Overachiever (Slumming It #2) by S.M. Shade

Chapter One


Today started like a perfectly normal day, but apparently I got out of bed and climbed straight into a handbasket. Bound for the obvious place. My version of it, anyway, filled with hammers, nails, and days spent outside doing manual labor.

My summer was supposed to be similar to my last one, filled with extra college classes and parties with my roommates and friends. No such luck. My sulk is broken by a brief smile as I steer my car into our apartment complex and drive past the vandalized street sign. Someone has changed the street name from Violet Circle to Violent Circle. The sign was replaced last week and that ‘N’ has already been scribbled in again. They never learn.

It isn’t a violent neighborhood. Eccentric, I suppose, though I’ve never lived in low income housing before this so I can’t say for sure it’s all that different from others.

A few extra cars take up the parking spaces around our place, but I manage to find a spot. Yesterday was the last day of classes and I’m not surprised the guys are here to celebrate our first day of summer freedom. The scent of charcoal wafts over me when I round the corner, following the smell.

“So, there I was, naked, with ranch dressing all over my tits when…” My roommate’s words stop short as I approach the impromptu gathering taking place in our backyard.

“Don’t let me interrupt you.” I plop down in a vacant chair. My other roommates, Zara and Kelly, sit in a half circle of lawn chairs, along with a couple of our friends, Owen and Graham.

“I was just telling them about Tanner.”

My attention is temporarily averted from my shitty day. “The guy with the food fetish? You’re still seeing him?”

“Not after today. Things took a really weird turn.” Serena pauses a moment. “Wait, what are you doing here? I thought you were signing up for summer classes.”

“So did I. Are you guys drinking already?”

Owen grins at me, digs into a cooler beside him and hands me a beer. “Yes, and you are too.” I’m not much of a drinker, much less a day drinker, but why not?

“Wow, no argument?” Zara says, her eyebrows raised when I accept.

“Today kind of sucks.” It’s a bit of an understatement. I really wanted those classes to help me graduate as early as possible. After all, that’s what I’m here for, to work hard and get ahead. Unfortunately, they aren’t offering summer classes this year, and instead, I got roped into something I’m dreading.

The first sip of beer makes me grimace but the second is much better. “I couldn’t get any summer classes.”

“You have the summer off? That should be good news,” Owen points out.

Kelly nods and flips the hamburgers frying on the grill. “You could use a break. You’re always studying.”

My friends don’t always understand my drive to succeed, but they’re supportive. It’s not out of the ordinary for them to reel me in occasionally when I get too obsessed, and I’m not surprised they’d see this as a good thing.

“It’s not just that. My advisor pointed out that I don’t have any non-academic based volunteer experience to put on my resume. He suggested I take a job for the summer that would remedy that. It’s way outside of my comfort zone.”

“Are you going to work at the breastaurant with Serena?” Owen teases, and I roll my eyes. Serena works at a restaurant called Glitties that requires her to wear a skin tight crop top and booty shorts. She likes it there, but I’d be a self-conscious mess.

Serena throws an empty beer can at him as I reply, “No, the university is offering a special grant program. They’ve partnered with a non-profit that revitalizes run down neighborhoods and builds houses for low income families. I’ll be working for them all summer.”

“Building Hope?” Owen exclaims, nearly bouncing out of his seat. Owen’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but he seems to think if he sits still for one moment he might explode.

“Yeah, you’ve heard of it?”

“I signed up! Do you know where they’re sending you? There are two groups going from our area. Did you get Virginia or Florida?”

“Florida.” I dig the folded papers out of my bag and hand them to him.

“Wait? You’re moving to Florida?” Serena exclaims as Owen scans the paperwork with a wide smile.

“I’m not moving. They put us up in a motel and pay for meals and stuff while I’m there. I’m not sticking you guys with my part of the rent, don’t worry.”