The last thing she planned to do when coming to Stanford was get interested in anyone. She had plans, time frames, and schedules to keep. There was no room in her life for a significant other.

Not that some people would take the hint.

Jess spied Roger from the corner of her eye making a beeline for her past the other students gathering their books and heading out of class. "Becky, roadblock, please?"

Her roommate glanced past her and saw the jock coming. She nodded, though she didn't look too happy about it.

Jess grabbed her backpack and booked. "Thanks. Sorry. I'll make it up to you!"

She hated these weed out classes. They'd let anyone in them. And she'd already had her fill of testosterone filled jocks in high school. How could they think that just because they threw a ball of dead pigskin, girls should be dying to worship at their feet and give in to all their whims? As if. And these were the same idiots who liked to assume that since she was blond and could pass as pretty, she was a total idiot. They wished. She'd learned a whole lot of things in high school -- some of them the hard way. She wasn't about to make college a repeat of that unwanted mess.

Guess she'd been naïve to think it wouldn't be the same old thing here though. But getting accepted at Stanford wasn't easy, darn it! Would her hair and face label her as less than she was her whole life? Maybe dying it black and getting a wicked scar or something would make everyone think of her differently. She laughed. Her parents would kill her.

Jess cut across Alvarado Row toward Canfield Court as students peppered the manicured lawns and a soft breeze trickled through the shading trees on either side of the main walkways.

As she came around the corner of the red trimmed CERAS building, she found her path blocked by a top-heavy brunette. "Are you Jessica Moore?"

The question caught her by surprise. She didn't think she'd ever seen this girl before. "Yes? Can I help you?"

"Oh, you can help me all right." The smirk on the too red lips wasn't friendly. "You can keep your filthy mitts off of Roger, is what."

"Excuse me?"

"Don't act dumb, you hussy. I know your type. Play hard to get, get the boys all worked up, then dump them after you've bled them dry." She threw her hair back over her shoulder with a practiced flick of her wrist. Talk about dramatic. "Well, I'm not letting you do that to our up and coming quarterback."

Jess had to work to stifle a laugh. Talk about clichéd meetings. "Look, I have absolutely no interest in Roger, or the Cardinals, or anything to do with jocks for that matter."

She really wasn't sure why Roger had even marked her as his latest to be 'conquest'. He'd been in the school newspaper once or twice, seemingly his sports scholarship and induction into the Cardinal's team well deserved. Though all he'd done last semester was boast about his 'bodacious' touchdown, as if that were going to make his grades in English any better. He'd had enough groupies then, though she didn't remember seeing this one. Was it her fault she'd yawned upon hearing that darn tale for the umpteenth time? How was she supposed to know it would turn him on and suddenly make her his number one project?

She'd hoped once the semester was over she'd seen the last of him. But somehow he ended up in another of her classes for the spring -- twice as intent at getting her to be his as before. Such a total pain!

"I don't believe you."

She was really getting tired of this woman's attitude. "That's not my problem now, is it? I would suggest you take this up with Roger." Jess shoved past her and instead of going toward the post office, as had been her original intention, she quickly made her way up Canfield Court into the pink Meyer Library building. Glancing back to see if she was being followed, she hurried a little more to make it out the exit on the other side.

What now? Jess sighed, feeling this would probably be but the first of many unwanted confrontations.

English was her last class of the day, but going back to the dorm was out. It would be the first place Roger or his cronies would expect her to go. Adelfa was co-ed but each floor was split by gender, unlike several of the other dorms where the rooms were mixed. That was one small blessing, at least. No males were allowed upstairs. Skanky females were another matter altogether though.

She didn't really want to bring any trouble to her two roommates. The best thing she could do was stay away as much as possible. Still, she needed somewhere to hang till curfew. Where were those idiots least likely to look for her?

She hurried past the School of Education building and her face cleared as she spotted the red Spanish tiled roofed structure north of there, past the red hoop fountain -- the Cecil H Green library. No way they'd think to look for her there. Most of the place was for very specific resources, mainly in sociology and statistics, unlike the more general contents of the Meyer.

Checking around to see if anyone was watching, she made her way over to the three-story building. The map at the U-shaped information desk showed not only two floors above the first, but a basement that included a student reading area. Sounding promising, Jess took the stairs down.

The reading area was an open space dead in the middle of the floor and offered no concealment whatsoever. Maybe this place wouldn't work out as well as she'd hoped.

Already down there, she decided to look at the rest of the floor, just in case. Two long rooms opened on either side of the reading area full of shelf after shelf of books. The bookcases were black and towered above her, volumes crammed into every available space. The lighting was staggered, coating the room with gloom. The unmistakable smell of paper was heavy in the air.

Walking down one of the rows, she could almost imagine them going on forever. It was with some relief that she reached the end and could touch the wall. Turning left, away from the entrance, she saw that in the room's far corner was a small table with two chairs, a small lit lamp a bright oasis around them. As she came close, she wondered who could possibly want to be this secluded from the world. Sitting here, you could easily forget that time, the school, or anything else for that matter, existed. A tiny, unwanted chill coursed down her back.

This wouldn't do. She'd need to find somewhere else.

Jess turned and noticed that at the end of the long room there was another small table like this one. To her amazement, she found someone was actually using it. She couldn't tell much from this far back about the user, aside that he was male and had dark hair. His chair had been turned so the back was against the corner, the table and the stacks of books on it forming a scholarly wall of protection. It was one of the loneliest set ups she'd ever seen. Yet at the same time, him being there made her feel not quite so alone and isolated.

Changing her mind, she removed her backpack and sat down at one of the chairs at her end. Pretty sure the character at the other wasn't going anywhere for a while, she pulled out her own books and started to study.

Time slowly ticked away.

Stretching with a wide yawn, Jess checked her watch. It was almost ten. Dinner had been a Coke and bag of Doritos from the reading area's vending machines during one of her frequent potty breaks. Each time then, as she did now, she glanced down the way to check on her recluse. He was still there, looking as if he'd not moved one inch the whole time.

Shaking her head, she gathered her things and left.