By nine-thirty, well after the Amazon women went elsewhere, Emily found herself in Maria’s room with nothing but popcorn and a bad movie to keep her company. “The full college experience,” she said.
“Ugh,” Maria responded. She took out her cell phone and checked it once more. “I had hope that Owen would call, but no. He’s probably out with the guys doing guy things.”
“Honestly?” Emily looked at her. “He is probably sitting in his room with one or two other guys watching the same stupid movie, eating the same stupid popcorn and wondering why he did not call you, or why you did not call him.”
“Probably.” Maria bounced off the bed and began to go through her clothes. She responded to Emily’s look with one word. “Laundry.”
Emily pushed her hand through her hair and stood. “Might as well. I am just going to sleep sitting here, not that sleep would be a bad option. Catch you in a minute. You got dryer sheets?” Maria lifted them. Emily nodded and went to fetch her own clothes.
They did not get far before Jessica came bouncing in. Gloria, of course, went out with some guy, dancing, and did not expect to be home early. As far as Maria could tell, Gloria had not done a stitch of work so far that semester, so Maria looked forward to having a single room in the spring. Jessica had gone out with Tom the football player, but he had a curfew before the Saturday game.
“Coach Rayford is a slave driver,” she said as she came in and decided that she might as well do her laundry, too.
“How was your date?” Maria asked. Emily already knew better because Jessica went on for a while in every gory detail. Apparently, he had his hands all over her. He said it would charge him up for the game. The fact that as a sophomore, he would sit on the bench for most if not all of the game did not appear to matter. The fact that Jessica did not mind did not matter either. The fact that Emily, and Emily assumed Maria did not want to hear about every detail did not seem to matter either.
“I’ve not been down here to the laundry basement before,” Jessica admitted.
Maria shrugged, ran a hand through her hair, and grinned in Emily’s direction. It was Emily’s affectation, and sure enough, Emily unconsciously copied the motion. To no one’s surprise, Emily’s hair was still short.
“So have you met anyone?” Jessica turned to Emily. While Emily felt glad to change the subject from Jessica’s escapades, this was not her first choice for a replacement topic. She felt a slight reddening in her cheeks when she thought of Pierce. “You have?” Maria missed it, but Jessica did not.
“Not anyone who would notice me,” she said.
“Who is it?” Jessica did not know when to let it go. Emily shook her head. She had no intention of saying any more, but Maria added her voice.
“Yeah, who is it?” Maria grinned in a way that suggested she knew full well that Emily felt uncomfortable.
Emily turned to her and gave her a whole second of her meanest stare. Then she spoke. “Let’s just say he pierced my heart. God! That sounds so stupid.” She knew it the minute it slipped out of her mouth.
Maria had to think before she got it. “Oh my God!” She said that first before the reality caught up with her. “Good luck with that one.”
“What? Who?” Jessica had no idea.
“I said no one who would notice me.”
“Tell you later,” Maria put off Jessica. Jessica harrumphed at not being included and got quiet for almost twenty whole minutes while she nosed around the basement. She spoke up again when Maria moved her stuff to the dryer and Emily was about to do the same.
“What’s in here?” Jessica asked. A dim light came from beneath a closet door. There did not appear to be a lock on the door. Jessica tugged on it, but it was jammed.
“Can I help?” Emily asked.
“No thank you, muscles.” Jessica still sounded miffed. She yanked, and the door popped open. A body fell face down to the laundry room floor. Jessica screamed, and Maria and Emily joined her for a second.