So I ignored his text. He thinks I’m in class anyway so it’s no biggie.
Sighing, I run my hand over the top of my head, frustration swimming in my veins. The roommate listings either sound too good to be true or creepy as hell. There are quite a few expensive ones too. I stopped by Light My Fire earlier and talked to Enid, asking if she could hire me on fulltime for the summer. She said there was a possibility but she couldn’t guarantee it, which means I need to go in search of another job in addition to Light My Fire.
With every bit of information I discover, my summer is going up in flames, pardon the pun.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Kelli asks as she enters our room.
I barely glance up from my laptop. “I skipped class.”
“But it’s your last one.”
“I know. I didn’t think I could concentrate, what with everything going on. So I’m searching for a roommate instead.” I refocus my attention on the laptop.
Kelli stops beside my bed to peek over my shoulder. “By trying to find one on Craigslist? Ew, Jade. You’ll probably end up with a psycho.”
“They’re not all bad on here.” I hope. “Besides, what else am I supposed to do?” I’m bristling. My shoulders are stiff and my tone is the slightest bit screechy. I wish this day would just end.
“I don’t know, go look on the community board? Ask friends? People in class? Spread the word that you’re looking for a temporary room for the summer? There’s gotta be a better way.” Kelli flops on top of her bed, lying on her back as she stares up at the ceiling. “I can ask around for you if you want.”
“I would really appreciate it.” I slam my laptop shut and drop it on the mattress beside me, then stretch out on my bed. “I’m freaking out, Kel.”
“I know. I’d be freaking out too.” She pauses. “Maybe you should come home with me. We can share my room. We’re already used to each other. We survived an entire school year together. It wouldn’t be such a hardship.”
I’m tempted to say yes. Kelli and I get along great. I met her parents when they came to visit once and they’re nice. But I don’t think I could impose myself on her family like that. I’d need to find a new job too. “I don’t know…”
“Think about it,” she says firmly. “I’ll talk to my mom tomorrow. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”
What if she did mind? I don’t know how my mom would react if I asked to bring someone home for the summer. She’s a private person and she has her routine. A routine that’s probably totally changed since I left for college.
Not that I can bring anyone home. I don’t even have a home…
“You’ll figure this out,” Kelli says, her soft voice breaking into my thoughts. “Don’t freak out. You’re smart. Resourceful. Ooh, and you have connections.”
“What connections?” I frown up at the ceiling.
“Shep connections. That guy knows everyone. Have you told him what happened yet?”
I don’t want to dump my problems on him. He didn’t sign up for them and I refuse to be a burden. I can figure this out on my own. I have before and I will again. “I haven’t talked to him.”
“Well, what are you waiting for? I know he’ll help you. The dude is completely head over heels,” she says slyly. “I think he’d do just about anything for you.”
“He is not head over heels,” I mutter, ignoring the giddy pace of my heart. He likes me. I know he does. But would he really do anything for me? I’m not so sure.
“He so is. Have you seen the way he looks at you? Shepard Prescott doesn’t go out with a girl for a long stretch of time. He’s a love ‘em and leave ‘em type of guy. I don’t know how many times I’ve told you this.”
She tells me this all the time and fine. I know it’s the truth. It doesn’t mean he’s changing his ways just for me. “I don’t expect him to drop everything and help me during my time in need.”
“Isn’t that what a boyfriend is supposed to do?” Kelli asks incredulously. “Dane is so up in my business sometimes, I swear I need to tell him to back off.”
“Shep isn’t my boyfriend,” I insist. I don’t know what he is. That guy I’m banging constantly? The one I also like to hang out with? I have no idea what to call us, what to classify our relationship as. It’s confusing. He confuses me.
“Of course, he is.” Kelli makes an irritated sound. “You two are ridiculous. Tell him what happened with your mom and how you have nowhere to go. I’m sure he could come up with an easy solution and solve all of your problems.”
“I doubt it,” I say with a snort. No one works that quick, not even perfect Shep.
“Please, you know what he’s like. Don’t underestimate him. He’s crafty. And made of money. He can get whatever he wants.”
“So you’re saying he could pull a roommate and a place for me to live out of his magical hat?” I start to laugh. It sounds crazy. Possible but crazy. Shep is filthy rich. He could probably buy me a house without even blinking an eye. No way would I ever want him to do that but I bet he could.
I refuse to take a handout from him though. I’d feel like I owe him and no way do I want to deal with that. Especially if we don’t…last. Because this can’t last, whatever it is I’m experiencing with Shep. It’s fun, it’s a lot of hot sex and cute teasing and I have a good time with him, even when we’re not naked. I enjoy his company. He makes me laugh. He makes me think. He challenges me.
But he’s leaving the minute school is done so I figure once he’s gone we’re done too. So I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable.
“I’m sure he could help you figure out something. The guy knows practically everyone on campus. Plus he comes from one of the richest families on the planet. He could probably buy a mansion for you to live in like it was no big deal,” Kelli says.
My stomach cramps up at hearing her say he comes from a rich family. I always forget that. Yes, I spend time at his outrageously gorgeous house with the kitchen that makes me drool. Yes, we drive around in his mega expensive car that probably costs as much as my house Mom just sold. He doesn’t flaunt his riches and I’ve never met any of his family so it’s easy to forget that he’s a gazillionaire.
“I would never expect him to buy me anything,” I mumble.
“Of course. I’m just saying it would be so easy for him, you know? The guy has everything at his fingertips. So why not let him help you? I’m sure he’d love to.”
I say nothing. If I told her I didn’t want to owe Shep anything—and that’s the truth—she’d argue I was being silly. And maybe I am. Plus, it’s not his job to help me. We hook up. That’s it. There’s no real romance here involved at all. Yes, he says sweet, romantic things but I think that’s just because he wants to get inside my panties. And it works. I love all the things he says to me. The way he looks at me. How he touches me. It’s like I’m trying to convince myself there’s nothing between us, though it’s getting harder and harder to deny…