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Made of steel (made of s.., p.10
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.10

           Ivy Smoak
slower 1  faster

  Chapter 10


  I stepped up onto the sidewalk in front of my dorm building. Even though there were tons of people around me, I felt alone. Never again would anyone truly know who I was. But maybe that was for the best. Maybe Summer Brooks needed to disappear. What was left of her anyway? Pain? Scars?

  Yet another person bumped into me without an apology. I pulled my suitcases closer to my sides. I would have chosen absolutely anywhere else for college. But I hadn't gotten to make a single decision about my life since my parents had died. Just like everything else, I was forced to go here. It could have been worse, though. Mr. Crawford had said I was free to do whatever I wanted, free to be whoever I wanted, as long as I blended in. And I wanted to be different. I wanted to be brave and strong.

  "Hey, do you need help with that?" a man in a bright yellow shirt asked me.

  I shook my head and gripped the handles even tighter in my hand. Even though I had no idea what was inside, everything I owned was in these suitcases. I wasn't brave. I wasn't strong.

  He pointed to his shirt. "I'm helping with move in. I can get that if..."

  "I don't need any help."

  He shrugged. "Suit yourself. Are you in Dorm B?" He gestured to the tall building in front of me.

  I nodded.

  "Check-in is on the first floor in the common room. Just go through the main doors and head left. There's a freshmen welcome shindig on the Green tonight. Make sure to come, it's going to be a blast." He left to go help someone else.

  I exhaled slowly. He wasn't trying to mug me. He was just being nice. I glanced around at all the people once more. No one knew me here. It was a fact. Or else I would have been sent somewhere else. This was a new beginning. I can do this.

  In ten years, I hadn't lost my optimism. I would have thought it would be one of the first things beaten out of me. But it wasn't. I still hoped. I still dreamed. What I had lost was my confidence. My voice. I was a shell of the person that I once was. I hid in the shadows, hoping not to be seen, hoping not to draw unwanted attention toward myself. Somewhere along the way I had become invisible.

  Just because I needed to blend in, it didn't mean I needed to be invisible though. There was no reason to live that way. I wasn't Summer Brooks anymore. I barely recognized myself when I looked in the mirror. This was my fresh start. I could be whoever I wanted. I really can do this.

  I took my first step toward my new life. And I held my breath for five seconds as I walked toward the front doors. For some reason, whenever I was nervous, I held my breath. And when I exhaled, I'd know if something good or bad was about to happen. In five seconds I'd know. I exhaled when I reached the front of the line at check in.

  "Welcome to Eastern University," the girl sitting behind a folding table said with a huge smile. "We just need you to sign in and we can get you all set up. What's your name?"

  This was going to be a good thing. I smiled back. "Sadie Davis." It sounded weird to say it out loud.

  "Okay, Sadie." She glanced at the clipboard. "You're in room 1216. It's a double. I'm sure you've already been chatting with your roommate online, though."

  I hadn't. I nodded instead of saying that, though. It had only been two days since I had been told I was coming here.

  "Can I just see your ID real quick?"

  I handed her the image of what I looked like now. The person I didn't recognize. This strange person that was suddenly me.

  "Perfect. Just sign here." She handed me my ID back and slid the clipboard toward me.

  I lifted up the pen and signed my name as quickly as I could. My signature looked strange. I'd have to practice it.

  "And here's your room key and a fob to get into the building. Just wave it in front of the scanner outside the building in order to get in. And try not to let anyone in behind you. It's the main security precaution we have on campus."

  "Got it." I'd definitely be following those instructions.

  "Okay, you're all set. There's a freshmen welcome party on the Green tonight. I know there's a comedian and I think there's also a movie playing. It should be a lot of fun. Make sure to stop by and meet some of your fellow classmates."

  I nodded. If everyone else was going to a party on the Green tonight, I would be going too. That was the first tip of Blending-In 101. Do what everyone else does. I said goodbye to the girl that was all smiles and made my way over to the elevators.

  A group of girls were crowded by the doors laughing about something. I figured a lot of people would already know each other. In-state schools were always cheaper. Summer Brooks wouldn't have said hi to these girls. She wouldn't want them to ask her questions about where she lived. She wouldn't want them to ask her questions about the random bruises she always seemed to have. I wasn't Summer Brooks anymore, though. But I was also supposed to be blending in. I kept my head down as I stepped onto the elevator, keeping to my old ways.

  They were chatting about some hot guy they had just run into. Dating was the absolute last thing on my mind. Is that what everyone was going to be talking about? What if I didn't have anything in common with anyone here? I stepped off the elevator once I reached my floor. The girls' laughter disappeared as soon as the doors shut again. There were a few people in the hall. I tried harder to smile at these strangers as I lugged my suitcases down the hallway. They'd be living near me all year. I might as well try to be friendly. Finally, I found room 1216.

  For a moment I hesitated. Should I knock? Would that be weird because I live here too? Trying not to overthink it, I put my key into the lock and slowly opened the door.

  "You must be Sadie!"

  I didn't even get to take in the room before a bubbly girl appeared right in front of me. She looked like the girls from the elevator. Perfectly smooth blonde hair. Perfectly straight teeth. Perfectly tanned skin. But she was smiling at me. I instantly liked her. Especially because she had a book in her hand.

  "Hi." I smiled back. "I actually don't know your name..."

  "I'm Kinsley," she stuck her hand out to me. "But most of my friends call my Kins. Who am I kidding though, I literally know no one here. Well, except you. Most of my friends went to out-of-state schools. They couldn't wait to get away. I have no idea why though. I love it here."

  I shook her hand. "What are you reading?"

  "Oh." She laughed. "Don't make fun of me. I was feeling a little homesick and it's one of my favorites from when I was younger." She held up the book. It was a worn copy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

  "That's actually one of my favorites." I had probably read it a dozen times. Reading had been an escape for me growing up. And when I could relate to the characters, I was more than happy to escape from my actual life.

  Her smile grew. "It's great, right? Geez, when I saw you didn't have a Facebook, I thought you were going to be totally bizarre. I'm so glad you're normal."

  Normal. I wouldn't describe myself as normal at all. But Sadie Davis could be normal. I'm normal now.

  "I already put my stuff on this side," she gestured to her totally decked out side of the room. "But we can rearrange the furniture however you want. I was just trying to get my stuff organized."

  "Everything looks great." I placed one of my suitcases on the empty bed and the other on the floor.

  "Do you want some help unpacking?"

  "No, that's okay. Really, I barely brought anything. I'm going to have to go shopping for some new clothes and stuff. Thanks for offering though." I didn't want her going through my suitcases when I had no idea what was in them yet.

  "Well, welcome to New York City." She smiled. "That's one of the many things we're famous for. Maybe we can go shopping sometime this week? God, I'm so nervous to start class on Monday, aren't you? My schedule looks insanely hard."

  "Mine too." I liked that she talked a lot. It meant I didn't have to. I sat down on the plastic lined mattress and pulled my hoodie up slightly around my neck. I couldn't go shopping with her until the bruises went
away. "Shopping later this week would be great."

  "Awesome. We're going to have a blast. So where ya from?"

  A small town in Wyoming. I had lived in Colorado for longer than I had lived in Wyoming. But no matter how much time passed, Wyoming would always be home to me because it was the last place I had lived with my parents. I thought about what my new ID said. "North Dakota."

  She whistled. "You came a long way. Did you live in a city out there? Is that why you wanted to come here?"

  "The exact opposite actually. I've always wanted to live in a city." I opened up my suitcase and pulled out some of my clothes. I felt uncomfortable lying to her. She seemed so nice. I looked down at the jean shorts and tank top in my hand. They were the perfect size. I thought for sure the suitcases would be filled with horrible clothes in gray and tan, perfect for blending in. But most of the clothes actually looked a lot like the outfit Kins was wearing. They'd probably make me fit in even better than lame neutral colored clothing. I'd look like every other college student on campus. I didn't even want to think about how much money Mr. Crawford had spent to make this happen.

  "Well, I can't imagine living anywhere else," Kins said. "You're going to love it here."

  That will be a first.

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