Off Limits - Sawyer Bennett Page 0,1

of lunch, I was in love with her.

She was everything I was not. The kindest and most non-judgmental soul I had ever met. She had suffered tragedy time and again, yet she still looked at the world as if it was her personal oyster bed. I know a few times during our conversation, I just sat there with my mouth hanging open over some of the things she was telling me about her life. Horrible, horrible things that she had suffered...and yet, she still wore a genuine smile on her face.

By the end of that lunch, two things happened. I apologized profusely to Danny for my behavior and my thoughts. Danny—being Danny—didn't even bother to accept the apology. Instead, she insisted that there was nothing to apologize for. She understood that I had been influenced, and that my loyalties should have been to family. And then she told me that she would very much like to start over with me and become my friend.

See why I fell in love with her?

The other thing that happened after that lunch was an immediate, embarrassing and crushing realization that I was a complete bitch. Danny's open acceptance of all people, most notably myself, made me vow that I needed to change. I needed to knock down those walls of invincibility and entitlement that I had put around myself, and I needed to open up to people. All kinds of people.

And the next two years I was at Columbia were the happiest of my life. I made it my goal to open myself up to experience. I wanted to try everything that I had always been denied.

And the freedom was intoxicating.

I was away from my parents and I had made new and very, very interesting friends that my mother would surely hate if I ever brought them home. That filled me with joy beyond measure for if my mother was sure to disapprove, that meant it was probably perfect for the new Emily.

Best of all, Ryan had signed with the New York Rangers and Danny returned to Julliard so I got to spend a lot of time with them. I had a lot of lost time to make up for with Ryan, and I had a new and blossoming friendship with Danny to build.

The only thing that sucked about my life was having to return home to Boston in the summers.

Don't get me wrong. I love Boston. It's my home. But it also means that I am back under my mother's watch and I now have to put on an act. The Emily that they sent off to Columbia no longer existed and they had no clue of her demise. Perhaps a future in Hollywood was in the cards for me because I had my snotty, debutante act down to an actual science when I was around my mother. I was even able to hang with some of the people in my old crowd and they still thought me to be one of them.

Luckily, I had only one more week of summer break and then I was heading back to Columbia. I missed New York so much. I missed Ryan and Danny, and I missed my crazy roommate, Fil.

Fil was a prime example of my zeal to try all things new and to be accepting of those things with which I had no experience. We were paired together as dorm mates our first year at Columbia and she was my first real test as the new, accepting and non-judgmental Emily. Thinking back at our first meeting, I'm surprised we didn't kill each other.

I had already moved into my dorm. My parents couldn't be bothered to help me so Ryan and Danny came over and got me settled in. Not ten minutes after they had left, my dorm room burst open. I had been busy making my bed and turned to see a tall, lithe woman standing there. She was wearing a pair of ratty, Levi jeans, a plain white t-shirt and dirty sneakers. She was really quite pretty with an olive toned complexion and very short, very black hair that couldn't have been more than an inch in length. She wore no makeup and had beautiful blue eyes.

Once I got past my initial perusal, I noticed that she was sneering at me. I can't say I was overly shocked when she said, "Oh, great. I got stuck with little Miss Debbie Debutante."

I looked down at my clothes wondering how she could guess that. I