Celeste is a lit student on scholarship at Oxford University – and one of many girls pining for Nate Prescott, the rich boy in her classes who’s very obviously out of her league – until one of their mutual friends convinces Nate to ask Celeste on a date.
Based on my characters Nathaniel and Celeste from my current vampire NA grimdark fantasy WIP “Escape the Night”.
Celeste spun around and smiled slightly when she saw Keva running towards her. “I didn’t see you all morning! You okay?”
Celeste adjusted the scarf around her neck and buried her hands in the pockets of her coat. Shuffling her feet, she listened to the rustling of leaves on the cobblestones. “Yah,” she said, evasive, glancing to the side. “Jolly good.”
On the other side of the yard, Nate stood surrounded by his group of equally handsome and rich friends.
Watching him made Celeste envious. She wanted to be close to him, but of course, she wasn’t the only girl pining for him.
Unfortunately, Celeste was out of his league. She gave a sigh and turned her attention back to Keva.
“Day 55 of wishing he would notice you, huh?”
“A girl can dream.” Demonstratively, she turned her back to him. “How was your class?”
“Oh, same old, same old. Yours?”
Celeste thought about that for a moment.
Technically, she was living the dream, studying literature at Oxford and in the fall too – like in those dark academia aesthetics that she kept stumbling upon on Pinterest. “It was all right.”
Truth was, Nate had been sitting two rows in front of her, and instead of listening to the lecture, she had been too focused watching him move.
“Girl,” Keva objected, nudging her arm. “Maybe you should just go talk to him. Say hi, you know, like a normal person.”
Celeste rapidly shook her head. “No thanks.”
“Suit yourself.” Keva pulled her phone out of her pocket. Anyway, I’ll see you later, I have classes to attend.
Across the yard, Nate had taken to steering Benedict through the crowd of students that were trying to get back into the building.
They were laughing about something, Benedict’s hands drumming on his violin case.
Soon enough, she lost sight of them both when she got pushed into the building by more students that were in a hurry to get to places.
Celeste pursed her lips, asking herself what Benedict had that she didn’t have – but the answer was clear: Confidence.
She envied him for that, even though she couldn’t help but think that Nate’s friendship with Ben, who was confined to a wheelchair, was based on pity.
It wasn’t that obvious that Celeste was there on a scholarship, she did her best to hide it, but she was scared of getting mocked for it regardless.
Especially because the other rich kids Nate ran with were all snobs with a stick up their ass.
She sat down in a random seat in the lecture hall for Shakespeare 101, considerably her most boring class of them all, dropped her bag on the table, and buried her head in it to mope.
“Is this seat taken?”
“No,” she grumbled into her bag, not even lifting her head to see what stranger she was talking to.
“Cool,” the stranger breathed out. “Thanks.”
“You’re Celeste, right?
This time she did look up – right into Nate’s face.
“I’m Nate,” he added, a huge and dazzling smile on his face. “Nice to meet you.”
“Hah,” Celeste exhaled, squeezing her eyes shut. “My pleasure.”
His grin didn’t falter, even as he turned to unpack his bag. “So, Shakespeare, huh?”
“Uhuh,” Celeste mumbled. “I could do without it.”
“Valid.” He placed his phone on the table. “But the man’s an institution.”
“Many things and people are institutions, and yet they don’t let you study them at school,” she returned, her eyes widening when Nate’s phone lit up with a message from a certain Jonathan.
Just ask her, it read. The worst anyone could do is say no. You’re not bailing on us, brother dearest.
She looked away before Nate could notice she had seen.
Jonathan, as far as Celeste knew and was concerned, wasn’t like the other spoiled rich kids in Nate’s circle of friends – in fact, she never saw them together at school.
Next to her, Nate raked a hand through his hair.
“So,” he said, “I was wondering if you’d like to come to a concert with me tonight. My brother and Benedict are playing a couple of pieces and-” he trailed off, looking at her as if he desperately wanted her to say yes. It had quite something of a puppy.
“Did Benedict tell you to ask me?”
Nate gasped. “How did you know that?!”
Celeste shrugged. “He’s a bit of a nuisance, isn’t he? But yeah, I’ll come – sounds like fun.”
If Keva could see Celeste right now, it would all be over – but Celeste was a little surprised at herself. “
It’s a date, then.” Nate’s smile reappeared, and Celeste smiled back.
It’s a date.