Nearly a month into the first academic semester at the local university, freshman Samantha Adams lay back on the lush green grass of the campus. When she had first arrived, she had been nervous coming from several states away to attend that school. She found herself falling more and more in love with the town. The locals were very friendly, in fact on her first day in town she made two friends who were now sitting on each side of her talking incessantly while she half-listened.
Kelly Madison—her roommate—sat twirling a lock of her blonde, shoulder-length hair around her finger, her green eyes shining as she spoke animatedly with Nelson Chbosky. Nelson laughed at something Kelly said, his blue hair falling into his brown eyes. Sam smiled before going back to searching for shapes in the clouds. She'd already found an elephant and a teddy bear.
As she zoned out on the conversation yet again, her mind wandered back to two days before when she'd come face to face with the most beautiful creature she'd ever seen. He had been walking with some of Nelson's friends. While Benjamin and Rebecca, who were dating, flirted with one another he had walked a few steps behind and observed his surroundings. She had been sitting against a tree waiting for Nelson when he walked over and pulled her cigarette from between her lips, putting it out. At her raised eyebrow, he'd taken her pencil out of her hand and scribbled on her homework. Then he walked away with a smile and she looked down. The writing had said: Come to the party on Saturday, I'll look for you. You shouldn't smoke. –Tristan.
She was pulled from her reverie when fingers snapped an inch above her face. She calmly grabbed the fingers and bent them backwards. The owner of the fingers, Nelson, cried out as Kelly laughed. Releasing them she sat up. "Sam can't come to reality right now but she will be back shortly, would you care to leave a message?"
"Yeah, she's a mean, mean girl to just ignore her friends like that and then cause physical pain to me. It's just not right and she should be ashamed!" Nelson exclaimed flailing his hands dramatically. Sam merely shook her head before pinching him, earning a shriek from him.
"Nelson you're such a girl." Kelly said laughing. She turned her attention away from them to a lone figure walking towards them. Jumping up and running over the person, she launched herself at them. "Baaaby!"
Sam heard Nelson mutter something about missing his boyfriend who was studying at ECLA in Berlin. "Be lucky you have someone Nelson. I have no one," she said looking at him momentarily, missing the impish look in his eye. He sighed and rolled on top of her, smothering her with a hug. "Get off of me!"
"You need to feel love. Feel the love pouring from me to you!" Nelson shouted as she poked at him. He laughed at her threats and gave her a wet, sloppy kiss that rivaled one from a mutt before getting off of her. "I wuv you snookums."
She laughed and sat up, reaching into her pocket for a cigarette. Placing it between her lips, she pulled out a match and lit it off Nelson's shirt, earning a scream from him. Shaking it out as she took the first drag, she let her attention fall to Kelly and the newcomer who looked as if he was attempting to thwart her attempts of sucking face with him. She couldn't see his face over Kelly's wild hair but she could guess he was attractive otherwise Kelly would have been throwing sticks in his direction.
"That's my cousin's cousin Nat." Nelson said sitting up as well. She choked as she inhaled and he thumped her on the back. "Yeah I know it's a little weird but I dated one of my cousin's cousins once. We weren't related and they're not related though, although I don't think that would stop her from trying to jump him every chance she gets. He has one of the funniest first names to me. His brother got the better name.
"His family has been in this town for generations, from the beginning actually. They were some of the first to set up home in the good ol' town of Bliss. Ever since then, every generation of his family has lived in this town for at least ten years. Most died here and if they didn't they had their bodies shipped back to be buried in the town's cemetery. Or rather the city's cemetery since Bliss is hardly a small town in the middle of nowhere anymore. But anyways, as you can tell they are old money and what they say is law."
"Why because their ancestor was among the first to set down roots along with the founder or because they're some of the wealthiest people in town and no one wants to piss off their family tree?" Sam asked flicking her fag angrily at the idea of everyone viewing this family's words as gospel.
Nelson gave her a strange look. "Down tiger, that's just the way this place works. It's like an unwritten law that's instilled from birth of everyone born here and learned by anyone new here."
"That's bullshit. I can't finish the rest of my college career in a place like this. What ever happened to standing up to the man and bringing him down to size? They put their pants on the same way that we do one leg at a time."
"C'est la vie my pretty, c'est la vie. Besides, not all of them are complete conservative bastards that see common folk as being beneath them. Benji was my first boyfriend." She choked again. "And yes, he is a good kisser. If I didn't love my boyfriend we'd be going out again. He's only bisexual for me, or so he says."
"Well fuck Nelson, you sure do get around. Benji who is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson of the town founder, the mayor's son, the dean's son, the local baker's nephew, the catholic priest's cousin, the high school English teacher's younger brother and Kelly's cousin on her father's side. Is there anyone else I should know about?"
"There was a very cute janitor when I was in high school who was only thirty. He had one of the nicest—"
Her hands flew over her ears. "I'm not listening anymore. Tell me more about Nat over there."
"He is very straight-laced and does everything daddy tells him to do. He's also very responsible and big on family. He's like one of the most eligible bachelor in this part of the country right now, so many celebrities flock here to meet him. If they're lucky, they have an uncle or cousin who knows them.
"Um…what else…very protective and possessive of his women. The few that he's dated might as well have had 'Property of Nat' tattooed on their forehead. Like I said earlier, he has a funny first name and only family can call him that to his face or girlfriend but he has to tell her that it's okay first. Everyone else calls him Nat. No one crosses him ever. He may have been raised to be the perfect gentleman but you do not want to fuck with Nat. He will cut you with the quickness."
Sam glanced down at her cigarette and noticed she'd nearly finished it. She pulled out another and placed it behind her ear. "Sounds fascinating. I can't wait to royally piss him off."
"You have a death wish don't you?"
"You said he was raised to be the perfect gentleman and a gentleman never raises his hand to a lady. Therefore I am fine. Besides, I smoke at least three fags a day. I'm trying to kill myself."
Nelson only snorted. She followed his gaze to one of the campus' oldest trees. Kelly was talking to it, or so it appeared to anyone just walking by. Upon closer glance, Sam saw that Nat was standing on a branch.
"They can't be going out can they, in secret or whatever. I thought she was with Thom."
"She's been in love with Nat since she was in eighth grade and he was a high school senior. Needless to say unless her parents can convince his parents that the relationship of their offspring would be a brilliant social move, she has no chance. Don't get me wrong, she loves Thom whatever he may be to her but Nat will always be her first love and regardless that it's completely unrequited she can't help herself when he's concerned."
"Gossiping again Nelson? I thought you learned your lesson last year." interrupted a smooth voice, its owner casting a shadow over them. The visitor sat in the little space between Sam and Nelson, putting his arms around both of them.
Sam took in his baby face and mischievous gray eyes. Despite the fact that he plopped down on the grass with her and Nelson, she picked an air of sophistication from not only his voice but also the way he carried himself. "Benji I presume, or should I say Benjamin. It's an honor I'm sure but I can't be brassed with humbling myself before you especially since you're sitting on my leg. Now tell me, did you come to snog Nelson or flirt with him because either way he'll appreciate it."
"Samantha!" Nelson shouted horrified and blushing as he stared at her. "That is not…that is…you are unbelievable!"
Benji only laughed and pulled her closer. "I like you Sammie. Anyone that can make my Nelson blush becomes one of my very best friends. Are you a freshman dear?"
"I sure am babe, what's your major?" she asked ignoring Nelson's shocked face.
"Well darling right now its business but tomorrow it will be English lit. How about yourself?"
"Chemistry, honey, there's just something about it. What about you Nelson? You've been awful quiet sweetie." Sam drawled leaning against Benji.
"Yes love, you've been very quiet. Why not five minutes ago I was watching you talk ceaselessly. It'd be different if I had my tongue down your throat but I don't yet so…what's your major?" Benji said teasingly.
"I'm undecided still bitches. There are just so many options that I can't possibly choose at this stage in my life. I'll talk to Robert and he'll help me decide, he knows me so well." Nelson replied looking Benji in the eye. Whatever reaction he expected from him it wasn't the kiss he gave Nelson.
"I know you better than that prick Robert ever will. You can't have possibly forgotten already that you are mine and not his as I am yours and not Rebecca's. Tell me that you have not forgotten already Nelson." Benji spoke with silent command that Nelson answered with what Sam could only think to be a possessive kiss.
She looked away, not quite comfortable with their passion and lit the cigarette from behind her ear just as Kelly stomped over upset. Sam watched as Kelly picked violently at the grass, sniffling every so often. "Setting the grass on fire would be so much more effective than what you're doing right now."
"I want Thom so just shut up unless you can tell me where he is Samantha!" Kelly snapped throwing a fistful of blades at her.
"Now is that anyway to talk to my new best friend Miss Graham?" Benji asked temporarily dragging his lips away from Nelson who was lying down again. He took the proffered cigarette from Sam's fingers. "Speak up now. Don't be shy we've known each other since birth Kelly."
"No I suppose not Benjamin. I offer my sincerest apologies Samantha. If you'll excuse me, I see Thom over by the fountain and I need to converse with him." Kelly recited as if it was a programmed response.
"If by conversing you mean fucking in the bathroom then by all means join him and be merry." Benji said dismissively waving her away.
"You are flamboyantly elegant Benjamin." Sam muttered with a smirk before speaking up. "You should be a politician when you're older; you sure have a way with people. I'd vote for you. I think you should start at that party this weekend with how much you love the minorities and show some love. I'll let you use me for the night."
"That makes you sound like a cheap whore." Nelson said and received two smacks to his head from Benji and Sam each.
"I like the way you think sugar," Benji speaking as if Nelson hadn't. "I'll need amusement at the party anyways and what better than to see the shocked faces of this town's brainwashed offspring. Besides I'm always looking for ways to piss off Rebecca. I don't even know why I'm with her sometimes she's just so needy! I just want to shake her and scream 'what the fuck do you want from me I'm not going to fuck you like crazy so leave me the fuck alone'. She should dump me honestly I'm horrible to the poor girl."
"Just like you're horrible to me?" asked a new voice that sent shivers throughout Samantha's body. "I thought you have given up your old ways Benjamin Matthew."
"It's amazing Nat dearest how your voice is so condescending but you really don't give a damn who I fuck just as long as I'm not annoying you with my problems. Besides, you're just upset that you had to fight off Kelly by yourself." Benji said with a cheeky smile. Samantha finally looked over at Nat and realized he was Tristan. "How rude am I, forgetting the introductions. Of course you remember Nelson and this is my new friend Samantha but we're going to call her Sammie."
He nodded in her direction, gazing over her head and turned back to Benji. "What are you doing today Benny?"
"I'm taking Rebecca out and then I'm going to have dinner with Nelson's family. Why?" Benji asked, turning his attention towards the fountain where Kelly was staring at them from Thom's lap. "Ah, you're trying to get away from Kelly aren't you? Sorry I can't help you. I must be off." He air kissed Sam, kissed Nelson and hugged Nat before walking away to wherever Rebecca was waiting for him.
Nelson watched him walk to Rebecca. "We're not doing anything Nat. I realize we're not your preferred company but we're free."
"Look I don't really care who I'm with as long as Kelly can't corner me or anything. We can go get something to eat or do something, I just want to put miles between us right now. I'm going to start walking to my car now. I guess you two can ride with em before you ask so we don't have to take more than one vehicle." Tristan said, the latter coming out as a mumble.
"You're quite the environmentalist aren't you?" Sam asked, noticing how he had yet to actually look at her. He grunted at her words and started walking away. She couldn't ignore the pang of hurt that stabbed at her heart as she watched him. She turned to Nelson. "I thought you said he was the 'perfect gentleman'."
"He is when he wants to be." Nelson said helping her to her feet. They began walking after him. "Don't worry. I'm sure he's just nervous about talking to you."
"Why? Is it because of my skin or am I just that ugly?" Sam asked feeling hurt and offended. "Maybe you should just go. I'd rather not hang around someone who doesn't even want my company and can't bother to look at me."
"I hate to say this but this is a white town. You don't see a lot of various ethnicities, especially African-Americans such as yourself."
"There's not enough African in me right now to say boo. I'm just as American as all of you. I'm just some shades darker than the rest of you."
"Not everyone was raised by cool parents like yours that taught you not to see color." Nelson said softly and Sam knew he was talking about his own. "Please come Sam. He might talk. I don't know but please come."
She sighed and walked the rest of the way to Tristan's car. She slid into the backseat and watched as they drove past the trees. Pulling up in front of a bar, Nelson went to get out of the car when his phone rang and the caller reminded him of a sturdy date. He apologized and ran to catch the bus back to campus.
Sam stared after Nelson pissed off before turning and looking at Tristan shyly. "I suppose you should take me back to—"
"I love you!" he blurted suddenly and she jumped. "I think I love you. I can't stop thinking about you. Every time I see you I get this really weird feeling inside and I just want to wake up next to you every morning."
She shook her head. "Is this a joke? No, wait, I don't want to know."
Sam got out of the car and began walking back to school. She heard his footsteps behind her but didn't slow down. Pulling out a cigarette and lighting it, she hoped to deter him but he just grabbed her and pushed her into the alleyway.
She opened her mouth to ream him when he took her cigarette and put it out. As her hand came up to slap him, he moved her back into the brick wall behind her and kissed her. She didn't want to respond but she began to do so before she realized it. When they pulled back minutes later, he kissed her cheeks, eyelids, nose and forehead before giving her another mind-blowing kiss.
She hugged him close to her messing with his hair. When he whispered against her neck, his warm breath normally would have made her shudder. This time however, she froze at his words. She pulled away as he repeated it again.
"Marry me Samantha Gabrielle Adams."