Setup: Stella is in the shower listening to other co-eds gossip about Cam. I'll e on vacation next week and might not have WiFi. There might not be a sneak peek. Sneak Peak will definitely be back the week after.
The sound of the door slamming indicated either another woman entered or left. Stella stepped under the stream of water still able to hear their laughter and catch a word here and there. Her curiosity propelled her out of the stream again. Conditioner, she needed to condition her hair. Time was ticking. Cam would probably be back in exactly thirty minutes too. It would help if gossip girl and friend cleared out, allowing her some peace.
An extra big glob of conditioner landed in her hand. Good. It would make her hair look greasy in a couple of days, but the extra conditioner would make her hair shine today. She needed something after the mess Cam witnessed. It was no wonder he didn’t kiss her goodbye. Instead, he slipped out of the door like a cat burglar.
A third voice joined the gossip crew. It sounded somewhat familiar, but she couldn’t place it.
“Sex is the last thing Cam would be here for. The man could stand naked on a corner and be mobbed by women who wanted to blow him.”
The words made her want to vomit, but luckily, her empty stomach didn’t comply. Sure, Cam turned heads with his underwear ad-worthy physique, sun-streaked hair and knowing smile, but still. Did the women on campus have no dignity? Her fingers slowed smoothing conditioner to the ends of her hair. Did she have no dignity? She and Cam had a relationship. Wasn’t he taking her out? He certainly hadn’t done that in a while. A grocery trip to the discount mart did not count as a date.
“I heard he was flunking out of most of his classes and even got Hilary to do his homework for economics, but found out she only looked smart.”
The trio chuckled, then, went on to discuss their plans for the day before heading for the showers or toilets. The breakup of the group had Stella shimmying a maxi dress over her still wet body with no time to dry off or shave her legs. She needed to be gone before the girls popped out of the various stalls. Why was she running? She’d done nothing wrong. Inhaling deeply, she tried to calm down her racing heart. Any other girl would brag about Cam taking her out for lunch. Instead, she acted as if she were on some covert spy mission. No reason she shouldn’t go out. She was as good as the rest of the females on campus. Her bold affirmation did little to convince.
A clear path greeted her as she poked her head out of the shower enclosure. A quick tooth brushing was all she’d allow herself before heading out. Makeup and hair she’d do in her room. With any luck, her roommate wouldn’t be there. She’d probably slept over at her boyfriend’s place, anyway. Even now, they might be waking up and have a leisurely breakfast on her tea and granola bars.
In her room, she set her travel alarm clock in front of the mirror. In and out of the shower in under ten minutes, but she didn’t shave. She forgot her shower shoes too. That wasn’t like her. Mitch occasionally teased her about her lists and obsessive organization. Her purple shower shoes were still in the caddy. Great, now she’d probably get athlete’s foot or some other fungal bacteria
Brush in one hand and blow dryer in the other, she smoothed out her natural blonde hair. The heat flushed her face, but even considering that the mirror reflected back an attractive woman. If she owed her parents nothing else, they were both reasonably good-looking, which was probably the reason her father found it so easy to hook up. If Cam were only in the market for looks, then she’d fit. Hundreds of other girls on campus would too.
She shook her eyeliner, trying to decide in she’d go with a clean line or a little Cleopatra curve on the end. Straight line, she didn’t have time to risk the curve and starting over when she did it wrong. What was so different about her that had had Cam continually asking her out until she accepted?
A quick swipe of mascara finished her eyes. She fluttered them at her reflection lightening her mood a little. She could almost accept that Cam was dating her for sex, which wouldn’t be too different from most males on campus. While that might be true, he could easily date women, hotter and better in the sack than she was.
The blush brush whisked over both cheeks, and a smear of lightly tinted lip-gloss finished her makeup. Could it be true about Cam flunking? She never could accuse the man of studying too much. The only sign of grade anxiety was when he asked her if she were capable of changing his grades. His argument sounded logical with the prospect of losing his scholarship, but as his girlfriend, her job should be to encourage him to study and bring his grades up, not help him cheat.
Her phone chimed the same time she gave her hair a final flip. Picking it up, she scanned the screen.
Thirty minutes are up. Waiting downstairs outside.
Stella’s eyes drifted back to her travel clock. Two minutes remained, but she wouldn’t quibble. Instead, she grabbed her purse and headed out. Waiting outside meant none of the catty girls would see Cam escort her. On the other hand, she didn’t have to do his homework, either, to score a date.
The tiny voice that she sometimes labeled as mother whispered, “If you change his grades, he’d be yours forever.” The idea was tempting. Sure, Cam wasn’t the greatest boyfriend, but it was certainly better than being alone, wasn’t it? Her sandals made a clopping sound as she hurried down the stairs. The stupid elevator took forever, forcing her into the dank stairwell that hung onto smells the way a dog guards a bone. The combined aromas of pizza, vomit, and body spray caused her to pull up her shirt as an impromptu mask.
Her steps slowed as she approached the first floor. Cam should be outside the door waiting for her. Possibly leaning against the tree where all the disbelieving residents could see him. Yeah, that’s right. Bookish Stella hooked one of the campus hot bodies. Today would be a great day. Obviously, the man was going to make their relationship more public, more real. Her lips lifted in an impromptu smile. The depression that had embraced her in a chokehold and held her down under waves of despair last night vanished as she hit the front door.