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   Chapter 2 NO.2

Haden Merrick By athrhteera Characters: 15465

Updated: 2018-03-22 12:40

Chapter Two - Beautiful Stranger

''It's Valentine's Day, '' Joanne joins on the bench, ignoring Seth who was clearly having a conversation with me which causes him to scoff before taking a bite of his tuna sandwich. ''It's the day where people conceive unintentionally.''

''Valentine's Day literally means Sex Day, '' Seth replies, frowning. ''You're so caught up in some celebration that doesn't even need to exist. It's a day for cowards to profess their undying love, '' He adds, not agreeing with Joanne who has this whole other idea in her head; she enjoys living in a world where people are easily expected. Joanne likes to know what to expect as well and one of the reasons why she gets along with almost everyone on campus is because she's good at making friends and lovers aside from her born beauty.

Joanne doesn't need to put an effort in what she wears or put on her face, she's already beautiful and she's confident. She knows she can have anyone in bed, girls or boys because she's confidently pretty, in a way of saying. For instance, she's sitting on the bench with us right now wearing a tank top and skinny jeans, purposely showing off her cleavage but like I said. . . her confidence is something I can never compete.

''Hey! Valentine's Day gives hope to those who are scared of professing their love. For example, your dearest friend over here.'' Joanne chuckles, pointing at me which instantly causes me to roll my eyes and Seth to laugh—as annoying as she is, it's true. I'm too scared of confessing my silly crush to Haden because looking back at myself and looking back at him, it feels like we're worlds apart. Something occasional turned out to be something serious when I realised just how much I am attracted to that beautiful stranger.

I lean my back on the bench, ''I'm not scared. I'm just being careful with the choices I make, ''

''Honestly, Belle, you're not getting anything out of being careful.'' She rests her head on my shoulder before grabbing my hand and play with the tips of my fingers, ''It's now or never—he's a senior and you're a junior. He'll graduate this year, then you probably won't see him ever again unless you man up and talk to him. At least start off as friends, ''

''Friends? I can't even go to him and say hi!'' My heart feels like it's going to thump out of my chest before standing up, taking a few steps back and for some reason, Seth and Joanne has their eyes wide but before I can question them, I feel myself trip onto something which causes me to grab onto the nearest thing I could find, someone's arm.

I close my eyes in fear of falling but the somehow, the stranger has his arm wrapped around my waist to avoid me from falling onto the ground. The familiar smell of his cologne confuses me for a few seconds as I open my eyes, meeting a pair of beautiful brown eyes staring back at me in surprise—letting me blink a few times, realising how I'm in the arms of the man I like; possibly love.

His eyes pierce into my own and right through my soul, ''Are you okay?''

'Oh lord, what is happening? What is going on? What the hell just happened?!' A lot of questions are playing in my head as I nod anxiously, trying to make sure this isn't a dream. Yet, the pressure of his arm around my waist feels real, as if I'm being held into the arms of an angel—not literally but you get the meaning. Everything around me seems to fade away and the only thing I can focus on is his warm eyes and breathtaking smile as he looks at me with concern, ''Um. . . '' I open my mouth to speak but no words seem to escape.

Haden slowly lifts me up, letting me stand straight on my two feet before finally letting go of my waist; and for some reason, I already miss the touch of his fingers on me—even though, we weren't touching skin to skin.

''You okay?'' He asks once more, his voice a little bit raspy and deep which makes me feel like the ground is melting as my knees weaken.

My eyes wander to my two best friends as they both seem to be in shock as well, their eyes wide and their lips slightly apart. Joanne on the other hand, is gripping hard onto Seth before giving me looks to try and start a conversation with Haden but nothing seems to be coming out of my mouth other than 'uh' or 'huh' or 'um' and it looks like I'm humming.

''I'm. . . uh, '' I furrow my brows, forgetting how to utter proper words.

He continues to look at me and by the looks of it, he seems pretty confused as well but manages to hide it perfectly by smiling. ''Be careful next time. Okay?'' He turns around after sparing one last glance at me and walks away until he's out of sight. Then, I feel like I can finally breathe as I fall onto the ground, trying to process what just happened.

''Belle, what the hell?!'' Joanne and Seth both say in unison, shaking my hands a few time to make me realise what a mistake I made.

''Guys. . . what just happened?'' I blink a few times, still in daze.

''Haden just saved you. Haden just saved you, that is what happened!'' Joanne exclaims, catching other people's attention as I cover her mouth; not wanting the whole campus to know about my crush. ''Oh god, I panicked. We panicked. You panicked! We were just staring at him. Did you even see how quick he moved to grab you? Did you even feel his muscle underneath you? Belle!'' She continues to hyperventilate while Seth takes a moment to process, sitting quietly near the bench.

''He looked at me, '' I place a hand on my chest to feel my heart beating fast.

This kind of thing has never happened to me before, especially not when it comes to Haden. It feels as if the world is finally on my side and my life has gotten lucky, even by that small gesture. Even if his full intention was to prevent a silly girl from falling onto the ground and embarrass herself but he was there, he was right next to me when it happened.

It was as if I had to fall and he was there to save me. It could've been anybody else or I could've faced the embarrassment by falling and no one would've bothered but it was Haden and he was there.

The way his brown eyes looked at me with worry, it felt like the world stopped spinning. It even felt like the time stopped as well and it was just us. A little space of our own. There was no one else surrounding us—it felt like we were standing in an empty field of flowers where roses bloom and everything is at peace.

The whole sensation of having him that close to me was not foreign in the slightest, it felt surreal but perfect. It was as if my mind went blank and all I could think of was his hand on my waist.

''You're damn right, he looked at you. Ah, it was thrilling!'' Joanne breathes, clapping her hands in excitement while my mind keeps on replaying the previous scene of Haden wrapping his arm around my waist to prevent me from falling and using his strength to pull me up. For some unknown reason, I wanted it to happen again even though he acted out of concern, out of humanity yet it felt refreshing.

''I don't know what to say, '' I mutter.

''I do. We're late to class!'' Seth's eyes widen before grabbing onto Joanne and I as he pulls us away, letting Haden slip out of my mind from continuously thinking about him. If only we were given more time to relive that moment, if only I was able to grab onto his face and kiss him right there! If only I was given the strength but I was confused, surprised and embarrassed. Out of the moments we could've met and started talking, it had to be that moment where I fell. Almost fell.

''Belle, snap out of it.'' Seth adds as we enter our class, seeing the room slowly being filled with students.

For the first time in years or even months, it fe

els hard to focus. All I can think of is Haden's eyes and his hands on mine rather than Professor Rodriguez's teachings up front. My mind keeps on wandering to Haden and it keeps replaying his voice in my head, the way he asked me 'are you okay?' and the way he pulled me up, our faces were inches apart. For all of this to happen on Valentine's Day makes it a whole lot more meaningful.

''Eric is taking me out tonight, '' Someone says from behind, ''I can't wait to meet him. I'm excited to know what he has in store, ''

''Don't forget the condoms, '' Another girl says which causes me to hold back my laughter, knowing how exceptionally boring my life is even on Valentine's Day—there's no need for condoms, for money or for romantic dinners because I know at the end of the day I'll be going home and spend my night watching my favourite show with Joanne and Seth. The casual celebration.

Yet again, Haden. Haden, Haden, Haden. Can't seem to get him out of my head. My mind keeps on replaying different scenes of him, when he lifted his shirt up and he revealed his toned abs or when he laughed with his friends and for some reason, he glowed. Ever since I first laid eyes on Haden, everyone and I mean every other guy on campus seems to be out of league. They can't simply compare even though I have to admit, there are a lot of beautiful guys on campus but Haden has that special spot in my heart.

''Ms. Collins, '' I smile as I doodle in my notebook, ignoring Professor Rodriguez's voice calling out my name. ''Ms. Collins. Excuse me, Ms. Collins?'' I look up, finding the rest of the students have turned to look at me which causes me to stop smiling immediately.

Professor James Rodriguez is by far the youngest professor on campus and with his outstanding looks, it appears a lot of girls are crushing on him as well. With him only being in his early thirties, he has an exceptional view on Science and even on himself. The way he'd walk the campus grounds with confident as if he owns half of it yet stay humble throughout his teachings makes him more appealing; in fact, Joanne has once tried to flirt with him but he acted professional and she considered him 'boring' as disgusting as that seems.

''Yes, Professor Rodriguez?'' I immediately sit up straight.

''Were you paying attention?'' He asks, looking directly at me while I mentally curse in my mind; knowing better that I did not hear a single word he said earlier and paid further attention to Haden's voice in my head.

''Y—yes.'' I stutter.

''Then, what was I talking about? Would you mind elaborate it for me and the entire class?'' The side of his lips curve up into a smile as he leans back on his desk, making me feel all eyes on me before glancing at Seth who has already turned to look at me with worry. ''I want to hear it coming from Ms. Collins and no one else unless he or she feels like getting a slip. I don't mind, '' He adds, silencing everyone else.

I look at Seth once more and see him mouthing, 'molecular biology.'

'Fuck, I'm screwed.' The words immediately appear in my head as I try to think of molecular biology, not exactly knowing whether the words I might say will have anything to do with it since we're far ahead in the topics. ''Is it gel electrophoresis?'' I ask, eyes meeting Professor Rodriguez as he stays still at his spot, making me nervous.

''What about it?'' He clenches his jaw, waiting for me to elaborate.

''The basic principle is that DNA, RNA, and proteins can all be separated by means of an electric field and size. Proteins can be separated on the basis—''

I am cut off by Professor Rodriguez, silencing me immediately. ''—we're not learning the basics here, Ms. Collins. In fact, we're nowhere near the basics. We're not even talking about gel electrophoresis. What makes you think you can daydream in my class instead of paying attention to the words I was saying? Tell me, ''

That's it. Even with the incident with Haden was a blessing but now I feel like my life turned into a nightmare. Professor Rodriguez is asking me questions I can't even answer because I don't have the slightest clue of what to say; it feels as if my mind is corrupted and I'm left alone to finish it. Not even Joanne or Seth can help me. Joanne won't be able to help me at all, she's failing Professor Rodriguez's class while I'm struggling to make sure I pass with flying colours. Unlike Seth, he's a genius.

''I'm sorry, Professor.'' I sigh in defeat, pressing my nails deep into my palm in order to hide the embarrassment.

''Meet me after class, '' He responds before continuing to teach at the front, leaving me to groan—immediately face palming myself, knowing how this day is the best yet the worst day of my life.

As soon as class is over, I find Professor Rodriguez sitting down on his desk before rearranging the books while Seth and Joanne make their ways towards me. ''We'll wait for you outside, yeah?'' Joanne says, walking out with Seth after glancing a few times at my direction just seconds before I make my way towards Professor Rodriguez who appears to be waiting for me, both of his eyes has already turned to look at me while I keep my head down, not wanting to hear him say about how I'm on the edge, if I don't work harder, I'll drop.

''May I ask what's going on, Ms. Collins?'' He asks, making me look up at him.

It's kind of odd to have a young professor at our university especially in this major because at first, I thought we'd be having an old and grumpy professor that would fall asleep every few minutes but we were surprised to find him as our professor. Not only is he young but he's the main cause for the girls to focus in his class, they drool over him—can't blame them though but the relationship between a student and a professor is strictly professional, no matter how it might lead.

''It won't happen again. There was just a lot on my mind, '' I reply.

''I don't want you slipping in my class. You're a good student—I know you're brilliant but don't let that get up to you. There are other students who are struggling to make sure they be the top of the class. If you're simply uninterested, then you can drop this subject off. I want this behaviour out of my class if you wish to continue, '' He responds, causing me to blink a few times; knowing this is a warning.

''Yes, Professor. I'm sorry, ''

''Good. You're dismissed, '' He walks back to the board, writing something on as I walk out of his class with relief.

Just as I step out of the door, I find myself staring face to face with Haden which causes me to stumble back a little as he places his hand on my waist to steady me. Both sides of his lips curve up into a smile before chuckling, ''Why is it that every time we meet, you're about to fall?''

His hair seems to be messier than earlier, as if he had a busy day but he doesn't seem bothered by it. In fact, it makes him look more attractive in a way; makes me want to run my fingers through his hair and just pull him close but with all my dignity and common sense, I stay back and only manage to utter, ''Um.''

''Uh, actually—'' I start.

''—Mr. Merrick, you're five minutes late.'' Professor Rodriguez says from inside, causing Haden to look away from me.

''Take care, '' Haden says before entering the room, leaving me to close my eyes in frustration. Not being frustrated at Professor Rodriguez for interrupting me but being frustrated at myself for not being able to utter words properly in front of Haden—it's like I'm cursed or something and I'm not bound to ever speak with him but. . . he did say 'take care' though.

My eyes wander to Joanne and Seth who have wide grins on their faces.

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