Okay… so here’s my surprise for you. You can read Chapter 1 exclusively here! Remember this book is copyrighted by me 🙂 Please do not distribute.
CHAPTER 1 – Fall 1996
Julie runs into my room screaming, “Clara, I can’t believe you got a date with Drew Cason! I mean, he is THE star player on the football team, and like the cutest guy on campus! How in the world did you even meet him?”
Julie is my best friend, and one of my roommates. We met our freshman year of college at South Springs University during orientation when we were all forced to play the human bingo game. The object of the game was to go around and talk to other students, find out what you had in common, and initial the squares until someone yelled, “Bingo!” We had to get BINGO on paper by finding out facts about other people’s lives. We learned things about each other like, who had been bungee jumping, who had traveled abroad, and who could rub their tummy and pat their head at the same time.
Julie and I hit it off after we found out we were both only children. Being in a strange place, surrounded by people you don’t know, you latch on to what you can. We just kind of clicked that day, and the rest is history. We became best friends that first semester, and have been roommates through our senior year.
Making her way across the room, she jumps over our other roommate, Marabeth, who currently has her head buried in my closet, butt stuck up in the air, rummaging through my shoes.
“You need new shoes, Clara. These look like they came from 1985,” Marabeth yells as she throws every pair of Sam & Libby flats that I own into the middle of my bedroom floor.
If we weren’t such good friends, I might be a little offended. “What’s wrong with my shoes? I have a pair in just about every color so they will match any outfit I have.”
“My point exactly,” Marabeth says, dangling a pair of royal blue flats in front of her like they have cooties. “You need to get with the program and trash these suckers. These are not cool anymore. High school called, and it wants its shoes back.”
Julie ignores Marabeth and continues to prod me for details about my male companion for the evening. “So seriously, how did you score a night with the hottest guy on the football team? Dreamy Drew…” she says with a sigh as she falls back onto my bed. “He’s so dreamy and yummy, and kissable…and dreamy.”
Marabeth rolls her eyes saying, “Oh no, here we go with the mushy stuff.”
I think Julie zones out a few seconds before I bring her back to earth. Standing over her, I snap my fingers in front of her face and tell her, “It’s not a big deal. We are just hanging out together. Remember we DO have the same major. Dreamy Drew, and I have had plenty of classes together over the past two years,” I say, as I air-quote his name. “This is just a study date.”
“How many girls would be in a puddle at his feet if he asked them out? And YOU are all like ‘no big deal’… pfff… come on, at least get a little excited!” Julie says as she examines the clothing choices I have laid out on my bed. “So, what are you studying if this is a quote-unquote study date? Each other?… your lips?… his abs?” she giggles while making googly faces at me.
“Oh, come on! Are you going to be this way when he gets here? Because if you are, I’m locking you in the closet.” I tell her as I grab my sweatshirt off the bed and start to pull it over my head.
“Nope, nope, nope. No, you are not!” Marabeth says, tugging my sweatshirt off as I try to put it on. “Get that slouchy thing off and put on something that makes you look like a girl.” She picks up a miniskirt and shoves it at me. “This looks nice.”
I take the miniskirt and put it back in the drawer. “Like I said, this is not an official date; it’s a study date. I want to be comfortable. I also don’t want to give Drew the wrong idea. I mean, who shows up to a study date wearing a miniskirt and sequins?”
Marabeth snickers, “Sam wouldn’t mind if I showed up for a study date wearing a miniskirt.”
Julie chimes in, “Clara…He asked you on this study date, right? Like a ‘come-over-to-my-dorm-and-let’s-eat-pizza’ kind of date.”
I dip my chin, trying to hide the blush spreading across my cheeks. “Well, yes, but…”
Julie cuts me off, pinching my lips between her fingers. “But nothing! He asked you. It’s a date. If you are going to his dorm, it’s a date.”
I am not going to win this battle. It’s been going strong for 20 minutes; I need to give in at some point, or I’ll never be ready in time for my study date. Not to mention, she might have a point. I guess I don’t want to think of it as a date because it’s Drew Cason, the star quarterback for the Bulldogs, asking me to his place. This guy is dreamy hot, hence the nickname “Dreamy Drew.” Girls fling themselves at him all of the time. You’d think he would be your typical jock: cocky, arrogant, big-headed…all the stuff you tend to think about guys who play sports at the collegiate level…but he’s not. Drew seems to be a genuinely good guy. We declared the same major, Business Management, so we’ve been in many of the same classes together over the years. I’ve gotten to know him reasonably well. As much as I want to stereotype him as the typical college football player, he is different. Nice, actually.
When I see the other football players out and about, Drew is rarely with them. He doesn’t seem like the fame or hype phases him at all. It’s more like he is just ab ordinary guy who happens to enjoy playing the game. Apparently, he doesn’t do the party scene either. At first, I thought it odd, because most of the jocks all live in the same dorm and flock to every off-campus event together. No, Drew goes against the grain. He doesn’t take advantage of the all-too-willing girls, he is polite and uses manners, and he lives in a different dorm than the rest of the team. Best of all, he doesn’t walk around with a holier than thou aura.
An assignment in our marketing class prompted this “study date” tonight. We were instructed to choose a partner and come up with a presentation at the end of the semester. The professor gave us the freedom to choose partners, and to my surprise, Drew approached me right away and asked me to be his partner. I fell out of my chair. Literally. He caught me off guard when came up behind me, so I did this ugly fumble/lean/try-to-cover-up-my-awkwardness…thing. I don’t know what to call it, but it was embarrassing. Ever the gentleman, Drew extended his hand and helped me out of the floor while trying not to laugh.
After class today, he asked me to come over to his dorm so we could start discussing the project. He also mentioned something about pizza. Even though we’ve had many classes together in the past, we’ve never really talked outside of class other than the usual “Hi” when we pass each other on campus or in the cafeteria. Funny, now that I think about it, I’ve seen Drew around a lot more this semester than I ever have before. Anyway, we are writing a business proposal for our project, so our plan is for me to go to his dorm tonight to start our research.
A pair of cream-colored stirrup pants fling by my head, and Julie squeals. “Wear these with your cream sweater.” She and Marabeth are still convinced that I need to wear something other than my high school cheerleading hoodie, jeans, and Adidas flops, which I am currently sporting.
“But these are my comfy clothes, and pretty much my daily apparel,” I say to her, but she’s telling me she doesn’t care with her evil glare.
I look at my reflection in the mirror and don’t see what’s wrong with what I’m wearing. My blonde locks are pulled up into a high ponytail, primarily because I didn’t dry my hair last night and it’s a little frazzled. Regardless, I look like I do almost every other day.
Hmmm… I might could stand to spiff up a little, I think to myself. So I cave and say, “I’ll keep my jeans, but I’ll wear the cream sweater instead of the sweatshirt. Happy?”
Marabeth crosses her arms in a pout of defeat, “and take that scrunchie out of your hair and actually use a curling iron,” she says while waving a brush in the air.
“Fine,” I huff. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to look a little better than my usual, frumpy self.
Julie is more like me. She doesn’t care about making a fashion statement either. Marabeth, on the other hand, puts on lip-gloss to go to the bathroom. You will never see her in sweats or hair scrunchies, and if you do, you know something is majorly wrong. One time last year, she strolled into the living room wearing glasses so thick I thought they were glass bottles and an oversized neon green T-shirt with cut-off sweatpants. Whoa. It turns out she had an ulcer on her lip, so she deemed herself horrid and refused to leave the apartment for three days.
As I proceed to my closet to find a sweater that is roommate-approved, I decide to go ahead and make it worthwhile and do the whole kit and caboodle. So I put on makeup. I figure, why not? I should make myself a little more presentable…just in case this ends up being more than a study date.