Gemma laughed nervously. “Things have been crazy lately, Mr. Lane.”
“Are you looking forward to being a junior in a couple weeks?”
“Yeah, I guess.” She smiled at him because she wasn’t sure how else to respond.
“Alex could’ve been enjoying college, too, if he hadn’t gotten all turned around,” Mr. Lane remarked once he put his glasses back on. That was the first time his tone had taken on anything really disapproving.
“I’m getting myself back on track, Dad,” Alex said with a heavy sigh.
“I should probably get going,” Gemma interrupted, since the situation only seemed to be getting more awkward and tense by the minute.
“Yeah, I’ll walk you out,” Alex said, getting to his feet before Gemma even had a chance to.
He ushered her out to the door and held it open for her. She stepped out on the front step and turned back to face him.
“Sorry about my dad,” he said.
“No problem.” She chewed her lip and stared up at him, waiting for him to say something or kiss her good-bye. When he didn’t, she said, “So … I’ll see you around?”
“Yeah.” He nodded. “Definitely.”
Alex gave her a small wave, then shut the door. Gemma turned around and walked back to her house, wondering what had just happened.
The brief makeout session had been nice, but she had no idea what it meant. Especially with the brush-off he’d given her at the door. Admittedly, they were both flustered, but everything felt more confusing than ever.
She still cared about Alex so much, and she wanted to believe that he still cared for her. But maybe Alex was just trying to get back to normal, and he thought kissing her would help.
Which brought up another concern. Why was Alex back to normal? Was it the kissing, and if it was, why would that even work?
Or was it as she feared? When she used the siren song on him, she’d broken his heart. He didn’t love her anymore, so the negative effects of the song were fading.
Maybe things were really over between them forever, and what they just shared had been nothing more than an extended good-bye kiss.
“What the hell happened here?” Marcy asked as she surveyed the carnage on Liv’s half of the dorm room.
Harper had been working on a paper on her laptop when Marcy texted her and said she was on campus. She hurried to finish up her thought, so she could save the document and leave. She’d told Marcy just to come on up to her room and barely even noticed when she came in.
“What?” Harper glanced over her shoulder and saw Marcy staring at the dismantled bed, the pile of Liv’s clothes, and shredded books and posters. “Oh, that.”
“Oh, that?” Marcy scoffed. “What do you mean ‘oh that’? Half your room has been destroyed.”
“It’s my roommate’s half,” Harper pointed out.
“Yeah, I can tell, it’s like perfectly down the middle. Did you run a piece of tape down the floor, and say, ‘Here, you can wreck that half’?”
Harper shook her head. “No, she messed up her stuff when I wasn’t here, so I picked up all her stuff and put it on her half.”
“Of course you did,” Marcy muttered. “God, you’re so meticulous sometimes, it’s gross.”
“That wasn’t a compliment.”
“Can you give me like three seconds?” Harper asked, glancing back at her laptop as she typed. “I’m just about done with this, then I’ll be able to tell you all about my roommate from hell.”
Harper went back to finishing up her homework, but it only took a few seconds for Marcy to get into trouble. She heard Marcy poking around behind her, then the sound of tumbling wood as the rest of the bed frame clattered to the floor.
“It’s okay. I’m done now anyway.” Harper clicked save, then closed her laptop and swiveled her desk chair around, so she could face her friend.
“You should really have someone take this out of here.” Marcy jabbed her thumb at the mess behind her. “It’s probably a fire hazard or something.”
“I want to, but I don’t know if I should. She still technically lives here.”
“So what happened?” Marcy leaned over, inspecting the bed frame more closely. “Why’d she go all Tasmanian devil on you?”
“I don’t know. I think she’s on drugs or something. I tried talking to her, then she freaked out on me. She did this.” Harper tilted her head to the side and pulled her hair back, so she could show Marcy the scratches.
“Wow.” Marcy’s eyes widened behind her black-rimmed glasses. “You really need to talk to someone. You can’t let her come back here.”
“I know. I just don’t want to deal with it. There’s way too much other crap going on, and I haven’t had a chance to even look for a job here, and I’m so backed up on homework, and I don’t know what to get Daniel for his birthday, and oh yeah, I still haven’t cracked the code to the scroll that’s trapped my sister in a horrible curse.”
“How about cuff links?” Marcy asked.
Harper scrunched up her forehead in confusion. “What?”
“Daniel, for his birthday. Every guy should own a nice pair of cuff links.”
“Thanks for the tip, Marce.” Harper stood up. “Should we go see Lydia now? I have to meet with a study group in a couple hours.”
Marcy nodded, so Harper grabbed her purse, and they walked out into the hall.
“You’re taking this whole college thing way too seriously,” Marcy said, as Harper locked the dorm room behind her.
“Did you go to college?” Harper asked once they’d started walking down the hall, past the other dorm rooms.
“Yeah, for a year,” Marcy said. “I went to this New Age college in Arizona. They had no grades. I thought it would be awesome, but they kept making me talk about my feelings. I did learn how to play disc golf, so it wasn’t a total loss.”
“What did you go for?” Harper asked.
“I don’t know. They didn’t really have majors, but I was working for a degree in sunshine or something. It clearly wasn’t for me.”
“Clearly,” Harper agreed, as they reached the elevator. Ordinarily, she would’ve taken the stairs, but she knew that Marcy wouldn’t be up for it.