Chapter One

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Procrastination was not something I was used to. But I had unfortunately procrastinated myself into an overwhelming problem—a real, what the hell am I going to do type of situation.

Michigan State University was too far from home to commute to daily. The distance from home would generally be ideal; it was one reason I had picked MSU. It was just shy of twelve hours of driving. I could be home in a day but not be too tempted to run to the comfort of home every weekend.

The downside of all of this was I knew no one in East Lansing that I could bum a room off of for a little while. Homeless was what I would be in a few short weeks. And there was no way I would be staying in Durham when college started.

I desperately posted my name, sex, age, and degree on www.findmyroomie.com.

Ren Renner, F, 18, Undecided

I was looking for any open room; from anyone. At this point, I think I would share a bathroom with an accused murderer, as long as I had a room to stay in.

The website had asked for a description of myself. I skimmed some of the other postings trying to find some insight. The other bios ranged from a few sentences to paragraphs, some going into extreme detail about their daily living schedules; and their typical routines.

I decided to go for short, simple, and sweet, just like me.

Tidy, polite, and great cook.

The great cook part was a stretch, but with busy parents and a brother five years older, I had learned to cook on my own. My style of cooking was I did what I wanted and hoped it turned out.

When my sixteenth birthday rolled around, my mother started traveling with my dad for work. It seemed to help their marriage life, and I never complained about it.

All for the greater good is what I had kept telling myself.

Ryan, my boyfriend, at the time, had the empty house all to ourselves. My mother had sat me down after the third time of her traveling with my father and said, "Renee, your father and I will trust you until you give us a reason not to trust you." And in their minds, I never gave them a reason not to be left alone in their house with my boyfriend. Even though there were times I prayed she wouldn't leave me behind.

My parents had been happy with me or had not complained about me until the end of my Senior year.

According to my father, who had not once asked me where I would be attending school. To him the plan would be to enroll at Duke University. Where he is both alumni and high profile, faculty member.

I had applied to multiple universities and was accepted into all of them but two, Yale and Harvard. They were my long shots that my guidance counselor Mrs. Finch had pushed me into.

After taking a weekend road trip, Michigan State became the front runner, a road trip that my parents still did not know about. I had taken a very brief tour of the campus, but I fell in love with it that weekend. I had searched for pictures, blogs, and visited some of the other colleges on my list. Still, there was something about Michigan State that kept pulling me back to it. In the end, my father blamed my mother, who was a proud Michigan State alumni.

"Sweetie, I don't know if you will be able to handle Michigan's winters." My mother said she was packing my long sleeve shirts in another box; she had let it be known I would need everyone I could bring.

I shrugged, knowing all too well what she was doing: trying to keep me at home; this was really rich since she and my father were never home.

"I'll live near campus. It will be fine." was my response, and then I quickly changed the subject. My mind was made up, and I was not changing it.

If only I could have inserted my foot into my mouth.

My parents did not know that I had not found a dorm yet. Keeping things from them was my specialty after years of practice.

My father would have insisted that I enroll at Duke and forget about second rate Michigan State. "Second Rate Michigan State" had become his new slogan any time he had seen me. At first, I laughed, finding it kind of funny; it was a catchy saying. By the twentieth time, I started avoiding my dad as much as I could.

Within an hour after posting on the rooming website, my prayers had been answered. A Melissa Baer had seen my post and must have been impressed with my straightforward sentence. She had picked me over the other hundreds who had posted. The great cook bit must have won her over.

Melissa Baer, F, 20, Accounting:

Looking for one roommate must be tidy.

Ok, so the tidy part must have won out over the cooking....

It was settled; I would be moving to East Lansing. The sigh of relief I let out in my bedroom in Durham may have been heard in Michigan. From the map she had sent me, it looked as if the house was practically on campus. Another perk, everything was starting to fall into place.

Procrastination, Zero, Renee, One.

My mother helped me load my dependable, fully loaded Range Rover. My father had upgraded me to that from a Camry as a graduation present. He was reluctant to give it to me after finding out about my college choice.

I had decided to drop the bomb on my parents when we were out to eat at my celebratory luncheon after graduation. My father's face was a shade of red from anger for a whole week.

"If you would have picked Duke, I could have been there." My father had said the night before I was to leave. We were eating take out that my mom had picked up on her way home. It was from my favorite Mexican place in town, El Azteca. My mother dabbed at her eyes, telling my father to stop; she was having a more challenging time with my moving out than him. She had promised she would come and visit in a few weeks; my father stayed tight-lipped after that.

The following evening, I pulled up to the address Melissa had sent me. I rechecked the address twice before putting  it into my phone's GPS app. The house was massive and in a wealthy neighborhood and just a couple blocks away from campus.

Melissa had sent me pictures of the room that would be mine, my bathroom, and the decent-sized kitchen I would share with her.

Now, standing outside on the sidewalk in front of the house, it looked similar to the house I lived in back home: a mansion.

How in the world could an accountant major in college afford this house?

I knocked on the door, with the old fashioned gold door knocker that hung on it. Melissa said she should be home when I got in.

It was close to eight o'clock, and I wish I had left an hour earlier.

I rang the doorbell next, but no one came to the door.

My fingers fumbled out a text to Melissa, asking if I had the right address; she replied yes and that she was running behind and would be there shortly.

There was noise coming from the backyard, and I followed it around to the back of the house.

Flipping kidding me.

In the backyard sat a full size regulated basketball court.

There was one player on the court, basketball shorts on, no shirt, a sheen of sweat laid across his abs. Wireless headphones were placed in his ears; he had not heard me approached. I watched as he bounced the ball twice, spun it once in his hands, and then lined up and took the shot; his follow-through was as dramatic as a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. The ball sailed through the air, swishing right through the net. My eyes follow him as he gets the ball and lines up again; he does it over a dozen times and does not miss a single basket, not one. Completely flawless... his shooting was, along with his six-pack of abs. There was something about him that seemed familiar.

I am still standing between the house and the court, I take a step to turn around, and my movement draws his attention to me. He pulls one of the buds out of his ears, holding onto it.

When he is facing me full-on, it hits me.

Shit.



Authors Note: Thank you for all the votes and comments thus far. Please let me know what you think of it so far!

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