The first time Emily meets Julian:
I’m jeered out of my thoughts when someone practically falls into the seat beside me. The entire row is empty, but this boy decides he should sit right next to me. I look from his black jeans up to his T-shirt, and my eyes stay there for a moment reading the quote on it. Do not set yourself on fire to keep others warm, it states. Oh, I like that.
An amused chuckle brings my eyes higher, to his face. And what a face it is. His smile is…beautiful. Maybe he wouldn’t appreciate me describing it with that word, but it’s the only one I can think of. It’s a little crooked, pulling to the side, but that just makes it all the better. His brown eyes look back at me, his smile reaching them. You could get lost in eyes like his, just staring into them and letting yourself forget all your problems. His dark brown hair somehow manages to look like he just rolled out of bed, yet had time for a quick comb through before getting to class, ruffled but neat.
“Uh, hi,” he finally says.
“Hi,” my voice comes out in the most embarrassing croak.
Come on, Emily. Get it together.
“I’m Julian.” He offers me his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Emily.” He smiles. “I hope you weren’t saving this seat for someone.
I shake my head because quite frankly, I don’t trust my voice right now.
“Good.” His head turns as the professor begins speaking. When did he even get here? “Shh, we have to learn now.”
First day of class and I’m not even paying attention. I’m too busy watching everything Julian does from the corner of my eye. He gets his laptop out of his backpack and sets it on the desk. I tuck my lips in to hide my smile when I see his screensaver is a picture of him stuffing his face with the biggest burger I’ve ever seen. Unlocking my tablet, I try my best to listen and take notes. All that’s blown to hell when I hear Julian’s laptop give what can only be described as a foreboding sound from his desk. I look over and see his screen turn blue and a sad face appear on it.
A groan leaves Julian’s mouth as my eyes quickly read the words on the screen telling him there’s been a problem with his device, and it will now try to assess it and not to turn the laptop off. But apparently the laptop doesn’t take its own advice because a few seconds later, the screen goes black, the lights on the keyboard fade, and you can audibly hear the laptop power down.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Julian’s head falls back on the seat.
I look back and forth between him and the laptop, willing it to turn back on, but my mind tricks don’t work. It stays black the rest of the class. When the professor dismisses us and people begin walking out of class, Julian stays in his seat, staring at the blank screen.
“You can have my notes,” I offer him.
He looks at me, then his eyes go around the hall, as if just now noticing that class is even over.
“I appreciate it.” He gives me a small smile.
“You want me to email them to you?”
He nods. “That’ll work. And kills two birds with one stone.”
My eyebrows scrunch in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I get the notes and a way to contact you.”
A surprised chuckle bursts out of me, and my face heats up.
“Well I’ll make you work harder for my phone number. Don’t think it’ll all be that easy.”
“I would never.” He grins.
The third time Emily meets Will (because *whispers* the first two times didn’t go so well)
Instead of going to the student cafeteria, I enjoy the weather and walk a few blocks to one of the small cafés near the campus. Oddly enough, as soon as I enter, I hear a voice and instantly know it’s Will. I look to my left and see him sitting on top of one of the tables while his friends sit in the chairs around the table. He notices me and waves. I give him a small smile and walk to the counter to place an order.
The food is already cooked and just placed in a Styrofoam container before it’s handed to me. I grab a drink and pay for everything before going to an empty table towards the back. The first bite of my baked ziti is in my mouth as someone comes and sits on the table. I don’t even have to look up from his jeans to know it’s Will.
“You do know most people sit on the chairs instead of the table right?” I ask after I swallow my food.
“I like being able to see everything,” he says.
“Well I don’t want your ass near my food, so,” I shoo him off the table.
He chuckles and sits in the chair instead. “Fine. Have it your way. This your first time here?” I nod and he continues. “Food’s really good. Me and my friends usually come here for lunch.”
I take another bite and nod, not really knowing what to say.
“You don’t talk much huh?” He tilts his head like he’s trying to figure me out.
“I talk when I have something to say.” I shrug.
“And you have nothing to say to me?” His eyebrows raise. People not exactly salivating to talk to him is probably new for him.
“We’re not exactly from the same crowd, you know?”
“Well you can’t know if you haven’t been introduced to my crowd yet.”
With that, he waves his friends over. Everything inside me wants to take the food I have left, toss it in the garbage, and make my way towards the exit. I have no desire to be a part of his fan club. But his friends come over, seeming to surround me and the table before I even blink. They sit in the few available chairs and when those are full, they pull some chairs from other tables. Some even stand and I find myself looking at Will out the corner of my eye, wondering just what it is about him that makes people flock to him like this. It’s more than his good looks. There’s a charm there, a smile that makes people feel important just to have it thrown in their direction.
“Everyone, this is Emily. She’s a freshman,” Will announces.
Most of the guys waves, while the girls size me up. They begin talking about the upcoming parties and joking about different professors, impersonating them and despite myself, I begin to relax, laughing with them and staying long after I’ve finished my food. I look over at Will and find him watching me, his smile a little easier than I’ve ever seen, but still a hint of practiced in it, like he doesn’t know how to drop the mask and just…smile.
“My crowd’s not so bad, is it?” he asks low.
“So maybe you’ll come here for lunch again.”
“You’ll come,” he says with a grin. “And this will be our table.”
I’ve never had an our. Not an our table at school with anyone, not an our crowd. And for some reason, it appeals to me, as much as I just called this Will’s fan club. Maybe I wouldn’t mind being a part of an our, just a little bit.
“I’ll think about it.”
“Well here, let me give you my number, and if you are gonna come, let me know. I’ll make sure there’s a seat for you.”
I unlock and hand him my phone, not looking at the screen before giving it to him.
“Who’s The One And Only?” he asks when he looks at it.
I snatch my phone and see a text from Julian. Smiling, I swipe it off the screen and hand the phone back to Will. There’s a look in his eyes that I can’t quite name before they go down to my phone. A look that felt like it was saying the chase is on.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of Girl Meets Boys. It releases on January 15th and is now available for pre-order.