Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other.
This is a scene from my current YA suspense, Trouble at Trinity. Enjoy!
Getting out of the boys’ dorm wasn’t hard, but getting into mine was.
The front doors were locked, and I remembered reading that at nine o’clock every night the buildings were locked down for attendance call, house meeting and final study hour. No exceptions. God, they were strict. I knocked on the glass and waited patiently for the desk clerk to let me in.
The fluffy snowfall from earlier was gone and a wet, slushy mist replaced it. The temperature hovered near zero and I shivered, burrowing deeper into Sam’s jacket. This was perfect weather for black ice on the roads. Great. I’d have to wait until tomorrow to get Josh to bring me the key.
“You’re late.” The clerk handed me a pink carbon copy page. “Take this to your EA after the house meeting.”
I glanced from the tardy slip to her disapproving frown. “Whatever,” I muttered and headed for the common room.
Every pair of eyes turned and stared at me when I entered the room. My cheeks burned as I slid into an empty chair behind the semi-circle of couches crammed with girls. My eyes locked with Jan’s and she smirked.
What a bitch.
I sat and half listened to the meeting, but mainly I tuned everyone out and thought about Sam. What was in the locker? A small part of me realized it could be absolutely nothing. Just a key he forgot to turn in after being at the club. But I pushed that thought away. I had to believe we’d make some progress once we opened that locker. If it turned out nothing was there, we’d be back to a blank drawing board.
The room burst into chaos as girls started chatting and giggling, breaking into fifty different conversations at once. I realized the meeting had ended, so I got up and headed for my room. I wanted nothing more than a hot shower and my bed, but as long as I pretended to be a Trinity student, I knew I’d better play by the rules. That meant taking the pink slip to Lancy.
The door to Lancy’s room was ajar, and I saw her sitting at her desk, already hunched over a stack of text books. I knocked and she glanced up, a smile parting her lips. “Hey, Emma. Come in.”
Her room was smaller than the double Jan and I shared, but she didn’t have a roommate. Lucky Lancy. I’d live in a closet if I could get rid of little Miss Perfect.
“I have to give you this.” I handed her the tardy slip.
“No worries. They usually don’t have us crack down until the second offense.” She gestured for me to enter the room. “I’ve been meaning to talk with you, though. Do you have a sec?”
“Sure.” The shower and bed would have to wait. I sat down on her bed.
“How are you liking Trinity Prep so far? Finding your way around? Fitting in?”
I nodded, realizing this must be part of her job. I wondered what would happen if I told her the truth. Some part of this girl radiated trust to me and made me want to open up, but I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything else. The fewer people who knew, the better. “Things are great.”
“There is nothing bothering you? Nothing you want to discuss?” Lancy tilted her head and studied me like I was hiding something. Crap. I had a feeling she wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easy.
“I, uhm, the homework is a bit much, but I’m handling it,” I rushed on. “But I mean, it is kind of a lot, you know?”
Lancy’s golden blonde ponytail bobbed up and down as she nodded, a look of relief washing across her face. What did she think I was going to say? “We can arrange a tutor if you think it’ll help.”
A tutor? With any luck, I would be out of here before exams. We’d get inside that locker tomorrow and I’d know who killed Sam. Mission accomplished. “No, I’ll be fine. Mr. Jenkins has been helping me set up a ‘game plan.’” I used air quotes and smiled, thinking of the heavy man’s enthusiasm for helping me get on track for a prestigious university. Maybe if I’d had someone watching out for me when I was in high school I wouldn’t be a coffee pusher at Tim Hortons. Nineteen years old with no future. How freaking pathetic was I?
Worry lines appeared in Lancy’s perfect complexion. “Mr. Jenkins is helping you? With what?”
“Placement stuff. I want in at University of Guelph, but he thinks I should aim for something Stateside.” I mentally slapped my forehead, trying to remind myself none of this was real. Even my transcript was forged. I wouldn’t be going to any university, let alone a posh Ivy League school in the States. Heck, I didn’t even want to be a vet. But I could understand the empty anger pooling in my gut when I thought of my future. My real one, not the one I pretended to want for Mr. Jenkins. “I have a lot of homework. Can I go?”
“Yes,” Lancy said, but her mind seemed to be a million miles away. When I got up, I noticed a poster for Yale University behind me.
“Good night, Lancy.”
She nodded, keeping her focus on the poster. A glassy expression filled her large doe-like eyes. Wherever she was in her thoughts, it wasn’t a happy place.