Semester of Thursdays: Book 2

29 Mar

BOOK TWO: Remington Kover

Disclaimer:  It is extremely rare to find a man who thinks like Remington Kover.  So rare, in fact, that I had to make him up.

Cover 1

CHAPTER ONE

Another monotonous Thursday.

Alec had asked me if I wanted come out, knowing I would accept out of obligation, not because of some misguided desire to meet new people.  We both knew what I wanted had nothing to do with this.  If it did then I would be at the library working on my biology project that was due in two weeks.  It would be a relief to have that burden out of my way so I could have time to proofread it with fresh eyes.  I hated procrastinating, even by the most lenient definition.

If Alec hadn’t met that blonde last week then I could have stayed at home in peace.  But she had a “friend” which meant I was responsible for entertaining said friend so Alec could have Lena all to himself; with the horde of men who usually followed her around that would be no simple task.

Being his “wingman” he had called it.  I had made it clear to the blonde that I wasn’t interested in her or her friend, but she hadn’t cared either way.  Lena had said her best friend was in a relationship so it wouldn’t be an issue.

Since when did relationships matter to anyone?

Just because Lena didn’t expect the four of us to go on a double-date didn’t mean there was no pressure.  Alec and Lena expected me to talk to this girl; expectations and pressure were incestuous cousins.

“Come on, Remington.  God you’re slow!”

“You know if you break down the door just to see her again you’re going to end up scaring her away.”

I had seen it before, but Lena Whyte was by far the worst case.  There was barely enough room for both her and her commitment issues inside the bar.  But if Alec was interested I would support him in stony silence for as long as he needed me—or for as long as I was able to bite my tongue, whichever came first.

Alec slowed when he got to the entrance and stood up straighter, attempting to obtain the air of nonchalance that I had perfected through years of legitimately not caring.  It had become second nature for me to walk into a crowded room and not see the other people present.  I was there to consume a few mind-numbing bottles of beer and go back to my unobtrusive existence.

The bar was busy—a typical Thursday night in Frostburg.  We had to push past a group of guys to make it to where the bartender could hear our orders over the buzzing crowd.

I no longer noticed the way people looked at Alec and me when we went into a bar.  We were almost a head taller than every male present; intimidating to them like lions to a bunch of hyenas.  That was until they learned that we weren’t interested in any of the prey they’d had their eyes on.  We typically kept to ourselves, leaving them to their scraps.

The women were different, more pathetic.  The offers in their eyes made me want to scream.  How many of them had a boyfriend back home waiting for them?  How many of them were planning to go back to their insignificant other afterward?

That thought made me even more annoyed at having to be here.  Lena’s friend had a boyfriend, and I didn’t want to inadvertently get in the way of that relationship.  I was confident enough in my own attractiveness to know that she was likely to give in if I showed any interest.  Not that I would be interested; it had been too long since a member of the opposite sex had appealed to me.  So I would do what I usually did when Alec dragged me away from my laptop; I would tolerate her company and then leave as unaffected as I had come in.

When Alec saw Lena from across the room he was like a Clydesdale with blinders on, suffering from complete tunnel vision.

Lena Whyte was beautiful in an obvious, chesty way.  Alec needed obvious.  He was intelligent, he had the second highest GPA in our class (behind me, of course), but my friend lacked common sense when it came to women, especially the beautiful ones.

Lena was blonde, flashy.  My last two girlfriends had been fair-haired, but I preferred brunettes; yet another testament to my lack of good judgment.  Lena noticed Alec and I coming and she smile brazenly.  There was nothing pretentious about the woman; what she wanted seemed straight forward enough.  I didn’t agree with the way she looked at Alec, but at least she wasn’t playing any games.  She was genuinely interested in him… for now.

The blonde bombshell turned to a petite girl on her right.  The brunette rolled her eyes at what Lena was saying.  She had straight brown hair, glossy in the dim light.  Her skin looked translucent next to Lena’s dark tan.  Her face was angular, thin to the extreme, and she wore very little makeup.

There was something refreshing about her face, something real.  Maybe it was that she wasn’t trying to hide behind multiple layers of caked-on foundation or inch-thick mascara.  The girl was dressed simply in a pair of black skinny jeans that accentuated her thin frame, and a gray t-shirt.  She whispered something to Lena then peeked at me beneath her lashes.

Her eyes pierced my soul; the gray irises matched her t-shirt.  They weren’t a dull gray like a cloudy day; they were stormy like the sky during a hurricane.

I was so preoccupied with Lena’s friend that I almost stomped all over a little girl who had thrown herself in front of me.  She had probably thought she would stop me, but all she really did was put her own life in jeopardy.  I scowled at her, halting the apology in her throat and offer on her tongue.  She twisted away, falling over herself as she disappeared.

“Alec, it’s so great to see you again,” Lena said in a smooth voice, confident in her chokehold on my friend.  Alec’s smile was almost too wide for his face.  He was going to rush into things and scare her away.  Oh, well.  His mistakes were just that: his.  “And you too, Remington,” she said as an afterthought.

Lena’s friend’s eyes widened slightly.  What had Lena said her name was?  It hadn’t mattered last week so I hadn’t paid any attention.

“Alec, Remington, this is my best friend, Meredith.  Mer, this is Remington and Alec.”

I liked how Lena subconsciously staked her claim by introducing Meredith and me before Meredith and Alec.  At least there was something moving in Alec’s favor, even if it was unintentional.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Meredith,” Alec said politely.  “Lena couldn’t stop talking about you last Thursday.”

I was impatient to hear what Meredith would say. She didn’t keep me waiting long.

“Same to you.  I’ve heard a lot about you both.”

What had she said?  Apparently my sense of sight canceled out my other senses.  I couldn’t pull my eyes from her mouth as she formed her words.  She licked her full lower lip like she was nervous.  Her voice was low and husky, threatening to become lost in the noise from the boisterous crowd.  I wanted to move closer to hear better but managed to stand my ground.

“Can I get you a drink, Meredith?  Lena?” Alec offered.  He could barely make it through the necessary preliminaries before wanting to steal Lena away from the intrusive mob.  It was a testament to his willpower that he even remembered to offer Meredith a drink.

“No, thanks,” she rejected graciously.

Who turned down free drinks? 

“I don’t drink.”

Someone who doesn’t drink, that’s who.

“Ever?” Alec asked, making it sound like her admission was some grave sin.

I thought it was admirable.  Alcohol tended to impair judgment and allowed for bad choices and regret.  I took a deep drink of my beer in defiance.

“Nope,” she confirmed.

“Lena?  I know you can’t use that excuse.”

Lena batted her eyelashes at Alec and handed her empty bottle to Meredith.  Was she too lazy to return it to the bar herself?  I looked down, prepared to say something to Meredith but she was gone.  Then I saw her petite frame moving toward the back of the bar to sit at one of the few empty tables.  Didn’t she realize how rude it was to ignore me?

There were two stools next to her.  Before I had made a conscious decision I found myself seated on one.

A bartender came around to collect empty shot glasses and beer bottles.  When he tried to take Meredith’s, she snatched it back from him like it was her first-born child.  I raised my eyebrow, not wanting the first words I said to her to be some insipid question about an empty Michelob Ultra bottle.

Meredith broke the tense silence with a quick explanation.  “I use it as a deterrent for men whose pick-up lines consist of, ‘What can I get you to drink?’”

That made sense.  I couldn’t even begin to relate how many men used that line to break the ice with a girl they were interested in.  Hadn’t Alec done that same thing with Lena only a little bit ago?

I suddenly felt the urge to know more about this mysterious girl beside me.  Lena had probably told us the short version of her life story last week, but I couldn’t even remember one minute detail.

“What is it you do?” I asked, unable to keep silent any longer.

She opened and closed her mouth three times before responding.  “Lena didn’t tell you my entire life story last week?  She forgets to filter information and has a love for exaggeration.”

“She may have,” I said, only mildly embarrassed that I hadn’t been interested last week.

“I’m a hair stylist.”

“Oh.”  I hadn’t expected that answer.  Her hair looked normal to me.  Healthier than most, but she didn’t sport some edgy cut or color like the few stylists of my acquaintance.

“Oh, what?” she ground out.  Her pale face flushed pink along her pronounced cheekbones.

Had I offended her?  Surely not.  I had spoken fewer than ten words in her presence.  “That wasn’t what I had been expecting you to say,” I clarified.

“What were you expecting me to say?” she pushed.

I had offended her.  The realization amused me.

“Something more… more…”  More what?  More prestigious?  I couldn’t say that.  Then she really would think I was a dick.

“Just more, right?” she seethed.

“Yes, actually.”

Her pink cheeks turned blood-red.  “Why is it that you people think yourselves better than everyone else?  There are jobs in this town you’d never deign to get your soft hands dirty with, ones below your obvious lofty status.  But if it weren’t for those workers you wouldn’t have clean water, designer clothes, or salon-perfected hair.”

I hadn’t meant to belittle her profession; it had just been an unexpected admission.  But she was unknowingly doing the same thing she had accused me of: she was judging me.  Meredith did not know me.

What confounded me was that I wanted her to.

“And by ‘you people’ you mean…?”

Anger flushed in her stormy eyes.  “Basically just you.”

“Basically just me,” I repeated quietly.  Meredith had a problem with me.  Why did that bother me so much?

“What is it you do?” she asked, sounding calmer than she had during her lecture.

“I’m in my second year of medical school at the university,” I responded automatically.

She snorted.  I was sure she had meant it as a derisive noise but I thought it was endearing.  “Oh.”

“Oh?”

She squared her frail shoulders.  “I did expect something like that.”

“Like what?” I challenged.

She chewed on her plump bottom lip as she toyed with her answer.  I tried to pull my eyes away but got only as far as her top lip.  The sensitive pink skin was the shape of a perfect bow, slightly turned down at the corners in a permanent pout.

“Something pompous,” she answered smugly.

Meredith had fire and a backbone, two very respectable traits.  Respecting her would be far worse than befriending her.

Alec’s voice rose above the noise of the patrons left at the bar.  He and Lena exchanged reluctant goodbyes, and I moved to intercept Alec at the coat rack.

“Well, what did you think?”

“About what?” I asked stupidly.

“Meredith.”

“I’m not sure what I think…” or if I should share it with you “…but I know she thinks I’m pompous.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because she told me so.”

“Well, you are pompous.” Alec chuckled before turning to catch one last glance at Lena… or so I had thought.  “That frail little thing had the balls to call you pompous?”

“Balls, Alec?”  I certainly hope not.  My face pulled into an unfamiliar position.  “Meredith surprised us both.”

* * *

I hope you got a laugh out of that chapter; it was so much fun to write!  After much deliberation I have decided not to post the remainder of Book #2 on my blog.  But if you’d like to read it, you can purchase a digital copy of Semester of Thursdays for only $2.99 or a print copy for only $14.99.  Click HERE for the appropriate links.

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