Chapter 2: Guys and Girls

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The Exchange: Chapter 2

"Matt," I say slowly. "Is that short for something? Like Matthew?"

"Nope, not short for anything," Matt says, grinning. "Just Matt."

"Ah, okay," I nod. "Sorry you must get that question a lot. I...was just kind of surprised that there was someone else in the house. I thought it was just your parents who were going to be here."

I was tempted to turn on my heel, run back to my house (which is, unfortunately, hours away), and shake some sense into my mom. Of all the places she could send me to live in after my breakup with Ben, it had to have someone of the opposite gender? I make a mental note to call her soon and resolve, for the rest of the summer, to hide as much as possible from the (regrettably) cute guy standing in front of me.

"They might have forgotten to mention it. I'm visiting for the summer until school starts in the fall," he says, oblivious to my inner seething. He opens the door wider. "Why don't you come in first and we can talk over lunch?"

I follow him into the dining room where cutlery has already been set on a white table cloth. At the smell of gravy and spice, my stomach grumbles loudly. I feel my cheeks heat up but Matt doesn't notice and I slide into a chair across from him. He sets a plate for himself and hands me one, along with a napkin. Taking it as a cue to start eating, I thank him and help myself to a generous serving of lasagna.

"Out of curiosity, do you go to the University?"  I ask, breaking the silence.

Though I'm generally a talkative person, I always lose the ability to make good conversation when I meet someone new.

Small talk it is.

"Yeah, I'm going into my second year this September," he says with a nod. "Where do you go?"

"I'm going into the University this fall. Which still sounds weird to me because I can't believe it's so soon." I let out a sigh of defeat.

I pause and wait for a typical you'll-do-great pep talk whenever university is mentioned.

Instead, Matt looks thoughtful for a moment while chewing, before saying, "Honestly it is pretty tough at first, but you'll make a few cool friends and then you'll feel okay. If there's one thing I can tell you, I would say stay away from the heavy drinkers. It'll end up being pretty gross."

I wrinkle my nose at the image that pops in to my mind.

"Words of wisdom. I have a very vivid imagination, thanks," I say jokingly. My smile fades when I see Matt's serious expression and I shift around, uncomfortable under his intent gaze. "I'll make a mental note for myself." 

Matt cracks a smile before adding, "But don't study too hard either-"

He continues talking but my mind wanders and though I try to shake the thought off, I can't help but think of Ben.

"You'll be ready for higher level classes, don't worry! Knowing you though, you'll probably end up with your nose in textbooks all day...Nerd." I tease.

"Nah." Ben gives me a boyish grin. "I'll be more busy thinking about you."

It's an overly cheesy line but a laugh escapes my lips. Ben was always able to make me laugh.

"-so we can do that after if you're interested," Matt finishes, snapping me out of my thoughts. I give myself a mental slap on the forehead and will my mind to focus on his words.

"Oh um, sorry, I didn't catch the last part," I admit sheepishly. 

"I was thinking you could come with me tomorrow to watch a university soccer practice and then we can go grab a milkshake or something with the team afterwards," Matt says. "I have to go to a practice after dinner tonight too so I won't be able to hang out or show you around town."

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