|Chapter 1|

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S T E L L A

Central Washington University: home of the wild cats. In the heart of Ellensburg, Washington, my future would start. Excitement sparks through my limbs as I pull on my deep red, freshly washed, wild cat imprinted CWU sweatshirt. It was in the beginning of fall. The leaves began transitioning to colors of mustard, crimson, and dusty brown. The air was crisp and the sky was cloudy.The weather was chilling, but perfect for cuddling.

 I bite on my lip nervously as anticipation crawls through my nerves. Not knowing what to expect out of this college experience drives me insane. I can't even begin to fathom what the perfect college experience for me will be like. It dawns on me that I may not have the best of experiences at all. 

"Could you watch my phone? My dad said he would face-time me before we leave," I call out. Harry saunters into our bathroom, pulling his long, Tarzan hair into a mun. 

"Fuck, I just walked out of there," He groans, but still turns into the room again. 

"Is everything packed?" I shout out again. He reappears with my phone, and to my dismay, I have no calls or texts..yet.

"Pretty much." He stuffs his hands into his pockets. 

"Good. I'm ready to leave here already." 

"Those apartments by Ellensburg are way more upscale than these," Harry points out and I can't help but smile. We had decided two months prior to moving in day that we would find another apartment closer to Ellensburg. They were considerably costly, but Harry and I both can afford to live there. I'm the daughter of a CEO and Harry is a drug dealer. Plus, it makes my father more at ease to know that we would be living in a gated apartment complex.

"You look. . . cute," He comments, grinning. He pulls a black sweat shirt over his head, along with distressed jeans and dark grey lace up boots. I had tried to persuade him to wear the CWU hoodie, but he refused. Giving him head didn't sway his position either. 

"You do too. I know all the girls there will be drooling over you." I roll my eyes and run the flatiron over my hair. "Don't do what I wouldn't do." I murmur. 

"You're wearing a fucking sweatshirt alone and it's making me hard. How do you think I feel?" Harry pulls out his phone when it vibrates loudly in his pocket and I curiously peek over. "Liam with his baby pictures." He grumbles.

Mickey gave birth to a healthy 6 pound, 7 ounce baby later in May, around our graduation time. Liam luckily was able to walk across the stage but had to rush into the hospital later on that night. It was a girl. They named her Avena Priscilla Payne. I had painfully watched Harry hold Mickey's hand and talk to her through the glass windows while Liam rambled to me about how beautiful his baby girl was. My heart wrenched in my chest as Harry had wiped a tear from Mickey's cheek, even Liam  tensed standing next to me. He said he wanted to tie all the loose knots he had with her for the sake of the baby. I let it go. 

"I can't believe Avena is already 3 months." I say. 

Harry nods  and tucks the phone back into his back pocket. He takes a deep breath and looks at me through the mirror. His eyes rake me up and down thoughtfully until he finally says, "Whatever happens, don't let anything change you. I know college is where life really begins, but don't forget where you belong. Your heart is here. Who you really are is here. And even though you may feel like you have to change to fit in with the people you'll meet there, just . . . don't forget." His voice sounds worried and strained. Don't forget me.  Is what he's truly telling me. My heart twists in my ribs. 

"I won't." I press my palm to his cheek and smile. He smiles back and it reaches his eyes.

"I'm proud of you, Harry. You didn't have to go through all that crap to get into this school, but you did. And I'm happy for you." 

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