She stared into the darkness. The young woman had stormed off after their argument and the tears had long since dried on her pale face but Cassie Winters couldn’t bring herself to move inside. Even despite the night-time chill that she could feel on her bare arms. It was only when Nathan tugged gently on her arm that she went back inside, allowing him to lead her. Taylor was sitting on the sofa nervously chewing on her nails, her dark hair mussed-up and knotty, pushed back off her tear-stricken face. Cassie didn’t know why she was crying. Taylor had finally gotten everything she’d wanted since the start of the year; she’d taken everything that Cassie had ever cared about.
“Get out.” She hissed, her demeanour going from numb to furious within a split second, glaring furiously at the brunette. Her voice was hoarse from the shouting and crying but she barely noticed, blood boiling with rage.
“Cass, that’s not fair.” Nathan tried to argue but Cassie ignored him, not even looking at the boy as she glowered at Taylor.
“It’s very fair. She’s the reason I’ve lost Annette!” Cassie screamed and Taylor’s face contorted furiously, getting to her feet.
“How is it my fault? You were the one caught snogging someone else!”
Seven Months Prior:
4th September: First Day of University.
Cassie looked around at the small amount of boxes in her University dorm. It was spacious, of a similar size to her room at home, with a bed in the corner and a ridiculously sized desk outlining the opposite wall dotted with an unnecessary amount of plug sockets. Seriously, who has that many devices, Cassie wondered as she walked to the bathroom. The bathroom wasn’t as big as hers at home but it was still of a reasonable size, with enough room to get dressed comfortably if she ever needed to. Cassie had grown up getting dressed in her bathroom; the curse of not having a lock on her bedroom door and parents that wouldn’t knock before walking in. The shower was silver and gleaming; having never been used once this year, since the last student’s had vacated at the beginning of the summer. The girl was relieved to have her own bathroom; she’d never had one to herself before and growing up with an older brother, she knew how gross guys could be when it came to personal hygiene in the bathroom. When she first looked at the accommodation, she had promised herself that she would get a room with an en suite.
Cassie had already claimed her spot in the kitchen, her utensils and food already packed away. The kitchen wasn’t as large as the rest of the flat but it was reasonably sized and had enough room for at least two people to cook comfortably, provided that they didn’t need both need to use the hob or the microwave or any of the equipment at the same time.
Now it was just the clothes, and the toiletries, the make-up and the electronics and the personal touches, (photos, her cute ornaments and her favourite cushion) to pack away and organize. Her parents had dropped her off early that morning, helped her to take the boxes from the car to the dorm before leaving to go back home to London. They had an important business meeting that apparently couldn’t be missed; not even to help their only daughter unpack for University.
“You’re almost 19 now Cass, you can unpack your own things.” Cassie imitated her mother’s voice as she opened the box, beginning to unpack.
It was just after an hour later when Cassie had finished unpacking, looking around at her new room in pride. Her MacBook was on the desk, already plugged into one of the many unnecessary plug sockets, the photos of her friends and brother stuck on her wall, close to the mirror. She’d replaced the bed covers with a deep red one of her own, her favourite cushion with Cassie embroidered on it, sitting atop the pillows. Her make-up box was sat on the small bookshelf next to her jewellery box, her favourite CDs on the shelves below along with a select few books that she’d read and enjoyed. Cassie wasn’t really a book lover, only interested if they were to do with history in some way or music. She had placed her ornaments, (dragon statues, fairy statues, even a small statue of the wise owl from Winnie the Pooh,) around the room, dotted around the ridiculously sized desk and on the tiny bookshelf that barely reached her waist.
New people had started to arrive to the dorms and Cassie figured that she should go and “meet the neighbours” so to speak, heading into the kitchen. Cassie didn’t realise it now but the mistake of not taking her key and leaving her door unlocked would be one of the best mistakes she’d ever make.
Cassie ran into a few people in her quest to make a cup of tea and grab a chocolate bar. She met two of her new dorm mates there; Nathan, a tall, young man with sandy blonde hair and Stephanie, a small, blonde girl who, what she lacked in height, she made up for it in volume. Cassie made her way back to her room after chatting with them, surprised and confused to find her door open. A young woman was stood in her room, holding a box and looking around in similar bewilderment.
“May I help you?” Cassie questioned, standing awkwardly in the doorway and the woman turned around, sighing and smiling in relief.
“Is this your room?”
Yeah.” Cassie answered slowly, still rather perplexed.
“I’m sorry, the woman at the desk directed me to this building and said to look for an unlocked room that should match with this key. Yours was the first unlocked door that I found. I hadn’t quite gotten around to trying the lock before I realised that this was someone else’s room.”
God, this girl could talk, Cassie thought to herself as she finished her ramblings.
“Well, would you like a hand finding your room?” Cassie asked, moving into the room and placing her mug of tea and chocolate on the desk before holding out her arms to take the box from the young woman.
“Oh yes please, thank you.” The girl answered, passing the box to Cassie in relief. The box was lighter than Cassie expected and the pair made their way out, finding the empty room with ease and checking the lock.
“I’m sorry, I never caught your name.” Cassie said, as she placed the box on the unmade bed, turning to the young woman.
“Annette. Annette Smythe.” The woman smiled as Cassie studied her. She was rather tall, with high cheekbones and tanned, olive skin. Her hair was dark and curly, sticking out in almost every direction. Annette had deep-set brown - russet - eyes and was wearing skinny jeans and a t-shirt decorated with sea shells. Cassie caught a sight of her own reflection in the mirror, next to Annette’s, marvelling at the contrasts between them. Cassie’s hair was a fiery red, pulled back into a ponytail and her eyes were a bright green, outlined with a rusty eyeshadow. Cassie was a few inches smaller without her heeled boots and she had pale skin, dotted with freckles. She was wearing a black denim mini-skirt with a black blouse tucked into it.
“Cassie. Cassie Winters.” The red-head replied and Annette smiled widely.
“Cassie, I think this is going to be the start of a fantastic friendship.”
Cassie rolled her eyes at the cliche phrase, wondering if anyone actually spoke like that but couldn’t help but smile softly at the young, enthusiastic girl.