The next morning, Mia woke up disoriented and with a pounding headache. Had last night really happened? She had fallen asleep almost immediately after her conversation with Leo. Must have been all the adrenaline rush. She glanced at the clock next to her bed suddenly remembering it was Friday. 8:20am. Better hurry up.
She jumped in the shower and noticed a few bruises on her arms and legs. Unfortunately, it had been real. Very real. After inspecting them for a few moments, she decided it was best to not look at them and quickly got out of the shower and toweled.
She looked in the mirror and couldn’t recognize the reflection she saw. She looked like a train wreck. Her light brown eyes seemed too excited, her face was pale white, and her expression was somber. Her usual straight dirty blond hair was an absolute mess of tangled knots. But what bothered her the most was a huge bruise crossing her left cheek.
Great. Last thing I need is people asking questions, she thought.
She didn’t want anyone finding out about what happened, and she certainly didn’t want to be the center of attention or any gossip. She pulled out a bag from the vanity and found some concealer hidden at the bottom. She hardly ever wore makeup but today was going to be one of those necessary occasions.
She quickly finished dressing and ran out of her apartment building, only to freeze at the glorious sight in front of her.
“Good morning, sunshine.” Leo was casually standing in front of his dark blue Peugeot Coupe, leaning back on the door with his arms folded, looking like the James Dean picture on the notebook in her bag, sans the leather jacket. It had been the cheapest one she found at the store and couldn’t help buying it when she had come across it.
“Leo, what are you doing here?”She tried to keep her tone casual, but instantly recognized it was a pitch higher than usual. I hope he didn’t notice that, she thought to herself.
She refocused on the enticing image in front of her, trying to remain calm.
“I thought I’d give you a ride to school. Didn’t want to see someone trying to abduct you or something. Qué dices?”
Mia started to mumble. “I … uh … don’t think something like that is quite possible two days in a row, but I guess I better not take my chances.”
“My thoughts exactly. Shall we?” Leo escorted her to the other side of the car and opened the door for her. With one hand he motioned for her to get in. “Your carriage awaits, señorita.”
Could he be any dreamier?
As Mia sat down taking in her surroundings, she noticed two cups of coffee set in the cup holder next to her. The aroma emitting from them could not have been any sweeter.
Leo soon joined her in the car and started the ignition. “I took the liberty of getting coffee on the way. I hope you like lattes.”
“Are you kidding? This is amazing. I’m usually running towards the bus stop in the mornings and getting smushed between strangers. Usually smelly ones, I might add.”
Leo chuckled at her comment. “I know what you mean… nothing like a smelly stranger huh?”
“Exactly.” Mia settled in the leather seat. She took a sip of her coffee and instantly felt like she was in heaven. “Now this I could get used to,” she sighed. “I swear I feel like freaking royalty right now.”
Leo chuckled again this time with a slight grin on his face. “I’m glad you feel that way. But you haven’t seen anything yet.”
“Ha, ha. I probably sound like a cheap date right now.”
“Far from it. But speaking of which, I actually have something for you.” Leo pulled into a parking lot near school. How did they get there so fast?
“En serio? What is it?” Mia tried to contain her excitement again. Damn giddy schoolgirl.
“You’ll see.” Leo killed the ignition and got out of the car. Mia was stunned for a moment and before she could collect her belongings, he was at her side again opening the door and offering his hand. She took it only to feel a tingly feeling at his touch and dropped it just as quickly. Since when did she have these weird bodily reactions?
As they approached the school entrance, he handed her a small white envelope. “Open it,” Leo encouraged. Mia shot him a curious look before smoothing her fingers over the envelope and finding some tickets inside. She pulled them out and read over their contents. Once, twice, even a third time. She stood motionless at the sight.
“Leo, what … no entiendo,” she finally said.
“Which part? It’s the last favor I’m collecting from you,” he explained. He looked back at her, and his expression turned worried.
There were so many different emotions going through her, she couldn’t quite keep up with what she was feeling. She gave up after a moment, and they continued walking upstairs towards the classrooms. It wasn’t until they reached the top that she spoke again.
“This is hardly a favor. A favor is when your roommate asks you to go pick up her annoying cousin at the airport because she’s too lazy to do it herself and then getting stuck in traffic for two hours. This hardly amounts to that kind of torture. These are Kings of Leon tickets for crying out loud!”
“Well … if a torturous evening is what you want, that can certainly be arranged.” A huge grin spread over Leo’s face as he playfully tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
Mia’s jaw dropped for a second. She was pretty sure her heart had skipped a beat too. “Leo, you’re too much!” She playfully hit him in the shoulder.
“Okay, so maybe just a little torture. We’ll talk about it later, okay? I gotta run to class. Catch you later, sweetness.”
Before she could protest, he quickly kissed her forehead and spun on his heels. Mia watched him until he disappeared into his classroom. Boy, am I in deep this time, she thought.
Mia had a really hard time concentrating in class. It didn’t help that she hadn’t read the case study on TiVo for the day, so she was completely at a loss. She hated feeling unprepared for class, especially knowing that the professor could cold call anyone at any time without notice.
Why did class participation have to count so much as part of the grade? Sometimes it could even be up to 50 percent, so she had trained herself to participate at least one time each class, even if she thought what she was saying was completely ridiculous. After all, it couldn’t be much worse from what other people were commenting at times.
“Does anyone here want to share their personal experiences using TiVo?” the professor asked. Mia looked around and saw that only one person raised their hand, the only other American student in class.
That’s odd, she thought. Usually, at least ten people flew their hands up at any question. The professor called on her to comment. While she gave her answer, Mia realized no one else wanted to share because they weren’t familiar with it. TiVo only existed in the United States.
“Anyone else care to add anything?” the professor asked again.
Okay, this is your chance, Mia thought. Besides it’s the perfect question to answer because no one can argue against a personal experience, even more so on a topic they’re not familiar with. Then you’ll get it over with and can stop beating yourself up about participating for the remainder of the class.
Mia raised her hand and for once gave her honest opinion, since she had no idea what the actual case study was about and couldn’t draw from any facts from it.
She said how she thought it was a disruptive innovation, as it changed the user’s behavior with television. How it gave her the freedom to watch all of her favorite shows whenever she pleased, but sometimes ended up making her watch way too much more television than she intended. But most importantly, how she thought people needed to become more educated on how to use it properly because it had so many functions that could make it confusing. Maybe that’s why it took so long for people to adopt the technology and for TiVo really to take off.
“Well Mia, I think you just solved the case. Great insights,” the professor responded. He went off to continue with his lecture, and she couldn’t help but feel some sort of redemption. Maybe I should skip reading cases more often, she thought.
After class ended, she was ready to walk back home when Melissa stopped her. “Mia, where were you yesterday? You didn’t show up to the study group.”
“Oh yeah, sorry about that. I uh … wasn’t feeling too well after class,” Mia responded. At least there was some kind of truth to that answer.
“Oh, that’s too bad. Well looks like you’re feeling better because the way you were so on point in there was unreal! We could have really used your help on the write-up.”
“I guess I just needed the extra rest. I’ll make it up to you guys next time, ok?”
“Sure, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to be so hard on yourself. You always work way too much.”
Mia couldn’t help but smile back at her. Melissa was always so warm and friendly.
That’s why her next question came as a total surprise. “Hey, so I don’t mean to pry but I saw you with Leo earlier. How the hell did you pull that off? Isn’t he so incredibly sexy?”
Yeah, tell me about it. But he’s so much more than that, Mia thought.
“I don’t know, we just sort of started talking the other day. I don’t really know much about him to be honest.” The other day meaning yesterday, she chuckled inwardly.
“Well, you better act soon. Girls are always practically throwing themselves at him. I don’t know how he handles it, but no wonder he never has a girlfriend.”
“Thanks, I’ll think about it,” Mia replied, not really knowing what to say. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
She couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when she walked away. Of course Leo was a player. He had even told her so. His version was a bit more subtle, though. Why wouldn’t he be? Even a blind person could see that a mile away.