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"You were crafted for me. And I, for you," his breath caresses my ear, coaxing my eyelids to seal shut tightly. The proximity sends a shiver down my spine as he leans in, his words dripping with a seductive promise. "I was designed to love you. To make you mine," my breath hitches at his audacity, and my mind spirals into a realm of forbidden fantasies. Images of his office flash in my mind, the desk becoming a canvas for our illicit desires, and I wonder how his tongue might taste against mine. He withdraws slightly, inhaling deeply, and in that moment, his eyes, already dark as the night, seem to plunge into an abyss of even deeper intensity. "I know you crave me too, Ulrica." Strength, intimidation, cunning, and resilience—Rendall encompasses them all. He's a tempest, a force of nature, and I, in contrast, am the rainbow that emerges after the chaos. Our connection is inexplicable, a convergence of opposites that leaves an indelible mark on the canvas of our destinies. As I step into the unfamiliar town of Gilgamesh to embark on my first year of university, I am oblivious to the twists fate has prepared for me. I anticipated the wild parties, the endless assignments, and the sleepless nights. What I didn't foresee was him.

Clouds of Departure

I lay on top of my neatly made bed, gazing at the ceiling of my room in deep thought. Patterns and clouds, painted by my mother during my childhood, adorn the entirety of the roof. Intricate designs that I never truly appreciated until now. It's a testament to my mother's artistic skills, a trait we share and one that fills me with pride.

As I lose myself in the detailed strokes, I'm reminded of my mother's talent. However, as age has caught up with her, she has reluctantly abandoned her painting hobby. A pang of regret surfaces, wishing she hadn't.

The clouds above evoke memories of my carefree childhood and the boundless possibilities each day held. The world was limitless, and fear was a distant concept. Glancing at the clock on my nightstand, I sigh, acknowledging that I must leave soon.


The mere word sends a shiver down my spine, a reminder that I'm about to leave behind everything and everyone familiar. Despite the anxiety, a reassuring thought lingers in my mind—I keep telling myself this is for the best. My first deposit is already in place, a formal commitment to the impending adventure.

I rise from my bed, smoothing out the creases left by my body on the blanket. Turning around, I hesitantly grab my suitcase from the ground and start to exit my room. Standing on the porch, I gaze at my car. Why does this departure feel so difficult? My belongings are neatly packed, ready for the impending adventure, yet doubts linger. Am I truly prepared to step away from the cocoon of my small life with my parents?

"Ulrica, I have something for you." My mother's voice startles me from behind. I jump slightly, unprepared for her stealthy approach. I sheepishly meet her gaze, mirroring her small grin.

"What is it?" I ask with a small voice.

"A necklace. It was your grandmother's, and she got it from your great-grandfather. I know she wanted you to have it, and I do too," she says softly, passing me a small blue box.

Carefully opening it, I immediately recognize the beautiful opal rock—a cherished possession of my grandmother. Its green and blue hues dance together, a mesmerizing spectacle. My mother knew of my affinity for this necklace, and tears began to well up as I gazed at her.

"Thank you," I breathe. This necklace, passed down through the generations, is the perfect parting gift. I look down at the necklace and smile.

"Could you help me put it on?" I ask my mother gingerly.

"Of course!" she says, gently retrieving the necklace and clasping it around my neck. I turn to face her.

"Thank you again. This really means so much to me," I tell my mother.

"I know your grandmother would be so happy to see you wearing it," my mother says with unshed tears in her eyes. "Please wear it always—and think of me."

"I miss her too, Mom. And of course, I will," I say while gently holding her arm. "I'm also really going to miss you guys while I'm gone, but I'm always a FaceTime away," I say teasingly.

After hugging my mother goodbye and giving my dad a small kiss on the cheek, I hit the road. The drive feels long, and I'm already a couple of hours away from my parent's house. Finished snacking on a whole bag of Cheetos (the puffy kind, of course), I decide to stop at a nearby convenience store.

Pulling into the parking lot, I turn off my car and step out, realizing my back is killing me. Walking into the store, I hear the bell chime above me and decide to buy a drink. As I approach the counter, I almost drop the blue Pepsi can. Standing in front of me is one of the cutest guys I have ever seen.

He looks to be similar to my age, maybe a couple of years older. I'm guessing he's about 24 or so. Blonde hair, full lips, piercing blue eyes, and a body made of almost pure muscle. Woah. He gazes at me, slightly cocking his head to the side.

"I haven't seen you around here before," he says, almost narrowing his eyes accusingly.

"Do you know every single person who walks into this store?" I jokingly say that I am trying to make this interaction less uncomfortable.


"Oh," I say while pressing my lips together. This blondie is super weird, I think to myself.

"What are you doing out here? This town never sees new folk," Blondie says.

"I'm actually going to school here. It starts in a few days, so..." I trail off. Can I just buy this Pepsi?

"Wow. Well, you must be a smart cookie to get into Gilgamesh University. They don't usually let in the outlanders," Blondie replies with a coy wink. I smile in return while looking down so he doesn't see my face turn a slight shade of pink. I hand him the Pepsi, and then he hands it back to me.

"No charge; you're new around here. Consider this your welcome gift to Gilgamesh," he says teasingly.

"Uh, thanks." I smile gratefully and turn around to leave. As I open the door to leave, he jogs over to me and gently grabs my arm. Now facing him, my eyebrows draw together in confusion.

He opens his mouth to say something, then shuts it again. "Er, by the way, I'm Dacia. What did you say your name was again?"

"I didn't," I say with a smile, and I wink his way. "Although, if you really must know, my name is Ulrica. Everyone just calls me Ulry, though," I say with a slight shrug and smile.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Ulry," Dacia replies with a slight chuckle. He then looks me square in the eyes and says, "Be careful out here, though; some of us bite."

Finally leaving the store, I get back in my car and start driving down the road. It turns out that the heart of the town of Gilgamesh was only a couple of minutes away from the store I had just been to. I pass by a giant wooden sign that looks like it's slowly deteriorating, which reads 'GILGAMESH est. 1888'. Wow, I think.

This place is so small and beautiful.

I'm suddenly surrounded by dozens of forests and greenery all around me. Opening my car window, I slowly inhale and exhale the fresh air all around me. This is nothing like the city. It's perfect.

Eventually, I make it to my new home. My parents helped me purchase a small apartment, only a 10-minute drive from Gilgamesh University. Unloading everything from my car to the apartment takes a solid 30 minutes, and I'm grateful that most of the furniture came alongside the apartment, so I didn't have much to set up. Slowly putting things in place around the small apartment, I look out the window.

Sure enough, the view is gorgeous. From where I'm standing, I can see a multitude of kilometers of trees and forestry. I mentally take notes to go exploring in the near future.

For now, I just want to take a nap. It really has been a long day.

I begin to strip off my clothes and change into one of my ex-boyfriend's t-shirts. I don't miss him or anything, as we have been broken up for quite a while. It just fits quite largely on me, and it is really comfy. The shirt reaches just under my butt cheeks, and I'm left wearing only a shirt and some pants. I crawl into the bed, under my new duvet covers, and close my eyes.

Suddenly, I peel my eyes open and stare at the ceiling above me.

Maybe I can get used to a ceiling without clouds.

Whirlwind Arrivals

Just like the ceiling of my apartment, the sky the next morning was devoid of clouds. A sigh escapes my lips as I glance up from my crumpled map, futilely attempting to smooth it against my pants.

"God, it sure is hot here," I mutter, regretting my choice of jeans. Anxiety mingles with the humid air, causing sweat to pool in the small of my back. Supposedly, there are campus tours today, but ironically, I can't seem to locate the meeting place.

The campus sprawls like a tiny city, with an apartment-style building to my left and some sort of pub to my right. Debating whether to ask for directions, I opt against it to avoid embarrassment before classes even begin. I study my map again, trying to decipher the labyrinth of roads. Deciding to continue walking forward, I realize I'm going to miss the last tour, and a low groan escapes me.

"I guess this walk will be self-guided."

As I trek forward, the quiet campus reveals a few passers


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