I glance at Pete, my eyebrows raised. “And I thought the parents of the undergrads were bad,” I say.

“You see?” he asks, calmly taking a sip of his coffee. “You see why I get paid the big bucks? This is what I’ve been putting up with all morning. That’s Mrs. Upton, by the way, also known as Cassidy’s mom.”

I feel a sense of horror come over me. I did all of the Tania Trace Rock Camp room assignments myself, by hand, so I recognize the name instantly. “Oh God,” I say. “Mrs. Upton’s one of the chaperones. I assigned her and Cassidy to the room to Narnia.”

“Nice one,” Pete says with a big smile. “Better hope the deodorizers Manuel put in there work. I don’t think she’s the type to appreciate eau de ganja.”

“This check-in is a disaster already,” I say, dropping my face into my hand. “Why are they making them wait? Why aren’t they letting them in?”

“Bunch of yukkity-yuks in there,” Pete says, nodding toward the door behind us. “Everyone from the president on down wants to stop by and say hi and congrats while they’re setting up. So back to the fanny pack. That’s where a lot of off-duty cops keep their guns when they carry. That or in the pocket of their cargo pants.”

This distracts me completely from my worries about Mrs. Upton and what she might say upon opening the door to room 1621. “Are you serious? Because I hid a pair of cargo pants Cooper’s been insisting on wearing a lot lately—”

Pete looks disgusted. “What’s wrong with you? You don’t hide a man’s pants. What’s so bad about cargo pants anyway?”

“Everything,” Magda says, her heavily made-up eyes rolling toward the sky.

“Seriously,” I say. “They’re all wrong in every way unless you’re a forest ranger. And you’re crazy. Cooper doesn’t own a gun. He told me.”

“Sure,” Pete says calmly. “Of course he told you that, because he lives with you and you’re a woman, the kind of woman who might get upset to learn that there’s a gun in the house.”

When I start to protest that this isn’t true, he gives me a sarcastic look and I shut up. It’s sort of true that I might get upset to learn that Cooper carries a gun, but only because he lied to me about it. And because he might shoot himself with it. Or get shot, drawing it on someone else.

“He’s working as Tania Trace’s bodyguard right now,” Pete points out. “And didn’t I hear on the news that her last bodyguard got shot?”

Until that very moment, I’d forgotten all about Bear, and about Cooper’s suspicion that his shooting might not have been so random after all, given the network’s willingness to move Tania Trace’s rock camp at such great expense.

“Okay,” I say, “but—”

“Shoulder holsters work only under jackets,” Pete goes on. He’s waxing poetic about where he likes to keep his gun when he’s off-duty. New York College protection officers aren’t allowed to carry guns (at least, not officially), only Tasers. “Ankle holsters make you chafe. You can carry a Glock on your belt, but then everybody’s gonna see it, unless you wear a jacket or keep your shirt untucked. You ladies have it easy, with your purses. You can hide anything in there.”

I’m starting to regret that I ever said anything.

That’s when the front door to Fischer Hall bursts open and Gavin runs through it, calling, “Heather! Heather, come quick!”

Chapter 13

So Sue Me
All those times you said
I’d never make it
All those times you said
I should quit
All those times you said
I’m nothing without you
The sad part is
I believed it too
Then you left and
What do you know
I made it on
My very own
So go ahead and sue me
You heard me
Go ahead and sue me
Now that I’ve made it
You say it’s you I owe
Well, you owe me too
For the heart you stole
If I’ve got one regret
It’s all the time I spent
All the tears I wept
Thinking you were worth the bet
Go ahead, go all the way
Take me to court
It’ll make my day
So sue me
Go ahead and sue me

“So Sue Me”
Performed and written by Tania Trace
So Sue Me album
Cartwright Records
Nine consecutive weeks as the
Number 1 Hit Billboard Hot 100
I don’t know how he realized I was there. Maybe it’s that kind of sixth sense animals have when they know their mothers are nearby.

Wait . . . that’s mother bears, and it’s what they use to find their missing cubs. Probably Gavin saw me through the window.

In any case, I shove my coffee mug back at Magda and race into Fischer Hall after Gavin, expecting to find the place on fire at the very least.

Instead, I discover Davinia, one of the RAs, in tears, with Sarah, Lisa Wu, and Gavin’s girlfriend, Jamie, clustered around her. My entire staff, it seems, has gathered in the lobby, as has the crew of Jordan Loves Tania, minus the stars. Stephanie Brewer is standing in front of the desk, giving instructions of some urgency to her crew, who are for some reason behind the desk, where they have no business being. This is where we keep all the mail and deliveries for the residents.

Or possibly the message isn’t urgent. Maybe she’s shouting at the top of her lungs because Manuel, the head housekeeper, has decided to go over the lobby floors one last time with his industrial electric buffer. The noise is incredible . . . so loud that Dr. Jessup, who has shown up on a Saturday, has his hands over his ears as he stands beside Muffy Fowler, President Allington and Christopher Allington, and, of all people, Simon Hague.

These must be the yukkity-yuks that Pete was talking about. I suppose it makes sense. Why wouldn’t Simon Hague stroll over from his residence hall to mine on a Saturday morning to watch the check-in for Tania Trace Rock Camp? It’s not like he has a life.

“Well, hey, Heather,” Muffy yells in order to be heard above the buffer. “Nice of you to stop on by.”

I narrow my eyes at her. I can tell she thinks the entire situation is funny, but it’s so not. President Allington—dressed, as usual, in the New York College colors of blue and gold, in this case a blue-and-gold velour warm-up suit over a white tank top—is leaning negligently against the security monitors at the guard’s desk, eating fruit salad from a paper plate. There is no guard to tell him not to, because Pete is outside, keeping Mrs. Upton and the other moms from rushing over to Pitchforks “R” Us and instigating a rebellion.

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