Edge of Chaos(Love on the Edge #1)(6)

By: Molly E. Lee

“Where is all this coming from?” I asked.

“Nowhere. It’s the start of a new semester for you, and each time you start something new I have the hopes that you’ll experience something new. I’m your mother. I want you to be happy. I don’t want you going through what I did.”

I pressed my lips together. My father had cheated on my mother after years of struggling with their marriage. Justin had been my rock during that time, allowing me to cry into his shoulder, making me laugh when no one else could. The comfort of that stability had vanished over the last three years, but the memory conjured up the evidence that those feelings were real at one point.

“I am happy, Mom,” I said, smiling in an attempt to reassure her.

“Are you really?”

I swallowed the piece of garlic bread in my mouth harder than I’d meant to. Sometimes I swore the woman could zero in on the days I was questioning my relationship better than a heat-seeking missile. I don’t know how she managed it, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to get into. Ever.

“Thanks for lunch. I’ve got to get back to campus,” I said, standing quickly and kissing her on the cheek.

“Anytime, honey,” she said.

I closed the door behind me, hoping the next time I returned she’d let the subject drop. I was grateful I had a mother who cared and was perceptive to my moods, but that didn’t mean I wanted to defend my relationship at every meeting. And lately, defending my choices when it came to Justin was becoming harder and harder.

* * * *

I leaned my head back against a bench on campus. Students shuffled to and from classes, filling the area with chatter. I tuned the voices out and gazed at the slate-gray sky with storm clouds rolling in from the west. The scent of rain misted the air. The grass on campus looked ten times greener with the gray backdrop, and I found myself smiling. From the look of it, a thunderstorm would hit in a little under an hour.

I dug my cell out of my pocket and pulled up Dash Lexington’s website. He was a professional storm chaser and the foremost opinion on local weather. I hit his site up more often than checking the news stations. He usually nailed it, and he had awesome chase videos as a bonus.

A late afternoon thunderstorm watch west of campus will be in effect until nine p.m. tonight. #weatherupdate #buybeerearly

I laughed at his most recent tweet displayed at the top of his site. Underneath it was a shot of the current Doppler Radar tracking the storm I had already spotted in the sky.

A picture of Dash sat just off to the side of the storm tracker, his credentials listed beneath it. The image always conjured up a giddy sensation within me, like some high school girl with a celebrity crush. But it wasn’t just because he had green eyes and strong features. I liked that his smile wasn’t forced. It looked so natural, as if any inkling of a storm could fill him with an uncanny happiness—a feeling I understood well.

Pocketing my phone, I rose and headed to my first day of Physical Meteorology—this one focused on cloud physics and atmospheric dynamics—and found my sour mood from Mom’s prying giving way to excitement.

I loved starting a new class because, like Mom had so adequately felt the need to point out to me again, my life was one big routine. Wake up, go to class, come home, study, go to work, come home, possibly see Justin, sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. Sometimes, if I was lucky enough, Justin would surprise me and take me to a movie or dinner, giving me a much-needed break from the full schedule of classes I had.

Anticipation soared through me as I neared the science building, something that only happened when heading to a class that pertained to my major―Meteorology.

I’d learned early my freshman year that I got the same thrill when combining weather data to make a prediction that normal people got from doing extreme sports, like skydiving or swimming with sharks. And it wasn’t just the excitement factor, either. Interpreting data came easy to me and allowed me to be the first one to know about approaching storms. It put me in a prime position to warn people about what to look for and when to take cover—and I enjoyed that sense of power. I wanted to track supercells and relay coverage on their progress. Submerge myself in storms where I’d always felt happiest.

Only two more years to go and I’d achieve that dream. Well, hopefully. I’d have to find an opening for a meteorologist on a network, but I’d have the degree that would get me there. The only silver lining from Justin’s refusal to move to Tulsa and his threat if I left him was the fact that Oklahoma University had a highly respected meteorology curriculum. The prospect filled me with a sense of accomplishment. Like all the studying and working for minimum wage at the electronics store to pay for books and rent was worth it.