A middle-aged, plain-looking policewoman guarded the crime scene and oversaw the students as they packed their belongings.
Out of view of the others, Ashley and Katelyn embraced in Katelyn’s room. They clung to one another with fierce determination and desperateness.
“What are we going to do if we get separated?” Ashley said a moment later, on the verge of tears.
“Hey now, babe, don’t cry,” Katelyn said gently. “If we can’t be in the same house, just remember that it’s only for a few more months. Meanwhile, we can still see each other after school, and probably even spend the nights together. There’s no rule that I know of forbidding us to crash in each other’s houses. Now you be strong for me and I’ll see what I can do to keep us together, okay?”
Reluctantly, Ashley nodded. “I guess I better get packing. Oh, and I told the detectives about what Rose did last night.”
“What did Rose do last night?”
Ashley glanced nervously towards the door. “I’ll tell you later.” She went to pack, leaving a curious Katelyn behind.
Ashley was packing up the last of her belongings when she heard Rose enter the house. Her body tensed. She heard her speak briefly with the policewoman, then head down to her room to pack up her own things. She didn’t glance into Ashley’s room as she passed by.
The four girls loaded their belongings, along with themselves, into the back of a pickup used by the campus maintenance. They were then driven to the administration building.
Although Ashley and Katelyn expressed their desire to reside in the same house, it was not to be.
“I can’t do that,” said the motherly administrator. “I’m sorry, but there just aren’t any houses with two rooms available. I feel for you girls and the predicament you’re in, really I do. Just be grateful that you’re all alive.”
“Well, if there’s anything to be grateful for,” Katelyn told Ashley while they awaited their rides to their new houses a short while later, “it’s that our houses will be within walking distance from each other. According to these papers, I’m in F4 facing north and you’re in G5 facing south. I can easily cut across the backyards to get to you, but you’ve got to promise me, Ashley, that you won’t go out alone.”
“I promise,” Ashley assured her. “I definitely promise. Going out alone around here is the last thing on my mind at this point, trust me.”
Nicolette nodded knowingly.
Rose sat stiff as a statue.
Not long afterward, they were driven to their new houses. Ashley was dropped off before Katelyn. Katelyn told the maintenance man that she’d help her carry her things.
The house’s layout was identical to the other one. This time around, she ended up in the room that was Rose’s in the other house.
The four other occupants awaited Ashley’s arrival, welcoming her with smiles. It turned out that Katelyn knew one of the girls, a rather chubby, plain-looking African-American girl named Lacretta, who was also gay. In the living room, they met the other three as well - bubbly blond Amy, quiet Asian Tina, and freckle-faced Margot. Ashley didn’t expect to see much of them.
“This is my girl, so look out for her when I’m not around, okay?” Katelyn told Lacretta with a friendly smile.
“Consider it done,” Lacretta assured her, “consider it done.”
Once her belongings were deposited in her room, they embraced in a quick, tight hug.
“I’ll be seeing you,” Katelyn said with a wink as she began to back out the door with her thumb raised. “Count on it, girl.”
They blew each other kisses and then Katelyn was gone, leaving Ashley to wonder why she felt so depressed and as if they’d parted for what would be a great distance and a great length of time.
As she slowly began to unpack, the others came in to offer her some homemade cookies.
“That’s really nice of you guys,” Ashley told them, “but I think I’d rather just unpack and do some studying till Katelyn comes for me.”
“Is she coming tonight?”
“Don’t know for sure.”
After they let her know that they added her name to the rotating chore schedule and informed her that she should use the bathroom between the two corner rooms, the one that had been Nicolette and Dalene’s in the other house, they left her alone with her thoughts.
She unpacked and tried to lose herself in her studies. However, that was easier said than done, as her thoughts would constantly wander to Katelyn, wishing they could be in the same house together. She wondered how she was and how she liked her new room and housemates. She knew it was only for a few more months, but a few months could be an awfully long time in an unpleasant situation.
She thought of Katelyn’s young, hard body. Her sexy smile, twinkling dark eyes so full of life and longed so desperately to taste her, to smell her, to feel her. In her mind, she could hear the sound of her cheerful voice, a voice filled with peace and happiness.
She wondered if she wasn’t somewhat addicted to or obsessed with Katelyn, but the feeling was so wonderful that she didn’t care either way.
But Katelyn never came for her that night. She called instead. They spoke for a few minutes, agreeing to meet for lunch the next day.
“Meet me in the parking lot by the houses,” Katelyn told her. “That way we can walk together to the place of your choice.”
The place of her choice was the Chinese restaurant. Ashley could enjoy it now that she had Katelyn to keep the counterman from gawking at her. He respected her in Katelyn’s presence, for the short, wiry man knew she could break him in half if she wanted to. If anything, he was quite polite.
“No one’s tried to attack you again lately, I hope,” he said with a smile that cool, cloudy afternoon.
“Fortunately not,” Ashley assured him as she and Katelyn placed their orders.
They settled in a secluded corner booth furthest from the counter and the other diners. The eatery was surprisingly dead, although Ashley and Katelyn appreciated this as they felt like they had a little more privacy that way.
Katelyn poured duck sauce over her chicken and rice as Ashley drove a fork into her shrimp and pork fried rice.
“I’m starving,” Katelyn said as she shoved a heaping forkful of food into her mouth.
“Me too,” Ashley agreed.
“Okay, so what did Rose do?”
“Something rather peculiar, that’s for sure.”
“And when was this, right before we moved?”
Ashley nodded. “At 2 AM the night before.” She then went on to tell her everything she heard and saw.
“How strange indeed,” Katelyn said with a thoughtful expression on her pretty face. She took a sip of her soda, and then set the cup down before saying, “You know, she sure is gone a lot.”
“Yes, she is.”
“And you have no idea where she goes?”
Ashley shook her head. “Nope. The few times I tried making conversation with the girl, she’d clam right up and give very vague answers to my questions.”
Katelyn chewed and swallowed a mouthful of food. “Think she was hiding anything?”
“I don’t know about that, but I definitely got the impression that she didn’t want to get into anything personal.”
The two ate in silence for a few minutes before Ashley spoke again. “At least we know Dalene’s not the killer now.”
Katelyn held her thoughtful expression. “And you said your attacker was heavy.”
Ashley dropped her fork and looked up at Katelyn. “No, it couldn’t be! I mean, Rose?”
“You never know.”
“But she seems so shy and so harmless.”
“So did Ted Bundy.”
Ashley digested the possibility of Rose being the killer as she chewed mechanically on her food. “So what do we do then?” she asked. “Tell the police we think she might be the killer?”
“You already told them what you saw, so if they have any common sense, they’ll focus on her a little more intently.”
“Let’s hope they have the common sense to do that then.”
“And be glad she’s not living with us anymore even if she wasn’t living with those who were killed before Dalene either,” Katelyn pointed out as her expression turned to that of a concerned one. “I can’t stress enough to you just how much I don’t want you to go out alone, Ash, and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it really could be Rose. She fits the profile. Just remember to never go out alone. Please. I’m begging you. Let me come and walk you over to my place.”
“You got it.”
“So how are you getting along with your roommates under the disturbing circumstances?” Katelyn asked, changing the subject.
“Okay, though I prefer to keep to myself. And you?”
“They’re okay. I’m with you, though, as far as keeping to myself. I did, however, tell them about you and I even described you too, so that if they see someone using the bathroom or getting a drink in the kitchen in the middle of the night, they’ll know who it is.”
“Is your place laid out the same, too?”
Katelyn nodded. “I’m in Nicolette’s room this time. Is your last class the same every day?”
Ashley nodded. “Expressive art. It’s a form of art therapy, I guess you could say.”
Katelyn smiled. “Where is it?”
“Okay, I know where that is. How about I pick you up after class each day, then we’ll stop by your place first to get whatever you need for the night?”
“Okay. I like that plan.”
Katelyn continued. “We’ll make that our routine. I’ll pick you up, we’ll go to your place for whatever you want to drop off or pick up, then you can spend the night with me. As soon as we get up, I’ll walk you to your place. It’ll only take a second since we’re so close. I can see your back door from mine what with the way the backs of our houses face one another.”
“Too bad we’re not in either your old room or Dalene’s. Then we could see each other from our windows.”
“Yeah, but it’s okay. This will work out well enough and we’ll spend so much time together that it won’t matter. Besides, we’ve got to remember and keep in mind the fact that it’s only temporary. Spring break will be here before you know it and so will graduation.”
“Spring break,” muttered Ashley, looking glumly at the few bites of food left on her plate. “I don’t even want to think about that.”
“Why’s that?” Katelyn asked curiously.
Ashley looked up at her. “Where am I going to go?”
“Don’t be silly, Ashley. You’ll go with me, of course. You think I’d leave you behind all alone in this place?” Katelyn asked incredulously.
Ashley smiled. “No, I guess you wouldn’t. I just hope I’m not imposing on you in any way.”
“You’re not. If anything, you’d be imposing on me if you didn’t go with me because I’d be so bummed out and worried about you.”
“In that case, I’d be honored to go with you.”
“Then it’s settled,” Katelyn said with a smile.
“Do your parents know I’ll be going home with you?”
“Sure do. They even brought it up before I did. ‘You tell that sweet girl she’s welcome to come home with you, they told me.’“
Later, Ashley was moaning with delight, savoring the heavenly sensations Katelyn was creating as her tongue darted in and out of her wet pussy only to do a mad dash up and down her throbbing clit a moment later. Katelyn slipped her index and middle fingers inside Ashley and began to lick and suck at her demanding clit at the same time, aware that she was about to slip over the edge of ecstasy.
“Faster! Harder!” Ashley begged with desperation thick in her voice. A few minutes later, Ashley achieved the sweet, wonderful relief she so desperately craved.
“Mmm, yummy,” said Katelyn, licking Ashley’s juices as she pulled herself up into a sitting position. “What a wonderful twenty-fourth birthday present you’ve been. Just as wonderful as my Valentine’s present.”
“And it’s not over yet. You’ve got another present coming to you,” said Ashley, sitting up and pulling her sleep shirt down over her thighs.
“I do? And what would that be?” asked Katelyn as she stood up to pull down her own sleep shirt.
“This,” said Ashley, rising to her feet and reaching for the duffel bag that she used as part of their after-school routine to cart her books and clothes to and from Katelyn’s.
Katelyn watched curious-eyed as Ashley pulled out a large manila envelope and handed it to Katelyn.
Katelyn took hold of it and pulled from it a package of patchouli incense. A wide grin spread across her face. “Oh, patchouli! I love that scent. It’s a good one. Thanks, Ash.”
“You’re very welcome, but you’re missing something, sweet stuff. Look inside the envelope.”
Katelyn did as she was told and pulled out an overly thick piece of paper, almost as thick as cardboard. Shock and delight suddenly filled her features. “My God, how beautiful! It looks just like us. I’ll treasure it forever,” she said with a smile, leaning towards Ashley for a kiss.
Ashley had done a charcoal drawing of them embracing each other with very happy and loving expressions on their faces. Various flower designs made up the background.
“I’m glad you like it,” Ashley told her.
“Like it? I love it! Wait till mom and dad see this. They’ll want to get it framed right away. You have such a magnificent talent, Ashley. You really do.”
Ashley smiled, touched by Katelyn’s words. Then suddenly, her body stiffened. “What’s that?” she asked in a hushed whisper.
“Oh, it’s probably just Mallory. She’s the girl across the hall from me. She goes outside to smoke since there’s a rule against smoking inside the houses.”
“Oh,” said Ashley, releasing a breath of anxiety.
“Relax, babe, you’re with me.”
Katelyn pulled a stick of incense from the package and lit it. After placing it in the burner that sat atop the desk, she sat back down on the bed next to Ashley and gathered her into her arms. They held each other awhile, simply enjoying the closeness of one another.
“You smell good,” Katelyn said.
Ashley chuckled. “I think you’re smelling the patchouli, Katelyn.”
“That smells good, too.”
They fell asleep in each other’s arms, content, relaxed, and happy.