Winning the Game: Ch. 5

It was around eight in the evening when she made it to her dorm room, and she was glad to find it empty again. Knowing that her night would be long with Abel, she gathered her things and went to the bathroom to take a shower. 

It was usually crowded this time of night, but to Karissa’s surprise, the bathroom was almost completely empty. She figured people were either taking exams or studying for them, and she was glad she would be able to get out of the bathroom quickly.

Instead of dressing in nightclothes when she stepped out of the shower, she pulled on a forest green, long-sleeved, turtleneck, sweater dress with soft, black leggings underneath it. She put everything back in her room, grabbed her books, notecards, pencils, and notebooks, packed it all in her backpack, and then walked all the way to the dining hall to meet Abel.

He was already there sitting at their usual table. However, he stood up when he saw her, and he took her bag from her when she stopped in front of him.

“Got everything you need?” he asked her.

“I think so,” she answered.

“Did your roommate give you any trouble?”

“Not at all! She wasn’t there when I got out of class. Thank goodness!”

“I’m glad to hear,” he smiled. “You ready to go?”

“I sure am!”

He chuckled. “Alright, follow me.”

He led her out the door, and into the school parking lot. There, he led her to an old, small, beat up Ford. He unlocked the car for her, slung her backpack in the backseat, and then got into the car. She slid into the car warily, noting the strong cinnamon smell to it that was probably coming from the Febreeze can rolling around at her feet. The car was clean, but she knew that it hadn’t been before. He had probably cleaned it just for her, and she appreciated the fact that he would do that for her, even though she wouldn’t have minded if he hadn’t.

It took him a few tries to get the car started, and the car made a menacing growl when it finally turned on before subsiding to the usual hiss of an engine. She fastened her seatbelt as he reversed, and as they wound their way around the campus roads, she memorized every turn they made. She was pretty sure everything would be fine, but she wanted to make sure she knew how to make her way back to familiar territory if the night took a bad turn.

They ended up at one of the nicer housing dorms located on the beach closest to the school. Only juniors and seniors were able to apply for a room, and it was quite pricey. Karissa was impressed.

“Wow, these sure are nice,” Karissa said as they exited the car and began the walk toward the building.

“Yeah, they’re even better without an annoying roommate blasting terrible music all night.”

“I bet.”

They reached the door, and Able held up his magnetic key to the lock. The lock flashed a green light with a click, and Able opened the door, holding it open for Karissa to step through first.

“This way,” Able said as he led her down the hallway to the right.

He led her up a staircase to the third floor, and down another hallway to the last door on the right. He unlocked the door, and they stepped inside a dorm room that was resembled a luxury hotel suite more than a college dorm room. It was dark outside, but you could still see the glow of the ocean waves breaking on the shore outside of the floor to ceiling glass windows that made up an entire wall in the living room.

“Would you like something to drink? I have caffeinated soda, orange juice, or water.”

“No thanks. I’m just fine right now.”

“Okay, well, I’m gonna grab myself some water. Here’s your bag. Make yourself at home.”

She took her bag and sat down on the plush, grey sofa in the living room, taking in the luxurious surroundings. Their was a glass coffee table directly in front of her with a stack of textbooks on top. Beyond that was a giant, plasma screen television on top of an entertainment center stacked with books on one side and a stereo system with several cds and various DVDs on the other. 

“Do you want me to help you with your English first or do you want to work on something else while I study for my own exams?” Able asked as he took a seat next to her on the couch, placing his glass of water on a coaster on the coffee table.

“I think we better work on my English before I get too tired.”

“Okay, cool. Show me what you got.”

She took out her book and her notebook, and he reviewed her essay for a while. Then, he began explaining things to her in a way that actually made sense. He gave her good tips that made it easy to remember her grammar and spelling rules. Then, he helped her rewrite the parts of her essay that needed the most work. Before long, they were finished with her essay, and she knew she would get a great score on it.

“Thank you so much for your help, Abel. You are truly the greatest.” Karissa thanked, wrapping her arms around him, and giving his cheek a tender kiss.

When she pulled away from him, the gleam in his eyes as he gazed into hers was enough to make her heart melt. Therefore, when he took her face in his hands, and pulled her in for the sweetest kiss she had ever experienced, she didn’t mind at all. She was breaking her dad’s rules, yes, but Abel had helped her more than she could ever repay him for, and if he wanted to kiss her, she was perfectly fine with that. It helped that his kiss was entirely tender and soft, which was unlike every other kiss she’d had before. Every other guy she had kissed had been overeager and aggressive, and had pretty much slobbered all over her. However, as he kissed her, she realized something that made her kind of sad: She didn’t feel anything for him. Yes, the kiss was pleasant, and she loved spending time with him, but there was still something missing. She knew she didn’t want to be more than a friend to him. This would be their first and last kiss because as much as she liked him, she just didn’t feel for him the way she should.

“I’m sorry,” Abel apologized when the kiss ended.

“For what?” she asked.

“Gosh, I’m going to sound like such a dick, but that did not turn out like I thought it would. I shouldn’t have done that. Gosh, I’m so stupid. I hope you won’t hate me for that. It just seemed like you were thinking about it, and I was thinking about it, and maybe…”

Karissa laughed. He had no idea that she was feeling the exact same thing, and she was glad that he felt the same way.
“Oh, Abel, don’t even worry about it. I was just thinkin’ the same thing! So don’t even fret about it. We can just forget this ever happened. Alright?” Karissa soothed.

“Really? You’re not going to hate me? Things aren’t going to be awkward?”

“Of course not, Able!”

“Gosh, you’re the best, Karissa. I’m really sorry about that. Now, I think we have some studying to get back to. Or I can take you home if you’d rather leave?”

“And try to study with Joyce in the room? I’m sure she’s back by now, and I’d rather not risk it. I think I’d rather stay here with you if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.”

They both smiled before they picked up their separate books, and began studying for their own exams, the awkwardness behind them. Though it was a little disappointing that her kiss with Able wasn’t as magical as she would have hoped for, she was glad they could still be good friends. Besides, Karissa didn’t need the distraction of a romance.

She had plenty enough getting in the way of her dream already.

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