The Other Side of Tomorrow

"I gave up on love years ago," she replied turning away. He grabbed her hand pulling her close, "Well I'm not giving up on you." ****** For nineteen-year-old Alesha life has been pretty rough with the countless foster homes and secrets. She's tired of living life in fear of what will happen to her when her real father finds her.

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1. IT'S JUST COFFEE

Love.

It’s a word that people throw around. They use it like it has no real meaning. You could say that you “love” music, but is it really love? Are you so enthralled by it that you’ll marry it? Unless you’re a lunatic that answer would be no. Love is a complex thing. It’s like a rose. A rose has two parts; the flower and the thorns. They are both deceiving. While the flower looks beautiful it can distract you from the pain of the thorns. And while the thorns are normally ugly looking they are there to protect the flower from harm.

I would say that people are the same way.

******* 

A young woman raced through the double doors of the college. Her highlighted, amber hair streaked behind her as she rushed past the front office and up the stairs. At the top of the stairs she stopped, leaning against the beige, newly painted wall she breathed heavily and wiped her forehead. Sighing she glanced at her wrist where a black watch rested snugly on her arm.


8:02 A.M.  it read and she started running again. She had to take another flight of stairs since her class was on the third floor. Taking two at a time she tightened her hold on her backpack straps as her books and computer jingled around on her back. At the top of the staircase was a long hallway that went to the right and to the left. She immediately turned to the left once both of her feet had landed on the floor. Glancing at her watch once more she noted that three minutes had passed and that she was officially late for her first class. Sprinting down the hallway she didn't see the figure who was walking slowly until the last second. Swerving to the right she swished past them, their arms rubbed against each other as she flew down the hall. When she saw the door marked "7B" she skidded to a stop and readjusted her backpack and clothing. Once her breathing had somewhat gone back to normal she opened the door as quietly as she could and slipped inside the classroom. All heads turned towards her and she ashamedly walked silently to her seat in the middle row. Dozens of eyes followed her movements until she sat down next to an empty chair.

"Ms. Ryder, please come to my desk," grumbled the professor as he wrote something upon the whiteboard.

The girl sighed at the command but stood up. All of her classmates had returned to their work except for two boys in the back who were watching her with slight concern. It wasn't unusual for them to watch her, not in the least, these were the two people in the school who knew everything because they watched everybody in whatever they did. These were the Hartford boys, they were twins to be exact, though they looked nothing alike and people never guessed that they were actually related. Zed who was short and skinny as a stick, had bright red hair and green eyes. He wore hipster glasses along with fashionable clothes that almost every guy in the college wore. He was mostly known for winning gold medals in math competitions and science fairs. His brother, Zack, had dark, brown hair and dark, brown eyes. He wore loose shirts and tight pants to fit his bulkier and taller body shape. Zack was famous for the way that he broke girl's hearts. Every girl knew his name at about every college and high school in the area. He was the oldest and better looking if the two, but most people thought that he was younger by the way he acted at times.

The girl fidgeted slightly as she stood under the hard gaze of her professor. She placed her fisted hands on her hips waiting for his lecture. His blue eyes were steely and held no sympathy as he grimaced at her appearance. This was how it was very other day. He wasn't a bad teacher, he was just so strict and never seemed to care whether or not she was going through something tough in life. He hated excuses and always dismissed whichever one she told even if it was true. Like last week she had run late because her car had broken down and the bus has already left. She had, had to walk. Looking down at her worn out shoes she bit her lip waiting for his reprimand about her tardiness.

He gazed at her, "What's your excuse this time?" He questioned not in the least bit interested in what it was. He really just wanted to have something to yell at her for.

She fiddled with the zipper on her sports jacket, "I woke up late sir. I'm sorry. Next time--" She was usually snarky and sarcastic, sometimes a bit mean but when it came to her most hated teacher she instantly turned into a turtle. She felt her face heat up with blush and she dropped her gaze back down to the floor.

He held up his hand to cut her off, "I do not appreciate you disturbing my class, especially when people are trying to work on a very important assignment. Ms. Ryder, you have been tardy ten times these past three weeks. I know that you are busy and have things in life to attend to but you are a student at this school and just like every other student here I expect you to respect my time. I, Ms.Ryder, am married and have kids to focus on. But I am also a teacher and if I decided to not do either of those jobs well enough  then what do you think would happen to my family?" He raised an eyebrow.

The young woman looked at him before returning her gaze to the floor, "Your wife might want a divorce and you might lose your children." She replied simply.

Her professor put his hands together on the desk, "Yes, you are correct. And so what happens when a student doesn't attend school frequently and is constantly napping while a teacher is teaching?"

"They'll fail."

He nodded his head in agreement, "That is the path that you are taking Ms.Ryder. Not only are you failing but you are on the verge of being kicked out of this school. I suggest, that you get your life together, and focus on what is most important to you."

She grimaced before nodding her head,"Yes sir."

"I also suggest that you should get started on the assignment, it's due in a week, and I am giving you the whole class time to get it started."

She nodded and took that as a sign of him finishing his lecture. She walked back to her seat thinking about what he had just said and agreed with him that she should start paying attention to what was most important to her. One of the twins who was a seat behind her poked her with a pencil.

"Hey," he whispered leaning forward.

She shot him a look over her shoulder before turning back around to the front. This was how they knew everything, they pestered people and dug into their secret lives to figure out what they were hiding.

He didn't give up, "Hey, Alesha. What did Mr.West talk to you about?" He asked.

Alesha turned around and sighed, "Nothing Zed, now leave me alone. I want to start this assignment."

Zack rolled his eyes at her answer, "Don't lie to me, he talked to you for quite a while. And the assignment is due next week you have about nine days to complete it, I'm pretty sure you can spare five seconds of your time to tell me some information."

Alesha bristled, "If you keep bugging me, I will stab you to death with your pencil and bury you in my backyard." She whispered back angrily.

Zed and Zack both breathed deeply, "Guess we'll just have to do this the hard way," the said in unison.

She shuddered, she knew what that meant. They were going to frequently bug her, throwing questions and comments her way until she finally cracked and spilled the truth. They always did this to people who didn't want to cooperate with them. She'd seen it done many times to her best friend. Alesha shook her head trying to ignore them as she read the packet set in front of her. She was just about to pick up her pencil and begin to fill out the first section when the door swung open. Her heart got caught in her throat when she saw who it was.

His skin looked like coffee that had been mixed with of milk. His eyes were so dark but happy that they gleamed with joy. His whole body was perfect if she was, to be honest, he was tall and lean with well-built muscles that rippled under his shirt whenever he moved. He seemed like a figure straight out of a book, so perfect. She heard a girl in the front row sigh and Alesha rolled her eyes. He was good looking but that didn't mean that girls had to dramatize it.

"Hello, is this Professor West's class?" The man questioned holding a piece of paper in front of him. His accent made him roll his ‘r’s just slightly and drop the 't' in West. Alesha tried to figure out what kind of accent he had but couldn't pin it to a certain country.

Professor West got up from his desk and put on a tight-lipped smile he walked towards his new student. "Yes, I am Professor West, and you must be Fredrick?"

The man nodded smiling at the teacher. He shook the professor's hand before handing him a blue, paper slip. Professor West read the slip and then looked up at Fredrick.

"Mr. Stapling?" West questioned marking the paper with his signature.

Fredrick replied, "Yes, but I would prefer it if you called me by my first name."

"Very well then, Fredrick it is." Professor West walked back to his desk, "Please, find an open seat and ask a classmate about the assignment that we are doing and what we have done so far."

The new student scanned the room with his glorious, dark eyes before they settled on Alesha who was bent over her work. He grinned slightly at the way she was dressed. All of the girls's watched him as he made his way to Alesha who didn't even look up to see him sit down in the seat next to her. He had seen her running down the street to get to the college and had thought about picking her up and offering her ride but he had thought about it a little more and had decided that it would have made him sound like a kidnapper or something like that. Now giving her a look over his grin widened. She wore a pair of black, skinny jeans with a silver belt. Her top was a plain, white t-shirt that had a black pocket on her right breast. Her hair was pulled back into a French braid and held together at the end with a white ribbon tied into a neat bow. He watched for a little while as she worked on her piece of paper. Fredrick smiled every time that she bit her lip when she came to a hard section.

He cleared his throat after a few minutes of studying her, "Excuse me," he said politely to get her attention.

She glared at him, "Yes?" She questioned a little annoyed that he had chosen her to sit next to and bug the whole period.

His eyes held her gaze once she had turned to look at him. "What have you been doing so far in this class?" He was shocked by her response thinking that she would have been at least a little happy.

She sighed tapping her pencil, "Well, to be honest, I don't know." She paused to look at Zack and Zed who turned their heads away from her. "I haven't really......been paying much attention to the lectures.....I kinda fall asleep ten minutes after he starts talking."

Fredrick chuckled, amused at her honesty. "Are his lectures really that dry?"

Alesha cracked a small smile, "I'm not sure because I've never heard them."

He leaned his body dangerously close to hers, his lips grazed her ear as he talked. "Then what causes you to fall asleep?"

Alesha felt her heart get caught in her throat once more as she got a sniff of what he smelled like. A sort of musty scent mixed with cinnamon, it was a weird combination but on him, it smelled perfect. She looked at him, he was so close that she could see that his eyes were actually brown.  He held her gaze not backing down and not moving his body away from hers. She loved it and hated it at the same time. She hated the fact that he was so perfect. Everything about him was perfect from his neatly styled hair to his polite words. She knew that there weren't that many men out there who were like him. She hated that he was playing with her. He was toying with her mind, making her think that he liked her when in reality he probably didn't even want to be anywhere close to her. She didn't blame him since she knew that she was not the best looking girl in the whole class. Gena Dicado was the most beautiful girl, she had won so many beauty pageants and she had even been a model for two years in her junior and senior year of high school. Alesha sighed inwardly, she also hated that she would never have a chance with him.

"Not getting enough rest the night before." Alesha finally responded once her thoughts had settled. She watched as he raised an eyebrow. "I'd rather not explain."

Fredrick smiled, "And so what is this packet about?"

She opened her mouth to reply but just then a shadow fell over their table. Both occupants glanced up to see who it was, and Alesha groaned. Gena Dicado, the school bully, and cheerleader captain. Today she had her red hair in a high ponytail and decorated with a splash of silver glitter. It wasn't unusual for her to have glitter, she always said, 'Boys like girls who shine.' Alesha had a feeling that was her life motto. Gena's pale, blue eyes stared in interest at Fredrick. His pink lips pulled up at the corners and he smiled softly at her, which caused her to throw a nasty glare in Alesha's direction who threw back a smirk.

"Why did you choose this seat?" Gena asked Fredrick as she sat on the edge of the table allowing her already short skirt to hike up even further. Alesha could feel about every guy's attention turning to the girl at the edge of the table. Peeking from the corner of her eye as she bent over her paper pretending to be working she spotted Fredrick observing not Gena, but her. He looked as if he wanted to tell her something but Gena touched his hand causing him to return his attention to her.

He sighed. This was not unusual for him, to have girls crowding him. But he didn't like it. He really just didn't like the fact that all French girls as his old college had only focused on his outside appearance. Everything went smoothly until he revealed his true colors. He would be talking to them about his dreams and hopes what good he wanted to do in the world and all the girls had scurried off. And as he looked at Gena he had a feeling that she was exactly like that, the kind of girl who only wanted a man for the satisfaction of having been something good to look at. "I saw no other open seat." He replied simply.

Alesha snorted softly, it wasn't the truth of course, but the way he said it made it sound like it was. There were two empty chairs, the one that had just sat in and the one up front next to Gena Dicado. She wondered his reason for not going to the front. Maybe he had seen right through Gena's little façade and had decided that he didn't want to deal with her. If that was truly the reason then she gave him a point for being smart. On the other hand, this would mean trouble for her. If Gena grew envious of Alesha for having Fredrick sit next to her, then her life was going to be living hell until she graduated. Gena wasn't one to be messed with, everybody knew to stay clear of her when she had a plan to destroy someone. She always reminded Alesha of a person with a bug zapper. The kind of people who liked to press the button and watch as the bug got tortured. This is what she did to people who she didn't like, she would torture them until they gave up and even then she would at random times press the button and watch them squirm. It was her favorite game to play whenever she had a victim.

"There's a seat next to me," Gena purred touching his hair. Fredrick flinched away scooting as close to Alesha as he could.

"Really?" He feigned surprise. "Well, I'll just sit here, this spot is great."

Gena narrowed her eyes at Alesha who was working tediously on the packet, "Is it because of her?" She sneered and then laughed, "Because darling if it is, you should know that there are way more options out there. Ones who are in your league."

Alesha winced at the comment. She knew what Gena was getting at.

One of the twins oohed, "Oh, Alesha just got burned!" She was about ready to strangle that guy, but because of her already bad relationship with Mr.West, she didn't have the guts to.

Gena smiled at Zed who grinned back.

Fredrick scrunched his eyebrows together in pure concern, "I really do need to get started on this packet. What's your name Ms.?" He inquired.

"Gena. Gena Dicado." She took the pen out of Alesha's hand and scribbled on his packet. When she was finished she grinned at Fredrick, "That's my phone number. Call me." With that she left, still holding Alesha's pen in her hand.

Zed poked the young woman again with a pencil, "Hey, I'll give you a pen if you tell me what Mr. West talked to you about."

She faced him with a frown, "No."

The twins eyed each other before shrugging their shoulders and smiling slyly, "Whatever. It's your loss." They said once again at the same time.

Alesha groaned and rested her head on the table, this was going to be a very long day. She had woken up ten minutes before her class started all to the thanks of one of her house mates. He had dumped a bucket of cold water on her since she had reacted to the blaring noise of the alarm clock or the flipping of the mattress. As a matter of fact she had been knocked out so cold that he had been afraid  that she had died. Her house mate after waking her up in a very unceremoniously way had waited for five minutes until he had told her that she was going to be late. And just like every other day from the beginning of the year she had hurried to the shower, skipped breakfast, and ran to the college. Honestly, her life was a mess, but she didn't know how to clean it up.

Slowly the time ticked by in her classes and she was free to leave the building, but not before Zed and Zack cornered her in the cafeteria.

Zed nudged his glasses back in place with one hand whisk the other was stuck in his pocket. Zack ran a hand through his already messy but stylish hair as he eyed her.

"You really shouldn't get in Gena's way," Zed commented.

Alesha eyed him, "I'm not in her way."

"She'll tear you up to shreds. Let's tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a little, dumb lamb named Alesha. Alesha lived in a green pasture with her stupid friends. On the other side of the pasture there lived a big, awesome, and bad wolf named Gena Dicado. Gena was smart and brave, she ate each lamb one by one until she got to Alesha who was scared and frightened. The stupid, little lamb got eaten when it tried to fight back. The end. What a beautiful ending isn't it?" Zack stated as if he hadn't even heard her.

"Is this about Fredrick sitting next to me?"

Zack raised an interested eyebrow, "Do you have feelings for him?"

She gave him a look. Was he serious?

"No."

Zed leaned closer to her, "Really? You can tell us if you want to. We won't tell a single soul."

Alesha backed away from them and towards the back door, "No, I don't like him."

Zack smiled and nudged his brother. They nodded at each other, "Gina and him are going on a date tonight, I over heard them talking in the library."

Zed continued the lie, "Someplace called Olive Garden." He shrugged as if it were no big deal.

She gave a tight lipped smile, "Well then I hope that they have fun."

Existing the room out the back door she laughed once she was out of ear shot. She shook her head. Their game was too easy to learn. All the things that they had said weren't going to happen, and she knew that for a fact. For one, Fredrick didn't seem like the sort of guy who would go out on a fancy date the first that he met someone. Second, Gina had stomped around mad the whole day and she could only guess this was because Fredrick had declined her date offer. Alesha smiled, peering at her watch. 12:00 a.m. time to see her parents.

As she walked down the street she could see her dad's smiling face. Even though he was ill with cancer he always seemed to have a smile on his face whenever she visited. Her mother was in a coma and so all she did was lay in the hospital bed silently.

Alesha walked quickly not at all noticing the sleek, black car that was filling her. Before she knew it she was downtown and at the local hospital. Pushing the door open she heaved a heavy sigh. Hopefully today her mother would wake up.

The nurse at the front desk smiled warmly at the visitor, "Alesha, darling, how are you doing this afternoon?"

Alesha returned the greeting with a small grin, "Hello, Karlie, I'm doing just fine. And how are you today?"

"Oh you know, getting myself prepared to take my cousin to lunch," she paused and then creased her eyebrows downwards. "I believe he goes to your school. He should be arriving here in a little bit. Well, c'mon Alesha." The nurse said with a bubbly attitude. Alesha smirked this was usually how Karlie was; a free spirit who didn't care what others thought about her. She was always smiling which caused about every customer to fall in love with her easily. Alesha sometimes wished that she could also be carefree. But she had so many things going on that there was no time to be carefree. Sighing she listened to what Karlie was rambling on about, "So, I found this guy and he's so cute! He's got the most dreamy blue eyes and the softest blonde hair. He works here! Alesha do you know what this could mean?" Her friend stopped at a door at the end of one of the many hallways. Her Hazel eyes were twinkling with happiness.

Alesha smirked, "Let me guess. He'll ask you out, you'll date and then get married and have babies?"

Karlie's face paled as she stared past Alesha, "N-n-no I can't. Do you see how hot he is?

Alesha turned to see a man right behind her. His blonde hair was shortish, it was put into a neat hairstyle. His blue eyes smiled at her.

"Hello," he said to her throwing his hand out to offer a handshake. "My name is Braden, it very nice to meet you."

She grimaced and glanced at Karlie who shooed her to take his hand. She grasped his hand and they pumped it up and down a few times before she pulled away, "I'm Alesha."

Karlie sighed out loud as she stared at Braden, and finally, Alesha figured out that this was who she liked. She shook her head in despair, there was no way that her friend was going to win his heart and there was no way that Alesha was going to let her try. He seemed like the sort of guy who used his looks to get things from girls. She also didn't like the look in his eyes. She returned her attention to Karlie who was practically drooling just by eyeing the man.

"Karlie!" Alesha smacked her friend on the forehead with the back of her hand. She smiled when her friend glared at her. "My parents please," she motioned towards the door that they were stopped at.

Braden stepped in front of Karlie just as she about twisted the nob and let the visitor in. "No! She can't go in, her parents are scheduled to get relocated to a different section of the building. I'm sorry, Ms.Ryder, but you will have to come back in a few days." He informed her with a sad smile.

Alesha eyed him with a disdainful look, his interference seemed sketchy and not all the whole truth. Karlie fell for it in a snap and led her friend back out to the waiting room.

"I'm sorry Alesha, but I'll make sure to tell them that you came, alright?" Karlie said tapping her clipboard to a happy tune.

Alesha scowled at the front door and started walking away. She tossed her friend reply over her shoulder as she walked. When she turned back around she accidentally ran into another person. They steadied her so that she wouldn't fall, and Alesha smiled looking up. Fredrick cast a look of concern her way as he held her against his chest.

"Why are you at the hospital? Did you get hurt?" He questioned his lips pulling downwards into a frown.

Karlie shrieked, "Oh my freaking gosh Alesha! You know my cousin! This is so cool!" She smiled uncontrollably at the two of them who awkwardly gazed at each other.

Alesha glanced away from him just for a second before returning her gaze back to his face. "Actually no, I am not hurt. My parents are being treated here, and I came to see them. What are you doing here?"

He still had his hands around her waist and he loved every second of it. "My cousin heard that I was coming to town and decided to take me to lunch. Do you want to join us?" He asked politely.

She shook her head, "I'm sorry but I can't. I have some kids that I have to babysit. I hope you two have fun though."

Karlie hugged the two of them in a group hug so that Alesha and Fredrick were mashed together. Alesha wiggled her arm out of the tight spacing and slapped her friend on the back of the head.

"What was that for?" Her friend questioned with a slight frown as she touched her head to make sure that there wasn't a bruise.

Alesha squirmed out of Fredrick's arms much to his disappointment, "You know exactly what that was for. I'll see you in a few days Karlie. Have fun at lunch and do not try to impress Braden, I have a feeling that he's not who he says he is. Fredrick it was great running into you...." She trailed off not really knowing what to say after that comment. She blushed hoping that he understood what she was trying to say. He nodded and moved out of her way.

She waved to her friend and exited the building. Walking she sighed and studied the sky no matter how much she tried she couldn't keep him out of her thoughts. Alesha smiled slightly as she turned to see him standing at the entrance of the hospital watching her carefully.

 

 

 

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