I have what's called the "Basic" meal plan. Fifteen meals a week, $100 in snack money (good for the cafe or the Pub) and three guest passes. I use these fifteen meals by eating breakfast and dinner during the week. When the mood strikes, I eat lunch, and only if some of the girls are eating with me.
To recap my weekend: It was interesting. I had lunch with Murph and Liam in Murph's room (the smell of food made Dev turn an unhealthy shade of green, and he didn't come back for a while after nearly mowing Liam down to get to the door), spent some time doing homework in the pseudo-lounge outside my door, and went to dinner with the girls.
And, of course, texted Murphy.
I got plenty of sleep in my own dorm bed, and go up well-rested and ready to take on the universe bright and really freakin' early Monday morning. And everything was gravy until I agreed to meet Sasha, Cara, Em, and Mel for lunch.
The issue wasn't the food (though sometimes it can turn into one, if you get my meaning) because it was chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries. I doused both liberally with honey, and after getting a glass of water, was headed down the main ramp to what is known as the third tier because it's...well...the third tier in our dining hall. There was a table of soccer players to my left, and a table of football boys on my right. I didn't see any that I recognized, but hot damn did they apparently know me by sight. They knew my name, too, and me being the genius that I am, I stopped and waited for two of them to get up and walk over.
I was suddenly very keenly aware of what I had chosen to wear that day (jeans, t-shirt) and that they were significantly taller than I was. Which meant some craning.
"Hi." Once again, I stunned myself with my eloquence.
"Hi, Olivia," the one on the right said. "Look...We know you're tight with El - Murphy, but..." He struggled for words. If I were a man we would not be having communication issues - he would simply verbally expel what he was thinking, grunt a few times, and wait for my answering response. Simplified? Very. Realistic? No so much.
His buddy took pity on us. "What he's tryin' to say is don't hurt Elf."
I blinked. "Oh - Okay." This was not a conversation that I had expected to have with Murph's football buddies in the middle of our dining hall. This was the conversation I was expecting Sasha to give Murphy, only with threats of bodily harm, too.
"I'm not gonna hurt him," I blurted. I had no intentions or unintentions of hurting my bo - Murphy. Murphy. No inclination to hurt Murphy.
The redhead on the left rolled his eyes. "That's what the last one said."
I'm not her." I looked between the two. "I am not going to hurt him." I gave him my most sincere smile - it looked a lot like the one I wear on a regular basis, especially around Murphy. "Really, I'm not. But I would like to eat my chicken nuggets."
They flushed; the redhead winced. "Yeah, sorry. Just - Just - "
"Warning duly noted, gentlemen," I said, and side-stepped around them. And I did get the warning that was there because it was the same one that Sasha was inevitably going to deliver.
I sat down at our table like nothing had happened knowing full-well that most everybody had probably stopped to stare. It was a natural cue; uncomfortable, self-conscious girl in the middle of the cafeteria, let's watch her freeze when not one but two boys stop her, and talk to her. And everybody stare right now.
Sasha nudged my leg as I chonked chicken nuggets.
"Was that Murphy?" Cara asked.
"No," I mumbled. "That's not Murphy."
"Who's Murphy?" Em asked.
"Guy who lives on the third floor," I said, hoping like hell they would leave it at that. 'Course they wouldn't.
"Her boyfriend," Sasha supplied cheerfully.
"You have a boyfriend?"
"When the hell did this happen?"
"His name is Murphy?"
"Does he have a brother?"
This was the point of me having lunch with them? I sat back as attempting to eat was futile. And they were all looking at me like I'd been keeping a huge secret and had just promised them the gory details.
"Okay," I said, rubbing my eyebrow. "First, Murphy is the guy I met during pre-season and he lives downstairs from me." I looked at Mel. "He does have a brother - a twin. Liam, who I've met because of mine and Murph's disastrous Saturday night." I paused, wracking my brain. "I think that's it."
Silence reigned. I looked at each face.
"Does that mean we can get rid of our poster board?" Mel asked.
I resisted the urge to bang my head on the table. "Please tell me you don't actually have one of those." I searched eight pairs of eyes. "Really?" It was a sort of joke between us. I had a habit of crushing hard on guys, but not a habit of being brave enough to talk to them or get a date. Mel had come up with the idea of making a poster so she and the rest of the girls could keep track of all them. Em had suggested colored dots one night at dinner and I had turned an interesting shade of red.
"We were thinking of doing a Flavor of the Week, but now..." Sasha shrugged.
"I hate that board." I moved sweet potato fries and nuggets around in pools of honey. "It makes me sound like such a slut."
"But you're not," Em said, sipping hot chocolate. She loved hot chocolate any time of the year. And this stuff was good - it came out of a Nestle machine. "It's not like you do anything with them."
Which was true. It's not like I slept around. I just looked.
Now that Murph was in the picture, though....
"So, what are you and Murphy anyway?" Cara asked.
I took a deep breath. My phone buzzed in my pocket. "I'll let you know when I know." I dug it out and opened it. New text. From my knight-in-shining-armor, Murphy. I stood. "And Murph wants to meet me for coffee." I slipped my bag on my shoulders and gathered my dishes. "I'll see you guys later."
The chorus of "We want details!" followed me up the center ramp.
Murphy knew from our many texts and conversations that I was a coffee snob. Between Green Mountain and Starbucks, Starbucks was always going to win. That's why we were meeting at the Pub.
I went down the stairs and into the dim atmosphere. Murphy sat at one of the tall tables for two to the right of the door, biodegradable coffee cup in front of him. I dumped my bag in the chair across from him and went to get my coffee. There were only two people ahead of me - both girls - and I ignored their inane chatter in favor of trying to keep myself together, and did one of those long glances around the room. There were a few soccer guys in the corner, and some other students plugged into iPods while doing homework.
"Can I help you?"
Startled, I turned and stepped to the counter. "Can I have uh, a, uh, an iced mocha with skim milk and no whipped cream." She slid my card, taking it out of my snack money.
What did Murphy want to say to me? Was this the part where he said, Alright, you're cool, but you're not quite my style?
I took my drink back to our table, tipped my bag onto the floor, and climbed into the chair. I took a sip of the mocha.
"How were classes?" he asked.
"Good," I said. "I hate physics." Really, I did. I was a biologist, not a physicist.
"There's a reason I'm in history," he chuckled. "Olivia...."
I nearly peed myself in anxiety. My knuckles were white where my hands clutched at the edge of the table. He slid a big hand over to one of mine and pried my fingers loose so he could hold them, rubbing his thumb over my wrist bone.
"I want to take you out again," he said, hazel eyes wide and nervous. "As your boyfriend."
If I hadn't been sitting I'd have fallen over. He was leaving this - us - up to me. Whether there was an us or not, he was leaving that up to me. Now was the time to ask myself what I wanted. What did I want? I wanted a normal year, that's what I wanted. I wanted to stay out of the ER, I wanted to stay healthy, and for once in my life I wanted to be romantically happy. I wanted somebody to replace the hurt Bobby had left and restore my faith in the opposite gender. I wanted...well, I wanted a lot of things, really.
And I was going to start with Murphy.
"Yes," I said, grinning stupidly. My other hand nudged the table in my excitement. The mocha wobbled, then tipped, splashing across the table and our joined hands. He laughed, grabbing a handful of napkins, and I'd sufficiently broken the tension, if accidentally.
My first thought in all of this was Yay! Relationship to Murphy Baptism by mocha!
The second: Shit. There goes my caffeine for the day.
And Murph? Pretty sure he was used to this. And it could only get worse as it got better.