Livia expected to see Corvin again by now, but she hadn't. She was sure if he were here, he'd follow her around. A full week had passed and each time she left class, she looked for him. Each time she left her dorm room in the morning, she looked for him. Each time she ate at the cafeteria, she looked for him. She expected him to text her or email her but she never heard from him. A second week passed and as the novelty of campus life wore off, Livia stopped only looking for Corvin, she started hoping she'd see him. She got on with her roommate and the people in her classes were nice, but she longed to interact with someone who understood the invisible wounds she carried.
She didn't want to talk about her past with people exactly. Doing so would involve details she couldn't share about Caesarea anyway. Livia didn't know what made her do it exactly-curiosity, mistrust, naked need. Either way, she ended up arranging to walk past room 315 in Scipio building at 4:15 on a Monday evening. The door was open and she saw Corvin's face clearly, as he listened to one of his classmates give a presentation. She froze, unable to tear her gaze from his familiar face. She didn't know how long she stood there until one of Corvin's classmates-a woman-touched his arm and gestured to Livia in the hallway. Corvin looked startled and his gaze turned directly on Livia.
Livia unfroze and she practically ran down the hallway to escape. Corvin came after her, catching her just as the elevator opened.
"Wait!" he said. "Livia, hold on."
"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have bothered you." She walked onto the elevator. She pushed the button to close the doors faster.
Corvin hesitated a second. Then he leapt into the elevator just before the doors shut closed.
"Corvin!" she shouted in frustration as the elevator jerked downward. "What are you doing?"
Now they were trapped here together.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"I'm fine," Livia said, pulling herself into the corner of the elevator farthest from him.
"Livia, look at me," he demanded.
She looked up into his face and her frustration evaporated into thin air.
His eyes were piercing, a mix of concern and fear. "Livia, is everything alright?"
"I'm okay," she insisted. "Really, I promise."
"Really?" he asked, studying her face.
"Why are you here, then?"
There was a heavy silence. Livia struggled to come up with an answer that wouldn't make her seem pathetic or like a creepy stalker. "I came to see if you'd lied."
"About what?" he asked, confused.
"Being enrolled here. That you actually weren't here to just...check up on me."
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Corvin didn't move out of the way. Livia looked past him. "Excuse me."
"We're going to talk," he said, firmly.
"No, we're not," she said.
"You can't just run away," he blocked the door.
"I can just shove you," Livia threatened.
"You can," he said, unafraid. "Or we can just talk."
"That's not really an incentive to stay," she said.
Frustration crossed his features plain as day, then he inhaled and schooled them. "Please, I'm not making an unreasonable request."
Livia was surprised that he'd shown that much emotion. "Fine."
"Now," he said, as they left the elevator together. "What is going on?"
Livia thought about running. There wasn't anything keeping her here except her own honesty. Well, also the fact that she liked seeing him. That was a problem, but it was true. She wasn't planning on spilling her guts to Corvin, but she knew that she could. Being around someone with whom that was possible was like finding an oasis in the desert.
"So, I guess...the joke is on me. Right?" Livia said, rubbing the back of her neck, incredibly embarrassed. "Hahaha and all that."
Corvin didn't laugh. "Can I do anything for you, Liv?"
"What? No. I'm fine. I'm sorry...you should go back to class. Don't let me bother you."
Corvin shook his head. "You're not a bother. I don't mind seeing you. Next time, let's do it outside our class time."
Corvin tore a piece of paper off a flyer that was on a billboard next to the elevator. He took a pen out of his jacket pocket. He spoke as he wrote. "Here's my personal cell number and my address. Call me. Show up. I don't mind. Really."
Livia accepted the paper in shock. Shouldn't he be annoyed and irritated with her? He hardly ever reacted the way she expected. Part of why she could not like him, she tried to remind herself. "Um, I-"
"Also, Saturday nights everyone from Caesarea gets together at the ice cream parlor on center street. Seven to nine. Maybe we'll see you there this weekend?"
"How many others are here?" Livia asked.
"Six of us, including you. We invited you to come several times over tabula but you're not responding to messages there."
"Right, um, since the whole...Arik thing I've avoided going there."
"Text me?" he encouraged, touching her arm lightly and looking into her eyes. "Then I'll be able to get a hold of you that way."
All the breath fled from Livia's lungs at his touch. It felt so good. Not in that physical way always described in Romance novels where you got tingles running down your spine. Emotionally, though, it helped. There was a relief from the isolation she'd felt. She didn't feel so disconnected from the world, from herself. All of him- his manner, his voice, the way he looked in her eyes-filled a huge crater in her. It scared her but she couldn't deny that even this short interaction with him was good for her.
"Hey," he said softly. "I know I'm a pest for asking again, but you sure everything is alright, Fabulous?"
Livia laughed at the old nickname. "I think...I'm...I must just be homesick, Corvin."
"Yeah," he said. "Is this the first time away from your family?"
"No, I-" Livia cut off. She didn't want to talk about the month she'd been in foster care. She didn't like the tremor that appeared in her voice when she said, "It's just good to see someone that knows me…"
"I'm here," he said, rubbing the heel of his hand up and down her arm now. Could he see on her face how much comfort that brought her?
He smiled at her. "Come on Saturday, okay? The others will like to see you, I promise. They'll be so excited."
"Okay, I'll come," Livia agreed.
He removed his hand. "I'll see you then. Call if you need anything. I'm excited to hear how school is going for you."
Livia physically and emotionally withdrew back behind the walls she'd constructed for herself. "Go back to class before you miss something important," she said, in full on scold mode.
He rolled his eyes and walked away. "See ya, Fabulous."
"Vale, bird-brain," she called back. It was unimaginative to mock him for the meaning of his name, but Livia had to work with what she had.
"Ravens are very intelligent, thank you. But you know that better than me, Auspictrix," he said without stopping.
"You made that word up," she yelled at his back, recognizing that he'd probably called her a bird watcher in Latin. Everyone in Caesarea had learned that about her.
"On the spot!" he called back.
Usually, these types of arrogant wisecracks irritated Livia but she laughed.
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