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I just kept going, but as I went down the stairs to my door and unlocked it, I couldn’t help wondering if I’d acted too quickly the other night at the bar? If I should’ve stuck it out, sat with them longer? Nicole technically hadn’t done anything to me. Just Mia and Lisa had been bitches, but Sav and Nicole hadn’t.

Remembering my own advice, I figured what would it hurt? Be nice. Apologize for ditching. I mean, they could laugh at me and do exactly the reasons why I left in the first place, but it wasn’t sitting well with me. Maybe invite them to meet for lunch on campus, or at the very least, a coffee somewhere. Even just sitting and having a coffee at the house together, except the problem is that I didn’t feel comfortable venturing upstairs, and neither of them came down to the basement. I heard Lisa slam her door every now and then, always followed with her stampeding feet up the stairs as if she couldn’t get away from being on the same floor as me fast enough. With her and Mia, I definitely hadn’t acted too harsh or quick, but still, with Sav and Nicole another try was warranted.

Tomorrow. I’d do it tomorrow.

I was determined to tune out the yelling from the room next to me. They must’ve had a pool game going because I kept hearing ‘Eight ball, motherfucker.’ But, making sure my door was locked — I’d even went as far to add an extra chain lock on my door during the week — I turned my fan on full blast. It was a box fan, rivaling ones that could be in a barn (not really, but I liked to pride myself that I’d found a gem like that), but I was fooling myself, I was too jacked up to head to bed.

Opening my laptop, plugging in my headphones, I typed in Texas C&B job classifieds. I’d been putting off finding a job all week, but my bank account was dwindling every day and I’d skipped lunch today to use my money for beer at the Quail. Thank God they had a two dollar tap deal until eight.

Trent and AJ had brought out a charcuterie board of meat, cheese, crackers, and dip back at their place. There were other things on there, along with chips and salsa and yes, I ate to my heart’s content. I knew I had enough money for a couple things of ramen the next day, so I was taking advantage of their excellent hosting skills.

My full belly greatly appreciated it, but yes. Back to the matter at hand.

I needed a job. I couldn’t put it off anymore, so I was searching the classifieds.

There was a lab assistant job, but reading more on it, it looked like it was for a graduate student. No-can-do for me, then. At least, not yet.

I kept going.

A library aide. I’d done that job before, and while I loved books, I knew I’d hate it. I’d gotten a look at the staff in there this week, and they were a whole new level of stuck-up. Serious. Sometimes you ran into that, where they looked down on people who read outside what was considered the greatest literary works of arts like Pride and Prejudice or War and Peace. Don’t get me wrong, those books were amazing, but there were novels and even textbooks outside the ‘literary masterpieces’ that were equally as enjoyable, too.

But that wasn’t a literary battle I wanted to take on, so I kept looking.

Kitchen attendants.

Janitorial staff.

A custodian position.

I wasn’t sure the difference between the last two.

A babysitter/nanny job, but looking more into it…they wanted longer hours than I could promise. And I’d have to be available during my classroom times.

Tech support.

Tech assistant.

Tech internships.

Maybe I was picking the wrong major?

I kept on until between the experience needed and the hours they were asking for, either weekends or evenings, I was down to two positions. A barback or waitressing job at the Quail or I could work concessions at the sporting events.

I clicked on the applications because I’d have to try for both. If I got one of them, I’d be happy. If I got both, I’d be ecstatic. They said their hours were flexible, would ‘work with student schedules’, so I was hoping they weren’t lying like on my room rental details, because as I was filling out the applications, I was completely lying. Yes, I did, in fact, have an iota of job experience. Which was true, somewhat. I’d volunteered for a few bake sales. And yes, the time I bagged for a very short term, like a week, at Stone’s parents’ store before we became enemies might’ve been a lot shorter than I was admitting.

It was for a college position. I had a feeling they wouldn’t be too picky, or I was hoping.

With that task checked off my to-do list, after that, I got ready for bed. Hearing a couple thuds in the wall and loud voices, I opted for falling asleep with my headphones on and my music blasting.

Let’s face it, at this rate I’d be deaf by the end of this semester.

“You worked at Reever’s Market?”

The Quail moved fast, calling me the next day and scheduling a job interview. I was sitting in the empty bar, an hour before it was open and luckily right smack in the break between two of my classes. I had exactly forty minutes for my early lunch, but I used my meal plan to fill up on breakfast for the day so I could take this interview.

I was allowed one meal per day, which I was now kicking myself. I should be taking advantage of what I was paying for over the weekend, too. I’d forgotten that it was for seven days a week, not five.

Note to self: become one with the freshman.

The guy, he introduced himself as Joe, who had called and met me this morning was bald, with a round face, dimples in his cheeks, and a solid, athletic build. He was maybe five feet nine, but I was emphasizing the solid part. His biceps bulged as he held his notes in his hands as he moved them closer to the tabletop.


Had they called and checked up on me? I listed the manager as my reference, but I knew that manager wasn’t working there anymore. She’d liked me, said I was a good bagger for the week I’d been there.

Hell. Would she even remember me?

I took the job when I was first starting my teenage work career, and my hours had been low because it was during the time period where it was before you could legally even work. But once I hit sixteen, I got a full-time job at the local nursing home. My skills at turning down beds and collecting laundry had come in handy when my mom had her stint in the hospice facility years later.

“You know that’s the same place that Stone Reeves’ parents own, right?”

Understanding flooded me.

He was almost glaring at me, and I got it then. He thought I was lying, that I put that on purpose. If only he’d known it was the other way around.

I sat up straighter, feeling my entire back and neck muscles tighten. “I wasn’t aware you knew that.”

“He’s a football god here in town. I’m a dude. I’m an athlete, too. You think I wouldn’t know that?” His eyes turned cold and he put his notes down. “Are you lying on the application to get this job?”

I sucked in my breath. The preposterousness of that whole statement.

Lying? Me? Maybe over-exaggerated, but full-out lying… Okay. I did. Well. I bent the truth, a lot. But I had enough truth on my side to murmur and not feel bad about it, “To be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t know they’re the owners.”

His eyes got dark, then I saw the hope starting to light up.

“I see what you’re thinking, and I have to stop you before you even get started.”

His eyes went flat and his mouth turned down.

“I never met Stone. I know of him, how could you not going to our school together? But he was always in football camps and he was a different year than me.” I was hoping he wouldn’t do the math. Stone got drafted by Texas as soon as he could, which was a year ago. And if this guy was decent with numbers, he’d connect that I was younger than Stone. It wasn’t hard, but I hadn’t put that I was a transfer junior on the application. I pushed on, “And I don’t really know his parents. I gave you the number for my manager. She’s the one I worked with the most. She’d remember me. Stone—” Shit! I caught myself. “Mr. and Mrs. Reeves wouldn’t even remember me, but I did work there.”

He stared at me, long and hard.

I didn’t move. I was afraid if I did, he’d either not buy my story or call my bluff. I didn’t want to deal with the fallout of that, but after another thirty seconds of both of us sitting frozen in place, he nodded and looked back down to his notes.

“Okay. I got ya.”

I exhaled so sharply that I had to quickly suck it right back in. Gah! What would he think then? It’d be obvious I was holding my breath.

He looked back up and I coughed, smoothing a hand over my hair. I was fine here. Nothing to see.

His eyes passed over me, and I was glad to report he’d lost all interest. His tone was even monotone now, “Tell me more about your job experience. Starting with your most current job.”

Well, that was easy. If it was ever a question if I was a good worker or not, I always aced it. Just had to get in the door first, compliments of my over-exaggeration skillz.

Chapter Nine

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