Harper had been rehearsing what she wanted to say to her roommate Liv all morning, but when Liv threw her against the wall of their dorm room, Harper knew she was in trouble.
It had only been six days ago that Harper moved into Sundham University housing and even met Liv. When she’d moved in, Liv had been almost tripping over herself to help Harper unpack and assuring her that they’d be “total BFFs” by the end of the semester. She’d shown Harper around campus, talking in a never-ending stream about everything under the sun.
But then Harper had turned around and rushed back to Capri the very next day, when all hell had broken loose with her sister, her boyfriend, and the sirens.
When Harper had been hit with an intense panic last week, Liv had followed her out to the car. She kept insisting that she ride back with Harper to make sure she got there all right, and Harper practically had to push Liv out of the car.
She couldn’t explain the psychic bond she shared with Gemma, let alone the monsters who awaited her back in Capri, so she couldn’t let Liv go with her.
That was how Harper had left Liv— standing out in the pouring rain, desperate to be her friend. And she returned to something completely different.
Liv slept soundly all day long— missing all her classes. Then she’d stumble in and out late at night, when Harper was trying to sleep, banging things and making noise without any apology.
Harper didn’t want to tell Liv what to do, but she couldn’t keep missing so much sleep. By Tuesday, she’d finally thought she’d come up with what she wanted to say, and she kept repeating it over and over in her head as she walked up to the dorm room. Taking a fortifying breath before opening the door, Harper was determined to get her point across without lecturing Liv.
It was only a little after noon, and Harper had figured that Liv would probably still be sleeping. So it was with some surprise that Harper discovered that her roommate was not only awake but entertaining a guest.
Wearing only her pajama shorts and a pink bra, Liv was straddling a guy lying on her bed. Harper averted her eyes as soon as she realized that Liv wasn’t completely dressed, but she’d seen enough to realize that Liv was making out with him more ferociously than she’d ever seen before.
Both Liv and Harper had loft beds, so they were located on top bunks with their desks below. That meant that Harper didn’t have the greatest view of the guy from where she stood, but thanks to a pair of guy’s jeans and a T-shirt rumpled up on the floor, she discerned that he wasn’t wearing much clothing either.
“Oh, sorry,” Harper said quickly, and turned around, attempting to give Liv some privacy. “I thought you were alone.”
“Get out,” Liv hissed, and there was an edge to her voice that Harper hadn’t heard before.
The few words they’d exchanged the past couple of days contained a sweetness in them, like honey, but that had been replaced by something entirely venomous.
“Yeah, sorry, I will, but I just need to grab my chem book.” Harper hurried over to the desk underneath her loft bed and searched for her textbook.
Part of the reason she’d chosen now to have the conversation with Liv was that she needed to come back to the room to switch books for her afternoon classes.
“Hurry up,” Liv snapped.
“I’m trying,” Harper assured her.
She dropped her backpack onto the desk chair so it’d be easier for her to look. Normally, organization was her strong suit, and everything was in its place, but now that she was trying to get out of here, her book had vanished.
“Maybe you can join us,” Liv’s male companion suggested. Harper chose to ignore him, instead thinking that her time would be better spent searching for the book. She still had her back to Liv as she was throwing everything off the desk, but she heard movement behind her, then a creaking bed.
Liv groaned. “Get out.”
“It’ll only be a second.” Harper turned around to scan the room.
“Get out!” Liv roared, and the anger in her voice seemed to reverberate through Harper’s head. For a moment, she could only stand there— dazed and unable to remember what she was looking for.
Harper shook her head, clearing some of the confusion, and feebly said, “I’m going as fast as I can. I just . . . I need the book first.”
“Not you,” Liv said. “Him.”
Before either Harper or Liv’s boyfriend could say anything, Liv pushed him out of the bed. He tumbled down, landing on the floor with a painful-sounding thud, and he groaned.
“Are you okay?” Harper crouched next to him, and he slowly sat up.
He rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah . . . I think so.”
Harper looked him over just to be sure, and she was relieved that he was still wearing his boxers. His bare torso revealed several fresh scratches on his chest and shoulders. His lip was bleeding, too, but she wasn’t sure if that was from the fall or something that Liv had done.
“What don’t you understand about the words get out?” Liv asked, leaning over the edge of her bed to glare down at them.
Her eyes— which had seemed wide and innocent when Harper first met her— now appeared much darker and more calculating.
“I’m going,” the guy said. He got up quickly, wincing as he did, and picked his clothes up off the floor.
That’s when Harper fi nally discovered her missing chem book.
It had been hidden underneath his jeans.
He didn’t even wait to get dressed before he left, preferring to walk out into the hall in his underwear rather than spend another minute in their dorm room. Not that Harper blamed him.
“Got my book,” Harper told Liv as she shoved the textbook into her backpack. “So I’ll be out of your hair.”
“You don’t have to rush out of here now that he’s gone.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Harper saw Liv jump down from her bed and land on the fl oor in one graceful movement. The honey had returned to her voice, but Harper wasn’t sure if she could trust it, so she turned around slowly. Liv’s blond hair fell in waves that landed just above her shoulders, and though she wasn’t as tall as Harper, her tanned legs appeared long, extending below her micro pajama shorts.
“I figured he’d want some privacy, you know?” Liv glanced back to wink at Harper, then grabbed a tank top out of her drawer.
“Yeah.” Harper forced a smile and tried to sound happy for her roommate. “He seemed . . . nice. Is he your boyfriend?”
Liv scoffed. “He wishes. I woke up thirsty and hungry, so I went down to the commons to get a soda out of the machine, and I picked him up, too.”
“Oh.” Harper leaned back against her desk. She thought about straightening up the mess she’d made, but she didn’t want to take her eyes off Liv. “Do you think you’ll see him again?”
“Just because I said you could stay doesn’t mean we have to talk,” Liv said, pulling her shirt on over her head.
Harper sighed and considered leaving, but she knew she’d have to talk to Liv eventually. She might as well get it out of the way now.
“Actually, um, I have been wanting to talk to you,” Harper said, plunging into the conversation.
Liv narrowed her eyes. “About what?”
“Just life.” Harper shrugged and tried to keep her tone casual.
“I haven’t really been able to talk to you much, so I thought we could check in with each other.”
“Why? It’s not like we need to be besties or something.” Liv snickered.
“No, but you said that you wanted to be friends, and I thought we could be.”
Liv tilted her head, as if she had no idea what Harper was talking about. “Did I say that?”
“Yeah.” Harper nodded. “You said it a few times, actually.”
“Oh.” Liv sounded utterly bored with the conversation and picked at a loose thread on her pajama pants. “Was that last week? It seems like a lifetime ago.”
Liv turned back around to go through her dresser again.
Harper could only gape at her, astounded by the change. “Did something happen?” Harper asked, as Liv pulled a jean skirt out of a drawer.
“Why? What do you mean?” Liv kept her back to her as she slipped out of the pajama pants and pulled on the skirt.
“I don’t know. You just seem . . . different.”
When Liv turned back to her, Harper noticed that same darkness in her eyes, like a shadow had been pulled down to mask a new malevolence, and Liv smirked. “So that’s what this is about?”
“I’m going out and having fun, and you’re jealous?” Liv stepped toward her, and instinctively Harper tried to take a step back, but she had nowhere to go. The desk was right behind her, so she just straightened up.
“What? No.” Harper shook her head. “I’m glad you’re having fun with college. But I was wondering if you could keep it down when you come in at night.” There was no point in making small talk anymore. “You’ve been waking me up, and I can’t sleep.”
“You don’t even want to be my friend, do you?” Liv kept walking toward her, and all the silk in her voice had been replaced with an icy edge. “You just wanted to tell me to shut up.”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Harper hurried to correct herself. “I think that you’re a really nice girl—”
Liv cut her off with a laugh that sent an unpleasant chill down Harper’s spine. “Oh, I am not a nice girl.”
She was actually shorter than Harper, but it felt like she towered over her. There was something so imposing about her presence that Harper couldn’t explain, and she swallowed back her fear.
It was at that moment, with Liv staring up at her with her wide, cold eyes, that Harper realized Liv was insane. That was the only way to explain Liv’s dramatic and violent mood changes.
“What ever. I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I need to get to class,” Harper said. “You went from zero to crazy in like three seconds, and I don’t have time for this.”
“I’m not crazy!” Liv shouted in her face, spittle landing on her cheeks. “And I’m not done with you yet.”
“I’ll talk to you later, okay, Liv?” Harper tried to keep her words soothing and even. “I have to go, and if you were smart, you’d get ready and go to class soon. Or else it’s not going to matter if we get along or not because you won’t be here much longer.”
“Was that a threat? Are you threatening me?” Liv demanded.
“No.” Harper leaned over to get her backpack, taking her eyes off Liv for only a second. “If you don’t go to class, you won’t—”
Liv was a flicker of motion in Harper’s peripheral vision, then Harper felt a hand tighten around her throat. Liv slammed Harper back against the wall hard enough to make a mirror fall off and shatter on the floor.
With Liv’s hand clamped around her neck, Harper was pinned to the wall. Liv’s fi ngers were surprisingly long, and her grip was inescapable. Harper could barely breathe and clawed vainly at Liv’s arm.
“Liv,” Harper croaked out as she continued to struggle.
“Don’t ever mess with me, Harper,” Liv commanded in a low growl. “If you ever threaten or talk down to me again, I will totes destroy you, you dumb bitch.”
She let go of Harper then and stepped back. Harper gasped for breath and rubbed her neck. Her throat burned, and she bent over coughing.
“What the hell, Liv?” Harper asked between coughs. She was still hunched over and looked up at Liv. “I wasn’t threatening you! I was saying that if you want to stay in school, you have to go to class.”
A wide smile spread across Liv’s face. “You’re right. If I want to stay, I’d have to go to class. But I don’t want to stay. And I don’t care what anybody says or thinks. I’m not going to live with a shrew like you any longer than I have to. I’m out of here.”
Liv slipped on her shoes, grabbed her purse, and left the room, humming a tune under her breath as she did. Harper couldn’t place the song, but she was certain she’d heard it before.