Vampire U

By: Hannah Crow

Chapter One

I'd barely begun to unpack my things when the door rattled as someone tried to force a key into the stubborn lock. I'd had the same problem a few hours earlier. Like the rest of Romanus University in the heart of Baton Rouge, the women's dormitory hid its old, rickety bones behind a beautiful antebellum facade. Polished wood and high, ornate ceilings looked great in the recruiting pamphlets I'd received in high school, but they don't tell you about the lack of air conditioning or the squeaky floors.

The cool night air was a blessing after the sweltering heat of the early September afternoon, but the small room's open window did little to alleviate the sweltering humidity that lay across the bayou like a sweat-soaked gym towel. My hair had rebelled, springing up in an unruly mop of curls, and my old high school debate club t-shirt clung to every curve of my small round breasts, drenched in sweat after an afternoon of carrying up boxes from my beat-up old Honda Civic. Fat moths fluttered around my head, drawn in by the light. Some of them looked as big as bats, but I wasn't about to close the window and miss even the slightest breeze.

But despite the heat, it felt good to be here, away from home at last, free to pursue my journalistic dreams. My SAT score hadn't been stellar - I'd crashed and burned on the math section - so I'd been shocked when Romanus offered me a full ride. The small, private liberal arts school had been around since just after the Civil War, and even if it wasn't Harvard, I was smart enough to realize that journalism isn't exactly a path to tremendous wealth. Getting a degree without a mountain of student debt would be quite an accomplishment.

Unfortunately, Romanus was best known as a party school, and I'd been nervous about meeting my new roommate. We'd be sharing a small room for the next year, and I liked things quiet. All I needed was some drunken sorority pledge staggering in at three AM and puking on my laptop.

So when Morgan Brewer finally figured out the wonky old lock and pushed the door open, my first impression gave me little hope. I was expecting someone perky and outgoing - that had been clear in the few emails we'd exchanged. But I wasn't expecting a bombshell. My new roommate burst into the room like a tornado of Southern charm. With almost six feet of curves softening her athletic frame, Morgan had the kind of body that belonged in dirty movies. Platinum blonde hair framed a face just a bit too sexy to call cute, with eyes the color of honey and a big, sweet smile full of straight, white teeth.

That smile lit up her face, and she dropped her backpack. "Dani! It's so good to finally meet you!" Her Texas accent was soft, but noticeable, and it made every word she spoke sound heartfelt.

Before I could correct her - my name is Danielle, not Dani - she bounded across the room and scooped me into a fierce hug. I smiled and laughed despite myself, somehow disarmed by her guileless enthusiasm. Unconsciously adjusting my glasses, I tried in vain to straighten my wild hair when she finally released me. It was hard not to feel short and plain next to Morgan.

She plopped down on the bed across from the one I'd claimed - I'd unwisely picked the one furthest from the window before I'd realized how hot it was. A soft breeze floated into the room, temporarily cooling my sweat-damp skin. Morgan sighed and closed her eyes as she reached up to unbutton the last button on her light pink polo. Even that modest neckline revealed an unfair amount of smooth, tanned cleavage, and I felt a pang of jealousy.

"You wouldn't believe how long it took my flight to get here from Dallas," Morgan said as she shifted on the bed and kicked out her long runner's legs. "We sat on the runway for nearly an hour once we landed. Thank god the flight attendants served free drinks, and they didn't card me." She paused and blushed. "Oh, listen to me ramble on. How are you? When did you get in?"

"A few hours ago," I said. "Traffic wasn't a problem, so I got here faster than I thought."

Morgan's eyes went wide. "You drove all the way here from Chicago? That's wild! My dad would be worried sick if I tried a stunt like that. Farthest I ever drove was South Padre Island, and that was with three friends." Her eyes drifted off to examine the things I'd hung above my bed, and she frowned. "Who's that? What's with the newspaper?"