“Hell, no,” Scott said under his breath.
He jammed the key back into the lock and cranked on it with more force. If Mandy had given him the wrong key, he couldn’t be held responsible for what he did when he got back to the hotel. Things were getting way too high maintenance, and after this “pregnancy” charade was played out, he would be taking a hard, serious look at his options. No one ever said anything about having a baby.
“Come on,” he hissed. The key threatened to bend under the pressure as he bore down harder. “Turn, you son-of-a—”
The lock spun and the door swung open. He jerked back a step, half-expecting something or someone to come rushing out, but there was only the shadow of the door.
“I’m not a murderer,” he said loudly. Mandy kept a roommate and the last thing he needed was to get clocked by a baseball bat. “Mandy gave me her key. I’m just here to get something for her.”
He lingered in the hallway, wanting nothing more than to turn around and forget the whole thing. All their time was spent at the hotel, and that was exactly the way he wanted it. But this was different. This was Mandy’s life: the place she slept and ate. When you started going to a girl’s apartment it made things more personal, and he had no interest in that. It wasn’t like he was going to hang out there with her or spend the night or anything. Sleep was impossible enough without having another body crammed into the bed.
“Hello?” he said, poking his head into the apartment. “Anyone home?”
The place appeared empty. He stepped inside and locked the door behind him. You couldn’t be too safe in this day and age.
Medicine cabinet, he reminded himself.
He moved down the hallway. Dirty dishes balanced on every flat surface in sight, and garments of clothing were strewn everywhere, as if a hamper bomb had gone off in the middle of the living room. Even the kitchen counter had been breached by shirts and socks.
The bathroom reeked of pungent perfumes and soaps, and he did his best to ignore the smell as he opened the medicine cabinet and stared at the mess inside. There were remedies for everything: pills to make you sleep, tablets to fight nausea, creams to cover pimples . . . it went on and on. And in the top left corner: one green plastic birth-control dispenser.
“All this fuss for you,” he said.
Until that night, he had never known it was the pill she was on. He knew some sort of birth control was involved (after their first romp, she told him they were “safe” and had nothing to worry about), but she had never offered any specifics. Now he was part of the process and that wasn’t okay. It was her body, her responsibility, and he was the one scrambling to fix her mess.
For an instant he saw a ghostly image of himself lean over the toilet and drop the dispenser inside out of spite. It was a dumb thought: the dispenser was too big to flush away, and it would increase the chances of her actually staying pregnant.
“Staying . . .”
The thought jagged him like a mental paper cut. Was that how it worked? Did a girl get pregnant each time she had sex, and the job of the pill was to kill the fetus as it began to grow? Was that what they were doing? Making and killing babies at the same time?
He realized he was still gripping the birth-control dispenser and shoved it into his pocket with a quick motion. It felt better not to look at it.
By Erik Therme
When Kevin finds Sarah stranded by the side of the road, he’s more than willing to give her a ride. Young, beautiful and distraught—she’s everything a single guy could ask for in a girl. What he doesn’t know is that she already has a guy: an abusive, drunken boyfriend who left her there in a fit of rage. And when that boyfriend comes back and finds Sarah missing, a simple ride will turn deadly.
Like Josh Gaylord and Daniel Kraus before him, author Erik Therme explores the angst of disconnected youth in his enthralling and powerful Roam. Therme’s darkly tinged novel is an unforgettable tale of three errant souls brutalized by life’s cruel circumstances, and a remarkable night of discovery and violence that will change them forever.