Ten Months Later…

“So Alexander the Great, as you know, had a very close relationship with his mother, who was exceedingly influential is his life,” the professor lectures.

I tap my pencil, glancing up at the clock, willing the minute hand to move faster. It’s not that I’m not interested, but I’m supposed to get a package from Misha today, and I want to get back to my dorm.

“Is the movie accurate?” a young woman down the aisle to my right asks. “Did she really like snakes as much as they portrayed?”

Movie? I smile to myself. A girl after my own heart.

Although I’ve learned to be more tolerant and patient. I’ve read all the articles and other assigned reading. In addition to seeing the film, of course.

The aging professor sits on his table down front, his legs dangling above the floor. “That is accurate. She loved snakes. Too much, some say.”

I blink and finally look at him, my curiosity peaked now. Too much?

Professor Jacobson sees the blank stares around the room and laughs, giving us a bigger hint as to his meaning. “She liked snakes, and…snakes…like…warm…places…”

I shudder, it finally hitting me. “Ew.”

The whole class breaks into laughter, all of us squirming in our seats. That can’t possibly be true.

He smiles, always seeming to enjoy messing with us, and looks up at the clock. “Alright, let’s call it a day,” he says. “Have a good weekend everyone. I’ll be in my office until six if anyone needs me.”

Yes. I swipe my keyboard and iPad off the table, my heart starting to race in anticipation. Stuffing everything into my bag, I shoot out of my chair and jog down the stairs, crossing the front of the classroom, and pushing through the doors.

I haven’t seen Misha in months—not since Christmas—and even though he sends me letters and calls on Skype all the time, it’s the packages he teases me about that I anticipate almost as much as the prospect of seeing him.

I like checking my mail and seeing anything from him.

Sometimes it’s fun stuff, like mixed tapes, souvenirs from his tours, or things he thinks I need, like funny cookbooks such as Thug Kitchen, when I complain I’m tired of eating in the dining halls.

Other times I’ll walk into my dorm room and find flowers or the ceiling covered with balloons, like on my birthday.

And I write him every week, even though he’s not always in the same place and won’t get the letters until later. But he insists. No emails.

After all this time, we’re still pen pals.

His tour last summer ended better than expected. He thought he’d finish, come home, and keep writing music, trying to get a deal, but after all the exposure last year, they were knocking at his door before the tour was even done. In the months since, he and the guys have recorded an album, and even though I listen to it every day, I can’t get through a twenty-four-hour period without hearing it come from someone else’s iPod, car stereo, or television, either. I’m so proud of him.

Making my way past the student union and down the sidewalk lined with newly-budded trees, I cross the street and walk into Campbell Hall, my home for the past seven months. Jetting down the steps, I dig out my keys from my bag and find my mailbox, unlocking it.

I pull out mail, but pause when I don’t see another key. My mailbox is small, so anytime Misha send packages, there’s a key to a bigger box where I’ll find the box he sent.

I quickly flip through the mail, seeing a card from my mom, my phone bill—which I won’t look at today—and some credit card offers.

Nothing from Misha.

My heart sinks. Didn’t he say something was coming today? I should Facetime him in the middle of whatever he’s doing for getting my hopes up like that, dammit. I close my mailbox and slide my mail into my bag.

Walking back into the stairwell, something on the wall catches my attention, though, and I stop, reading it.

-They say we’re no good and we’re okay with that, We’re the leaders of the not-coming-backs.-

The black Sharpie is written on the wood down the side of the door frame, and I break out in a smile at the Five Seconds of Summer lyric, my heart lodging in my throat.

I break into a run up the stairs and see a small sign hanging on the wall, also with a lyric.

-It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide.-

Oh, my God. I suddenly can’t catch my breath. He’s here. 
I race up to my floor.

-Paint it black and take it back-… Another message as I swing through the door, leading to my floor. I walk briskly down the well-lit hall, seeing message and after message written for me, leading right to my room.

-Hello there, the angel from my nightmare.-

And I smile wider, seeing an Eminem lyric in various colors, painted on the wall.

-You don’t get another chance. Life is no Nintendo game.-

-One minute I want to slit your throat, the next I want to sex.-

I laugh, covering my grin, because yeah.

Biting my lip, I unlock my door with shaking hands and swing it open, instantly spotting Misha. Butterflies take off in my stomach.

“You know,” he starts, leaning back in my desk chair, his hands behind his head, “I might see more of you if you’d decided to attend The New York School of Design instead.”

I smirk, walking in and closing my door. Damn, he looks good. Dark jeans that hang on his waist just well enough to make me jealous of a pair of pants and a gray T-shirt over his long, wide torso. I glance around to make sure my roommate isn’t here.

I approach him, dropping my bag. “Have you seen Cornell’s library? Rows and rows of dark hidden places to get lost in.”

Of course I could’ve had more opportunities to see him if I went to school in the city, but he was going to be all over the place, and Cornell was what was best for me, so I dove in.

“So that’s why you chose this university?” he asks, spreading his legs and taking my hips as I come in close.

I nod. It was certainly one of the reasons. Fantasizing about Misha’s visits and all the little places we could get lost in.

I touch his face, seeing that he’s finally changed out his black lip ring for a silver one. “I missed you.”

“Missed you, too.” He lifts the hem of my shirt and kisses my stomach, sending shivers right down to between my thighs.

“You look beautiful,” he says. “Happy.”

“You won’t that let deter you, will you?” I tease, referencing how we can always manage to spice up any occasion with a little banter. “I might enjoy some trouble.”

He buries his nose and mouth in my skin, his voice muffled. “No problem.”

“So I hear you’re famous now.”
His shoulders shake with a small laugh. “In my small sliver of the world for the next fifteen minutes maybe.”

I bring his face up, forcing him to meet my eyes. “Your music…you did incredible. I listen to it every day.”

“You’re prejudiced.”

I shrug. “Probably.”

Leaning down, I kiss him, loving how I get immediately warm all over. I hope he doesn’t want to crash here tonight. I’ll feel guilty turning my roommate out while we try to squeeze into my twin bed. Hotel, please.

“How long do you have?” I kiss him again and again, sitting down and straddling his lap as both of us turn breathless. “Are you going on tour anytime soon or something?”

He shakes his head, speaking between kisses. “I think…maybe I’m not ready for the music world quite yet. I thought I might go to college, take my time…”

I stop and pull away. “Is this…this doesn’t have anything to do with me, does it?” I question him. “I don’t want you to miss your opportunities.”

“You’re my opportunity,” he states. “I’ve grown up with you, and like I said, you’ve been a part of nearly everything I’ve done that I love. I can make music anytime, anywhere, and the opportunities will be there when we’re ready for them.”


“Although you may have to transfer,” he cuts in before I have a chance to retort. “I’m not sure I can get into Cornell.”

And then I’m swept up in the reality of what he’s saying, and I break out in a smile. Misha and me. Here together. Seeing each other every day. I have to admit, I’m all for it. As much as I love the letters and the anticipation of seeing him after long absences, I want to move forward, not go back, like we’re still pen pals in fifth grade.

Not that I didn’t love being pen pals, but that was before I was in love with him, and the prospect of it being just the two of us now sounds too good.

And we’re only nineteen. If he wants to slow back down and take his time, I can’t begrudge him that.

I squint at him. “A bestselling rock star and senator’s grandson who will bring free publicity to the university?” I muse. “I’m sure it will work out.”

If Cornell doesn’t take him, then there’s no way I can stay in such a lame university.

I wrap my arms around him, whispering across his lips. “Can’t wait to have you around every day. No parents. No drama. No shenanigans. Just us.”

But then I hear someone behind me burst through the door, and I twist my head around, seeing Dane standing in the doorway, his hands up and looking worried.

“We’re going to have to rent a house,” he tells Misha, out of breath. “There’s no way I can fit all my guitars and amps in these rooms.”

I turn around, cocking my head at Misha.

But he just snorts. “He kind of goes where I go. We’ll stay out of trouble. I promise.”