University of Southern California, Los Angeles

8:00 PM Friday, May 28th, 2020

"Mia, this is Sergeant Sykes, do you copy, over."

"Shit." Mia swore before she answered the communicator. "Yeah Sarge, I hear you loud and clear, over." She said a bored voice.

"There's been an emergency at the Carnegie Welton Dorm."

Mia rolled her eyes and sweeping a hand through her neck length brown hair. "I know. Some dumbass jocks had a little too much too much to drink, as usual. It's likely to be that roid-head Gilligan. I'll be there Sarge. Over." Mia said as she hung up and cursed under her breath as she drove the patrol vehicle to the dorm.

"Many of them are going to end up with 75K in non-dischargeable loans with no better job prospects than a high school graduate by the time they're through. Glad as shit I didn't go." She muttered.

"Education as an institution is a racket." Her father told her as she started her first day of high school. "Most so-called educators don't care about students under their charge and are little more than daycare workers babysitting dozens of youths they don't know well enough to give life advice to. Most people have no business going to college, which is little more than extended adolescence these days. Your old man made it in Hollywood without needing to spend one cent on college. The only role models a child needs are parents who give a damn enough to tell the truth."

"Your father is right, Mia." Her mother said. "Women who are traditional housewives and mothers are happier, more fulfilled, and productive women. Don't listen to what the media tells you about working women who don't need men."

"Too bad many American kids don't have parents telling them the same." Mia told herself disgustedly.

Mia pulled up to the dorm just in time to see two familiar muscular jocks accosting three female students. Casey Gilligan and Reggie Malik- again.

"Speak of the devil and he will show up stoned drunk on the porch." Mia swore as she got out of the car. She was sick of this roid-head being allowed back on campus after repeat offenses just because he was the school's star linebacker on the football team.

"COME HERE, BITCH!" Casey Gilligan, a blonde brute, roared as he seized a girl by her hair and throw her screaming to the ground.

"STOP HURTING HER, ASSHOLE! AAH!" friend yelled and tried to help her friend but Reggie delivered a powerful slap, knocking her down. He raised a foot over her head.

Casey pinned the other girl to the ground, wrapping his hand around her throat and raised the other fist in the air when a light shined in his eye.

"HEY! WHAT THE FUCK!" Casey yelled.

Mia didn't even bother talking. She didn't care if his family filed a lawsuit. She charged forward and knocked down the huge jock with a flying kick, sending the big man sprawling with a bellow of pain.

"YOU FUCKING…!" Reggie charged at her with a raised fist, but she crouched low and swept his feet out from under him with a kick. He hit his head on the grass and groaned in pain. Mia put a boot on his back and whipped out her handcuffs, succeeding in locking one hand when Casey approached her with a murderous look, a switchblade clutched in his hand.

The girls screamed and Mia whirled around just as Casey lunged at her with the knife when a hand grabbed his wrist and twisted it, prying the knife out of his hand and eliciting a yell of pain.

From out of nowhere female security guard with long brown hair had appeared and struck from behind. Mia smirked when she saw who it was. Ashley shot a wicked grin back at her.

"Ash?" Casey stammered with a scared look

"Really, Casey?" Ashley turned to Casey. "Gonna throw away that NFL career you bragged so much about? All over having a few too many drinks?" Without waiting for an answer, she pulled Casey towards her and hurled the big man to the ground with a hip toss before handcuffing him.

Reggie took advantage of the distraction to shove Mia off him and made a bolt across the grass. He tried to run past Ashley's patrol car, when another patrol car pulled up. He tried to run past it, but the door flew open and knocked him down. A third female campus security guard stepped out with an annoyed look.

"What did I miss?" Sonya asked, brushing her long hair over her shoulder.

The police soon arrived to detain the two jocks and haul the jocks off to jail. They would be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, public drunkenness, and probably steroid use.

"Unbelievable." Mia shook her head. "Half the cases we've had to respond to this month were because of those two idiots."

"Even if those juice monkeys made it into the NFL, their careers are going to be cut short within the first 5 years due to drug overdose, DUIs, or just plain going broke." Sonya snapped in disgust as she watched them get carted off to jail.

"Don't sweat it too much, Sonya." Ashley waved her hand dismissively as she sighed. "The three of us have enough worry being gawked at by horny male co-workers in the DPS."

"Dad won't let me go to college yet. He said to work 2 to 3 years first." Sonya pouted, crossing her toned, olive skinned arms.

"Sonya, I hate to break it to you, but your father is right. You're only 19. You don't want to take on 60K in debt when you're just starting adulthood." Mia said. "I'm 31 and even I wouldn't take on that much debt all at once."

"If college administrators really cared, they'd only accept people who actually worked for a living and had real world professional experience." Ashley growled, shaking her head. "I'm 34 right now and I know more than a few friends my age who are still paying off their loans over 10 years after their graduated."

"Mia, you have a rich dad unlike me and Ashley." Sonya pointed out. "I'm sure Mr. Iglesias would help you out if you said you were going to major in something worthwhile."

Before Mia could respond, her communicator rang again. They had to go back to work.

The three finally got off work at 2:00 AM. All three girls worked the late-night shift from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM.

"What are you doing tomorrow, Sonya?" Ashley smiled.

"Nothing. Thinking of going to Santa Monica." Sonya said. "And you?"

"Same. Summer is coming." Ashley gave the younger woman a wicked smirk. "Have to rock those curves soon. You up for it, sister?"

Sonya laughed. "You can try. I won't make it easy." The three women considered themselves friendly beauty rivals.

"What about you, Mia?" Ashley turned to Mia.

"I don't know." Mia said with a serious look. "There might be a family gathering to go to this weekend."

"Gathering?" Sonya asked.

"I don't want to, but I feel like I have to." Mia begrudgingly. She didn't want to go to the reunion.

"What is it exactly?" Ashley asked, a little disappointed about how they hadn't been able to spend the weekends together for the past 2 months. "I hope it's not some wedding of a random cousin you never heard of."

Mia shook her bangs out of her eyes. "It's my uncle from Nevada."

"An uncle from out of state? Are you close to him?" Sonya asked.

Mia made a so-so motion with her hand. "I like him. Dad doesn't. He and grandpa hate my uncle for some weird reason."

"It's probably about money. Happened between my dad and his brothers too." Ashley guessed. "Hopefully, I'll have saved enough money that it won't happen between me and my sister when my parents are gone." Ashley said with a bitter note as she thought about her younger sister back home in Sacramento.

Mia shook her head. "No. I don't think it's that. Grandpa and dad hate my uncle for no reason. It got so bad that he hasn't visited us for a couple of years now." She cringed at the memory of the last family gathering.

"That's weird." Sonya said. But then again, Mia's father was known to be rather brash and unfriendly to people in general.

"I'd stay away from it if I were you." Ashley warned.

"I would, but my cousin is coming too."

"Cousin?" Ashley said. "How old is he?"

"18. He just graduated from high school." Mia said.

"Oh, he's younger than me. Are you close to him?" Sonya asked. She didn't often see her cousins either.

"Sort of. Mia smiled slightly as she thought back to the memories she spent together with her uncle's son. "He's the only cousin I have and he's an only child, just like me. I think of him as a little brother." Then she frowned. "That said, I haven't seen him for 4 years so I don't know how he will respond to seeing me after all this time. We didn't keep in touch. His Spanish isn't very good." Mia laughed a little.

"Why?" Ashley laughed back. "Isn't he Hispanic?"

"His mom is Korean. I guess my uncle thought teaching his son two languages was enough." Mia thought, frowning in confusion as to why this would be the case. "I've just never seen him speak Spanish to his son."

"That's weird." Sonya said. She checked her watch. It was 2:17 AM. "We should really get going. So, are you coming to the beach tomorrow?"

Mia shrugged and smiled. "Might as well."

"Muscle beach this year." Ashley said with a teasing smile.

"Is it, already?" Mia raised a brow.

"I thought it was June." Sonya said.

"Got moved." Ashley said. "Apparently this new guy named Hercules absolutely killed the competition last year."

"Hercules?" Mia asked. "Who's that?" The name sounded familiar.

"Is he a wrestler or something?" Sonya asked, also curious

"No. Of course not. But if you come to Santa Monica tomorrow..." Ashley smirked at them. "You'll see."