Chapter 72

Chad’s “Welcome to Melbrook” party consisted of a homemade dinner, prepared by Vince and Hershel, and took place in common room so they could all eat together. The purpose of this was both to demonstrate the benefits of Melbrook living (easily accessible kitchen, comfy places to dine-in) as well as letting him know it was nice to have him there.

The young blond man took everything with his usual detached politeness, though inwardly he felt a touch overwhelmed. Chad had lived alone his entire time at Lander, and before that he’d been the lone child of a single working mother. Bustling, lively living spaces weren’t a thing he was accustomed to. When he felt that sensation rise up, Chad calmly reminded himself that such a reason was exactly why he’d chosen to come live here in the first place. He needed to break out of his comfort zone.

Once the food was eaten and plates dumped in the sink for consideration at a later time (in other words, whoever broke down and washed them first) the conversation turned to other options for the evening.

“I’d say we could go to a club or something, but honestly even Roy’s a little burned out on that now that he’s working at one,” Hershel said.

“And if that’s how Roy feels, I doubt we even need to ask Alice and Chad,” Mary surmised. A nod from both blondes in the room confirmed her suspicion.

“We could watch a movie,” Vince suggested.

“Not a very social activity,” Hershel countered. The exception was the horror movies Nick had subjected them too, which fostered ample talking, complaining, and, of course, booing. “Is there anything happening on campus tonight?”

“I don’t think so,” Mary said. “I mean, aside from the nightly dorm parties with poorly smuggled booze.”

“That’s it,” Alice declared, rising up in her chair. “We should throw a party.”

“It’s like nine already, and all we have to eat are leftovers,” Vince pointed out.

“No, not tonight. Sorry, I was just drifting through things to do and I realized the sophomore slash freshman party is coming up soon, and then I realized this is the first year we won’t get to go. That sort of bummed me out for a moment, until I realized Halloween was coming up and Mary mentioned parties. We should throw a Halloween party.”

“Tabling that for the moment, it doesn’t really help us figure out what we’re doing tonight,” Mary said.

“What’s to figure out? None of us are big drinkers, save for Roy, so since we vetoed watching a movie we’ll end up having some sort of board game tournament.”

“You know, that actually does sound like kind of a fun idea,” Hershel said.

“I have no objections,” Chad said, presumably affirming the idea.

“I’ll go see what we’ve got,” Vince volunteered. He rose from his seat and ambled over to a small closet, where a moderate selection of games sat on the upper shelf.

“There, now that we’ve settled that, can we get back to my Halloween party idea?” Alice asked. Mary made a “go ahead” motion with her fingers and that was all the incentive Alice needed. “Look, our Halloweens have traditionally sucked, right?”

“Got jumped freshman year,” Vince supplied from the closet where he was stacking boxes in his arms.

“Right, then Nick, Mary, and I got brain-jacked last year,” Alice said. “What if this time we met Halloween on our terms? We reserve a nice section of tables at one of the local bars and throw a party for the juniors and seniors in the HCP. Not everyone will come, and even if they do our numbers are pretty low, so we can easily fit everyone in a medium space.”

“It sounds to me like when things take their usual turn, the difference is that this time we’ll be left with a bill for damages,” Mary pointed out. “We do have bad luck on Halloween, no reason to tempt fate by upping the stakes.”

“Actually, I think I’m with Alice on this one,” Hershel interjected. “All superstition aside, I feel like a party could be a good thing. This year has started off more tense than the others and it’s only gotten worse. The first day was spent finding out what friends had gotten booted out of our lives, that’s some serious stuff. A party might be a good way to remind everyone about the friends they have left.”

“I don’t object to the party idea, I’m just wondering why we have to be the ones to throw it,” Mary said. She was somewhat surprised that Hershel had disagreed with her, not because she expected unquestioning boyfriend loyalty, but because he was often the voice of reason alongside her.

“Because we are the ones who can,” Chad said. It surprised almost everyone in the room to hear him come down on the side of pro for the party. He was not known for cutting loose and getting wild. “We recognized the need for social bonding and stress relief, we have the resources to facilitate it, and we have no reason to suspect any other group in our year fulfills the first two criteria. Therefore it is our duty to undertake the task.”

“You just made getting half the class drunk sound surprisingly noble,” Alice complimented.

“I fear Angela must be rubbing off on me,” Chad said, letting out a sigh that might have seemed genuinely depressing if not for the slight smirk on his face.

“Okay, since it seems like I’m outvoted here, can we at least be smart about this?” Mary asked. “Halloween is three weeks away. Let’s shop around and see what our options are. Maybe we can find someplace reasonably private where we can at least minimize damage if things go wrong.”

“That seems both prudent and easily accomplished,” Chad agreed.

“Yahtzee!” Vince yelled. This confused everyone, until they noticed the bright red box in his hand. “No? Okay, we’ve got other stuff. Just seemed like a good one.”

“Pick a few and bring them over,” Alice instructed. “In the meantime, I’m getting my laptop and looking up costume ideas. Mary, what size do you wear again?”

Mary lifted a single eyebrow and somehow managed to scowl with the other one. “Why do you need to know that?”

Alice said nothing, merely scampering out of the room with a mischievous gleam in her eye. Mary wondered if it was too late to request her own change of dorms.