She Laughs in Pink (Sheridan Hall #1)










She Laughs In



Jessica Calla



Published by BookFish Books LLC.

Copyright © 2016 Jessica Calla


All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.


Published in 2016 by BookFish Books LLC.

P.O. Box 274

Salem, VA


[email protected]


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Calla, Jessica.--First edition.

She Laughs in Pink / Jessica Calla


ISBN 978-0-9968013-7-9 (print)

ISBN 978-0-9968013-4-8 (e-book)


Cover Design: Anita B. Carroll

Book Design: Ellie Sipila







For Angela, my partner in crazy.

Chapter One




I put Gram in a cab to the airport and kiss her goodbye. Soon, I’m weaving my way through the city streets, hauling the two duffel bags I’d packed for college. I make it to the station in record time, rushing even though I’m not in a hurry. But that’s what you do in the city—you rush. I hope New Jersey moves a little slower. I need the break.

As I push toward the stairs that lead underground to the station, a hot brunette stumbles a few yards in front of me pulling a suitcase with one hand and holding a phone in the other.

I’ve seen her a million times before—the beautiful girl, new to the city, searching for Broadway, dreams alive and hope shining as brightly as Times Square. I check her out as I follow her, admiring her entirely too long legs shrouded in tight yoga pants. Her tanned arms flex as she lifts her giant suitcase and carries it down the stairs. She’s thin but curvy, tall, and toned. Based on her body, if I had to guess, I’d say wannabe Rockette.

At the bottom of the stairs, she stands her suitcase upright then lifts the handle as she scans the crowd. Her ponytail swings over her shoulders, and as she turns I catch a glimpse of her eyes. They aren’t the usual clueless, dreamer eyes. They dart around the platform, focused, present in the moment. Aware. She’s on a mission, and she plans to succeed.

She moves again, pulling the suitcase behind her. Her toned, Rockette-looking ass moves in a rhythm. The darting eyes, the swinging ponytail, the swaying ass, the determination oozing from every step pulls me into a trance. When she stops in the middle of the station, I freeze.

People watch her as they rush by, some probably pissed at the obstacle she suddenly became, while others, like me, seem enthralled by the beautiful outsider. She pulls something from the front pocket of her suitcase.

I take advantage of the opportunity and sneak up behind her. I need to talk to her, if only once, to hear if her voice is as determined and strong as her body language. I peek over her shoulder.
Holy hell.
She’s almost as tall as me.
How tall are they growing Rockettes these days?
She’s studying a subway map.

“It’s upside down.” I reach around her to tap the edge of her map.

She flinches and turns, looking up at me with wide-set, chocolate eyes. Even in the dimly-lit underground I know I’ve never seen a prettier face. I smile because I can’t help it.

“Excuse me?” Her voice is as enticing as the rest of her, throaty and musical but strong like I’d hoped. My chest tightens and my body comes alive, reminding me that I haven’t had sex in months.

“Your map.” I point to the paper in her hand. “It’s upside down.”

She nods and grimaces. “I realize that.” She looks down at her map, and her thick, brown ponytail falls over her shoulder.

When I don’t move, she looks at me again. “Do you need something?”

“Can I help you find your train?” I drop my duffel bags on the nasty floor and point toward the tracks. “If you’re looking for Broadway or Radio City, you have to go north.” She doesn’t look where I’m pointing. Instead, she squints, studying me. “Uptown,” I point again, shifting my stance.

When she doesn’t respond, I narrow my eyes. She tilts her head, and I mirror her movement. “Is something wrong?”

She taps her lips with a pink fingernail. “I’m trying to figure out if I should kick your ass with my self-defense moves, you know, stick my thumbs into your eyeballs or kick you hard in the knee caps. Or if you’re just bothering me because you’re trying to pick me up…” She smiles as she waits for my response. Her pink lips and nails match her top.


I return the smile then lift my hands in surrender. “No worries. I’m safe.”

She shakes her head and looks at her map.

I continue, “It’s just that you look like a lost starlet. I’d hate for you to take the wrong train and end up another overdosing porn tragedy because I didn’t stop and offer my services. I mean, your map
upside down.” I’m kidding, of course. She’s too gorgeous for porn.

Her lips press together, hiding a laugh. “I think I’ll manage. And my map’s upside down for a reason.”

“Hmm. Well, you know, in this new digital age there are these things called ‘apps’ to help you find your way. They go on your phone.” I point to the giant phone she grips in her other hand.

“Funny, the man I bought my token from handed me this map, not one of these so-called ‘apps’ you speak of.” She scans the station again, twisting the map in her hands. “I’m trying to make the map face the direction I’m facing. See?” She holds it up for me. “Paper can be fun. Ease up, Train Boy.”

?” I smirk, digging that she’s flirting back. “I’d prefer
. Why don’t you let me help you? I’m an expert you know.”

“At reading paper maps? In this digital age?”

“At everything,” I say, drawing out the last word. She rolls those big brown eyes.

A train rumbles into the station, pulling her gaze away. She looks at her upside down map, then up at the train, and her smile widens. “Ahh, there it is,” she says, pointing. “Gotta catch that train before the porn industry finds me.” She stuffs the map into her suitcase and lifts the handle. “Thanks for your help, Train Boy.” She winks then walks away.

,” I call after her. I slap my fist to my forehead because I didn’t ask for her number. Her ponytail hypnotizes me as it sways across her back in time with her hips. Despite her height, she carries herself with attitude—shoulders back, head up, as if she owns the fucking world. The yoga pants do wonders, too.
She’s the goddamn Yoga Hottie.

Then I notice the train she’s heading for is the train to New Jersey University. I can’t stop myself from smiling to the sky.

If my friends could see her, they’d probably feel better about my decision to leave the neighborhood and try out college. When I told them I needed to live in the dorm to be around the good kids, the kids on the right path, they said I was nuts. But I’ve reached the point where I want to walk the straight and narrow. I’ve even created a New Life Plan—my NLP: no women, no drugs, no alcohol. Yes to studying, art, and the playoffs, but only if the Yanks make it. The NLP is about concentrating on my future.

There’s no room for Yoga Hottie co-eds in the NLP. I curse myself for flirting, a habit I’ll have to break for the NLP to have a fighting chance.

Recommitted to my plan, I avoid her, sneak into the last train car, and take a seat.
No women
new start
. Then I make the mistake of picturing my hand wrapped around the Yoga Hottie’s ponytail.

This is not going to be easy.

At the first stop on the other side of the river, the Yoga Hottie steps off the train and onto the NJU campus. I get off a few cars behind and fall into the trance, following her. It’s only a couple of blocks to the center of campus. The hot, humid New Jersey air makes it hard to breathe, and I slow down and fall behind.

I shake my head and mentally recite my NLP, losing sight of the Yoga Hottie.
Good luck, gorgeous
. As I look around the busy campus, my NLP seems absurdly ambitious.
If the other women on campus look even half as good as the Yoga Hottie, I’m doomed.

I make my way toward Sheridan Hall, my assigned dorm. The only information I have about Sheridan is that it’s the oldest dorm at NJU, and it’s near the Student Center. With the help of upperclassmen scattered throughout campus, it’s easy to find.

At first glance, the two-story brick building looks plain and institutional, but as I approach I appreciate the detail. Symmetrical windows shuttered with ornately carved, white panels line the length of the building. A long porch stretches across the front of the dorm, dressed with intricate wood designs and cast iron rails. Flowers, tall trees, and bright green grass decorate the grounds and seem to defy the humidity and high temperature. I’m not used to seeing so much green.
I’ll have to sketch it for Gram.

No action is happening out front, so I walk around to the back. The less extravagant rear entrance opens to a parking lot jammed with moving vans, SUVs, dollies, hand trucks, and of course, teary-eyed parents dropping off their dry-eyed kids. For the first time in a long time, I’m relieved to be parentless so I don’t have to deal with that scene. Gram offered to reschedule her trip to Vegas with the seniors to help me move in, but I convinced her all I needed were my duffel bags and her love.

When I reach the back door, I pull my shiny new swipe card from my pocket and place it on the security pad. When the door clicks open, I sigh in relief. For a second, I thought this wasn’t real.

Inside the noisy stairwell, a group of guys carrying boxes block the stairs leading up. A handwritten sign indicates that room six, my room, is downstairs.
Ahh, into the crypt.
This must be where they put the non-paying scholarship kids, like me. I grunt a greeting at the guys who get to live above the ground and head to the basement.

I count the rooms as I walk by. Six rooms, numbered zero-zero-one to zero-zero-six, line one side of the hallway. Across from the rooms, a kitchen and lounge area stretches the length of the building, bookended by the men’s and ladies’ rooms. I’m anxious to meet my floormates, but their parents? Not so much. I avoid eye contact and dig out the key to my room. Of course, room six is on the ladies’ room side. Although not exactly convenient, watching the parade to the shower may be fun.

My roommate, some dude named Ben who I’d only talked to via text so far, has taken over his half of the room. He’s been on campus for a few weeks for football practice. My side of the room looks bare and sad compared to his, which is covered in clothes, playbooks, magazines, and other clutter.

I toss my duffel bags, filled with clothes and art supplies, next to the empty bed and realize I have none of life’s essentials, like sheets. I grimace as I look at the bare mattress. God only knows what’s happened on this university-issue mattress prior to my arrival. I picture Yoga Hottie stretched out on it waving me over, then replace the image with some fat dude jerking off. I shudder and wonder how often NJU replaces mattresses.

Fuck it.
I jump onto the uncovered mattress. I’m sure I’ve wallowed in worse. I shut my eyes, hear a girl’s laugh through the wall, and automatically wonder what she looks like.
Flirting with the ladies will be a hard habit to break.

I’m in and out of sleep while images of tight yoga pants and deep chocolate eyes morph into the letters N, L, and P and dominate my mind, until a determined knock jolts me awake. I take three steps to the door and open it.

Yoga Hottie.

I squeeze my eyes shut and open them again.
Still there.
I must have willed her to me.

Her back faces me as she looks down the hallway, and I soak her in. My body tightens as I check out her ass, up close in the well-lit hallway. Needing to get my act together before she turns around, I silently recite the Yankees lineup from the 2001 World Series.

She spins around and gasps when she sees it’s me. “Train Boy?”

Damn, she’s cute
. I curb the instinct to lean in and kiss her. “It’s
, remember?”

She laughs. “You’ve given up your welcoming post at the train station? What will all the lost starlets do now? The porn industry will thrive without you.”

I can’t stop smiling. I jam my hands into the pockets of my jeans and look to the ground like an idiot. I’m nineteen, not fourteen.
Get a grip, Chase.

“I’m Juliet. I’m in room one.” She points down the hall and rubs her lips together. A few seconds pass before I realize I’m staring, and it’s my turn to talk.

“Oh. Um. Chase Cooper. Known throughout the tri-state area as the Sexy Train Man.” I point to the door behind me. “Zero-zero-six.”

“Nice to officially meet you, Chase,” she says, leaning around me to look into my room. “Is Ben here?”

Ah, the girlfriend
. She’s the hottest girl I’ve ever seen, and I’ll have to watch her climbing in and out of my roommate’s bed. Which doesn’t sound awful, but still, the universe must be testing my commitment to the New Life Plan.

“I think he’s at practice.” I find my flirty voice from the train station. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

Her giant brown eyes trail my body. When her gaze returns to mine, she looks at me from under her long, dark eyelashes. “I don’t think so,” she purrs.

I can play too
. I lean against the doorframe and cross my arms over my chest, perfectly content to stand there all day with her. I’ll take the kiss-off as well as the flirt. “Maybe if you let me know what you need…”

Juliet juts out a hip and puffs her chest out with a big sigh. Then, she smiles for me. Over-smiles, actually, and says, “I just need Ben.”

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