Catalina Rodriguez clutched at her sweater, pulling it around her. She was not in a good mood, and by the scowl on her face anyone could tell. Catalina's soft face was pulled into an intense scowl as she thought about the occurrences of the day. First, not only had she woken up late for her 9:30 class, but she'd also forgotten to bring her scarf and hat. It was a cold early November, having a high of barely 50 degrees. Her face burned from the cold wind and her long brown hair didn't do a thing to save her ears from freezing. After her morning class, hoping that she would be able to rush for a quick lunch then to be free to go to work, she was instead stopped at the entrance of the building. A calloused hand clasped her elbow and pulled her away from her exit.
Sighing in defeat, Catalina looked at her capture. Of course, it had to be Markus Albright, pianist extriodinair. It wouldn't be a good day if she saw Markus (note the sarcasm). Rolling her blue eyes, Catalina did a flip of her hair, and settled her eyes on Markus. When she first met him she knew him. He was the tall, lean type. His main goal at Berklee was to graduate the top of his class. He was the cocky pianist that had girls falling at his feet because of his talent. Catalina didn't like him before he'd even said a word to her.
"Cata, how are you?" Markus asked, keeping his eyes trained to hers. She'd taught him to keep his eyes away from her body. It annoyed and irked her when she was ogled at openly. Catalina took note of his easy question, deciding that her honest answer of: Horrible because I woke up late, forgot my essentials and now I'm seeing your giant nose, she thought she'd go with a simple answer. A generic answer, like: "Okay."
Markus took her answer without pause, moving onto his next task, "Do you want to have lunch together? You know, as a date?" Catalina simply stared at him before diverting her eyes away. She looked behind her towards the entrance, at the faces of the other students, towards the doors of classrooms and stairs. She was doing all of this as she tried to find a way out of this "date." Catalina was mad when she first saw Markus that day. Not only had he "dressed his best," but his "best" was an argyle gray and blue sweater, straight dark washed jeans and a pair of new black chucks. He'd put in some effort, but it wasn't enough. He looked like the epitome of the early "emo" kids. His hair was short, dark, and his glasses were square and black rimmed. The epitome of "emo kid."
"I can't, I have to go to work now," Catalina said quickly, looking him in the eyes. She prayed that he didn't see the flash of green that'd come across her eyes. You see, when Catalina even felt the slightest bit of guilt, passion or sadness her eyes turned green (if not for a second, then for the duration of the feeling). When she was angered, her eyes turned a vivid steel and blue. She pulled her large tote back up on her shoulder so that the books fit perfectly against her back and under her arm.
"Oh," Markus said, blinking at the small Latina in front of him. Markus was sure of himself that Catalina would agree. They had only ever had two classes together during their first two years at Berklee, but Markus was sure he knew her enough. Catalina was the loud but gentle type that was apprehensive of other people. He also knew that she was a solid C cup, probably a 34 C if he trusted his eyes enough. Markus had gone to the store to get new shoes to ask the girl out, and she'd denied him. To say that he was heartbroken was wrong. It was more or less that he was struck hard. His ego had taken a beating- never had a girl turn him down.
"That's okay, maybe next time," Markus said, hopefully, letting go of Catalina's arm. Catalina quickly stepped back from him. She smiled a small smile. She knew it was small because she could feel the muscles of her lips quirk up only a little bit. It was a sad smile, a pity smile, and both Catalina and Markus knew it. Markus sighed, "I guess not, huh?"
"No," Catalina said, elongating the word a little. Markus nodded and walked past by her. She didn't bother to run after him to apologize. She hated dating, and she'd thought he'd known that. She had made it clear when she came to Berklee that she was not, at all and in any way, interested in dating anyone. Catalina stayed clear away from the dating scene. She absolutely detested the thought of dating. She didn't understand the point of dating. It made absolutely no sense to her, and no male figure in her life had ever proved her wrong.
Catalina had come from a small urban family. Her parents were divorced, but she'd grown up with both of them. The two adults did not divorce until their two children were put a safe distance away from them in college. Catalina's older brother, James, was the epitome of the typical jock. He was tall, tan, good-looking, cocky, smart and a player. He'd also found himself and lost himself a perfectly wonderful girlfriend in the span of his entire senior year of high school. Once he entered college, James kept track of each and every girl he slept with. Mr. Rodriguez was the same as his son, but he was far more discrete about it. He also kept his contacts hidden in a little black book which had been discovered by the former Mrs. Rodriguez during Catalina's junior year in high school. James had just started his freshmen year at Penn State.
As Catalina hurried towards the "Philly Cheese steaks" stand, pulling her Penn State sweatshirt around her, she mumbled profanities. She saw a girl wearing a green dress and called said girl a "whore" for wearing inappropriate clothing during the fall. There was a couple and Catalina quickly pinned the girlfriend as a cheater, by the way she looked at other men. A gay couple walked by, and Catalina mumbled, "like oh my god, oh my god you guys," under her breath. Legally Blonde was the new gay musical on Broad Way, and Catalina had the unfortunate assignment to learn the damned musical for a music theory. Catalina spent the rest of her ten minute walk to the stand assessing people's choice in clothing and personality. She picked out the obnoxious from the silent, the cocky from the annoyingly modest.
"Fuck," she said, when a bike whizzed by her. The biker stopped quickly, next to the only free street lamp around. All of the others were taken up by other bikes or things of the like. Catalina turned her steel eyes to the stranger. He was tall, very tall compared to her five feet, two inches. Catalina noted his thick dark hair and his practically silver eyes. He was wearing a simple black hoodie ("Probably from Modell's," she thought) with slightly baggy jeans and a pair of old Addias. His scarf covered most of his face and his gloves hid whatever callouses (what lack thereof) on his hands. She couldn't tell anything about this guy. He was good-looking, from what she could see of only the upper third of his face. He was tall. He went to Berklee and he was in a rush. She watched as he put the lock on his bike before turning to her.
Embarrassed that she'd been caught staring, she quickly turned and walked up to the food stand. The heat of the ovens inside radiated and made Catalina sigh in slight relief.
Richard Greene locked his bike up, having a little difficulty because of his gloves. He'd almost run over one of the smallest girls he'd ever seen. She was barely over five feet tall, but he could tell she was a force not to be reckoned with. She had a fierce scowl on her face and she was muttering things herself. Turning around, he looked for her. Richard wanted to apologize because he had almost run her over. She was standing in front of a food stand that said "Philly Steaks," on the side he was standing on ("How could you sell Philadelphia Cheese steaks in Boston?" Richie, as Richard was called by friends, thought).
Walking quickly towards the food stand, Richard tapped the girl on the shoulder. She turned quickly and immediately their gazes locked. Steel-blue met silver. Richard's breath was taken away. The girl's eyes
were an intense and deep rich blue hue blended with strands of steel. The combination made her eyes look darker from a distance, but up close they looked almost fake. Richie prayed that he wouldn't say something stupid like, "Are you wearing contacts?" as he usually did when he was awe-struck.
And without fail he managed to say, "Why are you so short?"
"Excuse me?" Catalina asked, taken aback from the stranger's remark. He was towering over her, his silver eyes contacted to hers. She didn't break the contact, being one with too much pride to do so. She narrowed her eyes. That was that. Catalina had been debating whether or not she should start dating again, if ever. She promised herself: if one more guy does something irking, I give up. And the stranger in front of her had just hit a sore spot for Catalina. Sure, she wasn't tall, but she wasn't the shortest person in human history either. She'd officially given up on men and dating, forever.
"Ur, I, uh," Richie scratched the back of his head, then pulled his hair really hard. He winced at the self inflicted pain but paid no attention to it. He'd deserved it. He couldn't believe he'd asked her about her height. She was probably cursing him now, silently inside of herself. He tore his gaze away from hers, thanking God that his scarf hid the blush warming his cheek bones.
"Why are you so tall?" she asked, venom laced in her voice. She was glaring at him, he noticed when he chanced a glance at her face. She was only wearing a sweatshirt and he pitied her. Her nose and cheeks were red from the cold weather and he could only the top of her left ear, exposed because she'd pushed back her hair. He wondered if she wasn't cold, or if she had a bad morning. "You big ogre." He chooses the latter.
"Miss, your hot chocolate," the vendor called from the open window. Richie watched as the girl stood on her tip-toes to grab the Styrofoam cup. She dropped some money on the counter and quickly turned and continued walking on her merry way.
Catalina was having the worst Thursday on the planet. She walked briskly and as far away from food stand and stranger as she could. She'd be at FYE early for her afternoon shift.
"Hey, look, wait," Richie called, jogging towards her. Her brisk walk was fast, but her legs were short. She hadn't gone far from him. "I'm sorry. That was insanely rude of me, but my mouth just kind of lets loose. I can't exactly put a leash on it now and-"
"You're rambling," Catalina said, staring at the stranger blankly. "If you're going to ramble I'd appreciate it more if you did it to that tree instead of me," she continued, pointing towards a large oak next to them. Richie blinked, his mouth still slightly open, and looked at the tree, then back to her. He had no come back to that one.
"Well, I apologize," Richie decided to continue, "for almost running you over and for being rude."
"Apology accepted, if you leave me alone," Catalina said.
"No can do," Richie said. He'd been hit with an idea. He didn't know where it came from, but it seemed like a good idea. His class wasn't for another hour. He was just hurrying to find a good place to park his bike. He'd spend the hour harassing the girl, just to see why she was so gosh-damned angry and/or upset.
"Why not?" Catalina asked, glancing at her watch. She still had a good hour and a half until work started. It only took her ten minutes to walk to work from the exact place she was standing with the
stranger. She didn't want to be standing with him though. Her tote bag was heavy and she was freezing her ass off.
"You seem unhappy, and maybe you want to talk it out," Richie offered, cocking his head to that side. The girl scoffed at him, her upper lip curling up a little. "Venting makes everyone feel better."
"Yeah, that and warm places," Catalina mumbled, taking another sip of her hot chocolate. Richie heard her comment and looked about them. A cafe stood across the street from them. Taking her elbow lightly he led her towards the cafe. Catalina allowed him to take her, but narrowed her eyes at the cafe. It was a cafe that housed a lot of couples and potential couples. It meant it was a dating scene, and Catalina did not want to join in. Not that she was on a date.
"We're not going in there," Catalina said with finality. "And I'm not going somewhere with someone that I don't know anything about. I don't even know your-"
"Name? Look, we're finishing each other's sentences," Richie said, grinning at her. He wasn't smirking, and Catalina took him as the class clown type. "And my name is Richard Green, I'm in my junior year here at Berklee. I'm a Jazz Composition major. You can call me Richie, or Richard. Nothing else. Your name?"
As "Richie" spoke to Catalina, he steered her away from the cafe. He decided to ask her about it after introductions. "Catalina Rodriguez, I'm a sophomore. I'm majoring in performing arts."
"So, why didn't you want to go into the cafe? They have a great heating system," Richie said, looking down at her. Catalina was looking towards the public library. It was a quiet place where maybe he wouldn't dare speak too much. She headed there and Richie followed silently.
"It's where the dating scene is," Catalina answered honestly. "I don't do that dating scene. I hate dating. I don't see a point to it. It's completely and utterly pointless. You "date" someone for a year and when you think you like them so much that it's love, you're dropped like something unimportant. Dry cleaning, you're dropped off like dry cleaning, only to be forgotten."
"Just broken up?" Richie asked, listening to her. He opened the library door for her. Catalina assumed he was a class clown, manners, maybe a player.
"No, I haven't dated in two years," Catalina said proudly. She led him towards the non-fiction isles, where tables were set up for students to use. Only a few students were scattered throughout the place. Richie watched as Catalina took off her tote bag, watching as she smiled lightly from the weight being lifted off. She had a sort of soft, sweet innocent face that probably told a lie of her actual personality. Catalina was spunky and very opinionated.
"So why don't you like dating, like the real reason behind it all?" Richie asked, getting straight to the point after they settled themselves down. Catalina looked at Richie, eyeing him. He didn't seem interested, but then again he could also be a good liar. He was probably manipulative. She didn't feel comfortable answering his questions. She'd never really had to explain herself to anyone that far. Her friends had accepted her "it's pointless" answer and moved on. Her best friend didn't need her to say anything out loud, and her family didn't know a thing about her decision. She hadn't realized how personal the question was.
"I've never had a good impression of the male species," Catalina said, after a few long moments of silence. Richie nodded his head slowly. He'd removed the scarf and gloves. He had callouses along his
finger tips, maybe from piano. His face was anything but ugly. He was practically perfect looking. He had an infectious smile, and the smile made the skin around his mouth crease. His nose was straight and perfectly proportioned ("I'd totally go out with him if going out wasn't the same thing as dating," Catalina thought to herself, chuckling silently).
"If you give me a chance, I bet I could give you ten solid reasons why dating is good for you," Richie said, a challenge evident in his eyes. Catalina narrowed her eyes at him, slowly taking a drink at the same time. She had to be careful not to spill anything on herself. That would have made the perfect ending to a bad day.
"I don't date," Catalina said, as if it was answering Richie's question. Richie rolled his eyes at her, sighing loudly and dramatically. Maybe he was an actor, a theater major (but he couldn't have lied about his major, right?). Richie shook his head and looked around the library. It took him a solid eight minutes to finally saying something.
"Come with me," he said, taking her slender wrist in his hand before dragging her down the rows of books. Catalina hastily left her hot chocolate and tote bag on the table. She prayed that no one would steal anything in her bag. There was nothing worth stealing, to be honest. Her cell phone was in her pocket, she didn't carry a wallet and the only thing of value would be her TI-84 Silver calculator she'd treated herself to freshman year. Richie led Catalina through various rows of books. They went by all of the nonfiction before he led her up towards the stairs, where it led to the fiction books. Up there they immediately turned towards the wall where the covers were covered with cursive, flowers and colors. He'd taken her to the romance section.
"Reason number one, love," Richie said, extending his hand out as if he were introducing Catalina to the books. "None of these books were written without the authors having gone on at least one date. Each one experienced different love lives. Each one learned about love from another human being. Each one loved, and each one wanted to love. Everyone wants to love."
Catalina was only 10 convinced that dating worth it after Richie's little show.
"Are you going to give me a chance?" Richie asked, raising an eyebrow at her. He kept her small wrist in his hand, liking the feeling of her pulse on his palm.
"Why not," she sighed, giving up. It couldn't hurt, right? Not as much as before, because she really wasn't going to fall in love.
Message from the authors: Hey guys. This is our first joint story. We hope you guys enjoy. We do not own any major labels or products that you'll find in this and other stories. We only own plots, characters and all of that writing jazz (and all that jazz).