College and Woodland

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Chapter 6

Alkaline Trio-Southern Rock


There are few things that could get me out of bed before nine in the morning. I wake that first morning to the sound of music coming from downstairs and the telltale smell of coffee and breakfast cooking. I din't get home till after three and it's only eight but I am a sucker for breakfast food. I open my door and make my way silently down the stairs. I don’t know if I am welcome but it smells really good and there was no way I am going back to sleep. When I step into the kitchen the guys are working side by side. Josh pouring three cups of coffee and Charlie cooking on the stove with multiple pans of ingredients. The detail I notice most however was their state of dress. Or rather their state of undress. They are making breakfast in nothing but boxers. Both of them singing along to Alkaline Trio on the CD player in the dining room. I am not complaining in the least. Josh’s body fully clothed is enough to make my mouth water and my brain to scramble. Charlie, though much leaner was beautiful too. I manage to get my proverbial drool to stop dripping from my mouth and make my way into the kitchen. I must make some kind of groan or noise because Charlie turns to me.

"Good morning! I didn’t know if you would want Tofu or sausage in your eggs so I made a little more of both." He says with a kind smile.

Josh turns and hands me a cup of coffee.

“I put sugar and creamer in it already.” He states quietly. I am shocked he remembers how I take my coffee, we only had it together that one time. When I met them at The Bean. His eyes are cool still but I can see something behind them, like he is remembering that day too.

“Ray, tofu or sausage in your omelet?” Charlie says from behind me. I have a feeling he had to repeat the question multiple times while my mind was off in LaLa land.

“I have never had tofu. Is it good?” The look I give Charlie is questioning but really, I grew up on a farm. I eat real meat.

“Do not eat that crap.” Josh advises from next to me.

Charlie gives me an almost loving look and says “It’s not crap but Josh insists it tastes like dirt.”

Josh is laughing, I haven’t seen him laugh before. It’s a really good laugh, deep and husky. It fits him, I like it. Charlie takes that as an answer and makes my omelet, with sausage.

We stay fairly quiet while gathering our plates and heading into the dining room. The song has changed to one I recognize. I hum along with the words I know from “Bleeder”. Stace had introduced me to this kind of music when I moved in with her our freshman year. I grew up listening to top 40 and country. While she, being raised partially by her rocker father had grown up listening to metal. I didn’t like it at first but the lyrics spoke to me. All angry and forlorn. Alkaline Trio was by far my favorite. I am glad the guys chose them this morning, it feels like we are kismet. The rough rockers living with the shy country girl.

Charlie breaks our silence, “So Ray, Josh and I were talking and you need a true welcome to the house. We have a show tonight at The Moon, and we usually host the after party. That cool with you?” I knew the guys were going to have people over all the time but I was not prepared to have groupies in the house I just moved into my second night sleeping there.

“Umm, I guess that would be fine as long as no one comes into my room. I can make myself scarce.” They both start laughing and look at me like I had two heads.

“Ray, we are throwing the party for you. It would be pretty friggin pointless for you not to come.” Charlie says while shaking his head at me.

“It will be good for you to meet the guys from Grounded and some of the girls that hang around aren’t too bad. With Stace gone you might want to have a couple chicks around for…girly shit.” Charlie flounders and looks to Josh who has been notably silent.

“Jess and Sammie are here a lot so you can meet them tonight.” Josh finally says. Charlie looked at Josh with a sour look. There was a silent conversation going between them.

“If you don’t mind hearing about how Josh is in bed you could befriend Jess. Sammie will be here, she is chill.” I really don't need to touch the whole sex thing with a ten foot pole. My brain to mouth filter decides to take a small reprieve.

“So I am going to meet the guys in your band and all your fuck buddies, sounds killer guys.” My eyebrows shoot up. Really Ray did you just say that? Back pedal...quick!

“If you need any help getting the house ready let me know. Otherwise I will see you tonight. Maybe I’ll come down for a couple minutes… maybe not.” I don’t want to commit to coming out of my room. In case I chicken out and hide all night. I can see how this pains Charlie. I know he would like to be friends, so I throw him a smile. “Break a leg tonight.” I say only to him. I can’t bring my gaze to Josh. I can see his flinch when I say I might not show my face tonight. With that I pick up by bowl deposit it in the sink and practically run to my room.

“Stace why in the hell did you have to go home for the summer?” After breakfast I came up to my room and wallowed, listening to music. I can hear Josh in his room next to mine. I don’t want to spend the whole summer hiding. At this point I am not comfortable anywhere but in my little room; without someone as a barrier to my attractive male housemates.

"My little town was way too dull all school year they needed me to come back and shake up the place. Also my mom knows exactly what to say to make me feel guilty for leaving her and growing up. Are the guys being a-holes?" Stacey rambles from the other end of my phone.

“No they aren’t." I pause and heave a big sigh. "They are having a party tonight.”

“It can’t be that bad Ray it’s been what a half a day and already you are bitching.” She knew me before I dated Mark. When I was loose and free. I had gone to college parties and met people. Shit my 19th birthday was held at a frat house. All that had changed though, dating Mark had sunk me back into myself. I had zero confidence anymore.When we finally broke up I could see in Stace’s eyes she wanted the old me back. So did I, truthfully, but I didn’t know how to get back to her.

“I knew this would be hard without you. I am desperately outnumbered by males and I don’t know anybody. You know I am not good with new people. How could you leave me up here by myself?” I have to catch my breath a little after that rant but Stace is not fazed by my dramatics.

“It’s two months, you will be fine.” She sighs, changing her tone to the one she only uses with truly stupid people. “Seriously, we did background checks and have references from these guys. It’s not like you are in any danger.”

“Danger to myself maybe.” I look out my small window all I can see is the elderly neighbor’s second story window, which always has the curtains drawn. Maybe she is trying to keep out even the site of the college kids living next door to her. She must be pretty cool since the guys have never had the cops called on them here according to Charlie. After another few seconds Stace makes a huffing noise over the phone and I realize I have spaced out. I get back to the purpose of my distress call to my best friend. “I woke up this morning to them jamming over breakfast, cooking in their boxers.” Even now the picture of Josh practically naked and casually pouring me coffee makes my cheeks flush. This gets Stace's attention.

“Wow, did you orgasm on site?”

"Yes…no… I didn’t know what to do I just froze.” She is laughing now. She gets a kick out of me in sexual situations, because I am such a wreck.

“I have only seen Max and Mark that unclothed before…Stop laughing” She starts to calm down a little and I admit. “I was without words.”

“Okay for one, no shit, our roommates are like two walking talking Magic Mike ads. Second, seeing Max in any state of undress does not count because he is gay.”

“Does too count, we fooled around.” I wasn’t lying. Before Max came out our freshman year, we “dated”. Needless to say, after some heavy petting and one unfulfilling round of oral, Max decided if he couldn’t make himself have sex with me (in his words, the only female who ever got his dick hard) then he was for sure into the same sex. He had known since he was a kid he was attracted to guys more than girls. However his parents are very religious and he grew up thinking being gay was wrong. After he told me of his same sex tendencies (and I broke up with him) we stayed friends. I was with him when he finally told his parents his secret shame, and he stayed with me and Stace in our dorm room when they promptly kicked him out of the house. So I had seen Max full on naked on more than one occasion while we were together and also while he lived with us. Stace does not think that counts apparently.

“Again I state: gay; point irrelevant.” This argument is going to get me nowhere, Stace and I could banter like this for hours. So I change the subject to what has my anxiety levels so high.

“Anyway, what do I do tonight, oh wise one. They are having a party after the show, to have me meet all their friends. Apparently that will also include several girls err groupies.”

“Fucking groupies really? That should be pleasant for you. I knew Grounded had a following, but shit.” Stace grew up with a semi famous father, a musician. Groupies are the reason her parents are no longer even on speaking terms let alone married.

“In Charlie’s words, I will get to hear about how good Josh is in bed. I think I am going to puke.” I hear something thump the wall next to my head, the wall I share with Josh’s room, but I ignore it.

"I wish I was going to be there I would eat those bitches alive." She manages to get out through the cackling. Her way of dealing with groupies tends to be more venom than sugar “Okay Ray this is what you have to do. Think like me.”

“Well duh. I think we both know thinking like me is just going to have me hiding in my room all night reading a damn book or watching Netflix.”

“Yea so be me for the night. You’re an actress right? Consider this a long exercise in character play. You will be playing Stace in everything but name.”

“Do you ever wonder why I am always cast as the mousy best friend and not the leading lady? I am not that great of an actress Stace”.

“Don’t even start with that shit. You have been the leading lady more than once and you know it.You will be great tonight Ray. Just have some drinks, meet the friends and relax. If the groupie chicks don’t like you? Then fuck em! You are sure to catch the eye of some of their guy friends, if you know what I mean. PS what are you wearing?”

’Right now, nothing.” I say in a deeper sultry voice. Again there is a thump on the wall. What the hell is Josh doing over there?

“Tonight, smart ass.” I am irritating her in a way I know only I and her mother can. If I am going to get any good advice out of her I have to keep her semi-calm, otherwise she will simply hang up on me. Then I will be up shit creek for tonight.

“I was thinking of raiding your boxes. Since all your clothes are just sitting there being ignored and abandoned, like me, I thought I would keep them company."

“Good plan,” She states. I can hear her brain shuffling through her clothes finding me an outfit. “Wear that mid length leather skirt I have.”

“Um the dominatrix skirt you mean?” I know exactly what skirt she is talking about and there is no chance in Hades I am wearing that for anything but Halloween.

“Yes the fucking leather skirt.” She yells so loud into the phone I pull it away from my face. We have had this fight before too. When Mark and I first broke up and she tried to get me out in the world again. She would dress me (barely) and take me out to the club dancing (dry humping). I rarely had any fun due to my intense shyness and self-consciousness. She gave up after I left her at the club one night and walked back to campus alone. Which was not only stupid, but considering it was winter and I was wearing a miniskirt and knee high boots with only a light jacket, it was hella cold.

“It is not dominatrix, ya prude. It’s sexy and your ass will look spectacular in it.” Let it be known that I am not a prude. I swear, I read novels with more sex than you could shake a dick at, and I have had plenty of that sex myself. Just not for a while, and only with one guy. Okay I am sort of a prude. I can’t help it. I was a good girl, way too busy playing sports and getting good grades in my all girls’ catholic high school to even think that much about boys let alone have my sexual awakening. That came later, when I got to college. I have tried that skirt on before, and it does look good on me. For Stace it's tame, coming below her knees. She wears it on nights at the theater when she has to dress up, openings and such. On me it hits right above the knee, with my considerably longer legs. It’s short without being slutty.

“I will think about it.” That’s all I am giving her for now. She is already ahead of me.

“It goes great with that black corset top I have with the blue lacy thing on top.” Another item I have vetoed in the past.

“Yea... No, I don’t think I could do that. Showing skin, while meeting new people, while drinking, will lead to a disaster of EPIC proportions.” I say sticking up a finger for each ingredient in that shit stew.

“DO it,” She says taking the choice away, in her mind, “take pics and send them to me before you creep out of your hole. Creeper.” I can see what she is doing. I have to take pictures so I will actually get into the clothes and see myself in them. Making it harder for me to just remove them and wear something like jeans, or a sweater, or a full on snowsuit to cover all my skin.

“Okay, I will try it on, but I am not making any promises.” I am lying I will probably wear the outfit she picked for me. Because I trust her, and she has my best interests at heart.

“Yea right, skank.”

“Love you Stace.” We always sign off like this. It started as a joke when we were living together. When she was leaving the theater late at night she would always call me and say she was on her way. In a different accent each time she would say: “On my way home dear, Love you.” Like she was coming home to a husband, instead of a female roommate.

“You too, and Ray?”


“Have fun lady, you need it.” She says and clicks off before I can say anything else.

After the conversation with Stace I let myself into the vacant room at the end of the hall where she will be living once school starts back up in the fall. Her boxes are all clearly marked. Thanks to me and my OCD. I supervised packing of our entire apartment. I quickly find the one marked “Ho Clothes” and open it up. After emptying half the scraps Stace deems worthy of party clothes from the box. I find the outfit she suggested, re-pack the box and head back to my room. I could pull this off but I need reinforcements. I jump on my bed and dial Max, he is working tonight but I know he will have words of encouragement for me.

“Hello beautiful. How is my best girl?” Max’s deep voice through the phone immediately makes me feel better. I put him on speaker so I can pace in what little space I have.

“Nervous, self-conscious and possibly going to vomit any minute.”

“What’s got ya tied up in knots sweetie pie?”

“My roommates are having a party tonight to have me meet their friends; and I am awkward in social situations without you or Stace as buffer.”

“Ray you are breathtakingly beautiful and smart. You have no problem impressing people, if that’s what you’re after. Maybe impressing one guy there in particular? Like one that now sleeps mere feet from your bed. Naked.”

“Naked? I don’t think Josh sleeps naked.”

“Well that’s how I picture it. Also you just admitted you want to get nasty with your roommate.”

I was not touching that statement with a ten foot pole. I knew what would get Max off that tangent though.

“He wears boxers to breakfast, they both do. I assume they sleep in those.”

“Whaaaat? Back up, repeat. Then explain, in excruciating detail”. I sigh and recount my morning wake-up call and meal for the second time today. I tell Max I have to go get ready so he doesn’t keep drilling me with questions about the anatomy of Josh and Charlie. He is working at The Moon tonight so he would see them there and I didn’t want to give him any more details to drool over. I didn’t think the guys would appreciate my friends getting creepy around them.

“Okay, I will let you go get more beautiful. Remember tonight if the need arises I put condoms in your nightstand.”

“I know. They will not be necessary. Thank you. I unpacked them from my bedroom stuff in front of Doug. Between that, Josh and Charlie both removing their shirts while bringing all of my belongings lovingly to my room I had to do some serious backpedaling to get him to leave me here.” Max's laughter fills the room.

“Poor Doug, did you tell him it was a gift from me?” My dad loves Max, he was crushed when he found out we weren’t dating anymore, and Max was gay.

“I did and he asked if you were going to change your mind and become his son-in-law. Don’t worry I let him down easy. Get this he likes Charlie! Even invited him down to their house when he heard Charlie is studying botany. ”

“Oh man, I love your dad. I love you too Ray you know that right?” What was with my friends being so lovey today, it’s not like I terminal or something.

“I know, I’ll talk to you later.” I hang up. I gather my stuff to shower and make my way down the hall. When I pass Josh’s open doorway I peek in to see what was banging on the wall earlier. He is lying on his bed working on his laptop. He looks up at me with an amused smile.

“A couple things Ray.” He says getting up from his bed and stalks over to me at the door.

“You don’t have to be nervous for tonight our friends are not going to eat you alive. I do sleep naked, leather is hot on a woman, and our walls are really thin.” My jaw damn nears hits the floor, I sputter and try and find something intelligent to say. He just smirks and closes his door in my face. I am still going over everything he most likely heard between my conversation with Stace and then with Max. I get under the hot spray of water from the shower and internally scream.

When I get out of the shower Charlie and Josh have left for the day and I have the house to myself. I turn on my workout mix, the most upbeat playlist on my computer, and set the volume to deafening.

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