Alyssa isn’t completely honest when she answers the ad for a roommate online. True, she needs a place to live, true she’s getting a divorce, true; he’s a cheating jerk. There’s just a little bit more to it than that. So when the ad comes across her screen Indigo City beat cop looking to rent out a fully furnished room… she jumps on it, because what could be safer than living with a cop?
Golden isn’t too keen on living with a chick, but after posting online looking for a roommate, he’s found the pickings are slim. The softly spoken brunette doesn’t seem like she’s much trouble, plus she’s got the cash up front, so what the hell? She’ll just have to get over his bringing home badge bunnies from the 10-13. He’s got a stressful job, and the best way to blow off steam, in his estimation, is hot sex.
It’s a pressure cooker waiting to blow and it turns out the new roomie has moxie, which gets Golden to thinking, which leads to him feeling. This is either going to be a really good or a really bad idea.
I opened the front door to two women standing on my doorstep. I frowned and asked, “Which one of you is Alyssa?”
The cool drink of water who was a corkscrew strawberry blonde with legs for fucking days pointed at the shorter, pretty, if sort of plain, brunette and said, “She is,” at the same time the brunette gave a little wave and meekly proclaimed, “I am.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said, sticking out my hand. She gripped it lightly in one of those wussy half-assed handshakes and I fought not to roll my eyes.
I looked at the strawberry blonde.
She smiled broadly and said, “I’m Kenzie. I’m the best friend.”
“Nice to meet you, too. Come on in.” I stepped aside and let the women through, all while thinking that this was a really bad idea. Alyssa’s email had come through three or four days ago, pretty much right after I’d posted the ad. I’d had a couple of dudes respond the next day, but one had reeked of pot and the other had said he was between jobs but could get me the money by the end of the week. Yeah, no.
I’d sat on Alyssa’s email, not too keen on rooming with a chick, but it wasn’t like the offers were pouring in, and when I’d asked her availability to come see the room, she’d been cool, said whenever it was convenient for me. She’d also said she had the money up-front when I’d asked. I’d agreed to let her come see it, so I could get a better measure of her.
“I’m Rodrigo, but most of my friends call me Golden.”
“Alyssa.” She laughed nervously. “Most people call me Lys.”
“Well, here’s the living room, kitchen; dining room,” I said sweeping out a hand. It was a funky layout, but I liked it. As you came in the front door, the living room was to your right, the dining table straight ahead, and the kitchen on the left. It was a bit of a jaunt around the table and straight back down the hall. The guest room was past the bathroom on the right, and my room was past the laundry closet on the left. I had my half-bath with a toilet, shower, and sink in the master suite, while she’d have the main bath out here.
I liked the exposed brick wall on the one side of the living room and in her room. It was an old building and kind of gave it some manly vibes. I walked the girls past the black couch and black dining table set. The dining table was a bit big for the space, seating six, but worth it when I had the guys or Angel and other family over. It wasn’t often on that last one. I stopped just before the mouth of the hallway and turned.
“So, uh, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living?”
“Actually, I own a florist shop about six blocks from here,” she said. “When I answered the ad, I didn’t realize that this place was so conveniently located. I could walk to work from here, which will be nice.”
She drifted around the back of the couch past the shelving units built into the back wall of the living room. The guest bathroom was on the other side of that wall, a buffer between the spare bedroom and the sound system I had installed in here. I followed her with my eyes and nodding, said, “It’s a decent-enough neighborhood. You have a car?” She shook her head and stopped at the bank of windows in the wall facing out over the alley and the street.
“Well, if you ever decide to get a car, the building has a deal with the garage around the corner. It’s something like three hundred bucks a month to park a car in there; prices around here have gone batshit.”
“You pay that much just to park your car?” Kenzie asked, and I tuned back to her. I swear, her blue eyes crossed. I laughed a little and shook my head.
“Motorcycle, and it’s like less than half that for a bike, you can fit four of them into a full sized space. And before you ask – no, I’m not including the parking for my bike in the rent.”
“I’m surprised they let you sublet,” Lys said, and her voice was so quiet, I almost missed it. She was looking out one of the window panes. Those windows had a decent view of the mouth of the alley and into the street, if you stood at the right angle for it, which she was. She had a bit of a faraway look in her big brown eyes.
“They like having a cop in their building,” I said with a shrug. “Come on, I’ll show you the room; see if you like it.”
“Hey,” he said, a bit breathlessly. “Sorry about that, here you go.” He handed me two silver keys on a weak wire ring.
“One apartment and one mailbox,” he said, though I didn’t need the explanation.
“Thank you,” I murmured.
He squinted into the back of Kenzie’s SUV.
“Is that it?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Kenzie said. “Think you might be able to grab one?”
“Yeah, I’m good for a load up, but then I gotta get ready for work. Gimme two.” He left my door and went around to the back hatch. Kenzie was out of the car and met him there. She gave him two of the totes, one of the heavy ones and another, lighter one on top. He marched into the building without as much as a backward glance and I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
He was as tall as, and probably bigger than, Raymond, which was fairly physically imposing. He was a police officer, which meant training, and that made him scarier in my book. Unlike my soon-to-be-ex-husband, Golden moved with a surety and grace that said he was well in control of his body, beyond just an average person. He also had some impressive muscle; the sleeves of his t-shirt hugged his biceps and the clearly-defined musculature of his back rippled through the thin cotton material. I shut the car door behind me and watched him walk away. I blinked in my sudden awareness that I found my new roommate attractive.
I hadn’t counted on that. It left me feeling more than a little discombobulated, even as Kenzie called out to me, “Hey, Lys, you okay?”
“Fine!” I said hurriedly. “I’m fine.”
Kenzie and I double-teamed the rest of the totes and suitcase. I held the elevator while she loaded them all in, running back and forth from her car. The load zone was only good for thirty minutes, so she would have to go find a place to park. Honestly, though, I wished she would just go. I didn’t think I could get settled with her here, plus, she’d already done so much for me that my guilt was working overtime.
“Okay, let’s get this stuff into the apartment and then I’ll go park for real.” She stepped onto the elevator beside me and I let the doors close.
I chewed my lip for a second and finally said, “Actually, it’s okay. If you can just help me get this stuff into the apartment, I can take it from there. There’s no need for you to stay. You have things to do.”
“Are you sure?” She looked torn. The elevator shuddered and came to a halt. The doors seemingly took forever to open back up.
“I’m sure,” I said, stepping off and dragging a stack of totes off the elevator, over the thin carpet. Kenzie did the same with the other stack and snatched the handle to the suitcase as the doors tried to shut on us again. I glanced up the hall and realized Golden’s door stood open.
“You’re really sure, Lys?” she asked one more time.
I gave her a mock-frown and reminded her, “This was your idea.”
“No, moving this soon was your idea. It was just my idea you move into this apartment.” She gave me a conspiratorial little smile and lowered her voice. “Bonus points that he turned out to be hot.”
I blushed hard and shook my head, banishing the thought and said, “I shouldn’t be thinking like that. At all.”
Kenzie stopped me with a hand on my arm and said, “Lys, what Raymond did to you was undeniably shitty, but you’ll get through this. I promise. You will.”
I smoothed my lips together and nodded. I just wasn’t ready for anything, I guess. I don’t know, I still needed to unpack a lot of things, and not just these totes full of clothes and belongings.
Text Copyright © 2018 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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