Normally there's one good storm during pre-season, living in Upstate New York and all, and this year promised a doozy. It was a few days after falling off the couch, and they'd been a busy few days. I'd only had time to say hi to Murphy in passing.
Anyway, I'd forewent my ceiling light in favor of my desk lamp, so it was kind of dark in the room.
The first lightning strike lit the place up like the launching of a space shuttle.
And I yelped pretty damn loud.
The thunder overhead boomed hard enough to shake the foundation, and I scrambled to the desk, hair went and uncombed from my shower, halfway into my pajamas, because I just knew the power was going to go out. I must have had some luck because no sooner had the machine powered down than the lamp went out without so much as a flicker. Rain pounded on the roof and the window - why had I wanted the corner, again? - and I moved automatically toward the window. And almost tripped over everything between here and there. My phone lay on the bed, hidden by the darkness, shown only by the occasionally flashes of lightning.
I managed to make it from the window to the bed without breaking anything - myself included - and after feeling for my phone like a blind man, flipped it open. Oh, look. Text from Sasha.
'Peachy' I texted back, flinching as Mother Nature continued to pummel my building. Storms made me uneasy, a fact that Sasha knew very well, and considering that I was alone she was probably assuming I was having a minor freak out.
Damn, did she know me well.
She at least had Cara to snuggle up to. I had a teddy bear and a green...thing...to curl around and whimper through the night with. (I say green 'thing' because I don't exactly know what Edgar is.)
The phone vibrated.
Ur freakin out, rnt u?
Yeah, my bestie had me pegged.
'Yeah.' I turned thoughtful for a minute, then typed, 'the only thing i'm missing is a creepy serial killer to murder me.' And really, that was the only thing I was missing.
Which was when someone pounded on my door and sent my heartrate into the upper stratosphere to punched around by the storm. Naturally I froze. Someone had conjured me my serial killer. All I need was confirmation.
Whoever it was banged again. My phone buzzed. Sasha was now calling.
I opened the phone and dropped it. He knew my name. Lightning flashed again. Might as well see who it is.
"Yeah?" Which clarified nothing and merely stated to whoever was outside the door and Sasha on the other end of the open phone connection that I was still there and it was eloquent, to boot.
If it hadn't been storming like hell and my nerves kind of fried, the simultaneous identical response would have been kind of comical. Especially since Sasha's voice was tinny and coming from the floor.
"Do you want me to come down?" was Sasha and the guy (it was definitely a guy outside my door) said, "Can I come in? I'm coming in."
Well, I might as well have just left the damn phone on the floor because as soon as I'd picked it up, I dropped it again (threw it toward the general direction of the bed is more accurate and heard it slap off the wall) in favor of diving, in the dark, for a shirt to pull on. I yanked the hem down as the door pushed open and a flashlight beam illuminated part of the bed and the floor. Picked up the phone. Again.
I wished for light - lightning supplied - and found that my 'serial killer' was really just Murphy. Filling the door frame quite impressively I might add.
"Murphy," I breathed, relief going through me. I wasn't going to murdered after all. I put the phone to my ear and then yanked it away. Sasha was basically screaming into the receiver.
"Sasha!" I bellowed, startling Murphy, "I'm okay. It was just Murphy..yes, Ford-man...Yeah...Yeah...No, stay with Cara...Yes...Yes..See you at breakfast, yes I promise. Shut up. Goodnight." I snapped the phone shut and looked at Murphy. "I don't like storms."
Thunder ripped through the sky, practically rattling the window; I flinched.
"Yeah, I see that." His voice was dry, and a bit concerned. "Um, some of us are camped in the lounge downstairs and I knew you were here alone..."
People, even if they were most likely beefy football men, were a godsend at the moment.
"Yes," I said, not caring that I was barefoot, and my hair uncombed. I'll take human companionship over Mother Nature's wrath any day. It must have showed on my face since Murphy chuckled.
"My brother doesn't like storms," he said as I shut the door. It was unlocked and I was not hunting for my keys. Didn't even take my phone. "Devan doesn't either."
"My roommate last year hated the dark," I said, resting my hand on his shoulder on the way down the stairs so I wouldn't fall. His shirt was warm and soft.
There was light coming from the lounge. Someone, for some unknown reason, had brought a battery-powered Coleman lamp with them to college. It sat proudly on the floor, surrounded by six bulky guys. My hunch had been right.
"You know your shirt is on backward?"
I looked down. Not only was it on backward, it was also inside-out. My cheeks went red. He hid me behind him so I could at least put the tag in the back. I wasn't worried so much about the inside-out part. Lots of people wore shirts to bed that way, right?
"Hey, guys," Murphy said when I was ready, announcing our arrival. He switched off the flashlight. "This is Olivia. She plays soccer."
"Hi." I waved, unsteady about being the focus of that much attention. That and I was still rocking my black eye. And hadn't combed my hair. And was in an inside-out shirt. And barefoot.
God, I was a mess.
Mother Nature on a PMS rampage was not helping.
"Hey, you're the girl who ran into my truck," said a guy on the left, a little too cheery for my liking. My cheeks were positively flaming.
"Yeah, but she's got a better black eye than what you've got on your leg from Spike," Murphy said, nudging aside his teammates so I could sit. He sandwiched me between himself and a guy with an unruly mop of blonde hair. Devan, Murphy's roommate and the only other person I even recognized was on my then-serial-killer, now knight-in-shining-armor's other side.
"True that," the behemoth on my right rumbled. He looked at the cards in his meaty fist and it was then that I realized they were playing some sort of game. A closer look revealed that it wasn't poker or anything, but, of all things, Apples to Apples.
Needless to say I was floored.
"Here's your cards, Murph." Devan handed his roommate his cards.
I turned to my right again. The big man handed me some cards. I took them, still mildly shocked, and looked at what I had. Cockroaches, Family Reunions, Michael Jackson -
The trump of the game: Helen Keller.
Conversation and laughter ranged, light and varied. Murphy attempted to peek at my hand - I caught him, of course, and gave him a good-natured jab in the ribs for his trouble.
Then I saw my opportunity.
Devan, closest to the pile of green cards, flipped one over. 'Insane.' Defined as ' psychotic, deranged, mad.' It was a no-brainer.
I dropped my card on the pile, smirking.
"Ooh, someone's got somethin' good."
No idea who said it, but I flushed anyway. Murphy jabbed my ribs playfully.
"We'll see," I said, intent on not giving anything away.
Someone on the other side of the circle was judging and I could tell when he got to mine. He started laughing.
"Yeah," he said between chuckles, "a deaf, blind, and female pilot is pretty insane." He held up the Helen Keller card. "Alright fellas, who's is it?"
I ignored the sexist remark tacked on to the end and held out my hand. "Thanks, girl."
He turned red; everyone laughed. I could hear Murphy's loudest, the sound reverberating through the both of us where his arm touched mine
Not a bad way to spend an evening, even if Mother Nature was a bit pissy and the only company I had was a testosterone fest in the third-floor lounge.
I looked at Murphy, his grin. Yeah, definitely not a bad way to spend an evening.