Home > Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2)(9)

Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2)(9)
Meg Cabot

But I’ve watched a lot of Law and Order and CSI.

Plus, you know, I live with a private detective. Or “share a domicile with,” I should say, since “live with” sounds like we share more than that, which we don’t. Sadly.

Sarah shudders elaborately, even though it’s warm in the office and she’s wearing one of the thick striped sweaters woven for her by a fellow member of the kibbutz upon which she spent the summer of her freshman year. It looks quite fetching over her overalls.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” she says. “How can there be another murder in this building? We really ARE turning into Death Dorm.”

I’m looking at my messages. My best friend Patty—she’s no doubt seen the cover of today’s Post, and is as worried as Reggie was about how it’s affected me. Someone who wouldn’t give his name and said he’d call back later—creditor, no doubt. I’d maxed out the cards a little in my preholiday gift-buying frenzy. If I can hold them off until March, I’ll pay it all back when I get my tax refund. And—

I wave the slip at Sarah. “Is this for real? Did he really call? Or are you yanking my chain?”

Sarah looks surprised. “Honestly, Heather,” she says. “Do you think I’d joke around on a day like today? Jordan Cartwright really did call. Or, at least, someone who claimed to be Jordan Cartwright called. He wants you to call him back right away. He said it was vitally important. Emphasis on the vitally.”

Well, that sounds like Jordan, all right. Everything is vitally important to Jordan. Especially if it involves humiliating me in some way.

“What if,” Sarah says, “Lindsay’s body isn’t in the river? Supposing it’s still in the building. Supposing…my God, supposing it’s still in Lindsay’s room!”

“Then we’d have heard from Cheryl already,” I say. “Since she and Lindsay’s roommate swapped spaces first thing this morning.”

“Oh.” Sarah looks disappointed. Then she brightens. “Maybe it’s somewhere else in the building! Like in someone else’s room. Could you imagine coming home from class and finding a headless body in your swivel chair, like in front of your computer?”

My stomach twists. The café mocha is not resting well.

“Sarah,” I say. “Seriously. Shut up.”

“Oh, my God, or what if like we find it in the game room, propped up against the foosball table?”

“Sarah.” I glare at her.

“Oh, lighten up, Heather, “she says, with a laugh. “Can’t you tell I’m resorting to gallows humor in an effort to break the connection between such a horrifying stimulus and an unwanted emotional response, such as revulsion or fear, which in this case wouldn’t be helpful or professional?”

“I’d prefer revulsion,” I say. “I don’t think anyone has to be professional when there’s a headless cheerleader involved.”

It’s at this moment that Tom chooses to appear in the doorway to his office.

“Can we not say that word?” he asks queasily, grasping the doorframe for support.

“What?” Sarah flicks some of her curly hair off her shoulder. “Cheerleader?”

“No,” Tom says. “Headless. We have her head. Just not the rest of her. Oh, God. I can’t believe I just said that.” He looks at me miserably. There are purple shadows under his bloodshot eyes from his night spent at the hospital, and his blond hair is plastered unattractively to his forehead from lack of product. Under ordinary circumstances, Tom wouldn’t be caught dead looking so unkempt. He’s actually fussier about his hair than I am.

“You should go to bed,” I say to him. “We’ve got things covered in here, Sarah and I.”

“I can’t go to bed.” Now Tom looks shocked. “A girl’s been found dead in my building. Can you imagine how that would look to Jessup and everybody? If I just…went to bed? I’m still on employment probation, you know. They’d just decide I can’t hack it and—” He swallows. “Oh, my God, did I just say the word hack?”

“Go back in your office, shut the door, and close your eyes for a while,” I say to him. “I’ll cover for you.”

“I can’t,” Tom says. “Every time I close my eyes, I see…her.”

I don’t have to ask what he means. I know, only too well. Since the same thing keeps happening to me.

“Hey.” A kid in a hoodie, with a tiny silver pair of barbells pierced through the bottom of his nose, leans his head into the office. “Why’s the caf closed?”

“Gas leak,” Sarah, Tom, and I all say at the same time.

“Jesus,” the kid says, making a face. “So I gotta walk across campus to get breakfast?”

“Go to the student union,” Sarah says quickly, holding out a meal pass. “On us.”

The kid looks down at the voucher. “Sweet,” he says, because with the voucher, the meal won’t be subtracted from his daily quota. Now he can have TWO dinners, if he wants to. He shuffles happily away.

“I don’t see why we can’t just tell them the truth,” Sarah declares, as soon as he’s gone. “They’re gonna find out anyway.”

“Right,” Tom says. “But we don’t want to cause a panic. You know, that there’s a psychopathic killer loose in the building.”

“And,” I add carefully, “we don’t want people finding out who it was before they’ve gotten hold of Lindsay’s parents.”

“Yeah,” Tom says. “What she said.” It’s weird having a boss who doesn’t actually know what he’s doing. I mean, Tom’s great, don’t get me wrong.

But he’s no Rachel Walcott.

Which, on balance, is something to be grateful for….

“Hey, you guys,” Sarah says. “What am I? Ha, ha, ha, thump.”

Tom and I look at one another blankly.

“I don’t know,” I say.

“Someone laughing his head off. Get it? Ha, ha, ha, thump.” Sarah looks at us reprovingly when we don’t laugh. “Gallows humor, people. To help us COPE.”

I glance at Tom. “Who’s with the birthday kid?” I ask him. “The one at the hospital? If you and I are here, I mean?”

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