Gamed(Bad Boy Romance)

By: Claire Adams



His face on the magazine cover kept eclipsing my textbook. I recognized him from high school, junior high school actually, and the thrill of seeing him again was more exciting than gross anatomy. I tried to tell myself it was the magazine that was grabbing my attention. I had obsessed over the new hit multi-player online game Dark Flag since it came out. Owen Redd was rising to dominance as the game's first clan leader. He was a star in the gamer community.

And my sister's boyfriend, I reminded myself.

I never understood how he put up with Sienna. She had wanted to change him from the moment they met. My perfect sister, with her stellar G.P.A. and her driving ambition to be a surgeon, wanted her boyfriend to be more than a gamer. I always suspected she started dating him as a challenge. Sienna was always trying to improve, perfect, and control the world around her. Owen struck me as another project she took on – change the school's most popular rebel into the prom king. She kept a framed picture of their prom court on the desk in her dorm. Owen's crown was crooked, but he and Sienna were still together.

I wondered if she knew he was on the cover of a magazine. Sienna would not be impressed, but it really was a big deal. I reached for my phone.

"The studying going well?" my roommate asked.

"Can you believe the professor gives us a quiz at the start of every class? Seems cruel," I said.

Darla shook her head and laughed. "I heard he charts the quiz scores on a board."

I groaned. My sister's name was on the top of that board and I could not help but look at it every time I sat down to struggle through another quiz.

Darla gave my long hair a sympathetic tug. "Have you ever considered changing your major? I know nursing is a noble profession, but as far as I can see, you don't like anything about it."

"I like it," I said. "It’s just a lot of memorizing and papers and sitting around studying new research. There's not a lot of, I don't know, action to it."

"Well, if you're looking for action, I heard there's a Dark Flag party over in the basement of the Mathematics lab," Darla said.

My roommate was the opposite of me in many ways – an art major with a concentration in textiles – but she was also a gamer. I stood up to lead the way out the door.

"Wait, you forgot your phone," Darla stopped me. "Ugh, I think your advisor is calling."

I looked at the caller ID and bit my lip. Alice Bonton had a sixth sense about when I was going to do something fun instead of study. There was no reason I couldn’t let the call go to voicemail, except my father's nagging motto: never put off for tomorrow what you can deal with right now.

"Ms. Alice, how is your evening?" I asked. Darla shrugged her shoulders and left without me.

"Quinn, I'm glad I caught you. I mean, I'm not glad, I'm just grateful you answered your phone," my advisor said.

"If this is about skipping class last week, its sounds much worse than it was. I was actually volunteering my time down at the blood drive. I just forgot to get a volunteer form signed," I said.

"Skipping class again? That's the fourth time this month. That's once a week. Quinn, I'm concerned. I know this isn't the time to discuss it, but–" her voice cracked. "I'm not sure how to do this."

"I can make up all the work, I promise. I'm studying right now. Literally, the book is open in front of me. I love nursing, I really do. I've just been distracted lately." I stopped myself before I started talking about the new game. My college advisor would not be impressed to hear how dedicated I was to a new online game.

"When was the last time you went home? Spent any time with your family?"

"I don't know, fall break? So, well, I guess about a month," I said. "But I'm going home for Thanksgiving. Sienna wants to stay on campus, but I agreed to go home. I'm in charge of making the gravy. Sienna makes the best stuffing, but she's only staying on campus to get a head start on studying for finals. She's pre-med and wants to be a surgeon."

There was silence on the other end of the line. Finally, when I had held my breath long enough to see a few stars creeping around the edges of my vision, my advisor said, "I know you look up to your sister, but I hope you have considered finding your own path."

I could feel dread hanging over the conversation. Ms. Alice's words were heavy and she struggled to speak. The same weight settled over me. "Am I getting kicked out of the nursing program?"

"What?" my advisor asked. "No. I mean, I don't know, the skipping class is getting out of hand. I just think now is a good time for you to consider what you really want to do. You shouldn't stick with a major just because of family expectations. Instead of following in your sister's footsteps–"

"Ms. Alice, are you alright? Maybe I should make an appointment during your office hours," I said. "I'm going online right now to put in the request. I don't want to take up any more of your time this evening."

"Wait, Quinn, I'm calling late for a reason," my advisor said. She cleared her throat and paused again.

"Oh no! You're right. I didn't know how late it was! I promised a friend I would cover his shift at the front desk of our dorm. I gotta go, Ms. Alice. I'm sorry. Thanks for your concern. We'll talk soon!" I hung up the phone and put it down as if it burned my hand.

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