? It’s only been out an hour or so.”
The grin that came to his face was blaring as he stared me deep in the eyes. “I never stopped looking. I hoped you’d come back, but I didn’t see you again. I looked for you and thought about you every day. My friend Cody from work said you came by once, why didn’t come to talk to me?”
I looked down ashamed remembering that day all too well. “He said that you had been talking up a girl. I didn’t want to have to meet your girlfriend. I was too afraid after that.”
Why?! Why would you say that?! Oh my word, that was way too honest of an answer. He doesn’t need to know it that truthfully. You could have made something up. ‘Oh sorry, I moved to Australia for four months.’
His face pulled into a grimace but softened quickly. He raised a hand to slide down through a lock of my hair, and I could have swore I just got blasted to the moon on a rocket ship with how my stomach soared. “I don’t have a girlfriend. I’ve talked every day about a girl with beautiful long golden blonde hair that I only saw once. You.”
Why the heck do I want this guy I’ve never met before to twist my hair again?
I think my lip twitched.
“Me?” My posture straightened to him.
He nodded with a smirking grin.
I suddenly got embarrassed and looked away. I was no good at this. Didn’t I say no one impressed me like he did? He can say stuff, but I just stand here like an idiot. “I’ve thought a lot about you too.”
My internal Kate sighed in frustration.
At least it was better than nothing.
I was close enough to see into the rich slate grey of his eyes and he smiled even wider when our eyes met.
He reached a hand to my cheek. His warmth was like a burning hot chocolate after a day of icy sledding, but the peace it brought my insides was exquisite. “Kate, I know we just met, but can I take you to dinner? I’d really like to get to know you.” He gazed down towards me hopefully.
I nodded. “Yeah. I’d like that, Asher. I want to get to know you as well.”