The alarm clock blared loudly into Nick’s ear and he woke suddenly on an early Monday morning. He sighed and gently rubbed his eyes. Last night had been a late one, up doing his homework until the early hours of the morning. He was attending a local university, majoring in music production and technology and his dream was to be a musician. But here at 20 years old, he lived in a small apartment that he could hardly afford in New York City, and had never shown the world his talents and abilities. He’d never been much of a show off, but he had confidence in his voice and his passion for music. He’d taught himself guitar at a young age, and piano came naturally to him. Nick also learned drums and found it an amazing way to vent out all of his frustrations.
He rose out of bed and lazily opened the closet, putting on a long sleeved shirt and his pea coat. The pea coat kept him warm through these cold months, but every now and then, the sun would peek through the clouds and the air would turn warm. Today was not one of those days, though. He peered through the window shades and saw the rain coming down, quick and hard. He grabbed his school bag and quickly headed for the door because he didn’t want to be late for his classes.
As he arrived on campus, he saw many couples holding hands and kissing passionately and he rolled his eyes. Sure, he had many girlfriends in his lifetime, but he had never found ‘the one’. He wanted nothing more than to fall in love, and everytime he saw the couples that desire would sting him like a needle once more. He had two serious girlfriends before, and they lasted a long time. But he had his fair share of breaking hearts and being broken hearted. He fell head over heels in love when he was only 13. People assumed it was puppy love, but he felt differently, and the relationship lasted for 2 years. It was great while it lasted, but their love faded over the years as they constantly were fighting and he could see her changing in front of his eyes, so that December he ended the relationship. He had never seen her so mad, and he was mad at himself for some time too, but he got over it eventually and allowed himself to forget and move on.
That’s when he met Selena, a young, free-spirited, beautiful girl who was 16 years old at the time, as was he. They spent each day together over the summers they shared together and he was her first love. He felt so free with her and he could see himself spending the rest of his life making her happy. One stormy night when they were 17 years old, he made love to her in the old family barn, as the thunder clashed among them. The world felt just right, and everything was perfect. Then, a few months later, she met someone else. He could feel the distance growing between them, and she would make up excuses not to see him anymore. It was like watching a rose slowly dying and not being able to do anything about it. She ended up breaking his heart, and ran away with the man she met. He felt haunted, living in Texas, driving past the barn, and seeing new people living in her old house. He couldn’t let go, at least not while he was still there. So, he decided when he was 18, to leave Texas and move to New York, and that is exactly what he did. His parents lived in Texas, and so did his brother Joe, and his wife Savannah. His other brother Kevin, lived in New Jersey with his wife Danielle, and he would visit them occasionally since they lived so close. Even though both of his brothers found happiness, he still wondered if he would ever be as hapy as they seemed to be. They constantly reminded him “it takes time”, or “when you meet her, you will know”, but what was that supposed to mean anyway? He had thought Selena was the one for a good amount of time and it took him years to move on. Every now and then he questioned whether he really had moved on completely or not. He hadn’t had a girlfriend ever since, and he thought about her more than he should. Where was she now? How was she doing? Was she still with that guy? He hadn’t spoken with her in over 3 years. He wondered if the saying ‘time heals all wounds’ was true.
He opened the door to his first class, and held it open for a pretty brunette who was wlaking behind him. “Thank you” she said flashing him a smile and he nodded. Nick took a seat in the back, and opened the text book in front of him. His first class was the study of copyright laws. He glanced at the clock, this class would last for 2 hours, then he would have his next class, music production, and that would go for another 2 hours. Luckily, he only had classes 3 days a week. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He had two jobs in order to pay rent. Those two jobs including a part time job at the recoding studio he dreamed of working at, and a waiter for a local 5 star restaurant. He had to wear formal attire for that job, which he didn’t mind, but he hated the high class people who came to the restaurant. They all acted so snobby and were rude to him and the other waiters.
While he was attending the university, working part time at the studio, and working part time as a waiter, his schedule was crammed and he rarely had time to himself. He went to the university 3 days a week, then as soon as he got out of there, usually around 3pm, he would head straight to the studio and work as an assisstant to the music producers. Then, on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights he worked extra shifts at the restaurant because he needed the extra money. Living in New York didn’t come cheap. But during his free time, he did enjoy walking his dog Elvis, to the local dog parks and playing guitar and writing music.
People inspired him, in general. He was obsessed with life stories and it was like a big, fun mystery to him. He went people watching as often as he could, and tried to guess the different challenges that person might have faced in their life. What if that person survived cancer? Survived a tragic car accident? Was getting married soon? Was cheating on their partner? It was questions like these he pondered at the people he passed walking down the city’s streets. He was curious, and even though he might not ever know what these people’s lifes were really like, he was still always fascinated. That’s what inspired him most when he was writing songs.
His classes went by quickly, as usual and he made his way down to the recording studio at 3:30 in the afteroon. He wasn’t sure how he got the job at the studio, and he really didn’t do much while he worked there. His job wasn’t anything he dreamed it to be. Nick met the owner of the studio, Amanda at a local cafe after he had moved to New York. They chatted for a bit and he said he was majoring in music production and technology and was looking for a job and she just so happened to be opening a new studio. It was all luck that he got the job. But even still, he wasn’t doing anything involved with music while he worked there. He was only considered an intern, so they never allowed him to touch the stereos or control boards. His job is to update the record labels Facebook and Twitter pages, promote the label by creating flyers and posters that could be put up all around New York, and to check emails about events the label was involved in.
When the place was first bought out by Amanda, his first task was to help her paint the walls and set up the equiptment. It took a day or two and he was paid by the hour, so he didn’t mind it taking so long. He learned a lot about construction, like how to tile a floor, the correct way to apply paint to walls, and install shelves.
He walked into the studio and saw Amanda, sitting in her chair hunched over the control boards and computers, as usual. She glanced at Nick as he walked in, “Hey Nick” she said and smiled. She was a pretty woman, he woudl admit, but she was near thirty and too old for his taste. Ten years was a big age difference. She was always happy, which created a positive atmosphere everytime he came to work and he admired that about her. She had never been married, he assumed this because she didn’t wear any ring on her finger and he never saw any guys coming in here that were affectionate toward her. But that was all he really knew about her, and he was okay with that.
"Hello, hello" Nick said as he set down his school bag and textbooks on the bench.
"It sure is pouring out there today!" Amanda said as she was absorbed in the computer screen.
"It sure is." Nick said, and shook the rain off his pea coat, and hung it on the coat hanger by the door. He started up the computer he usually worked on and sat down, fixing his curls as he waited for the system to re-boot.
"So how were your classes today?" Amamnda asked, glancing in his direction.
"They were great, as usual." Nick said glancing back. He liked to imagine Amanda like a ‘mother-away-from-home’ since he rarely saw his parents these days. He made sure to call them every week, but phone calls only helped the sting of lonelieness so much.
"You know, someday, you could own one of these yourself" she said and smiled. "I believe in you."
He smiled widely. “That’s the dream.”
The band that was booked for the time finally arrived and came through the doors. “Sorry we were late, there was bad traffic in that rain.”
"I don’t wanna hear excuses, I wanna hear some music." Amanda said and pointed to the recording booth. The musicians took out their guitars quickly and the drummer went to the drum set already set up in the back.
He spent the rest of the afternoon checking on the Facebook and Twitter, replying to people with questions about how to get booked, and making phone calls to book more bands who needed to get in that week. He sighed and filled in names and phone numbers into the schedule book. It was past 8pm when he realized how hungry he was, and realized he hadn’t eaten since lunch. If you could even consider the granola bar he snacked on in between classes ‘lunch’.
"Go home, Nick" Amanda said. "Call it a night. You need rest, and apparently food."
He laughed because his stomach was so loud, even she coudl hear it. “Are you sure?”
"Yes, I got it from here. See ya on Wednesday kiddo." Amanda patted his back and he got up to grab his pea coat and made his way out.
When he reached the streets he realized the rain had finally let up, but there was still a harsh, cold moisture floating in the air. He cuffed his hands and blew hot air, rubbing them togeter furiously. All he wanted was to curl up in his warm blankets, his dog Elvis stretched out beside him, and go to sleep. Then he passed a Starbucks, with many people walking in and out. ‘Warm coffee’ he thought to himself, and made his way to the store. He walked inside and the line was long but he waited anyway. His fingers were red and numb so a hot coffee would be perfect.After he ordered, he looked around and there wasn’t one free seat to wait for his drink.
Then, he saw her. A young, beautiful brunette, sitting at a table with her drink clutched tightly in one hand. Her facial expression was worried, and she looked as if she had been crying. There was one empty chair on the opposite side of the table, and even though he didn’t want to bother her, he asked, “Do you mind if I sit here?”
She looked up at him and he noticed how strikingly green her eyes were. “Of course, go ahead.”, she said politely and wiped at her runny nose.
He took his seat, keeping his eyes glued to her the whole time. She was so beautiful, even through the tear stains he could see on her face. He was curious to know why she was crying, but he felt it would be rude to ask. So he just kept still, waiting for his drink, but more interested in her than anything else. They called his name and he went to grab his coffee. As soon as his cold fingertips touched the cup he sighed with relief and took a huge swig. The stinging hot coffee traveled down his throat and into his stomach and he felt warmer instantly. He knew he should get home, and catch up on sleep, it was nearly 9pm already, but he took the seat across from the beautiful, name-less woman he couldn’t help but admire. She looked about his age, and the youth showed in her skin. Beauty marks were spread on her cheeks and a hint of sadness in her eyes. He wanted to wipe the tears that spilled from her cheeks, and hold her in his arms, but he had to stop himself. He wanted to get to know her. He needed to know her.
"I’m Nick" he said, surprising himself, and held out his hand. She grabbed it and shook it.
"I’m Mona", she said and smiled, and the couldn’t help but smile back. He felt desperate after she let go of his hand. He wanted nothing more than to hold it again. To have her skin touch his.
"That’s a beautiful name.", he said and sipped his coffee to hide his smile.
"Thank you.." She said and her mind looked like it was wandering. "I’ve always kind of hated it."
"Why? It’s realy unique and lovely." He said and studied her body language. She played with her hands as she was talking, like she was afraid to look at him. As if her eyes were going to give away a secret.
"I don’t know.. I was always made fun of because of it." she said and let out a quiet laugh. She bit her lip, instinctively, and he watched her lips curl slightly upward into a smile.
"Well I don’t see a reason to. Your name is beautiful." he said, finding his way back to the conversation. "You are beautiful." he said shyly.
Mona looked at him, her eyes sparkling, “Thank you” she said and her eyes filled with tears again. Oh no, did he say something wrong? “You have no idea how rough of a night it’s been and you are making it much more pleasent.” she said and looked up, making sure the tears didn’t stream down her cheeks once more.
"If you don’t mind me asking, what’s wrong?" He asked, looking at her with a sympathetic expression. She looked down, and her bangs swooped across her left eye. He noticed the casual way she brushed them back, and her face turned serious.
"My friends kicked me out of our apartment. They are dropping out of school, and going to party in Miami, and I can’t afford to pay for the place by myself. I mean, I can hardly pay for the school I’m attending and I am too stubborn to call my parents and ask for money…" she said and he could hear the stress and concern in her voice.
"You can stay with me." he said suddenly. He didn’t realize he said it until after he did. He didn’t want to freak her out.
"Are you serious?" she said, turning to him in disbelief.
"Well, I sure as hell don’t want you sleeping on the street tonight. I know you don’t know me but, you don’t have to stay forever, just a night until you can figure out what you want to do..?" he asked, his eyes pleading.
She looked deep into them, as if pondering whether or not she could trust him. “You can sleep in my room. there is a pull out couch in front of the tv that I can sleep on.”
"Why would you want to do that for me?" she asked, questioning his actions.
He thought about that. Why was he doing all this for a stranger? He didn’t even know her. “I don’t really know…” he said honestly, but when he locked eyes with her again, he felt happy inside. “Maybe because I want to help someone out, and it physically hurts me to see a beautiful girl like you cry..” he said with all serious-ness.
She couldn’t help but crack a smile. Who was this guy and why was he being so sweet anyway? There had to be a catch right? “Are you sure?” she asked.
"Yes" he said, his brown eyes staring at her as if she was the only person in the room.
"Okay" she said and smiled. What was she thinking? Going to some guy’s apartment that she didn’t know? All she knew was his name? But he seemed so sweet and generous. One night wouldn’t hurt, right? They would even sleep in seperate rooms, so she had nothing to worry about.
Nick smiled widely. “Great, let’s go.” and he held out his hand. She grabbed it and he lifted her from her chair. Again, he smiled at the touch of her hand. They walked out of the Starbucks together, side by side and the sidewalks were covered in small puddles from the rain.
"So what kind of asshole friends would kick you out?" Nick asked, and she laughed a little.
"I don’t know. They weren’t the greatest people. I met them in school and they asked me to be their room mate. Since I had just moved out here and din’t know anyone else, I decided to stay with them… I did consider them my best friends, but I guess they didn’t think the same.." she said, gazing at the different buildings as she talked.
He watched her as they walked, “Wow, what a shame… People like that don’t deserve you anyway.” he said and she smiled. “So where are you originally from?” he asked.
"From the small town of Summerville in South Carolina. I lived out there for 18 years with my parents and siblings until I decided to move to New York for college." she said and smiled at him.
"Wow, I moved out here when I was 18 for college too." he said and her eyebrows went up in amazement.
"Where are you from, Nick?" she asked, and he loved the way his name sounded when she said it.
"I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas." He said. "But I moved here when I was 18 as well. It just seemed like the better way to go.. I had to get out of that town."
"Yeah I agree." she said."That’s weird how we’ve never crossed paths before"
"It is weird… but I’m glad we did now." He said and smiled sweetly. "So what are you studying at college?"
"I am actually studying to become an optometrist, which deals with the health of eyes, and vision. Basically like your local eye doctor, and my major is biology. They have me drowning in various science classes for the time being." she said, and he was fascinated.
"Wow, an eye doctor? That’s really cool." He said. "I bet that school costs a lot of money."
"Oh yeah, trust me it does. My parents are helping out a lot though.. They know this is my dream andthey are very supportive." she said and smiled.
"That’s really cool." he said and thought about how proud her parents must be to think their daughter is making a difference in the world.
They arrived at Nick’s front door, and he pulled out his key. “I wish I would’ve cleaned up a little more. I would’ve if I had known..” he started but she stopped him.
"No, seriously, don’t even worry about it. I’m so thankful you are even letting me stay." she said and he smiled and unlocked the door. Her eyes scanned over the apartment, and it actually smelled rather pleasent. You would never be able to tell a young man lived here if you closed your eyes. She looked around and saw a large, golden retriever sleeping on the rug. "Aw, you have a dog?" she asked, and walked over to it, petting its head.
"Yeah, don’t say that too loud cause we aren’t allowed to have them live here, but I do anyway haha" he said, smiling and she laughed. "His name is Elvis."
"Wow, what a cute name." she said and Elvis was rolling over and playing with her. Usually, Elvis didn’t like company, but with her, he was so calm. He liked to snap at people, or pee on their leg, but with Mona, he seemed to like her. Nick was amazed as he watched them play together.
"Well, this is the bedroom" he said walking to the closed door and opening it. He held it open as she walked in. "It’s nothing special, just a small closet, with a medium sized bed, and a desk haha, but you are welcome to sleep here tonight." he said and she looked at him.
"This room is very adorable." she said and looked straight into his eyes, her expression turned serious. He felt a sudden urge to kiss her, to feel her warm mouth on his, but he resisted.
"Thank you" she said, almost in a whisper, and very sincerely.
"You’re welcome" he said, his breath caught in his throat. "The bathroom is right down the hall, if you need to use it. You can use one of my shirts to sleep in, if you want." he said and pointed toward the closet.
"That’s perfect, thank you so much Nick, really. You are the sweetest guy." she said, her eyes beaming.
"You’re welcome." he said, gazing at her beautiful eyes. He couldn’t help it. She said goodnight and closed the door, so he walked over to the couch. Elvis came up to the side of the couch and Nick grabbed Elvis on both sides of his face. "That’s Mona, and she’s really pretty. She’s our new roomate" he said in his talking-to-a-dog voice. Elvis just looked at him with a weird dog like smile on his face.
Nick sighed and pulled off his coat, setting it it on the coat hanger, and turned on the tv. The news came on and there were stories about various crimes committed in New york, weather reports, and things like that. He pulled off his jeans and threw them on the floor lazily. Then he pulled his shirt over his head, and threw it onto the floor beside his jeans. He pulled a blanket over him and the news was boring him so he shut it off.
He laid awake, thinking of Mona and her flawless complexion, her bold, tender eyes, the way her bangs curve her face, and the way she smiled at him. He felt as if he’d been hit by a bus, or struck by lightning, but in a good way. Like nothing else in the world mattered at that moment he met her. He couldn’t wait to discover more about her, and learn about her life and spend time with her. He drifted off into sleep, thinking hundreds of happy thoughts about the girl who could wake the caveman from his slumber.