To say the least, I could tell he was a very distinguished young man from my vantage point. Strong, thick arms that any girl could only imagine being wrapped up in; they appeared to be tender while still looking destructive enough to know you were completely safe when with him. Ayden had the most gorgeous dirty blonde hair that fell just below his eyebrows. He was the perfect mixture of pose and chaos creating an illusion of overall effortlessness.
As I stood in the door way like a lost puppy with my mouth basically drooling at the sight of him, I was suddenly being bumped into by my best friend, Zoey Andrews. “What ya looking at?” I snapped my head in her direction as she continued, “Oh my, never mind, I can see from here what has you needing a hankie to slurp up that slobber.” Her eyebrows bounced up and down jokingly indicating her intrigue in the beautiful guy only rows in front of us.
My face instantly turned bright red with shame of being caught in the act. After being notified that my gaping stare was noticeable to the entire world, I decided to discreetly place my butt in the closest seat available. While fumbling with my book sack and creeping into a desk, I decided I would try to brush it off like it was nothing. “Well Zoey, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about,” trying my best to sound convincing.
I did my best to stare into her eyes to show her I was fearless, too bad she has known me since I was eight and saw straight through my facade. The gig was up and I was about to have to tell all before she caused a scene. She was by no means shy and didn’t hesitate to threaten me with embarrassment on a regular basis. She never did it to be mean or hurtful but she was just a different breed of person. It was part of her charm and charisma; she was too curious for her own good sometimes.
“Hmmm… Hmmm…. Well now, Rosalee, we certainly are quite the liar, aren’t we,” she said while tapping her pencil on the desk rapidly to catch my attention. The barely there sound of the bouncing pencil mimicked the racing heart beat in my chest. Thuh-Tump… Thuh-Thump… Thuh-Thump. When I looked up from my desk she dazzled me with her sweet smile of innocence trying to lure me into a trap. She wasn't stupid and made a point to give me that, 'try it' look that dares you while terrifying you to your core.
If Zoey didn’t know me so well, I might think she was oblivious to my internal panic. Her cheesy grin meant only one thing; she knew I was a nervous wreck. You could see the dazzle in her eyes as the wheels turned in her head. Zoey was about to blow my cover and I knew I had to spill the beans before she did it for me. She had no shame when it came to being brash in public. With every tap of her pencil I knew my time was running out along with her patience. Every crack that pencil made against the desk was another second ticking on the clock of her patience. She was dying to burst out loud with her newly found knowledge that she so easily read from my nervous tendencies.
I took a deep breathe drawing in all the air I could muster up before blurting out, “Okay, okay… I might have been…just maybe… a little tiny bit checking out that hot guy in the front row”. Well that was enough to get her started, who needs a coffee when you have Zoey to shake the morning drag right out of you. I exhaled the gulp of air that was lingering in my lungs as I watch Zoey light up with excitement. She thought she had found a new pet project to work on but I had different plans for this particular situation.
Zoey had good intentions but her methods were a little unorthodox to say the least. Most of the time she didn’t even realize she was embarrassing me with her tactics. Being boisterous and impulsive were normal personality traits for her. She never did understand how someone could go through life being as meekly inconspicuous as I did. She knew all too well how uptight I was and her main goal in life was to break me out of my little box.
Zoey finally stopped smacking her pencil on the desk and all I could hear was the faint buzzing coming from the surrounding conversations. She proceeded to tell me, “You do know that’s Ayden Covington, don’t you?” She shifted her eyes from him back to me and raised her eyebrows in a questioning manor before continuing, “He's the captain of the football team here at UT and is said to go pro even before he graduates.” I nodded for her to keep going and she obliged. “I think his family is forcing him to complete college first, because from what I hear, he had an offer from the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing starting or anything, but a pro-football player is a pro-football player, no matter how you flip the coin”. Her eyes sparkled with delight as she looked back at Ayden. If I didn't stack a claim to Ayden then Zoey wouldn't hesitate to pounce on him.
I snuck another quick glance at Ayden while she was distracted. I needed to continue my investigation with Zoey before she got sidetracked. If anyone knew anything about the most recent gossip, then I was talking to the right person. I needed information on this hunky guy and I knew she had what I was looking for. She was probably already doing recon on him for herself. I swear she knew everyone in Austin; she could tell you every single break-up, make-up and cat fight that occurred. She was a walking, talking, breathing issue of People magazine for the locals around here.
As she gazed across the classroom at the group of boys I knew she was making plans for getting their attention. Zoey was lost in thought when I nudged her arm off her desk almost causing her to topple over. I fought back a laugh as she caught herself mid-fall. She stifled out, “bitch” under her breath as I pretended to not be involved. “You’re so lucky you are my bestie or else I might have to kill you for that little stunt!” Her eyes burned into the side of my face as I tensed my jaw muscles harder to hide my smile. I slowly turned my face to see her giving me the stank-eye, “Don’t act innocent because I know you did that shit on purpose.” I couldn’t hold my grin back any longer and we both started giggling in the back of the classroom causing everyone to stare at us. My cheeks ached from laughing so much and we only stopped after I noticed the eyes focused on us. When Zoey saw my stunned expression she did a quick assessment of the room and froze her gaze on the closest person gawking at us. “What? Is there something I can help you with? Well, besides that wretched hairstyle and those tacky shoes you have on?” The girl turned fifty shades of red and fluttered her eyes away from us while everyone else followed suite. Zoey cleared her throat loudly before finishing, “That’s what I thought, skank!”
I was mortified by Zoey’s over-the-top performance and felt sorry for the girl that was randomly chosen as her target. I turned my focus back to Zoey, “Okay, I think she gets it. I think everyone gets it!” I snatched her arm and pulled her back farther into the desk. “They were just curious about why we were laughing so hard.” Zoey turned back to look down at the hand I had wrapped around her slender forearm. “Oh… sorry, so you were saying?” She stopped giving me that, ‘you are too nice’ glare and began to smile again when I brought up the topic of Ayden again. “So do you know if Ayden is single? Is he seeing anyone?” I fidgeted with my finger nails and began stripping the pink paint off.
It was a nasty little nervous habit that I had picked up but it met my need of distraction just fine as I moved to a second nail. My mother wouldn’t allow me to bite them so I quickly learned that ripping the paint off was acceptable. She would take one look at my tattered nails and request an immediate trip for a mani/pedi. That was about the only time we ever bonded as mother and daughter.
Zoey didn’t even try to hide the arrogant grin plastered on her pretty little face. “I don’t believe he does, from what I hear he is single.” Her smug smile grew bigger with every passing word while her eyes lit up with mischief. “Do you want me to introduce you to him? I know one of the guys he is sitting with and I could easily help you meet him right now if you like” saying nonchalantly. She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulders as she reached in her purse for some lip gloss.
Oh no, she’s primping! She is totally serious about walking down there right this minute and introducing me to Ayden as her lame friend with no backbone. I abruptly dropped my half painted nail and jerked my hand towards her arm again. I grabbed her forearm with enough strength to make her turn and face me. She was already pushing herself off the desk and I needed to stop her by any means necessary. I fiercely whispered “No! No! NO! Please don’t Zoey! I am begging you to please not help me with this one.” As she scooted back in her chair I continued, “every time you meddle in my life it never has a happy ending.” She glared back at me with eyes of disdain and I gently let her arm fall from my tight grasp. “This time I want to do it all by myself. Just help me figure out a flawless plan, please?” I crossed my fingers under my desk while giving her my biggest puppy-dog eyes.
Her face was scrunched up and her eyes still daring but then she giggled breaking the silence between us. “Fine!” she said defeated while whipping her bleached strands back around her neck. “But seriously, if you grab my arm like that again, I will bitch slap you, best friend or not. The last thing I need are bruises on my arm before my date with Alex tonight.” I rapidly exhaled the breath I had forgotten I had taken during the anticipation of her response.
Of course she was more worried about her appearance than my sanity. I gently nodded in agreement about the no touching rule that was now in effect. Usually I didn’t get so physical but I was acting out of fear. I felt justified in my harsh reactions even though I was embarrassed by my rudeness. “I’m sorry Zee… did I hurt you?” I gave her the puppy-dog face again but this time I tilted my head to the side a little for a more dramatic effect. Her response was an eye-roll but that was enough for me to stop feeling bad. Zoey could go from fuming mad to peaceful bliss in a blink of an eye. On occasion, I thought she might be a tad bipolar but then again that’s just her personality.
The professor strolled into the classroom and began the normal first day boring speech every teacher gives. The conversations died down and people slowly began to focus on the tiny, bald man in front of the classroom.
After composing herself from her little outburst she settled her eyes back upon me and whispered, “My little girl is growing up! How cute!” Her smiling lips were stretched across her face in pure joy as I saw the wheels turning in her head of her soon to be plan of attack. “Okay… I have an idea but it’s pretty juvenile but it works, I promise it will work.” She continued to hash out her plan with me between breaks in our professor's lecture.
This was something I needed to do on my own. Someone else was always fighting my battles for me and I thought it was time I changed that. I needed to find some independence if I ever expected to make it in the ‘real world’. Starting college was my gateway to freedom and I was going to take advantage of it. It took almost a year of begging but daddy finally agreed to let me live in one of the dorms on campus with Zoey. He was worried that without him around to keep me in check that I would go hog-wild. I promised a million times that I would come home the first time I messed up and that seemed to appease him.
After class, I waited to see Ayden heading up the aisle before I decided to make my move. I wiped the trickle of sweat off my palms and onto my blue jeans before getting out of my desk and heading in his direction. I did a few deep breathes as I traveled the short distance towards him. As he neared, I promptly drop my books in front of his pathway trying to get his attention. Sure it was a lame attempt, but a girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do, right? Zoey swore it would work so I trusted her wholeheartedly.
The books slammed into the ground with a loud thud and scattered around in front of his feet. I let out a false gasp of shock before saying, “Oh-my-god! I’m so sorry!” I flopped down in the walkway and started to fumble with the books trying to gain more time with him.
His burly voice warmed my insides as he leaned down next to me, “It’s okay, here, let me help you with those.” Ayden smelt absolutely delicious and all I thought about was getting closer so I could sniff him. Overwhelming musky aromas of cologne sent my body into a frenzy and I fought hard to control my action. The last thing I needed to do was tackle the poor kid and smell him to death. Ayden's hand brushed up against mine as we both reached for my law book, “So, are you pre-law too?”
I tilted my head up and our eyes caught for the tiniest few seconds before I absently started to nod my head up and down. I gave him a weak smile before asking, “Yeah. Is that your major too?” Ayden nodded in return but gave me the smile that only money could buy. His teeth were pearly white and perfectly straight. They accented his gorgeous lips and made his blue eyes dance in the florescent lights. “Ahh…” I stuttered on my words and glanced behind me to see Zoey smiling proudly from the back of the class room. She fluffed her arms at me trying to indicate to keep going so I did just that. “Umm… maybe we could study sometime?”
Ayden tucked all of my books into his massively large hands and stood up from his hunched position. I weakly followed by standing up and noticed how short I was next to him. I had to stretch my neck and jolt my head back a ways to see his face. So he was hot, built, tall with blonde hair and blue eyes. I'm pretty sure he was perfect and I was just lucky he gave me a second glance.
“Sure.” Was all he said as he started walking towards the exit with my books still in his grasp. I turned back again to Zoey but she was gone; she must of taken a back exit and ditched me so I couldn’t back out of this. I raced to catch up with his gigantic strides when I turned to see he was half-way out of the classroom. When I caught up to him and indicated I’d take my books back he just starred at me dumbly for a second before responding. “I got it. Can I walk you to your next class?” I silently agreed with a simple shake of my head as we walked down the hallway.