As I headed downstairs to the kitchen to grab a drink from the fridge, I was reminded why I avoided my roommates as much as possible. “That’s mine,” I grumbled, stomping across the room to grab the bottle of sparkling grape juice out of Jessica’s hand.
“You seriously need to chill out,” she huffed, rolling her eyes before opening the fridge to snag a bottle of water.
“And you seriously need to stop taking my stuff,” I snapped, frustrated for about the millionth time over the girls assigned to my unit by the townhouse complex. The three of them got along like gangbusters, leaving me as the outsider. I didn’t have much in common with them. I’d never brought a guy home with me, and I didn’t party until all hours of the night at whichever frat was hosting a party. Something my roommates liked to tease me about all the time.
“Geesh! Get over yourself, little mouse. The rest of us have no problems sharing shit. Only you.” She bumped her shoulder against me as she walked past.
I pressed my lips together, biting back my retort because it wouldn’t do any good. I’d been more than happy to share my groceries with my new roommates at the start of the school year. I had been the first to move in, and my parents had gone a little overboard when we went to the store. The fridge, freezer, and pantry were filled to the brim when the other girls arrived the next day, and they took me up on my offer to eat whatever they’d like without thanking me or offering to replace anything after they’d brought about a hundred dollar’s worth of stuff over to a party across the street. I’d been more careful with my stuff since then and normally kept my favorites in my mini fridge in my room. The bottle’s shape was awkward for the size of my fridge, so I’d put it in the vegetable drawer in the one in the kitchen, figuring nobody would spot it so quickly since I planned to drink it on Friday after I turned in my last project. I should’ve known better.
* * *
Between studying for my finals and finishing up my projects, I got a grand total of fifteen hours of sleep over the past five days. I could barely keep my eyes open as I trudged into the kitchen. My shoulders slumped when I bent down to open the vegetable drawer and realized one of the girls must’ve taken my celebration juice even though I’d made it clear to Jessica that it wasn’t up for grabs. When I slammed the drawer shut, I heard a snigger coming from the living room. Standing up, I closed the fridge door and looked over my shoulder. All three girls were sitting on the couch in the living room, drinking tequila shots. Jessica burst into laughter, which set the other two girls off. I was thinking about confronting them when there was a knock on the front door. Although they were closer to the door, none of them moved. “Gee, guys. Don’t put yourselves out. I’ll get it,” I muttered, sending them into another fit of laughter.
As I walked past them, Jessica snickered, “Like it’ll be for her.”
I was tempted to stomp up the stairs, but whoever was at the door rapped their knuckles against it again as I neared. Flinging it open, I was prepared to wave them inside and disappear, but when I saw who was standing at our step, all I wanted to do was slam the door shut and run upstairs. For the first time since they’d moved in, I was grateful for my roommates. The odds of a decorated cop doing anything to hurt me with three witnesses only ten feet away were slim. All I had to do was get through this confrontation, and then I was out of here.
There was nothing to keep me in town. My classes were done, and I had returned my textbook rentals after my last final. I hadn’t elected to walk during graduation, and the school was going to mail my diploma to my parents’ house. I’d applied for a few jobs but hadn’t accepted anything yet. My lease wasn’t up for another two and a half months, so I hadn’t been in a rush to find a new place. I could disappear without a trace for a while without worrying anyone—which was good if I was the one doing the running and bad if John Clark wanted to get rid of me.
I was starting to worry that I would lose my fucking mind if I gave Paisley any more “space.” I was never far from her unless I was on club business. But when that happened, I had someone watching over her.