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The Why Behind What We Feel

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He looks up at me, the storm in his eyes fully raging now. "I want to be alone with you."

"And...you are alone with me. Right now. At this very moment."

He stands and slowly walks around the desk, never taking his eyes off mine. He stands in front of me and suddenly, I feel weak. He seems almost...unhinged. Should I be worried? Or better yet, should I be afraid?

Letting my thoughts consume me, I take a step back.

Aspen furrows his brows. "Are you... afraid of me?"

I swallow hard. "No."

He takes a step forward, closing the space between us. "Yes you are."

"No, I'm not," I say firmly. "I'm not afraid of you. I'm just...worried about you."

My words seem to momentarily stun him. His stormy eyes start to soften and his hard, stoic expression turns into something I can't quite place. It's not really sadness. It's not anger. It's....

It's fear.

"What are you afraid of?" I whisper softly, reaching for his hand.

He's hesitant at first, but he finally takes my hand, lacing our fingers together. He stares down at our joined hands for a while before looking up at me. "I'm afraid of losing you."

****WARNING****

This book heavily mentions suicide, and while it is not graphically described, it is both mentioned and implied throughout the entirety of this book.

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Chapter 1- That Something
****WARNING****This book heavily mentions suicide, and while it is not graphically described, it is both mentioned and implied throughout the entirety of this book. "Cecil Martin." "Cecil? Are you in here? Ha, with a name like Cecil, perhaps you're hard of hearing? It is an old grandma name, after all," Professor Mitchell smirks, looking around the room. I take a deep breath, really wanting to check my reflection, but knowing I'll only draw more attention to myself by doing that. So I stand up and start towards the front of the classroom. The stadium style seating makes me feel like I'm on display, like some kind of side show circus freak. "My name is Cecily," I say, taking my paper from Professor Mitchell, who I know for a fact knows my name and knows how to pronounce it correctly. "That's Good. Ellen Carter. Ugh, not another grandma name," he chuckles, as if he's already forgotten that I'm here. Ellen rolls her eyes as she walks past me, equally as annoyed by our professor's immature behavior. He's young, probably in his mid-thirties, and I've always heard men don't mature until well after that. He's brilliant, but he tries way to hard to be cool, like he's making up for his own college experience- a time when he was probably not one of the cool kids. "If I called your name, you can take your things and go; you've passed my class," Professor Mitchell says, making my mouth drop open in surprise. Ellen and I share a look. He only called us, no one else. Does that mean the other hundred or so students in here failed? "The rest of you will continue out this month and use that time to seriously reconsider your major. Is psychology really for you?" he continues. He looks from me to Ellen, smirking. "Ellen and Cecily, you ladies are going to become brilliant doctors someday. Understanding the inner workings of the human brain requires complex thought and reasoning. It's not something that can be learned, but rather, felt. My suggestion for the rest of you, if you feel like psychology is, in fact, your calling, get in tune with other people- how they think, how they feel, and more importantly, the why behind it all. Otherwise, you are wasting both your time and mine." The room is so quite, you could hear a pin drop. Professor Mitchell walks over to the exit, opens the door and looks between Ellen and I expectantly. Everyone else just looks around, probably as confused and caught off guard as we are by all this. We hesitantly stand up and walk towards the door slowly, as if we're both expecting him to slam it shut and laugh, claiming he got us. He doesn't though, and we leave the classroom in silence, still not sure what to make of all this. After we've made it a good distance away from the classroom, Ellen looks over at me. "What the hell was all that about?" "I have no idea," I reply. "We can't seriously be the only ones who wrote a good paper. Can we?" she asks, wearing the same confused expression I'm probably wearing myself. "Out of over a hundred students who share our major, it doesn't seem possible." "So what do we do now? Do we just... go home? We still have four weeks until the semester is over and this was my only Tuesday class," Ellen says in her usual nasally voice, pushing her wood grain framed glasses up her nose, her silky black bangs falling over her eyes. "I guess," I shrug. I work at Cafe Monday, a few blocks from campus, Monday through Friday. I won't be able to just go home and chill for the rest of the day. But if Professor Mitchell is being serious, I definitely won't mind sleeping in every Tuesday and Thursday instead of going to an 8am class. Since I have a few hours before I start work, I walk over to my apartment and as soon as I walk in the door, I take my hair out of the dreadfully painful high ponytail it's been tied up in. Being bi-racial, my hair is insanely thick and not a friend to the New Orleans humidity. Between school, my full time job, my volunteer work and my grandmother, I have little time for my hair, or my appearance in general. I always say I'll make time for it later, and while I know I still have time, I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever care enough to do anything about it. There's a knock at the door, and even though it's too early to be my roommate, I answer expecting her. When I see the tall, extremely good looking man standing in front of me, my hands fly up to my hair, scrambling to put my ponytail back. The guy smiles, revealing a perfect row of pearly white teeth. His eyes are the most beautiful shade of green I think I've ever seen, and that dimple on his left cheek... "I'm looking for my new apartment, but I don't see a 103 around here. It's all even numbers," the guys says, looking around. "I just moved here and my roommate is in class. I saw you earlier and tried to catch you before you got to your door. I've never been to New Orleans and these streets are a lot more confusing than they look." He's too good looking to just be out and about like this, knocking on strange people's doors. Doesn't he know a face like that could get him kidnapped? "So...can you help me?" he asks when I don't say anything. "Oh, uh...the odd numbers are on the other side of the street," I finally answer. "But...I could've sworn he wrote down 103, above a bar called Dejavu." I look over at it and notice it's not a three at all. "I think that might be an eight, not a three. In which case, you're in the right place. This is a duplex apartment. Your door is around back." "Huh," he says, holding the paper out and squinting his eyes. "I really need my glasses." I smile. It's nice to know he has a flaw. I mean, not a visible one, but a flaw nonetheless. "Looks like we're neighbors." "Wow, thanks," he sighs in relief. "You probably think I'm stupid now." "No, not stupid, just blind." He laughs, though I didn't intend it to be funny. He really can't see. "I'm Aspen. It's nice to meet you," he says, extending his hand to shake mine. "Hi, Aspen. I'm Cecily." "Sess...sessi- what?" I chuckle. "Ce-ci-ly. Not Sicily. Or Cecil, though I get that a lot." "That's a very beautiful name," he says. "Thank you. It's my grandmother's name. Aspen is a very...different name as well." "It's not my real name. My high school buddies back in Texas gave it to me." "Oh...does it mean something?" I ask. "It does, but not anything good," he smirks. He seems like a really nice guy, which is strange since most guys that look like him are the polar opposite of nice. He's definitely not the type to be interested in me, so I won't get all worked up over him like most girls probably do. I know my place on the food chain. I'm a six on a good day and that's perfectly fine with me. I'm just a normal girl, not too ugly, not too cute. I'm right there in the middle, that level of attractiveness that doesn't draw attention- bad or good. "Thank you for your help, neighbor," Aspen grins, giving me a salute. "I'll see you around." "Okay," I reply as he walks away. I go back to my messy hair, combing it out and getting it ready for a good washing. I normally rush through this process when I have a free moment, which is rare. Now that I have a few extra hours, I may actually tame this wild mane. "Knock, knock!" my roommate, Lizzy, calls out, coming into my bathroom without knocking at all. She gasps when she sees my hair. "Sessy! I love your hair!" "Uh, thanks?" "Did you just have it done?" "Have it done? Like...professionally?" I ask. She nods. "No," I chuckle. "I did all this myself." "You have so much hair! It's beautiful, but I'm sure it's a nightmare to keep up," she says, hopping up on the countertop and watching me finish things up. "You have no idea." Lizzy has thin, fire engine red hair that can't hold a curl even if you sprayed it with cement. She usually wears a hat to class, but when we go out, she puts in extensions to give her hair extra volume. I couldn't wear a hat if I wanted to, but I usually wear my hair up, which is why Lizzy is freaking out. She hardly ever sees it down. While I did very little, it looks like I actually give a damn. "Oh my God! Have you seen the new guy that just moved in with Drake?!" "Yeah, I talked to him earlier." "And?" I look at her and raise a brow. "And what?" "What do you think?" "I think he's hot, like I'm sure the rest of the world does," I shrug. "And he's right next door!" she squeals excitedly. "Right, which means we'll probably be able to hear his many sexual conquests through our paper thin walls," I reply sarcastically. She gives me a bored look, pressing her thin, pale lips together. "You're just never gonna put yourself out there, are you." "Of course I am, as soon as I have time. For now, I'm more concerned with this head of mine," I say, straightening out the few remaining fly aways. "Drake's brother is throwing a party in the Garden District on Friday night. Want to come?" she asks. I snicker to myself. "You know I'm not going to another one of Tristan's parties. I've made it through the last five semesters of college without going to one, and I'm not about to start back now. I have better things to do than drink until I forget everything, wake up with a hangover and a strange hickey, and not even remember a single bit of it for as long as I live." "It's the college experience!" she laughs. I playfully push her. "Get out of my bathroom." _____ "Sessy, why don't you head home for the night. I can lock up on my own," Mr. Brewer, my boss, says when he approaches me, wiping his hands on the dingy white dish towel he keeps tucked in his apron. I pause and look up at him. His thick gray brows droop over his eyes, making him look perpetually angry and intimidating. But he's really just a sad, lonely soul, working his life away at this tiny cafe in the middle of the French Quarter. His family started this business back in 1933 and he took it over about twenty years ago. When his wife, Marilyn, was still living, he loved this place and put all this energy into it. After she passed, he started going through the motions, robotically performing the same routine, every day. Since the cafe showcases one of the most beautiful courtyards around, I take pride in the flower displays Mr. Brewer allows me to put together. Right now, I'm working on an arrangement of tropical wild flowers, in anticipation of the upcoming summer season. I've been working on it for almost an hour and I'm almost done. "I just need like, five more minutes," I tell him. When his face falls, I realize he must have personal reasons for wanting to be alone. "But...I guess I can just pick up where I left off on Monday," I sigh, taking a step back and looking over my masterpiece. I go into the small building that looks out of place between the two much larger ones- a fancy, old-world bed and breakfast to the right and a booming souvenir shop to the left. There's only enough room for two people in this tiny kitchen, but every morning, Mr. Brewer and our locally famous barista, Manny, crank out the most delicious coffee and beignets in New Orleans. I grab my bag that's hanging on the coat rack in the corner and hurry out. "Have a good weekend, Mr. Brewer!" I call out as I pass him in the courtyard. "Good night, Sessy," he replies, giving me a wave. I walk the few blocks back to my apartment on St. Ann Street. It's ten o'clock on a Friday night, so there's music, laughter, life at its finest taking place right under my nose. But here I am walking home, where I will curl up with a book and fall asleep three pages in. I can't help the longing creeping up inside me as I pass by Bourbon Street. When I decided to move here for school almost four years ago, I thought living in New Orleans would be one endless party, especially since I would be sharing an apartment in the French Quarter, just blocks away from campus. I was so wrong. I spent my freshman year trying to keep up with the party scene while maintaining a job and a full class load. My grades started slipping, I was almost always tired, and I found that I wasn't enjoying myself. I started attending less and less parties until pretty soon, I hadn't been to one in three years. Instead, I study, I work, I eat, I sleep, I go to class, and I'll repeat until I graduate next month. Still, it looks like these people are having a lot of fun. These are supposed to be the best years of my life and yet I feel like I can't really enjoy them. The future therapist part of my brain tells me I'm too concerned with my future to worry about the present. It's a careful way to live, but a surefire way to miss out on life. I want to have a good future, but I also don't want wake up one day and realize I pissed all my good years away. "Hey! Sicily, right?" I pause and look up at the tall guy who just stopped in front of me. I recognize him to be my neighbor right away, but I can't for the life of me remember his name at the moment. "Cecily," I correct him. "That's what I said, right?" "It's Ces, as in suc-cess." "Successily?" I roll my eyes, making him laugh. "Just call me Sessy. That's what my friends call me." "Oh, so we're friends?" he smirks. "I wouldn't say that," I say, pulling my bag over my shoulder, starting to feel a little awkward. "We barely know each other." "But we can know each other. We're neighbors, and apparently, you're going to be my new psychology tutor," he says. "What?" I ask, furrowing my brows. "Professor Mitchell recommended I get a tutor so I can pass his final exam." "You're a psychology major?" I ask. "Why do you look so surprised? Do I not look like the brainy type?" he chuckles. No, you don't. You look like the beautiful type that could coast through life on his good looks alone. He smiles at my perplexed state. "I'm majoring in child psychology. I want to counsel children in the foster system." I'm very surprised and there's nothing I can do to hide it. My mouth falls open on its own, my eyes fully displaying the shock I feel. "I'm starting to get offended by your reactions," he says, cocking a brow. I laugh nervously. "I'm sorry. You just don't...seem like the type..." "What type do I seem like?" he asks. I shrug, looking him over as I give it some thought. "You look like maybe a sports broadcasting major, or...a football coach..." "You just assume I'm a jock?" he laughs. "You look like you could be." He smiles, making me feel a weird mixture of nerves and butterflies. He's so cute, but I know better than to get trapped in the charm of a green-eyed prince. Guys that look like him are only interested in girls that look like me if they need a tutor. "I played football in high school, but not because I liked playing. I just liked...having somewhere I belonged," he says after a while. I have to admit, I didn't expect that kind of answer at all. So I have no idea what to say now. "Anyway, I won't keep you. I was just excited to see a familiar face in this sea of a thousand faces," he says, making me laugh. "Have a good night, Sessy." "Good night....Aspen?" He nods, grinning ear to ear as if he's impressed I remembered his name. After he walks away, I smile to myself. I'm usually quick to judge someone right away, sometimes unfairly, sometimes not. There was nothing fair about my assessment of Aspen. He's got the looks of a god, but there's something about him that makes him just as human as anyone else. And that something...it makes me want to get to know him more.

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