Scarlett pulled off her pajama top and shivered as the clothing brushed her bare skin. The morning sun coming in from the window caressed her skin, making it glow. Lazarus stared at the goose bumps appearing on her back.
“See, I told you I had an awesome tattoo,” Scarlett said.
“Yeah,” Lazarus agreed, who was sitting cross legged behind her, “That’s one hell of an ice breaker. I mean, I wake up, and you’re in my bed.”
“I don’t like being awkward,” she said.
“What’s to be awkward about? It’s not like we slept together last night. I didn’t even know you had stayed, since I fell asleep before study group ended.”
Lazarus traced the tattoo, his fingers lightly touching her warm skin. Scarlett visibly shivered. His hands followed the tattoo’s pattern from her neck, between her shoulder blades all the way down her spine, ending just above the curve of her buttocks.
“It’s such a cool design.”
Scarlett giggled, “Actually I think I was kind of drunk when I got it done. The whole pattern, with the swirls, little whorls, and pointed tips of each flower things were the tat artist’s idea. It’s pretty sweet.”
“I’ll say,” Lazarus sighed and scooted closer to her, putting his other hand on her shoulder, “I bet you taste pretty sweet, too.”
He heard her intake of breath, but then was surprised when she scooted away. Still facing away, she put her pajama top back on and then faced him. From where she sat on the bed, she was framed in the window which overlooked the lake on the university’s campus. The late October sun sparkled of the calm dark blue water.
“Study group was killer last night, wasn’t it?” she asked.
Lazarus smiled, “Awkward now, huh? Sorry. This is so much better than the past two months.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well you’re absolutely gorgeous. I thanked God for you this morning. You’re the first girl I woke with this semester who didn’t smell like beer.”
She crossed her arms, “Don’t be such a jerk but thanks, I think.”
“Don’t you want to have sex?”
“No,” she said and giggled, “Is that your entire mind thinks about?”
Lazarus brushed back his shock of long brown hair and tried to dazzle her with his classic crooked smile, “I don’t know. I guess I have a one track mind.”
“I am not sure I want to know, but I guess I’ll ask. What do you mean?”
“Let me put it this way,” Lazarus said, scooting closer towards her end of the bed, “I was at a party two nights ago. There were girls, dancing, and alcohol. It was the bottom of the barrel kind of thing where white boys look good dancing, ugly girls looked pretty until the next morning, and the alcohol still tastes good coming up.”
Scarlett crossed her arms, revealing for a second the bright red nail polish on her fingernails.
He continued, “I think I was with a girl who was seventeen, but she told me she was nineteen. She cried, and I had to drive her home.”
Scarlett’s eyes bugged out slightly, “Oh, you’re twenty-two. This might be harder than I thought.”
“What’s that mean?” he asked, pushing the covers off and sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Well, she’s not even legal. That makes you gross and a criminal.”
“Only a crime if I get caught.”
With no further room to scoot back away from the predatorily Lazarus, Scarlett got out of bed and walked to the bathroom where her shirt revealed the hint of a beginning of her tattoo on the nape of her neck, “I need a shower.”
While Scarlett was in the shower, Lazarus threw on a pair of jeans and a white and grey waffle shirt and checked his email. Scarlett stepped out of the bathroom dressed. Her tight turtleneck and blue jeans accentuated her curves which Lazarus could not take his eyes off of.
She said, “Up here, buddy. Let’s go get brunch.”
On their way back from the local coffee shop, they noticed a crowd of students at one of the sidewalk junctions near Howe Hall. The bushes where the sidewalk met were infamous for late night rendezvous. This apparently was not a discrete meet-up. The crowd was growing and included students, faculty, and police. When Lazarus saw EMTs arrive with a wheeled stretcher, his stomach dropped.
“I thought this was a pretty safe campus,” Lazarus said to Scarlett.
He saw that she was white-faced as well.
“I guess not,” she said.
A burly policeman with a walrus mustache was trying to clear a path for the EMTs.
“Everyone back,” he said, waving his muscled arms, “These men need to get to the front.”
Lazarus finally noticed that the crowd was for the most part silent. The crowd parted like the sea under Moses, and he could hear the squeak of the stretcher’s wheels over the ground. As soon as there was space a young woman, dressed in pajama bottoms, her winter coat, and tattered mud splattered Ugg boots started making a commotion. She was at the edge of the parting crowd and finally got a look at the body half hidden in the bushes. The young woman let out a keening wail that seemed to come from ground itself.
“Oh, Tommy. Tommy!” she cried out.
She rushed forward into the open space, dodged around the police officer, and grabbed at the body. Her actions pulled the obscured body out of the wet brush and revealed it to the crowd. There was a collective gasp. In the early morning light, the corpse’s eyes glared at the crowd. There was a massive wound at the neck that had almost severed the head. The woman stopped cradling the head and moved her hand to join the other in order to hug the body. With that motion the head fell back, separating the last few attached strands of flesh and fell with a gentle thump into the brush as bits of blood dripped from the headless torso. She screamed and Lazarus and Scarlett heard someone behind them voiding their stomach of that morning’s breakfast.
Scarlett leaned in and whispered to Lazarus, “Let’s get out of here.”
She looked sick herself.
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