Read Forever Altered Online

Authors: D.J. Pierson

Forever Altered

BOOK: Forever Altered
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Forever Altered

By D.J. Pierson

 

Copyright © 2013 D.J.
Pierson

All Rights
Reserved.
 
This book or any portion
thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express
written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a
book review.

This book is a work
of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or
locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s
imagination and used fictitiously.

Cover by: Samantha
Bagood
@ Cover Pub
http://coverpub.samanthabagood.com

 

DEDICATION

This
book is dedicated in loving memory of my grandmother, Joan Harkins, whose last
words of advice left me
forever altered
.

Prologue

Alyssa

 

 

As
many times as I’ve taken this trip, you would think I’d be able to do it with
my eyes closed.  However, driving at night is not my favorite thing to
do.  I could have stayed at my school, but then I would miss my
boyfriend’s third annual back to school party.  Jeff and his roommate,
Mike, had this party every year the weekend they moved back in since we were
freshman.  I had all intention of getting to their school earlier, but I’m
running a little late since today was also my move-in day.  This year was
different for us because we moved into the new apartment building that just
opened on campus.  I absolutely love our place!  My roommate, Leah,
and I spent all day decorating it and making it special for us and two of our
friends who will share the second bedroom.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll head
back early, so we can go shopping for some more stuff.

Jeff
and I had such a great time this summer.  We have been best friends for a
long time.  He has always been there for me and somehow, we ended up
together after I had a really bad breakup with a really bad guy.  I
couldn’t imagine my life without him in it.  A few times in the last two
weeks, he brought up the subject of getting married.  I’m not sure if he
was just trying to figure out my feelings on the matter or if he is really
ready to propose.  If he didn’t know by now how much I loved him, he never
would. 

One
hour and ten minutes after leaving my school, I pull into the familiar parking
lot of Jeff’s building.  I had been trying to text him for the last few
minutes to meet me downstairs.  He hasn’t responded yet which is weird
since he was so worried about me driving here this late to begin with. 
Lucky for me, someone is coming out when I get to the locked door and they hold
it for me to enter the building.  The music from their apartment can be
heard the second I open the door that leads to the third floor.  Familiar
faces greet me as I walk into the small living room.

“Hey,
Short Stuff!” Mike calls out.  “What took you so long?  I have a
pitcher of your drinks waiting for you.”  He came over to give me a
hug. 

“I
can definitely use a few after unpacking and decorating all day,” I reply
smiling.

“What
is it with you girls?” he teases.  “Just throw your shit in a bag and plop
it in the corner.  No unpacking or decorating required.  I’ll get you
a drink.”

“Thanks,
Mike.  Where’s Jeff?” I ask looking around and not seeing my
boyfriend. 

“I
don’t know.  He was right here a few minutes ago.  Check the
bedroom,” he tells me over his shoulder.

I
walk down the short hallway to the last room on the right.  The door is
closed, but since I know Mike isn’t in there, I push it open without
knocking.  There is a trail of clothes leading from the door all the way
to the bed on the far wall.  My eyes follow them and lock on the two
people currently occupying my boyfriend’s bed.  All I can see of Jeff is
his naked back as he hovers over a girl with fake blond hair who is just as
naked underneath of him.  The sheets I bought for him a week ago are
wrapped around them blocking most of what is going on.  I stand there for
what feels like an eternity trying to avert my eyes away as my heart
shatters.  When I cannot take it any longer, I turn to run down the
hallway only to crash into Mike’s chest spilling the drink he was carrying for
me all down the front of both of us.  Tears are gushing from my eyes as I
try to clear them enough to see where I’m going.


Lyss
, what is it?  What’s wrong?” Mike asks instantly
upset himself.

“Jeff. 
Girl.  Need.  To.  Go,” I cannot get the words out as I
eventually find my feet and run for the door.

Just
before I make it to the hallway outside of the apartment, I hear Mike holler,
“What the fuck are you doing, Jeff?”  I don’t need to hear his
reply.  I don’t ever want to hear his voice again.

Chapter
One

Alyssa

 

 

Thirty-two
days.  I groan as my eyes open and my hand hits the obnoxious alarm clock
screaming at me from the dresser beside my head.  It’s been thirty two
days since my heart was shattered into millions of pieces with no hope of ever
being repaired.  I manage to inhale calmly and climb out of bed. 
Walking into the attached bathroom of my college dorm room, I hesitantly take a
look in the mirror.  For the first time in a month, there aren’t any tears
streaming down my face before being fully conscious from sleep.  That has
to be a step in the right direction. 

As
quietly as possible, I turn on the shower and wait until it warms up. 
Once inside, my eyes close under the steaming hot water and the crying
threatens as the all-too-familiar vision of walking in on my boyfriend of two
and a half years tangled in his sheets with some bleached blond bimbo floods my
memory.  Immediately my eyes fling open and the images fade, taking my
tears away with them.  I shake my head and finish the quickest shower I’ve
ever taken in my twenty years of life.

Getting
ready as silently as possible didn’t take much effort, since my wet hair only
gets pulled up in a bun and I throw on black yoga pants along with my favorite
gray hoodie.  Afterwards, I sneak out to the living room, making sure to
grab my backpack so there would be no reason to go back in and risk waking up
my roommate.  Wednesday mornings sucked.  I am the only one out of
the four of us who has to get up.  Guess that is what happens when you
pick a major that would require science classes with mandatory labs as part of
the grade.  Why were labs only offered on Wednesdays, anyway? 

Just
as I am finishing up my Frosted Flakes with banana breakfast, the familiar
beeping of a room card being swiped in the door catches my attention.  One
of the girls who shares the apartment with us stumbles through the door. 
Her clothes are wrinkled as though she had been sleeping in them for a week and
her normally perfect dark blond hair is pulled up into a messy bun.  She
looks like she is still drunk from last night.

“Hey,”
I say as Julia manages to get her card out of the door after a few tries. 
She mumbles something inaudibly.  She staggers through our small kitchen
grabbing a bottle of water on her way passed the refrigerator.  After
dropping her stuff on the table next to my bowl, she looks at me.  Or at
least she tries to.

Normally,
I would have had to stifle a laugh at her.  That wasn’t happening,
yet.  Maybe someday.  Thankful that I never drank that much, I think
how she is going to feel like shit for the rest of the day.  Maybe even
tomorrow, too.  “Where have you been?” I ask while cleaning up my
breakfast. 

“I
went to that frat party with Tommy over in the Village last night.”  The
Village was the older on-campus housing that now primarily held fraternity and
sorority houses since this new building opened just this semester.  “Then
I crashed with him on someone’s couch.”  She pauses to take a long sip of
her water.  “He has one of those ridiculous science labs that you are
crazy enough to take, so we just got back.  If I were you, I’d change my
major.  This is too fucking early to be awake.”  Julia staggers into
her room and closes the door a little too loudly.  Her roommate, Erin, is
yelling at her to shut the hell up. 

While
stuffing some snacks and a bottle of water into my bag, Leah pops open our door
and sticks her head out.  She is one of those people who looks almost
perfect enough to get up and go.  Her long, milk chocolate hair, which is
just a shade or two lighter than mine, is pulled back in a low ponytail. 
Where my eyes are green, hers are dark brown.  She is beautiful, but these
days I am most envious of her relationship with her boyfriend.  They have
been together for almost three years, since the beginning of senior year of
high school.  He absolutely adores her and would never, ever cheat on her
like Jeff had done to me.

“What
the hell was that?” she asks through squinted eyes.

“Julia.” 
She really doesn’t need an answer to that question.

“I
love her to pieces, but that girl is a God damn train wreck.”  Leah comes
all the way out into our living room that we were able to make cozy enough to
feel just like home and curls up on the couch we filled with extra fluffy blue
and purple pillows. 

I
give her a small smile, shaking my head, and pull my backpack up on to my
shoulder.  “We won’t be able to change her so there’s no point in
trying.  She shouldn’t be going to those parties by herself, though. 
I worry about her.  Wasn’t Erin supposed to go with her?” 

“She
did.  She came home a little after midnight saying she wanted to go into
work for a few hours today, so she didn’t want to overdo it.  Julia didn’t
want to come home,” Leah yawns.

“Go
back to bed.  It’s only quarter to seven.  You don’t have class until
one today, lucky bitch,” I say walking towards the door. 

“I
will.  I just wanted to see how you were doing today.”  She looks at
me like she is afraid to say anything, but she also has to know. 

Turning
around to look at her before stepping into the empty hallway, I reply sadly,
“No tears before waking up.  That’s progress, right?”  Since meeting
Leah at Freshmen Orientation, we have become best friends.  I couldn’t ask
for a better roommate and neither of us could survive without the other. 
After this last month, she deserves a really awesome Christmas present for
putting up with me.   

She
sends me an encouraging smile and stands up to go back to bed.  “One step
at a time,
Lyss
.  One step at a time.  I’ll
see you around noon for lunch.  Text me if you get out of lab earlier and
you want me to come meet you before then.”  She blows me a kiss. 
“Love
ya
,” she calls out. 

“Back
at
ya
,” I say before closing the door.

I
leave the building by the exit-only door that is just around the corner from
our apartment.  The early October coolness is starting to set in,
especially at this early hour of the morning.  Pretty soon, I will need to
make the two hour trip home to get my winter coat and some warmer
clothes.  That wasn’t high on my list of priorities because I haven’t been
there since breaking up with Jeff.  My room was filled with unwanted
memories that would have to be dealt with.  Shaking off that thought for
now, I start up the dreaded concrete staircase that leads the way to the
academic part of campus. 

 The
trees are not quite ready to change, but it will only be a matter of a couple
weeks before they are beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red.  That
is one of the things I absolutely love about this campus.  It is
beautifully landscaped from the gates at the front of the property all the way
to the back edge behind the resident student parking lot where our apartment
building is now located.  The property once belonged to a member of the
esteemed Vanderbilt family back in the late 1800’s and some of the original
buildings, most importantly the Hamilton Building, still remain part of the
estate.  While there have been new buildings and structures added to the
campus, most of the architecture is carefully preserved.  It’s like
walking through history every single day.

It
doesn’t take too long to get to the Science Building, another original
structure to the property.  A small courtyard precedes it and is
surrounded by a brick wall which matches the exterior of the two-story
building.   When you walk through the wrought iron gate, there is a
path leading to each of the two entryways.  I enter through the far door
to my first lab of two for the day.  Physics.  Sliding into my normal
seat at the first table, there are a few minutes to get set up.  The
professor usually walks through the door exactly on time and not a minute
sooner.  For the first hour, he usually reviews the lecture from Monday
and answers any questions.  The labs for this class are usually straight
forward and never take very long, so he does this to help students who are
having a difficult time.  It doesn’t matter to me how long he takes
because I have the dreaded Cellular Biology lab next and it would be very
annoying to wait around here for any length of time for it to start.  Of
course, there is no review lesson for Cell Bio which I’m struggling to maintain
a C average in.  Most of the class is in the same situation as me, so that
makes me feel a little better.

Two
hours later, class is being dismissed and for me, it’s time for lab number
two.  As usual, I’m one of the last students to arrive.  My professor
knows Physics lab ends at the same time Cell Bio lab starts, so he never gives
me any trouble.  The first thing I notice when entering the room is that
my lab partner’s stool is still empty which absolutely terrifies me. 
There is no way it’s possible for me to do the experiment alone and get a
passing grade.  If this wasn’t a mandatory course for my major, I would
have never signed up for this torture.  Spotting me as I walk over to my
table, Dr. Willis looks up from his desk on the far side of the room.  His
very white hair and ancient looking clothes make me secretly wonder if he is
somehow part of the original staff that served the Vanderbilt’s.

“Ah,
Miss Adler,” he calls looking over his glasses hanging from the edge of his
nose.  “It seems as though your lab partner has dropped this class.” 
Holding my breath, a panic attack begins to unfold itself in my chest. 
What the hell am I supposed to do now? I don’t know anyone else in the class to
get help from. “That causes a problem, you see, because I don’t normally allow
for groups of three to work together and…”

“I’ll
be her partner, Dr. Willis,” an unfamiliar sultry voice says as he slides into
the empty stool to my right.  Turning to see who has come to my rescue,
I’m immediately stunned at the sight now sitting next to me.  Even though
I can only see his profile, it’s obvious he’s without a doubt one of the most
gorgeous guys ever.  From his dark brown hair tousled in that
I-just-got-out-of-bed-but-I’m-still-hot way, to his deep blue eyes, to his
muscular body visible under a long sleeved t-shirt, this guy is amazing and he
probably knows it.   

“Mr.
Matthews? Are you sure you don’t mind?  You normally prefer to work
alone.”  Snapping out of the trance I’ve somehow fallen into over the last
few minutes, I’m wondering why he would offer to work with me if he prefers not
to have a partner.

“Not
at all, Sir,” replies the hunk
who has now
turned all the way to face me.  While he was looking straight ahead was
bad enough.  Now that he is looking directly at me, I cannot help but
stare nor is it possible to form a coherent thought.  I’m nervously
thinking that my mouth better not be hanging open.

“Alright,
that is fine with me, as long as you agree, Miss Adler?” Still unable to find
my voice, I force myself to stop staring at my new partner long enough to turn
to the professor and nod.  “Very well.  Shall we begin today’s
experiment, then?”

He
clears his throat and holds his hand out to me, “Rocco Matthews.”  When I
don’t answer or reach out to take his hand, he adds, “If you’d rather work by
yourself, I can go back to my seat.” He’s pointing over his shoulder.  I
turn to look in the direction he’s indicating and see the girls behind us are
whispering and staring at me.  Instantly, I feel horrible because my
reaction to him probably seemed rather rude.  He pulls his hand back and
begins to grab his backpack that he dropped half opened on the lab table.

“No,
I’m sorry.  I’m still shocked over losing my first lab partner.” 
Should I tell him how I’m struggling in this class?  What if he recognized
that this class is too hard to work alone and he’s looking for help?  When
he is looking at me with those sapphire
blue
eyes, it’s actually a little hard to concentrate.  I have to keep
reminding myself how after the second failed relationship in my short life,
swearing off men is what’s best for me right now.  Besides, this guy is
way out of my league anyway.  “Look, I’m not the best lab partner.  I
suck in this class, actually.”  My brain decides without me to go for
honesty and makes me sound absolutely pathetic.

In
an instant, the one side of his mouth turns up into a mischievous, but sexy as
hell grin and his eyes brighten again making my heart skip a beat, or
two.  This guy is trouble.  “Well, good thing for you that I happen
to be doing awesome in this class.”  He winks at me and pulls out his lab
workbook and a pencil.  Following his lead, I reach over to grab mine, as
well, before he continues, “So, are you going to tell me your name or should I
call you Miss Adler?”  

That
actually makes me relax a little.  Sarcasm I can deal with.  I
remember to respond this time, “Alyssa.”

“Nice
to meet you, Alyssa.  Officially, anyway.”

Officially? 
What was he talking about?  “Excuse me?”

Rocco
begins setting up the equipment in front of us that was prepared at every
station by the lab assistant prior to class.  He really did know what he
was doing.  “We met last week in the laundry room.  You live on the
second floor, B-wing of the new apartment building, right?” he says nonchalantly. 

 What? 
This guy knows me and I have no idea we had even met before he sat down next to
me.  What happened to my plan of going unnoticed by anyone, ever again?

BOOK: Forever Altered
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Cambodia Noir by Nick Seeley
Play With Fire by Dana Stabenow
Bravo Unwrapped by Christine Rimmer
Lair of Killers by Will Molinar
Under the Bridges by Anne Forsyth