University of Britchester Campus
Snuffling, while also angrily huffing, I kicked rocks through the balustrade of the bridge, or better put, I tried to, naturally I missed. Story of my life of late. Bad luck just seemed to follow me, like a dark cloud, or like that man dressed in black, always following me, even though I wanted nothing more desperate than to be alone. My bodyguard, cos, which college girl doesn’t have one of those, right? By now, ever since the Rohan disaster had gone down – and along with it my mood, hopes and dreams – I had asked him, begged him, yelled at him, threatened him, fired him, just to be alone again, be rid of his mute stares from a distance, his eyes constantly scoping the perimeter he created in his mind everywhere we went – to no avail. I was politely, yet assertively informed by ‘Bear’, that he and his men work for my parents, not me, so they will do their job as my security as hired.
With a frustrated huff, the wetness of the now stopped tears still on my cheeks, I picked up a handful of gravel, firing off pebble after pebble into the water, yelling out my frustration.
“Fuck love! Fuck life! Fuck everything! FUUUUUUUUUCK! Why can’t …. why …. why can’t I be a man! A gay one! A good-looking gay guy! WHY!?!”
Chuckling startled me, I whirled around, thinking it would be that security guy, ‘Bear’, even though in all this time, I don’t think I ever heard him laugh – or emote in any real way – but it was some guy I had never seen before, about my age, holding my book, now raising it up and looking at it briefly, then turning it to me, tapping his index finger at the title, smiling.
“Watching you, I have to assume this is lacking vital content. And if I may be so bold and egoistic, losing you to the homosexual male community would be regretful as well.”
Unamused by the lame flirt attempt I quickly wiped the tears off my face, then tore my ‘Applied Psychology – How To Find Inner Happiness’ book from his hands, tossed it to the ground atop my backpack near my feet, turning my back to him.
I thought that was clear enough, but he remained.
“Rough day?” he now asked.
“The type of not in the mood for company kinda day! Bye then! This is your clue to leave!” I snarled back at him. Get lost already!
“As much as I dislike imposing on your moment, I was raised better than leaving someone so obviously in distress to their own devices. Maybe there is something I can do?” his demeanor remained calm and polite, his voice soft, his eyes gentle – so much like Rohan always did when I was upset. But he looked nothing like Rohan, he wasn’t Rohan. Nobody was like Rohan!
I let out an exasperated – not to mention frustrated – sigh.
“Yes, there is. LEAVE ME BE! I am not gonna Peter Pan it off this here bridge, if that’s what worries you. And why do you talk like that? It makes you sound pompous!” I said the world’s most stupid thing, realizing it as I heard myself out loud, closing my eyes, shaking my head and correcting.
“Sorry, what I meant was, I … actually I don’t know what I meant. Never mind.”
“Apologies for my, uh, ‘pompous’ English accent, a symptom of me being born English, then spending a lot of time in school abroad where Oxford English was spoken by all faculty, considering you already seem upset. However, beyond your apparent emotional distress, I couldn’t help but notice this man always following you and I really wanted to offer my assistance, if needed. Assume that is not your dad?”
“No, my secret lover, there’s just something about grumpy old men that gets me going. We love role playing. Currently doing the dark, tall, handsome stalker routine. Oh, I just LOVE it. Love, love, LOVE it!” I said dryly, cynicism dripping off each of my words, in no mood to explain who I was and why ‘Bear’ was at my heels 24/7. Some students obviously had long figured it out, the rest I preferred in blissful ignorance. Including this tool here. Englishman, my ass.
“I see. You are not concerned, and I overstepped adding to your sour mood. My apologies. I shall leave you be then. But I would very much appreciate it if perhaps you could point me in the right direction towards Drake Hall.”
“Oh, you’re lost?”
“Sadly, yes. Utterly lost. I noticed you on this bridge and came to recruit your assistance, I do not have the faintest idea where I am, nor which direction to turn, let alone which street I came from. I am a recent transfer to this university, my second day here actually, and haven’t sorted out the campus yet. Any hints?”
“Yeah, just go North on … wait. Let me take you. Just easier.” I pointed and started walking fast, he had to work hard to keep my pace, as did ‘Bear’ who swiftly grabbed my backpack and book, which I had recklessly left behind. Serves him right for getting on my nerves.
“Thank you. I would normally not make a lady walk me anywhere, but I am desperate. I am Max by the way. May I ask whom I have the pleasure with?” he chatted politely while we walked quickly, ‘Bear’ naturally shadowing us at a safe distance.
“My name? Right … I am Ar … abella. Arabella.” I lied. I just don’t give out my name to random strangers, even if they seemed nice and harmless. If I had a penny for every time someone already knew who I was and tried the innocent and nice trick to get closer, I’d be … well, even richer than I am already, which is part of the problem. Golddiggers aren’t exclusively female. They come in all shapes and sizes. Lies, everywhere lies. At some point they almost become second nature, as does not trusting easily.
“Arabella. What a pretty name!” he smiled charmingly.
And here we go with the flirting, which I am in NO mood for, so time for me to bow out. I stopped short, he had to backtrack a few steps.
“Yeah, well, Max, here we are, home, sweet home, that’s your building over there, Drake Hall, I have faith in you that you can make it across the plaza without me. Good luck with your studies. They also hand out maps for free at the Administrations Building, helps not getting lost.” I informed him, then turned and left. Just walked off, leaving him standing there.
Surprisingly, but much to my relief, he didn’t follow me. Only ‘Bear’ did. I know, I am as shocked as you are. Pardon the sarcasm. I really am in no good mood.
When I got home, I turned around to ‘Bear’, who, as usual when I wasn’t with company, watched me unlock the door, then waited until I was inside before becoming ‘invisible’ again.
“Do you want to come inside?”
“No, thanks much, Miss.”
“I would like for you to come inside.” I rephrase my demand with more urgency.
“Sorry Miss, that’s against policy.”
“And this is stupid. I won’t tell your boss.”
“You already have, Miss.” the corner of his mouth flicked up briefly, blink and you missed his faint attempt at a smile.
“Nothing Miss. Have a good night. You know where to find me.”
Eyerolling, I went inside, slamming my door shut. Why did I want him inside, you ask, if I don’t like him? Well, he’s a warm body and I am so fucking lonely. Lonely and incredibly depressed. Makes you do stupid things. To what avail I wanted him inside was beyond me too, if I am honest. I think tonight was the longest conversation I have had to date with him. Not a talker at all.
I looked around, my eyes lingered on the coffeemaker. Yeah, it was late, probably too late, but I was a Cameron. So, I made some coffee, when I turned around from the machine after it started making the usual slurping sounds brewing the dark goodness, I shrieked, dropping my phone.
“Holy crap! GAVIN!”
With lightning speed he caught the phone handing it back to me.
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?” he smirked, winking at me.
“You are not allowed to do this! Like a literal Vampire law! The just showing up in someone’s home! I could have been naked! And you’re my uncle, for Christ’s sake!”
“Why would you come home, take off your clothes to be standing in your kitchen naked?” he arched an eyebrow at me.
“That’s not the point, Uncle Stalker! And where the hell were you?! Everyone was worried sick about you!” I laid into him.
“Here and there. Sorry I ditched. Just a little much. Needed some time to myself. I am back home now.”
“Oh, I heard how you spent your ‘alone’ time. Not very alone at all, Uncle Hornball!”
“A kneejerk reaction because I was in pain, I thought you of all people would be able to relate to that now. Welcome to relationship hell. Burns like acid, doesn’t it?”
“What?” I wondered, confused.
“Rohan. I heard. I am sorry. That’s why I am here.”
“To check on you. To console. To listen. Whatever you need, AG. I know how this hurts, remember?” he told me, patiently.
“What I need it to get laid to get Rohan out of my system. Cos nothing else has worked so far.” I said crudely.
“I am gonna pass on helping you out with that. With a college full of testosterone-laden boys, getting laid shouldn’t be too hard if that’s what you really think you need. In all seriousness though, word of advice, speaking from experience, I had the same idea with getting my brains banged out to erase Bianca’s memory, sad to report it does not work.”
“Thank you, Uncle TMI.”
“You are welcome. Who’s the pretty boy?”
“Pretty boy? Oh, that’s ‘Bear’. My personal security. Thanks to your overbearing helicopter sister and her husband, aka. my parents.”
“Not the old guy. That other student you were walking home. Interesting concept. I always thought boys walk the girls home, guess I am not woke enough.”
“Oh, you mean Max. He’s nobody, some new transfer who got lost on campus, and I didn’t walk him home, I just showed him the way. You know me and directions. I swear if anyone ever were to enter the Matrix for real, they would find everyone I ever tried to give directions to.”
“Gav, seriously. We have to talk about the baby thing. It’s killing me. You can’t be THAT guy. I refuse to accept you are that type of reckless, careless douchey deadbeat father type.”
“I am not. I am just not ready to run with what-ifs. The Bianca thing has given me hope too many times only to let me crash and burn. We’ll see what happens. Once we know for sure, I will handle as needed.”
“So, you are not trying to duck responsibility?”
“Nope.” he said, I was so relieved that at least part of my world idea was still intact, as I hugged and smooched around on him. In a non-incest-y kinda way.
Gavin finally fought me off.
“Seriously, AG, how are you doing?”
“As you’d imagine? Rohan was everything to me. Now he’s gone, even though he’s still here, like that thing you want so bad, right in front of you, but behind glass, you can’t reach it anymore. The worst thing is seeing him with that Harrison. I seriously wanna catfight that man, and I know it’s not his fault, but somehow, deep inside I somehow blame him. So wrong, I know. My mind keeps getting tied in knots trying to figure out a way to win Rohan back. I just can’t help it.”
“Unless you undergo a total sex change, AG, I think that ship has long sailed. You do look better as you are, if you ask me, a most definitely hetero guy. I would go as far as calling you beautiful, but that has a distinctly bad aftertaste considering I am still your uncle.”
I had to laugh. Yeah, THIS was the Gavin I knew.
“Did any of your bedroom workout girls make it to the next level?”
“Are you asking me if I am dating anyone? Nah. You and I are very much in the same boat. Bianca is behind glass for me, just as Rohan is for you. Still there, I can see her, but not touch her.”
“Since we are talking uncensored here, I HAVE to know. Did you or didn’t you … with her … you know, in the timeframe of conception?”
Gavin closed his eyes, then opened them to look directly at me.
“Remember Connor and Keira’s birthday party at The Elysium?”
I nodded. Chase, Hailey, Colton and Maddie’s parties were legend. Nobody forgot those.
“That was the last time she and I did it. Snuck away to Avalon Park and well, she initiated, but I did nothing to stop it. It happened. And before you ask, ‘mom’, no, I did not use protection like a good boy should. Mostly, cos I didn’t think I was gonna end up getting laid at a teen birthday party with practically only family invited. I didn’t know Bianca would be there. So, the answer to your question would be, yes, I am a possibility.”
“So, you really are the mystery guy. Well, at least the kid would be a love child, cos Gavin, I know it all sucks, but she really loves you, still. This is Bianca being scared. If he turns out to be yours, and also Vampire, Bianca is gonna have hell unleashed on her.”
“He? It’s a boy?” Gavin face went through the emotions from surprise, over mild excitement to gloominess, where it remained. Understandable. If that baby really ended up being his, and Bianca can pass it off as Carson’s, Gavin would be a father with no rights. Miss the pregnancy, the birth, no input on the name, can’t hold him. As much as somehow deep inside I hoped it was his, somehow, I hoped it wasn’t, too.
“Yeah, she found out few days ago. So far all looks healthy and normal, I honestly don’t know if you can even tell if the baby is a Vampire yet.”
“You can’t. Not until he’s born.”
Gavin stayed with me until – despite of the coffee – I got super-sleepy. He tucked me in, and then was gone.