Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Olivia entered her suite to find a Barbie look-alike already there, listening to her iPod and dancing around the common room in impossibly short shorts and a midriff-baring T-shirt. When she spotted Olivia, she smiled hugely and pulled off her headphones. “Oh my God!” she squealed. “I know you. You were right in front of me in line before!”
“Small world,” Olivia said with a smirk.
“I’m Mimi,” Barbie said. “We’re the only ones here so far. You want to share a room with me?” She pointed to the bedroom on the left. “It’s a little bigger, I think.”
Oh God, Olivia thought. She looked toward the bedroom, but did not move.
“Plus it’s got better feng shooey, because the beds are farther from the door.”
Feng shooey? Olivia stifled a laugh. Just for the raw material Mimi would provide, maybe it would be worth it to share. And there really was no graceful way to turn down the offer without hurting Mimi’s feelings. “How can I say no to better feng shooey?” Olivia said, beginning to wheel her suitcase to the left.
Mimi followed her into the room. “How funny is it that we’re roommates and we checked in at exactly the same time? I mean, check-in is all day, so we could have come at any time. It’s like fate, or something, that we ended up roommates, don’t you think?”
Keep a straight face, Olivia told herself, and don’t say anything too sarcastic. She placed her suitcase flat next to her bed and began to unzip it. Maybe if she didn’t respond, Mimi would stop talking.
“I mean what are the chances that we’d be right next to each other at registration? Like a million to one, right?”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing I stopped to get drunk on the way here this morning,” Olivia blurted, “or we would have totally missed each other.”
“Are you serious?” Mimi’s eyes popped wide. “No, you’re kidding.”
“I probably shouldn’t drink when I’m on so many painkillers, but, hey, it’s summer, right?”
Mimi’s expression veered from amusement to serious concern, and Olivia burst out laughing.
“Oh my God!” Mimi squealed. “I totally believed you for a second!”
Olivia shook her head. “Don’t worry, I’m actually a pretty straight arrow. No drinking, no drugs, nothing illegal for me.”
“Well, that’s a relief.” Mimi plopped down on her bed and her voice took on a playful quality. “What about boys?”
“Definitely none of them,” Olivia said decisively.
“Get out!” Mimi shrieked. “Have you seen all the hot guys here?”
Olivia chuckled. Just her luck to get stuck with a nymphomaniac.
In the same dorm, one floor below, Max was unpacking when a tall, skinny guy with long hair walked into the room, wheeling a huge suitcase, wearing a backpack over one shoulder, and carrying a guitar.
“Hey,” Max said.
The guy gave a little nod. “What’s up?”
“Zeke.” He dropped the backpack on the empty bed and leaned his guitar against the wall.
“You here for music?” Max asked.
Zeke opened his book bag, fished out a bottle of water, and took a big swig. Then he brushed his hair out of his face and lifted his suitcase onto the bed.
“You’d think with how much money we’re paying we’d get a bigger room, right?” Max said.
“At least some air-conditioning.”
“I know. This room’s like a fucking sauna.”
“You think any of the rooms have air-conditioning?” Zeke asked.
“If they do, I’m requesting a transfer. No offense.”
Max was actually feeling pretty happy about his roommate situation. For all he knew, he might have ended up with a violin prodigy named Vladimir, who practiced eight hours a day and was several years away from either Carnegie Hall or a complete nervous breakdown. Zeke, on the other hand, seemed like the kind of guy who would be up for almost anything. A young Joey Ramone.
“So,” Max said, pointing to Zeke’s guitar. “What kind of music do you play?”
Zeke brushed his hair back with his hands. “I don’t know. Mostly my own stuff, I guess.”
“You in a band?”
Zeke shook his head. “Used to be.”
Zeke shrugged. “Lead singer kind of dropped out. Band just fell apart after that.”
Max put on his best TV voice. “They had everything going for them: a hit album, a sold-out concert tour, and a multi-record deal, but behind the scenes, trouble was brewing in paradise. In-fighting and drug abuse were threatening to pull the band apart, and when lead singer . . .” He reverted to his own voice. “What was your lead singer’s name?”
Zeke hesitated. “Devin Baines,” he said.
“And when lead singer Devin Baines overdosed on pain?killers just before a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, it looked like the band’s days were numbered.”
“You watch too much VH1,” Zeke said, turning away.
“Probably,” Max agreed.
Zeke unzipped his suitcase, took out an iPod dock, and put it on the shelf of his desk. “You can use this,” he said, plugging it in, “but no Celine Dion when I’m in the room.”
Upstairs in Olivia and Mimi’s suite, the two remaining girls—Trish and Callie—had arrived, and the foursome was complete. At the moment, they were sitting two and two on the couches in the common room, and Mimi was gushing over Callie’s short, spiky hair and the multiple studs in each ear.
“It’s like so punk rock, you know. Do boys like that?”
Callie seemed mildly amused. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never asked them.”
“Do you think I’d look good with short hair?” Mimi pulled her hair up and bunched it against the back of her head.
“With your body, you’d look good bald,” Trish said, folding her arms across her stomach.
“Shut up,” Mimi said delightedly. She jumped up and bounded into the bedroom to look in a mirror. A few seconds passed, and then she called, “What’s everyone wearing to dinner tonight?”
Olivia threw a knowing smile at Trish and Callie. “Pretty spectacular, isn’t she?”
Callie rolled her eyes.
“I wasn’t planning to change,” Trish said, as Mimi walked back into the room.
Olivia feigned shock. “You’re going to wear jeans and an oversize Yale T-shirt? With all the cute boys here?”
From the Hardcover edition.