Chapter One „Oh, hi. You must be here for the room? I’m Mary.” “Uh-huh.” First impression: very rude. Sandy pushed through the door and straight past Mary. Dragging her mud-caked sneakers over the carpet, tossing her jacket into the corner, she entered Mary’s apartment and her life. “You must be Sandy?” Mary continued, determined to hold on to civility. She liked keeping her place tidy. She picked up the jacket, got a hanger, and looked at the other girl’s ample frame, the sweaty t-shirt, torn jeans, gorgeous round ass cheeks. Wait, what was she thinking? “Um, so nice to meet you.” Sandy snapped her gum in response and started opening doors. “Please let me show you around.” Mary tried to catch up. “This would be your room, I guess, if I, ah, if you do rent the room, I mean. You see there’s a bed and cupboard; if you have any furniture of your own ¬–“ But Sandy had already turned around and pushed Mary out of the way again. “The bathroom’s over there – ah, and that’s my room. Um, sure, feel free to look around.” Following Sandy’s muddy footsteps, Mary walked into her own room. Sandy had thrown herself on the bed feet first, and was leafing through the Austen she had found on Mary’s bedside table. “And then there’s the kitchen, large and sunny, with a dining table…” Mary’s voice trailed off as she watched Sandy tear a page out of the novel, wrap her gum inside, and toss the package on the floor. Mary could hardly believe her eyes. She suddenly noticed she was trembling. “Aren’t you going to pick it up?” That was the first time Sandy had spoken. She was grinning at Mary, mischievous small green eyes sparkling, nostrils flaring. Her shortish blond hair was oily. She’s so beautiful, Mary caught herself thinking, inexplicably. Did Sandy really expect her to clean up her gum? “Um, sure.” Mary mumbled and picked up the soggy thing. “Good!” Sandy crowed, wiping her shoes against Mary’s pillow. “I see we’re going to have fun! I’ve been looking for someone like you for weeks.” Mary suddenly realised that she had to get Sandy to leave right now, if there was going to be any hope for her. She was looking from Sandy’s large round breasts to the dirt on the sheets and back, feeling like a very small rabbit falling in love with a snake. This was ridiculous. Sandy was acting outrageously. Mary could not accept that behaviour from any guest – certainly, this couldn’t be a suitable roommate! “Um, so do you like the room – ah, I mean this room? The other room? Sorry.” Mary blushed. Sandy giggled briefly. It was the first time Mary heard that sound. “Yeah, the rooms are ok, I guess.” “Look –” Mary started again. This was madness; she desperately had to get back to normality. She knew that this was her last chance. What she said next counted. She watched Sandy get a new wad of gum out of her pocket. Those green eyes were watching her back, closely. Very slowly, Sandy pressed her heels against the pillow and slipped out of her sneakers. First one, then the other, tumbling down on the floor. Mary gulped. She felt hot. Sandy’s grin grew broader. She popped in the gum and started chewing again, loudly, her mouth wide open. The doorbell rang. At first, Mary could not imagine why. Then she realised. “Oh,” she said, and once again: “Sorry.” She went back to the door. “Hello, I’m Robin.” The girl outside smiled. “Are you Mary? It is so nice to meet you.” “Hello, Robin.” Mary’s voice sounded unfamiliar. The girl outside seemed really sweet. “We e-mailed? I really liked the sound of your ad, it sounded so friendly. And I do like cooking together!” There was a splintering sound from inside. “Um, sorry, getting ahead of myself.” Robin smiled again. “May I come in?” Mary thought: she would have been nice. “Hey, Mary?” Sandy shouted from inside. “I broke your vase. You need to come in here and clean it up!” And that was that. “I’m sorry,” Mary said, quietly. Something stung in her eyes. “The room is taken.” She closed the door on Robin. “Hurry up!” Sandy shouted. Mary went back to her old bedroom, got down on her knees, and started cleaning after Sandy.