Starring Rimmel & Ivy
by Cambria Hebert
This scene takes place the day Rimmel and Ivy first meet as roommates at the dorm at Alpha U.
*previously published in the #Nerd hardback edition
I was already cold.
Not even fifteen minutes after my flight from Florida landed here in Maryland and I was already asking myself why I chose a college up north when I was used to living in the South.
It wasn’t quite September, but it already felt like autumn here. The second I stepped out onto the sidewalk to hopefully flag down a cab, I noticed. The air here was cooler, the breeze not as gentle. And the humidity?
There wasn’t any.
Not that I’d really miss the humidity.
At least without it, my hair would be a little easier to manage.
Like you even managed it before, a snarky voice in the back of my head reminded me. I snorted, and the man walking in front of me jerked and spun around like something was after him.
My cheeks heated and I looked down at the sidewalk.
The line for the cabs was long. As usual. So I waited toward the back of the crowd until most everyone had found a car. But eventually, I had to move up and wave my hand out to one so they would stop.
The first two times, the cab drivers kept going.
I swear I could hear them laughing as they passed.
“Stupid cabbies,” I muttered.
As another one came over the small hill toward me, I was determined to flag him down. Standing out here half the day was not my idea of a good time. I needed to unpack and then get to the bookstore. I didn’t want to end up with the crappy leftover picks of used textbooks.
I stretched out my arm as far as I could and pushed back the sleeve of the too-big, brown sweater I was wearing so I could use my hand.
The cab driver looked at me; our eyes met through the windshield. I knew that look. He was going to pass me, too.
What was it about me that was so… so… easy to look over?
That’s the way you wanted it, the voice in my head piped up again.
Even if it was right.
I didn’t give up, though. Determination had me stretching my hand out just a little bit farther. My money was just as good as the next person's.
Behind me, a loud whistle cut through the air, and I jerked and stumbled backward. I gasped and pressed a hand to my chest. My goodness!
The cab driver who’d just started driving past slammed on his brakes and stopped at the curb just ahead of me.
I grumbled to myself as I strong-armed my giant suitcase back up onto its wheels. I’d knocked the stupid thing over when I fell back. I don’t know how. It practically weighed more than me.
A rich laugh floated over my head, and I looked up, pushing back the mop of dark hair hanging in my face.
“Not your day, is it?” a man said to me.
I looked around as if searching for the person he was talking to.
His white teeth flashed, and he motioned at me with his chin. “Need a hand with that?”
He was talking to me.
I fought the urge to shrink back. Hadn’t I just been standing here wishing I wasn’t so unnoticeable? Now that someone actually saw me, my reaction was to hide.
I was a hot mess.
The guy, who seemed to maybe be a year or two older than me, had dark hair and dark eyes. He was taller than me, but that really wasn’t an accomplishment because everyone was, and he looked like he hadn’t shaved in a while.
He was actually kind of good-looking. If a girl liked that sort of rumpled style.
I had no idea what kind of “style” I liked when it came to men. I never bothered to ask myself. Still, as I stood here looking at him smiling, I realized he wasn’t it. There was something missing from this guy, something I wasn’t even sure about.
He cleared his throat, and I realized he’d asked me a question.
Good Lord, I’m standing here like a weirdo, gaping at him!
“No thanks,” I finally replied, trying to keep my voice from squeaking. “I can handle it.”
His eyes crinkled at the corners and he laughed. “Sweetheart, I hate to break it to you, but that suitcase is the one handling you.”
I recoiled from his flirtatious tone. I didn’t flirt with men. I wasn’t interested in them.
Well, I guess technically I was because I was heterosexual, but I wasn’t interested in dating.
He laughed as I continued to stand there having a mental showdown with myself and came forward. “Having trouble getting a cab?”
“Yeah,” I said. No point in lying. He likely saw me being passed up.
“Take mine,” he said. “I’ll whistle down another one.”
“Is that the secret?” I wondered. “Whistling really loud?”
He chuckled and picked up my bag before I could stop him. “Doesn’t hurt.”
The cab driver got out of his seat and came around to open the trunk. The stranger put my suitcase inside.
“What do you have in there?” he drawled once it was in. “A hundred pairs of shoes?”
Yeah, ‘cause I looked like a girl with a hundred pairs of shoes. “Books,” I replied.
“Ah, a woman with a sexy mind.”
How dare he think about my mind that way! Not that I should be surprised. That’s all men ever thought about.
“Well, thanks for the cab,” I said and started forward, skirting around him so we didn’t get too close.
He opened the door of the cab and held it for me. “Anytime.”
Inside, I leaned forward and said, “Alpha University dorms.”
When I sat back, the stranger was still holding open the door and looking at me. It made me uncomfortable and slightly embarrassed.
“So what’s your name, girl with the sexy mind?”
“I don’t have one,” I said, my voice high pitched. Then I shot forward, grabbed the door, and slammed it closed.
The shock on the guy’s face was almost funny.
The cabbie laughed and pulled away from the corner.
“Guess you weren’t interested,” he drawled.
“No,” I said, then turned my face to stare out the window.
I most certainly wasn’t interested in guys who tried to pick me up at the airport. I wasn’t interested in dating at all.
There wasn’t one guy in this entire state that could change my mind on that fact.
I wasn’t here at Alpha U to date. I was here to study.
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