Looking at the oven she sighed. It had been cleaned yesterday but somehow it still managed to look a little worse for wear. She made a mental note to ask her mom what she used to make the oven at home sparkle the way it did. The thought made her heart pang, she missed home already and she'd been gone less than 24 hours. Beginning to mix the batter for the pancakes, she heard someones footsteps softly padding down the staircase and Sandi walked into the kitchen, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes, "Ugh, morning Kace, what ya doing up?" she yawned as she pulled a chair out and flopped into it, resting her head on the table.
"Hey, making pancakes for everyone, you want any?" Kaci replied as she poured the mixture into the pan and turned the heat up slightly. "Oh honey, you're a life saver, my head is banging, add a coffee to that would you?" she asked cheekily.
Kaci laughed, "Make it yourself Missy! and why's your head banging, did you not sleep well?" Sandi lifted her head, and winced as she rested it on her hand. "I went out last night, drank too much and now I'm paying for it" she said, not even opening her eyes.
"You what?! When?! I didn't hear you!" Kaci exclaimed, laughing in shock. "Mm, it's whatever, met up with TJ and some of his friends, hit a bar and the rest, as they say, is history. Those boys can drink though, and you know me, I like to keep up with the best of them." she deadpanned like it was nothing.
Kaci stood open mouthed but this was exactly why she loved Sandi. She was a nut. An adorable nut, but a nut all the same.
"So what time did you leave? And when exactly did you get in?" Kaci asked, flipping over a pancake.
"Um, around 12? Got back about an hour ago" Sandi yawned.
"How are you even up? I'd be dead to world right now" Kaci said, genuinely surprised. Sandi sighed, "Well, clever little me forgot to close my curtains and when it got light, it woke me up, but you know me, I can never go back to sleep, so that was that, I'm up" she moaned. "Hey, enough talk, are those pancakes ready yet? I knew living with you would come in handy. And where's my coffee woman!"
Sandi sighed, content and patted her stomach, a smile on her face. "Well, thank you for the pancakes Kace, I'm gonna go take a shower and sort out the rest of my stuff, I can't think straight in disorder and Lord knows I definitely cant think straight when I'm hungover and I need to be thinking straight today, got too much stuff to sort out. A tidy space is tidy mind, Ouch! Dammit!" Sandy had tapped her temple and then winced, making Kaci laugh. She was a neat freak, absolutely detested mess. Which was funny considering how out of control she could be everywhere else in her life. She was definitely her mothers child, wild, a free spirited rebel, but when it came to untidiness, she'd rather not go partying for a week than live in a messy house.
"Have fun Sand" Mortimer winked teasing her. Not even turning around she flipped him the middle finger and sauntered out of the room. Kaci smiled and shook her head, her eyes purposely avoiding Mortimer and gazing into the living room after her best friend. She couldn't bring herself to look at him. He'd come down into the kitchen with no shirt on and even though she'd seen him shirtless at the beach plenty of times, somehow this was different. She just prayed her face didn't give her away.
Earlier, she'd kicked Sandi under the table when she'd looked at her, and with a mischievous glint in her eye, opened her mouth to say something no doubt embarrassing to Mortimer about the effect he was having on Kaci. All the while he'd just sat there with this strange look on his face. Like something was amusing him. Kaci stood and grabbed her plate, "Well, uh, I'm gonna go, um, finish unpacking" she said. Mortimer nodded, that strange expression still on his face. For a while, the only sounds were of the water running as Kaci washed her plate and fork, she placed them on the drainer.
"Kaci?" he said, making her jump as she finished drying her hands. "These pancakes are amazing". Kaci smiled slightly "Thanks", she replied, still unable to meet his gaze as she walked past him.
As she got to the door way he said her name again, "Kaci?" She froze, and then turned slightly and stared at the defined muscles on his back, her knees went a little weak, "Yes?" she said, her voice sounding the way her knees felt. It seemed like a lifetime before he spoke again,
"If it makes you uncomfortable, I can always wear a shirt, its no big deal" he said, turning his face, but only enough for Kaci to see that he knew exactly what he was doing to her. The smirk on his face said it all. She could have killed him as the realization dawned on her and her cheeks turned a deep shade of red. "Okay!" she squeaked, turning, she practically flew up the stairs to her room. And she would have sworn she heard him laughing to himself as she did.
"The house looks so much better now!" Sandi exclaimed, Darlene huffed and rolled her eyes. "Oh, well excuse me, her majesty, if everybody didn't want pink!" Sandi continued, pretending to be insulted. Darlene flashed her a fake smile and returned to inspecting a perfectly manicured nail. "Whatever" she said. "I mean, it's not like I live here or anything" she sulked.
"Oh boo hoo" Sandi teased. "Ladies, Ladies, play nicely now, Darlene does have a valid point Sandi, she does have to live here too" Malcom interrupted. Darlene perked up and flashed him her flirtiest smile, "But blue is way better" he said cheekily, hi-fiving a laughing Mortimer. Darlene's face changed into a scowl and she crossed her arms over her chest, "Ugh, you guys make me sick!".
They sat talking for a while, the boys and Sandi hurling playful taunts at each other each time on of them lost. Darlene looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there, she was only really sitting with them because Malcolm was there, but he wasn't paying her any attention and her patience was wearing thin.
"So, when are we kicking that asshole out?" She asked "I mean how the hell did he get in here any way, no one even wants him here, he sooo still has the hots for Kaci and all he's doing is managing to piss everyone off" she said screwing up her face. "Darlene!" Kaci squealed, "Shush he'll hear you!" she whispered loudly. She didn't want him there either but she also didn't want him to have the satisfaction of knowing that. He would only thrive on it. Pissing people off was his thing.
"What? I'm just saying what everyone's thinking" Darlene continued, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms even tighter.
"Yeah but there are ways to go about these things, that, is not one of them." Mortimer said, Kaci noticed his jaw had clenched a little. Sandi must have too because she cut Darlene a look that would have melted ice.
Malcolm began to speak, "We'll have to look into it, and besides, I know no one wants him here but that's one less persons rent we have to split between us. And anyway, when Kaci starts law school she'll be able to find a way kick him out, legally" he laughed, lightening the mood.
Kaci smiled at him gratefully and he gave her a quick wink in return before returning his attention to the game they were playing. She didn't know what got into Darlene but it was as if, when she was in a bad mood, everyone else had to be too. Kaci stole a quick glance at Mortimer and saw that his expression had softened which made her happier, she didn't want anyone, especially not him, coming between them.
Much later, after everyone had eaten and gone up to their rooms to do their own thing, Kaci and Mortimer sat in the living room watching a movie. They were savoring the few weeks before they started University and they knew a night like this would be a rarity. With Mortimer starting Med School and Kaci starting Law School, they'd barely have time for it. That and the fact that someone else was always bound to be around. Kaci decided to ask him something that had been bugging her since earlier that evening.
"Mort . . .you know before . . . when Darlene said that thing about Sam, um, still liking me . . ." She felt him stiffen, and she held her breath. ". . . Yeah" he answered, a few seconds later. "Well, um, I don't think its true, but even if it were, you know I'm not interested in him right, at all, and I never will be" she said, waiting for him to respond as she wound her fingers around his. He didn't answer for what felt like an eternity and then he sighed.
"I know babe, its just, he was your best friend and your boyfriend. I'm a guy, I'm still gonna find it a little awkward fifty years from now if he's still around".
Kaci's heart skipped a beat at him talking about so far into the future and her stomach began to flutter, but she liked the feeling. "But I trust you one thousand percent and that's all that matters" he continued, kissing her on her forehead. She looked up at him and smiled. He smiled back, lowering his face to hers, he kissed her gently on the lips, and then buried his nose in her hair, closing his eyes as he inhaled the fruity essence of the conditioner she used.
"So, are you gonna make the popcorn or what? I'm a growing boy, you know I cant watch a movie with no snacks . . ." he teased ducking as a pillow came flying at his head. "What! I'm just stating the facts!". He smiled to himself as Kaci wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a bag of popcorn from the cupboard. "Any chance of a soda with that?" he teased "Don't push your luck mister" Kaci called back but he heard the doorway to pantry open as she went to grab a can. He tried to focus on the movie while he waited but he couldn't. He really did trust Kaci with all of his heart. It was Sam he didn't trust. The sooner that guy moved out, the better. Trouble was, Mortimer didn't think Sam was going anywhere, and definitely no time soon.