By: H.J. Bellus

“Where are you going?” My voice comes out more panicked than I’d like to admit.

“Home. Goodnight, Blue.”

Tuck continues to jog backward until his black outline fades away into the darkness.

“Goodnight, Tuck,” I holler back.

Within moments, I’m standing in front of the dorms all alone in the darkness, feeling exhausted and satisfied. Falling asleep will be easy tonight.

Tuck, who the hell are you beneath that iron-clad persona?

Chapter 3

Walking back into the dorm, it seems the crowds have gathered behind closed doors, as muted sounds escape each room I pass. Some sounds make my ears bleed. I’m surprised to see the door to our room cracked open slightly, and when I push it further open, Sophie and Lane are all sorts of tangled up…and very naked.

“Oh lord,” I squeal.

“Shit, I told you to lock the door.” Sophie slaps Lane’s back.

I snag a medicine kit off my dresser. “I’ll wait out here. No worries.”

Holy shit, unbelievable. I better become a betting woman.

My mom really thought of everything when she helped me pack and buy stuff for the dorms. An emergency first aid kit was the last thing on my mind, and I do remember rolling my eyes at her when she tossed it into the shopping cart at Target. And if on cue, my phone blares out Mom’s ring tone. I swear she knows everything that happens.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Hi, sweetie,” her voice rings out. “Hi, baby Blue.”

Oish. I must be on speakerphone. My parents love this shit.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“How was your first day?”

“Good, Mom. It was really good.”

“Say bye to your dad. We’re just checking into a hotel for the night.”

“Bye, Dad. I love you.”

“Love you, too, Blue. Don’t go getting knocked up.”

“Deal,” I say.

I listen to my mom fumble with the phone while she turns off the speakerphone, and then my father slams the car door.

“Okay, I’m back. How’s your roomie?”

I giggle at my mom’s vocabulary and then prop the phone between my shoulder and ear. “Mom, I don’t even use that term. Sophie is fine. She arrived late, and well, then…”

“Well, then what?”

“She wanted to go out to eat, and I…”

Before I have the chance to finish my thought, my mom takes control of the conversation.

“Did you offer her some of your food?”

“Of course, Mom.” I roll my eyes. I really need to stop that shit. It may get me in trouble one day. “But she had already made a new friend, and they went out.”

“You got ditched on your first day in the dorms?” Her tone is bathed in horror.

“No, Mom. I told them I didn’t want to go, and it was a guy she’d met, and they are now currently finishing up bumping uglies in our room.”

I smile to myself as I pop open the tube of antibiotic cream. I’ve never kept anything from my mother, but her facial expressions as I revealed stuff like this are always priceless to see. I can only imagine her now.

“Oh, dear, where are you?”

“Out in the commons room. I took a slight tumble tonight on my run, and I’m just cleaning up the scratches.”

I’ll leave it at scratches when it’s more like craters and feels like fucking Jaws is gnawing at my kneecaps.

“How did you fall? Who were you with? Are you okay?”

And the rapid-fire questions begin.

“Just being a dumbass and running after dark. Only some scrapes.”

So, I guess I don’t tell my mom everything. I leave out Tuck and the larger cuts on my knees and my torn running pants. I listen politely as she gives me her motherly lecture and asks about twenty times if I need to go to the hospital. I know she’s made it into the hotel room because I hear my dad chime in just like he does every single time. “Shit, just tell her to rub some dirt on it and move on.”

Listening to the two of them eases my homesickness a bit, and by the time my mom’s done talking, I have both knees cleaned and bandaged up.

“Okay, bye, Mom. I love you.”

“Love you, too, Blue. I can’t wait to hear about your first day of camp, and remember Dad and I are coming to the first home game to watch you cheer.”

Also By H.J. Bellus

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