I shoved my plate toward her.
"So, you were a little rude there," she said, digging in with gusto.
"Well, unlike you my dear, I'm not here to meet hunky guys, and especially not ones who assaulted my hand in a handshake."
"Oh I'm sure it wasn't that bad."
"Seriously, he rubbed his thumb along my pulse point. Who doesn't know that's a date move only?" I griped, taking a slurp of my Diet Coke.
"You know, it might do Mr. Mountain Dreamboat some good if he thought you were dating."
"Car, he has enough on his plate, like learning to walk again. This isn't high school anymore, no games allowed. He either wants me or he doesn't," I said, taking another drink to try to remove the sudden lump in my throat.
Carol looked like she wanted to say more, but changed her mind and continued to eat the rest of my dinner.
I let my head fall forward onto my desk with a thud. The pain radiated across my forehead, but it didn't alleviate my aggravation at the statistics problems that openly mocked me. "Why the hell an art teacher needs to know the probability of an ace of hearts coming up out of a gazillion cards is beyond me," I grumbled to myself, slamming the book closed in frustration. I was definitely going to have to hit a tutoring session if I planned on passing this class.
"Shut down your laptop, chick-a-roo, we're going to a party," Carol said, breezing into our dorm room.
"I can't, Car, I have a term paper due in my Teaching in Diverse Populations class, and this freaking Statistics class will be the death of me," I said, pointing to my textbook, accusingly.
"Kim, you haven't been out since we got here. That's almost niiiine weeks," she said, dragging out the nine like it was a dirty word.
"Car, I don't feel like going out."
"Look Kim, I know you've gone through a lot, and I won't even pretend to understand what you went through, but honey, you have to move on. No offense, but Captain Dickhead is obviously too stupid to know what he's missing. Staying in the room pining for him every Friday night isn't doing you any good."
"Car," I said, sighing. I knew she was right. When September had slid into October without a word from Mason, I faced the harsh reality that our short time together had meant nothing to him.
"Come out with me, please. It's Halloween and one of the fraternities is throwing a huge costume party. I even bought you a mask," she said, holding up a cheapo paper Zorro mask.
I giggled looking at it. "Seriously?" I said as my giggles turned to laughter.
She smiled at me. "Actually, I bought you this one too, figuring you could pick," she said, holding up a plum-colored mask decked out in gems and feathers.
"Okay, but you better not leave me stranded while you and Chris make out in some dark corner."
"Chris is so old news. I'm going with Michael."
"Michael?" I asked, wracking my head for a recent mention of him. "Regardless, you better not leave me high and dry."
“I won't leave your side," she said, smiling at me mischievously. "Scouts honor," she added, seeing my skepticism.
"You weren't ever a scout," I pointed out, heading off to the bathroom to take a quick shower.
Carol's laughter followed me.
Two hours later I was standing alone against a wall watching the party unfold in front of me with Carol nowhere to be found. I was ready to wring her neck for leaving me in a crowd where I knew no one. Though I was seriously pissed at her, I couldn't help openly gawking at the people around me. To say that college students got into their costume parties would have been a gross understatement. Scantily dressed girls walked around in costumes, ranging from vampires to angels. The majority of the male population at the party had gone with the werewolf theme. I had lost count after like the twelfth one walked by my safe place. I felt out of place standing there by myself, clutching a solo cup of punch that some stranger in a werewolf mask had assured me would make me happy. By his staggering around, I was pretty convinced his idea of happy and mine were entirely different.
"I'm going to kill, Car," I mumbled to myself, setting down my full cup.
"Talking to yourself is never a good sign," a voice said from beside me.
Startled, I turned and found myself facing yet another werewolf.
"Seriously, did you guys get a group rate on costumes or something?" I said, snippily, knowing I sounded like a bitch, but I couldn't find the will to care. I was over the whole party scene.