Sharing a Roof
May 5, 2010
(615): Her nose might be broken… but I think she's just drunk enough to fall for the whole "sex releases endorphins, so it'll feel better" line.
Ashton watched Corrine disappear into the crowd, his face plastered in an expression of shock. What the hell was that all about? Corrine didn't usually behave like this. Obviously, something had gotten her riled up. He stared after her until her petite frame was obstructed by grinding bodies and tipsy couples.
"Ugh, I can't believe she just left like that…"
Ashton turned back to Mira, who stood beside him, arms crossed over her chest and a holier-than-thou look on her face. He shook his head.
"I don't know what got into her," he said. "She was okay a couple of minutes ago."
Mira rolled her eyes. "Whatever. She'll be fine in a few hours."
Ashton looked doubtful but nodded all the same, just to put an end to that particular conversation.
Astute as always, Mira took the bait and latched onto his arm. "Come on! There are some people I want you to meet. Sonya's brothers know all these Student Government officers… I met some of them a couple of days ago. I'll introduce you."
Ashton glanced back towards the door one more time before resigning himself to his fate and allowing Mira to drag him along.
By the time Corrine made it back to the apartment, most of her anger had died out. More than anything, she felt a little disappointed in Ashton. Mira was a nice girl—deep, deep, down under the surface—but it had taken him seconds to pick her over Corrine. Before Mira had burst onto the scene, Ashton's attention had been fully devoted to his best friend. All it had taken was a few flutters of the eyelashes and some heady perfume, and resilient Ashton Winthrop was like putty in the she-devil's hands.
It was a shame, really, that he'd get caught up in all that. But Mira seemed different somehow from all the other girls Ashton had dated in the past. She had some kind of discreet sway over him that, until now, only Corrine had ever had. That was the bulk of the reason behind Cori's anger. No other girl had ever managed to make Ashton listen to her unless he wanted to do it. And yet Mira… Mira had done just that. Even the thought of it made Corrine's skin crawl.
Their apartment complex was deader than a cemetery when she pulled up to the parking lot. Corrine figured she would have to get used to that—everyone being out on a Friday night. But it was probably just a fluke. There was bound to be a party going on somewhere in there.
She made her way up to the apartment, taking the stairs like a snail. The elevator's big, fat "Out of Order" sign hadn't done a thing for her mood. Her head ached from the party music and her body was exhausted. She felt her bones whine as she made her way inside.
All the neighbors they'd met that afternoon were nowhere to be found and the hallway on the fourth floor was eerily quiet. Corrine found herself wishing she'd stayed at the party.
She entered the living room, locked the door on the way in, and folded herself onto the couch. Now what?
Ashton didn't understand Corrine's problem, and couldn't seem to get his mind off of her shocked expression when she'd stormed out of Kate and Sonya's apartment. She was always pissed at him about something whenever another girl was involved. Sure, some of his girlfriends had genuinely hated her, but that didn't mean Cori had to be catty to every prospective who came into his life. In fact, it kind of bothered him that she was like that. He'd never encroached on any of her relationships, even though there was no love lost between him and her old boyfriends.
The only thing he regretted at this point was that Corrine had managed to ruin his evening. Inevitably, guilt would override any enjoyment he felt at being at the party, and Ashton would rush home. That's how things were with him and Corrine. When they argued, he wouldn't bother making the first move, but when she got angry, he couldn't help trying to win her back.
Mira tugged on his hand and Ashton's attention came back to the party. He took a sip of the beer in his hand, a simple distraction to get his mind off a certain blonde bombshell who waited to chew him out at home.
"Ashton, can you at least try to look happy when I introduce you to these people?" Mira said. Her brown eyes gazed around at the other partygoers, most of whom were already tipsy. "They're your ticket to everything that's important on campus."
That was doubtful. Ashton wondered how many of these people would even remember him come Monday.
"Sorry, I'm just worried about Cori. I don't want to start things off on the wrong foot," Ashton said. Thinking of Corrine at home, alone and angry on their first night after moving out made him sad. "Listen, I think I should head home and try to patch things up. I can't have her mad at me."
Mira rolled her eyes. "Corrine is a big girl. She can take care of herself."
Ashton shook his head. He knew Mira had a point: Corrine was old enough to take care of herself, but it had always been Ash's job to look out for her. Ben and Jonah couldn't be there for everything, and when they weren't, he took it upon himself to be around.
"No, I should go. I'll call you for lunch. I want to hang out," Ashton said. He met Mira's eyes and gave a pointed look, asking her to understand his dilemma.
"Yeah, okay. Fine."
Mira released his hand and took a step aside, gesturing for him to go.
Ashton pulled her back a moment. Mira wasn't the nicest girl he'd ever dated, but if they ended up going out, he'd have no regrets. There was a little softness under her skin that not everyone knew about. He leaned down and kissed her cheek.
"Thank you. I'll call you."
"You'd better," Mira said. She smiled a little, watching his back as he disappeared into the crowd.
Wanting to leave and get home to Corrine was fine and dandy, Ashton knew, but it hadn't occurred to him that Corrine was his designated driver for the night. She'd taken his keys the moment they'd arrived and now he was stuck without his car.
He figured he could go back up to the party and get Mira to drive him home, if it came down to that. Then again, her buttons had been pushed enough for one night. Ash didn't want to risk losing her because of all the "extra baggage" in his life.
As it was, fifteen minutes later found him sitting on the curb outside Sonya and Kate's apartment complex. Ashton stared down at his cell phone, unable to decide whether he wanted to call Corrine or not. Would she even agree to come and get him? He hadn't been much of a gentleman that night, so he wouldn't be surprised if she said no.
Then again, it was Cori. She'd never deny him.
Before he'd made up his mind, Ash found his fingers dialing her number.
She picked up on the fourth ring, just before her voicemail was set to come on. Ashton sighed in relief.
"What?" Corrine said.
Ash's relief quickly turned to caution at the tone of her voice. She didn't sound happy at all.
"Corrine? Hey. Can you come get me from Sonya and Kate's place?" he said, the words spilling out like a waterfall. Ashton cringed, waiting for her answer.
Corrine sighed. "Yeah, whatever. I'll be there in fifteen."
"Thank—" The line went dead before Ashton could finish. He closed his phone and dropped his head into his hands.
Corrine had wanted to say "no." Really, she had. But she knew that she couldn't just leave him there, buzzed and car-less. It just wasn't the way things worked for them. After all, he had saved her from the drunken blond boy earlier. She owed him for that, if nothing else.
By the time Cori got to Sonya and Kate's, Ashton was pacing at the corner on the sidewalk, cigarette in his mouth and hair ruffled from the wind.
She pulled his car over to the curb and stopped beside him. Corrine refused to roll down the window or acknowledge him in any way, even as he tossed his cancer stick, opened the door and slid into the car.
"Thanks. I thought I'd be stuck here the whole night."
Corrine frowned. Stuck? He was the one who wanted to stay! She didn't reply. Ashton got the message that she wasn't going to talk to him, and remained silent for the rest of the ride.
By the time they got back to their apartment, Corrine was fuming. She couldn't believe Ash had had the nerve to call her up asking for a ride. But she was even angrier at herself for agreeing. If he'd wanted to come back so badly, he could've just have asked his precious Mira for a lift.
Ashton closed the front door behind him and locked it. Then, he faced Corrine who, standing at the kitchen counter, glared at him.
"Listen, I'm sorry I ditched you earlier," he said. Ashton hated apologies, even to his best friend. He hoped Cori knew what this was like for him.
Cori folded her arms over her chest. "You know, I just don't understand, Ashton… You were being Mr. Protective one minute, and then the instant Mira showed up, you couldn't care less whether I lived or died at that party."
Ashton frowned. Well, if that wasn't blowing things out of proportion…
"It wasn't like that, Cori. I just… I really like her…"
"Not good enough, Ashton. You'll have to come up with something better. I could have been molested or kidnapped… we knew maybe five people there, and you just let me walk off. How am I supposed to depend on you when she's around?"
Ashton's frustration was beginning to get to him. His buzz had died and now Cori's anger seemed more misplaced than legitimate. He'd slipped up once and she was already jumping to conclusions.
"Corrine… I shouldn't have let you walk off, but I don't want to start off like this. You are my best friend and you should know that I wouldn't do anything to change that. No girl has ever come between us before—Mira won't be any different. I was caught up tonight when I should have kept a clear head. I'm sorry… really."
And with those words, Ashton watched as Corrine's frosty exterior melted away. Cori sighed and leaned back against the kitchen counter, biting her lip. She hadn't heard such a heartfelt apology from him in… Well, actually, never.
"You were just inconsiderate, you know?"
Ash nodded. "I know."
"You could have taken better care of me."
"And I should have…"
Ashton stuffed his hands into his pockets and rocked back on the soles of his feet. His attention flitted over to the clock on the far wall. It was only half-past midnight.
"Are we cool?" he asked, turning his smoky eyes back to Corrine.
She fidgeted with his car keys a moment as if trying to decide whether she'd really forgiven him or not. Then, her crystal blue eyes found his from across the room and she smiled.
Ashton's body deflated in relief. He smirked back at Corrine and asked, "Do you want to go out for some ice cream?"
Cori nodded, knowing that things would be okay from here on out. Mira was always going to be a sore spot for them, but if Ashton could be responsible, Corrine wouldn't make a big deal of it.
Ashton was the first to wake up the next morning and, as such, stole the bathroom to take a shower. Corrine's eyes fluttered open at the sound of the water, and she couldn't help wishing the bathroom hadn't been squeezed between the two bedrooms.
Eventually, she made her way out to the kitchen with her as yet unpacked box of toiletries and set about washing her face and brushing her teeth.
The first night hadn't been as bad as she'd thought it would be. Hopefully, that wouldn't change after school started.
Cori's stomach squirmed at the thought of school. After much deliberation over the summer, she'd settled on being pre-law with a major in Political Science. The idea was daunting, at the least. She, unlike Ashton, had never been sure about her future. Cori's attention span had always been short, and picking a career was the hardest thing she'd ever had to do. Her family, she knew, would support her in whatever she decided to do, and it was only that that kept Corrine confident about what she had decided in the end.
In all honesty, Cori envied Ashton for being so sure about his path in life. Ash had always known what he wanted to do, since they were kids. Picking a major in Aerospace Engineering hadn't been a chore so much as a calling. He would do fine, Cori knew, and hopefully she would too.
"What are you thinking about?"
Corrine pulled her toothbrush out of her mouth and turned around to find Ashton in the doorframe.
"Oh, hey. Um… just school," she said, but the words came out frothy and muffled with all the toothpaste in her mouth.
Ashton smirked. "Yeah, I haven't been able to concentrate on anything else this morning. You nervous?"
Corrine turned back to the sink and rinsed out her mouth before answering.
"Yeah, I am. I just wish I could be sure about this law school thing."
Ashton made his way further inside and set about unpacking the coffeemaker. Cori scrunched her nose. She was a tea person.
Ashton plugged in the machine and pulled out the bag of coffee next.
Corrine took a seat at the bar. She watched him put on the coffee, her thoughts still glued to the impending first day of college.
"I couldn't see you being anything but a lawyer."
Corrine folded her arms on the table and leaned her head on them, peering over at Ashton.
"Tell me something," she said, the movement of her jaw causing her face to bounce up and down as she spoke.
Ashton flipped the switch on the coffeemaker and then turned around to face her.
Corrine sat back up. She looked down at the kitchen counter as though she didn't want to meet his gaze.
"You'll still love me if I flunk out and have to become a hobo, right?" Her voice held all the insecurity of a little girl who wasn't sure that Santa Claus existed anymore. Cori played with her fingers, waiting for Ashton to say something—to reassure her that she wouldn't be chucked out of Highland after the first semester.
Ashton's gray eyes softened behind his glasses. He walked around to the other side of the bar and pulled her off the barstool into a hug.
"Stop worrying. You're smarter than you give yourself credit for."
Corrine knew he was right. There was really no use worrying now, before she'd even started the semester. She'd just have to see how things went and work as hard as she could.
After using all of Sunday to unpack and finish setting up the apartment, Corrine and Ashton found themselves waking up to the first day of college.
Luckily, their first classes were within a period of each other, so they decided just to drive to Highland together. In fact, Corrine wouldn't have let Ashton leave by himself anyway. She was too scared to go roaming around campus by herself.
"I know you only have the two classes today, so I stuck your ID in your wallet so you can take the bus home after class. I won't be done until at least five," Ashton said.
He pulled into one of the many student parking lots and started searching around for a spot. Corrine tapped nervously on her calculus textbook as she surveyed the buildings and people outside. The day had managed to be as sunny and hot as possible, and most of the students walking around had donned sunglasses and hats. She tugged at her daisy dukes, nervous all of a sudden about her obviously freshman appearance.
Ashton grabbed his keys out of the ignition after pulling into a spot near Administration, and then leaned around to get his bag out of the backseat. He noticed Cori's doe-eyed expression and smirked.
"Just relax. They won't eat you. Although… I would probably stay away from the sorority gals if I were you. I've heard they can be vicious if you're the type who doesn't want to go Greek."
Corrine turned to face him with wide, baby blue eyes. "I'm the type who doesn't want to go Greek."
Ashton laughed. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. It'll be fine. You only have two classes—you'll be out of here before you know it. And hey… doesn't Sonya have calculus with you?"
Cori peered down at her textbook and nodded. "Yeah, but I have American Federal Government before that… I don't know anyone who has that with me."
Ashton unbuckled his seatbelt and then leaned over and pecked her on the temple.
"Corrine, you'll be fine. Come on, let's go find your class before I have to leave for mine," he said.
Cori knew he was right. She was freaking out about nothing. And anyway, she'd have to face the big, bad college world at some point. It was just better to get the initial "meet and greet" process over with as soon as possible. She followed Ash's lead and unbuckled her seatbelt.
By the time they found Corrine's Government room, it was time for Ashton to head over to chemistry.
"I've got two classes back-to-back, but we can meet up for lunch after government if you want," Ashton said. He leaned against the doorframe of the lecture hall.
Corrine nodded. "Yeah, sure… if I make it until then."
Ashton grinned, shaking his head, and then bid her goodbye. Corrine turned around to face the large lecture hall. It was mostly empty, save for a couple of early birds whom she assumed were fellow freshmen.
As she began to calculate where the best place to sit was, someone ran into her from behind. Corrine turned around and found herself groaning.
The blond prince from Saturday's party was staring bashfully back at her from the doorway.
A/N: So... would "I'm sorry" suffice? I know, I know... I've been horrible the last couple of months. I disappeared without a trace... but it was for the benefit from my education.... Which, didn't really help. I still almost failed 3 out of 4 classes. Luckily, I pulled Cs and C+s though... I'm not sure where that leaves me for med school, but I'm just glad I passed at this point.
Anyway, you'll notice a quote with a funny little number near the beginning of this chapter... well, I was on textsfromlastnight . com the other day, and I figured I would put the ones that I liked the most at the beginnings of the chapters for this story. A little college humor, yah know? I'm gonna edit the first three chapters with these, so you should check those out. They're random and they don't really mean anything in relation to the chapters, but they're funny, so yeah... I've edited them a little for grammar and such, so if you visit the site, they're probably not exactly the same.
Again, I am sincerely apologetic for my absence. It was too long and I should have at least put up a warning or something that I would be gone, but FP was just so far in the back of my mind because I was so worried about school. At any rate, I hope you'll forgive me and continue to read the story. Thanks to all the people who reviewed the last chapter, and I hope you'll continue leaving your feedback. I'm pretty sure I replied to everyone, but I'm sorry if I didn't get to you... the reviews were all jumbled and I might have skipped you. Sorry!! Thanks again!!