The three week break from university came at a bad time. Jessica didn’t want to leave this hanging over her, but she had little choice. She would have to leave it to Court and enjoy the holiday as best she could.
JAMES WILLIAMS: Chilling in my xmas sweater. Fucking cold here, but no snow.
JESSICA HOPE: Are you kidding me? Soft southerner! It’s way colder up here, so I’m staying inside for the whole holiday. Also, no xmas jumper for me 😦
JAMES WILLIAMS: Ha, loser.
LOVEHOPELIFE: Sooo tired! Happy XMAS MORNING EVERYONE!
The flat started refreshers quite modestly, with a flat party and a few extra friends invited along. Aja had only been to their flat a couple of times, but did not hesitate to make herself at home (a trait about her that Jessica thought fantastic). Aiden was invited by Sam and Brian, given that they were all on the football team, and Ash Aster and Leia invited by Kelsey. They played the usual drinking games – Ring of Fire (and Aja demanded they play with the Australian drinking rules, which were far harsher); Uno; Never Have I Ever; and Devil’s Luck.
It was good to catch up with everyone, too. Jessica had stayed in touch with Connor and Aja, though had mostly kept tabs on everyone through simchat and simbook. It made her wonder how many she would actually stay in contact with over the summer – but that was a long time away. Who knew what could change by then?
Luckily, Courtney had sucked it up and had a video call with both Sam and Ashley individually. From what Jessica had heard, Ash had also apologised for how she had reacted. As was with the way with most arguments, no one was completely blameless.
The two of them acted as if it hadn’t happened, and bonded over how bad they were at beer pong.
Aja, in particular, was enjoying herself. “You helped me pass first semester, so I’m teaching you how to party as a reward.”
Aiden coughed as beer spurted up his nose. “I regret helping you,” he spluttered, though she only laughed.
There was one thing Jessica had to do before she could enjoy herself at the party. She caught Sam’s gaze and jerked her head towards the living room, which was surprisingly empty. He pressed his lips into a thin line but followed her obediently.
Jessica fiddled with the hem of her jacket and saw his shoes at the edge of her vision. She forced herself to meet his eye. “Sam,” she said evenly. “I was wondering if we could talk.”
“I kind of gathered that this was the talk,” he said, scratching his head. “But I don’t know what we need to talk about.”
“I don’t want things to be awkward,” she said firmly. “Because of what I saw.” She made sure to drop her voice, but Sam still cast his gaze about to make sure they weren’t being overheard.
“Things aren’t awkward between us, Jess. It would never bother me if you knew, because you’re not the person whose opinion matters to me.” It was said bluntly, though Jessica kept a straight face. She saw his point and nodded. “Good,” he said, with another expulsion of breath – this time short and sharp. “I know you mean well. So… thanks, or whatever.”
Jessica nodded, a stilted and awkward movement, and wondered how she could have misjudged this so badly.
“Wanna do a keg stand?” she squeaked. Sam smiled and led the way.
The rest of the night was surprisingly peaceful, though Kelsey’s squeals interrupted that peace occasionally. Brian cackled behind her, as did Connor and Ashley, who were watching her play one of the Amnesia titles at Brian’s insistence.
Needless to say, she regretted that almost immediately.