The bell rang, signaling the end of the day. Sam trudged wearily up the stairs to her dorm. Blowing a strand of red hair from her face, she kicked the door closed behind her. Well, her first day had certainly been . . . eventful. So far, she'd walked into a half-naked cute guy, crashed into a cute guy, got hit on by a cute bisexual guy, got locked into a locker room full of cute changing guys and to top it off, got the wind knocked out of her by two not so cute guys. Yep, eventful.
She looked around the room. The roomy dorm was more like a hotel with whitewashed walls, a beautiful view of a dense forest outside the window, and shining mahogany desks. There were two separate wardrobes and two comfy beds. There was not only a huge, spacious bathroom attached but also a wee little kitchenette, though she highly doubted any of these wealthy kids ever made use of it. She glanced over to her roommate's side. Vincent had probably bought in that huge television too. Jeez, this is probably half the size of my old house. She flopped onto her bed and stretched lazily. I think I'm going to skip dinner today. I have too much to do . . . like homework . . . and studying . . . I have to catch up. I'm already behind since I came in so late . . . and I still need to unpack . . . and get organized . . . Five minutes later, she was sound asleep.
Her eyes flew open and she sat up to see her brother grinning at her. "Terry! What the hell are you doing here?"
He laughed and waved his arms around in a fluid motion. "What are you talking about? I've always been here."
She blinked in confusion. He sighed and ran his hand through his messy, orange hair. Tears started welling up in her eyes. Even though he now towered over her and his freckles were no longer as prominent, to her, he would always remain her baby brother with the round, ruddy cheeks.
"Ah, hell, don't do that," he pleaded.
She burst in tears. Terry frowned and shifted uncomfortably. "I'm sorry. I just can't help it. After months of seeing you in a coma, even if this is just a dream, it's still nice to see your smile again, kiddo."
Terry grinned that familiar way she missed so much. "Boy, Sammy, I can't believe you would just chop off your hair like that. Mom and Dad would roll in their graves if they knew you're masquerading yourself as a boy - not to mention being surrounded by so many of them. I can just see Dad getting a rifle."
She turned sober. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I should have been in that car with you guys. I should have been there. I –" Her voice broke.
He waved his hand airily. "What's past is past, Sammy. It wouldn't have been any better if you were hurt, too. Even though I'm currently like a vegetable in some lumpy hospital bed, it's really not that bad. Just think of it as . . . prolonged beauty sleep."
She smiled weakly. "I don't want this to be a dream. I want to wake up and we'll all be back home with Mom and Dad. You're not a figment of my imagination. You're not."
To this, he only smiled. His eyes crinkled and his expression was a cheerful one, neither indulging her nor comforting her. He was unreal.
Still, she rambled, "I'm sorry for leaving you behind. I tried to stay. I really didn't want to leave you, but Uncle Frank - he - I just couldn't stand it anymore." Her vision blurred as tears rolled unchecked. "I can't do anything against him, Terry! I was terrified …" Her voice turned hushed. "I still am." Her eyes dropped. "Why is he so influential? Where can I go? I don't know what to do anymore."
But Terry nodded grimly now, his forest green eyes blazing. "Don't worry, you did the right thing. If I was there, I would have snapped him in half for you."
She bobbed her head up and down in agreement before finally blurting out. "God, I miss you!" She reached out, grabbing hold of the boy. "I miss you. I miss you so much."
"Ah, dear Samantha, I've missed you as well."
She froze, pulling back sharply to see the blotchy face of her uncle. His black, beady eyes gleamed underneath black, bushy brows. His warm, sour breath mixed with the overwhelming cologne he dunked himself in made her want to gag. His pale, chapped lips curled above blinding white teeth. His greasy hair was slicked as always, accentuating his resemblance to a sycophantic snake. Yet even though he was but a few inches taller than her, his grip on her was too strong for her to break free from. His nails dug into her skin as he leaned close to her and he crooned, voice dripping with honeyed venom, "How could you leave me? You know I'll always find you. You can't run away from me."
Her mouth dried up and her heart began slamming against her ribcage. "Please . . . leave me alone," she whimpered softly.
He ignored her. "My stupid brother was no where near as smart as I am. If he was, he wouldn't have been so poor. He could have been as rich as I am now - as happy as I am now. But look at him now – went off and died, leaving you and your wasting brother in my care."
She stiffened and retorted, "Even though we weren't rich, we were happy. We had a loving family and we were –"
He shook her violently and her teeth chattered. "Happy? Don't give me that clichéd crap. You think love is all you need? Don't be foolish. That's only stories the poor make up to comfort themselves."
Her jaw clenched and she looked away.
"You know, you're really very beautiful. Just like your mother. Same fiery hair, same emerald green eyes, same snowy skin . . ." His voice had softened and that petrified her even more. "I was in love with your mother, you know. I offered her everything from jewels to clothes, but she chose your father instead." His voice quaked with fury. "Love again. She said she loved him despite the fact that he was neither as smart nor as rich as I was. I was the one who continued our family's business, making tons of investments. He was the one who decided to live out his petty dreams as a social worker. I was the one who made money by the thousands! He was the one who went around to crummy neighborhoods as poor as the people he tried to help! I was the perfect bachelor! He was the younger dilettante! And yet, she still chose him, embarrassing me in front of the whole society!" By now, he was screaming in her face, spraying spittle at her.
She cowered backward. His face folded, expressionless, as he turned quiet. His hand caressed her cheek softly. She panicked, shivering in disgust as he trailed his cold fingers along her skin. "But I have you now, my darling Samantha. I have you now. You can make up for all the injustice your parents did to me." He smiled coldly. "Every time I see you, you've grown so much. You're a beautiful young lady now. Come now, let Uncle Frank see just how much you've grown, dear Samantha." He leaned forward to her, holding her in place as his fingers trailed down along her body . . .
She started screaming.
"Samantha . . . oh, Samantha . . . Samantha . . . Sam . . . Sammy . . . SAM . . . SAM … SAM!"
Her eyes flew open and her breath came in short gasps. Gray eyes peered down at her and she sat upright in a flash, bombarding her head against Vincent's forehead in the process.
"OW!" They both yelped. Pastel spots dotted her vision as she rubbed her forehead furiously.
Vincent frowned at her as he held his own head. "What the hell is wrong with you? You didn't come to dinner so I thought you must still be hurting from gym. I came up to check on you but even outside the door, I heard you screaming your head off."
Her cheeks burned as she stamped her hand to her heart, trying to calm her racing beat. "I'm sorry. Just had a nightmare."
He nodded but he didn't take his eyes off of her. He furrowed his eyebrow in concern and cleared his throat gruffly, "Want to talk about it?"
She blinked and smiled with some hesitation. "Thanks, but it's okay now. I think I'm fine."
He nodded slowly and shrugged. "So . . . you hungry?"
Her stomach growled in answer for her. She flushed and looked down sheepishly. A wrapped sandwich popped up under her nose. She looked up, startled, and he stuffed the food into her hands along with a carton of orange juice, an apple, a bag of chips, and a bag of chocolate chip cookies. "Here. I figured you would want food later so I took the liberty of snagging some from the cafeteria." He scratched the back of his neck, eyes not quite meeting hers.
She beamed gratefully. "Thank you so much."
He cleared his throat again and responded, "It's no big deal. I just didn't want your stomach growling in the night and waking me up. I'm going to take a shower now. Finish the food." He grabbed a towel and walked off to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
She smiled a little and took a bite of the sandwich. Chewing hard, she got up to unzip her bag and began unpacking. As she sorted out her loose clothing she picked up from what her brother and dad left, she stumbled upon the family picture album she had managed to save from her uncle right before she ran away. Sitting down heavily, she took another bite of her sandwich while she browsed through the pictures. She smiled sadly down at a picture of her parents' wedding day. Then she flipped to a picture of her brother. She grinned. Terry was laughing at the camera and flexing his muscles cheerfully. The sun bounced off his shiny copper hair and his dark green eyes were crinkled brightly against his tanned skin. She had laughed at him then.
"Terry, don't do that! You'll crack the camera lens!"
"What? But I'm so hot! Come on, even you have to admit that!"
"Is that a pimple I see on your nose?"
"Oh, shut up!"
"Who is he?"
She jumped and nearly choked on the sandwich. She looked up and her jaw dropped. Vincent frowned down at the picture while rubbing his white towel through his damp dark hair. A trickle of water trailed down from the strands plastered to his neck down toward his tanned chest, dampening his white T-shirt. He also wore black silk boxers - the ones that probably cost the same amount as her whole wardrobe. She tore her eyes away and his jaw suddenly captivated her. It was those strong, firm ones that made her go weak in the knees. How come I didn't notice that before? Wow . . .
"Who is he?" Vincent repeated flatly. He narrowed his eyes at the picture of some guy she was smiling so fondly over.
She blinked herself out of her daze. "My brother."
"Oh." Vincent didn't know why he was so surprised. He'd automatically jumped to the wrong conclusions just because … Oh god. You're so stupid . . . who did you think it was? His boyfriend? It's not like he's automatically gay, you know, just because you think he's as attractive as any girl . . . oh god, I'm turning into Will.
"Are you okay?" Sammy inquired.
He stared down at the concerned girl and nodded stiffly. "Why?"
"Because you looked a bit green before."
"I'm fine. You're still not done eating?" He sat down next to his roommate and snagged his bag of chips, tearing it open. He polished off half the bag in two seconds. "Want?"
She shook her head in awe as he demolished the rest. How do guys eat like that? How does HE eat like that? He must work out a lot. She continued chewing on her sandwich.
"You want your apple?" he asked. She shook her head again and he reached over her to grab it. His head turned in her direction to find her clear green eyes watching him and he forgot what he was doing.
Her heart gave a jolt as she stared unblinkingly up into his stormy, grey eyes.
Vincent continued to stare bewilderedly down at her and his head inclined. Damn, but she's cute. Another thought instantly tripped him. Uh huh, that's right, except the she you're referring to is actually a HE. Good going. He immediately jerked away and shook his head as if trying to shake the fog from his eyes. Great, he had two voices in his head now.
He stole a look out of the corner of his eyes at his roommate and groaned inwardly. Sam was flushed for some reason and with the bright red hair framing his disturbingly delicate features, he looked ridiculously like a girl. How the hell is his roommate so feminine looking? If he didn't know better, he'd have sworn the boy was a girl.
"Uh, Vincent?" Sam asked shakily.
Great, he suspects you're a gay molester now. He probably wants to change rooms. "Hmm?" He grunted.
"You still want your apple?"
He stared blankly at the shining red fruit Sam was holding out to him. "Apple? OH! Uh, no thanks, but it's nice of you to offer."
She raised an eyebrow and stared at him, bemused. Shrugging, she got off the bed and placed it on the table. Her body shivered in protest. Vincent's body heat was just too warm and cozy. "I guess I'm gonna go and take a shower now. You need to use the bathroom anymore?"
"Nah, go ahead."
She grabbed her towel, clothes and toiletries before she scurried off to a nice warm shower.
Sam stepped out of the bathroom, the steam swirling around her. Vincent looked up from his laptop and smiled. His roommate looked fresh, rosy, pretty. Pretty? God . . . "You sure took your time," he quipped. He placed his laptop on his table and leaned back on his own bed, folding his arms underneath his head. "Never saw a guy take an hour long shower."
She laughed nervously. "Oh, uh, yeah. I like hot showers."
His eyes scanned her up and down and he raised an eyebrow. She was wearing an oversized flannel pajamas with each button fastened all the way up to her neck. "It's not that cold tonight." He glanced down pointedly at his own thin T-shirt
She bit her lip, "Oh . . . I get cold really easily. Hehe . . ."
His eyes trailed down and he nearly burst out laughing. The kid was wearing pink bunny slippers, for gods' sakes. She followed his eyes and blushed furiously. "My mom gave them to me. I always wear them." She walked over to her bed and plopped down, kicking off her shoes.
He grinned and said teasingly, "You have small feet. You know what they say . . ."
She stared blankly at him. "No, what?"
He faltered. "You don't know?"
"Oh, never mind then." He shifted around uncomfortably, pounding his pillow to fluff it up.
"What does it mean?"
"But I want to know."
"Uh . . . they say, um, small feet means . . . now, don't get offended, it's probably not true . . . uh, the size of your feet means . . . uh . . ."
"What?" she asked quizzically. She took a look at his feet. "Hey, you have pretty big feet. What does that mean then?"
He turned red. "They say the size of your feet means . . . the proportion of your other . . . errr . . . endowment."
He looked exasperated and awfully embarrassed. "Do I have to spell it out for you? What is the most important part of a guy's body to him?"
"Ummm . . ." She racked her brain for memories of her brother. "His hair?"
Vincent turned around with his back facing her. "I'm tired. Good night."
She frowned and slowly got up to turn off the light. As she shuffled back to her bed and snuggled into her sheets, pondering the problem as if it was one of her calculus equations, the answer hit her. She flushed hotly. Oh god, smart, Sammy. He must have thought she was an idiot. Her face burned in embarrassment at her ignorance and her stupid answers. Then she started giggling. Suddenly, the absurdity of her situation was hilarious to her. She was talking to her male roommate about her feet and how they correspond to her nonexistent body organs. By now, she was cracking up and she clapped her pillow over her head to try to muffle the sound.
Vincent grinned in the darkness. He guessed she must have finally figured it out. "Jeez, Sam, hair, huh? Now I know what you value the most . . ."
Her peals of laughter filled the dark room and he joined in not long after.
© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/26/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.