Chapter 13 – After

Chapter 13 – After

The rest of the weekend goes quickly and I manage to avoid seeing Hardin. When I head out early Sunday to go shopping, I leave before he can come to the room, and I return after he’s apparently left.

The new clothes I get fill up my small dresser, but as I put them away Hardin’s obnoxious voice plays in my head: You know we are going to a party, not church.

I suspect he’d say the same about these new outfits, but I’ve decided that I am no longer going to be going to parties with Steph, or anywhere that Hardin may be. He isn’t good company and bickering with him is exhausting.

Finally it’s Monday morning, my first day of college classes, and I couldn’t be more prepared. I wake up extra early to make sure I can take a shower—without boys around—and not be rushed. My white button-up shirt and tan pleated skirt are perfectly ironed and ready to be put on. I get dressed, pin my hair, and put my bag over my shoulder. I’m about to leave—about fifteen minutes early, to ensure that I won’t be late—when Steph’s alarm goes off. She hits the snooze button, but I wonder if I should I wake her. Her classes may start later than mine, or maybe she isn’t planning on going. The idea of missing the first day of classes stresses me out, but she is a sophomore, so maybe she has it under control.

With one last glance in the mirror, I head to my first class. Studying the campus map proves to have been a good idea, and I find my first building within twenty minutes. When I walk into my freshman history class the room is empty, save one person.

Since this person obviously cares about being on time, too, I sit next to him. He could be my first new friend. “Where is everyone?” I ask, and he smiles. His smile alone puts me at ease.

“Probably running across campus to barely make it here on time,” he jokes, and I instantly like him. That’s exactly what I was thinking.

“I’m Tessa Young,” I say and give him a friendly smile.

“Landon Gibson,” he says with an equally adorable smile as the first one. We spend the rest of the time before class talking. I find out that he’s an English major, like me, and he has a girlfriend named Dakota. Landon doesn’t mock me or miss a beat in our easy conversation when I tell him that Noah is a grade below me. I decide now that he is someone whom I would like to see more of. As the class begins to fill, Landon and I make a point to introduce ourselves to the professor.

Afterward, as the day continues, I begin to regret taking five classes instead of four. I rush to my British Literature elective—thanking God it’s the last class of the day—and barely make it on time. I am relieved when I see Landon sitting in the front row, the seat next to him empty.

“Hey again,” he says with a smile as I sit down.

The professor begins the class, handing out the syllabus for the semester and giving a brief introduction about himself, what led to him to become a professor, and his excitement for the topic. I love that college is different from high school and the professors don’t make you stand in front of the class and introduce yourself or do any other embarrassing and unnecessary things.

In the middle of the professor explaining our reading lists, the door creaks open and I hear myself groan as Hardin stumbles into the classroom.

“Great,” I say under my breath sarcastically.

“You know Hardin?” Landon asks. Hardin must have quite the reputation around the campus if someone as sweet as Landon knows of him.

“Sort of. My roommate is friends with him. He’s not my favorite person,” I whisper.

As I do so, Hardin’s green eyes lock on mine, and I worry that he’s heard me. What would he do if he had? But, honestly, I don’t care if he did—it’s not like he isn’t aware that we don’t care for each other.

I find myself curious about what Landon knows about him, though, so I can’t help but ask, “Do you know him?”

“Yeah . . . he’s . . .” He stops talking and turns slightly to look behind us. I look up and see Hardin sliding into the desk next to me. Landon stays quiet for the rest of the class, keeping his eyes focused on the professor the entire time.

“THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY. I will see you all again on Wednesday,” Professor Hill says and dismisses us.

“I think this will be my favorite class,” I tell Landon as we walk outside, and he agrees. But his face falls when we realize Hardin is walking next to us.

“What do you want, Hardin?” I ask, giving him a taste of his own medicine. It doesn’t work, or I don’t have the right tone for it, because all he seems is amused.

“Nothing. Nothing. I’m just so glad we have a class together,” he says mockingly and runs his hands through his hair, shaking it and pushing it up on his forehead. I notice an oddly shaped infinity symbol tattooed just above his wrist, and he lowers his hand as I try to study the surrounding ink.

“I’ll see you later, Tessa,” Landon says, excusing himself.

“You would find the lamest kid in class to befriend,” Hardin says as he watches him go.

“Don’t say that about him; he’s a sweet guy. Unlike you.” I’m shocked at my harsh words. He really brings out the worst in me.

Hardin turns back to me. “You’re becoming more feisty with each chat we have, Theresa.”

“If you call me Theresa one more time . . .” I warn and he laughs. I try to picture what he would look like without his tattoos and piercings. Even with them, he’s very attractive, but his sour personality ruins him.

We begin walking along back in the direction of my dorm and get about twenty steps when all of a sudden he shouts out, “Stop staring at me!” turns a corner, and disappears down a pathway before I can even think of a response.

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