“Did you get copies of your transcript, Alex?” Angela Slagle’s lips formed a tight line as she finished the question.

“Yes, I got them, mother,” Alex replied, well aware that her mother was unhappy with her.

“It’s very disappointing that you’re so intent on doing this.” Her voice was low and almost menacing as she confronted her daughter.

“It wasn’t me who decided to move to Florida, Mother.” Lately, Alex was beginning to stand up to her mother. She knew now that many of the rules and disciplines her mother and father had enforced were, as far as Alex was concerned, totally unreasonable. At an earlier age, she was unable and unwilling to rebel or resist, but now she was eighteen and much stronger-willed than she had been.

“Don’t you dare get smart with me, Alex? I’m still your mother.”

“I know, and I’m your daughter, and always will be. But I’m eighteen now, and, in the eyes of the world, I’m an adult.”

“Just because you’re eighteen doesn’t mean you know all you need to know to get by in that world.”

Alex wanted to reply that she didn’t know those things because her parents had so sheltered and controlled her that she hadn’t been allowed to learn the things she needed. That was about to change, though.

“I’ll learn a lot of it at college, I’m sure, Mother.”

Alex received a cold stare from her mother. “I’m afraid you’ll learn mostly the wrong things, Alex. That’s why I want you in Florida with us, so we can be sure of what you’re learning.” Her attempt at a smile was weak and awkward.

Alex eyed her mother, realizing that if she went to Florida with her parents and did her college there, she’d learn math and English, but not what she was anxious to learn and the things she wanted to experience. That’s why she was nearly defying her parents, insisting on staying in Ohio and going to school there. There was one thing in particular that she wanted to learn, experience, whatever, even though it terrified her even to consider it.

“I still don’t know how you’re going to manage staying here. It’s so expensive,” Angela said, shaking her head.

“You guys are paying the tuition, and I’ve been saving. Plus, now that I’m eighteen, I can use the money grandpa left me.” She’d been watching that money grow over the years and was anxious to use it. She was also sure that her parents had no idea how much was in the account. Her grandpa had set it up that way purposely. And this was her chance. She didn’t want to live in a dorm, much to her parent’s chagrin. She wanted an apartment and might be willing to have a roommate if she had to. It was a small price to pay for the freedom she was longing for. Plus, it might be fun to have someone else around to talk to. She’d been denied that as an only child.

“I just worry, Alex. This is such a change for you, honey.” Her mother’s tone was mellowing.

“I know, Mom. You just have to trust that you’ve raised me right and that I’ll be fine.” She sent a big smile toward her mother.

Angela sighed. “I hope so,” she said, a certain lack of confidence in her voice.

Alex was a little surprised at this reaction, as she thought her mother would have had more conviction that the eighteen years of parenting they’d completed had accomplished what they hoped for. They had certainly been able to keep her mostly in the dark about most of the “other side of life,” as her mom liked to call it. Despite her parents’ many cautions, she was anxious to do at least a little exploration into that “other side.” Her parents would be moving before school started, so she’d be on her own early, a couple of weeks before school began. Her mother insisted on helping her find an apartment, and she had no way to refuse that and was comfortable with her helping since she’d be leaving soon.

They found a place that Angela thought would be acceptable, given that Alex patently refused to live in a dorm. Thankfully, Alex liked it as well and was anxious to move in. The apartment was one of the center units in a four-unit flat. It had two bedrooms, a living room, a small eating area, and, of course, an equally small kitchen and bathroom. The rent was a little higher due to the two bedrooms, but she could more than offset that by splitting the cost with a roommate.

Almost before Alex was ready, her parents had left, and she had moved into the apartment. She was registered for her classes, had her books and supplies … everything but a roommate.

Two weeks to go.

She printed several notices and posted them on bulletin boards around the campus. She was nervous since she needed the roommate and their money to afford the apartment — at least without diving too heavily into her grandpa’s money. If she had to give up and move to a dorm, it would be a defeat in the first thing she had done as an adult, and that wasn’t going to happen. That just couldn’t happen. But, so far, she had no responses to her notices.

The one luxury she’d allowed herself was cable TV. It also included the internet, which she needed for school. She was flipping through the mostly useless channels when there was a knock on the door. She opened it to see a tall, relatively handsome, youngish-looking male, his face changing from a smile to a look of puzzlement.

He coughed nervously and said, “Oops.”

Alex raised her eyebrows. “Oops?” she questioned.

“Oh, sorry,” he continued. “I was, um, responding to the paper on the bulletin board about a roommate. It said to see Alex.”

“I’m Alex,” she said with mixed emotions.

“You’re Alex? Guess I’ll try again,” he said despondently and turned to leave.

“Wait.” Was she really going to do what had just popped into her mind?

He stopped.

“Are you having trouble finding an apartment?”

“Sure am. Everything is filled, and I don’t want to live in a dorm.”

Alex smiled. “Same here,” she said, biting her lower lip. She took a deep breath. “I need a roommate. You’re looking for a place to stay.” She ended with a questioning look on her face.

He looked at Alex, then sort of shook his head. “But you’re a girl,” he said softly.

Alex giggled. “I know,” she replied, “but we’re both desperate. Do you think we could try this, you living here, with me, while you look for something else?” She felt her cheeks reddening and couldn’t believe she’d said that, knowing her mother would be having a cerebral hemorrhage if she’d heard the words. But, she’d said them, and it was now up to … “What’s your name?” she added nervously.

“Jamie, I’m Jamie,” he sputtered out, looking at this girl who had just invited him to live with her. She was youngish-looking but pretty. Reasonably tall, but with the sweatpants and sweatshirt she was wearing, he couldn’t tell much else about her except for the long and disarranged brunette hair and the brown eyes that were looking at him, waiting for an answer. For him, who had had only two dates in his life, this was like a fantasy waiting to happen. Finally, his Adam’s apple bobbing, he said, “Yeah, I’m okay with it if you’re sure you are.”

It was now or never. “No reflection on you, but I don’t have a lot of choices if I don’t want to bankrupt myself.”

Jamie laughed a little nervously. “I, um, have my things in the car. Should I just, well, move in right now?”

“If not, you’ll be staying in your car tonight, right?”

He shrugged. “Yeah.”

Taken aback by what was happening so quickly, Alex looked into the apartment, checking things out as if a little mess would keep Jamie from moving in.

“Sure, bring it in,” she said. “Can I help you carry something?”

“You don’t have to do that. I can get it.”

Alex still followed him to his car, an older model that she wasn’t sure she recognized. It was full of bags and boxes and miscellaneous items scattered on the floor of the back seat.

“Sorry, it’s such a mess,” he apologized.

“As of two minutes ago, we’re roommates, and we’ll get used to seeing each other’s messes,” Alex said with a laugh.

Jamie’s body warmed when she said “roommates,” as that thought was finally working its way into his brain. Also, he liked the sound of her laugh… and her voice. He was going to be rooming, living with, … a girl. Thoughts were racing through his mind at breakneck speed, and he hoped he’d be able to handle them all. He certainly hadn’t prepared himself for this and would have to learn to handle it day by day. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to talk to her without stammering.

Alex grabbed a couple of bags and followed Jamie toward the apartment, sizing him up as she walked. He was three or four inches taller than she was, solidly built with reddish hair and a few freckles. He came across as very, very shy, which made her much more comfortable as it closely matched her own demeanor. She hoped they weren’t both so shy they’d not be able to talk together but doubted that would be the case.

Since Alex had already been living in the apartment, Jamie took the empty bedroom. Like hers, it had a twin bed, a small closet, and two dressers with four drawers each. He looked around.

“I, um, I think what I have should fit in here.”

They made a second trip to the car with Jamie telling her once again that she didn’t have to help.

She decided to say something.

“Look, you don’t have to treat me like a girl, being so polite and all. We’re just roommates now, and we’ll share what needs to be done. Sound okay?”

“Sure,” he replied, watching Alex as she stretched into the back seat to get a couple of bags. Seeing her butt stuck out toward him, even in the sweatpants, he knew he wasn’t about to forget she was a girl. This was going to be an exciting time; he could sense that.


Alex sat on the old couch in the living room, watching through Jamie’s bedroom door, as he unloaded his bags and boxes and stashed everything away. She was too far away to see clearly, of course, but it didn’t seem that he had many clothes, and what he did have were quickly put away and out of sight. When he was finished, he came to the living room, glanced at Alex and the couch, then went to the overstuffed chair and sat down.

“Thank you so much,” she said sincerely. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. Looks like it’s a good thing we got together,” she replied to a nod from Jamie. They talked about the rent, and he was more than happy as his share was less than he’d been planning to spend. “I just thought of something,” Alex said. “I don’t know about you, but my parents would have a seizure if they knew you were my roommate.”

“Yeah, it’s, um, a little different for a guy, I guess, but my mom would think I’m some kind of a pervert, rooming with a girl.”

“But here’s the good news, if there is any,” she laughed. “I’m Alex, and you can tell that to your mom, and she’ll think …” She raised her eyebrows.

“Yeah, cool. Sounds like a guy.” Jamie had a delighted smile.

“And you, Jamie. My parents will be satisfied with that name.”

This odd arrangement was working out better than either could have planned. And, already, Alex was beginning to think of something else. If she was going to rebel and learn about that “other side of life,” this might help that happen. But, too early to be thinking that way just yet.

They discussed class schedules since they could impact the bathroom schedule. Alex had an eight o’clock every day while Jamie’s earliest was ten. They both had a three o’clock, so they’d be getting home at the same time, which could make dinner much simpler. And, they spent a good bit of time talking about dinner and how that was going to work. Alex’s mother had dutifully taught her daughter all she’d known about cooking, and, surprisingly, Jamie had helped his single mother with the cooking too.

“Are you a neatnik,” Jamie asked suddenly.

The question took Alex by surprise. “A little bit, I guess,” she answered, chuckling.

“Good,” he said decisively. “I’m not, but I need to be. At least better than I am. This may help.

The next morning, Alex was up early and took her shower, checking to be sure the bathroom door locked securely. When she was finished, she put on her robe, tied it tightly, and hurried back to her room to dress. There was no lock on the bedroom door, but she wasn’t worried about Jamie barging in there. She dressed, grabbed a light breakfast, and was off, walking the several blocks to campus. She intended to get off to a good start in college and was early for every class. She’d decided to wear shoes that looked nice but would be comfortable.

She quickly discovered her assumption was only half correct. She did look nice, but by the end of her day, she was miserable, almost limping by the time she returned to the apartment. Jamie was already there, lounging on the couch. As she came through the door, Jamie turned to say hello and started.

“What’s wrong?”

“My feet,” she said, her pain obvious in her voice.

“Sit here,” he said, jumping up.

Alex sat down and carefully removed her shoes, tossing them away.

“Stupid choice,” she said, disgust in her voice.

Jamie watched her, the expression on his face changing. He was obviously debating with himself about something. Finally, his lips pursed, he decided.

“I have an older sister,” he began as Alex raised her head to look at him.

Where was he going with that?

He took a deep breath and continued. “She had, um, lots of foot problems, with her arches … and other stuff, too.”

As he took another deep breath, Alex continued wondering where he was headed.

“I got really good at giving her, um, well, foot massages. She got so she loved them.” He paused for a second, watching Alex’s eyes widen, his nervousness evident. “I’d, well, you know, be happy to do the same for you.”

Alex’s cheeKs reddened in unison with Jamie’s. Had he actually offered to give her a foot massage? His red face was a little reassuring as she decided he wasn’t hitting on her. It was still far outside of what she could imagine. But, she was experiencing something entirely new to her. The idea of Jamie giving her a foot massage was affecting her heart rate and her breathing. The only thing she could possibly tie it to was her recently begun exploration of porn on the internet.

“Thank you, Jamie, but I couldn’t ask you to do that.” As she said that, she felt her cheeks redden even more, barely keeping pace with his. She had said it but wasn’t sure she meant it.

“You didn’t ask; I volunteered.”

“I know, but still.”

“We’re roommates, and I can help out.” He wasn’t going to let it go.

Now Alex was torn. Her feet were hurting, and this guy she had just met yesterday was offering to make them feel better. They were roommates, if awkwardly so. Maybe she needed to relax and let the feelings she was experiencing lead her.

“You sure?”

Jame quickly sat down on the other end of the couch and looked at Alex.

The moment was here. Could she put her feet in … in Jamie’s lap? She’d never done that with any boy. She’d never done much of anything with any boy. It seemed so … intimate was the word that came to mind. Jamie was watching … and waiting. She decided and lifted her right foot and carefully laid it in his lap.

“Probably stink,” she said with a nervous giggle, hoping it wasn’t true.

“I doubt it.”

He watched the second foot settle into his lap. Carefully, Jamie lifted one foot and began to massage the sole, noticing that his heart was beating harder than it had been just a minute ago. Her feet seemed much softer than his sister’s had been. Added to that, her tight pants ended just below her knees, and her calves were at least partially on his lap as well. He continued to massage, moving from heel to arch, to the ball of her foot, and finally to her toes. He was switching feet periodically and enjoying every second of what he was doing.

Alex was certainly not his sister.

Alex watched as Jamie worked on her feet, amazed at how satisfying it was. The pain was nearly gone, and she began to observe Jamie. She was sure his shyness matched her own. But she wondered where that shyness had come from, as he was certainly what she’d consider handsome, a word she used sparingly. He wasn’t athletic but seemed fit, probably from doing hard work. By this time, the massage had gotten so enjoyable that she wondered and hoped it could happen again in the future. In the meantime, she’d enjoy the sensations that were flooding her body.

“Is it helping?” he asked, interrupting her reverie.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” Alex replied, much more enthusiastically than she had intended, and she felt the heat in her cheeks once more. “I mean,” she stammered, “it’s really helped. My feet feel great.”

“Good,” Jamie said, his mind perfectly in agreement with Alex that her feet felt great.

“I need to do something to make this up to you,” Alex said, already feeling more comfortable with her extraordinary roommate. As she said it, she prayed she had evaluated Jamie and his shyness correctly as she was giving him the opportunity to embarrass her horribly.

“How about you cook dinner tonight, and I’ll do tomorrow?” he said, a big smile on his face.

Alex breathed a silent sigh of relief. “Deal,” she said, noticing that Jamie was still holding one of her feet. “First things first, though. We better get some food.”

Jamie chuckled. “Good idea.”

Alex gently tugged her foot, and Jamie released it, a self-conscious look on his face. But she enjoyed that he held onto her foot after the massage had ended.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“No apologies. Thank you for that unexpected surprise. I was in misery, and now I feel great.” And excited she thought.

“That’s great, then, but if you want, I’ll run to the store, and you can rest here.”

“I’ve got some Nikes, and I’ll be fine with them as long as you drive. I’ll be right back.”

As she lowered her feet and rolled off the couch, her short, light-weight sweatshirt rode up her back far enough to reveal the bottom of her bra strap. Jamie marveled at the pale purity and smoothness of her skin. He’d seen girls in bathing suits and other skimpy clothing, but this was different, seeing this girl in this place. He determined at that moment that Alex was a beautiful girl.

Alex quickly resettled her shirt, not looking at Jamie. She vowed to be more careful about that in the future, at the same time realizing that there was a high probability of other accidental exposures over the school year. Coupled with that, she wondered what it would be like if Jamie saw a little more of her than an accidental peek at her back. She knew it was the erotic stories she was reading at the website she had stumbled across. “Erotic” was a word she’d never heard spoken in her house—she’d looked it up to be sure she understood it, even if she never spoke it. And it all fit in with learning about the “other side” of life.

And Jamie, despite his shyness, was hopeful that another foot massage might be in order.


Shopping at the grocery store was an interesting experience indeed. After ten minutes, they vowed to never do it again without making a list. Jamie pushed the cart, and Alex gathered the things she thought they’d need. It was a unique experience for her. They’d known each other for just a couple of days, but here they were, shopping like a married couple might do. What other similar experiences were in store for her?