He saw her, and he fell.
One minute Will Silverstone was sitting with his buddies on the stone bench by the library, admiring the new freshmen coming down the walk. The next he was lying flat on his back, staring up at the sky and a pair of button-brown eyes.
Somewhere above him, he heard his friends’ laughter, and he realized they had knocked away the books he leaned against and sent him tumbling backwards. Still, for the rest of his life, he liked to think it was Vivian Blue who spun the world and tipped him head over heels. That was the story he ended up telling the world, over and over again. She had the power to do that even from the start.
“Need some help?” She leaned over him, blonde hair bouncing on her shoulders. For a second he read the wrinkle in her forehead as concern, and he puffed up his chest.
“I’m fine.” He leaned back on his elbows and pretended to sun himself.
Then he realized she was laughing at him. “I’m sure you are.”
He sat up. His friends had vanished.
“Be careful on those benches.” She tossed the remark over her shoulder and linked arms with another coed who waited for her. “I hear they can be pretty dangerous.”
He watched her walk away and couldn’t think of a thing to say in return.
The next afternoon, Will found her in the library. He’d spent the last twenty-four hours asking everyone who she was, the looker who laughed when he fell on his ass. He woke half a dozen times that night, thinking of her heart-shaped face looking down at him.
He pulled up a chair to her table. “There you are. I think we should start over.”
She smiled. “I’m sorry. Have we met?”
His jaw dropped before he saw the crinkles at the corner of her eyes. She’s joking with me. Again. He shook his head. Just like that, she made him squirm. He, Will Silverstone, captain of his high school football and debate teams and social chair of his fraternity. Just like that.
“Actually, no,” he joked back. “I make a habit of approaching strange women in the library.”
“Really? Sounds like that might get you into a little bit of trouble.” She rested her chin on one hand. “Of course, from what I hear, you have some other interesting habits too. Like falling off benches in broad daylight.” She cocked her head. “Do you drink at breakfast?”
He felt the blood climb into his cheeks. “Of course not. You were the one who made me fall, anyway.”
“I made you fall?”
“Sure.” His gaze moved downward, and he noticed for the first time that she wore the same clothes as yesterday: a pale yellow dress that matched her hair and a pink-patterned sweater pulled around her shoulders. Her shoes were scuffed. When she saw him peeking at them, she tucked them under her chair. “You distracted me.”
She continue to smile without saying a word.
“I’m Will Silverstone.” He held out a hand.
“I know who you are.” After a minute, she placed her hand into his. “Vivian Blue.”
“You from around here, Vivian Blue?” He watched her eyes shade with pleasure.
“Not my whole life. I grew up in a couple different places. I graduated from a school out in the Midwest.”
“You’re far from home.”
She shrugged. “Home’s where you make it. You went to that prep school outside of Bluffet Edge, didn’t you?”
“How did you know?”
She withdrew her hand and opened a book. “You look like a rich kid.”
“I’m not. My father taught foreign languages there. That’s the only reason I could go. Didn’t have to pay tuition.”
She didn’t look like she believed him.
He looked at the red notebook lying open on the table. She’d written a few lines that looped across the page in a careful script. He read them once, upside down. Then he turned the notebook all the way around and read the poem again. “You wrote this?”
She pulled the notebook away and flipped the cover shut. “It’s awful.”
“It’s not even close.” She chewed on the end of a pencil.
“Can I read more?”
“No. Definitely not.”
“Please?” He was considering a major in either Business or English. He’d never admit it to most of his fraternity brothers, but words and stories got inside his soul. It didn’t matter what language they were in; he spoke four fluently. “I’ll buy you coffee in exchange. Or lunch, if you like.”
“Is this your way of asking me out?”
She flashed him a smile. “Go ask a sorority sister on the other side of campus, why don’t you? I’m sure one of them will say yes.”
Will grinned and fell for the second time in less than a day. Just like that, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her...
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