Pru's boyfriend waved us over as we reached the automatic doors to leave the arrival terminal. I was still amazed that Pru and Matt were even together. Pru was always going out and bringing a new guy home. She was the campus whore and I dreaded to think about how many notches were in her headboard.
I was really happy for her, he was not the usual guy she went for. He was a handsome guy but not the usual California beach hunk with a six-pack and sandy blonde hair. Matt was…well nerdy. He had black spiked up hair and wore black thick-rimmed glasses. He usually had a t-shirt on referring to comic books, movies or something relating to science. Today he wore a t-shirt that read bazinga. Come to think of it his doppelgänger was Leonard from the big bang theory.
When we reached the car he put the luggage in the trunk. That was where he differed from Leonard, Matt had muscles. Pru headed for the passenger door and Whitney and I sat in the back. I made the gap between us as big as physically possible. Luckily Matt drove a 4 by 4 leaving us plenty of room. I had been correct in my predication. The car journey was incredibly awkward. I couldn't even look at Whitney, yet I could feel her eyes on me. Pru was interrogating her about how she knew me, even though she already knew. This was when Pru annoyed me she did this on purpose because she knows I find it embarrassing.
"Paige" Pru yelled causing me to almost hit the car ceiling.
"What's up" I looked in her direction, my heart was racing
"You can peel yourself from the ceiling McCullers" Matt chuckled. We were now on the highway, which meant we were half an hour from Danby.
"Whitney isn't sure where she is staying. Do you know?" Pru questioned.
"I assume in the dorms…" as soon as I'd finished my sentence I knew what was coming next.
"She can't stay there all on her own!" Pru said in her usual overdramatic way.
"Don't worry about me, you've done more than enough picking me up" Whitney said politely.
"You can come and stay with us" Pru yelped. She turned and looked towards Whitney.
Say no say no say no…."Sure…if that's ok with you Paige?" Whitney's eyes were now fixed in my direction.
I gulped "sure but I thought it only had two small bedrooms?" I questioned.
"I can sleep on the couch?" Whitney added.
"It's settled then and Paige has a double bed. That would be easier than making a bed on the couch," Pru said happily and I gave her a death stare through her headrest.
Great just great I thought to myself. I didn't want to be around Whitney after her antics on the aeroplane and now I'm sleeping in the same bed as her. If this had been on the cards before the letter situation I would be thrilled but the feeling of butterflies I used to get around Whitney had been replaced with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I could keep my hands to myself but could she?
I looked down at time on my cell phone. It was still set to German time. Emily would be in our dorm room sleeping soundly. I wish I was on the next flight back to Germany but at the same time I dreaded talking to her. I had a chance to tell her that I wanted to be with her but would she dump Samara for me. Could I ask her to do that? I find it hard putting a sentence together anyway without it being important. I promised to contact her as soon as I was home but now was not the time.
The car came to an abrupt holt; I had clearly been in my own little world for a while. The car pulled up outside an apartment complex. I recognised the building it was a 5 minute walk to the campus and swimming arena. I usually ran by during my early morning work out.
"Let's go see our new home McCullers" Pru said excitedly.
"You go up ladies and I'll bring the bags," Matt added.
We all opened the car doors in unison. Pru led the way up three steps and to the large blue front door. We headed inside passing the stairs, post area and headed for the elevator. Pru pressed the number three and we slowly rose through the elevator shaft. The doors opened and Pru placed her key in the wooden door directly opposite. She opened it slowly and I held my breath, I was worried it was going to be a dump but I was pleasantly surprised.
The front door led to a cosy sitting room with two two-seated brown leather sofas and a flat screen TV. At the other end of the room was a breakfast bar with two stools along with the usual kitchen appliances. Pru then showed me my room for the upcoming academic year. It was bigger than I expected and easily had a double bed and dresser inside. I even had my own shower room adjoined.
"Pru? Are you sure we can afford this?" I said perplexed.
"Yes…because…" she hesitated.
"Matt's moving in thank you bye" Pru said quickly then immediately closed the bedroom door behind her leaving me alone with Whitney. Clearly she thought I'd be angry but Matt was my friend originally.
"Nice place" She said with a grin.
"Yeah" I said whilst looking at the ground.
"Paige…I'm sorry…I didn't know what it was and yes as soon as I realised I should have stopped reading".
"Look Whitney I get it you were curious but I would never do that to anybody. It was private," I snapped.
"Sorry" Whitney said holding her hands up signalling her surrender.
"I don't know what you were thinking but I can't hold a grudge," I said in a warmer tone.
"What are you going to do?" she questioned sitting down on the lilac bed cover.
"About?" I raised my eyebrows.
"Oh erm she has a girlfriend" I stated.
"Don't play coy American".
"You love her…." Whitney sighed.
"I…I…don't know what to do" I admitted.
"Forget her and lets finish what we started on that couch" after a few seconds Whitney smiled as I was planning my escape.
"I'm messing. You like her and I can't compete with that. I won't make any moves on you but I won't be held responsible for what I do in my sleep" she joked.
"Thank you for being so understanding" I smiled.
"You can ring her from my German cell phone later".
I had clearly got the wrong idea of Whitney. I envisaged her doing everything in her power to deter me from Emily. I left my new room and followed the smell of fresh coffee. It was 10 am and I'd barely slept but there was only one thing I wanted to do. I quickly drank a cup of coffee and headed out the door. I heard Pru call after me but I didn't go back.
It was nice to get some fresh air and feel the early morning sun on my skin. The five-minute walk to the swimming arena took no time at all. I wanted to surprise my old coach and see what my rehab schedule would be like. I was glad the doors were automatic the sling on my shoulder made everyday concepts twice as difficult.
I was stopped in my tracks. Looking back at me was a poster of well…me. I couldn't control the red levels rising in my cheeks. I was stood in my swimming costume with a swimming cap and goggles. The caption underneath read Paige McCullers: Danby and future Olympian.
"She's a great athlete. She was a student of mine" a deep voice called out. I recognised that voice and it felt like home.
"I've heard she's unbeatable" I turned and smiled at the man stood admiring my poster. The man was in his early thirties, had blonde hair and a beaming smile. In fact he was the male version of Zoe.
"Wow Paige Germany hasn't changed you one bit!" Coach Smith said widening his smile.
"It has coach I now have a war wound" I added with a frown.
"You are in safe hands here Paige" Coach said whilst placing a hand on my uninjured shoulder.
"Can you come to my office? I want you back in Germany A.S.A.P".
I followed coach Smith through the familiar complex, along corridors and training rooms until we reached his office. He sat down in his plush office chair and I took a seat across his desk and prayed that my injury could be healed. We discussed the possibility of me never swimming again and the fear began to rise. He explained that I needed to undergo some medical tests with the physio tomorrow morning to know the full extent of my injuries.
"Is everything okay? I know this is a lot to take in and you want to get back in the water. We just need to make sure there is nothing else more serious" coach said sympathetically.
"It's fine I just want to be back in Germany" I said whilst admiring the glass trophy cabinet behind him. It was brimming with silver trophies and rosettes that I had helped Danby win in my first year at college.
"You will be in no time. If the report the team USA doctor sent was accurate, you will be here for two weeks maximum" coach grinned.
"Thanks coach. Do I need to pass on any information to Whitney Merkel?" I inquired.
Coach looked puzzled until it finally clicked "Ah yes. There is no harm waiting for tomorrow. If you and Whitney come here at 9 am tomorrow we can get started. Well if that's everything Paige? I need to get back to analysing next years swimming competition" coach rolled his eyes.
"There is one more thing. Do you remember a swimmer named Allie she swam for BU. We swam against them last year?" I questioned.
"Allie…BU…blonde?" he mumbled. I nodded in response.
"Yes. I heard she got caught doping" my eyes widened.
"Thanks coach, see you tomorrow" I said quickly.
I refrained from checking out the familiar swimming pool instead settling for lungful of my favourite smell, chlorine. I slowly made my way back to the apartment rehashing the information I had just gained. If Allie was banned what was she doing in Germany. Things were strange and I at that second began to fear for Emily. What would Allie do with me out of her way?
I retraced my earlier steps and returned to my new home. The lift doors opened and I knocked on the door. Pru opened it instantly.
"Where have you been?" she demanded.
"Nice to see you too!" I shouted.
"Shhh…Whitney is asleep" Pru whispered and moved to let me in.
"I went to see coach" I explained.
"Did you like the giant poster of yourself?" she giggled.
"I took that picture for the paper. By the way you forgot your cell, your dad called" she said whilst holding up my cell phone.
"Why are you so moody? You have an actual real life girl in your bed" she said with a wink.
"Yes but I'm not into Whitney" I said quietly.
"Whoa hold on…you mean you? OH! That's awkward"
I reached for my hand luggage that was on the coffee table next to the couch. I pulled out the letter from Emily and handed it to Pru. I sat down and waited for her dramatic explosion. The sound effects Pru made whilst reading the letter were highly amusing.
"You go McCullers, she likes you!" Pru beamed excitedly.
"Yeah" I said mutely.
"Paige, this is great. Yet you have a face like a slapped ass. I mean she wrote this just for you" Pru was now sat next to me on the couch.
"Did you not read it? She is still with Samara. She said she would have acted on her feelings if she wasn't. She's never going to act on it" the depth of the situation finally hit me and I took a deep breathe to avoid any tears escaping.
"Then you act on it Paige. You have to tell her" Pru said whilst gently patting me on the back. She knew me better than anybody else.
"I can't" I gasped.
"If you want this girl you have to".
"I can't. You know I can't talk about my feelings" I stated.
"Stop being such a man. Let's do role-play, pretend I'm Emily" Pru's eyes immediately lit up.
"No" I slouched back on the sofa.
"Paige, I like you. I don't want it to be awkward so I understand if you want to spend time apart" even though Pru had never met Emily she was getting it spot on.
"No its not awkward thanks for telling me" I said whilst rolling my eyes. Pru poked me in the ribs.
"Ouch, I er.. I like…" If I couldn't say it to Pru then I was screwed.
"Oh kiss me Paige" just as Pru said that Matt appeared. He dropped the DVD's he was carrying.
He wiped his eyes in disbelief "Sorry ladies am I interrupting something" he looked like a puppy trying to lap everything up.
"Role play babe" Pru held her hand up.
"Can I join in?" he joked.
"No! Can you take me to the coffee shop? I'm supposed to meet Hanna in five minutes" Pru begged.
"What about Paige who is back from Germany and in pain?" I was embarrassed to be a tool in this domestic.
"I'm going to take a nap. Leave me out of this" as Pru got up I lay down on the couch. There was no way I was going to get into bed with Whitney. I immediately closed my eye and waited for Matt and Pru to leave the apartment before drifting off to sleep.
I was rudely awoken by the sound of muffled voices. I slowly opened my eyes to find Whitney sat opposite me with a large slice of pepperoni pizza in her hand.
"Welcome to the world of the living American" Whitney joked. She was always so cheerful what was wrong with her?
"Mmmmhhh" I croaked.
"Want some pizza?" Whitney questioned.
"I can't unlike the German team I'm on a strict diet " I said whilst raising my eyebrows. At that moment Pru sat next to me and opened the pizza box.
"Come on Paige, you need your energy"
"We are hitting the town tonight" Pru said excitedly.
"Arghhh" I groaned whilst helping myself to a slice of pepperoni pizza.
"You can borrow something to wear and I have your fake ID with me" Pru pleaded.
I am not borrowing clothes from you…last time I looked like a clown in that awful dress and those high heels. I thought I was going to break my ankle. I'm already injured enough" I did my best impression of puppy eyes.
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself. As much as I hate seeing you in plaid and denim you can borrow some jeans and tank top. Will some flat shoes do? You won't get in wearing trainers".
"What's wrong with denim and plaid" I gasped to get a response from Pru
"Can you make an effort just this once? Pru pleaded.
"Fine…." I sighed.
"Awesome, American I want to see your moves" giggled Whitney. I gave her an unimpressed look.
Pru grabbed my hand and led me to her bedroom. I sat down on her bed and she wondered off into her walk in closet. After ten minutes of boredom she emerged with several outfit choices.
"Look at this skirt. Its beautiful" Pru pouted.
"Okay, okay, what about this sundress?" she held up a daisy covered dress and I pretended to vomit in my mouth.
"This pretty top" Pru probed. This was equally as gross it resembled a disco ball.
I stood up brushed passed Pru much to her annoyance and went into her closet. I pulled down the first pair of dark blue jeans, a red and white striped t-shirt and a pair of red converse. Pru tutted as I emerged. I raised my finger to my mouth mouth to shut her up. The door to my bedroom was now closed, not thinking anything of it I turned the doorknob. To my surprise Whitney was stood in her underwear. I quickly averted my eyes…she looked good…very good.
"Paige you okay over there?" Whitney laughed her hands were now on her hips. I couldn't keep my eyes away.
"Seriously Paige you are as red as my bra….Shall I change in the bathroom?"
"…N…O" I quickly turned and left the room shutting the door behind me. Pru's room seemed to be a safer changing area. We both changed without the awkwardness I had just experienced. I removed the sling from my arm carefully, the pain brought a tear to my eye as I changed out of my cosy Team USA hoody. Once that mission was accomplished I moved onto the jeans. It was a struggle just to get them over my thighs one handed. The real trouble began when I couldn't do up the button. This problem was resolved by lying on the floor and Pru stretching the material until the button eventually did up after our fits of giggles had subsided.
"Is everybody ready?" Matt called out from the lounge.
"Here" Pru handed me my fake ID.
"Oh god I look awful" the giggles returned.
"I think you look good for 25 Miss Annabelle Smith from Miami Beach" Pru managed to say between her laughter.
"I concur Bethany Edwards from New Jersey" my sides were beginning to ache.
Pru opened her door and we joined Matt in the lounge. Eventually Whitney joined us and when she did I didn't know where to look. Was she trying to rub it in that I had rejected her? She was wearing a black body hugging dress that was cut almost down to her naval. It showed a substantial amount of cleavage and the red bra I was now familiar with. The room fell silent. Matt rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Pru didn't notice because she was doing the exact same thing.
The dress showed off Whitney's athletic figure but it wasn't just the dress that looked stunning. Her shimmering brunette locks flowed elegantly down her back. She wore dark eye make up that matched her black feather earrings.
"Are we going?" Whitney said excitedly.
"You look hot" Pru eventually broke the silence.
"I feel over dressed" Whitney looked over at me.
"Don't worry Paige never dresses up" Pru said coldly.
We made our way to the newly renovated student union bar on campus. Even between semesters Danby university had a buzz. The foreign students lived there even when we went home for the summer. It was the one thing I loved hustle and bustle but that comes from being a New Yorker.
Even though it was only a five-minute walk I could tell that Pru was regretting her choice of red stilettos. She was over dramatic and begged Matt to carry her but he was too busy checking out Whitney's ass to acknowledge her.
Whitney waltzed passed the muscular bouncer at the door but as expected we were asked for ID. I gladly obliged and for tonight I was Annabelle, Pru was Bethany and Matt was Edward. David Guetta's She wolf was blasting from the speakers, we went up the metal staircase and headed straight to the bar. It was 9pm and a substantial queue had already formed.
"Ladies what do you want? Find a booth and I can get the drinks in" Matt shouted loudly but I could only just make it out above the booming bass.
"A bottle of bud" I shouted into Pru's ear hoping she would inform Matt.
Pru pointed to a booth in the corner next to the smoky dance floor. Whitney walked confidently across the dance floor and she smiled knowingly as every guy gave her the once over. I followed behind feeling slightly out of place and struggling to see in the darkness. I sat next to Whitney allowing Matt and Pru to sit opposite.
"Whitney I noticed every guy check you out" Pru shouted.
"Its not the guys I want checking me out'" Whitney said whilst winking. She nudged me but I was too busy watching a girl do the robot dance to acknowledge her.
Eventually Matt came to the table with a large overflowing tray. It contained enough drinks for the entire bar. Five shot glasses were placed in front of me filled with a clear substance.
"Whitney and I are busy from 9 tomorrow" I shouted as loudly as I could.
Pru shrugged "Drink the vodka for the beer" I rolled my eyes. I had no choice but to comply with her games.
We all held up a shot glass "1,2,3" Pru called out. I tipped the liquid into my open mouth. My throat burnt as the vodka went down. I winced, closed my eyes and shook my head. I then repeated this process, the unfamiliar burn soon became customary. Within fifteen minutes the alcohol had taken effect. I felt giddy and I was unable to control my laughter.
"She's already a mess" Matt shouted.
"Me! No. I'm fine!" I protested.
"Paige come dance?" Pru insisted. Matt and Pru were now standing up and heading to the dance floor.
"I'm not that drunk" I giggled.
"I'll look after her" Whitney said and put her arm around my shoulder.
"Ouch. I hurt myself you know" I screamed.
Whitney placed her hand on my thigh. This sobered me up. What was the done thing? I didn't want her touching me. I put my hand on hers and pushed it away. Shaking my head in the process.
"You promised to leave me alone" I pleaded.
"She's not here. Come on Paige" Whitney said with a pout.
Luckily before things got too awkward Pru returned. She got back into the booth and placed a beer in front of me. I downed it. I struggled to my feet, held my hand out for Pru and pulled her to the dance floor.
I had rhythm in the swimming pool but not on the dance floor. I slowly swayed to Sweet nothing by Calvin Harris and Florence and the machine. I tried to move my feet but almost stumbled. Instead I waved my one good arm in the air. I looked back to the table we had just left and Whitney had vanished. I attempted to dance to several more songs and my confidence grew as the alcohol flowed.
A flash of blonde caught my attention. The girl looked familiar but I couldn't place her. I moved in for a closer look to the annoyance of Pru. Once I had the blonde girl in my view the room stopped spinning. I somehow managed to hear her laugh over the music and I felt a pang in my chest. It was Samara. I wiped my eyes, praying that it was just a dream. The next thing I saw completely threw me. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect her to kiss Whitney.
I stumbled in the direction of their table. Trying not to get smacked by any flailing limbs.
"Wh…Whit…" I called when I was a few metres away from them.
"Whi…." I tried to shout but somebody grabbed my shoulder and pulled me backwards.
"Do you know that girl?!" a blued eyed girl with cropped sandy blonde locks shouted in my ear.
"She came here with me tonight" I explained.
"She's kissing my best friends girlfriend" the blonde's eyes widened as she spoke.
"No! Samara kissed her" I stated.
"You know her?"
"I know her girlf…" I fell backwards onto my ass.
With the help of my new companion I got back to my feet. She refused to stop holding me up even when I protested. She had made the decision that we were leaving. We carefully maneuverer down the metal stairs and out the bar door. It was pleasant outside but the temperature still brought goose bumps to the surface of my fair skin.
"Are you alright?" the blonde said with concern in her voice. She sat me down on a bench across the road from the bar. It was nice to hear again.
"Sorry I'm a light weight" I chuckled.
"I'm Hanna…Hanna Marin and I just saved your life" she said with a dimpled smile.
Hanna had a curvaceous figure, heart shaped face and full lips. Her eyes were a deep blue and were filled with kindness. She was wearing black skinny jeans, gold high heels, a pink ruffled top and this was paired with a black blazer.
"Paige McCullers…. and I'm sorry for dragging you outside".
"It's okay Paige, they had run out of pink drinks" Hanna frowned.
"What was going on back there?" I questioned.
"Your friend was kissing my best friends girlfriend" Hanna sighed in relief after completing that complex sentence.
"Samara started it" I complained.
"You know Samara? Hanna interrogated.
"I know her girlfriend"
"Emily Fields" we both said at the same time. We then looked at one another in utter confusion.
"You know Emily?" she asked and raised her eyebrows.
"Sure, I met her at a training camp in Germany" I explained.
"But you're here" I pointed down to my sling.
"They can't go home together, this will kill Emily" I groaned.
"Calm down Paige, you need to get to bed. You're drunk"
"Okay I'll go" I tried to stand up but my legs had turned to jelly.
"Where do you live?" Hanna enquired.
"Danby county apartments" I slurred.
"I will walk you home. Do you have your keys? I pointed to my pocket.
I pulled my phone out and tried to call Pru. Hanna took the phone from my hand.
"No drunk dialling".
"Text Pru and say I'm going home with a cute girl".
"Sure and thanks I'm flattered. That means you're gay right?" I rolled me eyes and nodded.
"Oh Yay! I'm so glad Em has a gay best friend" Hanna declared happily.
Hanna steadied me as I stood up. I did this far too quickly and the head rush forced me back down. Eventually we set off back to my new apartment. The five-minute walk was difficult when my head was spinning. I almost fell but Hanna held me up. Much to my annoyance she placed her hand over my mouth when I tried to sing 22 by Taylor Swift. Once we arrived home I directed her to the lift and up to my front door.
"Are you okay from here? I need to check that bitch and bitch are still at the S.U".
"Thanks" I pulled the keys from my pocket and stabbed them into the door. I couldn't find the keyhole. I placed my hand on the door to support myself.
"Oh Paige I'll put you to bed" Hanna said with a hint of irritation in her voice. She seized the keys from my hand and put them straight into the keyhole. With one swift movement she unlocked the door. I used the wall to support myself to my room. Hanna opened the door and I flopped into the middle of my double bed. Hanna bent down and gently pulled off my borrowed converse.
"Are you okay now?" concern filled her voice.
"Mmm" I groaned.
"I will give you my number so we can talk tomorrow"
"Mmmhhh" I felt Hanna go into my jean pocket and pull out my cell phone. I heard her dial in a number and then she placed the phone on the oak bedside table.
"Good night Paige"
"Give them hell" I mustered before quickly before falling asleep.
I was awoken by my cell phone ringing. I patted my pocket trying to locate my phone. Once I realised I quickly grabbed my cell phone from the side. A goofy picture of Emily lit up the display. It was 4am and Emily Fields was calling me. I dropped my phone and pressed answer in the process. Whitney was not back and a feeling of guilt erupted inside.
"Hi" Emily called out. Boy had I missed the sound of her voice.
I placed the phone next to my ear. I had no idea what to say but I knew I didn't want her to hang up.
"Emily" I called out cheerfully.
Sorry about the delay posting this chapter. I needed to focus on uni work and my dissertation but now that I've finished university I can write again.