Magnetic (New Adult Contemporary Romance)

CHAPTER
1

 

There was a time that Samantha Lyle would have told you that Magnetism was all in a person’s mind. Sure, she had heard all about the science of love and attraction, and watched all the chick-flicks that called it fate, but it seemed a little too sappy for her. Seeing a man across a crowded room, and being drawn to him, in such a way, that one’s actions are uncontrollable, it just wasn’t real. She hated it when people would say, “it was out of my control,” or “it was meant to be,” and then just let life hit them upside the head. She was a realist, someone who knew choices were meant to be made, and that one must suffer the consequences of those choices, no matter what they were. Growing up a farm-girl in a small town, she believed the saying, “you reap what you sow,” in fact, she lived by it. It is not as if people are a crop, destroyed by a simple change in the weather, powerless to stop and make their own decisions. This is real life; they should be able to decide what they want.

The problem was, no one explained to Samantha that accepting something outside of one
’s control was the hardest choice of all. To allow fate was to accept a force far greater than yourself, far greater that any person can ever understand. To deny fate was comfortable, you just go on living your mundane life at the cautious pace it has always been. No, accepting fate was by far the hardest choice of all; you had to be brave, brave enough to risk everything.

The summer after Samantha
’s senior year seemed to take forever. Leaving her daddy’s wheat fields in Ritzville, Washington to go to the big city of Seattle for her undergraduate studies was all she could think about. Every college she applied to had accepted her for fall term; she had more choices than any other senior in her graduating class. The bright pink sleeve on the desk in her bedroom held nine academic scholarships, evidence that Samantha was one of the smartest students to graduate from Ritzville High School.

People in town said she would be lost in the big city. That attending the University of Washington, U-Dub as the locals calle
d it, was a mistake for a farm girl like her. Some said that Washington State University, Wazzu, with its more rural setting would better suit her personality; better yet, Eastern since everyone knew Wazzu was a party school, which they doubted she could handle. The locals speculated that when she got to college she would probably be found in her room with her nose in a book. They wondered if she was too naïve for the big city, too trusting of people in general.

Samantha had the physique of a woman who w
orked out every day, but she had never set foot in a gym, unless the school gymnasium counted. Her slender waist, toned arms, and abs were from hard work on her daddy’s farm. Most men considered her eyes the color of the morning sky and her long-brown hair as dark chocolate, but not her. She would tell you her eyes were plain blue, and her hair was nothing but a nuisance. If her daddy would let her, she would have cut it all off years ago, but her mama had had long hair, and come hell or high-water, Samantha would keep hers. So she did, but to compensate for the annoyance of its length she usually kept it off her face, and out of her way by braiding it or tucking it up under a hot-pink Cabela’s ball cap.

Her
acceptance at U-Dub had changed her life, no longer was she regaled to the title of “you know, the girl whose mother died a few years back.” Samantha planned to take Seattle by storm. She had waited so long to be free from the societal labels of her small town, to step off the precipice of her youth into the arms of adulthood. Nothing was holding her back.

Her daddy teased her that the car hadn
’t needed to be packed a week early, but Samantha wanted to make sure she didn’t forget anything. Excitement exuded from every follicle of her body the morning she accelerated onto the I-90 East on ramp towards Seattle. She had leased a studio loft above some professor’s garage close to campus, and she had miraculously registered for her first choice of classes, at her preferred days and times. Everything was perfect.

 

 

 

Pulling her little car up the driveway of the well-groomed home where she would be renting the studio above the detached garage, Samantha looked around. The two-story Craftsman was the largest home on the block and the only property that had off street parking that wasn’t alley access. Being so new to the big city, she didn’t know what a luxury that was. Few homes had off-road parking, and if they did, it was never reserved for a tenant

Dr. Black, her new landlord, was a world-renowned biochemist at t
he U-Dub College of Science and had received a scientific achievement award for his contributions to emerging technology, specifically Nano technology. Geek didn’t even begin to describe him, but he offered cheap rent, and that was all she cared about.


Hello, you must be Samantha,” he walked towards her, offering his hand to shake. He was average height, with black hair graying at his temples. The look would have been distinguished on him if it wasn’t ruined by the plaid shirt tucked into pleated trousers that were pulled half way to his armpits.


Yes, sir, I am.” Samantha offered her hand in return, and they shook.


Let’s just drop this sir business, the name’s Derek, unless, of course, you end up in one of my classes and then it’s Dr. Black.”


Alright, thanks Derek.”


Why don’t I take you up and show you your space? It’s not much, but it’s better than a lot of places around here.” Derek led the way as Samantha followed him up a narrow set of stairs at the far end of the garage.

Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out a
set of keys and unlocked the door. “After you,” he said as he held the door open for her to enter.

Samantha took a step into the room, slightly tripping over the threshold. She jerked her head towards it as she thought,
note to self, remember the raised threshold, and try not to trip next time.


Oops, be careful there, I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” Derek had the posture of a man who was prepared to catch her, or at least go to her aid if she fell.


Thanks, but I’m OK. I may be a klutz, but I normally don’t trip over the same place twice.” She flashed him a smile and then began to inspect the room. It didn’t take long. The kitchen wasn’t much more than a fridge, three-burner stove with the tiniest oven she had ever seen, a dual sink, and three feet of countertop with a little shelf above it that held the microwave. Off to the right, at the end of the fridge, was a five-shelf-steel rack with ivory curtains hanging to hide whatever contents she chose to keep on it; likely food. The main room sported a scruffy couch that had plainly seen better days. It faced a group of windows that overlooked the side of the main house. She was glad that the house only had three small windows and none of them appeared to be the main rooms of the home. If she was lucky, she’d be able to open the curtains without losing any privacy. At the end of the couch, facing away from the windows, was a small desk and chair. Finally, at the far end of the room were her bed, four-drawer dresser, small closet, and a nook for the bathroom with a matching ivory curtain to those hanging over the kitchen rack and windows.

It wasn
’t much to write home about, but it was close to campus. She could see herself enjoying it for at least the next four years. She turned to Derek and said, “It’s perfect, I am glad you saved it for me, sight unseen. It was hard to get away from helping my dad on the farm this summer just to find an apartment.”


Your family farms, do they?”


Yeah, I guess you could call it a family farm. It’s just my dad and me, and now that I’ve left for college he’ll be on his own.”


What do you raise on the farm?”


Wheat. The irrigation in the area is sparse compared to places like the Columbia Basin, so we need crops that thrive with less water.” Samantha caught some of her Eastern Washington small town twang coming out in her speech. Something she had promised herself would never show through, her goal was poise and sophistication. Strike one, and she’d only been here ten minutes. She would undoubtedly have to try harder.


What will your dad do now that you’re gone?”


He’ll hire one of the local boys to help out. There are plenty of them who need jobs.”


I see.” Dr. Black had clearly run out of farming related questions and was ready to get the conversation back on a topic that he knew well. “Do you know what you will be studying?”

Samantha looked a little
awkward as she answered; clearly he had hit on a sensitive topic. “No, just generals for now. To be honest, I hope I’m sitting in a class, and something just whacks me over the head and says here’s what you should do with the rest of your life.”

Derek chuckled at her admission, “
Don’t hold your breath that it will happen that way, but what the hell, it might.”

Samantha smiled at him, she knew a
major wouldn’t just pound her over the head, but she could hope, couldn't she? 
Ready or not college, here I come
, she thought as she allowed her eyes to roam the room one last time.

Handing her the keys
, Derek laid out his weak ground rules. “I don’t care whom you have over or how long they stay as long as all loud music is off by midnight. You’re too young to drink, so don’t do it here. I’m not going to get in trouble because you got caught with alcohol. I’m not your father so don't call me if you get busted. Follow these simple rules, make sure your rent is on time, and we will get along just fine.” He walked to the door and asked, “Do you need anything else?”


Nope, I think I can handle it from here.”


Great, if you have any questions just knock on the front door. Either my wife, or I will answer.” Derek turned to leave, waving over his shoulder. “Bye Samantha, remember if you need anything just ask.”


I will thanks.”

Samantha stood at the door surveying
 the studio, a smile of satisfaction on her face. With a skip of excitement, she ran down the stairs and began carrying her scant belongings into her apartment.

 

 

 

It took just over an hour for Samantha to unpack her car and carry all of the items to her room. Her couch was covered in clothes, the three-feet of counter with kitchen wares, and the floor with everything else.

It took the rest of the evening, but soon she had her tiny apartment organized. It almost felt like home. Almo
st.

The
sun was waning low in the sky, but it wasn’t quite nine o’clock. Her dad was likely to be in from the fields by now. She dialed his number, and he answered on the first ring.


Samantha, honey is that you? What took you so long to call? I expected your call hours ago.”


Hi dad, I miss you too.” Samantha giggled into the phone, her father’s anxiety evident on her first day away from home. Away from him.


Ha ha, you think you know me so well, do you? So, you made it alright, no car trouble, or anything like that?”


Nope, no car trouble. I made it here just fine. This place is incredible. I am close enough that I can see campus from my new apartment, but I don’t have to live in a stuffy dorm with tons of morons.”


Well, I think you should have considered it. There are those RA people that could help you out, and you’d make a lot more friends.”


Dad, c’mon! RA’s are just glorified babysitters for people too stupid to figure out school on their own. As far as friends go, I highly doubt I’ll have any trouble making friends with people in my classes. Lay off, you worry too much.”


I’m your father; it’s my job to worry. You’re two hundred miles away; I can’t just run over and help you on a moment’s notice.”

Samantha had been having the same conversa
tion with her dad ever since she announced she was going to attend the U-Dub rather than Wazzu. He considered Wazzu close-by, despite that fact that it was 100 miles from the farm.
Close is relative
, she thought.


There’s no need to worry now. I am here, I have a fantastic studio, and I already unloaded the car and put everything away. Tomorrow I am going to walk the route of my classes and go to the University Bookstore to pick up my books and supplies. All-in-all dad, I think I’m good.”


Fine, I’ll stop worrying, but you make sure to call me every week. No, every day.”


Dad,” Samantha rolled her eyes in exasperation even though he couldn’t see her, “I’ll call you weekly, but send you a text nightly.”


Every morning and every night,” he tried to persuade.


Nightly!”


Very well, but call me twice a week.”


Dad!”


Fine,” he sounded like a chastised child, “once a week, but remember I’ll accept a call at any time if you decide to call more often.”

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