Disclaimer: I don't own anything recognizable in this story, save for the characters, which I'm sure most of you know from its prequel. The song lyrics I am using for story and chapter titles are pulled from Fastball's Out of My Head, which was this story's inspiration. All events and plots weaved in to this story belong to me, though, and if you recognize this plot as a rip-off of someone else, please contact me immediately.
The crisp air of an autumn afternoon was one of Hayden Masterson's favorite things about New Haven, Connecticut. Her senses were filled with every impending hint that winter was just around the corner. The leaves on the various styles of trees framing each sidewalk she treaded across were in the process of color transformation, leaving their wake in beautiful shades of crimson and amber. The breeze was cooler; the perfect degree of tranquility. Fall always had been her favorite season, though, so it was just possible she was a little bit bias and optimistic.
Yes, fall was definitely her favorite season. Winter…well, she didn't like snow, but she had to admit it was nice to wake up and find a blanket of glittering flakes all around the Yale University campus. And drinking a large glass of hot chocolate in front of one of the fire places while studying wasn't the worst thing to endure.
Spring mornings spent underneath a large oak tree in the middle of a quad was like heaven. The flowers were positively sensational and conversing with her friends while walking along the sidewalks kept a permanent smile latched onto her face. Of course, many of the afternoons were spent sitting at a table in the library, working on term papers and assignments.
Hayden didn't know about New Haven summers, seeing as how she was in her freshman year at Yale. She wouldn't know about them at all this year, hopefully. She had more, if possible, exciting endeavors on her plate during the summer months that didn't involve Connecticut, Chicago, or anywhere else in the United States. She would be going to Rome, Italy on a unique type of vacation if all went as planned.
The past few years had been nothing short of uplifting for Hayden. Since the day her fist met Mary Anne Lewis' fake nose, her days had been brighter and fuller. She'd finally stood up for herself, and given people reason to want to be around her. With the newfound confidence she'd gained, Hayden found trustworthy friends fast, and a new place in her high school. Where Mary Anne's popularity struggled, Hayden's flourished. She even found a nice boy to escort her to the Winter formal; albeit, she was a bit wary to accept his invitation. But, the night turned out well, and she received a sweet peck on the cheek underneath some mistletoe.
Fastening the last button on her light green jacket, Hayden took in a deep breath and made way out of the English department and exited the building. Turning to her left, she focused her attention on a short girl with dark auburn curls.
"Why don't we just meet up at The Grounds around seven?" the girl suggested, handing Hayden a blue folder.
Hayden flipped through the questionnaire sheets inside of the folder and nodded her head. "I'll call Dr. Wexlon and let her know. She's really excited about this interview, Stace."
Stace, otherwise known as Stacey Hilton, smiled and reached into her bag for her keys. "We were just lucky to contact her before anyone else from the class could. This'll make my grade if we do it right. Hayden…she's like…a celebrity!"
"Not quite," Hayden laughed. "I don't think doctors are considered celebrities, no matter how well-known they are."
"It was really nice of your dad to call her up for us," Stacey remarked, twirling a lock of hair around her finger like she usually did. Their final for English consisted of an in-depth essay about critical thinking and its pros and cons in the lifestyle of this century. Having a person like Dr. Wexlon, a world-renowned psychiatrist, as a source for their paper would immensely help their grade.
Hayden smiled, remembering the notorious phone call she made to her dad a month ago asking him to contact Susan. Not only did he call Dr. Susan Wexlon for her, he also informed Hayden of a scholarship opportunity Awareness Magazine would be establishing to qualified students at NYU. Explaining the interesting details, he mentioned ten would be selected at a sophomore-or-higher level to look for a certain artifact said to be located in Rome, Italy. While she knew the contest didn't apply to her, Hayden couldn't help but be intrigued. She'd been interested in archeology for quite some time now, and was even considering proclaiming it as her major. To be part of something like that would be incredible.
"He was happy to do it," Hayden replied. Working freelance had really helped John Masterson make connections, and meet new, impressive people. "Dr. Wexlon and he are quite close; that's what he told me, at least."
"Well," Stacey said, slowing as they neared the point where the two would part. "Really, thank your dad for me. This is awesome."
"I will," promised Hayden, putting the folder in her bag.
"See you tonight," Stacey waved her hand as she began walking away. Hayden returned the wave and meandered towards her dorm.
After walking up the three flights of stairs to reach her room, the sound of muffled classic rock loomed closer and closer with every step Hayden took. She couldn't hold back a fond chuckle. She always knew which room was hers, if only from her roommate's tendency to play her music at a ridiculously loud.
Opening the door, Hayden first went over to the CD player in the corner of the room, and then looked over at her roommate and best friend, Ginger Adams, who was lounging on her bed and flipping through some beauty magazine. Once Hayden turned down her music, Ginger peaked up from the article she was reading and grinned.
"One of these days, you'll appreciate the depth of the music at that volume," Ginger said as her way of greeting.
"I prefer my eardrums intact, thanks," Hayden said, putting her stuff down and throwing herself lazily on her butterfly chair by her desk.
Ginger turned on her side and stared over at Hayden, who had begun to check her email.
"Any word on Rome, yet?" Ginger asked.
Hayden looked over at Ginger. "Nothing yet…I hope my dad calls me back soon, though. Time's running out."
"I don't see why they wouldn't let you come along…you probably know more about everything than any of those NYU students," Ginger said fondly. Hayden smiled, not for the first time immensely grateful that fate had placed Ginger as her roommate. At five foot seven inches, with gorgeous blonde hair and an amazing complexion, Ginger Adams was nothing short of beautiful. With her charismatic and pleasant nature, she and Hayden hit it off straight from the start. They complimented each other. Where Ginger was talkative and outgoing, Hayden was shy and observant. When Ginger got carried away in any aspect of her life, which was often, Hayden was there to level her head; and when Hayden became too reclusive and withdrawn, Ginger dragged her out to campus parties and socials.
"That's nice to say, but I don't think even that could bend the rules for me," Hayden said, clicking a letter open.
Ginger shrugged and muttered something to herself about the injustice of the contest before looking back at her magazine. The two sat in silence for a moment until Hayden let out an excited squeal.
Ginger looked up. "What is it?" she asked.
"Jamie and Jeff," she explained. "They'll be coming to pick me up when school lets out for the year."
"Oh, cool," Ginger smiled.
"It says here they're already out for their summer break," Hayden read, unable to fight the grin from overtaking her face. She laughed excitedly, "And they're bringing Billy along, too."
"That's quite a drive for a toddler," Ginger said. "Don't you think he'll be bored?"
"You don't know this kid," Hayden said. "He can keep himself occupied for hours on end." She turned back to the computer, beginning a response to Jeff to let him know what day her break began. Once she finished, she turned around to look at Ginger again.
"I think I'm gonna go get some food. Are you hungry?" she asked.
Ginger sat up. "Yeah. Hang on; I'll come with. I just need to clean myself up a bit."
Hayden leaned back in her seat. "See you in a few hours," she joked, closing her eyes.
Ginger lightly slapped her shoulder. "Hey! I don't take more than forty-five minutes, tops."
Hayden snorted and smiled, not opening her eyes until she heard Ginger head out of their dorm room, assumedly towards the girls' shared a few doors over. She rested in her chair for a few moments before deciding to change clothes and brush her hair.
Pulling on a jean skirt and a striped polo shirt, Hayden allowed herself to wonder how her dad's request for her to accompany him was received. They discussed it, and John let Hayden know that if they did allow her to come as his assistant, she wouldn't be qualified for the scholarship included. Hayden assured her dad that the only thing she expected to gain if she went was the experience and knowledge that the trip provided.
Just as Hayden began to touch up her mascara and neutral-colored eye shadow, her phone began to ring. A smile crept to her face after she read the caller-id and she answered with a cheery, "Hey."
"Hello, sweetheart," an affectionate voice answered. "How are you?"
"Not bad," she replied to her boyfriend of ten months, Brandon Mathews. "I miss you, though."
"I miss you, too," he answered with a sigh. "But," he began in a brighter tone, "guess what?"
"I have some outstanding news. I was selected as one of the contestants for the Awareness Magazine scholarship opportunity."
"Really?" Hayden exclaimed.
"Yeah," Brandon laughed.
"You're going?" she grinned.
"Oh, Brandon! Wow!" Hayden gushed. "That's so great. Congratulations." She wasn't too surprised, though. Brandon was incredibly intelligent. They first met when she was visiting her dad last summer in New York City, where John ended up again purchasing a home a few months prior. Brandon had published a book last summer, and John Masterson was the assigned photographer for an interview. Hayden had come along after John promised her the interview wouldn't take long, and that they could grab lunch afterwards. They were introduced, and Brandon spent the better half of the interview talking to Hayden. It annoyed both her dad and the reporter, but Hayden knew her dad well enough to know that he was more irritated by the fact that Brandon wasn't taking the interview seriously instead of some boy brazenly hitting on his daughter.
"Thank you," he said. "Have you heard from your father yet?"
"No," Hayden sighed, chewing on her thumbnail distractedly. "I hope he calls soon…it'd be so great to come, especially now that you'll be there."
"Well, either way, I'll see you in a few weeks," Brandon said optimistically.
"Yeah," Hayden smiled. Ginger chose that moment to stumble—literally—into the room, pulling on a purple stiletto heel as she gripped the doorknob for support.
Hayden turned, stifling a laugh at Ginger's clumsiness. "I should probably go…I'm gonna call you tonight, okay?"
"You're 'going to' call me tonight," Brandon corrected her choice of grammar. "And, alright," he said, the sound of papers shuffling as background noise. He was probably working on his homework while he talked to her. "I'll be in my dorm room all night. Inspiration struck."
"Great," Hayden chirped happily. "Well, you keep on writing, and I'll talk to you later."
"Bye," Hayden whispered affectionately, smiling down at her shoes.
"How's lover-boy doing?" Ginger asked, not even needing to ask who she was talking to. "And, please tell me, how many times did he correct your grammar?"
Hayden shot Ginger an exasperated look before saying haughtily, "Only once…what do you have against Brandon, anyways?"
"I dunno," Ginger mused, shrugging. "There's just something about him…oh, right! He's a pompous ass."
"Har har har," Hayden fake-laughed, twirling her keys around her fingers. "Funny. Now, let's go. I'm starving."
Ginger nodded bubbly and bounced out of the room, leaving Hayden to close and lock the door behind them.
Later that night, Hayden and Stacey were seated at a table in The Grounds, an elegant café not too far from their campus. Already sipping from their mugs, both girls kept averting their eyes towards the entrance, nervous and slightly impatient.
Stacey looked down at her watch, which read 7:15. "Where is she?" she asked in a low, quiet tone to match the general, hushed atmosphere of The Grounds. "She's fifteen minutes late."
For the second time that night, Hayden shot their waitress a small, assuring smile. She absently fiddled with the soft, sheer scarf tied around her neck and skimmed the café. "She'll be here. Since when are doctors ever on time?" she joked. Stacey cracked a ghost of a smile.
A single bell chime sounded in the café, catching Hayden's eye. She sighed in relief and stood. "She's here."
Dr. Wexlon unfastened a few buttons on her coat as she glanced around. The dim, overhead lights of The Grounds brought out the silver hue of her hair, which was pulled back into a sophisticated bun. She was dressed neatly and proper, and Hayden had a feeling that even if she didn't know what the older woman looked like, she still would have recognized her.
Hayden approached her slowly and their gazes met. With a polite smile on her face, Hayden held out her hand and said, "Dr Wexlon? Hi, I'm Hayden Masterson. Thank you so much for agreeing to come tonight."
Dr. Wexlon smiled amiably and shook Hayden's hand with a firm grip. She was definitely a woman that seemed to silently demand respect. "Lovely to meet you, Hayden. Your dad speaks quite highly of you," she spoke with a faint trace of a British accent. "I'm very sorry I'm late; the traffic was atrocious."
"Oh, of course," Hayden gushed, slightly intimidated by the daunting aura the woman held. Indicating their table with her hand, she guided the older woman as she said, "We're seated over there." While she spoke, Hayden also caught their waitress' eye and silently called her over.
After Dr. Wexlon placed her order and was introduced to Stacey, they got down to business. Hayden pulled out her questionnaire/interview sheet, and Stacey brought out her black recorder. After about ten minutes, Hayden's phone rang. She sighed quietly and considered ignoring it, but Dr. Wexlon insisted she answer it.
Hayden reached for her phone and said softly, "I'm so sorry. Excuse me, please." She stood and walked to a secluded corner and answered. "Hello? Oh, dad, hi. Um, can I call you back? I'm meeting with Dr. Wexlon right now and…what?" Her eyes bulged.
Dr. Wexlon and Stacey looked up from their conversation when Hayden took her seat once more, a large, toothy smile practically cracking her face in two.
"Bad news?" Stacey joked with a small giggle.
"Far from it. I'm going to Rome!"
A/N: Well, there's the first chapter for ya. I hope you enjoyed it, and sorry if it seemed a little awkward or strained- this was a little difficult to construct.As usual, I didn't look this over too much, so I apologize for grammar/spelling mistakes.
She's quite different, Hayden is, eh? More talkative, and whatnot. And happier. For anyone who's missing him, Noah's debut will come in a few chapters. Also, I want to make it clear that this story will be far different from It's Snowing Again, in that if all goes as planned, this will be more action-oriented, with a fair amount of romance-y fluff.