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apartment and I felt like not being a jerk-off and brought it to him, fate that I arrived early to his class
and stepped in the lecture hall out of boredom, and fate that I came in
at the exact right time to hear her words. Words I’d replay in my mind well
replayed in my mind even when I wanted to shake her from it.
slice of time in life, when you know, its existence will change the course of every
as others ask questions and the professor drones on, everything that comes
after is unimportant, and each person that speaks does so with words that
aren’t as eloquent as hers; their voices aren’t as beautiful. I’m about to risk
looking like a crazy stalker and walking right down to where she is when the
professor ends class. When Jax comes out I corner him and ask him about her. He
looks at me as if I’m crazy, so I run toward the crowd of students leaving his
classroom. He grabs my arm to stop me.
her say it in your class and you don’t know who she is, so I have to find her,”
I tell him manically.
a hundred. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, that’s it. I’d run
through a wall. We’ve been best friends since our sophomore year of high
school, so he knows when there’s no stopping me and he might as well jump on
clue what she looks like. The hall is flooded with students leaving their
classes. I rush out the main door and stand by it, hoping she’ll be talking and
I’ll recognize her voice. I search each girl’s face as they pile outside. Some
smile at me and I make sure to give each one my best charming smile in case
me as if I’ve lost my mind.
on one of the busiest streets in Chicago—not to mention on a Monday, where even
a slight stroll can get you trampled or knocked over.
whoever said that,” I tell him again.
just ask at my next class.” He sounds annoyed but slightly amused.
get a glimpse of what she looked like. She could be dog-faced, man.”
But the voice is gone, disappeared into a sea of conversations and street
frustration, gripping my head and avoiding people rushing to their next destination.
the cold wind bone-chilling. That makes it worse for me, since people are not
only in a hurry to get where they’re going, but to get off the street to
somewhere warm. Panic creeps up my chest. What if I never find her? It’ll drive
through me. I look around and spot a mailbox and newspaper box. I slither
through the crowd and climb on top of it. “Attention, everyone, attention,
story without reading the pages of their book’?”
someone’s story without reading the pages of their book!” I yell again.
people keep walking. People in downtown Chicago are accustomed to outrageous,
outlandish behavior, and most don’t pay me any
attention. I shout it again, and soon Jax is shouting it with me. Even if he is
shaking his head in disdain, he’s used to my ridiculousness, and what’s a
friendship if you can’t be ridiculous together?
I have to talk to you,” I shout, and I sound desperate even to myself but I
don’t care, I have to know her.
five minutes, I look at Jax, whose face is red from the cold. I begrudgingly
get down off the mailbox.
I tell him.
an idiot sometimes.” I sigh in defeat.
guys were looking for me maybe?”
almost afraid to see who said it, whose voice grabbed my heart and didn’t let
go. Am I really ready to hand it over to someone? I haven’t even let a girl
borrow it, but this girl stole it and had it in her keeping before I’d
even seen her face. Jax is facing her already and his eyebrows are raised, his
smile big and goofy as it always is when he sees a cute girl, and I know she’s
not a ‘dog-face’.
actually,” he says begrudgingly, patting my shoulder.
cage. She’s beautiful, totally and completely. Her cheeks and nose are red, but
the rest of her skin is flawless, not one blemish. Long blond hair pours from
underneath her hood. Her eyes are big and bright and the color of honey, and
her lips are exactly how I imagined them, perfect, plumped and curved into a
grin. Next to her is an older woman who has to be her mother. They have the
exact same eyes, and her mother’s hair is just a tad darker. She looks annoyed
and skeptical, her gaze darting between Jax and me.
Romeo,” Jax says in my ear before giving me a hard elbow to my ribs.
that, what I was yelling earlier?” I ask even though I know it was her.
pursed, lips I imagine kissing a thousand times. There’s a hint of a smile on
them, and I’m praying she doesn’t smile fully because it might stop my heart.
gentlemen want?” her mom chimes in. She sounds completely irritated and that
should scare me out of what I’m about to say next, but it doesn’t.
whose voice said those words because I fell in love with it.” I feel her mother
scowling at me, but it doesn’t matter. She smiles, and I have to remind
myself to breathe. Our eyes lock, and she stares into mine, studying me. I want
to be her open book.
money? Is that what this is about? Because there are much easier ways,” her
mother interjects angrily.
money, ma’am. If we were paid to do this, I’d have made sure he came up with a
much better line.” Jax is trying to lighten the mood using his easygoing charm,
but I don’t even know if it’s working because all I see is her.
Jax briefly before her eyes return to mine.
hand out and I take it, gripping it in both of mine. I feel it, what my dad
said I’d feel when I met the one. It’s a culmination of excitement, euphoria,
and fear all wrapped up in one, traveling to every part of my body, making me
light and dizzy.
me take you out,” I say, realizing how desperate I sound.
married, young man?” her mom asks.
Why wouldn’t she be married? She’s beautiful and smart. She looks about twenty,
but still, I know it’s possible.
would be broken.”
eyes, but Chassidy squeezes my hand.
my face breaks into one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever experienced. She
blushes, her skin turning the color her nose and cheeks are from the cold. I
want to make her blush like that every day.
out,” I say.
but I can tell she’s still skeptical.
whenever you want. You can even bring your mom,” I say, gripping her hand
tighter, and she laughs.
there if she considered going anywhere with some man she met off the street,
even if he does look like you.”
sort of talent to make a compliment sound like an insult.
says tightly, her smile disappearing into a hard frown.
he’s not crazy… even though he has a tendency to do crazy things,” Jax adds.
Prince Charming?” Chassidy asks. The rough tone she used with her mother is
gone, back to the voice that caused all of this calamity.
can call me whatever you want,” I tell her, finally letting her hand go.
mom asks pointedly.
I tell her mother, whose eyes look as if they’re going to set me on fire. It’s
surreal how much they look alike but how hard and angry her mom seems compared
to her daughter.
numbers so we can get out of this Godforsaken weather,” her mom demands.
search for my phone, and Jackson hands me his. She tells me her number, and I
put it in his phone and call it, and hers lights up. As soon as it does, her
mother takes her arm and starts to pull her away.
you Bryce,” she says over her shoulder, throwing me a smile I’ll never forget.
been worth this,” her mom snaps at us before they join the herd of people.
that?” Jackson asks.
staring at her number in his phone. “That was my future wife.”