“Stella, open this door or I’m going to the campus police!”
Police. Her eyelids snapped open. There was a reason she wanted to avoid the police, but she couldn’t remember why. Definitely would have to answer the door. Eventually, she might remember the thing about the police. A groan escaped her lips as she pushed into a sitting position. The blanket served as her protective shield as she half draped it over her head and across her shoulders. A combination stagger-stumble walk brought her to the door. Blinking several times, she tried to shake off the last vestige of the crow dream.
It might be Mitch with food. Buoyed by the hopeful thought, she threw the door open. A scowling Cam greeted her. What was he doing here? Her memory might be lagging some, but she was sure she as much as broke up with him when he suggested using her job to do some grade changing.
Cam’s eyes took a downward sweep of her body and then returned to her face before speaking. “You look like shit!”
Her hand still on the doorknob propelled the door shut before the thought even solidified in her brain. Unfortunately, Cam’s upraised hand stopped the door just short of closing. Her moment of indecision gave him enough time to push his way into her room.
Stella took a step back, sliding away from him. Difficult to believe this was the man she loved. Did love? The angry male placed his hands on her shoulders and burned her with another disapproving stare. “God, you’re a mess. I came over here to prevent you from doing anything else foolish.”
Foolish? She backed away the way a person would from a rattlesnake. Did she even know him? The back of her legs hit her bed, destroying her balance and sending her windmilling backward. As soon as she hit the mattress, she scrambled back to her feet. No reason to send the wrong signals. Although right now, his sneer reflected the mattress dance was not under consideration.
He folded his arms and leaned back against the door. “I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised you look like garbage. That’s what happens when you go slumming.”
Okay, she looked bad. The mirror already delivered the unwelcome news. What was this slumming nonsense? Sure, the college town might not be an affluent town, but it was no ghetto either.
Cam continued talking, not waiting for her reply. “You thought I wouldn’t hear about you and Mitch’s date the last night?”
Stella almost corrected him but decided against it. Sure, it wasn’t a real date, but no need to tell him that, especially since it upset him so much. It was probably the most emotion she’d seen from the man when he wasn’t watching sports channel. Could Cam be jealous? His face grew flushed as he spoke.
He did come all the way to her dorm to see why she wasn’t taking his calls. As for the disbelieving shower girls, she hoped they saw him. The furrow in his forehead smoothed out as he flashed his potent smile. His lips were moving again. Stella shook her head to clear it. His voice had an echoing quality similar to being in a tunnel. Slowly, she deciphered the words.
“I’ll give you thirty minutes to get cleaned up. Then, I’ll swing back by and pick you up.”
Cam was taking her somewhere. Where? “Are we going out to eat?” Crossing her fingers on one hand, she certainly hoped so.
“Lunch usually involves food.” His lips twisted as he shook his head. Two long steps took him to the door. “Thirty minutes.”
The door closed leaving Stella frozen for a few seconds. “Thirty minutes!” She grabbed her shower caddy, a maxi dress, underwear, and a towel. She sprinted to the showers. The row of bathroom mirrors reminded her from various angles how horrendous she looked.
The showers started out cold, which meant a twenty-second warm up period to make the water bearable. No time today, stepping into the icy water set her teeth chattering. Tensing her muscles, she endured it. Besides, it would help her shake off the lethargy. The sense of despondency that had fastened itself to her required extra loofah scrubbing. Call it exfoliating, but she was trying to rid herself of the feeling that nothing mattered.
The bathroom door opened, and two girls came in talking. Stella didn’t recognize the voices, but that wasn’t too surprising. A full schedule, work, and Cam kept her too busy for the social activities that might have gained her a few friends. Then again, she didn’t have a whole lot of use for girls who only cared about boys, nail polish, sex, and shoes. Part of her wanted to warn them not to depend on men to fulfill them, using her mother as a poster child of what happens when a woman expects a man to make her dreams come true.
That type of behavior would make her a social pariah if she weren’t already. Fingers in her hair, she lathered up her hair. Ready to step back into the water flow for the rinse, she stopped when she heard Cam’s name.
“Cam Winters was in our dorm. I can’t believe it. I didn’t think he made personal visits because girls just line up outside his apartment.” Laughter greeted the remark.
Her teeth ground together as she imagined the speaker falling into a sinkhole that opened up underneath her. Her fingers continued to lather her hair as she continued to eavesdrop. How did they know he had an apartment as opposed to a dorm room? Ugly answers she didn’t care for crowded her mind.
“The man must be desperate if he’s knocking on dorm room doors.” The females found this remark equally hilarious.