Sharing a Roof
(432): His hospital is closing... I consider it "sorry you're losing your job" sex.
They were screwed the moment they graduated high school.
Actually, Principle Simmons had just finished his, "Now presenting, the class of 2009," spiel when things started toppling downhill.
Ashton, if not Corinne, should have seen it coming. He was usually the more observant of the two, and could pick out a problem when everything seemed to be in top form. Then again, in matters of their mothers, even Ashton was fallible.
"We bought you an apartment!"
Corrine, who had just stepped away from the other cheerleaders after taking pictures, glanced over with big blue eyes at her mother and Ashton's. They both wore face-splitting grins and looked so terribly happy that Corrine's heart melted, even in the wake of such a crazy announcement.
"That's—That's great, Mom. B-But what do you mean?" she asked.
She sidled up beside Ashton. He was still glaring at their moms as though the declaration had angered the ability to speak right out of him. Corrine elbowed him from behind but he wouldn't budge. Giving it up as a lost cause, she trained her eyes on the two women in front of them whose matchmaking mischief was always a cause for concern.
Leila opened her mouth to reply to Corrine's question, but she was cut off by Ashton's mother.
"Let's get you two home to the party, and then we'll talk more after everything's settled down," Anna said, ushering her son and Corrine through the crowds on the well-tended football field.
Her tiny physique was dwarfed by Ashton, but anyone could see the similarities between mother and son. Anna had gifted him her dark hair and brilliant silver eyes. A person didn't have to know their history to know that Anna and Ashton were a part of the same gene pool. In fact, after spending some time with them, it was apparent that they shared personality traits as well as their good looks.
With Leila and Corrine's help, the four of them managed to find the rest of their families.
Ashton's eyes sped over all the faces in the crowd, looking for one in particular, but he wasn't surprised to find his father's tall build absent from those who'd attended the graduation.
Anna patted him on the back. "Don't take too long. I'm sure people have already started to arrive back at home."
After a couple of more goodbyes, the Winthrops and Lawsons piled into the various cars and pulled out of the parking lot.
"They've done something," Ashton said after their families had dispersed.
He pulled off his cap and gown and shoved them into Corrine's backseat. His dark hair flopped down over his forehead as usual, but he let it be, staring over the top of the car at his best friend. Corrine grinned. She rolled her eyes in a "you're being paranoid" fashion, and then mimicked his actions.
"Don't be so hard on them, Ash. They mean well, whatever they're up to," she said.
Corrine managed to make her hair look presentable in the side view mirror, but the graduation cap had left a crease in her blonde locks just the same. She tsked at the state of her appearance from the wrinkled pink dress her sister-in-law had bought to the dirt caked on the sides of her white heels. Graduation was liberating, sure, but it was also a pain in the butt. How did anyone expect her to go straight to a party after this? She sighed and slid into the driver's seat.
Ashton opened the passenger side door, but didn't get into the car. Corrine knew his attention had floundered somewhere between his proclamation of their mothers' mischief and her self-inspection. After a moment, he leaned down—a feat in itself with his long and lanky six-foot frame—and told her to wait a second as he said goodbye to a couple of his Student Government friends.
Corrine watched him from behind the wheel while she waited. Ashton had grown up so much in all the years she'd known him. She could remember him as a little boy who loved building model rockets in his backyard. Now, they were off to college and he was going to make those childhood dreams a reality. It was all so new to her. Corrine could hardly believe where they had ended up.
But her friendship with Ashton Winthrop meant more than just a shared childhood. They had been through everything together, as clichéd as the thought was. She didn't know how she would survive without his biting remarks and floppy hair. They were incredibly lucky to be going to the same university.
Corrine settled her hands at the top of the steering wheel and then leaned her chin beside them. Her eyes followed Ashton's progress through the crowd of Student Government kids. He always had to keep up appearances even though he wasn't the Student Body President anymore. Ashton was a perfectionist and she'd be damned before she kept him from his quirky tendencies.
Corrine looked away from Ashton and found another of her close friends, Kate Min, walking over to her car.
"Hey! You're coming over to my place, right?" Corrine asked.
She turned away from the steering wheel completely and stuck her feet out on the dewy grass. Kate frowned.
"I can't! I promised my mom I'd go to lunch with the family. We can get together later if you want," she said, pushing a strand of black hair out of her eyes as the breeze picked up.
Corrine bit her lip. "Well… there's something brewing back at home. I don't know how long it'll take to do damage control."
A feeling of dread settled into the pit of her stomach at the thought of going back to Ashton's. She and Kate had made plans to rent out an apartment together in the fall, but if Leila and Anna had really bought an apartment… Corrine shook her head. There was no point jumping to conclusions. She'd just have to wait to find out what was going on.
Kate smiled sympathetically. She and Corrine were close enough that she had heard horror stories of Anna and Leila's attempts at matchmaking. For some reason, the Winthrops and Lawsons felt that Ashton and Corrine were perfect for each other. Never mind the fact that Kate thought the same thing. She'd never admit that to either Ash or Cori for fear of being pulverized.
"Just give me a call after the party, or text me when you're free. We'll hang out."
"Sure," said Corrine.
Kate rubbed a hand over one of her pretty, almond-shaped brown eyes and then turned at the sound of her name.
"I'd better get going. See you later. Tell Ashton congrats for me," she said.
Corrine watched Kate disappear into the crowds of graduates and family members. Soon enough, she turned back and found Ashton still mingling amongst his friends. His gray eyes met hers from where he stood, and he broke off whatever conversation Mira, the former vice president, was having with him.
"Listen, Mira, Cori and I have to get to our graduation party. I'll see you at Highland in the fall, right?"
Ashton's attention wavered again, and poor Mira's response was drowned out by other thoughts. Namely, he was thinking of his and Corrine's mothers. They couldn't go a day without causing some sort of trouble, and as much as he wanted some more time with his friends, he knew that whatever Leila and Anna had cooked up was more important this time.
"Bye, Ash. Give me a call sometime," Mira said.
She leaned up and planted a quick kiss on Ashton's cheek. Ashton grinned at her blush; Mira had been a really good vice president.
After a minute, he shook his head to clear his thoughts. Now wasn't the time to worry about potential future girlfriends. He and Corrine needed to get home and find out what the hell their moms had done.
"Ash, just stay calm, alright? Whatever they did, we can always undo it," Corrine cajoled as they walked up the driveway at the Winthrop house.
Anna had had her husband hang an enormous blue and white banner over the front door that proclaimed, "HAPPY GRADUATION, ASH AND CORI!" to the entire neighborhood. Ashton wrapped an arm around Corrine's shoulder, which forced him to bend over a bit, and sighed. He stared up at the banner for a long moment.
"They'll be the end of us, Cori. Just watch."
The house was full of people when they pushed through into the entryway. Ashton looked down and found Corrine staring around in surprise at all the guests. Anna and Leila had said the whole thing would just be a small get together of close friends.
"Small get together my ass," Ashton mumbled.
It was a good thing his mother had promised not to make a big deal of their arrival. No one batted an eyelash at the sight of the two graduates and Ashton couldn't have been more relieved.
Corrine, on the other hand, felt shell-shocked. Her hair was a mess and her dress had gotten all wrinkled from sitting down for so long. She could only hope her makeup had held against the heat outside.
"Let's just go find our moms."
She slipped out of her heels, causing Ashton to dwarf her even more. He took his arm away long enough to undo his navy tie, and then began leading her forward through the crowd.
Their search around the house only confirmed Ashton's suspicions that they hardly knew half the people at the party. In fact, a good chunk of the guests were older, middle-aged friends of their parents'. He had agreed to the party in the first place on the condition that his mother would send invitations to all of his and Corrine's friends. Again, Anna had slipped up.
"Perfect. A party I don't want to be at with a house full of old people that I don't know," he said to Corrine.
She opened her mouth to soothe his crabbiness, but they were stopped just then by her Uncle Jim. He crossed through a group of Ashton's stepfather's colleagues and pulled Corrine into a hug.
"Congratulations, baby doll. Your Aunt Suzie and I saw the whole thing. You look beautiful. I'm so proud!" he said.
Corrine hugged him back, too distracted by her search for Leila and Anna to reply with anything substantial. Jim released her soon enough and turned his attention toward Ashton.
"And here's the valedictorian himself. How did you manage to pull it off, Ashton? Student Government, debate, school, and looking after Corrine—it must have been like a fulltime job," said Jim.
Ashton blushed at the praise. After all of his successes, he still wasn't used to people complimenting him. He might have been cocky around his friends, but hearing someone point out all of his achievements was just too much.
"Thanks, Jim. It wasn't that bad—except for the looking after Corrine part. She's a handful, you know?"
Jim guffawed at the bad joke and only laughed harder when Corrine tuned back in long enough to slap Ashton on the arm. A couple of seconds later, her eyes landed on Leila across the living room. She elbowed Ashton.
"Sorry, Uncle Jim, but I need to talk to Mom for a minute. I'll see you later, right?"
"Sure, baby doll. We're here the whole weekend," said Jim. He followed her eyes over to Leila. "Don't be too hard on them, kids. They just want you to be happy."
Corrine nodded. She knew that, but sometimes it was so hard to appreciate Leila and Anna when it seemed like all they did was butt into hers and Ashton's business. Matchmaking or not, there were some things you just didn't do.
Ashton took her hand, successfully knocking Corrine out of her thoughts. They weaved between all the people and made it over to Leila within a few minutes. Conveniently, Anna and their fathers were standing with her near the open door to the backyard. At least now they didn't have to go looking for everyone else, too.
"Ah, there you are! We were wondering what you'd gotten up to, it took you so long to get here," Leila said, grinning.
"Well, we're here. Now, tell us what's going on," Ashton said. He crossed his arms over his chest. Corrine always said it made him look more intimidating.
Anna mimicked her best friend's smile. "Why don't we cut the cake first? Everyone's just dying to hear your speeches."
Corrine didn't lose her temper much, but their mothers were being so stubborn today. "Mo-o-o-m," she whined. "Please, just explain what you meant at the graduation."
Leila looked at Anna briefly and both women began to giggle. Ashton's stepfather, Eric, rolled his eyes in the background.
"We told you! Anna and I bought you an apartment," Leila said. "She and Ashton had been talking about renting one out for him anyway, so we thought we'd just get you one together. Isn't that exciting?"
Corrine's actions screeched to a halt. They had done what? She and Ashton were best friends, true, but living with him was a whole different ballgame. How was her father even okay with this? She turned her blue eyes to Jeremy Lawson, standing behind his wife. He had the resigned look of a defeated husband on his face. Leila had gotten to him, too.
"You're not happy?" Anna asked. She looked between Ashton and Corrine, whose expressions were anything but excited. They looked like two deer in the xenon headlights of a Hummer about to run them down.
Ashton hadn't even considered moving in with Corrine. He had grown up with her and everything, but living together would be so awkward. They'd never even spent the night at each other's house. Not since before middle school, at least. He'd had a sneaking suspicion of it before, but now he knew: their mothers were actually crazy.
"Mom, I thought me and Kate were going to share an apartment? I told her we'd be moving in together!" Corrine said. She'd started to really freak out by now. How could her mom do this without telling her?
Leila frowned. "I talked to Kate and her mother already. Kate is going to move in with Sonya Sharma."
"We thought you would be thrilled. Either way, it can't be undone. Leila and I signed the contract weeks ago," Anna said.
Ashton was so angry that he couldn't form the words it would take to tell his mother to screw off. It was apparent that Corrine was unhappy, and he sure as hell wasn't skipping around either. Their moms had ruined any chances he'd had at a fun first semester in college.
Corrine groaned. "Please tell me you got one with two bedrooms and two bathrooms?"
"Were we supposed to?" Anna asked, turning back to Leila.
Leila shrugged. "I don't know."
"Oh, Mom! You didn't!" Corrine exclaimed.
"What? It has two bedrooms, but you'll have to share a bathroom."
Ashton shook his head. Great. As if living with three sisters hadn't been enough, now he had to share a bathroom again. This was turning out to be an awesome day. All of the excitement from graduation had made a quick exit, and he was left with only anger bubbling in his stomach.
"It won't be so bad, Cori. The apartment is nice," Jeremy told his daughter.
Corrine glared at her father. He was supposed to be on her side! This wasn't fair.
"I don't even know how you're okay with this," she said.
"Ashton will look after you. I'm not worried about him trying anything," Jeremy said. He threw a pointed glance at the boy in question, but Ashton was busy trying to think of a way out of this mess.
"The contract isn't breakable?" he asked a moment later.
Anna shook her head. "We'd have to pay an arm and a leg to do it. They said we can only go against the lease in case of extenuating circumstances."
"This is so messed up."
"I wish you had told us first, Mom," Corrine said.
She remembered her Uncle Jim's words: They just want you to be happy. Yeah, right, if making them happy meant butting into their lives and forcing them to live together.
She and Ashton had always thought of graduation as their ticket out of Leila and Anna's nosy clutches. They hadn't bet on their mothers getting the upperhand here, too. Somehow, Corrine and Ashton always ended up doing exactly what their parents wanted. Except this time, they would have to pay the consequences of Leila and Anna's mischief.
The first semester of college had just gotten a hell of a lot more interesting.
A/N: I hope you liked the first chapter! If you've read any of my other stuff, please take a look at the note on my profile regarding this story. I would really appreciate some good feedback as this is my first time doing a chaptered humor piece. Reviews are great help.
I like to give some questions for y'all to answer in the first chapter so I can guage your responses: What do you think of the characters so far? What about the premise of the story? Do you think you'll keep reading?
EDIT (1/11/10): Okay, so I wasn't too happy with the way this chapter turned out when I first wrote it. It was a bit rushed and all, so I decided to make some edits. Hopefully, I won't have to do this in later chapters, but if I do, I'll be sure to let you guys know. Also, I'm putting up character pics on my website, so check them out and let me know what you think of them. Sorry for the inconvenience and I hope you like the edits. Last thing, I'm probably going to change the title of the story soon. I'll post a note if I do. Thanks for your patience!! :) Oh! By the way, I only added this as a new chapter so that anyone who has me on alert would know that I made some changes. Sorry if you got excited for a new chapter!!
EDIT (5/5/10): The quote under the title is from the website textsfromlastnight . com. It's been edited for formatting and grammar, but it belongs to that website and I don't take credit for it. There will be one in each chapter. They're not mine!!