Famous by Association - Leddy Harper



Dave, my roommate, jumped over the back of the well-worn couch and plopped onto the brown pleather cushion next to me. His goofy grin made me laugh—it was like he had radar any time I turned on the PlayStation.

“Ready to get your butt handed to you?” He reached for the pizza box on the ottoman in front of us. Apparently, he also had a keen sense of smell and could detect the slightest hint of greasy cheese, even in his sleep.

“You’re delusional. We both know you suck at first-person action.”

Dave was great at old-school games. Give him Mario or Sonic, and he’d bury just about anyone. Make him play against a live person, and he reverted to his high school years—unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. Guess some people never outgrew their awkwardness.

“Psh.” Particles of chewed pizza flew past his lips, landing on his wrinkled T-shirt. “You’re going to be sucking these nads in about five minutes.”

Thankfully, a knock resounded from the front door, preventing him from saying anything else that would possibly give me nightmares for months. I shook my head and tried to feign disgust. “You’re foul. Now go see who’s here.”

He stopped chewing like a cow and stared at me with wide, panicked eyes. Truly, we made the worst roommates. Neither one of us liked surprise guests or answering the door. Maybe we were just hermits and enjoyed our own secluded environment. But there was a greater chance that we had both been tormented by the Tiffany Lewises of the world for far too many years, which made the thought of being around people a tad scary. Being called “Tosh the Sasquatch” wasn’t easy to get over.

The knock resounded again, though this time, louder. It made us both jump, which would’ve been hilarious if it had happened to anyone else. But two video game nerds? Yeah, anyone laughing at us would’ve been an insult.

Dave grabbed my arm and yanked me off the couch, mouthing, “Go.”

“No!” I whisper-shouted. “You go!”

“It’s probably Publisher’s Clearing House. They’re here to give you a check.”

I slapped his hands to keep him from pushing me toward the door. “Yeah, right. It’s more than likely a murderer.”

“Even more reason for you to answer it.”

I looked over at Dave, who stared back at me while casually shrugging. I gave in, knowing this wouldn’t end until I conceded, and tiptoed toward the door. I hated surprise guests. Seriously, people should be more considerate and call first. Even though it was unlikely, I was hopeful that it was, indeed, Publisher’s Clearing House—heck, I’d even take UPS. But instead, we were both already convinced it was a serial killer waiting on the other side. I swear, I could even hear the eerie piano music in the background.

This kind of reaction wasn’t normal, but it was my normal.

I slid back the peephole cover, trying to get a look at the scary madman with a bloody knife on the other side of what now seemed like a very thin door. Just because he knocked didn’t mean anything; going to the front door was much less conspicuous than crouching behind bushes and peeking into windows. However, it seemed I wasn’t as sly as our guest. When I leaned forward to focus through the tiny lens, I smacked the edge of my glasses on the door, knocking them off my face and onto the floor.

“Oh, for the mother of…” The knocking persisted, sounding more impatient each time. My earlier terror was quickly replaced with annoyance. “Holy moly, hang on!” I scrambled to pick up my glasses and shoved them onto my face.

Dave came out of nowhere and opened the door, which would’ve been helpful had he not hidden behind it, leaving me out in the open to fend for myself. Scrunching my nose and straining to see, I straightened my spine, hoping to look like a badass with balls of steel instead of a coward with a sack of tinfoil.

“Um…Tasha Lewis?”

My eyes focused on a guy who seemed to have stepped directly out of GQ. I regarded him from head to toe, taking in his freshly cut black hair. It was slicked back with silver peeking out at his temples, resembling a third cousin of George Clooney twice removed. His entire appearance was immaculately groomed from his tailored navy suit down to his brown dress shoes, which were polished to perfection. And if that wasn’t enough, the leather briefcase hanging by his side completed the “I’m rich enough to