Sometimes she wondered if she was bound to fail.

Her car engine stuttered, the starter refusing to turn over no matter how many times she twisted the key. Even though this had happened on several separate occasions, she had yet to take it to a garage to get whatever the problem was fixed. She knew, though, that the car would eventually start and didn’t really see it as a top priority issue.

But today she was running late and she ripped the key out of the ignition before slapping her hands on the steering wheel in frustration.

She usually had enough time to call someone to come and pick her up and bring her to class, but there was no way that was going to work out today. Her class started in 20 minutes and it took almost that exact amount of time to get to campus. To put it simply, there was not enough time for someone to drive out to get her and get her to class without being obnoxiously late.

Of course, she could have asked her mom to drive her to class but then her parents had left for a pre-anniversary vacation yesterday.

With a sigh, she got out of the car, already planning out the email she was going to send to her professor when she saw her neighbor leaving his house and heading to his car. He looked tired and disheveled, and she tried to remember his name.

She glanced at his mailbox, the last name Elliot emblazoned on the side.

“Mr. Elliot!” she called, hurrying around her car and over to his driveway. He paused getting into his car and looked around at her in surprise. Before he could say anything, she spoke again, probably talking too fast. “Sorry to bother you but my car won’t start and I was wondering if it would be at all possible for you to give me a ride to campus. I can give you gas money.”

She watched his eyes move over to her car before returning to her face.

“Yeah, no problem,” he answered. “I have to go that way anyway.”

“Thank you so much, Mr. Elliot,” Corinna said emphatically. She hurried around to the other side of his car and opened the door to get in. She was still going to be late for class but being five minutes late wouldn’t hurt anything. She threw her heavy bag at her feet and hurried to buckle up as Mr. Elliot got into the car and put his own seat belt on.

“You can call me Patrick, by the way,” he said as he backed out of the driveway. “Mr. Elliot makes me sound old.”

“Sorry,” Corinna responded, glancing over at him. “To be honest, I couldn’t remember your name. Don’t take it personally either—I’m just really bad with names.”

“No worries, Corinna,” he said, and she couldn’t help but laugh.

She was clearly an awful neighbor if he could remember her name and she couldn’t even remember his. He had been living next door to her and her parents for a few years now. She could actually remember when he had moved in with his wife. She remembered how happy they had been.

She could also remember the occasional fight next door, the window of her bedroom facing the side of their house. In the summers, when she’d had her window thrown open to try and cool off her room she would hear them yelling.

It was during this past summer that she saw the wife leave with a packed suitcase. Corinna had thought maybe she was going to visit family or something until she returned a few days later with a moving truck, taking her belongings and leaving Patrick behind.

They were almost to campus now, the majority of the trip spent in silence. Patrick had turned the radio on at some point while she’d been lost in thought. She snuck a look at him out of the corner of her eye and couldn’t help but notice that he was a good-looking guy.

He had been pretty clean cut when he had first moved in next door, but he seemed to care less about his looks since his wife had left. His dark hair was a bit longer and tousled, and there was dark stubble on his face.

“Which building is your class in?” Patrick suddenly asked, breaking her out of her thoughts. She looked out the car window and realized they had arrived on campus.

“You can just drop me off here,” she said, pointing up ahead. He parked the car and she picked her bag up from the floor of the car and set it on her lap. “Thank you so much for the ride, I really owe you one.”

“It’s no problem,” he said. “Will you need a ride home after class?”

Corinna shook her head and opened the car door and getting out. She turned and bent over slightly to look at him.

“No, I should be able to get one of my friends to drive me home,” she answered, smiling at him. “Thanks again, Patrick. I’ll see you around!”

She closed the door and turned away, hurrying to class with lingering thoughts of a neighbor she thought she ought to get to know better.
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Oh hey, I got in the writing mood today! I'm just diving headfirst into this story, so let's see where it goes.