Dangerous to Know & Love

By: Jane Harvey-Berrick



Beneath his window cars were driving, bikes pedaling, people jogging, dogs walking – the world passing by. Each activity with its own unique set of actions, an orchestra of noises: tires, brakes, talking, barking. None of the sounds penetrated.

He felt a presence behind, and turned to see his brother’s concerned eyes watching him.

“Today’s the day, College Boy.”

Daniel grinned and shrugged. “I guess.”

Zef held out his hand and they shook quickly, before he pulled Daniel into a tight hug.

“I’m proud of you, bro,” he whispered. “Mom and dad would have been proud, too.”

Then he pulled away and thumped his brother on the shoulder.

“Don’t fuck up.”

Daniel grinned.

“Not making any promises.”

Chapter 1

When Lisanne stumbled into the lecture hall with Kirsty clinging to her arm, there were already a number of students spread out across the room. It was too early in the semester for many cliques to have been formed, but a few girls were sitting in groups for comfort, giggling nervously. The boys were too cool for that, and sat in glorious isolation.

Lisanne cast an eye over the assorted examples of humanity. Most looked average, like her, dressed in jeans and t-shirts, but there was one guy who was wearing a button down shirt and a tie. Good grief! Lisanne made a bet with herself that he had a copy of the Wall Street Journal in his backpack. She was only surprised he wasn’t carrying a briefcase. Why on earth had she agreed to take ‘Introduction to Business 101’? Oh yeah, because her parents didn’t think majoring in music was going to lead to any great career opportunities.

The response from her new roommate had been to look on the bright side.

“That sucks,” said Kirsty. “But, you never know, you might meet some cute guy who’ll turn out to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.”

“What, short, with bad taste in clothes?”

Kirsty laughed. “No, dummy: brilliant and filthy rich!”

Lisanne sighed.

“Hey, Lis! Get your head in the game!”

Her head snapped up, away from Mr. Big Time, then her expression cleared as Kirsty winked at her and kicked off her shoes.

“I’m surprised you can even walk in those – oh right, you can’t.”

Kirsty raised her eyebrows.

“Hello! They’re Manolos! They’re meant to be seen – not walked in.”

“Of course. Silly me.”

Kirsty sniggered. “Yeah, whatever. Okay, seriously – which of these guys would you hook up with?” and her arms swept out to indicate everyone in the lecture hall.

Lisanne laughed. “None of them for any of that.”

“No? You don’t think the guy with the red t-shirt is cute?”

Lisanne craned her neck. “He’s okay, I guess. Not really my type.”

“What is your type?” asked Kirsty, curiously. All cute guys were Kirsty’s type.

Lisanne shrugged. The truth was, she hadn’t dated much in high school. Okay, make that never, unless she counted her junior prom and the non-date fiasco. How a non-date could be a complete disaster remained a mystery to her, but it had been one of the worst, most humiliating nights of her life, involving vomit – someone else’s – and... No, she didn’t want to think about that. It definitely didn’t count.

“Come on, Lis,” said Kirsty, encouragingly. “What about that guy you were chatting with on Facebook last night?”

“Rodney? No, he’s just a friend from high school.”

“So he’s not…?”

“Ugh, no! I’ve known him since kindergarten – that would just be… weird.”

“So you’re available?”

Lisanne was very available. She just hadn’t seen anyone she liked that way.

“Well, tell me what you’re looking for – in case, you know.”

“Oh, I don’t know: somebody different. Somebody…”

“Like him?” said Kirsty, nodding her head at the guy who’d just walked in.

He was different alright. In fact, Lisanne was pretty sure that he’d wandered into the wrong classroom by mistake. No way someone like him was taking the Introduction to Business class.

All eyes, male and female, swiveled in his direction as he sauntered into the lecture hall looking like he owned it. He slumped into a seat in the second row, oozing arrogance, pulling off his Ray Bans as he did so. He was tall and slim with short, spiky black hair. He shrugged out of his leather jacket, and even from that distance Lisanne could see that he had a broad back and strong, muscular arms with swirls of red, gold and black tattoos drifting down them. He turned to scan the hall behind him, and Lisanne couldn’t help noticing a small silver ring piercing his left eyebrow.

Without speaking to a soul or making eye contact with anyone, he tossed his jacket onto one seat and his backpack onto the other side. Surely there was a law that all the cool kids sat in the back row? But no, not him.

Lisanne felt her eyebrows pull together in a frown.

“Ugh, no, I can’t stand guys like that,” she said. “All emo, and thinking they’re better than everyone else.”