Book cover of “Cozy Crossroads“ by Memoree

Cozy Crossroads

  • Genre: Romance
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Language: English
  • Author: Memoree
Chloe, a college student, takes the bold step of living with three male roommates, initially feeling overwhelmed by the prospect. Their first weeks are filled with awkward moments, but as time passes, they forge a deep friendship. And there is one special guy who makes Chloe's heart flatter whenever she sees him — Nash, an arrogant playboy with fla... 

Chapter 1. Plan

I wanted to be as independent as my peers by moving into a student flat. While most of the people I knew from high school were eager to leave Rhode Island, I preferred to stay. I questioned the need to uproot my life and move a hundred miles away when I had been accepted into an elite high school relatively close to home. It seemed like the worst option, and I often felt sad and isolated. I was always in my room, sober, while my friends were enjoying themselves at the frat house. Despite having savings, I couldn’t purchase a place of my own because no one I knew was looking for a new residence. At school, it seemed like everyone had friends except me.

When the bus arrived, I could finally relax. I made my way to the entrance, taking a moment to glance around the university grounds. The mood remained unchanged. The campus was deserted except for summer researchers and students.

Since I didn’t have any obligations that day, I didn’t bother to take a briefcase or purse. I was meeting an old friend for coffee, dressed in casual summer attire—just a tank top and shorts.

I walked leisurely toward “The Grind,” a popular coffee spot on campus located in a charming building near the performing arts complex. Upon entering, I scanned the sale signs.

I used to be quite a loner. Strangers made me nervous, yet my friends often overwhelmed me with their enthusiasm. Much of my time, I spent alone with myself, trying to experience various emotions.

“Hey, what can I get for you?” the woman behind the register asked, momentarily distracting me.

“Um, could I have an iced latte?” I asked, rummaging through my purse for money.

“What size?” she asked disinterestedly.

“A medium, please,” I replied with a grin as I reached for my wallet.

“Regular milk?”

“Yes, please,” I replied, maintaining a casual demeanor.

“$10,” she announced, which caught me off guard. $10 for an iced latte?! That’s sick!

“I’ll pay with my card.” Sighing, I retrieved my debit card from my wallet and tapped it against the machine. Once the purchase was done, I took a seat at a table, waiting for Elias.

I placed my bag on the back of the chair and reached for my phone. The moment I found it, my phone alerted me to a new text message, and I quickly unlocked it and read the message:

Elias: “Running late, see you in five.”

It was currently 1:16 p.m., so I expected him to arrive shortly.

“Chlo-tato!” I recognized Elias’s massive frame as he approached. I stood up and gave him a joyful embrace. Only he used that nickname.

“Hello, Elias.” We exchanged grins and laughed. He had shaved off his mustache and gotten a new haircut, claiming it attracted more attention from the girls, and he was right. He seemed to attract pretty girls effortlessly.

“You look good. What’s new?”

“Not much. How about you grab some coffee, and we catch up?” I suggested, and he approached the counter.

A few minutes later, he returned to our table with a large mug of coffee. He settled in, leaving his flannel behind.

“What did you order?” I asked.

“Just a black drip coffee,” he replied, taking a sip of his black coffee. “Oh, it’s too hot.”

“So, how have you been? How was your co-op?” I asked.

“It was great, and I learned a lot,” he said with a shrug.

Due to our busy schedules, Elias and I hadn’t been in touch as much as I would have liked. We were never extremely close friends, but now, we barely saw each other.

“In two weeks, I’ll be starting my job,” he informed me.

“What?” I nudged him playfully. “That’s fantastic! Congratulations!”

“It’s pretty cool that this degree can get you a job right away,” he remarked, making me scoff and roll my eyes. “I can’t believe high school is behind us.”

I often forgot that we were in different years.

“So, what are your plans?”

“I’ll be heading back to New York in a few days,” he replied.

“Really?” I raised an eyebrow. “When you suggested meeting up, you chose a convenient time.”

“You’ve got me there,” he admitted with a chuckle. “I’ve been quite busy.”

“I understand,” I assured him as the cashier brought me my beverage. I stirred my drink with the straw, not feeling particularly sad about our distant friendship. Elias and I had never been particularly close, especially after we finished studying philosophy together.

“What about you?” Elias changed the subject.

“Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my troubles,” I replied, earning a laugh from him. “I’m currently working on my honors thesis.”

“Wow, impressive!” he mumbled, nodding in approval. “What’s your thesis about?”

“History, with an emphasis on the early modern era,” I explained, and he nodded in understanding.

I had deliberately avoided conforming to the stereotypical image of a Brown University student — flashy clothes, numerous piercings, and eager participation in class. I preferred to keep a low profile, engrossed in my reading.

“What are you researching?” Elias asked, to which I typically shrugged in response.

“My professor and I are still refining it, but it’s about the evolution of misogyny in ancient societies.”

“That sounds like a lot of work,” Elias remarked, leaning back and running a hand through his sandy hair. “Are you still working at the Coleman pool?”

During my first year of college, I worked as a lifeguard at the campus recreation center pool, wanting to put my qualifications to good use. I had applied for an on-campus position and often swam during breaks, occasionally working as a lane guard.

“Actually, I received a pay raise just last month,” I said with a hint of pride, knowing Elias was teasing me.

“Cool,” he replied. “Have you changed much?”

I contained my excitement as I responded to his question. “I’ve lost some weight, not a lot, but I’m feeling better about my appearance. My hair is longer, and I have a summer tan since we last met. When you and I used to hang out, I had a ‘homeless chic’ look, with baggy pants, oversized sweaters, and beat-up sneakers. Today, I got a good night’s sleep, did my hair and makeup, and feel put together.”

“I’ve been feeling better lately, maybe because summer is here,” I added with a playful jab at him. “You look different, too, but every time I see you, you look different.”

Elias chuckled. “I tried growing a mustache, but my girlfriend didn’t like it,” he explained.

“Is Kayla back in the picture?” I asked, struggling to remember the identity of his previous crush.

“No,” he replied, “I’ve met someone new in Jersey.”

Elias had a reputation for being quite the ladies’ man, collecting phone numbers and approaching dating and relationships with a carefree attitude. It wasn’t a path I would ever consider. He was a walking warning sign.

“Her name is Emma, and I told her I needed to handle some things at home before I could return.”

“What’s she like?” I asked.

“Fun, nice, and tall,” he answered, earning an eye roll from me. “What about you? Anyone special in your life?”

“No one,” I firmly replied. I didn’t have a car and shared a house with my parents, whose bedroom was next to mine. Evening dates were out of the question.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less about being in a relationship. I was too busy with my studies to even consider dating, and it had no significant impact on my life.

“When was the last time you went on a date?” Elias raised an eyebrow.

“I honestly can’t remember,” I admitted.

“You’re still living with your parents?” Elias couldn’t hide his surprise. “It’s been two years.”

“I am,” I confirmed. “Living alone in the city is expensive, and I prefer the comforts of home.” I leaned back in my chair, crossing my legs defensively.

I genuinely enjoyed being at home. I had a great relationship with my parents and siblings, even my annoying younger brother Jesse. I cherished not having to cook, playing Scrabble, and watching “The Great British Bake Off” with my mom. Simply put, I disliked the daily grind of work.

“You should move out,” Elias asserted.

“No shit, Elias.” I rolled my eyes. “I know,” I sighed. “But it’s not that simple. I’m not sure if I’m mature enough to handle it. I never seem to have everything together, and I worry about how I’d manage to pay my bills.”

Elias furrowed his brow and pulled out his phone. “Wait, I have a solution that could fix both our problems.”

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