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Authors: D.J. Pierson

Forever altered

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Forever Altered

By D.J. Pierson

 

Copyright © 2013 D.J.Pierson

All RightsReserved. This book or any portionthereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the expresswritten permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in abook review.

This book is a workof fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events orlocales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’simagination and used fictitiously.

Cover by: SamanthaBagood@ Cover Pubhttp://coverpub.samanthabagood.com

 

DEDICATION

Thisbook is dedicated in loving memory of my grandmother, Joan Harkins, whose lastwords of advice left meforever altered.

 

Tableof Contents

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Epilogue

 

 

Prologue

Alyssa

 

 

Asmany times as I’ve taken this trip, you would think I’d be able to do it withmy eyes closed.  However, driving at night is not my favorite thing todo.  I could have stayed at my school, but then I would miss myboyfriend’s third annual back to school party.  Jeff and his roommate,Mike, had this party every year the weekend they moved back in since we werefreshman.  I had all intention of getting to their school earlier, but I’mrunning a little late since today was also my move-in day.  This year wasdifferent for us because we moved into the new apartment building that justopened on campus.  I absolutely love our place!  My roommate, Leah,and I spent all day decorating it and making it special for us and two of ourfriends who will share the second bedroom.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll headback early, so we can go shopping for some more stuff.

Jeffand I had such a great time this summer.  We have been best friends for along time.  He has always been there for me and somehow, we ended uptogether after I had a really bad breakup with a really bad guy.  Icouldn’t imagine my life without him in it.  A few times in the last twoweeks, he brought up the subject of getting married.  I’m not sure if hewas just trying to figure out my feelings on the matter or if he is reallyready to propose.  If he didn’t know by now how much I loved him, he neverwould. 

Onehour and ten minutes after leaving my school, I pull into the familiar parkinglot of Jeff’s building.  I had been trying to text him for the last fewminutes to meet me downstairs.  He hasn’t responded yet which is weirdsince he was so worried about me driving here this late to begin with. Lucky for me, someone is coming out when I get to the locked door and they holdit for me to enter the building.  The music from their apartment can beheard the second I open the door that leads to the third floor.  Familiarfaces greet me as I walk into the small living room.

“Hey,Short Stuff!” Mike calls out.  “What took you so long?  I have apitcher of your drinks waiting for you.”  He came over to give me ahug. 

“Ican definitely use a few after unpacking and decorating all day,” I replysmiling.

“Whatis it with you girls?” he teases.  “Just throw your shit in a bag and plopit in the corner.  No unpacking or decorating required.  I’ll get youa drink.”

“Thanks,Mike.  Where’s Jeff?” I ask looking around and not seeing myboyfriend. 

“Idon’t know.  He was right here a few minutes ago.  Check thebedroom,” he tells me over his shoulder.

Iwalk down the short hallway to the last room on the right.  The door isclosed, but since I know Mike isn’t in there, I push it open withoutknocking.  There is a trail of clothes leading from the door all the wayto the bed on the far wall.  My eyes follow them and lock on the twopeople currently occupying my boyfriend’s bed.  All I can see of Jeff ishis naked back as he hovers over a girl with fake blond hair who is just asnaked underneath of him.  The sheets I bought for him a week ago arewrapped around them blocking most of what is going on.  I stand there forwhat feels like an eternity trying to avert my eyes away as my heartshatters.  When I cannot take it any longer, I turn to run down thehallway only to crash into Mike’s chest spilling the drink he was carrying forme all down the front of both of us.  Tears are gushing from my eyes as Itry to clear them enough to see where I’m going.

“Lyss, what is it?  What’s wrong?” Mike asks instantlyupset himself.

“Jeff. Girl.  Need.  To.  Go,” I cannot get the words out as Ieventually find my feet and run for the door.

Justbefore I make it to the hallway outside of the apartment, I hear Mike holler,“What the fuck are you doing, Jeff?”  I don’t need to hear hisreply.  I don’t ever want to hear his voice again.

ChapterOne

Alyssa

 

 

Thirty-twodays.  I groan as my eyes open and my hand hits the obnoxious alarm clockscreaming at me from the dresser beside my head.  It’s been thirty twodays since my heart was shattered into millions of pieces with no hope of everbeing repaired.  I manage to inhale calmly and climb out of bed. Walking into the attached bathroom of my college dorm room, I hesitantly take alook in the mirror.  For the first time in a month, there aren’t any tearsstreaming down my face before being fully conscious from sleep.  That hasto be a step in the right direction. 

Asquietly as possible, I turn on the shower and wait until it warms up. Once inside, my eyes close under the steaming hot water and the cryingthreatens as the all-too-familiar vision of walking in on my boyfriend of twoand a half years tangled in his sheets with some bleached blond bimbo floods mymemory.  Immediately my eyes fling open and the images fade, taking mytears away with them.  I shake my head and finish the quickest shower I’veever taken in my twenty years of life.

Gettingready as silently as possible didn’t take much effort, since my wet hair onlygets pulled up in a bun and I throw on black yoga pants along with my favoritegray hoodie.  Afterwards, I sneak out to the living room, making sure tograb my backpack so there would be no reason to go back in and risk waking upmy roommate.  Wednesday mornings sucked.  I am the only one out ofthe four of us who has to get up.  Guess that is what happens when youpick a major that would require science classes with mandatory labs as part ofthe grade.  Why were labs only offered on Wednesdays, anyway? 

Justas I am finishing up my Frosted Flakes with banana breakfast, the familiarbeeping of a room card being swiped in the door catches my attention.  Oneof the girls who shares the apartment with us stumbles through the door. Her clothes are wrinkled as though she had been sleeping in them for a week andher normally perfect dark blond hair is pulled up into a messy bun.  Shelooks like she is still drunk from last night.

“Hey,”I say as Julia manages to get her card out of the door after a few tries. She mumbles something inaudibly.  She staggers through our small kitchengrabbing a bottle of water on her way passed the refrigerator.  Afterdropping her stuff on the table next to my bowl, she looks at me.  Or atleast she tries to.

Normally,I would have had to stifle a laugh at her.  That wasn’t happening,yet.  Maybe someday.  Thankful that I never drank that much, I thinkhow she is going to feel like shit for the rest of the day.  Maybe eventomorrow, too.  “Where have you been?” I ask while cleaning up mybreakfast. 

“Iwent to that frat party with Tommy over in the Village last night.”  TheVillage was the older on-campus housing that now primarily held fraternity andsorority houses since this new building opened just this semester.  “ThenI crashed with him on someone’s couch.”  She pauses to take a long sip ofher water.  “He has one of those ridiculous science labs that you arecrazy enough to take, so we just got back.  If I were you, I’d change mymajor.  This is too fucking early to be awake.”  Julia staggers intoher room and closes the door a little too loudly.  Her roommate, Erin, isyelling at her to shut the hell up. 

Whilestuffing some snacks and a bottle of water into my bag, Leah pops open our doorand sticks her head out.  She is one of those people who looks almostperfect enough to get up and go.  Her long, milk chocolate hair, which isjust a shade or two lighter than mine, is pulled back in a low ponytail. Where my eyes are green, hers are dark brown.  She is beautiful, but thesedays I am most envious of her relationship with her boyfriend.  They havebeen together for almost three years, since the beginning of senior year ofhigh school.  He absolutely adores her and would never, ever cheat on herlike Jeff had done to me.

“Whatthe hell was that?” she asks through squinted eyes.

“Julia.” She really doesn’t need an answer to that question.

“Ilove her to pieces, but that girl is a God damn train wreck.”  Leah comesall the way out into our living room that we were able to make cozy enough tofeel just like home and curls up on the couch we filled with extra fluffy blueand purple pillows. 

Igive her a small smile, shaking my head, and pull my backpack up on to myshoulder.  “We won’t be able to change her so there’s no point intrying.  She shouldn’t be going to those parties by herself, though. I worry about her.  Wasn’t Erin supposed to go with her?” 

“Shedid.  She came home a little after midnight saying she wanted to go intowork for a few hours today, so she didn’t want to overdo it.  Julia didn’twant to come home,” Leah yawns.

“Goback to bed.  It’s only quarter to seven.  You don’t have class untilone today, lucky bitch,” I say walking towards the door. 

“Iwill.  I just wanted to see how you were doing today.”  She looks atme like she is afraid to say anything, but she also has to know. 

Turningaround to look at her before stepping into the empty hallway, I reply sadly,“No tears before waking up.  That’s progress, right?”  Since meetingLeah at Freshmen Orientation, we have become best friends.  I couldn’t askfor a better roommate and neither of us could survive without the other. After this last month, she deserves a really awesome Christmas present forputting up with me.   

Shesends me an encouraging smile and stands up to go back to bed.  “One stepat a time,Lyss.  One step at a time.  I’llsee you around noon for lunch.  Text me if you get out of lab earlier andyou want me to come meet you before then.”  She blows me a kiss. “Loveya,” she calls out. 

“Backatya,” I say before closing the door.

Ileave the building by the exit-only door that is just around the corner fromour apartment.  The early October coolness is starting to set in,especially at this early hour of the morning.  Pretty soon, I will need tomake the two hour trip home to get my winter coat and some warmerclothes.  That wasn’t high on my list of priorities because I haven’t beenthere since breaking up with Jeff.  My room was filled with unwantedmemories that would have to be dealt with.  Shaking off that thought fornow, I start up the dreaded concrete staircase that leads the way to theacademic part of campus. 

 Thetrees are not quite ready to change, but it will only be a matter of a coupleweeks before they are beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red.  Thatis one of the things I absolutely love about this campus.  It isbeautifully landscaped from the gates at the front of the property all the wayto the back edge behind the resident student parking lot where our apartmentbuilding is now located.  The property once belonged to a member of theesteemed Vanderbilt family back in the late 1800’s and some of the originalbuildings, most importantly the Hamilton Building, still remain part of theestate.  While there have been new buildings and structures added to thecampus, most of the architecture is carefully preserved.  It’s likewalking through history every single day.

Itdoesn’t take too long to get to the Science Building, another originalstructure to the property.  A small courtyard precedes it and issurrounded by a brick wall which matches the exterior of the two-storybuilding.   When you walk through the wrought iron gate, there is apath leading to each of the two entryways.  I enter through the far doorto my first lab of two for the day.  Physics.  Sliding into my normalseat at the first table, there are a few minutes to get set up.  Theprofessor usually walks through the door exactly on time and not a minutesooner.  For the first hour, he usually reviews the lecture from Mondayand answers any questions.  The labs for this class are usually straightforward and never take very long, so he does this to help students who arehaving a difficult time.  It doesn’t matter to me how long he takesbecause I have the dreaded Cellular Biology lab next and it would be veryannoying to wait around here for any length of time for it to start.  Ofcourse, there is no review lesson for Cell Bio which I’m struggling to maintaina C average in.  Most of the class is in the same situation as me, so thatmakes me feel a little better.

Twohours later, class is being dismissed and for me, it’s time for lab numbertwo.  As usual, I’m one of the last students to arrive.  My professorknows Physics lab ends at the same time Cell Bio lab starts, so he never givesme any trouble.  The first thing I notice when entering the room is thatmy lab partner’s stool is still empty which absolutely terrifies me. There is no way it’s possible for me to do the experiment alone and get apassing grade.  If this wasn’t a mandatory course for my major, I wouldhave never signed up for this torture.  Spotting me as I walk over to mytable, Dr. Willis looks up from his desk on the far side of the room.  Hisvery white hair and ancient looking clothes make me secretly wonder if he issomehow part of the original staff that served the Vanderbilt’s.

“Ah,Miss Adler,” he calls looking over his glasses hanging from the edge of hisnose.  “It seems as though your lab partner has dropped this class.” Holding my breath, a panic attack begins to unfold itself in my chest. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I don’t know anyone else in the class toget help from. “That causes a problem, you see, because I don’t normally allowfor groups of three to work together and…”

“I’llbe her partner, Dr. Willis,” an unfamiliar sultry voice says as he slides intothe empty stool to my right.  Turning to see who has come to my rescue,I’m immediately stunned at the sight now sitting next to me.  Even thoughI can only see his profile, it’s obvious he’s without a doubt one of the mostgorgeous guys ever.  From his dark brown hair tousled in thatI-just-got-out-of-bed-but-I’m-still-hot way, to his deep blue eyes, to hismuscular body visible under a long sleeved t-shirt, this guy is amazing and heprobably knows it.   

“Mr.Matthews? Are you sure you don’t mind?  You normally prefer to workalone.”  Snapping out of the trance I’ve somehow fallen into over the lastfew minutes, I’m wondering why he would offer to work with me if he prefers notto have a partner.

“Notat all, Sir,” replies the hunkwho has nowturned all the way to face me.  While he was looking straight ahead wasbad enough.  Now that he is looking directly at me, I cannot help butstare nor is it possible to form a coherent thought.  I’m nervouslythinking that my mouth better not be hanging open.

“Alright,that is fine with me, as long as you agree, Miss Adler?” Still unable to findmy voice, I force myself to stop staring at my new partner long enough to turnto the professor and nod.  “Very well.  Shall we begin today’sexperiment, then?”

Heclears his throat and holds his hand out to me, “Rocco Matthews.”  When Idon’t answer or reach out to take his hand, he adds, “If you’d rather work byyourself, I can go back to my seat.” He’s pointing over his shoulder.  Iturn to look in the direction he’s indicating and see the girls behind us arewhispering and staring at me.  Instantly, I feel horrible because myreaction to him probably seemed rather rude.  He pulls his hand back andbegins to grab his backpack that he dropped half opened on the lab table.

“No,I’m sorry.  I’m still shocked over losing my first lab partner.” Should I tell him how I’m struggling in this class?  What if he recognizedthat this class is too hard to work alone and he’s looking for help?  Whenhe is looking at me with those sapphireblueeyes, it’s actually a little hard to concentrate.  I have to keepreminding myself how after the second failed relationship in my short life,swearing off men is what’s best for me right now.  Besides, this guy isway out of my league anyway.  “Look, I’m not the best lab partner.  Isuck in this class, actually.”  My brain decides without me to go forhonesty and makes me sound absolutely pathetic.

Inan instant, the one side of his mouth turns up into a mischievous, but sexy ashell grin and his eyes brighten again making my heart skip a beat, ortwo.  This guy is trouble.  “Well, good thing for you that I happento be doing awesome in this class.”  He winks at me and pulls out his labworkbook and a pencil.  Following his lead, I reach over to grab mine, aswell, before he continues, “So, are you going to tell me your name or should Icall you Miss Adler?”  

Thatactually makes me relax a little.  Sarcasm I can deal with.  Iremember to respond this time, “Alyssa.”

“Niceto meet you, Alyssa.  Officially, anyway.”

Officially? What was he talking about?  “Excuse me?”

Roccobegins setting up the equipment in front of us that was prepared at everystation by the lab assistant prior to class.  He really did know what hewas doing.  “We met last week in the laundry room.  You live on thesecond floor, B-wing of the new apartment building, right?” he says nonchalantly. 

 What? This guy knows me and I have no idea we had even met before he sat down next tome.  What happened to my plan of going unnoticed by anyone, ever again?