tagNovels and NovellasAn Angel's Fix Pt. 04

An Angel's Fix Pt. 04

byphotodad©

It has long been said that time flies when you're having fun. It could not have been truer for Ashley. In the blink of an eye, Florida State's orientation was upon them. For the three girls who were attending, it was a blast. Well, at least it was outside of the obligatory campus tour guided by a grad student, who was "volunteered", or especially the security and health presentation. Who really wanted to know that the most "popular" STD on campus was genital warts? Aside from those too-much-info categories, Ashley enjoyed the orientation process.

A grad student sat next to Ashley and asked all the necessary information during the course selection counseling. At first, the name Ashley Smith flew right over the young woman's head. But when Ashley answered that she wanted to major in performing arts, it clicked. Her expression at first was of cynicism, as many students tried to get into their venerable College of Music, but only a fraction made it in. The acceptance level for the College of Visual Arts, Theater, and Dance was even more extreme in the diminutive. But quickly her face turned in surprise to recognition.

"The hair, the style, the poise...but the name only partially fits."

Ashley smiled. "I just got married."

"You were also known as Ashley Roberts?"

"Correct. That was my maiden name. See?" She pointed to the pack of school registration papers she just signed.

"So, rumors of you being a bit of a smart-ass are true."

Ashley chuckled. "Not so much. Wait. What rumors? I just got here."

"But, you're Ashley, the YouTube star. Aren't you?"

"I don't know about all that. I know of a couple videos that were taped while I was singing."

The grad student shook her head at Ashley's modesty. "So far, 10 different videos and several reposts...all of them going viral with tens of thousands of views each. The most recent was of you doing Sweet Child 'O Mine. My favorite two are of you singing Ashley's Song at that school, and your rendition of Nine Inch Nails."

Ashley let out a heavy sigh. "I wish I'd never done that version of Ashley's Song."

"Why? You're like sexy as hell in it. You rocked!"

"Yes, I know. I did it for Joe's benefit. Not my parents, who got to see it on the news that night."

"Ouch."

"No shit...anyway...what about my classes?"

The grad student looked down toward her assignment cheat sheet, but something caught her eye on the way. "Hey, isn't that Joe Smith, the quarterback who was going to come here? He looked so cute and hurt on TV when he announced that his parents died. I just wanted to cuddle and comfort him all night. Didn't you?"

Ashley started to get frustrated and slumped in her seat. She looked at her counselor's name tag. "Amy! If you don't focus, I'll have to ask for someone else to help me pick classes. Yes, that's Joe. I was at that press conference, just out of camera view. And I DID hold and comfort him for weeks. It might be part of why he MARRIED me this summer."

Amy still looked lost in dreamland. "I heard he's so smart, he could have gone to MIT."

Ashley sighed. "He is, they asked him to apply. But he didn't want to follow his dad's path. He wanted to play football here. When his folks died, it changed his mind about going pro. Amy, I'll tell you more later if you'd just either help me, or at least sign off on whatever I pick."

Amy turned to Ashley. "Really? You'd let me hang out with you?"

"Er...it'd be more like us hanging out with you. My friends and I don't know anyone here, other than Joe. From what I understand, the guys and girls are more or less separated from each other during orientation night."

"That's true. Less distractions and chances for unsavory news. But girl, you are so getting hooked up tonight."

"Erm, I hope that means favors and perks, not guys."

"Well yeah. I'll take you to Sorority Row. You'll even be able to go in my sorority house. Most of the recruiters show up at the dorm to plant seeds for Rush Week. But, no matter which one you choose, you'll be a shoo-in. I'll make sure of it. So, what were you thinking of taking your first semester?" Amy rushed this part to show Ashley she was getting back on track.

"I'm not too sure. There's a reason I'm not going to MIT...or Julliard for that matter."

Amy took the time to open Ashley's course catalog, and explained to her that no matter what happened, she should hang on to THIS copy. The requirements listed, and all notes made by her and future advisers would be honored come graduation, even if the requirements changed. She asked Ashley what her goal was, and Ashley stated that she wanted a degree in music and maybe dance. It was a similar type of answer many entering freshman gave. Amy shook her head, knowing how many grave and expensive mistakes were caused by such a response. She explained that by saying "I want a degree in..." she could and most likely would show the quickest route of courses to take in order to earn that degree. But, the danger was that the student didn't want those electives, would lose interest, therefore hate school and do poorly.

Amy asked why Ashley was there, as it was apparent that she could make at least a modest living by just riding the wave. Ashley said she wanted more than that. She wanted to create music, be better at performing, and improve her dancing. Amy congratulated her on a much better answer. Now, she could ask if Ashley was more interested in voice or instrument, and whether a degree in dance was a must-have. They went over the course requirements for a music performance degree, and Ashley's head swam.

"Holy fuck," she whispered.

Amy grinned. "Yes, the College of Music is large here, but very intense. That's why I asked if a dance degree was a must for you. If so, you won't leave before you're almost thirty, because doing these side-by-side is impossible. Majoring in Strings and Voice is possible, though not probable. There may not be enough hours in the day for you to sleep."

Ashley groaned. "I was thinking that I'd take all my liberal arts courses the first two years, and then take the music ones."

"You could, BUT declaring 'Undecided' your first two years would set you back another two years. When you decide to declare your music major at the end of your sophomore year, you'd pretty much be starting over, at least in time. Your math, sciences, and other state required courses would count, of course, but entrance into the College of Music is very competitive, and it requires certain courses to be completed in your first two years. Are you sure you still want to do this?"

"Absolutely."

Dinner in the student food court was the last time Ashley saw Joe that day. The night was fun, and took her mind off his absence. For orientation, the class was housed in Sally Hall, a twin tower dorm. Boys were assigned the east tower, girls stayed in the west. Sally Hall, also known as The Jail or Sally Hell, they found out from siblings of graduates, was set up as a suite dorm arrangement. Two students to a bedroom, four to a study, and eight shared a bathroom. The cinder block walls of the miniscule bedrooms, tile floor, thin rod bunk beds, and the institutional restroom, complete with shower curtains for stall doors all made the jail title very fitting. If Ashley were staying on campus, she'd rather deal with the distractions of a co-ed floor at Kellum where half the floor shared a large bathroom, than be boxed up in this place. But, this was temporary, and as the ladies finished arranging things from their suitcases, they started filtering into the hallway to mingle.

Ashley and Jill shared one bedroom, and Jasmine had the one next door. Her roommate for the night was a very inquisitive and spunky blonde. It was not long before Jasmine was in the other room, sitting next to Ashley on her bed. They had left the doors open, but hadn't ventured out yet as they were comparing notes from the day. The blonde came in to see where her "roomy" went, and ended up making herself at home on the other end of Jill's bed. She interrupted their conversation to find out how they knew each other, and Jill obliged with a simple explanation that they were friends from high school. It wasn't until Ashley was relating what all she had to take this semester that the girl finally put two and two together.

"Oh my God! You're Ashley Roberts!" she exclaimed, pointing a finger at the accused.

Ashley gave a polite smile and held up her hand to display her wedding band. "Ashley Smith, now."

A number of girls from the next study and just outside in the hallway scurried into their study to take a peek. Looking through the doorway, they could see the redhead giving a shy smile at them with a small wave. Some asked how she came up with Ashley's Song, and she related the tale. The girls did a string of self-introductions, and Ashley gave another wave, saying her own name, which gathered a lot of nervous giggles. She asked where everybody was from, and Jasmine laid back on Jill's bed. She knew this would be a while because as good as Ashley was at engaging crowds, crowds engaged Ashley. Jasmine wanted either of two things -- to stay in and just chat with her friends, or go out to see some of the nightlife. Option two would only happen if a university-approved sorority ambassador happened to invite specific girls out, and the first option was heading out the window since things were rolling toward a sing-along event.

Unknown to Jasmine, Ashley had texted Amy her room number after dinner. It was almost on cue when she showed up just as Jasmine's roommate requested Ashley sing her hit song. Ashley saw Amy and begged to give a rain check. She introduced Amy to the girls that now packed their room, study, and spilled into the hallway. Amy asked to speak to Ashley about class schedules, and most everybody took the hint. Jasmine's roommate finally got it when Amy gave her a cold shoulder, but Jasmine and Jill stayed put. Amy asked Ashley if she was ready to go and Ashley said only if Jill and Jasmine could go too. Amy agreed and waited for them to make a pit stop before heading out.

The hallway was quite busy now, as sorority officers were checking out the fresh blood coming into the school. The scene reminded Ashley of a courtship, although the lines were blurred as to who was the contestant and who was the prize. The recruiters sized up potential pledges, and would zero in on the promising ones. In turn, the new students would surround the recruiters the second they stopped to talk, trying to gain attention unto themselves. Their room was at the end of the hall, so Amy winked at a couple of her sisters and ducked out the fire exit. As they descended the eight flights from their top floor, Ashley asked why they didn't use the elevator. Amy asked if Ashley wanted to run that gauntlet, and the point was well taken. The scene on each floor was very similar, the high-pitched excited chatter spilling through the doors as they passed.

They headed south toward Sorority Row and Amy explained as they walked that the security speech earlier in the day was no joke. The campus is very open, and easily accessible from every side. FSU has a reputation for having a very friendly, very attractive, and very plentiful female population. In a way, it made the campus a target for sex crimes. Serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy had made a good portion of his notoriety from this campus, and a number of security features had been installed after that nightmare. Still, even though there were call boxes everywhere, better lighting, and a beefier campus police force, the one thing that made the place safer was training students to have a heightened awareness to what was going on around them. That part was easier now that the medical school had replaced the last patch of dark woods on the property.

Aside from the sober warnings, Amy was fun to be around. She was funny and intelligent, even if a little scatter-brained. Jasmine and Jill thought that she was a lot like Ashley in some ways, and they liked her immediately. Amy announced Sorority Row when they entered the street, and it looked more beautiful at night than the last time they visited during Joe's football game against Florida High.

Their time inside the house ended up being short-lived. The upperclassmen that had either stayed through the summer or returned early to start getting things set up were all very sweet and warm. Each was capable of gracing a magazine page, and the combined beauty in the room could make even the Pope reconsider his lifestyle choice. But, Ashley naturally put them at ease, and Jill exploited the relaxed talk to extract information. She had a way of using filters in her head to bore down and get to the real truth, and a few warning flags had raised in her head. Jasmine caught the look and touched Ashley's arm. She fibbed, saying that she wanted to visit another sorority that she was invited to at dinner before they had to be back. Numbers were exchanged, and they turned down Amy's offer of walking them back.

They left the house and Jasmine asked Jill what she thought. Jill said that the ladies were genuinely nice, but their recruiting was weighted heavily toward looks. No questions were asked of them relating to their majors or hobbies, and that's what set off the alarm in her head.

"It's a party house," Jill said. "Not like Animal House party, but underneath, they're definitely boy-crazy. That's all fine and dandy, but I got shit to do, and not enough time for that."

Ashley nodded, feeling the same way. They asked Jasmine where she was invited, but she said she made up the excuse, hoping for a way out and thought that mingling with their future classmates would be more fun. They were turning the corner to head north toward the dorms when a pleasant feminine voice called out to get their attention. They turned to see a bubbly, yet concerned, young lady jog toward them from the front of another southern mansion. She had guessed that they were new and asked what they were doing without a guide with them. They explained where they had been and that they had refused an escort. She smirked at the rival house's name and introduced herself as this year's president of her sorority. The girls braced themselves for a pitch, but instead, she said she would walk them back to the dorm so that campus police wouldn't harass them for being out without an escort.

As they walked, she offered nothing about her sorority, but asked all kinds of questions about them. When Jill baited her by mentioning Ashley's CD, she simply said that she thought one of her friends had bought one. The towers of their dorm came into view and Jill asked about her sorority. The escort said that they were about leadership, community, friendship, and had a healthy social life. The order of the answers prompted more questions from Jill and facts about dues, member responsibilities, and benefits of sisterhood were generously given. Jill was sold even before Jasmine got information about the numerous social and dating events, which were an inevitable part of any co-ed school. Glancing at Ashley's ring, the sorority president said that they did not exclude married pledges, although it had been some time since someone had entered as having been hitched.

Jill wanted to sign up when they got to the dorm, but was told that tonight was all about questions and answers on the school, and Greek life. No actual recruiting, or at least paperwork, could be done until rush week during the second week of school. She addressed the campus police officer stationed outside the dorm by first name and kissed him on the cheek, fibbing that the girls were with her. He smiled, nodded them inside, and said that he would see her later. They asked if she wanted to come up to their room, but she winked and with a nod toward the officer said that she had to get things ready for someone about to come off shift.

It was eleven when they returned and the crowds in the hallways had thinned out somewhat. Ashley decided to try the online registration from her phone, but the site stated prohibitively that class registration would open at midnight. She got the idea to try the backup phone system and gasped in surprise when it asked for her access code. She grabbed her trial schedule and punched in the ID numbers, gleefully hearing "confirmed" for each one. Quietly, she told Jill and Jasmine to try it, and they were successful as well. Jasmine clued in her roommate after she was done, but the loophole had closed. They chatted about nonsense until twelve, and Ashley tried the website again, to ensure her choices had stuck. The volume of students trying to get in jammed the connection, and she gave up after an hour and a half, occasionally hearing groans of disappointment and frustration down the hall and across the bathroom.

Ashley woke at five and unable to get back to sleep, she looked again to see if her selections were still in the system. The site popped right up, and everything was still in order -- each class also displaying the tag "full" beside "confirmed." She padded over next door and gently woke Jasmine's bunk mate, offering her the use of her phone to register. She took the opportunity to have a shower and get dressed for the day before the bathroom would have to be fought over. When she got out, the roommate thanked her and said that most of her first choices were taken, but she got a lot of second choices that she was happy with. Ashley laid back down in her room and sent a text to Joe in hopes of passing the time until the sun would start to light the windows. He was up, but said that he had a bad night. They switched to calling, and chatted about it for a while before Joe said that he was going to get ready and would see her downstairs before they headed to breakfast.

He held Ashley's butt when she jumped up and attacked him with kisses. Still holding Ashley off the ground, Jasmine kissed him on the lips and made way for Jill and Joe to kiss each other's cheek. The scene caught some stares and open mouths from some of the other freshmen filing past toward the student union. The rest of the morning was pretty boring, even though it was intended to be a pep rally of sorts to get the students excited about the fall term. A guidance session was offered for those who couldn't get their trial schedules to work out, but since all four got their choices, they picked up their confirmations and were released.

Kim was interested in their stories at lunch, but insanely jealous. The community college orientation was a handful of small assemblies where packets of information were handed out. Her course choices were straightforward as her only request to the counselor was that she obtain an AA degree in the fastest manner possible so she could join her friends at the university. The sororities sounded fun, and she wished she could have hung out on campus. But when Joe told his story, she was heartbroken.

For him, everything was fun as well, right up to the part when the frat recruiters arrived. One of them recognized him from the campus paper last fall when it did a story on the top football recruit playing at the on-campus high school game. It pitched Joe as the possible savior to the university's quarterback troubles. But then, a second article in the winter announced that Joe had changed his mind, electing not to play football at all. He ribbed Joe about not hacking it, the ribbing turned to taunts, taunts into harassment from a number of recruiters and students alike. The junior also said that Joe's girlfriend at the time was hot and crudely said that maybe he would show her real pleasure. Joe had made a fist to show his wedding band and said that Ashley was now his wife. Things appeared headed to a physical fight, and the floor moderator ended up calling police. An officer showed up and his presence alone made the provokers back off. Joe ended up camping out in his room, reading news on the netbook computer he brought.

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