Judy pressed the red raid button and hoped she hadn’t misjudged her opponent in this stupid online game. She only needed five more valor points to make the next level, and the battery on her tablet was flashing a 20 percent warning.
“What the hell are you doing?” Meg, her roommate of four years, stood in skimpy workout shorts and glared from the doorway.
“Avoiding!” Damn it, her math was off and the raid failed, putting her behind for at least half an hour. “Stupid game.”
Meg tossed her gym bag on the floor and moved into the small kitchen they shared in the off-campus apartment. “You told me you weren’t joining hell with me because you needed to study. I walk in . . . and what do I see? You, on that waste-of-time game and not studying.”
“I needed a break.” Hell was their code word for James and his boot camp workout at the local gym. James constructed his workouts in a series of obstacles that worked every possible muscle in the human body . . . hence the term hell. It was H. E. double L. when you couldn’t sit in a chair or on the toilet without cursing James. Yet they went back day after day.
Not today . . . at least for Judy. Her take-home final for advanced architectural design was kicking her ass. So what that it was due tomorrow at seven in the morning. Or that she’d all but told herself she was a fool for adding an additional major to her senior year. Who cared that she’d tossed fifteen thousand dollars onto her student loans? So what!
She buried her head in her hands. “I’m screwed.”
“You’re fine.” Meg kicked the refrigerator door closed, a cold water bottle clenched in her hand.
“I suck. The design I’m working on doesn’t make any sense. There’s nothing dynamic about it . . . nothing that says ‘I’m the best structure in the world, build me,’ nothing.”
Meg waved away Judy’s concern. “You’re overthinking it. Stressed. What you need is a night out and a good lay.”
Judy rolled her eyes. “It’s due tomorrow, Meg, I don’t have time for a quick anything.” Besides, she’d given up the quick mean-nothing guys in her junior year. Even the young, attractive professors seemed less interesting since . . .
Since . . .
“Well, you need to do something to relax,” Meg told her. “You’re all clogged up.” Meg always said things like that. Her parents were throwbacks from the late sixties, early seventies. They had Meg late in life and were completely burnt when they conceived. Hence, Meg’s free feeling about sex and screw the establishment agenda. It was amazing she’d made it through a formal education. Yeah, she was leaving the University of Washington with a degree in business, but just barely.
The fact that Meg studied business had confused Judy when they first met. Meg seemed much more likely to major in art. According to Meg, students graduating with an art major waited tables their entire lives and seldom had any security when they grew old. Judy still questioned if Meg would be happy in any business setting. Time would tell.
Judy had finished her business requirements early in an effort to tack on architectural design as a second major. Her father wasn’t happy but couldn’t bitch a whole lot when he learned that Judy had taken online courses during the regular school year as well as her last summer to complete what she needed in order to graduate with a double major.
Only now, she was sitting in her apartment playing stupid online war games and avoiding her final.
“Some of us are getting together at Bergies. A drink could clear your head.”
Judy tossed aside the tablet that housed her video games, her e-mail, her life . . . and stood. “I need to shower first.”
“I’m on assignment,” Rick whispered to himself once he hit the campus of the University of Washington. Didn’t matter that he’d started his trek en route to Boise State, the college where Karen had told him Judy studied. He only wasted one plane ticket to the wrong destination.
He scouted the auditorium where graduation ceremonies would take place . . . looked at the location he’d been told the VIPs were going to stand while they watched their sons, daughters, or in this case, sisters, walk.
Michael Wolfe, the celebrity and friend Rick was there to protect, was the Elvis of modern film . . . minus the guitar and voice. Michael’s entire family—parents, siblings, and even his ex-wife—would be present for Judy’s graduation. The paparazzi were the most likely obstacle to overcome, but Rick knew he couldn’t be too cautious.
He envisioned the tiny pixie that had held adventure and fire in her blood, and smiled.
The arena was fine, he decided. Two main exits were the only places the media could breach. It would take less than three men to manage, and Michael and his family could watch Judy’s graduation in peace. On second thought . . . maybe he’d add a fourth man to the job so he could watch Judy graduate.
“Does everything meet with your approval, Mr. Evans?”
Rick had nearly forgotten about the administrator of campus security who had joined him.
“How much security do you have on hand on graduation day?”
“A dozen are scheduled.”
“Trusted? None can be bought . . . right?” It wouldn’t be the first time a security guard earned a quick buck by letting the media slip in.
“Of course.” Pete, the head of security, looked offended.
“So, where do the graduating seniors hang out two weeks before graduation?”