EPILOGUE Aaron's Turn

"Happy birthday, Aaron!"

"You're finally 21!"

I blow out the candles on my cake.

My birthday is the week before Christmas so everyone usually manages to come home and help me celebrate it. I go to university in New York City, so in a way it's good and bad.


Because my brother Wintar and his wife, Lira, also live there too.

Wintar is now a food and portrait photographer while Lira has her own two-star Michelin restaurant.

"I hope you like the cake," Lira says to me. "It's your favorite. Red velvet."

I nod. "Thanks a lot. But if you really wanted to make my birthday wish come true, you would have waited for me to grow up and be your boyfriend."

"HEY!" Wintar yells at me. "She's my wife! Get over it!"

"I had my first date with her before I turned four!"

Wintar frowns. "That's because you kept whining about coming with me."

Lira only shakes her head and starts cutting the cake.

"You'll find someone," she says. "Someone who won't look at only your beauty."

I lean back into my chair. "Yeah. Where am I going to find someone with a phobia of beautiful men?"

My mom hands me a slice of cake. "I met your father when I was out of college."

"And you're really young," says my dad.

Lira reaches for my hair. "You should grow your hair out."

I grab onto Lira's hand. "You just wait. I'm going to find a girl just like you."

Wintar reaches in. "Let go."

"Afraid of competition?" I say with a smile.

Wintar points at Lira. "She's my WIFE!"

Yeah, yeah…

w w w

A month later I get back to school after Winter Break ends and the new semester begins.

I head to my first class at nine in the morning. The room is small since it's a seminar. There is one table with about ten to twelve of chairs around. I take a seat next to some random girl. There's still ten minutes before class starts so I just keep to myself and listen to some music.

However, I only listen for half a song when I notice the girl next to me is shaking more and more. And just as I'm about to ask if she's alright, she suddenly stands up and moves two seats down from me and sits down again.

I smell myself.

Do I offend?


I'm lemony fresh.

In class, she sits in between two people and is completely fine.

What's wrong with her?

w w w

Two days later and back in the same class, I purposely come early and the same girl is already there. I take a seat next to her again. Everything is fine for the first minute and until her legs begin to shake. Quickly, her whole body begins to shiver and she immediately stands up and moves to another seat away from me.

What the heck!

At the end of class, two other girls try to chat me up to see if I'll help them study, but I tell them I need to go. I have to find out what's going on!

"Hey," I say reaching the curious girl.

She turns around. "Yes?"

Dark hair tied in a loose bun and she wears glasses. She has a few freckles here and there.

"I'm Aaron," I say. "From your class."

The girl nods. "I know."


"And you are?"

"Oh," the girl says with a small laugh. "Sorry. I'm Ciel."

I hold out my hand, which she waits for a moment before shaking. Upon making contact, she flinches.

"Can I ask you something?" I say trying to be polite as possible.


"Why do you keep moving away from me when I sit next to you?"

Ciel looks shocked.

"Don't worry I'm not asking you out or anything," I say. "I just want to know."

"Ah," Ciel says looking away. "I'm really sorry about that. I'm just uncomfortable when people break my bubble."


"I have really strong sense of personal space," Ciel explains.

"But those two girls sitting—"

"Just men."

"Oh," I say nodding.

Ciel stands there for a second longer.

"Um, alright. Bye," she says and leaves in a hurry.

Wait a second…could that be a phobia?

"Wait!" I say following her.

"What?" she says, stopping.

"I know how to help you!"

Ciel only looks confused. "What?"

I hold my hand out. "Overexposure! You'll get over your phobia in no time!"

Ciel looks at me like I'm crazy. "It's not a phobia!"

I walk closer to her and she takes a step back.

"No, let me explain," I say, but Ciel is already walking away.

"Overexposure is the best remedy!" I say running after her.

Ciel starts to run. "Not when it's by choice!"

I can't help but grin though.

She's the one.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you so much for reading! I'm also so excited to announce that VANDROPHOBIA now has 9 illustrations to accompany the story! (1 color cover + 8 b/w). You can read the story with the illustrations on Amazon Kindle! Check my profile page for more information and links!