A bolt of lightning flashed across the Gotham night sky. A roar of thunder filled the air. Tiny rain drops hit the ground like bullets to one's chest.
Another bolt of lightning flashed, lighting up the small apartment room. Olivia flinched at the thunder that followed. Ever since she was a small girl, she had feared lightning storms. Often she wondered why a childish fear had followed her into adulthood.
"Liv? Are you listening to me?"
She turned to look at the man standing in the room with her. The man she loved. The man she had a child with. The man who was leaving her tonight. It seemed like just yesterday they had met on the streets of the Narrows; she, a girl of nineteen who spoke choppy English and was making money by selling her body, and he, a successful business man with a cold, bitter wife at home. It was only supposed to last for a night. This shouldn't have become a seven year romance.
But it did—and Olivia loved him more than anything else in the world.
"Charlie," she whispered. "Don't leave. I don't want to be alone again. Please…please stay."
His eyes were filled with pain. Charlie walked over to her and held her in his arms. "I'll be back before you know it," he whispered into her dirty blonde curls. "It will just be a little while."
Olivia looked up at him and nodded. He leaned down to kiss her and the world seemed to stop. However, all good things have to come to an end. He pulled away and gave her hand one last squeeze. He walked over to the bed and gave their sleeping daughter a kiss on the forehead, then made his way to the door. Before he opened it, Charlie turned back to her.
"Just a few days. I'll be back before you know it," he promised.
Olivia nodded and watched him leave. Just a few days, she reminded herself. You'll be okay.
That was the last time Olivia saw him alive.
. . .
Twelve years later…
Brynn Kiley stared out the window of her family's Escalade, taking in the campus of Gotham University. It was early September and the leaves were just beginning to change from their summery greens to the reds and yellows of autumn. They drove by students, many of whom were catching up with old friends on the Campus Green. Brynn's heart was beating anxiously as they neared the dorm she would be living in for the next year: Brighton Hall.
Brynn was tugging on the hem of her shirt. She had been accepted to Gotham U early in the winter and had been excited for it until recently. In the last month, something had changed. No longer did the large university seem appealing and exciting to her. To be honest, Brynn was dreading attending Gotham U.
Brynn's older sister, Cadence, gave her arm a squeeze. "You're going to love it here, Brynn. The people, the places, your professors. It's such an amazing experience."
Despite her sister's reassuring tone, Brynn was not convinced. Once the school was in full view, Brynn gulped. The five-story, red brick building placed in the center of the campus gave her chills. It seemed intimidating and unwelcoming.
"I'm sure Hadley would have been just as good," Brynn muttered, referring to the smaller campus close to their home.
"Oh, Brynn," her father, George Kiley, said from the front of the car. He slowed the vehicle to allow pedestrians to cross before speeding up again. "Gotham's just fine. Your brother and sister loved it and all of your friends are here. You're going to have a great time."
Brynn rolled her eyes at her father's remark. Just because her siblings had a good experience did not mean she would—they were different people, they would have different opinions.
She slouched in her seat for the remainder of the short drive to Brighton Hall. George slowed the car and shifted into "park" in front of the old, red brick building.
George and Cadence immediately jumped from the car, excited to see the campus dorm. Brynn and her mother, Madelynn, stayed behind.
The two sat in silence for a moment. Finally, Madelynn turned in her seat to look at Brynn. Her dark eyes examined her daughter's face.
"You really don't want to be here, do you?" her mother asked bluntly.
Brynn sighed. "Is it really that obvious?"
"Hardly," she replied sarcastically.
Brynn sighed again and pulled her knees to her chest. She looked out the window and examined Brighton Hall. It wasn't as intimidating as the main University building. In fact, due to renovations, Brighton Hall was a very nice red brick building with vines of ivy creeping up the front. From the pictures she had seen online, she knew the inside was even nicer.
However, that did not make the nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach leave. The twisted knot remained intact at the bottom of her stomach, growing tighter every time she thought of living here.
"Give it a month," Madelynn said, pulling her daughter out of her thoughts. "If you don't like it, I'll let you switch to Hadley."
"Like Dad will ever allow that," Brynn said bitterly.
Her mother smirked at her, her dark eyes shining. "I'll convince him."
Brynn smiled graciously at her mother. She had always understood Brynn better than anyone and Brynn felt a great deal of respect for the woman. Sometimes, she even thought of her as her birth mother instead of her adoptive mother.
Madelynn exited the car, followed by Brynn, and wrapped her arm around the young woman's shoulders.
"You're going to have a great time," Madelynn whispered before they walked through the doors of Brighton Hall.
. . .
An hour later, Brynn was moved into her dorm room. After helping set up, her family had left, giving her hugs, kisses, and reassurances. Cadence had written down the address of the dorm she was staying in, as well as their brother, Conrad's. Her sister promised to visit her whenever she could and that she would just love Gotham.
Brynn wasn't too sure about that last part.
Now that she was alone, she changed into comfier apparel, throwing on a gray V-neck t-shirt and black yoga pants. She walked around the room, trying to get a feel for it. There were two beds, two dressers, and two desks set up at the back of the room and in the front there were two vanities. They even had the luxury of a bathroom attached to their room, though they had to share it with the room next door. Brynn just hoped they wouldn't be fighting for the showers at the same time.
Overall, the room was cozy and inviting. She was sharing it with a girl she'd been friends with back at St. Mary's High School, Sydney Hyland. The two of them had always gotten along and Sydney was hilarious. Maybe Gotham U wouldn't be that bad.
Brynn was startled when a loud sound erupted behind her. She spun around, her heart racing a million miles per hour. Luckily, it was just Sydney.
Brynn slapped her hand to her chest, showing the other girl she had frightened her. "Jesus, you scared me. Could you slam the door shut any harder?"
Sydney smiled slyly at the other girl. "Thought I'd make an entrance. So Brynnigans, how was your summer? Let me guess—you went sunbathing in the Hamptons? Scuba diving in Australia?"
Brynn rolled her eyes at the nickname Sydney had given to her. "Actually, neither. We were at the lake house this summer. What about your summer, Syd? Anything interesting I should know?"
The tall blonde flashed her a smile. "If I told you I'd have to kill you."
"Then we'll leave it at that," Brynn laughed.
Sydney plopped down on her bed, causing some of the stuffed animals and pillows to tumble to the floor. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and inspected her reflection on the screen. "Actually, I'm ending my summer tonight. I heard there was a bonfire tonight on the Campus Green around eleven. Rumor has it that some pretty hot boys are going to be there…" Sydney winked suggestively. "Want to go?"
"I don't know, I have class tomorrow morning," Brynn told her friend.
Sydney slapped her hands on her comforter. "Brynn Kiley, when has school ever stopped you from going to a party?"
Brynn thought for a moment. "Never, actually."
"Exactly! So let's live up our last night of summer, meet some really cute boys, and have fun! You in?"
The angelic side of Brynn told her no, she had classes in the morning and she needed to be well rested. The devilish side teased her with thoughts of dancing, laughing, and having a good time. In the end, the latter won.
"I'm in," Brynn said mischievously.
. . .
Beep, beep, beep.
Brynn's fist came in contact with her alarm clock, hitting the snooze button for the umpteenth time. "Five more minutes," she muttered into her pillow. The alarm went off again and Brynn groaned in agitation. She grabbed her clock to turn it off.
8:37, it read.
Brynn allowed this to sink in for a mere second before she went into panic mode. 8:37? She had class at nine! She kicked the sheets off her wildly and jumped out of bed. In the process, she managed to stumble over her packed suitcase and fall to the floor.
"Owww," she groaned. Brynn pulled herself up and into the bathroom, quickly turning the cold water on and splashing it onto her face. The makeup from the previous night was smudged under her eyes, making her look like a zombie. She violently scrubbed at the dark circles and patted her face dry.
Brynn's head throbbed. Although she hadn't consumed any alcohol the previous night, Brynn had been out until 3:45. Sydney had begged her, promising they would only stay for a little bit. A little bit had turned into an hour and soon, Brynn had lost track of time.
After brushing her teeth, Brynn ran back into her room and frantically looked for something to wear. In a hurry she pulled a pair of jeans and the gray t-shirt she'd had on the previous day off the floor and onto her body. Once she was dressed, she pulled a comb through her strawberry blonde hair and grabbed the empty backpack off her desk.
She ran out of the room, down the three flights of stairs and out the door. Once she was outside, she pulled her phone out of her pocket to look at the time. 8:53, the digital clock read.
Brynn quickly jogged down the sidewalk and made her way toward the main building. If she remembered correctly, she had Psychology 101 on the fourth floor in room 409. She couldn't remember the name of her professor but she didn't think that mattered as of right now.
At 8:58, Brynn was swinging the doors of the main building open and looking for an elevator. She quickly spotted one and pushed the up button. While she waited, she tapped her foot impatiently. How long did was this stupid thing going to take?
Brynn decided it would be much longer before it finally arrived and darted for a door with the word staircase written across it. She sprinted up stairs, two at a time and counted off the floors. Finally she reached the fourth floor.
Taking in deep breaths, Brynn counted off the rooms. 401, 402, 403… She looked at her phone again. 9:02. 406, 407, 408… Brynn exhaled when she reached 409. Quietly, she opened the door and entered the lecture hall.
It was a big room with at least seventy other students. As her luck would have it, everyone immediately looked to her as soon as the door shut behind her. Brynn's face flared and she made her way for the first empty seat she saw.
"Ah, late I see," the professor said loudly. He was an older man with gray hair and thick glasses.
Brynn's shoulders slumped and she looked to her professor apologetically. "Sorry," she said sweetly. Brynn turned again, heading for the empty seat in the back row.
"Not so fast," he called to her. Brynn froze and looked to him. In his hand, he waved a thick packet of papers at her. "You're going to want a syllabus."
"You've got to be kidding me," Brynn said under her breath. She awkwardly walked to the front of the classroom, all seventy pairs of eyes watching her. She took the packet from her professor and turned to walk away again.
"Wait," he said. Brynn turned to look at him, officially pissed. Was he trying to embarrass her?
He motioned to an empty seat next to a younger looking boy in the front row. "Sit there."
Brynn huffed and plopped down in the empty seat next to the boy. She kept her face down so no one would see how red with embarrassment she was.
"Back to what I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted," he said, looking at Brynn. She sank lower into her seat. "I'm Professor Mapps and this is Psycholgy 101. This is a challenging course and you should expect a rigorous workload. If you're not up for the challenge, I suggest you leave now."
His eyes swept over the crowd, daring someone to leave. Everyone remained seated and he nodded in approval.
"Good. Now open your textbooks to page fifteen and have your notebooks out," Professor Mapps said. He walked to the projector and waited as it hummed to life.
Brynn opened her bag only to realize she didn't have her textbook, notebook, or pens. Of course, she thought bitterly. She turned to the young boy seated next to her, his textbook and notes already out.
"Can I borrow some paper and a pen?" she whispered to him. The boy looked at her with annoyance before tearing out a few sheets of paper and handing her a pen. He then adjusted his glasses and listened intently to what Professor Mapps was saying.
What's his problem? Brynn thought. She stared at the dark haired boy next to her for a second longer and dismissed him as a stuck up teacher's pet.
Brynn tried her hardest to stay awake during the lecture. Her first day of college and she had been humiliated in front of the entire class and her professor probably thought of her as a slacker. So far, her day sucked.
Brynn sighed and started to scribble down the notes Professor Mapps was writing on the board. She could only hope things would get better from here.
. . .
A/N: Thanks to everyone who read the first chapter! Feel free to leave reviews and any advice for me. Chapter Two will be posted soon and you'll be introduced to a few more significant characters.