Lissa had gotten through her first day of school just fine, and eagerly awaited her second. She had a light schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which meant she would be finished with classes by 2:00 in the afternoon. Tuesday morning, she walked from her apartment to the campus, which was only three blocks away.
Her first class was World History, in the humanities building. Though it didn't sound particularly thrilling, she figured since she had to take it to fulfill her General Ed requirements, she might as well learn something. She entered the building, found her way to the large lecture hall, and sat down in a seat near the front as other students began to fill in around her.
A couple of minutes later, a rather good-looking boy slid into the seat a couple of seats down from her. He had straight, light brown hair and brown eyes. Lissa and the boy glanced at each other momentarily and smiled, then she turned and stared forward. To her side, the boy began to rummage through his pockets.
"Excuse me," he said, and she turned to look at him. "You wouldn't happen to have an extra pencil or pen, would you?" he asked.
"Sure," Lissa smiled, unzipping a flap on her notebook and retrieving a pencil to hand to him.
"Thanks," he said. "Can you believe a nerd like me actually forgot to bring a pencil to class?" he laughed.
What is it with all of these self-proclaimed nerds? she wondered. They all turn out to be absolutely gorgeous.
"I'm Matt Sorenson by the way," he greeted.
"Melissa Primdale," she replied, "but I go by Lissa."
"I like the name Melissa," he said. "My parents have a dog by that name." Then he laughed in embarrassment. "Er... that... didn't exactly... come out right," he mumbled. "I didn't mean to compare you to a dog."
Lissa had to laugh at that. He was at least off to a good start. Ever since she had met Allison, she had had a certain dislike for people who were too perfect. There was something charming about people who occasionally made mistakes, because it made them seem more human. She could never be comfortable around a person without flaws.
"It's all right," Lissa told him. "I like dogs."
Matt, however, punched himself in the head. "Stupid!" he mumbled.
"What are you doing?" asked Lissa.
"Nothing, just a little negative reinforcement. I was hoping to keep from making a fool out of myself for at least fifteen minutes (a new record for me by the way), and here I've blown it thirty seconds after meeting you."
Lissa laughed. He was funny, and actually quite charming in a self-deprecating sort of way. It made her feel very much at ease.
"You didn't blow anything," she told him. "And if you think you've made a fool out of yourself, well, I'm willing to give you a second chance. Let's forget the whole thing and start over."
"Great!" he smiled. "Hi. I'm Matt Sorenson."
"Melissa Primdale, but I go by Lissa," she giggled.
"Nice to meet you. So are you actually interested in history, or are you just getting this class out of the way?"
"Just getting it out of the way," she replied.
"Yeah, me too. So where are you from?"
"California," she replied.
"Hey, I'm from Michigan! We're practically neighbors!"
Lissa laughed. "How do you figure that?" she asked.
"From the perspective of someone in China," he replied smugly.
"Ah, good point."
"Besides, I was never very good at geography. For instance, I never could remember, is Madrid in Tibet or Egypt?"
"Neither, it's in Argentina," she laughed. One thing about Matt, he was definitely funny. She felt perfectly at ease with him, unlike most of the boys she had known back in high school.
She would have liked to continue the conversation, but the instructor walked into the class just then and began to talk about the class and what to expect for the semester. She was a woman, probably in her forties, with a somewhat stern look but a friendly tone of voice. She passed out the class syllabus and a worksheet to help them study for the next time.
As the instructor began to give the lecture, Lissa leaned back in her chair and listened. History had never been her favorite subject, but this didn't seem too bad. The lecturer seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the subject, which helped to keep the attention of the students. She spoke in a cheerful, friendly tone of voice, cracking jokes once in a while.
Lissa occasionally glanced at Matt during the class. He really was a good-looking guy, and had a certain charm about him. She wondered whether he would sit next to her again the next time. Part of the reason she had wanted to go to school so far away from home was to make a clean break with her previous life, a life where she had rejected the advances of all the boys in high school. Perhaps she had been a little conceited, thinking they weren't good enough for her. But that was a product of fear; inside she had always felt like a little girl scared of what could happen to her.
Coming to school was a chance to change that. For one thing, the men were more mature here. For another, such an enormous change in her environment was certain to have its effect on her, and she was more than happy to accept those effects. She wanted to start dating, perhaps even to start having sex.
She wondered if Matt would ask her out. If he did, she would say yes, she decided. He seemed nice enough, probably harmless. It would be a good experience for her to start getting involved in the social scene with someone like him.
Occasionally he glanced over at her too, she realized with a thrill. Maybe he was thinking the same thing she was. Maybe he was trying to decide whether he wanted to ask her out. Or maybe she was just reading too much into it. It could be that he just noticed her stealing glances, and wondered what that meant.
When the instructor began to wind down her lecture, most of the students started putting away their books and notes. Lissa closed up her notebook and stuffed it into her backpack. She packed light; all of her classes today were of the type that didn't require her to bring the textbook to class, so she had only a notebook and a couple of pencils.
Matt yawned and stretched. "I can see I'm going to have to get a good night's sleep before coming to this class," he said. "I don't know about you, but lectures like this always make me drowsy."
"Actually, I thought it was interesting," she replied.
"Well, I'm glad at least one of us got something out of it. I'm afraid I was dozing off through the whole lecture. I'm going to have to find someone to study with who can help me catch up on what I missed."
Lissa glanced at him, considering the implications of what he had said.
"That's a hint," he said with a hopeful grin.
"What?" asked Lissa.
"Well, I was wondering if you'd like to study together."
Lissa considered his request. Was it really a simple little request, or was there more behind it? Lissa was admittedly rather inexperienced in relationships; she hadn't had a boyfriend since junior high, and Jeff didn't count because he didn't play those silly games, and besides, he was her brother.
"You'd really like to study with me?" she asked.
"Well actually, I'd really like to ask you out, but I'm too shy, so maybe if I got to know you a little better in a less scary environment it would help to build up my confidence."
Lissa laughed. So he did have an ulterior motive. Still, now that he came right out and admitted it, she felt a lot better about the whole thing. "Okay, let's study together. Then when you work up the nerve you can ask me out and I'll say yes."
"Great! How does this afternoon sound? For studying, I mean. My last class gets over at 3:00."
"My last class is at 2:00, but I'll probably be in the library until 3."
"Okay, I'll meet you outside the library at 3 then. Is there any particular place you'd like to go to study?"
"I really don't know my way around the campus yet."
"Well, we could go to my apartment, if you can stand to put up with my roommates. And if you trust that my intentions are honorable."
"I don't know. Would you consider tricking someone out of their pencil honorable?"
"Oh yeah. Sorry," he grinned, holding out the pencil he had borrowed from her.
"Keep it. If you don't show up at 3, I'll know that that was all you were after," she laughed.
The two of them left the room and headed in different directions. Lissa had English class in a couple of minutes, so she made her way across campus to the building where the classroom was located.
She continued to think about Matt through the rest of her classes that day. He was really the first guy she had opened up to, other than her father and brother of course, since her bad experience five years ago. It was a little frightening, but she knew she had to get over it. He seemed nice enough. Besides, they were just studying together. Their relationship might never go beyond casual friendship. Even that would be good for her, though; she had had few enough male friends after all. She almost didn't know how to act around them.
Matt's self-deprecating charm helped with that, though. It was his imperfection, more than anything else, that attracted her to him. He wasn't afraid of screwing up or even making a fool out of himself, which aided her self-confidence because she wasn't too worried about making mistakes as well. After all, if he could, why couldn't she?
Not having time to return home for lunch, she went to the cafeteria to eat. As it turned out, she found Monique sitting alone at a table and joined her for lunch. The two of them talked, but Lissa decided not to mention Matt. There wasn't really that much to tell, after all. If things went well, he would meet her roommates soon enough, and if they didn't, there was no need to say anything.
She had one more class at 1:00, so she excused herself and made her way there. It was another lecture, but no handsome nerd sat next to her this time. She simply listened to the instructor until the end of class. She then headed to the library to study for an hour.
She had explored the building yesterday after her classes to get a feel for it. Being a studious girl, she figured she would spend plenty of time here over the next four years. It had a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere, just right for studying. There was a large room with cubicles as a dedicated study hall, but she preferred to just find a chair tucked away in the corner somewhere in the midst of the shelves.
She read for an hour, then headed outside. Promptly at 3, Matt arrived. "Hi Lissa," he greeted. "Are you ready to go study?"
"Yes, but I left my history book at my apartment. Do you have yours?"
Matt winced. "Unfortunately, I loaned it to a friend because he didn't have time to buy it yet."
"Well, why don't we go study at my apartment then?" Lissa suggested. "My roommates are pretty easy to get along with."
"That's fine," he agreed, so the two of them headed in the direction of Lissa's place. Matt was nice and cheerful as they walked, despite all of his self-deprecating comments. It was an odd juxtaposition of negative self-talk and a sunny disposition. Lissa could tell he wasn't the type of person to take himself too seriously.
They discussed their backgrounds. Matt had come from a middle-class family living in a suburb of Detroit. He had one older sister who was married and living in Wisconsin, but no other siblings. He was in the pre-law program and planned to go into corporate law later because, as he claimed, he was essentially lazy and figured he could make good money just sitting at a desk approving or disapproving company practices, and writing the occasional letter to people who were ripping off his company. He seemed so happy with his fantasy that Lissa didn't have the heart to tell him that it would probably be a lot more work than that.
They reached the apartment complex, then the two of them headed up to her apartment, where she opened the door and led him inside. Suddenly, three people froze in embarrassment. Meg sat on the couch, completely naked.
"Uh..." said Matt, staring.
Meg suddenly burst out laughing. "Lissa, I forgot to tell you rule number two about this apartment. It's okay to bring strange women home without warning us beforehand, but not strange men." She stood up and casually strode into the hall toward her bedroom.
"What..." stammered Matt. "What did she mean by that?"
"Meg's a lesbian," Lissa responded, giggling. "If you had been a girl, she would have been overjoyed to be caught naked."
"So she just... she just goes around naked like that?"
"Basically, yes. Look, it's not what you think. The rest of us are straight. We've just gotten used to her, that's all."
"Oh. Maybe I should go."
"I hope you aren't embarrassed, Matt. It was my mistake, not yours. And nothing embarrasses Meg, believe me."
Her roommate reappeared then, wearing a tee-shirt and shorts. "Okay, now that we have the obligatory accidental nudity out of the way, won't you introduce me to your friend, Lissa?" she asked.
"Meg, this is Matt Sorenson. I met him this morning in my history class, and we're going to study together. Matt, this is Megan Harrison, my completely-uninterested-in-men roommate. So don't get any funny ideas," she laughed.
"I'm sorry," Matt apologized.
"Oh, that's okay," Meg told him. "It wasn't your fault. On the other hand, I'm going to have to punish Lissa later. Maybe I'll tie her to her bed and have my way with her."
Matt grew red at those words, and Meg broke down laughing.
"I'm sorry, Matt," Meg said. "I like to joke around, and sometimes I go too far. That's just the way I am."
"Spend enough time over here at the apartment, and you'll get used to her," Lissa said.
"Speaking of which, you might not want to spend time here right now," said Meg. "Sandy's coming over in about half an hour."
"Sandy?" asked Matt.
"My girlfriend," Meg explained.
"I think Meg's right about not spending time here," Lissa commented. "If Sandy's coming over, she and Meg are probably going to... want some privacy."
"Don't get us wrong," said Meg. "We don't want to kick anyone out; we'll just use the back room so if you want to stay out here in front that shouldn't be a problem. I just know that some people get nervous knowing that a couple of girls are getting naughty right in the same apartment."
Just then, Monique and Alya walked in the door. "Hi," Monique smiled, noticing Matt. "I'm Monique Duplaix," she introduced.
"Matt Sorenson," he greeted.
"And I'm Alya Barber," said Alya. "I'm guessing that Lissa's the one who brought you home, not Meg."
"Good guess," Matt replied with a grin. "Lissa and I just met today in History class. We were looking for a place to study, but apparently we can't use this apartment."
"Why not?" asked Alya. "We don't bite. Except Meg, and she only bites girls."
Matt gave a nervous laugh. "Exactly," he said.
"What?" asked Monique.
"Sandy's coming over," Meg explained. "And Matt doesn't seem like the type of guy who could handle being in the same apartment with a couple of girls engaging in steamy lesbian sex."
Matt blushed as she said the words.
"Meg, you're embarrassing him," said Alya. Then to Matt, "Don't let her bother you. She doesn't know the meaning of the word 'subtle.'"
"Sure I do," Meg grinned. "It means 'soft and squeezable,' doesn't it?"
"Nope, but I have a pretty good idea where you came up with that," said Monique. "All you think about are things that are soft and squeezable."
"No, sometimes I think about things that are pink and tasty," Meg shrugged.
"Meg!" Alya exclaimed.
"What? I was referring to bubblegum. What were you thinking?"
"Maybe we'd better leave," said Monique. "Meg's getting into one of her moods. She's liable to rip her clothes off any time now."
"Too late," Lissa grinned.
"What?" asked Alya.
"Matt and I happened to walk in on her when she wasn't expecting us, if you know what I mean."
Both Monique and Alya burst out laughing at that. "I wish I had been there," Alya said. "I would have paid money to see that."
"You would pay money to see a naked girl?" asked Meg, acting surprised. "Alya, I had no idea. But you don't have to pay money. All you have to do is ask."
"That's not what I meant!"
"Come on, Matt," said Lissa. "We'd better get out of here before Meg really gets going."
"Maybe you'd better stay," Monique replied. "Matt might be the only reason she's holding back. As soon as he's gone..."
"Sorry to abandon you, but I think it would be better if Matt wasn't here when Sandy arrived," Lissa said.
"Anyway, it was nice to meet you, Monique," said Matt. "And it was nice to meet you too, Alya. And it was entertaining to meet you, Meg."
Lissa hurried back to her bedroom where she retrieved her history book, then Matt and she disappeared out the door.
"Sorry about that," Lissa said as they descended the stairs.
"Oh, it was all right," laughed Matt. "As you probably guessed, I'm used to being embarrassed. It was a refreshing change that I didn't embarrass myself this time."
"Well, as long as it doesn't bother you. Anyway, where's your apartment?"
"Other side of campus."
"We'd better take my car then."
They climbed into her car, then she started it up and pulled out of the parking lot. Matt gave her directions to his place, claiming that if he managed to get them there without getting lost, it would be a miracle. As it happened, they didn't get lost once, and soon Lissa pulled into the visitor parking of his apartment complex.
They climbed out and headed through a short corridor to the stairs in the back that led up to a hallway with the apartments on both sides. When they entered the apartment, they found Matt's three roommates sitting on the couch watching TV.
"Hi, guys," Matt said. "I'd like you to meet someone. This is my friend Lissa Primdale."
One of them got up and came over to shake her hand. "Hello, Lissa," he greeted. "I'm David Bloom."
"Nice to meet you, David."
"And that's Walt Weber," Matt said, pointing to one of the other ones, who had his eyes glued to the television set.
"Hey Matt, why don't you ever bring pretty girls home?" Walt said without even looking at her.
David walked over and hit him in the back of the head. "Be nice," he said.
"I have to apologize for Walt," said Matt. "He likes to tease. If he calls you ugly, that's just a sign that he likes you."
"Actually, it's just a sign that you exist," David said. "It's no wonder he can't get a date."
Lissa laughed. "Oh, I know all about teasing. My little sister's a certified, world-class expert."
"Is she ugly too?" asked Walt.
"She's only thirteen, so don't get any ideas," Lissa told him.
"Oh, don't worry," he replied. "She's too old for me."
"You're sick!" said Matt. "Anyway, just ignore Walt. That other guy sitting there staring at you and drooling is Billy Chase."
"I am not drooling!" Billy exclaimed, growing red.
"Billy's never seen a real woman," Walt explained. "He even gets excited over the ugly ones."
"Go to hell!" Billy snapped.
"I plan to. That's where all the fun is."
"Anyway, it's really nice to meet you, Lissa," said Billy.
"You too," she replied.
"Anyway, let's go into the kitchen before Billy loses control and jumps on you," Matt suggested. Lissa followed him into the other room, where he cleared off the dishes left over from lunch, then pulled up a chair for her to sit down at the table. She withdrew her history book from her back pack and opened it onto the table in front of them.
"Hey, are you hungry?" asked Matt. "I can make us a couple of sandwiches. About the only thing I can make."
"Just don't drink the milk," Walt called from the living room. "I spit in it this morning."
"He's joking," Matt assured her. "But just to be safe, I've got a six-pack of root beer in the fridge. How does that sound?"
"Sounds great," she smiled.
He opened the fridge and pulled out a couple of cans, handing one to Lissa. He then set to work making the sandwiches for them, and in ten minutes they were sitting at the table eating and studying. They went over the questions on the worksheet, picking out the answers from the book and quizzing each other on the questions. As it turned out, Matt was very fun to study with. He came up with sarcastic and amusing answers to the questions he didn't know, and even to some of the ones he did.
He reminded her a lot of Jeff. They both had a bit of a shy streak, and perhaps a lack of self-confidence, but when they got comfortable and actually opened up, they were actually both witty and charming and funny and just nice to be with. Jeff could be exasperating sometimes, especially when fighting with Brit, but he was always respectful of Lissa, and they had a lot of fun together. Matt seemed to possess some of those same qualities. He wasn't haughty or arrogant, but always courteous and fun.
Walt more than made up for Matt, though, with random comments from the front room. Some of those comments were a little on the crude side, and more than once Matt apologized for his roommate's behavior. Lissa refused to let it bother her. She knew there were men out there like Walt; most of the boys in her former high school fell into that category. She simply laughed it off, occasionally throwing back a barbed comment when she could think of a suitable comeback off the top of her head.
It was a relief, though, when Walt headed out the door to his 4:00 class. David also had to leave, and Billy disappeared into the back room, leaving Matt and Lissa alone. They studied for another half an hour, then closed up the book.
"Thanks, Matt," said Lissa.
"What for?" he asked.
"For letting me study with you. It was fun."
"I never thought of studying as fun, but yeah, I guess it was. Does that mean you're not going to run away screaming and refuse to study with me again?"
"Does that happen often?" she grinned.
"Well the screaming part may be a bit exaggerated."
"Don't worry. I like you, Matt. I'm glad we met."
"You're just trying to get on my good side so that you can get your pencil back," he replied. "By the way, here it is." He handed it back to her. "Now that you don't have any ulterior motives, do you still feel the same way?"
"Absolutely," she said.
"Well then, do you want to study again on Thursday?"
"Yes, but let's do it at my apartment this time. I think I can do without the comments from the peanut gallery."
"Just make sure you let Meg know I'm coming over this time," he laughed.
"Don't worry. I've learned my lesson." She stood up and placed her book back in her back pack. Matt opened the door for her, and Lissa stepped outside. She headed down the hall, a broad grin on her face. Matt was great. Even though they had just studied together, she was starting to get comfortable with him, which was really a new experience for her. It felt nice to finally have a friend of the opposite sex, especially one like Matt. She was the happiest she had been in a very long time.