Your Wedding Day Is: Four Weeks Away.
By Now You Should:
Mail rehearsal dinner invitations
Visit the dressmaker for your final fitting—Friday!!!
Get your marriage license
Contact guests who haven’t yet RSVP’d
Finalize seating arrangements
Write your vows
Everything’s going to work out.” That’s what I’ve been saying all month to my fiancé, Cooper. “Everything’s going to be great. Wait and see.”
Each time I say it, Cooper looks at me in that adorable way he has, one dark eyebrow lifted slightly higher than the other one. He knows exactly what I’m talking about, and it has nothing to do with our upcoming wedding ceremony at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
“You do know that statistically, more young adults end up in hospital emergency rooms than any other age group?” he points out. “At least for accident-related injuries. And more of them die of those injuries than any other age group as well.”
When you live with a licensed private detective, you can count on many things. One of them is that sometimes he’s going to keep odd hours. Another is that there will be firearms in your home.
A third is that occasionally he will trot out random facts you probably never cared to know, like how many registered sex offenders live within a five-mile radius of your home, or that more young people end up in hospital emergency rooms than any other age group.
I glare at him. “So?”
“So it makes sense that in a student population the size of the one at New York College,” Cooper says, “you’re going to have at least one or two deaths a year.”
“Not this year,” I say, shaking my head vehemently over our Chinese takeout. Everything we’ve been eating lately has been delivered in a carton, because with freshman check-in looming, my hours are so long. I’m coming home from work later and later every evening, bone tired from sorting keys and supervising room cleanings. Cooper has a case as well, so his hours haven’t been very regular either, although out of respect to his client’s privacy, he won’t tell me exactly what his duties entail. “This year, everything is going to be different. No one in Fischer Hall is going to die this year. Not even accidentally.”
“How are you going to manage that?” Coop asks, gnawing on a Chinese sparerib. “Bubble wrap all your residents?”
I picture the undergraduate students who live in the residence hall in which I work attempting to navigate the streets of New York City while encased in plastic shipping material. It’s a strangely pleasing thought. “Not really feasible. I think they’d object on human rights grounds. Good idea, though.”
Now both of Cooper’s eyebrows have gone up, and he’s looking faintly amused. “Maybe it’s better if we can’t have kids after all if you think bubble wrapping them is a good idea.”
I ignore his sarcasm. “Okay, how about this?” I say. “So long as none of them gets murdered, I’ll be happy.”
Cooper reaches across the moo shu pork to give my hand a squeeze. “That’s one of the many reasons I fell in love with you, Heather. You’ve never been afraid to dream big.”
Yes, this year was going to be different, all right. Totally different from last year, when I first started my job as assistant director of Fischer Residence Hall, and I thought Cooper wasn’t attracted to me, and we lost our first student a few weeks into the semester.
This year, Cooper and I were getting married, and we lost our first student before classes even started.
I should have gone with the bubble wrap after all.
Welcome to Freshman Orientation Week at Fischer Residence Hall!
New York College and the Department of Housing and Student Affairs is delighted to welcome you to check in one week early in order to help you acclimate to your new home for the coming academic year!
Meet your new roommates, your advisers, professors, and deans while becoming familiar with the many services and programs this college has to offer!
Enjoy activities open only to incoming freshmen and transfer students, such as organized trips to some of New York City’s top sights, shows, and hot spots, including:
the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island - Freedom Tower - the Broadway show Wicked- Cake Boss Café - and many, many more!
It’s a beautiful day, one of the last of summer. The sky outside my office is clear blue, the temperature a perfect seventy-five degrees.
It’s also the first week of freshman orientation at New York College. So far, very little is going right.
“Look,” says the attractive woman in tight white jeans who’s slid into the chair beside my desk. “It’s not like my Kaileigh is spoiled. For spring break last year, she volunteered to build houses in Haiti with Habitat for Humanity. She lived in a tent with no running water. She knows how to rough it.”
I keep a polite smile plastered on my face. “So what exactly is Kaileigh’s problem with her room, Mrs. Harris?”
“Oh, it’s not her room.” Mrs. Harris has to raise her voice to be heard over the drilling. Carl, the building engineer, is perched on a ladder near the office photocopier, doing what we’re telling the student staff is the last of some “minor electrical repair work” left over from the renovation the building received over the summer.
When the students discover what Carl is really doing—installing the wiring for a set of security monitors on which my boss, Lisa, and I will be able to watch everything that occurs in the fifteenth-floor hallway—they’ll probably launch a protest over the invasion of their privacy, even though it’s being done for their protection.
“It’s Kaileigh’s roommate,” Mrs. Harris goes on.
I nod sympathetically before launching into a speech I’ve given so many times I occasionally feel like one of those performing robots at Disney World’s Country Bear Jamboree, only not quite as cuddly:
“You know, Mrs. Harris, an important part of the college experience is meeting new people, some of whom might come from cultures other than your own—”
Mrs. Harris cuts me off. “Oh, I know all about that. We read the orientation material you people sent us over the summer. But there are limits to what someone can be expected to put up with.”
“What’s Kaileigh’s problem with her roommate?”