Read Forever altered Online

Authors: D.J. Pierson

Forever altered (page 2)

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“Um,yes.  I do.”  I nervously open my workbook and try to figure out whatpage the lab is on instead of why this guy recognizes me.

“Iwas the guy who asked you about the Phillies because you were hanging up yourshirt.”  Then after a long pause he adds, “The lab is on page twentyfive.”  Shit! Can he read my mind, too?  Now I vaguely remember thisguy.  It was right after listening to a voicemail from Jeff.  He wasstill begging for me to talk to him and I had been upset at the time.  Theonly reason I went down to get my clothes when the timer went off was becauseif you didn’t get your laundry out in an acceptable amount of time, someoneelse would.  I really didn’t feel like being bothered by some strangereven if he happened to be talking about my favorite baseball team.

“Oh,right.”  He glances up and looks almost like he is offended that I didn’trecognize him.  He goes back to what he is doing.  “I’m sorry,”feeling the need to apologize.  “I was having a bad day.” I pause for asecond.  “Actually, it’s been a really bad month,” I admit reluctantly.

Hestops fussing with the microscope he is trying to set up and looks directly atme again.  “Anything you want to talk about?”

 “So,you’re a super hero lab partner and a shrink all rolled into one?” I inquire.

Roccolets out a small laugh and jokes, “I’ll just stick with ‘super hero labpartner.’”  Then he mumbled something that sounded almost like ‘fornow.’  “So, you’re really bad at this, huh?”  I nod afraid he isabout to change his mind and head back to his old seat.  “Is that why yourold partner dropped?”

“Probably,”I counter making him laugh more. 

“Alright,then, how about I do this and you just record the stuff I tell you?”  He’sstill smiling, so hopefully he doesn’t think I’m a total idiot.

“Soundsgood,” I’m able to say.

I ama little skeptical when forty-five minutes later the last empty line is filledin on the worksheet.  There is still about an hour left in class. “That’s it?” I ask. We both begin to clean up the slides Rocco had made andthen explained to me as we viewed them under the microscope.  For thefirst time all semester, I understood the experiment. 

“That’sit,” he declares like it is no big deal.  I look around.  The rest ofthe class is still working. 

“You’resure?”

“Positive.” He smiles that lopsided, make-my-breath-catch grin before continuing. “Youdon’t believe me?  I haven’t gotten anything less than a B since the firstday of class,” he says pretending to be insulted. 

Ilaugh at him and play punch him in the arm, which is firmer than I thought itwould be.  Damn, this guy is hot.  “Do you want me to copy all of thedata into your book for you?  I promise to make it neat,” I tease.

“No,we can do it when we get together to write up the report.  No bigdeal.”  He shakes his head then he walks away to put the microscope backin the cabinet.  When he gets back to our table, he starts packing up hisbag. 

“Doyou want me to write it up since you basically did the entire experiment byyourself?  All I did was write some stuff down.”

Roccoseems nervous as he finishes packing up and pulls his bag onto hisshoulder.  I guess he didn’t trust his grade with someone who admitted tohaving trouble in this class. Can'tsay that I blame him, but it still feels crappy. All my life school work hascome easy and the one time I have trouble, it gets thrown in my face.

“No,I don’t mind helping,” he manages to say as he starts walking towards thedoor.  I follow without even thinking about it.

“Icould write it up and give it to you ahead of time to check it over, if youprefer?”

Heinstantly turns around with his brows drawn inward and clears up what he means. “I didn’t mean for that to sound like I thought you aren’t capable ofdoing it.  I just meant you shouldn’t have to do it alone.”

“Youshould make me do something.  You did the whole lab while I just satthere.”

Hesmiles down at me as he puts his hand out gesturing for me to go first throughthe door and down the hallway.  “You helped.  You wrote the stuffdown and you even managed to write it down correctly.  I kept an eye onyou.”

Iactually laugh a little despite the fact that he is making fun of me.  “Ihappen to be a very good record keeper.”  That makes him laugh again.

“So,when are you free to get together?”

“Well,um, I’m done class tomorrow at five and I’m off on Fridays.  How aboutyou?”  He means to work on the assignment I keep chanting to myself. We make it to the front door of the building and he reaches out to open it forme.  “Thanks,” I murmur. 

“Noproblem,” he utters like it was no big deal.  “How about I swing by yourapartment around five-thirty, after your class tomorrow?”  Rocco glancesat me briefly before turning forward as we walk down the path toward theapartment building, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. Jeans that happen to look really, really good on him.  Thankfully he looksaway because my anxiety started again.  There wasn’t anyone home except meon Thursdays at that time.  I don’t really know this guy and it would beuncomfortable being alone with him.  He speaks again before getting ananswer.  “I’d tell you to come to my apartment, but I wouldn’t want you togo to an apartment with a bunch of guys you don’t know.  And I’m prettysure your apartment is cleaner than ours.”

“Okay. Come to my apartment tomorrow at five thirty,” I agree.  I’ve seen my ex’sapartment at his school.  Guys living on their own should not be allowed.

“I’llgive you my cell number.  I don’t really check my room phone veryoften.  This way if something changes, you can let me know.”

Ipull out my cell and punch his number into my contacts.  Then send him atext so he has mine, too.  No reason to sit around all night if he hassomething else to do.  That’s what I tell myself about giving him my numberanyway. 

Rocco’sface lights up when he realizes what I did.  “Thanks,” is all he says andhe turns away from me again.

Aswe come to the spot on the path that either leads to the residential side ofcampus or to the main academic building, a bunch of guys are walking towardus.  They apparently know Rocco.  “Hey, man.  We were justheading to lunch.  You coming?” one of them calls as two others whisper toeach other staring at me.  I feel extremely uncomfortable knowing they aretalking about me.  Rocco must notice too because his shoulders and jawseem to tense and he moves to stand in front of me blocking my view of them, ortheir view of me.  I wasn’t sure which. 

“Yeah,I’ll go.”  He turns back to me and quietly says, “I’ll see youlater.  Let me know if anything changes.”

“Okayand thanks for your help today.”  I hear the two guys chuckling and thefirst guy looks over at them to see what is so funny.  Rocco simply nodsbefore turning to walk away.

As Iturn toward the steps Rocco says, “She’s just my lab partner.  Knock itoff, asshole.”  I don’t look back.  Hurt is probably all over myface.  What the hell is wrong with me?  I just met this guy about anhour ago.  Why would I feel insulted that he called mejusthis labpartner?  That’s what I am, right?  I concentrate on the long flightof steps in front of me careful not to fall on my face.  No need to givethose guys more to laugh about. 

ChapterTwo

Alyssa

 

 

Iwalk around the front of the new, brick building trying to block out the lastfive minutes of my morning.  It had warmed up quite a bit since beingoutside a few hours earlier.  Maybe after going to the Dining Hall withLeah, I could find a place to sit outside and get some homework done or startthe book she has been talking about.  Before heading up to my apartment, Idecide to check my mailbox on the main floor.  I hadn’t done that for awhile, not that anyone sends me anything.  No one really uses regular mailanymore, so what’s the point?

Thebuilding consists of two large wings, each of which are connected to a centralstructure which houses the mailroom, other common areas, and the mainentrance.  I enter the office to the left of the main entryway, on theside of the huge lounge with a big screen TV.  It takes me a few secondsto dig my mailbox key out of my bag and get the metal mailbox open.  Whenit opens, a bunch of colored envelopes fall all over the ground in front of me.There are at least ten of them.  There must be a mistake, so I check thename on all of them.  Nope, no mistake and all of them have the samereturn address that makes me want to throw them in the trash.  Rightbefore tossing them in the can by the door, I reconsider.  With my luck,someone would dig them out, so I decide to take them back to my room.  AsI’m heading out of the mail office, the girl who works there is coming in.

“Youmust be mailbox one twenty-two,” she says as she looks at the pile of envelopesin my hand.

“Yep. That’s me.  Sorry about all of this,” I mumble trying to walk passed her.

“Iwas getting ready to look you up and deliver them to you.  You reallyshould check your mail more often.”

“I’lldo that,” I say nicely even though she’s starting to annoy me.

“Youhave a pretty awesome boyfriend if he’s always sending you cards.  Howromantic!”  She smiles at me and now I have a sudden urge to stab her inthe eye with my key.

“Ex-boyfriend,actually,” I correct her.

“Oops. I’m sorry.  He must really want you back.  No one gets that much mailin a month here.”  She’s embarrassed and now I feel bad.   Whydid my stupid conscience always pick the worst moment to show itself? This girl really needs to mind her own business, though.

“Nobiggie.  Have a nice day,” I offer with a small smile, ignoring everythingshe said after apologizing.

I amheading toward the stairs to get to the second floor when my iPhonebuzzes.  Leah, Julia, and Erin are my only friends here at school who havemy cell number and they think I’m still in class, so it’s not them.  Mydad is at work and usually only calls or texts me at night.  I haven’treally spoken to my friends from home since deactivating my Facebook accountright after breaking up with Jeff.  He’s the only one who it could possiblybe.  I may as well check it before the reminder beep goes off.  Iswing my backpack around and pull my phone out of the front pocket.  Whatis displayed on the screen makes me almost miss the last step and Istumble.        

Thatwas the most fun I’ve ever had in lab.  Thx.

Ohmy God!  Did Rocco seriously just text me?  Remembering his friendswere giving him a hard time about me, the thought it could be one of themcrosses my mind.  Did they see him give me his number?  I’m not surebecause I didn’t notice they were there until they started calling hisname.  There is no way I could text back if it were them, but what if itwas Rocco?  Would I want him to be texting me?  Before swiping my keycard in the door, I only send back a smiley face and then switch my phone tosilent.  If it wasn’t him, what comes back would probably behumiliating.  A smiley face? How stupid!   

I goinside of my apartment and Leah is sitting at our table finishing up her makeupand watching a game show.  She looks up to me, then at the clock on theDVD player underneath our small TV, then back to me.

“Alyssa,what is that on your face?”  Oh no!  My hand not carrying theenvelopes goes right to my face trying to feel for something.  Was theresomething on my face the whole time I was with Rocco?  She’s laughing atme.

“What?”I ask impatiently.

“You’resmiling.  What’s got you in such a good mood, today?”  Feelingrelieved that is all she was referring to, I frown at her for causing about thehundredth mini panic attack of the day.  She has seen my looksbefore.  She ignores me and goes back to putting on her lipstick. Then she notices what’s in my hand.  “If what’s in your hand is what Ithink it is and that’s the reason you’re smiling, I’m going to…”

Afterwhat she just did, I should let her stay angry for a bit, but I don’t feel likedealing with this.  I drop the envelopes on the table so she can seethem.  “Nope.  He is still a prick and I’m never speaking to himagain.”

“Whenis this stupid son of a bitch going to get it?” she asks shuffling through theenvelopes.  “Seriously.  He hasn’t sent you this many cards since youguys started school.  Are you going to open them?”

“No. There is nothing he could possibly have to say that I care to hear.”

“Whatif there is something important?”

Aftergrabbing a cold bottle of Coke, I slide into the chair across from her. “What happened to you not wanting me to be happy with Jeff sending me stuff?”

“Idon’t.  Aren’t you just a little curious?”

“No. Go ahead and open them if you want.  Just don’t tell me anything that’s inthere.”  I drink half the bottle of Coke and try to distract myself fromlooking at my phone. 

“I’mimpressed by your self-control.”  She laughs a little.  “Okay, nowback to why you were smiling when you walked through the door.”               

Damn. Of course she wouldn’t forget.  “My Cell Bio lab partner dropped today.”

“And…” Sometimes I wish she’d mind her own business.  Not something best friendsdo.  “I know how much youlovethat class so you aren’t fooling me. Keep going.”  She has finished up her makeup and is heading to our roomwhen she stops.  “Wait.  Why are you back so early?  Please tellme you didn’t drop, too.”  I smile at her.  “Lyss,you need that class.  You cannot just drop it!”

“Ididn’t drop the class.”  She sighs and continues on into our room.

“I’mlistening,” she calls from our bedroom.

“Dr.Willis was telling me in front of the class that my partner dropped.  Someguy, who apparently prefers to work alone, felt bad for me and volunteered to bemy new lab partner.  The reason why I was smiling, Miss Nosy Pants, wasbecause he’s actually pretty smart and helped me understand the lab.  Itfeels great to have an idea what the hell is going on.  Anyway, he had thelab done in no time and we were allowed to leave as soon as we were done.”

“He? Is that why you’re smiling?” she teases.

“Definitelynot.  I’ve completely sworn off men, remember?” I follow her into our roomand pull out a t-shirt to replace my sweatshirt.  Yes, that is how limitedmy wardrobe is.  I start to head into the bathroom to change. 

“So,who is he?”  She is seriously going to make me tell her.  Hopefullyshe doesn’t know him.

“Um,I don’t really know him.  Rocco, something or other.”  I try todisappear into the bathroom, but she stops right in front of me. 

“RoccoMatthews?”

“Thatsounds familiar.” I’m trying to play it off.  Lucky me!  Of courseshe knows who he is.  She is going to make something out of this and it ismost definitely not anything.

“RoccoMatthews is your new lab partner?”  She’s looking at me like I have fiveheads.  “So, what you are trying to tell me is not only is Rocco Matthewsyour new lab partner, Rocco Matthewsvolunteeredto be your labpartner?”

“Yeah. I told you.  He must have felt bad for me.”  Now she has a hugesmile.  Yes, one of those annoying ear to ear grins like she just found acure for cancer.  “What?” I ask stepping around her to hide in thebathroom.

“Iwould be smiling, too, if Rocco Matthews was my lab partner.”  I chance asmall glance at her and she is still wearing the grin.  My face must turnbright red because she starts to laugh, so I slam the door on her.  “Oh,come on, Alyssa.  You can try to swear off men all you want, but RoccoMatthews isfrigginhot.”

“Yeah,he is.”  Julia chimes in through the door just as I’m pulling my t-shirtover my head. 

Ithrow my head back and sigh.  I do not need them tag teaming me rightnow.  After taking my time changing my shirt and stalling for what feelslike an hour, I know hiding in the bathroom all day isn’t an option.  Iopen the door and hope they will have pity on me and let this pass.  Juliais now perched on my bed and Leah is leaning against our dressers, which arepressed together under the only window in the room, opposite of where thebathroom is.   

“What?”I ask a little irritated that they are both staring at me with stupid grins ontheir faces.

“Leah,here, tells me that Mr. Rocco Matthews ‘volunteered’ to be your labpartner.”  She actually made air quotes with her fingers.  I feelmyself sigh again.  “And that you came home smiling.” 

“Seriously,you two?  If you’d like me to go back to moping around, I’ll gladlyaccommodate you.”  I occupy myself with emptying my backpack of my labworkbooks, putting them away in the bottom drawer of my desk, and putting thebooks for tonight’s class inside.  “I was very excited that I finallyunderstood what the hell was going on in lab today.  You know how hardthis class has been for me.  Yes, I get it.  Rocco Matthews is goodlooking, but really?”

“Really,what?” Leah asks before Julia interrupts.

“Lyss, I’ve seen Rocco around.  He doesn’t do anythingfor anyone that doesn’t benefit him in some way.  From what I’ve heard, heis a total player.  He’s never had a girlfriend as far as anyone knows…”

“Okay. Why are we talking about this?”  I have to interrupt before this goes anyfurther.  Why we are discussing what Rocco Matthews does or doesn’t dowith girls?  “What does this have to do with me being his lab partner?”

Juliacontinues, “I just want you to be careful.  Rocco is a heartbreaker andyou’ve had more than enough of that to last a lifetime.  I hate seeing youso upset over Jeff.  None of us want that to happen to you, again. We love you.”  She comes over giving me a hug and a kiss on the top of myhead.  I smile and hug her back because it’s nice to be loved and caredabout even if what she is worried about is not necessary.

“Thanks,Jules.  I love you guys, too.  But, seriously, you have nothing toworry about.  I am not interested in anyone.  I want absolutelynothing to do with any guy right now.  I am just really happy that I mayactually get an A on a lab.”  That will get through to them.  Theyknow how much my grades mean to me.

“Okay,but if you were going to rebound with anyone and not expect anything out of it,Rocco Matthews is definitely the way to go.  Just saying.”  I canonly laugh at Julia because she has a one track mind.  With or without aboyfriend. 

“I’llkeep that in mind,” I say shaking my head and she heads out of my room.

“I’mgoing to go eat with you girls, if you don’t mind,” she calls from herroom.  “I’m starving after drinking all night.  I’ll be ready infive.”

“Lyss, what did you mean when you said, ‘Rocco Matthews isgood looking, but really?’” Leah seriously never forgets anything.

“Ohcome on, Leah,” I’m not going to get out of this easily.  “I’m not histype.”

“Whynot?”

“Really? What is it with you?  I’m not going to date anyone.  It reallydoesn’t matter.”  She’s just staring at me and her arms are crossedagainst her chest for a few seconds before she sighs. 

“Ireally hate what that asshole has done to you.  Jeff better hope I neversee him anywhere, EVER!”  I smile at her.  “Come on.  Let’s goeat our allotment of crappy school food for the week.  Julia, we’releaving, let’s go,” Leah grumbles.  I hope that is the last conversationwe ever have about Rocco Matthews.

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