I stood outside the red-bricked two-story house on 13th Street and with any hope my new home. Several similarly styled detached houses sat side by side on either side of the road. I was stalling. I knew I was.
The record-breaking heat-wave was causing me to sweat profusely, not an ideal look for an uninvited reunion , but it could not be helped. I had been sitting on a bus with no air conditioning for the past god knows how many hours, in one hundred degree temperatures. I was happy not to be dead; sweat was the lesser evil.
My desire to bathe overcame my nervousness; I braced myself, stepped forward and knocked. Muffled footsteps came from behind the white door. I could see someone approaching from the tinted glass panel in the center, but the distortion of the glass rendered it impossible as to see whom exactly. Please be her, please be her. The door swung open. “Lee? Oh my god, what are you doing here?”
Relief flooded through me at the sight of Camryn Frey. She was as gorgeous as the last time I saw her, though much taller and more blonde now. I hadn’t seen her since she moved away from Montgomery seven years ago, but we’d stayed in touch and I was praying for her mercy now and her bathroom.
“Get in here girl.” She grabbed me before I had a chance to respond and dragged me inside encasing me in a massive bear hug. I forced my body to relax. I needed to calm down. I was in no danger now.
“I can’t tell you how good it is to see you Cam,” I told her, meaning every word, more than she could ever know. “I actually need a place to stay, temporarily of course. I don’t want to burden you. It would only be for a few weeks until I can get a job and get on my feet. Will you help me Cam?”
She looked down at me smiling. “What kind of a dumbass question is that? Of course, I’ll help you.” Cam helped me with my bags; there were only two. That was all I could carry when I left. “So, let me guess, you finally got sick of the sticks and decided to join me in the land of the living?”
I frowned at her words. I loved my home town of Montgomery, Louisiana. I was a small town girl. Being here wasn’t a choice.
“Okay, okay that was low,” she conceded. “Just warn me beforehand if I’m gonna have you’re crazy ass daddy banging on my door, looking for his baby girl anytime soon.”
A lot had changed since Cam had left. “Don’t worry,” I said. “Daddy isn’t going to come looking for me.” He would have to find me first.
“Cool, because not even I am ready to face Jimmy Bennett right now.”
I followed Cam down a short hallway into what must be the kitchen/dining room.
“This is a real nice place Cam.” It was. The room was modest in size, but the beautiful hand carved oak cabinets taking up the entire wall from floor to ceiling on the left oozed expensive taste. A glass sliding door occupied the wall opposite the kitchen door, along with another row of oak cupboards that housed a stainless steel sink and glass top oven. Instead of ceiling high cabinets on that side there was a window, looking out on a small patio garden.
“Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.” That was an understatement. The heavy set of the kitchen table and chairs looked more expensive than everything in my father’s house combined.
Grabbing two bottles of water from the refrigerator Cam beckoned me over to the table. “You’re actually in luck Lee, we have a spare room.”
I sat down beside her the large back of the chair swallowing me. “We?”
Cam grinned passing me a bottle she opened hers and took a swig. “I live with my boyfriend and his best friend. Well, we house share. They’re pretty cool guys.”
Oh. “You share with boys?”
Cam laughed out loud. “Jeez Lee, you’d swear I just told you the devil was camped in the living room.” I flushed. “Relax, Derek and Kyle are cool, besides they’re hardly boys, they’re the same age as me. We all go to CU, that’s where we met. They’re seniors like me, or at least we will be in September.”
The thought unsettled me. “Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.” I opened my water and swallowed deeply, trying to push down the hot ball of anxiety rising in my chest.
“This was the best idea you’ve had in years.” Cam smiled and patted my shoulder. “I can’t count the amount times I’ve asked you to come up here. I still can’t believe you’re here.”
I could; thirty four times. Cam had phoned me once a week since she moved away. We had to be careful to talk at certain times of the day; usually late at night when my father had passed out. She’d started asking me to come to stay with her when I turned eighteen last October and every week after that. Coming here was the most reckless thing I’d ever done and the knowledge that I would be living with college men…Well, that scared the bejesus out of me. “Yeah, this place is certainly different to home. I wasn’t sure I had the right house until you answered the door. Are you sure they won’t mind me being here Cam?”