“Alright, well, Cole, don’t forget we have Journalism in thirty minutes. Don’t be late and if you get there before me, please save me a seat, and don’t let the sorority bimbos take it this time,” I pleaded with him.
I’m usually a pretty outgoing person when it comes to meeting new people, but I hated that awkward first day dance you do when you have no idea where to sit, walking into a new classroom. It throws me off and makes me not feel in control. Cole and I are both majoring in Journalism, so we typically have the majority of our classes together. He understands me and tries to save me a seat, but a pretty face easily distracts him.
I waved them off and hobbled to my car, walking on the tiptoe of my injured foot. When I got to my trunk, I popped it open and thank the heavens there was a sundress back there that I hastily threw on. I breathed a sigh of relief at feeling comfortable again. As I rounded my car to open the driver’s door, I glanced back at the guys. Cole and Mason were already stepping up onto the porch to head inside. Jaxon was still balancing on his bike and staring at me.
Good grief, the boy was hot. I couldn’t tell how tall he was because he still hadn’t stood up off his bike yet. His legs appeared long and I could see his muscles bunching underneath the jeans that were hugging him perfectly. The black leather jacket looked like it felt like butter on his shoulders and his skin was tanned just enough to make his ice blue eyes pop. His hair was a warm dark brown, with a few natural highlights spread throughout it. It called for fingers to run through it, which it appeared he did on a regular basis. Each strand appeared as if it had a mind of its own and they were going to go whichever way they wanted. The front pieces were long and I could tell they would get in his eyes but he obviously pushes them over to the side. His face had just a little bit of scruff to add that rougher look to him. He was definitely no pretty California boy.
When I realized how long I had been checking him out, my eyes snapped up to his and he knowingly grinned at me. Oh, this one was going to be trouble; I needed the ball back in my court. So I tossed my hair over my shoulder, lifted my chest high and gave him my sexiest wink. Before I turned to sit down in the driver’s seat, I saw his jaw drop just a little bit. One point for me. That’s right Motorcycle Boy, I’m the one in control here.
I ran by our apartment to shower and change into different clothes. I slipped on a pair of jean shorts, one of the local campus band t-shirts and some flip-flops. Quinn had cut a v-slit in my t-shirt, which was meant to show off my cleavage. She said, “We can’t have the boys forgetting you’re a girl, if you insist on wearing that awful shirt.” Like they could forget; I had D’s for goodness sake. I didn’t have time for makeup or curling my hair though. I never understood waking up extra early to get dressed up for class, but I’m also not husband-hunting like some of these girls. I barely had time to say hi and bye to Quinn in my rush through the apartment. I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and made her promise she would be in the cafeteria to meet for lunch.
I made it to Journalism before our professor did, so that was always good news. When I dashed into class, I scanned the packed lecture hall for Cole. When I finally spotted him, he had two Chi Omega girls leaning in on each side to talk to him. It was pretty convenient as to how they leaned in toward him displaying their br**sts perfectly. I’m not judging though. Can’t say I’ve never pulled that move before, I’m just bitter that they stole my spot. He glanced back at me and instantly mouthed an apology; I rolled my eyes at him and gave him a look that I hoped conveyed how much he would pay for this later.
I walked down the steps of the side row searching for an open seat when I heard someone call my name. I looked down the aisle I had stopped at and saw Jaxon at the far end, waving me down to the open seat next to him. It had a black backpack in the seat but when I sidestepped down the aisle, I saw him pick it up and put it underneath his chair.
“Once I saw the ‘sorority bimbos,’ as you called them before, swarm Cole, I saved you a seat,” he said looking up at me and shrugging, as if it was no big deal.
“Wow… thanks. I’m surprised they aren’t swarming you either, it won’t be long until they discover those gorgeous blue eyes,” I said, laughing. I can’t believe he actually paid attention to what I said earlier. It’s like he knew I would be uncomfortable coming in here with nowhere to sit.
“Nah, sorority bimbos really aren’t my type,” he said in his low southern drawl. I instantly wondered if I was his type. I mean, he did save me the seat and not someone else.
”They did swarm him, but he scared them off,” Tobias Reed interrupted.
Tobias was sitting on the other side of Jaxon. He’s pretty much our class know-it-all. He’s in everyone’s business, but he’s smart as hell, so he’s helpful to sit by in class.
Jaxon shrugged vaguely, “It’s not a big deal, I heard you tell Cole to save you one and figured I could help you out.” He started to take off his leather jacket and I could see he was wearing a dark grey Henley underneath that showed the wide expanse of his chest. I remembered Cole saying that he played football with these guys back home and wondered if he’ll be playing for the University.
Before I could ask, Professor Patterson came in through the staff door and placed his briefcase on the desk. Everyone began quieting down as we watched him unpack all of his papers. I’ve had Professor Patterson every year I’ve been here, and I’ve always enjoyed coming to his classes. He’s more laid back than other professors are; he requires a lot of work, but he’s not one of those tight-asses that will call you out and make you uncomfortable in front of all the other students. There’s nothing that will have my knees locking and palms sweating like standing in front of a crowd of people to speak. Quinn has been in plays ever since we were in middle school and she can command an entire theater, but I think I would throw up everywhere if I were to switch places with her.
“Welcome to Journalism 359: Investigative Reporting. I hope you’re all in the right class. My assistant is handing out the syllabus, please take one and pass it down. You all know how to read, you wouldn’t have made it this far if you couldn’t. You don’t need me to read over every point on the syllabus, it’s your responsibility to read it yourself and do what is required of you.” Another reason, why I like Patterson so much, he gets straight to the point. We don’t have to waste an entire hour and a half doing exactly what we’ll be doing in all of our other classes the next couple of days.
“With Investigative reporting, you’re going to be thrown into a situation with people you haven’t met and you’re going to be required to come back with the best possible answers you can get from them. You need to learn how to ask questions, good questions, on the spot. We’ll just do a small exercise today to practice this,” he proposed, while walking back and forth in front of us. “Everyone turn and pick a partner, no crossing the room, just pick someone next to you. Ask them as many questions as you can think of to keep the conversation rolling. You need to be able to keep up a dialogue and get crucial information out of people. I don’t need you to write this all down, because I don’t have time to read it. I just want you to get comfortable talking to someone you don’t know, and asking questions you wouldn’t otherwise ask if you weren’t working. Go.”
Jaxon turned his body to face mine in his seat. “Partner?” he asked and I nodded my head. I wasn’t sure if I wanted this gorgeous guy to ask me a bunch of personal questions; he seemed too observant. On the other hand, I was interested in getting to know more about him.
“Uh, excuse me, Jaxon, you should be my partner seeing as I don’t have anyone on the other side of me, Em can be her partner,” Tobias said, gesturing at the girl on my left, who clearly was already in a deep conversation with the guy in front of her.
“Nope, sorry man. I’m definitely going to sit here and enjoy getting to know Em here.” He said my name as if he was unsure that’s how to pronounce it. My real name is Emerson, but no one calls me that. Quinn said that it sounds like a guy’s name. I’ve never really cared, just thankful I didn’t end up an Ashley or a Sarah… blech.
Tobias was clearly getting upset that he couldn’t get his “assignment” started. “Dude, if you want to get into her pants, it’s not hard. You don’t need to sit here and ‘get to know her.’ She’ll give it up without the twenty questions.”
He started to stand up to walk around and find a partner when Jaxon put his arm around Tobias’ shoulders to stop his ascent. “Tobias, man, chill out, this isn’t even a graded assignment.” Jaxon’s hand clasped onto his shoulder looked totally innocent until I noticed Tobias grimacing, and realized that maybe Jaxon was squeezing him a bit hard. Jaxon didn’t appear to be angry; the only thing I could see that would give away his ire at Tobias’ words was the tension in his jaw and the steely gaze he gave him. “Now, apologize to Em,” he stated calmly.
What? Was he sticking up for me? I should probably stop him because it’s not like Tobias spoke an untruth. To be honest, his comment didn’t even faze me. I learned to block out any irritation toward the “slut remarks” back in freshman year. The only people ever to stick up for me were Quinn and Cole, a complete stranger. It’s not like he knows that I actually am a slut and that his defense is purely unnecessary. “It’s fine, Jaxon. Don’t worry about it. Tob, no hard feelings, but go find another partner,” I whispered to both of them, trying not to pull any other attention toward us. Jaxon continued glaring at him.
Exasperated, Tobias let out an annoyed sigh before he spoke. “Sorry, Emerson, I shouldn’t have said that.” Then he turned to face Jaxon and shrugged off his now white knuckled grip on his bony shoulder. “Chill out, dude, you don’t even know who she is,” he said under his breath as he walked away quickly. I don’t know if he meant for me not to hear that, but I did.
Jaxon turned back toward me in his chair and looked me in the eyes for a couple of seconds. I’m not sure what he was looking for, maybe to see if I was upset over what Tob said. “Thanks for defending me, but it really wasn’t necessary,” I stressed, while he was still staring at me.
“It’s not okay for any guy to talk to a girl like that. I don’t care if what he said was true or false.”
“What he said was true. I’m sure since you’re talking to me, half of these girls will crowd you after class just to let you know my reputation,” I said to him.
“I don’t care what your reputation is; most of us don’t have good ones anyways. That’s what makes them reputations,” he said looking at his notebook instead of to me. Then he shook his head slightly as if he were clearing it and turned to look at me again. “So, Emerson, huh?”
“Yeah, but no one calls me that though. Tobias only uses it occasionally and the only reason he knows my name is because we studied for finals last year together and saw it on my papers. Quinn only calls me that when she’s really pissed at me.” I leaned forward onto my desk, rolling my pen between my fingers, and laughing at the image in my head of Quinn being mad.
“Be silly, be honest, and be kind,” he quoted in a raspy voice.
I gasped. My heart sunk to the floor and I started to feel the ambush of tears to my eyes. Emerson, please don’t do this here, you will look like a fool. I quietly calmed myself with a deep breath. I could tell that Jaxon was watching my reaction carefully. “You know Ralph Waldo Emerson?” I asked.
“Yeah, he’s a great poet. We had to study one last year in American lit and I chose his name out of the bag. Sorry if that made you upset or anything. I’ve just always enjoyed that quote. Your name made me think of it,” he added.
“It’s totally fine. I guess it has just been a really long time since I’ve heard that. My mom would say it all the time to me when I was a kid. Just nostalgia.” I tried to sound light and laugh it off. I wanted to appear like that one little quote didn’t just turn my world upside down.
“You know some people say that he may not have even actually quoted that. That maybe it was just something that was attached to his name along the way,” he broke in.
“My mom told me that once; I don’t think she cared though. It’s still a nice quote to live by, whoever created it.”
My mom majored in literature, fell in love with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s simple quote, and always told me to live my life silly, honestly, and kindly. This is obviously my namesake. I’m just thankful she didn’t name me Ralph or Waldo instead. She would say his quote to me nightly at bed, even up until I was fifteen. I used to roll my eyes that she was being so cheesy, but now I would kill to hear her say those words. I promise if I could, I wouldn’t roll my eyes; I would ask to hear them again.
“So, do you plan on trying out for the football team to play with Cole?” I asked him, hoping that he would understand I didn’t like where our conversation was heading.
“Well, since I’m here on a full scholarship for football, something tells me I won’t actually have to try out,” he said with a sexy half smile.
“Wow, a junior transfer with a full scholarship. I bet Coach Chase wishes he would have found you before freshman year, if you’re that good.”
“Oh, he found me my junior year of high school along with Jace and Cole. We were the three amigos, on and off the field. Coach Chase wanted all three of us. I messed up in my senior year and Coach Chase pulled my scholarship for two years so I could work some stuff out. So… ya, two years later I finally made it here. Hopefully, I haven’t lost too much talent not being on a team for that long.” I wanted to ask what he had done to lose his scholarship but the way he was fidgeting with his fingers when he said that, tells me whatever he did makes him uncomfortable. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to ask later. This guy just kept getting more interesting to me. It’s been a long time since someone has caught my attention and actually held it. He is so easy to talk to. His voice is deep and mesmerizing. I would literally pay money just to hear him talk to me all day. It took me a while to realize that I was leaning toward him with my head in my hand. I slowly pulled myself back so I didn’t seem startled to catch myself gawking at him. He still gave me a knowing smile.