Definitely, Maybe in LoveBy: Ophelia London
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
From Pride and Prejudice
“Spring Honeycutt, nice of you to finally join us.”
All eyes, including Professor Masen’s, were glued on me as my attempt to stealthily enter the classroom fifteen minutes late failed.
“Sorry,” I said, hovering just inside the door. “I was…held up.”
With his gaze still boring into me, Masen tilted his head but didn’t speak, as if waiting for me to further explain.
“Um.” I gripped my backpack. “On my way to campus, I found a cat in the bushes.”
A few guys at the back of the room snickered.
“It was injured. I called the SPCA and waited. There wasn’t any blood, but it couldn’t walk, so…” I wondered why Masen was allowing me to take up lecture time. Weren’t we discussing Thoreau and Walden today? “It, uh, was a gray tabby with a collar but no tags.”
Masen leaned against his desk and did his chin rub thing. It always gave me the impression he was annoyed.
“I don’t even like cats,” I added for some reason, “but, I mean, I couldn’t just leave it.” I felt a lump in my throat, remembering how its sad, glassy eyes had looked at me and how, when I’d gently stroked its back, it tried to purr. “There was a group of people by the time Animal Control arrived, so I left then. Anyway, yeah, that’s why I’m late.”
As breezily as possible, I walked down the third row and slid into an empty desk, wondering how red my cheeks were.
Masen nodded, his expression kind of baffled, then he pointed at the whiteboard, continuing with his lecture.
I barely had time to round my mouth and exhale before a sneery female voice hissed in my direction. “Classic entrance, Spring. So very thorough.”
I didn’t have to look to see who had just hissed at me. When we were freshman two years ago, Lilah Charleston had forgotten to leave her “mean girl” mentality back in high school where it belonged. It sucked enough that her sorority house was only two blocks away from my digs, but we also both chose Environmental Earth Science as a major. So I was forced to share a classroom with her at least twice a semester.
Usually I just ignored her, but wouldn’t that be setting bad precedents for the rest of our junior year? Not that stooping to her level got her off my back. Ever since I’d beaten her out for a freshman-year internship, her goal had been to make my life a living hell. I eyed her outfit. In a perfect world, Lilah decked out in head-to-toe leather while sitting in our Sustainable Earth class would have been grounds for automatic failure.
“Thanks,” I whispered to her when Masen’s back was turned. “And nice boots.” I left it at that. She knew what I meant. Baby cows were so much cuter than any pair of boots Lilah could wear.
She narrowed her icy-blue eyes but then kind of tucked her feet under her desk.
At a quarter to twelve, Professor Masen removed his glasses and ended class. Hallelujah. If I was fast enough, I could meet Mel at the campus café for lunch.
“At least I wash my hair,” Lilah said as she gathered up her books. “I can smell you from here.” She leaned away, her nose wrinkling in disgust.
Nice. She played the “you stink” card. I guess we really were back in high school.
I reached for a handful of the skinny blond braids hanging over my shoulder and stroked them protectively, my thumb and index finger pausing over the tiny dark blue bead on the end of one.
“Good luck finding any self-respecting guy who’ll come within ten feet of those things.” As Lilah was talking, a muscly jock wearing a Rugby shirt gave me the half-smile/nod combo, then winked as he strolled by.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to date, it was more of a time-constraint thing. There were simply not enough hours in the day and much more pressing issues on my plate. I would think about guys after earning my PhD.
“Are those supposed to make you look tough?” Lilah asked all sneeringly. “Because they don’t.” She eyed me up and down. “Freak.”