“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another…”
University of Britchester
Over the next semester, Colton, Chase and Hailey worked hard to up their grades and get off the hook from their probation, successfully, while still maintaining the band and all that entailed. While Chase and Hailey were still going strong as a couple, Colton was struggling with love again.
Initially Leeora had come onto him strong, but he had his reservations. Then, when he finally let his guard down, began to initiate kisses and more, she kept blowing him off, often would even just leave without warning. A day or two later she would be back sweet as pie and all over him. Eventually he had enough of the rollercoaster, confronted her with a choice of either becoming his official girlfriend and quit ditching him, or they would just be friends, no benefits.
Leeora just left him standing there without another word. Colton didn’t even try to stop her, watched her leave, then sent her a text message saying ‘looks like you made your choice, friendzone it is‘.
After that, he didn’t allow her close again, which she reacted to by generally ignoring him the very few times they crossed paths since.
Once more Colton had started to let himself get invested in a relationship, only to crash and burn.
University of Britchester
About five or six weeks after all that, Colton went to the library to cram for an upcoming exam when he spotted Hailey, totally engrossed in some bookshelves.
Smirking, he decided to mess with her as he often would, she was a good sport with a great sense of humor and aside from Chase his closest confidant, so he felt very comfortable with her.
He went with the first thing that came to mind, snuck up to her, grabbed her from behind, felt her wince hard as she let out a startled meep, trying to struggle away from him as he now gave her an intentionally sloppy wet kiss on the cheek.
Laughing as he released her, watching her furiously turn to him – only to realize it wasn’t Hailey at all, but a girl that looked a lot like her. His laughter instantly seized and gave way to a horrified expression.
“Oh shit! You’re not Hailey!” he burst out.
“What the hell is wrong with you!?” she hissed at him after wiping her wet cheek, while being shushed by other students trying to focus.
“I am so sorry, I thought you were my best friend’s fiancée and … Look, I am sorry. Really.” Colton felt awkward on a new level.
“You kiss your best friend’s girl? Yeah, I am gonna go now. Creep.”
She turned and headed for the main door, cursing at himself under his breath, he ran after her.
“Hey – wait! Are you new here? I swear I have never seen you before. I would definitely have noticed you.” Colton said, while thinking ‘mostly cos you really do look a lot like Hailz and I may have the tiniest crush on her…’
Shaking her head, with a disgusted grimace, she hurried on, Colton at her heels, until she stopped short and faced him.
“Do I really have to call campus security on Colton Vatore? I mean, is that really the publicity you are going for? Then again, you are in a rock band, so maybe sexual harassment is your thing.”
“You know who I am?”
“Of course I do. Everyone on campus knows you and Chase Cameron. You guys’ house is literally part of the new student orientation tour. I mean, which uni would hide rock band students who actually were nominated for the SAAs.”
“Oh – cool – I think?! Didn’t realize we’re campus royalty.” Colton snickered, flattered and happy about the news, but his smile faded when the girl moved on.
“Please – wait! Let me apologize to you over a coffee. Please? What’s your name?”
“Why? You cannot possibly be so desperate for a girl that you need to attack them in libraries, then hunt them down to have coffee with, seeing how everyone goes nuts over 2Dark 2C. You must drown in girls.”
Colton couldn’t help but burst into a brief laughter, thinking about how messed up his situation with girls really was, receiving an annoyed look from the girl, probably thinking he was laughing at her.
“So, you think this is funny? Please go away! I really WILL call campus security if you don’t leave me alone. I don’t care who you are. I’ll call it in! Watch me.”
“Please, I am just trying to not look like a complete moron here.” Colton attempted to calm the rough waters.
“Too late for that.” she told him, bone-dry.
“Cut me some slack. I apologized. It was an honest mistake. From a distance and with your back to me you just looked so much like Hailey. But now that I see you up close and in natural light, I can see the eyes are all wrong, your nose is pointier, you’re kinda ruddy in the face and your hair is more of a dirty blonde messy situation.”
“What?! Go screw yourself! You’re not exactly the grand prize you seem to think you are either, all pale like a ghost! Got a sun allergy or is it from creeping around in libraries to attack and slobber all over fellow students?” she snarled.
Colton couldn’t help but let out a brief burst of laughter about how close to the truth she came without even knowing it, then he realized she was really upset.
“No, no, wait, I am sorry, I swear I am not laughing at you and what I said came out wrong. It wasn’t meant as critique or an insult … I am … I meant …. I like pointy noses. Not like yours is excessive or something.” Colton stopped talking when realizing he was doing the exact opposite of digging himself out of the hole he had dug himself into already, now he was getting close to hitting magma. Yikes. Since when was he so awkward around girls?! That was Chase’s thing. Oof!
“Not to mention the less than excessive all-wrong eyes and overall ruddiness, framed by ashy-ass messy hair, right?” her tone started out annoyed, then changed to a chuckle, over how awkward Colton acted.
“Yeah, that too, coming from the library dwelling ghost with a serious slobber problem. Please have mercy before I self-destruct in front of you. Can I get a do-over, please? Complete erase and rewind. Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
“Fine. You, Colton Vatore, are herewith absolved of any wrongdoing. If only because I don’t want to risk killing your creative vibe, it’s legendary how sensitive you art students can be, and I like seeing you guys perform. Maybe you could slide over a free ticket for your next show?”
“Done. You’ve seen us live before?”
“Maybe. Once or twice or several dozen times. Who’s counting, right?” she smiled, now blushing slightly, which Colton couldn’t help find incredibly cute.
“A fangirl. Who’d’ve guessed it.” he smirked, winking.
“Don’t flatter yourself. I am 100% team Chase. He’s hotness. I gotta go. Bye.”
“Ouch.” he meant it. ‘Damn you, Chase!’, he thought, as he watched her walk away now, thinking to himself ‘if she turns around, only once, she’s interested.’ In the very last moment before she disappeared around a corner, she turned and Colton could have sworn she even smiled back at him a little.
Secretly he had hoped that since evidently it was common knowledge were he and Chase lived, she would show up, but when she didn’t, he started digging. Colton wasn’t anything if not resourceful, and he was determined. It took him a few days but eventually, he got some leads.
A few days later
Sliding into a chair across from her at the library again, he said
“Hello again, Maddie. Fancy meeting you here … again.”
Her mouth stood open, then her head hit the table, from between her arms she mumbled.
“You gotta be kidding me! How in the world did you find out my name …?”
“I am full of surprises.”
“So, a Lang & Lit chick, huh? And a recent transfer from Twinbrook. Can I say ‘gotcha’?”
“So, a stalker dude, huh? Just when I thought you can’t get any creepier.”
‘Ha – you only know the half of it!’ Chase thought amused, but instead told her
“I’m charm’d by thy beauty, dear girl; And if thou’rt unwilling, then force I’ll employ.”
“Look who was awake once during an English Literature class and who likes poems. The Erl King. Is that supposed to impress me? You know, that could kinda be taken like a threat. Are we gonna have to do the thing again where I threaten you with campus security or would you prefer a face full of mace? This time, I came prepared.” she said, but was smiling.
“Nope, complaints about the content should be directed at the late Mr. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I only recited art, like a good boy, to show how smart and well-rounded I am. Truth be told, I may or may not have brushed up on all that after finding out your major. But as the great Mr. Shakespeare once said ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.'”
“Speaking of exits, what do you want, Colton?”
“For starters, just talk to you. Show you I’m not as much of a dildo you probably see me as. Make up for my faux pas. Maybe get you to go to dinner with me.”
“I am not sure my boyfriend would like that too much.”
“You have a boyfriend?!” Colton’s good mood crashed into the ground. Of course, she would have someone. Shit!
“Oh my god, don’t look like I kicked your dog. We can talk, on a bench, in public. But if you start getting weird again, I am leaving.”
The day after a party at Chase, Hailey and Colton's house which Maddie attended
“What about your boyfriend?” Colton wondered into the phone.
“Wellll .. he may not have been all the way real. After all, as you already found out, I only just transferred here.”
“You have an imaginary boyfriend?” Colton could barely hide his amusement and relief about the revelation – and her call.
“You know how some girls wear fake engagement rings or wedding bands to dissuade men from hitting on them? I didn’t have one of those handy and you were pretty creepy …” she giggled into the phone, making Colton smile.
“And now I am not creepy anymore?” he chuckled.
“Oh, you still are, but now that I met Chase and Hailey – and OMFG, you weren’t’ lying, Hailey and I really do look a lot a like – I figured I could probably fake-dump my imaginary boyfriend and go have that coffee you’ve been wanting to get. So, are you in or out?” she asked, and Colton could almost see her do that adorable wrinkle of her nose thing.
God, he was falling hard, he knew he shouldn’t, but didn’t feel like stopping it. It just felt too damn good. Even though all they had done so far was talk a couple times, barely could be considered acquaintances, not even friends yet.
“I am in, Maddie. I am ALL in.” Colton said, in his tone a promise that he meant a lot more than just a coffee date, and her light giggle on the other end of the line told him she might be hoping for more as well.
I heard those of you who were ship'ing a Colton and Leeora scenario, and I tried. As described in the chapter, she has been all over the map sending mixed signals, calling him for dates and just disappearing, kissing him, but when he tried to kiss her, she pushed him away, it was getting ridiculous. So, we're moving on.
I did not expect the first girl I introduced to get him all hot and bothered though (mod pop-up has both quite enamored). This does not mean there will be wedding bells in their future, but maybe Colton finally gets a steady girl in his life for a while. Maybe a friend, maybe a date, maybe more.
And yes, she does look a little like Hailey. Their hair colors are quite different in the sunlight but look similar in artificial lights, skin tone and face shape are different, both are blue eyed, but a different shade.