I woke up. Head pounding. Mouth dry. Stomach churning.
The room tilted on its axis as I sat up. I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes, groaning.
“For fuck’s sake.”
I took a long, deep breath in.
Hurling your guts up was never a good way to start the day.
A soft snore behind me suddenly had me on red alert. Hands still on my face, I spread my fingers, peeking through the holes.
Oh my god.
There was a man passed out in the bed beside me. Blonde, naked, pretty.
He’s spread eagle on the black cotton sheets, the whole package on full display and at full attention.
Tom, I thought...or maybe Terry?
My heart started to pound and I closed my eyes again, taking long slow breaths.
When my skin stopped feeling like it was vibrating. I opened my eyes and took stock of the situation.
I was in bed, next to a man, in my panties. I wiggled my toes and tensed my abdomen muscles experimentally. Nothing felt different.
My nose wrinkled as I took in the room around me. There were clothes all over the floor. Empties and takeaway containers littered the top of a desk. Lacrosse sticks were propped against the wall in one corner.
I took another long breath in and almost gagged. The room stunk of pizza, stale beer, and sports clothes.
Shit, my phone.
I scrambled out of the bed, searching for….anything that belonged to me.
I spotted pastel shorts on a desk chair in the corner.
My phone was in the pocket.
There were eleven missed calls and it wasn’t even nine in the morning.
As I flicked through the notifications, the events of last night hit me and my stomach twisted.
A pounding that had nothing to do with the litre of vodka I drank started to thump in my temples.
Suddenly, I was all too aware of the tenderness of my lips. The taste of smoke in my mouth. The tightening in my chest.
I need to get out of here.
Holding my phone in my teeth, I tugged on my shorts.
Now I just needed a shirt.
With the state of this room, I figured the odds of finding the one I had on last night were about as good as me figuring out my major. And I didn’t have the time for that.
My eyes caught on a pile of crumpled grey fabric at the foot of the bed...or rather the mattress on the floor.
BINGO! My oversized Nirvana shirt.
I shrugged it on and tiptoed past Sleeping Beauty to the door. That’s when I found my black cotton bra hanging on the hall side of the door knob like a ‘do not disturb’ sign at a hotel.
I clutched my phone to my chest as the screen lit up with another call, praying my tiny breasts might muffle some of the vibration.
Face hot, I ripped my bra off the doorknob, stuffed it into the pocket of my shorts, and eased the bedroom door closed.
The hall was littered with solo cups and beer bottles. The smell of weed and cheap perfume lingered in the air.
I glanced at the screen of my phone, relieved to see Lucy’s name glowing there.
“What’s up?” I whispered when I asswer the call.
“Morning to you too, Princess,” my roommate said on the other side of the line. The floor was sticky under my bare feet as I slipped past more closed doors towards the stairs.
Where are my shoes?
It didn’t matter. It was too late to go back and check, and the risk of waking Blondie wasn’t worth the price of flip flops.
“What’s up, Luce?”
I swore as I trip over a bottle of jack filled with black liquid. I froze, hoping I didn’t wake any of Blondie’s roommates.
“I’ve been trying to reach you for an hour, Cat.”
I should have told her I wasn’t going to make it home. I hadn’t wanted to interrupt her cram session for her final that afternoon though.
Plus, I hadn’t intended to stay out all night. I’d made a promise to myself after frosh week to avoid sorority parties at all costs.
I’d written my last exam yesterday afternoon and some celebration was in order. I’d successfully completed my first year at Uni...probably.
Final grades would be available in a couple weeks.
And I’d heard rumours that someone at Delta-Beta-Phi had connections to Dua Lipa.
Unfortunately, Dua Lipa didn’t show. Terry...Ted...whatever Blondie’s name was and I definitely bonded over our mutual love for her though.
“Sorry. I’m fine. Things just got a bit crazier at DBP’s end of year party than I expected.”
“Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t matter right now. I need you to get your ass home,” Luce says.
I frown at her clipped tone. “I’m on my way now. Something wrong?”
“There’s a big beefy dude looking for you,” Lucy said as my feet hit the bottom step.
There were voices coming from the front of the back of the house. Where the kitchen was, if I remembered correctly. I glanced between the supposed kitchen doorway and the front door, wondering how likely it was I’d make it without being caught.
“Who is it?” I whispered.
The voices continued. Someone laughed. Looked like I was in the clear.
“No idea. He just said that he needed to talk to you urgently,” said Lucy, her tone growing nervous.
My vodka filled stomach churned. “Is he still there? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. He left...but Cat, I might have mentioned you were at–”
Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
The laughter from the back of the house stopped. There was shuffling around as the person nominated to answer the door moved closer.
I dropped down to sit on the steps, praying that whoever it was wouldn’t see me.
Some frat-dude in the flannel walked past my hiding spot on the stairs and pulled the front door wide open. “Hey man, what the fuck are you supposed to be?”
“I’m looking for someone,” said a deep, accented voice on the other side.
“You a cop or something? You look like a fucking Men in Black,” the frat-guy said.
“I’m looking for Catherine–”
My stomach twisted. My breath caught in my throat.
“Cat?” Luce called on the phone.
“Fuck off,” said the still drunk frat guy, and moved to shut the door.
Before he could, it was thrown open, sending him stumbling back onto the floor.
A man in a navy suit stood in the open doorway. He was tall, with salt and pepper hair, a scar on his left cheek, and a gun holstered at his waist.
My eyes grew wide. My phone slipped through my fingers and clattered down the steps.
The sound drew the man’s attention and his head whipped around to face me.
I jumped up, heart pounding in my chest, as the man’s gaze fell on me.
“Catherine Sinclair?” he said.
There was no escape.
I nodded once.
“I need you to come with me.”