The Outcasts - Book cover

The Outcasts

Ruth Robinson

Chapter 2


“You have got to be kidding me!”


The girl who is unpacking her suitcase into my wardrobe in ~my~ dorm room doesn’t look or sound particularly sorry.

“Come on, babe.” Robbie picks up my suitcases again and nudges my arm. “We’ll go talk to the accommodations office and get this all squared away.”

I sigh, shooting one last glance at the room which should have been mine. I should have known Robbie wouldn’t stand up for me; he hates confrontation.

I follow the blond hair of my boyfriend down the hallway back to the office where I’d just picked up my room key.

“You have got to be kidding me!!”

“Yeah, sorry. You were both allocated the room, glitch on the computer system. But she got here first so…” The girl snaps her gum as she shrugs. “First come first served, I guess.”

“But where am I supposed to go?”

She shrugs again, flicking her eyes over to Robbie. “Can’t you stay with your boyfriend?”

“No. I can’t stay with him.” I feel the familiar burn of frustrated tears in my eyes, and she softens a little when she notices.

“Maybe try the newspaper. Sometimes the off-campus students post for roommates in there.”

I nod in thanks and spin back around to where Robbie is sitting on top of my suitcase, scrolling through his phone.

I pick up one of the free papers and flick to the ad section at the back. There is one lone ad for a roommate.

“Hey, Robbie?”

He looks up at me with a smile. “Yeah, babe?”

“I think I’ve found somewhere to live.”


An hour later I’ve left Robbie babysitting my stuff back at his dorm while I walk the ten blocks to the address I’d gotten from the bartender.

As soon as I’d seen the name on the ad, I just knew it was the slightly scary looking goth guy I’d seen around campus. Sam Gardener.

I’d never seen him with anyone, but lots of people seemed to know him, calling out to him as he strode across the quad. The only person I’d ever seen him have any kind of meaningful conversation with was the bartender at the student bar, who, despite looking nearly as scary as Sam did, was actually super nice and helpful, giving me Sam’s address after getting through to his voicemail a frustrating amount of times.

I find myself outside of a really cute salmon-pink midcentury bungalow with a rose-lined front path and a huge gray stone chimney stack which runs from the ground all the way up the center of the front wall.

Smoothing out my dress anxiously, I press the doorbell.

I press it again. Clearly being able to hear the chimes inside, I look over to double-check there is a car in the driveway.

Yep. A black one, obviously.

Pursing my lips, I dial the number on the advertisement again, but like the countless times before that I’d dialed, it goes straight to voicemail.

Sighing, I press the bell once more.

Still no response, so I raise my hand and start knocking. Rap rappity rap rap…rap rap.

“What!” The door is ripped open in front of me, and the furious glare from behind a dark curtain of hair makes me freeze in place. Geez, the guy is ~so much taller and scarier up close!

“Um…” I swallow, shaking my head a little as I try to find my voice. “You were, um, loo-looking for a roommate?”

I can feel my hand shaking under the intensity of his gaze a little as I hold up the crumpled newspaper ad.

“I also posted my phone number,” he snaps, “so that people wouldn’t just rock up. In fact, how did you even know the address?”

“I’ve seen you on campus and recognized your name on the advertisement. It didn’t take long to find someone who knew where you lived.” I shrug a little, trying to smile a little. “Plus, when I tried ringing the number it went straight to voicemail, and I really really need a place to stay, like, tomorrow.”

A giggle bubbles up out of my throat, and I inwardly cringe as his frown intensifies.

He slides an old-looking phone out of his impossibly tight black jeans and glares down at it. At least it’s not just me he hates; inanimate objects get his wrath too it seems.

“Fuck it,” he sighs in resignation and moves back, gesturing for me to come in. “I’ll show you around.”

“Great!” I clap my hands in relief. “The house is so pretty.” I’m sure I hear him groan a little as I follow his tall figure through the house.

“Kitchen. Living room.”

He quickly points out the rooms as we stride past, his long strides meaning I’m nearly jogging to keep up with him.

“This would be your room. Shared bathroom. You can decorate your room however you want. There are two shelves clear for you in the bathroom cabinet and two cupboards in the kitchen for your shit.”

“So, I’ve got the room?! Oh my gosh! That’s so amazing!”

I spin around in the middle of the room which will now be mine. I was so sure I was going to end up having to stay in an expensive hotel for days while I found somewhere to live that the thought of actually having a room in an actual house, albeit one shared with this moody guy, actually gives me goosebumps.

“I thought I’d need to go through, like, an interview or something.”

Sam shakes his head, another deep frown etched on his forehead. “All I need is first and last months’ rent as deposit.”

“Okay, yeah, no problemo!” I grin, unable to hide my excitement. “Is it cool if I move my stuff in tonight?”

He shrugs at me, and I realize with a giggle that I hadn’t even introduced myself.

“Oh, and by the way, my name’s Elizabeth. Or Liz. Or Lizzy. Or Beth.”

I hold my hand out, and he stares at it like I’m holding a dead fish for a beat, then grips my hand with one decisive shake, his hand dwarfing mine.


I giggle nervously. “I knew that already, silly!”

“From the ad, yeah.” His scowl gets deeper if that’s even possible, his gray eyes turning stormy.

“Well, yeah, but like I said, I’ve seen you around campus too. I mean, look at you, you’re kinda hard not to notice!” I bite the inside of my mouth, trying to halt the spew of verbal diarrhea.

“Mm-hmm.” His low voice rumbles from his chest dismissively, and he turns on his heel, stalking back toward the living room. I take one last look at the room with an excited smile before following him.

He abruptly spins back toward me, and I bounce off his surprisingly solid chest and land with a heavy bump on the tile floor.

“Omph!” Tears immediately spring to my eyes, and I try my hardest not to start crying in front of him, even though my butt is throbbing.

“Fuck! I didn’t even hear you.” He has the decency to divert his gaze from my watery eyes as he helps me back to my feet.

“My daddy always said I’d make an excellent cat burglar. Light on my feet.” I lift one shoulder lazily, trying to play off my fall as nothing.

“Maybe we’ll put a bell on you.”

I can’t help the burst of laughter which explodes from me at his attempt to lighten the situation.

“You good?”

“Yeah.” I roll my eyes with a rather attractive snort. “I’ll be fine. I’ve got lots of padding back there anyway!” I slap my rounded bottom a couple times. “Well, I guess I’ll go get my stuff!”

When I get back to the house with Robbie in tow, Sam is hunched over his laptop on the black sectional sofa which takes up most of the space in the living room.

I cheerfully call out a hello as we walk past, but he barely lifts his head from the screen.

Robbie puts my suitcases down on the queen-sized bed and looks around the room with his eyebrow quirked up.

“Well, he seems as nice as I expected”—he gestures over his shoulder with his thumb—“but at least the room looks decent.” He presses a quick kiss to my forehead. “I’ve got to go, babe. Still got unpacking to do myself!”

I walk him out before I make my way back to my new room where I select my favorite Taylor Swift playlist and start my unpacking.

Two hours later my clothes are neatly folded away in the chest of drawers or hanging in the wardrobe.

I wander through to the kitchen with my box of utensils and kitchenware, past the still-hunched figure of Sam, and find my two empty cupboards. It takes me longer than I thought to clean the shelves and put everything away.

The last bag sitting on my new bed is my bathroom stuff.


The tallest guy I’ve ever seen has seriously left me, the smallest person, the top two shelves in the bathroom cabinet. I look around the small bathroom, biting my bottom lip as I scan for something to stand on.

“Really?!” There is nothing. No helpful stool. No helpful hamper.

I manage to balance myself on the side of the bathtub, my washbag clutched in one hand and the other holding on to the towel rail, and lean forward.

Or rather, I discover I’m holding on to the towel which was slung over the towel rail.

Which slowly starts to slide.

“Oh. My. GOSH!”

The towel slides completely off, knocking me off-balance, and I physically teeter on the edge of the enamel tub, arms trying desperately to find something else to hold on to. My washbag crashes to the floor as I fall forward; the only thing my hands find to grab on to are the open doors of the cabinet, which come away and smash onto the floor with me.


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