We’re cycling back around to the beginning, it seems. The inaugural post in this series was from the opening chapter of TOUCH, and today’s post is from that same story.
Since I’d posted back in…oh, March? I’d turned in the story, brainstormed the shit out of it, and come up (with massive amounts of help from my editor) an almost entirely new storyline. The end result was I am now in the midst of rewriting the story. The scene below is a new one. Alexis has always had problems with the lighting scheme in her lecture hall, and when Drew drops by to introduce himself, she asks him to fix the lights for her – and she has a reaction that shouldn’t be possible in the world they live in.
Standing on the other side is my savior from yesterday. He’s got an easy smile on his face. I have to tip my head back to see it, he’s so much taller than me. And blue eyes. Bluer than the sky. I wrack my brain, trying to remember if I’ve seen this guy before yesterday. “Hi?”
“Hey. Thought I saw you earlier, wondered how you were doing after yesterday.” He holds out a hand. “Andrew. Drew. Most people call me Drew.”
I take it, surprised at his minute flinch the moment our palms meet. “Alexis. Or Lex, Lexi, and I’ve been known on occasion to respond to ‘hey, you’, but I wouldn’t recommend that one.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He releases my hand and peers around me. “You a professor?”
“Graduate student.” I step back so he can see Parker. “Parker, Drew. He helped me up yesterday after a nasty tree root got in my way. Drew, Parker.” She lifts a hand in greeting. I wander over to my chair. “I haven’t seen you around before.”
He leans on the doorjamb and slips his hands in his pockets. “I work on the coding for the Realms. The Government’s considering some upgrades the university’s requested, so I’m on campus for a few weeks, trying to see if they’re feasible.”
That explains why I’ve never seen him before. With eyes as blue as his, I would remember him. There’s a funny tug, low in my belly, and I rub my hand across it, soothing it away. “Would any of those upgrades involve bots that understand the lighting scheme in the small lecture hall?”
“Ah, no. I could take a look at them for you, though. I’ve got time.”
Finally. Someone who can show me how to get rid of the fucking spotlights. “Parker?”
She shakes her head. “Go on. You can show me later. I’m going to start pulling information.” She waves one of her datpads at me.
I lead Drew down to the lecture hall. The lights come up as we move into the room, and I walk to the front and stand behind the podium, squinting against the glare. “Come here. You can’t tell from out there.”
He obliges, standing at my back. “Shit. How the hell did they screw this up so bad?” He leans over to fiddle with the control panel on the podium. Tapping keys in rapid succession, he finally succeeds in turning out the lights.
“Was that supposed to happen?”
“Not my finest moment, no. Hold on.” Pressing himself closer, he continues working on the keypad. The longer he works, the harder it gets for me to breathe, until my heart’s fluttering in a rapid beat and I’m struggling to breathe evenly.
Strangely, it’s not an unpleasant sensation.
The lights come up, full glare, and I blink to clear my spotty vision. “Okay. I think I’ve got it.” Drew punches in a succession of numbers, and the lights dim. Not enough to throw the hall into darkness, but so I can actually see the seats.
“You are my new best friend!” I peer at the control panel. “What did you do?”
He brings the lights up to full brightness, then punches in the sequence slow enough for me to follow. “Got it?”
“Maybe.” He brings the lights up again, and I enter the sequence myself, hesitating once or twice over the buttons. He nudges me toward the correct one, and the lights dim. I turn to him and grin. “Awesome.”
He grins back. “Glad to be of service.”
We stand there, grinning like idiots, almost nose to nose, and something even weirder happens.
I don’t want this moment to end.
New friends aren’t hard to come by. Humanity in general is friendly, often helpful, something the Government says was in danger of disappearing before we entered the cells. It’s a kind of rush, meeting someone new, wondering if you’ll have anything in common, excited to learn their ups and downs and ins and outs.
This is like that, and it isn’t. This is that rush, amplified. Like it’s been fed through the power source and jacked directly into my bloodstream. The newness of it is a little frightening. And addicting. If this is my first hit, I can’t wait for my next one.
I grip the podium to still my shaking hands. “I should get back. Parker’s waiting for me.”
He walks me to my office and leaves with a wave and a “see ya” and I wonder if the current only shocked me or if he got hit by it, too.