Exes and O’s by Lakeshia Poole
Publication Date: November 24th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
For some the game of love and college seems rigged. After a few tough losses they resort to doing things they thought they would never do to turn their challenges into championships…
Ciara and Xander each came to Aurbor Grove University with the perfect game plan. She would score another chance at finally living up to her college dreams and the high academic expectations set by her mother. He would become the star quarterback and hometown hero he was groomed to be. Yet they find themselves entangled in drama—from the exes who refuse to live without them to the financial struggles that make it seem like college is meant only for the elite to win.
Their friendship has a rocky start, but as the semester passes along they find that their most peaceful moments are spent with each other. Will the pains of the past and pressure on the fields of love and learning squash all hope for their future?
Exes and O’s is Lakeshia Poole’s drama-filled, romantic sequel to Don’t Let Me Fall.
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Aurbor Grove University didn’t feel like just a place. Not anymore. It was a living part of Ciara Capers. Like a phantom limb, she felt remnants of her life from before dangling, but not really there.
Families carting luggage, mini refrigerators, and large containers whizzed by her. Housing assistants offered bottled water and waved directional signs pointing the herd to the appropriate check-in lines. AGU’s village of residence halls towered over everyone. The flurry of move-in day activity made Ciara feel so small, like a period in a sweeping, 100,000-word epic novel.
Her eyes darted away from her old dorm, Caldwell Hall. It glowered at her anyway, demanding she acknowledge its presence and her past.
The line for MacDonald Hall spilled from the front desk all the way outside, curving around the gushing fountain in the center of the Village courtyard.
Ciara loosened her grip on the duffle bag stretched to the seams.
“You’re not getting tired on me already, are ya?” Nick asked, stopping at her side.
“Not yet.” The edge of her lips curved up into a half smile.
He craned his neck, peering over the line slowly edging forward. A black AGU baseball cap shaded him from the South Georgia sun beating down on them. Still the dense heat reddened his cheeks and created dark gray splotches on his t-shirt.
“I don’t have much,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“If we ever get your keys, it shouldn’t take too long to unload everything.” He pulled a bottle of water from his khaki cargo shorts and handed it to Ciara.
She took a sip, leaning into him. “I know. I’m just—”
“Having second thoughts?”
“No, I’m glad to be back.”
The lie rolled off her tongue smooth and easy, because Ciara had practiced. She’d repeated it to family members, friends, and even herself with the high pitch of fake excitement.
When she decided to return to AGU after a yearlong absence, so many thoughts of what could go wrong raced through her mind.
What if my ex comes back too? What if the classes are too hard? What if everyone still blames me for what happened to Tala?
Ciara kept last summer’s pain and unspoken secrets tucked away, but ever so often regret popped up, tapped her on the shoulder, and whispered in her ear: ‘You do not deserve this.’
She brushed that voice and the perspiration turning her bangs into a crinkly mess to the side. She shaded her eyes with one hand and looked up at her new home: MacDonald Hall or the Mac as many lazily, coolly called it.
The Mac offered a long list of amenities like free yoga classes, private bathrooms, and walk-in closets, which made it sound more like a resort than the typical dormitory. A breezeway bearing AGU’s iconic, cursive A connected two 12-floor towers of curfew-free, coed living. Trees lined the sidewalk, their leaves and branches forming an arc over the sliding door entrance.
Ciara felt an urge to fix the maroon and white ‘Welcome to Move-In Day!’ banner hanging crookedly, but turned to Nick instead.
“Thanks for being here with me today.”
“No problem. You’ve gotta promise me you’re not quitting again.” The lightheartedness of Nick’s joke didn’t dull the sting of his words about her being a quitter.
With every mishap, Ciara wondered if the universe wanted her to quit again. A pre-dawn text message from her sick father left her scrambling to find help. Then an accident on I-75 turned her ride from Atlanta into a five-hour, stop-and-go nightmare. And now she stood in a line that didn’t seem to move.
She closed her eyes, willing the negativity away.
Today’s a perfect day to begin again.
While antsy, red-faced students and families rushed for the doors, Ciara took in the special moment marking her second chance.
She breathed in the hot, magnolia-scented air, held on until she couldn’t stand it anymore and let go.
Lakeshia Poole is an award-winning public relations professional and author. Whether it’s landing a feature in The New York Times, developing a YouTube short or creating a series of blog posts, she believes in telling positive and compelling stories. Poole graduated from the University of Georgia with dual degrees in public relations and sociology. When she’s not writing, she spends her time with family and her dog JoJo Dancer.