“You want to come to orientation with me?” I shout so she can hear me through the closed bathroom door.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” she whispers in mildly shocked tones.

“I kinda figured. With you being in the bathroom and all,” I laugh. The water runs and a moment later, the bathroom door opens.

“You can’t talk to me while I’m going to the bathroom.”

I’m not sure if that was a question or statement, but I go ahead and answer, “Why not? I can talk and pee at the same time. I mean, I won’t do it if it bothers you or something.”

“No, it’s fine. I—” She laughs and shakes her head as if coming to her own realization. “You’re right. I can talk and pee. Just don’t tell my parents that.”

“I think I can keep that secret if you can keep mine.” I point to my forehead that I still need to cover up. “Your parents sound a little high-strung.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Erika sighs, going over to her own cubby and digging through her clothes. “Technically, I don’t have to live on campus anymore, but the only other option would be living with my parents again since my class load is so big. My last roommate would relieve herself on the floor after she spent the night drinking and I still chose to keep rooming with her over going back home.”

I nod but I don’t really understand. It would suck not to be close to my mom. It makes my heart hurt for her that she doesn’t have that in her life. Though if she stays close to me, my mom will be all over her too. It’s how my mom is.

“What are you wearing?” I grab my favorite pair of shorts. I’m not sure if they can be classified as shorts anymore since they are so tiny and tattered. I’ve just about worn them out, but I refuse to give them up. Levi and Zeke think that I threw them in the garbage. Hopefully I can get back to my room without them seeing me. I smile, thinking about the possibility of them seeing me wearing them. If I am suffering from want, they should, too.

“I’m a yoga pants kind of girl,” she says. She disappears into the bathroom again. I slip on my shorts and one of the shirts I ordered online with the university logo on the front. I experience a second of indecision when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror over my desk. The scooped neckline shows a lot more of my chest than I’m usually comfortable showing, but it plays into my overall plan. I slip on some flip-flops while pulling my hair on top of my head. I don’t want to mess with it right now. Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone to get the results you want.

Erika comes out a moment later in a pair of yoga pants and a shirt that is two times too big for her and engulfs her slim body.

“You do yoga?” I ask. She looks limber and fit. She reminds me of a ballerina.

“If wearing yoga pants counts as doing yoga, then I yoga all the time.” She smiles over at me. The joke is silly, but I can’t help but smile back, probably bigger than I should. It’s nice she’s coming out of her shell a little.

“So you’re coming with?” I grab my cell phone and slide on my crossbody purse.

“Yeah, but pretty sure you BFFs said for you to keep your”—she pauses for a second—“ ‘sexy ass put’ until we come for you.” She finishes, but her cheeks are only lightly stained with pink this time.

“Meh.” I wave my hand. “I’m up already. Let them sleep. They’ll track me down when they get up.”

She shakes her head like I’m crazy. The Audley twins are giant and can be intimidating, but I know under that bark lies nothing but sweetness. I don’t bother telling her that because no one ever believes me. She’ll see soon enough how sweet they are to me.

We head out. “Everyone is looking at you,” Erika mumbles under her breath while we walk down the long hallway. I look up from my phone to see people are looking at me. I shrug. It’s not like I didn’t experience this before in my small town. I just never really cared what other people thought about us.

“What can we eat around here?” I change the subject when I notice she doesn’t like the people looking at us and push open the door to take the stairs down.

“There’s a coffee hut two blocks over. They have breakfast sandwiches and some pastries.”

“Sounds good.” Erika points out a few places to me as we walk.

“Ladies,” a man calls to us as we walk down the sidewalk. We stop walking as he jogs over to us, a stack of yellow papers in hand. “You should come. You both could definitely help out our house.” He hands me one of the flyers.

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