WARNING: This is a SLOW BURN. This is a love story that takes quite a bit of time to build. If you are looking to find instant gratification you will not find it here.
Angelo maneuvered into the line of cars leading into the four story parking garage. The wire mesh gates were lifted and there were tons of people pouring in and out of it. His sister, Yessinia, and his mother, Clara, were with him to help move in, though he didn't expect or want his mother to carry up too much stuff. He really hadn't brought much. Just his uncle's spare 23" television, the clothes from his closet at home, his laptop and some stuff for his bathroom that he would be sharing with three other roommates.
"Wow, there is a ton of people out here," Yessinia, noted from the back seat.
"Well, it's a big school," Angelo responded coolly, following the parking attendants as they held up flags to stop, then waved the previously wine colored Saturn in the direction that was okay to turn.
"Yes, it is," Clara noted next to him from the passenger. She was beautiful, with cream smooth skin and curly black hair. At thirty-eight she could easily pass for late twenties. "I think it might be too big. And too far away." After twenty-five years in the US she still kept a light Puerto Rican accent that Angelo barely noticed. She sounded worried again. She'd been trying to convince him the entire time he was deciding on colleges to go to the community college near their home.
"Well, they've got a really good psych program, so…" Angelo didn't want to bring up an old argument, especially now since he was moving in. There was nothing really left to talk about, and nothing they could do about it if there was.
The flag waver directed Angelo into an open spot on the first floor. They unloaded everything and headed toward the pedestrian exit of parking deck next to the car exit. His dorm building was the only one connected to a parking deck, though the connecting indoor hallway on the first floor was locked. There were four other buildings, at least in this area. Each of the front entrances were pushed in diagonally to the rest of the floors. A stylish black metal arch stretched from the center of the doorway to the underside of the second floor that must have been for support reasons. All four buildings were square in shape and separated by a four way intersection that was formed around a circular mound of green. It was a decent sized grassy area with a few benches Angelo noticed as he neared the dorm entrance. It was weird. He knew it was supposed to look nice, but it looked as though it was expected for the students to cross the busy intersection to get there.
He approached the very modern looking entryway and stood in line. Some of the students had placed their belongings in large neon orange bins, but they were ten bucks a bin that Angelo didn't want to spend. "Hall A" was displayed on almost everything, from the door, to the pamphlets; they were even on the side of the bins. Clara stood with her arms crossed, staring up at the ten story building. Yessinia was reading a sign on the glass windowpane beside the entryway.
Angelo looked around at all the students going in. Everyone looked so… mature. The girls looked amazing and the guys were well dressed. Angelo thought about his plain grey shirt and worn shorts and black converse. He'd definitely have to get some new gear.
They checked in at the front desk and made their way up the elevator to the eighth floor. When they got to his room the door was already propped open. Angelo had been holding his television with his backpack carrying the laptop on his back. Yessinia was pulling his load of clothes and Clara carried his box of bathroom supplies. Angelo walked into the room looking around. The dorm was actually set up like a really small apartment. It had a tiny living room that was immediately to the right after walking in, complete with a couch and matching wooden coffee table, end table, and a small shelf. A small dining area with a rectangular wooden table was on the left. The kitchen overlooked the dining area with a bar that wrapped around the sink, dishwasher, and counter space. There was a standard white refrigerator and a white stove underneath painted white cabinets. Angelo counted. There were four sets of cabinets. So two for each of them. Someone had brought in a toaster and a microwave that was unplugged sitting on the floor. On the other side of the kitchen was a door leading to a decent sized, white bathroom. Across from that was a closet. It was pretty deep and had a few racks inside, so maybe it was a storage or linen closet.
At the very back were two doors side by side. The one on the left, above which was a plain letter A (the other read "B"), had its door open. That one was also Angelo's designated room. He walked over to the door and stepped in. "Hello?" he called out. No one answered. "Hello?" he called out again while placing his television on the bed to the left. The one on the right already had its own pile of stuff on it, including an open black suitcase filled with clothes, a big black stereo, and some other electronic black objects.
Clara was right behind him putting the box on his bed. Yessinia propped the suitcase up on the wall.
"Well, this place looks decent," Yessinia commented. "Wow, glad I'm coming here next year."
Clara mumbled something in approval.
"Where's your roommate?" she asked, fists resting on her wide hips.
Angelo's shoulders jerked a mild shrug. "It looks like he's already here because he left his stuff in here."
Clara began unpacking his things and putting them in the restroom while Yessinia helped him find a place to put the television. Once it was up they hooked the cable plug from the TV into the wall but the screen remained black. They tried jiggling the cable and unplugging and re-plugging it but nothing happened. Thanks, Uncle Lucas. Angelo wasn't bothered. He could live without a TV. But after hooking up the lamp and switching it on and nothing happened there was a problem. It was already seven and though it was plenty light outside the room was getting darker.
Angelo sighed. "Well, I guess I better find someone to take a look at this." Yessinia began putting his clothes in the wooden bureau against the wall in front of his bed as he stepped out of the room and into the hallway. Luckily his room wasn't too far from the elevators and it was a pretty straight shot after leaving the elevator waiting room. Just a left turn and four dorms down. Across from his dorm was a room with glass windows taking the place of the hallway wall. Inside were two sofas and couple of comfortable looking chairs placed around a large flat screen television to the left portion of the room. On the right, three large round tables and two smaller square ones had chairs placed neatly around them. Angelo's eyes focused to the glass walls on the opposite side. He stopped walking. Transfixed on the view. Through the wall he could see the city on the other side and a rush of adrenaline and nerves ran through him. He still couldn't believe he was here. With his grades. With his record.
He walked down the hall to the elevators. While he waited for the doors to open two girls walked up. They were giggling and laughing about something. One was Puerto Rican and the other looked Ethiopian. The girls looked over his way and he smiled at them. They smiled back, the Ethiopian girl giving a very wide bright smile.
The door to the elevator opened and the three of them stepped inside. Once inside, the Ethiopian girl spoke. "Are you a freshman?" she asked wide eyed.
She shook her head, "No, I'm a sophomore. I'm Stacia by the way." She held out a slender hand.
Angelo lightly shook it. "Angelo. And uh…" he indicated to the Puerto Rican girl.
She looked pleasantly surprised. "Maria," she said quietly, wearing sweet smile.
The elevator doors opened on the ground level and they all got off. "Well, nice to meet you." The two girls smiled and waved as they headed right and left out the front door.
Angelo nodded and smiled back walking in the opposite direction to the help desk. There was no one at the counter. Angelo swiveled around, there were loads of people wearing burgundy Till State University shirts but no one even looked his way. They were preoccupied with the myriad of students still filing into the increasingly cramped entryway, trying to hurriedly get them checked in to ease the congestion. Angelo waited at the front desk for the attendant to return.
A pale boy with an upturned nose returned to the desk. He wore a burgundy shirt a bit too tight that read Till State RA in white letters. "Can I help you?" he said in a quick tone.
"Yeah, the electricity's not working in my room and-"
"Do you stay on the eighth floor?"
"Everyone on your floor seems to be having that problem. I assure you, we are working on it." He gave Angelo a quick grin and bent his head down to write in a notepad.
Angelo frowned, feeling like he was being handled. Raucous laughter caught his attention and he turned to investigate. Some guys had entered from outside. They weren't carrying any stuff so they were probably already checked in. They stood in the lobby area and talked loudly about something Angelo didn't necessarily care about.
The RA looked up again. He sighed, obviously annoyed. "Would you like me to go check the status of the situation?"
Angelo looked back down. "Sure," he nodded. The RA got up and went into a room behind the desk.
Prick, Angelo thought. He glanced back over to the boys. One of the guys was black, one was Asian, and the other two were Latino. The black guy was huge. He had height and girth. The Asian was skinny with what Angelo thought was a pretty cool haircut and colorful tattoo sleeves on both arms. One of the Latino guys was short and actually looked half black after another glance. And the other was average height with black spikey hair. They were all dressed fashionably.
The spikey haired one talked on the phone while the other three laughed amongst themselves. There was a troubled look on his face. It reminded him of the look his mother gave whenever Angelo made an important independent decision. A look of concern. And not just concern. A look of pleading that said 'I know there's nothing I can do to change your mind and nothing I can do to stop you but please listen to me because I care about you.'
The spikey haired guy hung up and phone and shook his head to himself. He looked up at Angelo and Angelo's heart caught in his throat. He froze. The guy slowly smiled and nodded at him. Angelo was still for a moment then nodded and was about to throw up a deuce when a guy came from behind him and the two slapped hands.
Angelo's face burned red and he turned down to the desk in front of him. The RA returned with a fake smile. "As I said, they're working on it now. It should be fixed within the hour." He gave a nod as if to say, please go away now.
Angelo glanced back over at the boys again. The spikey haired guy was talking to someone else. Angelo turned and made his way back up to his room.
By the time he got back to his door his heart was beating normally. He wondered what the hell that was about. There was something weird about that dude's eyes, they… startled him? Like looking into the eyes of a stray dog and you didn't know whether it was friendly or not. There was definitely something about his eyes.
He entered the room and there was still more unpacking to be done so he did that.
After an hour the lights were on, which was a relief since his eyes had begun hurting from straining them.
The light that came with the room itself was an energy saver light bulb and harsh on the eyes. He quickly plugged in his tall lamp from home and filled the room with warm yellow light. His mother and sister were sitting on his bed watching his small television on his desk next to the end of his bed, where it mostly likely wouldn't remain once school began. There was a knock at the door.
Angelo moved for the front. He'd closed the door for whatever reason it had been propped open. He pulled it open and the spikey haired guy from earlier was standing outside.
Angelo didn't stare this time. "Hey," he said. Up close he could see his eyes were a weird color, like gray or green or hazel. It felt like they were piercing into him and Angelo felt stunned by their intensity. He was very attractive. Angular features and flawless skin. His face devoid of any facial hair and the eyelashes framing his beguiling eyes were dark and long.
"Hey, you live here?" the guy asked, indicating.
Angelo paused taken aback by the question. "Yeah, I live here."
"Okay, great." He grinned making his cheeks pinch the corners of his eyes. "I'm Julian. Angelo?" He held out a hand.
"Yeah," he nodded and shook the hand, wary of the sudden friendliness.
"Yep. So… can I come in?"
Julian laughed. "I live here, too."
"Oh, sure. Here." Angelo opened the door and Julian walked in. The haze in his head lifted as he stepped past him into the dark room.
He plopped down on the couch in the living room and Angelo sat in the chair next to it. "Yeah, I thought you would've known who I was. I knew your name from the housing website. Angelo Jimenez."
Angelo laughed. "Yep and uh?" he indicated to Julian.
"Nice to meet you." Angelo smiled nodding and Julian smiled back.
Yessinia walked in from the back. "Hey, me and mom and are about to go-" Her eyes drifted over to Julian and widened.
Julian nodded to her and smiled. "Hi."
With a blush crossing her cheeks she gave a mechanical wave and seemed to fight back a smile. "Mom!" she called walking back to the back and returning with their mother.
She gave the same look of pleasant surprise. "Hola." She said to him in upbeat singsong. Julian stood immediately, crossing to where she stood by the bar and hugged and kissed her cheek.
"Hola, senora," he returned.
"And who are you?" she asked.
"I'm Angelo's roommate, Julian." He smiled at her and she blushed. Angelo scoffed at the nearly forty-year-old woman.
"Well, it's very nice to meet you."
Julian nodded respectfully. Clara gave a wicked grin, the beauty mark above her lip adding a hint of unintended seduction.
Angelo rolled his eyes at the scene and walked her over to the door. "Well, I guess this is goodbye, hijo." Angelo walked over to his mother and hugged her. He hugged Yessinia too.
"Do you want me to walk you down?"
"No, that's fine, baby, I know you're tired." In truth, he was. He'd worked a full shift before moving in today. There would be no way for him to continue work from now on, so he wanted all the hours he could get.
"Um…" Yessinia stopped in the doorway looking back at Julian. "I might come and visit soon." Angelo rolled his eyes. "Tan lindo!" she whispered to Angelo.
"Yeah, yeah. I'll see you guys."
Angelo closed the door and smiled to himself. A small part of him hoped she would. Though she'd probably get on his nerves. He turned to see Julian standing there, hands in his pockets. Angelo half-smiled at him and scratched the back of his head.
"Your family seems nice," Julian broke the silence.
"Yeah." Silence. Angelo noticed a glint at his wrist and noticed he wore an expensive looking silver watch. He'd noticed his wardrobe downstairs. Black shirt with tan pants and black Toms. It seemed simple, but everything fit him so well. There was a thin silver chain that was barely visible at the back of his neck, the rest hidden under the t-shirt. With his perfectly gelled hair he looked like a superstar.
Angelo felt compelled to break the silence. "My brat sister's a fool though. And she's only sixteen by the way."
Julian chuckled. "I don't do jailbait. And even though I just met you, I respect you enough to keep away from your sister. She's cute though." He smiled.
"I guess…" There was an awkward silence.
"So, have you met everybody on the floor yet?"
"Nah, I've been in the room all day. Unpacking."
"Oh, well. Would you like to meet some of them? I promise they're all crazy as hell." He smiled broadly. It was a smile that made Angelo feel small. The guy was confident, that was for sure. And confidence always intimidated Angelo.
"Um…" to be honest Angelo wanted to lie down. Coming straight from work to an hour long drive to moving boxes and lifting all that heavy stuff had worn him out. "Maybe some other time, I'm actually kind of tired." Angelo felt sort of lame for saying it, but at the same time didn't care. Not right then.
"Oh, alright. Um, just—I guess I'll talk to you later then." Julian moved past him and placed a hand on the door handle. "Oh, and um, we're having a kickback later… If you wanna come."
Angelo winced internally. The guy probably thought he was an introvert already. Angelo nodded absently. "Uh, thanks." Thanks? "I'm down."
"All right, I guess I'll come get you… You're gonna be here?"
"Okay then. Deuces." Julian turned the handle and left out into the hallway. In the two steps in took him to breach the doorway the tile floor of the entryway could've been red carpet.
That was so awkward, Angelo thought scratching his head. Yay, college. He turned and went into his room and shut the door, then buried his face into his pillow.