Prologue

It had been another work-filled day of grading math and physics assignments, just as he had intended. It wasn't until that late evening when Hugh Colin was finished with most of his work. There was still some time to spare, so he sat on the floor, attempting to read to pass the time. Although, as of late, his eyes would look a distant past, not truly being enticed by the words in the pages of the book at hand.

He let out a sigh, leaning his head back against his L shaped cream colored couch. The fabric was cold against his neck. It had felt pleasant against his overly warm skin.

His work was spread out on a glass table in front of him. It was a scatter of different piles that did not seem to have any organization to it if anyone else's had laid their eyes on it except his own.

Hugh Colin hadn't always been like this, at least that was what he tried to believe and told himself. Although, it had been far too difficult to convince himself as of late. To remember a different distant self. The bright grey-green eyes of his that had always attracted so much attention now held a more ominous shade.

Suddenly, an unexpected vibration of his phone chattering against glass, jolted his mind back to the present. He reached for it, and checked the screen. It was a message from an unregistered number. Only then did he realize it was nearly three in the morning.

"Hey…I know this is completely out of the blue. I mean, it has been nearly five years now, I think. Anyways, I was in the neighborhood and was wondering if maybe we could meet for coffee or something."

Five years? He thought to himself.

There was no name attached to that message, nor did he recognize the number. Hugh speculated it was mostly like a message sent to a wrong number.

Being nearly three in the morning, Hugh decided to give up on reading. He left his phone and the scattered papers on the coffee table as he called it a night. Hugh made his way to his bedroom on the second floor, tiredly dragging his feet with his hand slowly gliding on the rail, then into his king sized bed with gray covers and pillow, which was neatly made and free of creases as if it was hardly slept in. He was already in his sleeping attire of thin long pants and a plain t-shirt, which he got into once he had got home from the University for that evening. He got under the covers, feeling the coldness of the bed through his thin clothes. The coldness had always comforted him as if his body was always a few degrees too hot.

Just as he closed his eyes and drifted to sleep, an image of Rozalee burned vividly in his mind. The way she looked at him. The way she called his name. Hugh jolted up, and sat on his bed. His mouth was slightly open as he breathed heavily. Cold sweat dropped down his neck, sending shivers along his back, but his core burned and ached. With his eyes wide open, he felt completely mortified. Hugh shook his head, physically attempting to remove her out of his mind. He brought his hands in front of his face and rested his head against his palms.

Why? Why now? That message...

With a single text message, Hugh felt that everything that should have stayed buried, start to stir to the surface of his mind. It rekindled a hope. An impossible dream. Maybe it was her. Rozalee.

Without a second thought and against his better judgement, Hugh rushed off of bed. He pulled the door wide open, and practically flyed down the stairs with his hand trailing down the cold glossy wooden handles of the black iron rails.

The phone, its screen black, sat silently on the table.

With a simple touch, the screen illuminated. He slid to the message with swift movements of his thumb. The phone number of the message was still unrecognizable, but he tried to remember. He traced the number on the number pad with his finger over and over again, attempting to regain what was lost. He was still weak to his desires. How hard he tried to find a key to his past and the love that slipped through his fingers.

No.

Hugh had to let go.

The memories started to came flooding back.

But... What if she had moved on? What if she had forgotten?

Pathetic. It could be from anyone. He tried to convince himself.

He had left everyone he knew from that life behind, not just Rozalee. It had all ended up being too much for him to bear. Hugh had even deleted a few of numbers in his address book, especially her contact information to stop himself from acting on his temptations. Although, for the past five years, he had never changed his phone number.

The truth was, somewhere in the dark corners of his mind there was still a small ember of hope that she might try to contact him. However, she never did.

That night Hugh tried to ignore it and headed back to bed, restlessly. He collapsed on top of the covers, took a deep breath in, and then released it. He tried to calm his mind and heart, but, with his eyes still open and staring into the darkness, his brain was not letting him. Even when he closed his exhausted eyes and attempted to keep his mind empty as he concentrated only on his breathing, those nagging thoughts and memories lingered, taunting him. Longing slowly consumed him, causing his chest to ache. He toss, turn, and shuffle about in his bed. His eyes would open once again as he lets out a heavy sigh, just to attempt to sleep all over again.

When dawn came, Hugh, completely exhausted, had no desire of getting up. He laid on his back and stared at his ceiling. All this turmoil over one lousy message with no name. He turned to his side and stared at the emptiness to his left in his king sized bed. It had never felt so big and cold.

It wasn't the first time he felt this way, but it had been awhile since he really desired for someone to be sleeping right next to him. Specifically, Rozalee if possible. To feel the warmth of her body next to his. Her restful face sleeping beside him in his arms.

Not good.

He sat up on his bed and let out a sigh that resonated deep in his gut, which almost came out as a grunt.

There was no time for this.

With his hand, Hugh combing his hair back and pushed everything related to her in the depths of his mind, before he finally got up.

Life does not stay still for any man. He had to sweep all of his personal problems deep under his professional exterior, like dust under a rug, as he had always done.

He turned the cold metal doorknob of his bedroom door. The cold morning air sent goosebumps against his skin and stung his lungs. He squinted his eyes to the invading morning light with the faintest hue of blue. Leaving the door open, his bare feet threaded on the cold smooth wood floors towards the bathroom around the corner. Hugh stopped in front of the sink with his hands on either side of the vessel. Looking in the mirror, he stared at the face of a tired thirty-two-years-old man. His eyes were currently the color of light gray, but was weary and lack of life.

It was still early. Hugh turned away from the mirror to make his way towards the shower. He turned the water on to let it warm up as he undressed. When he stepped into the tub, he welcomed the warmth of the water as it hit his skin and flowed down his all natural swimmer's body. His body was fit and fairly strong, but he was no muscle builder with pecks and a six or eight pack abs.

As he stood in the shower, he would give anything to be in a pool right now, submerged under the water. To feel the current running through him.

When all was done, he checked himself in the full length mirror in his bedroom to make sure he had his clean and professional appearance, but there was no way to hide those tired eyes that aged him. His light blue dress shirt was nicely pressed and wrinkle free. He tucked at the cuffs of his shirt, to straighten out the sleeves. Looking at the nightstand, he headed towards it and pulled open a drawer. The thin rimmed reading glasses sat on top of another book he had set down and never finished reading. He picked the glasses up and placed it on. When he check the mirror again, the glasses hid his tiredness a bit. Approved of the fact that nothing could be given away by how he looked, he grabbed his necessities which were all neatly packed into a black shoulder case.

T-University was where he was got his Phd in Mathematics and worked as a researcher. It was a massive campus that could be easily mistaken as a gated off town of its own. Due to the frequent request of him to present, lecture, or even teach a few classes, led him to always dress in a professional manner. However, it wasn't his idea since he has never been a fan of talking in front of so many people, or creating lesson plans and lectures, but it was a necessity. He was under contract to lecture at least one academic term per year, and he did the bare minimum. His heart has always been more interested in learning and research than in teaching.

Finally on campus, standing in the courtyard, he looked at his stainless-steel skeleton watch. Its cogs shined a golden copper color and its hands were of a reflective blue. Pausing for a moment, he caressed it with his other hand, closing his eyes in remience.

No. Need to get over this.

He pulled away from it and checked the time. It was still early, so he decided to stop by the library to maybe pick out some new books to pull himself out of the slump he was in. When he entered through the automatic glass doors, he looked over his shoulder toward the bookshelves. There was a man was on a ladder attached to the bookshelf putting books away. The sight only brought back another memory that flood itself into his mind.

His brows furrowed and jaw clenched, as he hung his head. Gripping his hand into a fist - still trying to suppress his urge to go back - so tight, it, shaking, was near pale white as he stood by the entrance of the campus library, trying to shake off his past.

Stop this. There was the possibility that the message was not from her.

He let the breath he had held out as he held onto his hands to try and stop the shaking. Lifting them up to his face, his hands felt cold, like ice, against his forehead.

"It's getting colder isn't it," the clerk said. There was a concern look on the clerk's face. He was probably visibly shaking and looked fairly pale.

He looked up and gave the most reassuring smile as he could muster. "I've never been very good with the cold," he lied. Hugh looked at his watch.

Shit.

He was close to being late to his own class if he did not leave that moment. "I have to go. Have a good day," he said as he turned to leave the library in a hurry.

"See you again, Professor Colin," the clerk called after him.

On his way to class, he tried to get that message out of his mind, but a voice inside him continued to haunt him: What if….What if…..What if…..

He growled with frustration, but his heart and hands trembling with nervousness.