Writing/Articles

My WIP: “When In Doubt – Freshman Year” : Chapter 4

“When In Doubt” banner, created on Canva.com, I don’t own any of the images included, and can remove per owner’s requests

Here’s another chapter to add to what is my sneak peak of my WIP passion project about a fictional series of books I hope to get published one day revolving around six young adults as they all meet in college! In this chapter, you meet the big man on campus, and all around total player: Jared Mikaelson. Read on to see what he gets up to within just the first few days after moving onto the UW-Stout campus. He certainly knows how to start things off with a bang, no pun intended!

Also be sure to head over to my page dedicated to this project at the top menu of the website! It’s labelled as WHEN IN DOUBT (WIP BOOK SERIES), or if you don’t feel like scrolling, just click the link HERE

Hope you enjoy!

~~~

Chapter 4:

Standing at six-foot-two with perfectly swept back blond hair, cerulean blue eyes, broad shoulders, and a grin that’s gotten him away with more than he’ll ever care to admit, Jared walked around like he was the big man on campus, because to him, it was only a matter of time before everyone who was anyone would know who he was anyways.

The day before, he strolled around the Backyard Bash with his roommate, Brayden, since their RA had the entire floor follow him after finishing the most awkward circle of ice breakers in a floor meeting ever. The entire time, Jared only wished he’d found that one guy on his floor, Rob, to buy some weed off him and make it all somewhat more bearable, but hey, at least he knew he didn’t have to go far to score a bag whenever the mood struck. He only had to walk about thirty feet down the hall and past the bubbler.

Brayden bumped Jared on the shoulder. “Bro, check out the sorority babes totally checking us out.”

Following Brayden’s nod, Jared glanced over at the Tri Sig booth, specifically at the coed who looked like a younger, tanner version of Lucy Liu. It took all of five minutes to score her number and the details for a party later that night at some random open house with a keg. Jared and Brayden had gotten inside with no problem, and immediately found themselves doing keg stands, winning rounds of pong, and enjoyed all the girls wanting a piece of the hot new freshman studs.

At one point, Jared frowned when Brayden actually turned one of them down. He swatted his roommate’s chest. “What the fucks your problem? That was a guaranteed thing!”

Brayden wore a sheepish smile as he swept his dark locks out of his face. “Bro, I told you, I’m still with Danielle.”

It took Jared a second to backtrack and remember this detail. “You mean that chick you said who goes to UW-Madison?”

Brayden’s blue eyes lit up at the mention of his high school sweetheart’s name. “Yeah bro, We’re going on two years now, and I think we can really make it work long distance.”

Jared noticed the stares of several girls checking them both out in that dark and sweaty basement, but his roommate was either completely oblivious or he actually just chose to ignore them. Brayden was a good looking guy; girls ate up the dark hair, blue-eyed lacrosse bro vibes that he could totally use to his advantage, but decided not to.  

Jared shrugged while he took a sip of out of his solo cup. “Whatever dude. If that works for you, cool, but remember that your girlfriend is about a three hour drive from here, and there are handfuls of babes not even twenty feet away that could equal a great time tonight.”

Brayden’s smile cracked along the edges, but he quickly recovered. “I know, believe me I’ve noticed, but you don’t need to hook up at a party to have a good time. Besides, when you meet someone special, no one else can even compare, you know?”

“Yeah, sure dude. Whatever you say.” 

Based off his own personal history, Jared contemplated how long it’d take for Brayden to figure out that long-distance relationships were never worth it, especially with both him and his girlfriend being freshmen in college now. Jared remembered his girlfriend from back home, and how she’d ended things with him the day of his high school graduation earlier in the summer.

Jared came to the university of Wisconsin-Stout with one specific goal in mind: to become a campus legend. For him, that mean’t going to the biggest parties, hooking up with the hottest girls, and being the guy who always had a wild and crazy story attached to his name. Years from now, he wanted people to be like, “Hey, did you hear that story about Jared Mikaelson when he insert one of the many stories of his awesomeness?” 

He wanted college to be just like almost every movie defined it as, from American Pie to Van Wilder. Even more importantly,he could finally make his own decisions and not have everything pre-determined without even having consulted him prior on the matter.

Still at the party, Jared separated himself from Brayden when he realized their goals for that night were no longer aligned, so his roommate gave zero effort and somehow made new friends with a couple of guys at the pong table while Jared decided that he was on the hunt. 

He found Ms. Lucy Liu look-alike about twenty minutes later. An hour after that, the two of them wandered back to Jared’s dorm room, which was thankfully still unoccupied, but Brayden was the last thing on Jared’s mind when there was a frisky coed beneath him underneath the covers.

At some point in the night, Brayden returned while Jared and Lucy-Liu were passed out, but Jared woke up the next morning and noticed his roommate’s sleeping form in his lofted bed across the small room.

He felt Lucy Liu shift in his arms as she too woke up, and he hatched an idea. With his eyes glancing over towards his still sleeping roommate, the two of them decided to go another round just to see if they could get away with it. 

His morning got even more successful when soon afterwards they’d decided to sneak into the showers together. Sure, some guy from his floor totally pretty much walked in on them, but getting caught with a girl in the showers wasn’t exactly something Jared would ever actually be ashamed of. 

After they went their separate ways, Jared woke up Brayden, and they both strolled down into the HKMC lobby to walk over and check out the athletic center’s weight room.

Jared spotted a blonde in short denim cutoffs holding a volleyball at the front counter, and he couldn’t help but mutter an appreciative “Damn,” under his breath as his eyes travelled up and down her figure. Her tan skin practically glowed, her hair cascaded halfway down her back, and her impossibly long legs had him fantasizing about them wrapped around his waist. He quickly speculated how long it could take to convince her to sneak off somewhere together later. 

Jared nudged Brayden and nodded in her direction as they both got closer. The hunt was on.

Jared pointedly cleared his throat. “Yo Brayden, weren’t you just telling me how a game of volleyball sounded like fun?”

Brayden played along. “Yeah bro, I was just saying how we should totally rent a ball, but it looks like someone beat us to the punch.”

Jared grimaced; Brayden could hold his own at pong as the night before proved, but the guy still had a thing or two to learn with acting. It was a bit cringeworthy. 

The girl scowled while turning around to face them, obviously not buying their little show. Even the larger guy with glasses and a receding hairline behind the front counter glowered at them. 

Whatever, like Seth Rogen over there actually has a chance with her, Jared thought to himself. This ain’t “Knocked Up,” no matter what he wants to believe.

Jared turned his attention back towards the girl. “It seems like great minds think alike, I hope we can join in.” He flashed his panty-dropping smirk for added measure; it’s worked for him just about every time he’s unleashed it. “The name’s Jared, and this is my roommate, Brayden. We’re in third Chinnock.” 

The tall blonde eyed him and Brayden for a moment before answering. “I’m Heather, and that’s funny because I live on third Milnes, so I guess we’re neighbors, much to my disdain… that means bad in case you needed clarification.”

Jared could admit he wasn’t expecting that kind of response—sneaking off later might not be happening like he’d hoped—but he couldn’t help but chuckle. “Huh, what a small world. So if you don’t mind, Brayden and I can go change and maybe grab my speaker, so we’ll meet you out there?”

Heather crossed her arms with a bemused smile. “Oh, so you just assume that you’re invited?”

He noticed Heather had her navel piercing which was kind of a turn on, but he made sure to keep his eyes above her shoulders at this particular moment in time. “Well, we’re still here, right? You haven’t told us to fuck off yet.”

“Very true, the key word being yet. Drop the douche routine, and maybe you can stick around.”

“You got it, sweetheart.”

Her eyes narrowed at that. “It’s Heather, remember?”

Jared’s grin widened. “I don’t actually. My memory sucks and I don’t know many words, remember?”

“Silly me for giving you too much credit, Jare-bear.”

Jared clicked his tongue. “Aww baby…you’ve already picked out a pet name? I dig it.”

Heather’s eyes flashed. “Don’t kid yourself, pretty boy.”

The two of them stared each other down, her frown deepening while his smile only grew even wider. One of them had to give up at some point. Brayden just looked back and forth between them like he watching an intense tennis match.

Heather’s expression cracked along the edges before she shook her head and laughed. “Tell you what, you guys go find more people to join in, and maybe I’ll be on your team. Sound good?”

Brayden threw Heather a thumbs up. “Sounds dope to me.”

“Awesome, the more the merrier. I’ll go claim the court before anyone else does.” Heather began to walk away. She pointedly ignored Jared as she waved at his roommate. “It was nice to meet you, Brayden.”

Brayden waved back as he threw a smarmy smile Jared’s way, who just flicked him off in response.

“Hey! What about me?” Jared called out to Heather.

“I’m still deciding,” she snapped back without even a glance over her shoulder.

Jared couldn’t help but laugh. He tilted his head towards Brayden while still watching her walk away. “I still don’t know how you plan to keep a girlfriend when there are some serious knockouts all over campus.”

Brayden sighed. “Bro, I already told you, Danielle and I want to try and make the distance thing work.” He looked back towards Heather’s retreating form. “You’re not wrong about the knockouts part though.”

Jared shook his head as the two of them walked out of the lobby to go back upstairs. 

The guy behind the front counter with the receding hairline waited until the two of them were both out of earshot before he finally rolled his eyes, letting out a big huff of air. 

“I hope those fucktards peaked in high school,” he muttered without looking away from his laptop screen. 

~~~

“Already moving on from the chick from last night?” Brayden asked Jared as they walked out the side door of the dorm into the bright and humid day. They came back down from the third floor about ten minutes later after they both changed into some athletic wear and sandals, and after going around the floor and recruiting anyone with their door open to come join them on the volleyball court. 

“She knew it was a casual thing going in,” Jared replied while tossing around his wireless bluetooth speaker. “I mean, it definitely wasn’t anything serious. I better believe I made sure Candice knew that before anything went down.” 

It was a lesson he’d learned from plenty of past experiences: Jared always made it a point to double check with any girl he was going to get hot and heavy with that they were on the same page and that there were no unrealistic expectations. There was less drama that way, they could both get what they wanted out of it, and could even get together for another few rounds if the mood ever struck, just so long as they remained on the same page.

“So you did at least get her name.” Brayden patted him on the back. “Proud of you, bro.”

Jared scoffed. “I’m not a total fucking pig dude, of course I knew her name. She fucking slept in our room last night!”

“And now you’re already moving onto the next one down the list.”

Jared eyed Heather, who was alone out on the sand court wedged between the four dorms of HKMC. “Whats so wrong about that?”

“Nothing I guess… well, maybe there is?”

“Well, which is it? Cuz as soon as she can hear us—,” Jared lowered his voice as he subtly gestured to Heather “,—this conversation is over.”

Brayden somehow frowned while still keeping his usual smiling expression. “Just remember that girls are more than just sex, I guess?”

“Sure thing, bro.” Jared flashed his own signature grin as he nodded at Heather. “Hey gorgeous, ready for us?”

Heather raised a perfectly arched brow. “I have been. Weren’t you supposed to grab some more people?”

Jared turned on his speaker and T-Pain immediately started blasting. “Whats that saying again? Good things come to those who wait?

Heather rolled her eyes.

Brayden quickly explained how they went around and recruited a few people on the floor to come down, which seemed to appease her. 

“How ‘bout we practice serves or something?” Brayden suggested. “For real though, mine could probs use some practice.”

“Not a bad idea there, roomie, lets do it,” Jared said as he removed his shirt and tossed it next to his speaker and sandals on the grass nearby. Knowing his abs were on display, he peaked over to see if Heather noticed. She definitely gave him a look, but turned around and went to the other end of the sand court while tying her hair up in a high ponytail. Jared mentally patted himself on the back; the see has officially been planted. 

“I’ll serve to you guys, see if you can actually catch them,” Heather called out.

Brayden gave Jared a quick jab in the ribs. “Prepare to fuckin’ eat it, dude.”

Jared shoved him away with a chuckle. “Yeah right bud, get ready to fall hard on your ass after I’m through with you.”

“Yo, that sounds kinda gay dude. You sure you don’t swing the other way?”

Jared was about to respond, but a slap tore through the air, and a white flash crossed his vision before the volleyball wailed him right across the face. He stumbled back a step or two before he fully realized what even happened. His eyes flashed to Brayden, who was bent over in hysterics, then back over at Heather, who walked up to the net with the biggest smug expression he’d ever seen. 

Despite the teasing and back and forth lines they’ve shared, Jared couldn’t help but feel a quick rush of anger shoot straight up his spine. “What the fuck was that? We weren’t even looking!”

Heather didn’t back down. “Sorry, but I was getting bored of your testosterone-fueled, macho, masculine trash-talk and decided matters into my own hands, no pun intended.” She even added a little wink at the end. 

Brayden managed to stop laughing as he looked down at his phone. “Man, I wish I got on my story! Heather, can we do another take?”

Heather bent over and picked up the ball. “I’m down if Jare-Bear’s bruised ego hasn’t taken too hard a hit?”

Jared huffed out air through his nose and chuckled in pure frustration. “Don’t know what you’re talking about. Serve again, and see what happens.”

Heather nodded. “Shows what can happen if you don’t keep your head in the game.”

“Okay High School Musical… just serve it.”

Heather laughed as she waltzed back to her side, and Jared cursed under his breath and could’ve sworn that she added a bit more sway in her hips to tease him further. He vowed he was going to savor it when he eventually had her screaming his name. He convinced himself it was only a matter of time. 

The three of them continued to serve and set to each other up; Brayden had a surprisingly wicked overhand once he got the hang of it. 

Not long after that, one other guy timidly walked over towards them, which was amusing since he was a bigger guy, and Jared figured he could make an effective lineman on the football team.

Heather noticed him too and gave him a warm, welcoming smile. “Hey, want to join in? We’re still waiting for more people, but we’ll take as many as we can!”

The guy scratched his short beard and stumbled over his words. His face went red as he barely managed to stammer out, “Sure thing.”

In a rush, he removed his sneakers and socks and joined Heather on her side to make it an even two-on-two.

Brayden juggled the volleyball in his hands as he regarded the new guy. “Hey, you’re on our floor, right?”

 The guy’s eyes widened at that. “You guys… you both came to my door and told me to join you down here.”

Brayden scratched the back of his head. “Oh yeah, right… my bad.” 

Brayden and Heather both introduced themselves, and hearing his name mentioned, Jared flashed a peace sign on the other side of the court before scratching his abs. The quiet, bearded guy looked him up and down before jerking his head in a nod while introducing himself as Matt Anderson. 

With four people on the sand court, they were finally able to start an actual volleyball game. 

More people joined in soon after; it was like the music was attracting people like moths to a flame. Before they knew it, there was ten people on both sides, and even a few people along the sidelines waiting to rotate in. 

After awhile they switched up the teams, and a group of two girls and two guys walked by to just sit and watch at the nearby picnic bench; the girls both sharing a single water bottle with the taller of the two guys, their faces all scrunched-up after each taking a sip, like it wasn’t obvious what they were doing. The shorter guy with glasses skipped the bottle every time it was passed to him.

One girl, who had longer light-brown hair with bangs and green eyes, stared at Jared and threw him a wink. Jared returned her look with a coy little grin of his own before bringing his attention back to the game, and just in time to witness sand explode right at Matt’s feet. the volleyball rolled away as their teammates all yelled at him for missing the spike.

Jared walked up to him from behind and nudged his shoulder, ignoring his surprised little jump. “Dude, just set me up whenever you get the chance, then we’ll seriously kick some ass.”

Matt nodded, and both watched as Heather threw another perfect overhand serve that barely made it over the net. One of their teammates stumbled as he whacked the ball, but was still able to set it towards Matt, who gave the perfect set up to Jared. Thanks to a couple years of basketball, Jared leaped into the air for a vicious spike, even adding an enormous grunt for added effect. The ball was a flash of white as it shot past the net, splashing up sand where it landed. 

His teammates all gave him a whoop of congratulations, and Jared pointed a finger at Matt, both sharing a wide smile. “That’s what I’m fucking talking about! You’re the man!” 

Matt nodded back before jogging over to the sidelines during the rotation now that it was their serve, and Jared amusedly noticed that there was a little more bounce in his step. 

He noticed Heather staring his way, watching him and Matt’s little exchange, and Jared wondered what she was thinking as she seemed to regard him in a different light than the usual snark she’s been tossing his way.  

Four more girls walk over towards the court, and one quick glance their way told Jared they were definitely “those girls” from high school. It wasn’t that he’d really say he dated those kinds of girls—except for one exception—but from where he grew up, there was usually more than likely some sharp claws ready to stab out an eye underneath all the glam. At least, his ex certainly gave him that impression. 

A dark-brunette stepped ahead of the others. He took her in, and a feeling of unease filled the pit of his stomach at how familiar she seemed. He frowned and took a second look, and a jolt of pure, shocked terror raced up his spine and hit him right in the chest. 

There was no way…

She eyed him too, and when she too recognized him, her eyes widened before she quickly recovered and flashed him a Cheshire grin that gave him a sick feeling of oily, acidic, regurgitation. “Wow Jared, it’s nice to see you still love playing with balls.”

By now, others stopped and stared; even the other girls she’d walked over with all seemed confused. Her darker-skinned friend gestured between the two of them. “Wait, do you two know each other?”

Jared blinked several times before he felt himself freeze over and all emotions were blacked-out. It was like that part of his brain was shut down entirely and left nothing behind. “Mandy…. what the fuck are you doing here?”

To make matters even worse, Heather jogged over and  stood beside him; she was probably already buddied up with Mandy and the girls, and that’s why she’s been giving him so much attitude. Jared almost wanted to laugh at how ironic it was that for the first time in his life that he was surrounded by all these beautiful women and it was actually the worst thing that could be happening to him. 

Heather waved.“Hey Mandy, glad you gals could make it. Did you want to join in?” 

Mandy amusedly looked over at Jared once again, and he refused to squirm under her gaze. “We’d love to play some games. Can I be on Jared’s team?”

Jared just remained silent and stoic as ever, and also pointedly ignored Heather’s little frown as she glanced over at him. He turned away as he could feel the weight of everyone’s on him: Heather’s, Mandy’s, her three friends’, Brayden’s, Matt’s, even the green eyed chick still sitting over at the picnic table. Normally he was all about having everyone’s attention—he’d even say he thrived on it—but now he just couldn’t strain against the weight of it all any longer.

Heather flipped her long ponytail over her shoulder and rested her hands on her hips. “Okay, but before we get back to it, I guess a more interesting question is how exactly do you know Jared?” 

He wasn’t going to say a word; he was too busy trying to figure a way out to get out of his own personal hell and keep a shred of his dignity. The only thing missing was his parents. 

Mandy cleared her throat and turned back to Heather, clearly loving the scene she’s caused, and Jared wanted nothing more than to wipe that smug smile off her face and make her feel as miserable as he did. 

Mandy smile was ice cold. “Oh, we know each other alright. Jared just happens to be my ex-boyfriend.”

~~~

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.