Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Destiny Ever-Changing Review

"It's hard to believe that just one short year ago, we thought fate was out to get us.
We thought we were doomed to a life of misery and disappointment.
Isn't it funny how a little book can change everything?"

Laura left Baltimore for one reason. To get away from her cheating ex-boyfriend. Her plan? To pack up her few belongings, including a care-package box of grandma panties from her aunt, into her lemon of a vehicle and travel to Nana's house in Rock Cove, Virginia before returning home to Alabama. As Laura approaches the last few miles of her trip, an unexpected flat tire halts her in front of a beach house and...a handsome gardener. She had only planned to stay a few days, but after finding a box containing a journal and other memorable tokens from her mother's past, Laura decides to let her mother lead her on a new journey about understanding first loves.

Brooks, or should I say Joshua Brooks Tucker Jr., is handsome, but not a gardener. He, along with other family members, are following the legacy of his father's oil company based out of Texas. Rich, successful, loyal, and instilled with hard-working ethic, providing reason to tend his own yard work. From the outside, Brooks appears to have the perfect life. Great job in the lucrative, family business, beautiful sea-side home, loyal friends, beautiful fiance...Well, beautiful on the outside at least. Although those close to him including his sister, Ashton, and best friend, Will, know that Brooks is suffering from the deal he was forced to agree to by his father. The deal will bind Brooks to his over-privileged, conniving, childhood friend Jacqueline in matrimony long enough to seal the deal for his father to buyout Jacqueline's family's oil company. But Brooks only wanted to get down on one knee one time in his life, and it depressed him to think he would give that up to Jacqueline. He saw himself proposing to someone like Laura. Laura's natural appearance and easy-going personality immediately stole Brooks' attention. Even after the spare was on and she was on her way, Brooks couldn't get her name and face off of his mind.

Destiny Ever-Changing met many of my expectations. A love story with endearing female/male leads, comical and lovable supporting characters, and heartwarming ties to the past makes this story a sweet and easy, afternoon read. Walks along the beach, conversations in a secret cave, even the entries in Laura's mother's journal will put you at home with the characters. Personally, I wanted to give this story 4 stars, but there were a few confusing and missing elements. The romantic theme of the story would have played much better as a young-adult novel, but since the characters were written in post-college years, this was a bit confusing. Other than a minor-racy scene with supporting characters, the storyline remains PG-13. As far as a missing element, I wanted to read more in to the Laura's mother's journal. The adventures she took with her first love took Laura on a mini-adventure, but I was left wanting more. Also, the pace of the story felt as if this would be a duet series. Around the 60% point, I just knew it was going to be made into a sequel, since there were so many different stories to tell and ends to tie up. When I arrived at the epilogue, I was shocked. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I didn't want the story to end! I love a happy ending, but I love a drawn out happy ending even better ;-) [See UPDATE below.]

Bottom line. You'll fall in love with Brooks. You'll hate Jacqueline. You'll definitely want to keep an eye out for more from Tasha Ivey.

**Sequel Update**

  • Tasha Rae Ivey Will be telling Will and Ashton's story and continuing on with Laura and Brooks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2 Days Left to Enter the 500 LIKES Giveaway!

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Friday, February 15, 2013


“…you gotta learn what’s good for you.”

 You’re late!” Andy screamed as I walked through the front doors.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I got held up after class.”
“Yes, well, the handsome and debonair Mr. Maxon can have that effect on many people,” he joked.

“Nikki called, didn’t she?” I alleged as I started a new batch of popcorn.

“Of course. That girl gets information around faster than the speed of light,” he said as he walked back from the rentals. “She called to let me know you might be late to work.”

He leaned his shoulder against the office doorway and stared at me as I added the salt and pressed the oil button. “What?! Why are you glaring at me?”

“Because you are going to tell me every detail of your encounter with Jake Maxon. He is incredibly gorgeous, and he saved your life.”

“That isn’t entirely true. You have to stop getting your stories from Nikki. She exaggerates everything.”

“Okay, so how did it all go down? You know I’m not going to stop bugging you until you tell me.” He wasn’t lying either.

“I tripped on a chair, and he caught me. It wasn’t life threatening.”

“Look, right now I am living vicariously through you and your non-existent love life. I need the hard details, Kate,” he said with a leer. I replied with a roll of my eyes, and he continued. “I don’t want to just know what you talked about, and yes I know there must have been more since you were late to work, and Nikki saw the two of you talking in the hall. I need to know what he was wearing, how delicious he smelled, everything you were thinking, everything you think he was thinking and the number of awkward silences.”

“What makes you think there were awkward silences?”

“It is you we’re talking about here.” Good point. We both jumped on the concession countertop to settle in for the story’s minute details.

“So, he said sooner than Wednesday? I wonder if he is planning on dropping in today?”

“Ugh, I hope not.”

“What? Why not?” Andy hopped off the counter to restock popcorn bags and cups.

“You know I’m not good at this stuff. My sex appeal is clearly in the red, I suck at flirting, and there isn’t an ounce of mystery in my bones. I don’t come from money or even a decent family. There’s nothing special about me and socially, I’m a mess. Even you mentioned how awkward I can be. I either say too much or nothing at all.”

“Kate you don’t get it. Maybe he is intrigued by how different you are. If you grew up in Alva and dated a snotty, small town witch all through high school, you would be looking for a change too.” A customer walked in to return a couple of movies, and I immediately hopped off the counter to stand close to Andy.

“What are you even talking about?” I whispered.

“You’re gonna mess up a good thing. I had the hugest crush on Jake in high school. He was just about the only guy, outside of choir and theater, who would talk to me after I came out. He’s different too and kind. I never understood how he dated Kelsey Miller, the Abercrombie and Fitch bitch.”

“Don’t hold back Andy,” I chuckle sarcastically.

“Girl, you have no idea. Let’s see. Who could I compare her to?” He tapped the two returned DVD cases against his head while he thought. His eyes grew large when a name came to mind. “You’ve seen Mean Girls, right? Well, she is an exact replica of Regina George, the character Rachel McAdams played. She was a terror.”

“Well, I hope I never have to run into her.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. After graduation, she followed Jake to OU, but when Jake had to come home because of the economy hitting hard on The Sandwich Shoppe, she dumped him. Said she would never come back to Alva-traz. I heard she is dating someone on the football team.”

“But he just moved back here. She is already dating someone new?” I say a bit too curious.

“Mmmhmm, shady lady.”

I never understand how some girls can just throw away these great guys. They get them to fall in love with them, rip their hearts out, and ruin them for everyone else. It’s the perfect recipe for creating a player. I wonder if Jake is a player now. He’s probably on the rebound. Surely he wouldn’t be looking for a long-term relationship after dating that Kelsey girl for so long and having it end so badly. What am I even talking about? He just helped me pick up pens and pencils. There is no way this gorgeous guy would want me. I shake the thoughts away and go about my shift, unsuccessfully pushing thoughts of Jake out of my mind.

Working at the Rialto helped my mind break away from studying. Sometimes it was the only place I could go to get away from family issues, Nikki’s issues, and my own sorry life story. When the day turns to worse and Andy I are both working, I walk straight through the door and cook up a batch of the all-yellow, too much salt and butter popcorn to dip in a cup of jalapeno, nacho cheese. Not a healthy snack, in the least, but definitely my comfort food. I call Andy to come share, and we sit in the office munching and repeating popular movie lines back and forth to each other. I have just finished Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous line from Titanic, “I’m the king of the world,” actions included, when a deep belly laugh and clapping sounds behind me. Andy’s eyes grew large, and a shit-eating grin crossed his face. I sat down my popcorn and cheese and turned to see Jake leaning against the railing, starring at me with that make-your-knees-weak smile. His arms are crossed at his chest, and his right leg is crossed over the left, accentuating his package. A shuffle from his feet breaks my stare. Strike three for embarrassment. You’re out! I can’t think of a way to explain myself, so I dive right in to the employee-customer opener. “Can I help you?”

He chuckles at my diversion. “Actually, I want you.” Andy chokes on his popcorn, spitting kernels on the floor. Say what? My shocked face registers his answer, and he back tracks his statement.

“I meant to say, I want to talk to you.” A small smile lingers on the corner of his lips.

“Oh, okay…what’s up?” I fail at trying to sound calm and collected.

 “I ran down to see if I could bring you and Andy some lunch.” A sandwich made from those hands. Worker hands. I wonder what those hands would feel like on my…woah get a hold of yourself, Kate!

“That would be great. Let me give you some money and write down our orders.” I say as I walk back towards the office to retrieve my wallet from my purse. Andy has his hands covering his mouth to conceal his laughter. I give him my middle finger.

“It’s on me. Well, it’s on the shop, but mom and dad don’t care.”

“Thank you. That’s really nice of you. Um…Andy, what do you want to eat from The Sandwich Shoppe?”

Andy walks out of the office to fill his cup with more pop and lingers at the sight of Jake. “I’m not hungry.”

“Andy, you haven’t eaten lunch yet.”

“Baby girl, I’m trying to watch my figure.”

I turn my attention back to writing down my order. Jake has taken a few steps forward to lean on the other side of the concession counter. I can feel his eyes on me, and I can’t help but become self-conscious of my terrible handwriting. He’s a guy. He’s probably looking down your shirt, not at your handwriting. I clasp the top button of my polo shirt and hand him the sticky note.

“Give me 20 to whip these up, and I’ll be back.” He poorly imitates Arnold Schwarzenegger, clearly mocking the game Andy and I were playing when he snuck up on us. I nervously chuckle as he starts down the exit ramp and the word these catches my attention.


“Yours and mine.” The glass door closes behind him, and he stalks past the window, eyes to the sidewalk, with a mischievous grin. My smile reflects his as I stare at the spot he was just standing in.

“You’ve got it so bad!” Andy smacks my ass. I jump, but even his vulgar public display of affection can’t drag me from my elated mood.

“Guilty as charged.” As much as I wanted to deny it, Andy could always see right through my tough exterior. “He is so fucking gorgeous, and the way he looks at me just makes me want to have my wicked way with him.”

“There’s always the projection booth.”

“No, Andy. He’s just being a nice guy. May I remind you he was going to make you a sandwich as well?”

“He may have wanted to make me a sandwich, but he wants to be the salami to your bun.”

“That’s just disgusting.”

“Girl, you betta put some salt on that melon.”

“Where do you come up with this shit?”

“I pull it out of my ass.” Andy’s phone started to buzz on the desk, and he left me in my hottie haze to answer it. “Hey Mama Caylor! Yeah, Kate’s here. Let me ask her.” He rolls in the desk chair to the doorway. “Mama’s making your favorite, potato soup with extra bacon and cheese. You wanna come over for dinner after work?”

“Do I ever? That sounds amazing, Diane. Thank you!” I yell towards the cell phone.

“Oh and Mama, guess what? Kate’s gonna have some stories to tell at dinner tonight about Mr. Jake Maxon.”

“Andy, really?” I loved Andy’s parents, Steve and Diane, just like they were my own. They practically adopted me into their family as soon as I started working at the Rialto. Holidays, birthdays, dinners once or twice a week, I spent at the Caylor’s.

“I know, I know. I won’t forget. Yes, I promise. Love you too.”

I wait until he ends the call to give him a hard time. “You’re such a mama’s boy.”

“Proud to be! Alright, how about I hold down the floor while you have a private luncheon and a quickie with Jake in theater two?”

“So you can peep at us through the projection window? I think not.”

“I didn’t think of that! Good idea, friend.” The door opened, and the smell of hot sandwiches and sex breezed through. I got so caught up in my usual caddy banter with Andy and salivating over Diane’s delicious soup I planned to demolish this evening, I forgot to run to the restroom to check my hair and makeup.

“How do I look?” I whispered to Andy.

“Like a virgin on her wedding night. Plump, ripe, and ready to have your head banging against a headboard, feet facing the ceiling, and calling someone other than your father daddy.”

“Can you be real for one second?”

“Girl, I thought we were being real!” He placed his hands on my shoulder to turn me around and push me through the doorway. “You’ve already got this in the bag. Just be yourself, minus the awkward pauses.”

“Easier said than done.” Andy pushed me, and I stumbled back in to the concession. Concerned blue eyes found mine, but when the blush broke out across my face, his eyes brightened with his smile.

“You good?”

“Yeah. Just Andy taking advantage of my lack of coordination.” I walked around the counter trying to avoid how my body tingled in his presence. While I focused on putting one foot in front of the other, Jake took a step in front of the concession counter entrance. I crashed right into his broad, hard chest. His tight muscles rippled under his maroon tee. My hands wrapped around his forearms to steady my stance, fingers pressing firm enough to leave white impressions on his sun-kissed skin.    

“I thought I was going to need to catch you again?” His bass voice resonated in my ears, and I knew I was destined to fantasize about it for many nights to come. I shook my head to break the trance and brushed past him determined to push him from my senses.   

“We don’t have a break room here. Andy and I usually just eat in the office. Wanna go eat in a theater?”

“Sounds great! I figured you guys probably watched movies on your breaks.” He followed closely on my heels. We found our seats on the edge of the stage. The massive, white screen was at our backs and our legs dangled over the side.

“Andy’s dad would kill us if someone wasn’t watching the concession and rentals.”

“I bet it’s still pretty fun. I’ve always wanted to work here.”

“How come you didn’t?”

“I don’t really remember a time before I started working in the Shoppe. I used to seat customers and pass out menus when I was five years old. Customers would tip me a dollar or two just for being a cute kid. As I got older, I wanted to work other places but it felt wrong to leave my parents’ establishment.” He surprised me with how comfortable and open he was answering my questions. I nodded so he knew I was paying attention and then glanced around the theater.  

 The Rialto housed three screens, one grand theater and two mini theaters. My favorite part of the mini theaters was how you entered in to the auditorium, which was from under the screen. You would climb the steps with the screen to your back until you found a row and took your seat. Although it had its little quirks, it was desperately in need of remodels and upgrades. Andy and I still had to thread the films on the original projectors, which was a pain in the ass. The films were super heavy to lug around, and there were always technical issues. Sound cutting off, films freezing, bulbs burning out, projectors breaking down; the entire process was a disaster. Andy and I begged Steve to go digital. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” he would always declare. “They’re always broken, and we’re always fixing them,” Andy and I would say in unison, but we never won the battle. Musty, torn, gold curtains draped around holey screens. The soles of your shoes sounded like the ripping of velcro as you walked along the sticky floors. Broken chair seats, missing arm rests, and molded ceiling tiles created the ambiance of a rundown theater right out of a horror film. No matter the conditions, Alva supported its old time charm, and we had a full house every weekend night.

Music flooded the auditorium from the mounted speakers, interrupting my thoughts. You’re listening to 104.1 KMGL Oklahoma City. My name is Delilah. Soon those long summer nights will come to an end. Thank goodness we have beautiful summertime love songs to get us through those cold, winter months. This next one is a personal favorite. In this month in 1996, Deana Carter released a single that landed number one on the billboard charts and became her signature song. Here is “Strawberry Wine” dedicated to all the lovers out there. Andy’s guilt-ridden smirk appeared in the projection window. I narrowed my eyes at him and made a hand gesture to cut the music at my side out of Jake’s sight. Andy shook his head, his crooked smile swaying side to side before he disappeared from the window. I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain Andy’s joke to Jake, but when I turned my head to speak, he seemed to not mind as he hummed along to the classic country song. My eyes were drawn to his adam’s apple, which was slightly vibrating due to the hum. My lips separated involuntarily, a slight breath passing through them, and I envisioned licking the uneven surface of his larynx, wondering how his skin would taste on the tip of my tongue. His eyes glanced sideways, followed by a slight turn of his head. I watched as a small, quick reflex from inside his cheek near his jaw line popped as he chewed a bite of food. He pulled his lips into a grin and the motion suddenly stopped. I jerked my attention face forward, but I knew he caught me.

“How’s the sandwich?”

Play cool, Kate. Remember the name of the sandwich. Why can’t I remember the name? I always order the same one every time. This guy completely fogs my brain. I’ll definitely have to keep him away from me during finals week. I would never remember a thing for our grueling exams. That is if he ever wants to be around you again after acting so awkward. What was I doing? Oh, yes. Remembering the name of the sandwich. The Sandwich Shoppe named their dishes after those who created the sandwiches. Dustin’s? No. Issac’s? Yes! “This is an epic sandwich, Jake. Isaac’s is my favorite.” Smooth.

“It’s my favorite too.” I glanced over and found him staring at me, as I hoovered a few more bites.

“Do you always stare at people while they eat?” I spat at him more forceful than I intended.

“Are you always this growly when a guy makes you lunch?”

“No guy’s ever made me lunch before, and I’m just a little self-conscious with you looking at me like you want to eat me rather than your sandwich.”

“Is that really a bad thing?” He nudged my arm with his elbow, and his flirty smile reached his eyes.

“You’re a real comedian, aren’t you?”

“And you fluster easily?” It sounded more like a statement than a question.

“I think you’re trouble.”

“I think you’re right.” He quipped. I couldn’t restrain my laughter at his comeback, and when he saw a crack start to form in the walls I built around me, he began to chip away at knocking them down. “So, Kate Bradford, tell me your life story.”

“You first.” I squinted my eyes to challenge him further.

“What do you want to know? I’m an open book. No secrets, no skeletons. Pretty boring over here.”

“Are you looking for a rebound from that Kelsey girl?” Shit! I can’t believe that just came out of my mouth. I pressed my lips together and closed my eyes, internally punishing myself.

“Wow! Going in for the kill, are you?” His laughter echoed off the auditorium walls, and I couldn’t image a sweeter sound.

“I’m really sorry! I don’t know where that came from. You don’t have to answer that.” I was planning to thank him for the sandwich and conjure up a lame excuse about needing to get back to work, when he placed a hand on my knee. My thoughts disappeared, and I quickly sucked in the dusty air to hold my breath. He had already tainted my sight, hearing, and smell, but with one touch, I knew something had to give. Even if I passed out from not breathing, there was no way my body would be able to handle Jake invading all five senses. Then again, I know I wouldn’t have the will to stop him if he tried.

“It’s alright. I’ll tell you anything you want to know. I want to tell you everything, and I want to know everything about you too, Kate.” I watched his fingers lazily circle my knee cap, but the words had escaped me. There was no way I could tell someone like Jake every detail of my life. Even the happiest memories were contaminated with heartbreak, sickness, and death. In order to clear my thoughts, I needed to get out from under his spell. I jumped down from the stage and started to pack up my sandwich wrapper. He followed my actions, but grabbed my hand and pulled me towards him before I reached the stairs. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Make me chase you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about?”

“You practically took off away from me after class this morning. You’re kind of a hard girl to keep up with when you’re on a mission.” He chuckled and continued. “Now, I give you a little raw honesty and off you go again.” 

“I don’t mean to run. Just a bad habit, I guess.”

“I understand that, but just so you know, I’m not that easy to get rid of.” His confidence dripped from his words.

“Good, but just so you know I’m kind of a handful.”

“I think I’ve got this, and to answer your question, no, I’m not on the rebound. I don’t want to play games. I like you, and right now, I just want to be around you.” Where did this guy come from? No one is this open and honest, or maybe they are, and I’m just a social freak.

 Jake gripped my fingers a little tighter in my silence, but my uncontrollable smile reassured his insecurity. I walked backwards, pulling on his hand to follow me down the stairs. “I better get back so Andy can take a break.”

“I better go too. I told dad I was just making a delivery.” We passed through the main theater entrance and the original ticket booth, which was only used now during midnight premieres.

“Well, don’t get in to too much trouble and have to cancel our first date.”

“A date, huh? You just had to beat me to the punch.” He teased.

“I like to take matters into my own hands.”

“A control freak too? Man, do I have my hands full!”

“I told you! Ready to back out yet?”

“No way. I’ll call you tomorrow, and we can make a plan.”

The warm, Oklahoma gust breezed my face as Jake passed the threshold onto the sidewalk. “Wait! Don’t you need my number?”

“I’ve already got it.”


“Your friend, Nikki, passed it to me after class.” I planned to strangle Nikki when I got home from Steve and Diane’s tonight.

“Gotcha. I guess I’ll talk to you later?”

Jake’s arm reached upward and his hand cupped my cheek. The skin under his palm surged a heat I wasn’t familiar with, one that stirred something in my core. His thumb stroked the sensitive skin, and his cerulean eyes dipped into the pit of my soul. I forced my eyes closed when his body shifted and leaned into mine. A hot, moist, breath blew near my ear causing goose bumps to erupt from my skin. “You most definitely will,” he said in a sultry tone and turned to stroll to the corner cafe. Like a statue, I remained frozen. The heat on my cheek was slowly dissipating and my heart beat found its regular tempo.

“Woo hoo!” Andy hollered over the counter, as I made my way back behind the concession. “Call the Alva Review Courier! We need to place an ad in Wednesday’s Newsgram. JAKE MAXON IS OFFICIALLY OFF THE MARKET!”

“Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself?”

“You didn’t see his face as he walked past the front windows. That boy left here high on your love potion.”

“Then why do I feel like I’m under his spell?”

Andy pulled me in to a brotherly hug. “Baby girl, you gotta learn what’s good for you, and Jake Maxon is good for all of us.”

“What does that mean?” I groaned.

“Once you start getting some again, we can all relax instead of reaping the wrath.” I slapped his arm and pushed out of his hug. “I don’t care what you say. We’re keeping him.”      
© 2013 by Ashton Ghaemi

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


“Chocolate cake meeting chocolate frosting –”
August 2010

      Nikki and I had Anatomy at 9:00.

“Once again, no one good looking is in this class. How is that possible? There are about 1,000 guys at this school and not one in here is worth waking up at nine a.m. for,” Nikki whispered.

“Did you ever think maybe…oh, I don’t know, getting up for an education is worth it?”

“Ew. No.” Nikki has always been man-crazy. Since freshman year, she has had well over 10 boyfriends.

“Maybe this is a sign that you should take a break and be single for a while,” I suggested.

“Yeah, right. How about we find you a boyfriend this year,” she asked mischievously.

I began with an over exaggerated head nod. “ABSOLUTELY…not gonna happen.”

“Oh, come on, Kate. You’ve never had a real boyfriend. Surely someone catches your eye?”

“You know I need to focus on school so that I can keep my scholarship.” She turned her eyes back to the door to watch for her next unsuspecting, handsome victim. I couldn’t extinguish the jealous flame flickering within. Born from the upper crust, Nikki had never gone without. Never understood the true meaning of struggling. That’s why she didn’t have to work, like me, everyday to pay for her education, rent, bills, etc... She drove a brand new BMW her dad bought her, just because. The designer tags hung from the sleeves in her closet, and her bank account was bottomless. Of course, I never told her how envious of her I was, and she had the most giving soul. She always tried to buy me trendy boots and purses, but I would never be able to give her anything as extravagant, so I always declined. I wished I had her family, her life, her confidence with guys.

As for looks, she had me beat. Her polished, scarlet locks extended down her back, and thick lashes framed her wide, jade eyes. I’m pretty sure she had never had a zit in her entire life, and why should she? She had nothing to stress over and plenty of time on her hands to be a health freak. You know, “Miss-45-minutes-seven-days-a-week-six-small-meals-a-day.” Whatever Nikki, I thought as she continued the rundown of each guy who walked through the rich, dark wood double doors.

“Oh, oo, oh! Look at him! He’s hot. A little short, but I could wear my new flats on our first date,” she winked.

“Nikki! That’s that guy John you dated last year for two weeks.”

“Oh, so it is. Well, a different year, a different person. Maybe I’ll give him another shot.”

I leaned into her ear. “Did you forget about the fungus thing?” 

“No, I didn’t forget. I’ve never jumped out of a bed faster in my entire life!”

We both held back our gag reflexes and started laughing so hard the other students turned around in their seats and stared at us. Always the two trouble makers. Everywhere we went people would stare at us, usually because they were gawking at Nikki, but other times, we would be kicked out for being so noisy.

“Well surely the fungus is gone by now, you think.” She never took her eyes off of him.

“No, Nik.” I shook my head as another giggle rumbled up my throat.    


“Nothing. Nothing at all.”

The door opened then for the last time, and two more people walked into the classroom. The first was Dr. Goormly, our anatomy professor. The second was another student who was obviously late coming in after the professor. The two exchanged looks, and I could tell from Goormly’s grouchy gaze he was not going to forget this student’s tardiness.

Goormly was the professor everyone warned you not to take, but your advisor always seemed to talk you into taking. Throwing out the… “You’re a very studious student.” “I believe you will be just fine.” “You will see that Goormly is not as difficult as everyone says he is.” Advisors will say just about anything to get you enrolled as fast as they can, but they’re not the ones who have to look at Goormly at 9:00 in the morning for five dreadful months either. Who wants to look at a man who has obviously never looked in a mirror before? His healthy mid-section was hidden behind a stretched orange, plaid pant and a green, long-sleeved button up shirt so tight, gray chest hair snuck out from between the pearl snaps. His socks were green, as well, but only so bold with his black sandals. He wore outdated glasses, too tight for his face, and what hair he had left, he gelled into a comb over. If the wardrobe were not bad enough, his face would say it all. It reminded me of the top of an orange where the peel is squished together to the center point. Goormly’s face looked as if all of his features were sucked into his nose. Staring at his disturbing appearance made it easy to tear my eyes away to the student climbing the stairs.

This guy looked about the same age as me with thick, dark, brown hair that came down slightly past his ears and swooped his forehead underneath his white ball cap. His khaki shorts frayed at the edges, and he wore a maroon, University of Oklahoma, t-shirt with the words “BOOMER SOONER” written across the front. One hand was hidden in his pant pocket, and the other was holding onto the strap of his book bag. Above all of this, I noticed his smile. It was the nervous smile any normal person would wear when walking into a stadium-seated classroom full of about 50 college students who are looking at you and thinking, I’m glad I’m not you. He was searching for a seat, and Goormly asked the students to raise their hands if there was a seat open next to them. Immediately, girls started to adjust in their seats and move their book bags out of the empty ones beside them. Nikki piped up, and at that moment, I think I had never wanted to punch her more in my life.

“There’s an empty seat here behind me,” she said as she glanced over to me with that same mischievous look as before.

My chest felt heavy, and my stomach back flipped. Anxiety set in, and I began to fidget. Why is my body reacting this way? I felt the pellets of sweat at my hair line, and I wanted to run out of the class. He hiked up the steps, and the girls in the aisle seats all primped their hair and batted their eyes as he passed each one. Get a grip. You’re only one second away from acting just like those girls. Stay focused. Keep breathing and DO NOT look as he passes. The urge was too unbearable. As I glanced up, he passed the row in front of ours, and I lost myself. His blue eyes pulled me into his soul forever. I stopped breathing.

Nikki nudged me. “Oh my gosh! Did you see how he was looking at you? Hello? Hey!”

I heard her trying to get my attention, but she sounded far away. I was lost in a trance with my eyes in the same spot where those life-altering, blue eyes first met mine.

“Hello! Are you in there?” Nikki stressed.

I jumped as I heard his books hit the desk behind my left ear. Goormly’s drone broke through.

“Your syllabus is being passed around. We will not waste a class session to go over it. You are in college now. You should know how to read, but I will tell you that as for how my other classes go…if you sit in front, you will make an ‘A,’ rows five through 10, you will get a ‘B,” 10 through 15 a ‘C,’ and well, you know the rest. I will be able to tell on Wednesday what grade you really want.”

I looked at Nikki frightened, and saw my reflection in her facial expression. This class would be difficult, and I was already sure it would be the burden of my semester. Within 10 minutes my hand was cramping from note taking. I finally put my pen down and decided to buy a cheap recorder from Radio Shack after work. Better than risking carpal tunnel. My phone began to vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out and tried to conceal it behind my purse.


                                                                           ok so really! i know u saw him.

                                                                               u were still drooling after he

                                                                                       already sat down. Lol

I turned my head and shook it at her. She shook her head up and down at me. I hit reply.


                                                                         yes i saw him. maybe i did drool

                                                                            a bit, but it was just a moment

                                                                            of crazyiness. lets just drop it.


                                                                            oh stop being like that. maybe

                                                                                        ill slip him ur number


                                                                                no! nik if u do that i will run

                                                                             you over with my car while ur

                                                                              on ur date w/fungus boy & ill

                                                                                             steal ur fab flats!


                                                                              stop being silly. im not really

                                                                                     going out w/fungus boy

Sliding my phone into the front pocket of my purse, I stuck my tongue out at Nikki. She snorted. A gorgeous chuckle resonated from the seat behind Nikki, and chills crawled up my neck. He was laughing, which meant he probably saw us being silly and me sticking my tongue out at Nikki, or he saw the texts. Damn it! I’m usually pretty precise in every move I make. Why am I acting like this? In pure justification mode, I decided there was no way he was looking at me. He must have been looking at Nikki and saw me drooling and couldn’t stop watching me be weird and obsessed. That’s it. It makes much more sense that way. Now that the world feels normal again, I can go back to being my studious self. I retrieved my planner from my backpack and scanned the calendar to see my work schedule.


My job had become a place to escape to over the last three years, an escape from the notes, quizzes, tests, and labs. I’ll never forget my first day at Rialto. I applied for the job, because I was a huge movie buff. Coming from a home filled with physical and verbal abuse and watching a mother overdose from prescription drugs created ample reasons to escape in the world of film. Even for just a few hours, I could forget about life outside of those drapery-lined, theater walls and lose myself in someone else’s story. Coming from weekends and summers working at a movie theater back in Tulsa, I had plenty of experience being elbow deep in buttered popcorn and having paper cuts from tearing tickets.

I had been looking for a job for two weeks and was about to give up. I stopped in the downtown corner cafe, The Sandwich Shoppe, to grab an orange pop to cool off from walking the blazing hot sidewalks in dress clothes and high heels. Since it was August, the outfit was a joke. Even the good-looking guy in The Sandwich Shoppe could not stop gawking at me. He spilled the drink twice trying not to laugh, but I was determined to find a job no matter what anyone thought. I walked past a few more window displays until I stopped under an awning to kick off my heels. When I saw the sign on the sidewalk, ‘Happy Hour Drinks – .50 12 oz, .75 24 oz, 1.00 44 oz.,’ I grumbled at the two dollar 16-ounce orange pop in my hand. Just as I slipped the uncomfortable shoes back on my blistered feet, a hammer fell from the roof and crashed onto the sidewalk. A loud, high-pitched voice yelled from the rooftop. “SHIT! Seriously! I’m not a contractor. I am an award winning actor and a hell of a dancer. Why am I up here sweating my ass off?!” I slowly walked out from under the awning, afraid another tool might fall, and squinted to block out the sunlight from my eyes. Standing on the roof, throwing a tantrum, was a tall, skinny guy with blonde punk hair. His tight jeans complimented his white, v-neck tee. His work polo with the Rialto logo was hanging from his pants. He caught me staring and rested his hands on his hips and said, “Well, hello there.”

I squinted, “Death by falling hammer. Not my first choice, but definitely ranks on the freak accident list.” The guy laughed and this unexpected moment immediately brightened my day.

“I’m glad I didn’t hit you with that hammer.” He pointed his finger in my direction. “Because I think we’re going to be best friends.” I laughed at his confidence, and he welcomed me inside.

Heavy, glass doors isolated the cinematic time warp from the rural downtown square. The smell of buttered popcorn, nacho cheese, and chocolate mixed together in an inviting aroma lead customers up the ramp in to the concession stand. A red, wire basket held free, movie posters off to the side, and a claw machine filled with 10 dollar bills wrapped around stuffed animals sung arcade music while children spent their quarters. The walls were dressed with standee cutouts dating back through the 80s, including Edward Scissorhands and Ghostbusters. Towards the back, a hallway lead to a rental section, where new releases, video games, and an even smaller room full of video cassette tapes could be found. A sale shelf of previously viewed DVDs caught my eye, and I was sifting through those when the back door opened. Roof guy wafted his hand in front of his face to create a breeze.  

“It feels good to be down from there and in here with the air conditioning. So what are you doing walking around on the hottest day of August in high heels?”

“Sadly enough, I’m looking for a job, and I was just resting under your awning to cool off.”

“Girl, if a job is all you need, then consider it done. I cannot stand half the people my dad hires to work here, but I think you and I will get along just peachy.”

“That’s it? I have a job.”

“If I put in a good word for you, you’re in.”

“Wow, thanks! I’ve been looking for two weeks.”

“Yeah. The businesses around here hold out for the locals. It’s kind of slim pickings come fall for college students. Just fill this out,” he said as he walked into the office and grabbed the file labeled APPS.

“Thanks! What’s your name?”

“Oh sorry.” He dusted his hands off onto his pant legs and said, “I’m Andrew Caylor, but you can call me Andy.”

“Kate Bradford.”

“Well Kate, fill this out, while I top off your pop.”

“That would be great! Orange soda, if you have it.”

Andy nodded approvingly at my choice and walked towards the soda dispenser. I knew he was right. We were going to be best friends. I finished filling out the application and tapped my feet to the beat vibrating from the walls of the action movie playing in the adjacent room.

I wonder where those heels are.

Goormly shut off the overhead projector and flipped the lights back on. My daydream had obviously lasted long enough that class was over, and Nikki was packing her notebooks into her bag. I jumped up, grabbed my bag and was trying to stuff my book and binder in it while I walked through the chairs towards the aisle. Suddenly, my leg caught on a seat that was not put up. I lost my balance, and my unzipped bag was on the floor, its’ contents spread out while pens and pencils traveled down the steps like a waterfall. Weirder than that, I never hit the floor. Two hands caught me, and Nikki’s face told me it could only be him.

I stopped breathing, and I must have made some unearthly noise when I did because he started laughing and leaned down in my ear. “Are you alright?” My brain had officially gone on strike, and I couldn’t form a single word, so I shook my head. He helped me get on my feet and raced down the steps. Figures. I probably smelt bad or wheezed or something. I’m officially a loser. I mean, no one has actually ever run from me before. As I kneeled down to grab my bag and started repacking, my confidence was shot. Repelling men should go on my next resume under special skills. I reached for my binder. It wasn’t so much his hands as his delicious smell that set me off guard. Chocolate cake meeting chocolate frosting – delectable, absolutely enticing.  His smirk forced me to blush and giggle. Idiot.  

“I think I caught all of your pens and pencils before they rolled under Dr. Goormly’s desk.” Confusion set it, but looking down to his outstretched hand, I found my pencils and pens.

All I could spit out was, “Thanks.” I figured he would have dropped the utensils and left, but he didn’t. He helped me pick up everything and followed me down the stairs. When we were outside the classroom, he stepped in front of me like he was trying to keep my attention. Like he didn’t already have my heart and my stomach, which was full of butterflies at the moment.

“I’m Jake Maxon.”


I walked around him and past a few more classroom doors before I realized he was walking next to me. His stare was in my peripheral vision, and I built up the courage to break the awkward silence.

“Hey, thanks so much for helping me out back there. That’s why I hate sitting so far in the aisle. It ups your chance of getting bruised trying to get out.”

“Yeah, me too.” He spoke without taking his eyes off of me.

“I’m probably going to move down to the front.”

“Yeah, me too,” he repeated.

“I really need to do well in this class.”

“Yeah, me too,” he said once more.

“You’re repeating yourself.” I couldn’t look in his eyes. I felt like I was going to throw up, and I think almost falling down the stairs would be enough embarrassment for today. He laughed then with the nervous smile he had when he came in the class.

“Sorry. Hey, um do you want to go eat lunch with me?”

“It’s 10:00.”

“Oh. Well how about breakfast?” he asked persistently. At this point, I was perplexed. Why in the hell would this guy want to be around me any longer than he had to?  

“I can’t. I have to get to work by 11:00, and I still need to go back to my apartment to change clothes.”

“You work down at Rialto, right?”

Okay, hot, creepy guy. How the hell do you know where I work? “Yes. How did you know that?”

“Oh, well I’ve seen you there when I’ve gone to rent and buy movies. The Caylors keep my roommate’s and my rom-com collection stocked.”


“Romantic comedies. Uh…it’s a weird guy thing. But I can tell from the look on your face, I’ve creeped you out. I promise I’m not a stalker.”

“No, you haven’t creeped me out. Just an interesting genre choice. Plus, I feel bad, because I don’t remember you coming in.”

“It’s no big deal. I haven’t been in for a long time. I just transferred back from OU.” We were outside walking towards the parking lot, and I was going to be late for work, but I didn’t want to stop talking.

“OU to Northwestern? How does that happen?”

“It’s a long story,” he abruptly answered. Curiosity got the best of me, and I wanted to press forward, but the tone of his voice said it was not appropriate. As I stood there trying to create a new topic to break another awkward silence, his lips kept me entertained, drawing me in to another daydream. Or fantasy. The tip of his tongue peeked out between the plump rims, and his breath caught, pulling me from the unreality. Embarrassment blushed my face, as his all-knowing smile heated my skin and ignited my arousal. I have to get out of here!        

“Well, I guess I will see you in class on Wednesday?” I walked backwards to my car, digging clumsily in my purse for my keys. 

“Definitely, or maybe sooner,” he said with an incredible confidence as he brushed past my car and walked further on to the parking lot.

I couldn’t help but watch him as he walked to his car, curiously wondering what he meant by seeing me sooner than Wednesday. Khaki shorts have never hugged an ass so right before. Nikki’s ringtone broke my trance.  
© 2013 by Ashton Ghaemi