By: H.J. Bellus

“Mom.” I throw my arms around her and embrace her in a full throttle hug, Blue style. She drops Dad and the letter, and I squeeze harder. This moment is only truly happening because of all my mother’s persistence and belief in me. Being the only child, I always felt that invisible pressure to be the best I could and to impress my parents. They always held high expectations, but never crossed the line of being lunatics.

Yes, lunatics. You know the ones. They put their baby in pageants at three months old, drive across the country for cheer camps, and buy a ten thousand dollar evening gown for Miss Teen Colorado…those kinds of parents. Yes, my parents provided me with all those opportunities, but I was the driving force behind it, pushing myself harder and faster.

“I love you, Blue Williams.”

Okay, they were a bit crazy naming me Blue, but in my mother’s defense, it made me stick out from the crowd.

Pulling away from my mom’s hug, I deepen my smile. “Thank you for everything. You too, Dad.” I wave down to him. The iPhone happened to land by our feet, so my dad is staring up at our crotches. Awkward…actually, it brings awkward to a whole new level. Using my toes, I slide him closer to my mom’s side, giving him a nice view of her.

“Blue, if I have to drive out to California and pick up your knocked-up, freshman ass, I’ll sell you as a slave on the black market in Mexico.”

I get my looks from my mom and my humor from my dad. Never serious, that man, even in a situation like this, but from his proud smile and that twinkle in his eye I know he’s proud as hell.

“Deal, Dad. I love you.”

“I love you too, Blue.”

Mom uses her big toe to disconnect the call, and we fall down on the mattress in a fit of laughter.

“Thank heaven you didn’t make me twig.”

“Mom, it’s twerking, and you need to work on those skills while I’m gone.”

“Blue.” Her hands tighten on my thigh, and then her head drops to my shoulder. “I’m going to be so lost without you.”

“We’ll talk every day, and you said you’d visit once a month.”

“I know, but you’re my baby girl, Blue.”

“Read the letter to me.”

I listen to my mom finish reading the letter with a shaky voice.

Chapter 1

Thirty Days Later

I run my finger along the hem of the black and white damask bedding covering the single size mattress in my dorm room. My mom and I managed to decorate everything on my side while Dad set up my desk and chair, bitching the whole time.

“Honey, stop, I can hire someone to do that, or I can even do it. I don’t want you hurting your hands.”

“I’m a surgeon, not a pussy.”

Yes, those are the lines I heard over and over as my parents settled me into my room. They drove me out a week before camp and stayed several days with me. It was the hardest goodbye this morning, and I nearly took off running and screaming, begging them to take me back home with them.

When my mom broke down crying during her goodbye, I had to turn away from her. Dad slapped her on the ass and then cracked some joke before he wrapped us up in one large family hug. The man pisses me off for never being serious, but in moments like those it’s just what we need from him.

I have no idea when my roommate may or may not be marching through the door. We’ve texted a couple times. Her name is Sophia, but she gave me strict orders to call her Sophie. We were lucky enough to be roomed together since we’re both freshman cheerleaders at Preston.

My dad was relentless in his efforts to have me rush and join a sorority to experience college life, but I know full well there’s no way I’d have time to keep my grades up with cheer practice and then sorority life mixed into all of that, so I settled for the dorms. And to say I was nervous about my roommate would be the understatement of the century.

My stomach growls, the sound deafening in the silence of the room. I make my way over to the mini-fridge my parents bought and stocked. Nothing looks good, or even halfway satisfying. Greek yogurt…um, no. String cheese…um, double nope. Lean turkey lunch meat…um, that’d be a hell to the fucking no. I’m more in the mood for a double bacon cheeseburger spackled in grease with an extra-large order of fries.

Also By H.J. Bellus

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