Girls Like Boys

Classes & Clashes

Orientation on Saturday was less than eventful and Ramsy and I spent the two hours exchanging bored looks and playing silent, morbid games of Hangman. Afterwards, we walked around campus and matched the names of buildings to the ones on our schedules before retreating back to our side of campus for lunch.

We spent early Sunday at the Welcome picnic, but the heat was so overwhelming that we didn’t stay long. By the time we made it back we were drenched from the sticky air. We spent the rest of the day on the floor, having an “encouraged but not required” bonding night with the other girls. Tegan boasted that they were a weekly thing and she’d love to see us all back again next week, but I couldn’t imagine Life and Twister holding my attention for another couple of hours, let alone multiple Sundays.

Ram had a nine am on Monday morning, so this time we managed to go to sleep at a decent hour, and she woke up looking less sick than me and more excited. My first class wasn’t until ten, but I got up with her anyway. We got ready with Ram’s chatter as background noise, and headed across campus together, truck free. It was weird to be among a horde of people all heading the same direction but not making eye-contact. Everyone either looked tired, nervous, or reasonably inspired. I wasn’t sure I fit into any of those categories, but I put on my best enthusiastic expression and pretended that Ramsy couldn’t see right through it.

I walked with her the majority of the way to her building before we separated and I headed to the nearest dining hall to waste time before English. I let the woman at the doors swipe my card on the computer and then maneuvered through the rows and clusters of tables, somewhat surprised that so many people got themselves out of bed early enough for breakfast before class.

I ended up at the end of a table near a large group and my attention kept getting directed back to them in one way or another. I curled up in my chair, ankles crossed under me with my nose in one of books the that I’d swiped from Ramsy’s desk on the way out, but my eyes kept drifting as the laughter and talking got louder.

The table shook as one guy, dark hair and stained jeans, jumped back from it, his chair toppling back behind him and crashing into the backpack of a girl at another table. She shot an annoyed look over her shoulder, but no one in the group noticed, or cared, for that matter.

“Fuck, man! I can’t believe that,” stained jeans practically shouted, fumbling to get his chair without really looked at it. “I’m pissed I missed it.”

A few of his buddies agreed that it was a bad idea to miss whatever they were talking about, and I checked the clock on the wall. I stuffed the book back into my bag, deciding that it wouldn’t hurt to leave for class early. I passed the group as I picked up my plate and caught a blonde’s eye. He didn’t linger long before he dropped back to his friends and said something I couldn’t hear. I didn’t look back as I left.

The English building wasn’t too far from here and the sidewalks were still mostly empty since the 9ams were still going and it wasn’t even quarter to, yet. I crossed through the quad and passed the library, looking at the giant banners that hung from the top of the seven-story building. A helmeted head faced away from me, showing the profile view of the player’s face and the name, Reign, with the number, twenty-one below it on the back of the football jersey. For a second, I wondered if there really was a Reign number twenty-one on this season’s football team or if it was just advertising.

Then I practically collided.

“Distracted much, Cody?” Travis’s hands reached out and grabbed my shoulders, steadying me as I stumbled back a few inches from the impact.

I glared up at him and aggressively pushed his hands off. “Why are you always showing up like this?” I complained, taking a step back from him as I met his gaze. I'd gone the entire weekend without seeing him again and Ramsy was just now forgetting to make comments about him.

Travis's eyes flashed towards the banner and he smirked. “See something you like?”

“No.” I stepped around him.

“Looked like you did,” he said, turning around to walk at my side. “It distracted you enough that you walked right into me.”

“And what, you were just standing there staring off into space? It’s not like you saw me either,” I argued, accidentally brushing my arm against him as I turned right onto the sidewalk.

“Oh no, I saw you, but I couldn’t resist letting you fall right into me.”

Travis had a habit of showing up out of nowhere and it was quickly becoming annoying. He spoke like he said the first thing that came to mind and stood so close I couldn’t breath properly. “I’m busy,” I said, chancing a glance to the right at him. His hands were at his sides and he nodded to my words.

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am,” I shot back.

“Where are you going?” he asked. He turned around so that he was walking backwards, facing me as he spoke. He must’ve seen the rebuttal on my face because within seconds he’d stopped walking and snatched the folded up paper that was in my hoodie pocket.

I cursed and reached for it, ramming into his right arm as he held it out to block me from him. With his left hand, he shook the paper until it unfolded and he read it as I struggled against him, trying to move to yank it back.

“English 302,” he said, teeth biting his bottom lip momentarily as he thought. “Isn’t that like poetry writing or something?” He grinned and he looked at me. “Are you a poet, Cody?”

“No, now give it back,” I demanded, holding my hand out for it. “You can’t just take things that aren’t yours. I would’ve thought your parents would’ve taught you those basic manners.”

“They did,” he said easily. “I just didn’t listen. And ‘no’, you’re not a poet or ‘no’ it’s not a poetry class?”

“Both,” I stated sharply, glaring at him.

He grinned again and moved to hold it with both hands, eyes scanning over the rest of the times and classes and places. “Psychology,” he said, forking it over to me finally.

I grasped it with the edges of my fingers. “What?”

“Psych. We have psych together,” he repeated.

I blinked at him a couple times and he smiled. Then he turned around and continued down the sidewalk along the rows of buildings on the right and the street on the left. I folded my schedule back up and contemplated going the other direction, but I didn’t want to be the girl who couldn’t even manage to make it to the first day of classes, especially since I’d planned on being early in the first place.

Travis was waiting for me at the crosswalk.

“Are you stalking me?” I asked bluntly, crossing my arms as I stared hard at him. “Because you keep showing up everywhere that I am and it’s not okay, Travis. You need to get help.”

He laughed the kind of laugh that was unabashed and complete, grinning, peering at me through dark lashes while he shook his head. “I’ve got an engineering class in the building next door,” he explained, “but don’t pretend that you don’t like the idea. I can follow you home if that makes you feel special.”

I ignored his wink and crossed the street. The nine am classes were letting out and filling the sidewalks. A group of people coming the other way caused me to step to the right, and subsequently closer to Travis. He wrapped his arm over my shoulder like he was accommodating the closeness and ignored me when I tried to wriggle away from him.

“Stop being so touchy,” he said, fingers landing in my hair.

“I’m not being touchy I just don’t like you,” I retorted, pushing his arm off.

I didn’t miss the eye roll. “Liar.”

I brushed past a couple of passing students and I crossed the sidewalk. The front of the English building was built into a hill and I quickly climbed the first few stairs towards the door. I could hear Travis chuckling and when I spared a look back at him he hit me with a full, mischievous grin. “See you after class, baby!”

I flushed and looked away quickly, catching sight of a couple girls gawking as they walked past. I knew their eyes flickered from me to Travis, but I hurried through the doors before I could catch anymore of their response.

My class room was on the third floor and I took to the stairs quickly. I seemed to walk slower with Travis near because there were only a couple minutes left until ten and if I didn’t find the room quickly I was definitely going to be late. The realization that Travis would be late too was the only thing that made me less pissed at him.

The room was a small lecture hall, with five rows of movie theatre seating and a projector that showed on the front wall. The professor was already at the front when I walked in and I ducked into the closest open seat I could find, squeamishly sliding past a couple of seated guys on the end of the third row from the back, apologizing when I tripped over the first one’s backpack and my hand landed on the second one’s leg to keep from hitting the floor.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said, offering an easy smile as I dropped into the seat next to him, completely embarrassed and earning a couple cautionary looks from the girl and guy on my other side. I probably seemed like a train wreck and I silently cursed Travis for throwing off my morning.

I saw the guy next to me looking my way out of my peripheral vision and I quickly shot him a “thank you,” since it seemed like he was waiting for me to say something more.

“I’m Jack Ardell,” he spoke, voice somewhere between a whisper and mildly hushed.

“Cody Carrigan,” I answered, smiling easily in hopes of not looking like a complete mess.

The professor spoke then and the small class size make it difficult to go unnoticed, so Jack didn’t say anything else and I was mostly grateful. The class consisted of a syllabus and reading through the syllabus to ourselves, and then, for good measure, the professor read it out loud to us again, speaking slowly like we were incapable of digesting the information on our own.

“This is the only time I’m going to mention this syllabus,” Professor Rizzaldi spoke, and I couldn’t stop myself from letting out a grateful, “Thank god.”

Jack stifled his laughter beside me. I covered my grin with the syllabus and kept my eyes on the professor, but it wasn’t enough to divert her attention from us.

“Is something the matter?” she asked, dark eyes trained on the two of us. Jack’s friend slid ever so slightly to the right, away from us.

I glanced at Jack, and then back at Professor Rizzaldi and the people’s whose eyes were now all on us. “No, sorry,” I said quickly, fumbling with the edges of my paper. “I accidentally elbowed him.”

She gave us a hard stare. “Try not to do it again.” Then she turned back to page three and started back in on explaining her terrible attendance policy.

It was six minutes past eleven when she finally wrapped it up. “I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Be sure to have your piece prepared by then. There are no late assignments accepted, no exceptions.”

I could only file out of the class as quickly as Jack and his friend moved, but luckily they seemed as ready to be out of there as much as I was. We practically burst into the hallway and into the flow of traffic, slowing down just enough to mix in with everyone else.

“Cody, wait!”

I looked over my shoulder at Jack, as he and his friend, whose name I still hadn’t learned, caught up to me. I slowed slightly, but it really was impossible to stop with this many people. Jack followed at my side and then detoured to a side hallway, fingers lightly on my arm as he led me with him.

“Yeah?” I asked finally, surprised by the two of them in front of me. I glanced towards the flow of traffic, the hordes of people just feet from us, and then back to them. Jack was slightly taller than the other boy, with two inch long, dark hair that grew up instead of down and something about him that made you wonder if his rounded features were just slightly too low for his face or his forehead was just a little too big. He was attractive though, I’d give him that.

“Sorry I froze up in there,” he said, grinning almost sheepishly, “I heard that Rizzaldi was a hard-ass and I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head that wouldn’t get me in trouble.”

“It’s no problem,” I answered, relaxing slightly. “Next time I’ll try not to be so funny.”

“I’d probably fall asleep if you did,” he said, blue eyes the same color as his shirt, “I’ll just try not to be so obvious.” He stepped back, shoulder bumping into his friend’s, and with another smile from Jack, he asked, “Do you have another class now?” He glanced at the clock above my head. “If you do, you’re probably going to be late.”

“No, not until later,” I denied. “No worries.”

“Oh, good,” he said easy. “We’ll walk out with you.” He seemed to remember then that I didn’t know both of them, because he finally introduced the other boy, not that the blonde seemed to care whether or not I knew him at all. “This is Landon,” he said, and ‘Landon’ shot me a slight smile, as if to say, ‘yup’ and not much more.

I returned it and we barreled down the stairs together, all three of us exiting the stairwell at the first floor and shoving through the crowd as we tried to change direction. I already knew I was going to hate these hallways. I pushed through the glass doors and breathed a sigh of relief when no one was pressed into me anymore.

I didn’t even have time to say a quick goodbye to Jack or process that Landon was already gone, because my gaze caught on the boy sitting on the half-wall railing twenty feet in front of us. He wore dark everything, from his boots to the unzipped, black sweatshirt that hung loosely off his shoulders. He had a cigarette between his lips when I looked at him. He was looking right back at me. Suddenly Jack didn’t seem half as attractive as I thought he was upstairs.

Jack seemed to catch on and a wave of uneasiness rolled over him. “You know him?”

I looked at him then, taking my eyes from Travis. “Yeah, sort of,” I said, despite myself.

Travis kicked off the wall and dropped his smoke to the ground. He put it out with the toe of his boot and effortlessly slid past a group of girls as he made his way over. “Code,” he said when he got to my side, “how was English?”

“Fine,” I shot, giving him a look and wishing that it wouldn’t be considered rude if I didn’t introduce him.

“Mine was boring,” he said as he slipped his arm over my shoulder and looked to Jack. “Who’s this?”

I stared at him for a moment, trying to convey annoyance without speaking it out loud. He understood, but he grinned and brushed my hair down off my shoulder. Finally, I relented. “Jack, this is Travis Laughlin,” I said, looking to the broader built boy. “Travis, Jack Ardell.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jack said. “You’re Leo’s cousin, right? I’ve heard a bit about you.”

Travis nodded, lip between his teeth. “You’re on the team?” he questioned, tone muted slightly.

“No, we had a bunch of classes together last year,” Jack answered, offering a genuine smile towards both of us. “Leo mentioned you a few times, but I hadn’t seen you around so I was starting to think maybe you were a ghost.” He laughed lightly.

“I’ve been around,” Travis replied, dropping his arm from my shoulders. I was grateful half a second - until his fingers found my hand instead. “Mostly hanging with my girl. What year are you?” His grip tightened on my hand and he minutely leaned against my side.

“Sophomore,” Jack said, barely faltering at all.

I, on the other hand, was too stunned to pay attention to their conversation or the looks that Jack was giving me. I told him I “sort of” knew Travis, so the boy’s words knocked us both off kilter. I wasn’t his ‘girl’ and we hadn’t been spending time together, so my brain quickly inferred that there was someone else and I was abundantly grateful, coming to the conclusion that maybe Travis was just this touchy with everyone. And then I became aware of this curling feeling in my stomach. One I hadn’t felt since Ian Oliver asked Ramsy to the seventh grade dance instead of me. Disappointment, and jealously, and disgust with myself.

I quickly yanked my hand from Travis. Earning a confused look from him and apprehension from Jack.

“I need to get going,” the latter said. “I’ll see you Wednesday, Cody. Cool to finally meet you, Travis.” He offered a nice, but slightly awkward smile and headed away, leaving me and Travis, alone on the balcony stairs.

“Why the hell would you say something like that when you’re holding my hand?” I demanded, and then sputtered angrily, rephrasing. “And why do you feel the need to hold my hand in the first place? It’s weird, so stop it.”

Travis was grinning annoyingly, something I was coming to realize was normal for him. I wanted to knock the cocky right out of him.

“What are you talking about now?” he asked calmly, sliding his arms over his chest as he turned to face me.

“Telling Jack you’ve been hanging out with ‘your girl’? While you’re all over me? It makes you look like an asshole, Travis, and it makes me look like a lying slut.”

Travis frowned. “How?”

“Because you don’t hang all over someone when you’ve got a girlfriend!” I claimed, feeling like I was explaining this to a brick wall.

Travis’s eyebrows rose as he caught on, looking amused. “Cody, relax.” He shook his head, eyes not leaving mine. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”

I had already sussed out the other options - that he was referring to me - and his admittance of being girlfriend free enraged me, and that was what I focused on as I shoved everything else away from the forefront of my mind. I tore away from him, shoving his stomach, and practically stomped down the stairs.

“Oh, come on, Cody, I was only playing!” he called after me, catching the attention of almost everyone. “Don't be like this, baby!”

“Don’t call me that, Travis!” I shouted back at him. “You’re annoying and I want you to leave me alone.”

He took the stairs two at a time and caught up to me. “You don’t mean that,” he said, “but I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to piss you off, that guy just bothers me for some reason. I don't know. I just said what came to my head.”

“I don’t even know you,” I countered, not looking at him. “You don’t get to do shit like that.”

He rolled his eyes and stopped walking at the edge of the street. “Where are you going?”

“Home,” I grumbled. “Obviously.” I crossed the street and he followed.

“Let me give you a ride,” he demanded, grabbing for my wrist to stop me. When I yanked away from him, he held both his hands up like he was surrendering. Then he spoke softer. “I know you walked here,” he said, “or else you’d be going back to the parking garage and I also know that it’s probably about to rain and you’ll be drenched by the time you get back to Tutwiler.”

I bristled. “How do you know where I live?”

He rolled his eyes like my stalking theory came back to him. “I saw you coming out of it the other day. When you were heading to the dining hall. I know you saw me too, Cody.”

I ignored that completely. I wanted to refuse his ride and say that I didn’t mind the rain, but even if that was true, my laptop was in my backpack and I knew it definitely wouldn’t appreciate a downpour. I glanced at the sky and the cursed the overcast.

“Fine,” I relented, “but only because I have my computer.”

Travis nodded like he believed me and turned so that we were heading the other direction, back towards the five story parking garage that sat at the edge of campus. He didn’t touch me as we walked and I was grateful. I didn’t ask him where he’d been coming from when I ran into him before class. His car wasn’t parked anywhere near the direction he came from and he was outside walking around when the nine am classes were still going, so I really had no idea. But I really wasn’t about to ask.

The parking structure was dimly lit and the ceilings were frighteningly low. Out of the corner of my eye I kept catching glimpses of Travis when we walked under the supporting concrete bars and every time my heart sped up like he was tall enough to hit his head on them. He wasn’t, but something about the way this was built made me feel like it couldn’t fit a very big car inside. I made a note not to test it with the truck.

Travis pulled his keys out of his pocket on the second floor and I openly gawked when I saw the car that lit up in response. I couldn’t help myself, I just stopped walking and stared at it like there was some kind of mistake. But Travis walked over and opened it up.

“Are you coming?” he asked, eyes raking over me as he took in my reaction.

“This is not yours,” I said.

“Well, I’ve got the keys so…” he trailed off, holding them up so I could see them. Finally, when I didn’t respond, he sighed and nodded. “Yes, Cody, it’s mine, get in.”

I shuffled over to the passenger’s side. “What is it?” It was white, with black-tinted windows, including a sun roof, and a elongated front headlights with a sleek front end that looked a little like a charger but was also distinctly not one. It was gorgeous and expensive.

“A BMW M5,” Travis said.

The inside was just as nice, with shades of cream and black and a dashboard console that would put the truck, and every other car I’d ever been in, to shame. There was a screen that lit up when Travis started the car and he touched it and I watched as he scanned through options until the air-conditioning came on. It then changed to a GPS screen showing our location, which seemed to be its default.

“Where did you get this?” I was obviously flustered, but too concerned to try to hide it. No normal college student had a car like this. I knew it was sixty thousand dollars more than the truck, at least.

Travis tilted his head towards me as he backed out of the space, but his eyes stayed focused. “I bought it,” he answered, speaking like it was obvious.

“Yeah, right,” I countered. “You’re twenty-one years old. Nobody your age has this much money. I doubt even twenty-one year olds with super rich parents have cars like this.” I crossed my arms, frowning as I looked at it, and looked at him. “Is it stolen, Travis?”

His eyes snapped to mine. “What kind of person do you think I am? Do you think I’d be stupid enough to steal a car like this? I’d go to prison for the rest of my life.”

“Well then explain it,” I demanded, "because it’s not normal!”

“Maybe I’m not normal!” he countered, a mix of frustrated and annoyed. “I told you it’s not stolen, so let it go. I wouldn’t put you, or anyone else for that matter, in that situation.”

I quieted, but couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right with him. Up until this point he’d seemed mostly regular, except for his annoying habit of always being around. He was in college, spending thousands just to go here, and it just didn’t make sense that he’d this much money left over to spend.

“When’s your next class?” he asked, eyes darting across the space between us.

“Two. You?”

He shook his head. “I’m done. Do you want me to pick you up?”

“I can probably drive myself,” I said slowly, watching him as he focused on the intersection. Without worrying about him catching me, I took a moment to really look at him, for the first time, noticed the light, almost skin-tone freckles that ghosted across his nose. On anyone else they might seem unnecessary and detracting, but not on Travis. His nose was straight and his jaw and cheek bones made angles in the geometry of his face. Every time I’d seen him he had a hint of a dark five o’clock shadow and his shape of his mouth was interrupted only by the silver, metal ring looping through the left side.

I looked away before his green eyes could catch me staring, but part of me wanted him to look this way so I could see them again.

“What about Ramsy? What time does she have class?”

“She’s in her last one right now,” I answered, pleased that I’d managed to keep my voice level despite the fact that my brain was currently working on remembering every aspect of his face.

It had started raining just minutes ago, ago, thick, brazen rain pooled over everything, coating the black-topped streets like small, undulating oceans. “She might want to wait it out,” he answered. “Hopefully it won’t last long.”

The rain had come quickly and unapologetically and fell in sheets, making it impossible to see five feet in front of the car. I was suddenly worried for Travis, and for the vehicle, and thought he might’ve been finding his way back to the dorms by memory, until my gaze settled on the GPS in the dashboard. Street lights and tail lights were impossibly dim and the sky had darkened so drastically that it felt like dusk. We were barely moving. The car in front of us rolled through its right turn slowly.

“How far do you live from here?” I questioned, clasping my fingers around the hem of my t’shirt.

“Fifteen minutes or so, why?” He was too focused on the road to look at me, and the tone of his voice was simple and unbridled by his usual cockiness. Pure, default Travis.

“I think you should wait it out,” I told him. “You’re not going to make it home in this. It shouldn’t last very long, right?”

He glanced my direction when we pulled onto the street of my dorm. “I’ll be fine. It’s you I’m worried about. I know you’re going to go pick up Ramsy in this.”

“You can stay with me then,” I said, meeting my eyes, “and we can go together.”

Suddenly that Travis grin was back. “You’re worried about me.”

“I’m only human,” I shot back, sliding my arms across my chest as he took advantage of my generosity, “but by all means, if you’d rather drive home in this and die, then go for it. I won’t lose any sleep.”

“Liar,” he answered. “But fine, if you’ll let me drive you to class, too. And pick you up.”

“It probably won’t even be raining then,” I argued. He was pulling into the student parking down the street from my dorm. And it was still pouring. “Plus, that’s three hours from now and what’re you going to do for an hour while I’m in class?”

He shut the engine off, taking the air-conditioning with it, and I could already feel the heat seeping back in. “Wait for you,” he answered, the rain on the car the only other sound.

I didn’t respond right away, hoping the rain would cease and we’d be in the clear to go our separate ways. But it didn’t, and it seemed to drown out the whole outside world. I couldn’t hear anything beyond the rain and in here the only sound was Travis breathing.

“Fine.” I looked across the center. “Lets get out of here before it gets any worse.”

Travis grinned and grabbed my backpack from between my feet. There wasn’t hardly anything in it, so he pushed it close to his chest and zipped his sweatshirt around it. Only when I remembered my laptop did I realize what he was doing. Blocking it from the weather without being asked. He grabbed his cell phone out of the cup holder and shoved it down into his pocket and then pulled his hoodie up over his head.


We were out of the car in a second and I could barely see the black-clad boy. I heard the car honk as it locked and then his fingers were in mine, yanking me towards the dorms as we ran. The rain was warm and unrelenting, and I was drenched in seconds, my hair falling flat against my face and sticking to my arms. My jeans felt like they weighed twenty pounds by the time I threw the Tutwiler doors opened and dragged Travis inside by his fingers.

He laughed as he pushed his hood off and his hair was soaked, falling down against his forehead. He grinned at me and unzipped his hoodie to hand me my backpack. It was remarkably dry from him leaning forward to shield it.

“Thank you,” I breathed, slipping it onto my back.

His fingers slipped into mine again as we passed the two girls at the front desk. His palm was warm and it momentarily distracted me from the fact that this was an all girls dorm.

I brushed against his arm as we walked. “Are you allowed to be in here?”

He grinned down at me. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that question?”

I laughed, shrugged, and dragged him to the elevator. “Too late now.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Thank you guys so much for the comments! I love reading what you think about this so far. I have some pretty cool ideas, so I hope you'll subscribe and keep reading and commenting. :)

I forgot to include these with earlier chapters, so here's some pictures.

Their house:

Their dorm:

So I hope seeing that layout of their residence hall, house, and room helps! I love designing stuff like that, so I do it for more of my stories, but I don't always post them online as well. Let me know what you think!