“Lexie!! Over here!”
Alanna waved her hands frantically until her sister saw her. She ran over and gave her a hug. Alexis could feel the tension leave Alanna as they hugged. She was happy that her presence was already bringing Lana some relief but she was still worried. Maybe having Damon around was more than her sibling could bear. Alexis resolved to watch her baby sister like a hawk for the next week before discussing the matter with her aunt.
“You look great, Lexie!”
Alexis had been diagnosed with sickle cell disease a few years ago and had had a particularly rough time of it. But Alexis wasn’t one to dwell on the bad in her life- a trait Alanna really admired, and refused to let it slow her down too much.
“So, what’s Maria like as a roommate? Is she gonna be okay with my somewhat OCD tendencies?”
Alanna laughed. Alexis was the consummate housekeeper and she was sure that Lexie and Maria were going to butt heads from time to time. Maria wasn’t dirty per se but she definitely didn’t meet Alexis’ housekeeping standards. Lana decided right then that she’d be Switzerland when those inevitable arguments finally occurred.
They made a pit stop so Lexie could freshen up her makeup (Alanna never touched the stuff as she always ended up poking herself in the eye when trying to put on mascara or applying the foundation unevenly) before hailing a cab outside the airport.
Alanna was relieved to have Lexie here. She chattered non-stop on the ride home, asking all about Lexie’s time in New York with their grandmother. Their mother’s mother was a fun lady but very quirky. Lexie regaled her sister with brand new tales of Granny’s new found love of erotic pottery (an idea that she got from Friends) and the times she walked in on random guys from the building in various states of undress for the sake of her grandmother’s art. And since her granny was a much beloved resident of the building, she got off with paying them with freshly baked cookies.
“It’s like all the hot men in Brooklyn live in that building. I started coming home earlier than usual to see who I’d surprise next but Granny wised up and starting going to their places instead. I volunteered to be her assistant but no dice.”
Lana was doubled over and laughing so hard that almost forgot to tell the driver to stop when they got to her building. The little streets on the campus weren’t named and the residence buildings weren’t easily identifiable. The driver helped them lug the bags up to the apartment and was so pleased with the tip they gave him that he left his business card and offered to give them half off their next ride.
Maria was home when they arrived and greeted Lexie as enthusiastically as Lana did. She was surprised at how different they were physically. Lexie was tall and willowy and darker skinned. Her eyes were wider and rounder than Lana’s and her hair fell bone-straight around her shoulders. Lexie was also elegant and graceful where Alanna was clumsy and awkward. Twice, Lana was rescued from spilling onto the floor with a suitcase on top of her by her sister’s lightning quick reflexes.
“Soooo, I planned a little house-warming/ welcome to the campus party for Alexis tonight. Not a lot of people but you know a few people our age to help her make friends and stuff.”
Alanna’s face clouded over for a moment as she realised Damon was probably an invitee but remained silent. Lexie realised what must be running through Alanna’s mind but she also didn’t want to hurt Maria’s feelings since she obviously had good intentions when she planned the little soiree.
“Thanks, Maria. That was really sweet of you. What time will it start? I really want to unpack and take a shower first.”
“Of course! The guests won’t be here for a few hours. And I’ll take care of the party preparations while you ladies get gussied up.”
Lexie steered Alanna towards her bedroom before the latter could protest. Alanna flopped angrily down on her sister’s bed.
“I just know she invited Damon! She keeps trying to force him on me!”
“Hun, you haven’t told her what happened. She doesn’t know why you’re so resistant. Maria probably thinks you’re just playing hard to get. Besides, I’ll run interference all night. He won’t get within three feet of you, okay?”
Lexie sat next to her sister and put an arm around her.
“Besides, I wanna see Terrence. He sounds hot!” she continued.
“Yea, well, you’ll have to fight Maria and the half of the freshman female population that isn’t trying to date Damon. I have no idea how the other freshman guys get dates. I swear every female frosh is after one or the other of that odd couple.”
Lexie laughed and started unpacking her things. She liked the room. It was big enough to be comfortable without being too big to be a pain to clean for monthly inspections. And she loved the one red accent wall with the fun little cubby holes for pictures and other knickknacks. She wondered if there was an Ikea nearby. By the time she was done putting her clothes away, Alanna was in a better mood.
“Okay, I’m going to take a quick nap before the party starts.”
“I’ll go see if Maria needs help with the prep,” Alanna said as she walked towards the door. She stopped and turned with her hand on the doorknob and added, “Thanks for coming, Lexie. You have no idea how much more relaxed I already am.”
Lexie smiled and gave her sister an airhug, before turning over and closing her eyes.
Alanna found Maria in the kitchen making some sort of dip and warming up hors d’oeuvres in the oven.
“What can I do to help?”
“Can you grate some cheese and then make some guacamole? Thanks much!”
They worked in silence for about half an hour before Maria walked over to the fridge and placed her bowl of dip on the second shelf.
“Shoot! I forgot to grab the eggnog!”
She grabbed her car keys from the little key bowl on the breakfast bar and sprinted to the door.
“Grab me some Funnyuns, please!”
“No problem,” yelled Maria’s rapidly disappearing head.
Thirty seconds later there was a knock at the door.
“Did you forget your….” Alanna asked, as she opened the door.
Standing in the doorway wasn’t an out of breath Maria but Terrence. Alanna swallowed hard as she took in all six feet of gorgeous that stood before her. She was always a little taken aback at how pretty Terrence was. Damon was good-looking to be sure; but the reason so many girls preferred him to Terrence wasn’t because he was better looking. Damon was like a used car salesman. He knew exactly what to say to get the buyer interested and he knew just how to close the deal every time. Terrence was by far the better-looking of the two but he didn’t have Damon’s charm. He was also a lot more grounded and serious than the other guys in their year. The majority of the girls in the freshman class were looking for a good time and Terrence didn’t seem like the fling type.
Alanna realised she hadn’t said anything for a full minute but Terrence just stood there with an amused smile on his face and waited for her to recover.
“Terrence. Hey. You’re a bit early, I’m afraid.”
“I actually came by to see if you guys needed help with anything or if you needed me to pick up any supplies.”
“Come in and I’ll give Maria a ring. She just bolted to go pick up eggnog. Maybe she’ll need you to pick up some Captain Morgan’s to go with it,” Alanna said with a hint of a smile.
“That girl’d forget her head if it weren’t attached to her neck.”
Alanna laughed because it was true. Maria was as forgetful as Lana was clumsy. Lexie was going to have a hell of a time living with this pair. Just as Lana’s thoughts turned towards her, Lexie materialised in the doorway to the kitchen. She stopped midway through rubbing her eyes, saw Terrence, shrieked and bolted.
Terrence turned to Alanna with a confused look and gestured in the direction of Lexie’s hasty retreat.
“Ammm, care to explain?”
Choking back a laugh, Alanna replied, ”That’s my sister, Alexis. She’s probably horrified that you saw her in her pjs and with bed head. She’s going to kill me later for letting you see her like that, because she’s been looking forward to meeting you.”
Alanna blushed as she realised that she had inadvertently revealed that she talked to her sister about him. Terrence was ever the gentleman and didn’t draw attention to that fact. He sat at the breakfast bar and continued grating the bar of cheese. Alanna watched him as she dialed Maria’s number. She smiled at how well this little act of domesticity suited him. He looked up and saw her smiling at him and returned it.
Suddenly, Maria’s harried voice came blaring through the speaker phone, breaking the tranquility of the moment. Both Terrence and Alanna felt guilty about… whatever that was. Maria and Terrence were dating now, not exclusively; but it still made them feel like the moment they’d just shared was a violation of some kind. Terrence cleared his throat and Alanna turned towards the phone.
“Hey, Maria. Terrence came by to see if we needed help. Do you need him to grab any supplies?”
“Can he pick up the liquor from the LCBO? It’s paid for already under my name.”
Alanna turned to Terrence who was just finishing up with the cheese.
“Yea, sure. Anything else?” Terry asked.
“No, thanks. I’ll grab the rest of the supplies from the grocery store. Thanks a million, Terry.”
Maria clicked off as Terry grabbed his jacket from the coat stand. He turned to Alanna as she came to see him off.
“See you in a bit, Lana. And tell your sister her pjs were cute.”
Alanna smiled as she closed the door and Lexie came around the corner looking fabulous in tight leather pants and a low cut red halter.
“Where’d his royal sexiness go?”
“To pick up the liquor. But, he’ll be back later.”
She walked back into the kitchen to finish the guacamole and added,” And he said to tell you that your PJs were really cute.”
“You’re a dead woman!!”