Scrolling through my e-mails, I sighed. Nobody replied to my rent offer. Great. I'm not that enthusiastic at the idea of living with someone, especially someone I've never even met, but for how quiet it is, damn Boston is expensive, my job at the café doesn't pay me enough, I'm lucky I don't have to pay university fees since I've got a scholarship, but that doesn't save me from other things, so ... I need a roommate. Possibly somebody quiet and nice and that stays out of the way the more possible.
Courses are starting in a week and in a week I have to pay October's rent. I'd really love to still have some money at the end of the month.
I was about to close the browser when an e-mail arrived. It was from the site I had posted my offer on, it notified me someone was interested: Lukas Bennet. I clicked on the link and it brought me to the profile I had on that site, showing me a message from this guy:
Hi. Am in desperate need of a place to live. May I see the apartment?
Nothing else. Just this. I sighed. Living with a boy. My parents wouldn't agree. Definitely. Too bad I don't have parents. Well, I do, but it's like I don't. Long story.
I've got a sister, though. She's older, leaves in New Jersey with her fiancée. They're about to marry, as the princess she is, Kelly chose 24th December as a date, so yeah, she'll get married on Christmas Eve. It's exactly three months from now. I could get away from the preparations with the excuse of having to think about classes and work.
Speaking of which, if I don't get ready I'll be late ... again.
I work at a café quite near my apartment, the owner is a kind old lady named Fran, she gave me this job a year ago. Can't say I love it, but it's not too bad, I mean, it's not like the place is overcrowded, so just me and Fran are enough.
Anyway, I jogged to the bathroom and took a quick shower. It was 9 of Tuesday morning. I'm not a morning person, and normally my shift at the café is in the afternoon, not to interfere with lectures, but since Fran doesn't feel too well in these days, I work all day. At least it's gonna be useful, since she promised to pay me the overtime.
Once ready, having put on simple dark blue jeans and a black t-shirt with the Linkin Park logo (yes, I'm LP soldier and am proud) along with grey sneakers, hair in a sloppy bun, I left, heading to the café by foot. I've got a car, but the shop is just ten minutes from home, so ...
While walking, I thought of this guy who'd be my roommate. I don't easily trust people, and I've never lived with male beings, well, I have once, but just for a week, right this summer, when I went to see my sister, so I shared the apartment with a boy, but my future brother-in-law isn't a stranger, I mean, I've known Kevin since my junior year.
The name of my aspirant roommate doesn't sound too bad, but for some reason it gave me the impression of someone not too reliable ... or maybe I'm just paranoid.
While walking, I obviously had my headphones on, music pretty loud, so I couldn't hear anything around me, just the angelic voice of Chester Bennington singing Adele's Rolling In The Deep. Even better than the original, if you ask me. Anyway, thinking and thinking, I realized that that name sounded quite familiar actually ...
"Good morning, sweetie."
Fran greeted me with a smile, like always behind the register. Well, I think she said that, like I said, the music was too loud, but after having worked for her for so long, I'm used to reading her labial. I smiled, lightly nodding and taking off my headphones. You could still hear Chester screaming at the top of his lungs while singing Given Up when I shut down my Mp3 reader.
"Weren't you sick?"
I asked Fran, tilting my head to the side.
"Oh, I feel good now."
She replied, then thanked a customer after having given him his change.
I asked, joining her behind the bar to put on my green apron.
"It was just flu, Tara."
"Yeah, but ..."
"I may be an old lady, but I still can work."
I raised my hands in surrender. She's too stubborn for me, and that's all saying because I'm quite a bull too. She smiled.
I quickly got to work, although it wasn't truly filled. As my day went on, at some point I noticed a really cute guy sitting in the corner booth. He looked somewhat familiar. What's up with these sorts of déjà vu? I feel like I've already seen everything and everyone today. Oh, well, for how gorgeous the guy was, maybe I had dreamed of him already and didn't know it.
I soon shrugged it off anyway, also because I wanted to avoid Fran's digs. She certainly would have told me to go talk to him.
The day went smooth, by five my lovely employer let me go, saying she could handle everything on her own and I clearly needed some rest. Not sure if I should have been offended or not.
I did look like a panda, I think. If it wasn't for my glasses, bags would be quite evident under my eyes. Oh, well, I don't sleep much during the night, I do in the morning. That's not healthy, is it? I don't get my beauty sleep.
I'm more of a night creature actually, I mean, other than lay back on a beach trying to tan, I'd lay back, on that same beach, at night, gazing at the stars.
Once at home, I took another shower. Working at the café might be peaceful, but since we're technically still in Summer, sweating is inevitable and I hate smelling like a dirty football player. It relaxed me anyway.
I was in my room, getting dressed while singing along with Chester, when I heard the doorbell. Running to open, as clumsy as I am I slipped on my wooden floor and landed on my soft but still easily hurt butt.
The one at the door thought it would be cool to enter without being invited, so there he found me, only a long blue towel on, damp hair cascading down my shoulders, comfortably laying back on the floor.
"Hey, uh ... you ok?"
The stranger asked, standing in front of the entrance, hands stuffed in his pockets. I squinted my eyes to better look at him, and once I did, I recognized the cute guy I saw at the café. He was wearing simple light blue jeans with a grey t-shirt. Blonde hair. My weak spot. I've got a soft spot for blonde guys, and if they've got blue eyes too ... oh, God ...
"Yeah, I'm fine."
I muttered in response, not easily standing up, but like a new Bridget Jones, my towel fell down, revealing all my naked and absolutely imperfect fleshy body. The boy turned around immediately, but not quite, I mean, his eyes did linger on my graces for a moment ...
I quickly took the towel back, trying not to blush too much.
Then I gave him a better look. Handsome. Really handsome. And so very sexy ...
"Who are you and why are you here?"
I asked, stern, trying to act like nothing happened.
"Lukas Bennet. The one of the rent offer."
He replied, slowly turning around. I frowned.
"Yeah, sorry, we didn't have an appointment, but I'm quite in a hurry and ... well, I need a place."
He justified, raking a hand through his hair.
"I don't live with boys."
I replied, clutching my towel, in case gravity decided to pick on me again. He smirked.
"Yeah, I can imagine why ... but I'm really a quiet roommate."
My eyebrows furrowed at his comment.
"Look, you need somebody to share the bills, I need somewhere to live ... deal?"
"The way I see it, I'm the one with the upper hand here."
"What do I need to do? Beg you?"
I couldn't help but smirk, my inner and hidden dark side taking over for a moment apparently, but I quickly shrugged it off, shaking my head.
"Ok, uh ... I guess a primary interview won't hurt ... sit, I'll go get dressed."
I said and he nodded. Quickly, I jogged to my room, feeling the stranger's eyes on me, can't say if he was amused or what, but I did feel he was staring at me.
I put on some simple sweatpants and a t-shirt, then went back to the living room, where the boy was sitting on the couch, looking around like an inspector.
"Ok, so ... my name's Tara Baker, but I guess you know that already ..."
I started, sitting on the armchair in front of him and he nodded. He was leaning out on the sofa, hands clasped together, short strands of hair falling down to cover his eyes, which now I could see, were as blue as the bright sky ...
"You should know me too, actually."
He spoke and I frowned.
"We went to the same school."
"Yeah, Lincoln High. In Bradford."
I blinked my eyes, trying to remember someone named Lukas Bennet in my school.
"We never talked, I think, but I remember you."
He told me.
"Yeah, you were that shy girl who did her best to be invisible."
My eyebrows furrowed.
"Didn't succeed very much ..."
I mumbled and he smirked, having apparently heard me, even if I didn't want him to.
"I remember you always alone when you weren't hanging around Sheila."
Yeah, my best friend. I still hear from her, even if she lives in the other side of the country.
"I'll admit it took me a moment to actually recognize you."
"Well, I haven't recognized you at all."
I spat, unable to watch my tongue, and he chuckled.
"Good for me, then."
I frowned at his comment, but he just smiled, showing me his pearly white teeth.
"When I applied for your offer, I didn't know it was you, although the name did ring a bell."
He said, shimmering blue eyes scrutinizing me. I had my hair still damp, didn't tie it only to let it dry without need to use the drier, with my glasses now on I could see much better and honestly, what a sight it was ...
"Then I came here and ... well, you've changed, but there's still something of that little nerd in you."
I couldn't help but ask. I feel exactly the same as I was when I graduated. Of course, I've done something to ... let's say enhance my chances of getting noticed by boys, I mean, Sheila put me through some sort of makeover that had me start using cosmetics and lose weight, which didn't gain me a true boyfriend, but something of the sort ... long story.
In any case all I have left of that nerd, physically, it's the glasses. Although I am not exactly skinny, just a comfortable size 12 instead of the old 22. Boys do see me, they don't eye me as they eye Sheila, but I'm not invisible anymore. As for character, I still am that nerd, far less shy, but nothing's really changed apart from that.
Lukas half smiled.
"I can't tell you that."
He replied and I frowned.
"Because you wouldn't even give me a chance."
"Nobody says I'll do it anyway."
He pressed his lips, those yummy lips ... focus, Tara, focus ... stay concentrated on the matter, not on him.
"Look, courses are starting in a week, like the moron I am I forgot to apply for the dorms, so I'm left without a place to live. I've looked around and they're all taken already. Yours was the last one."
He told me. All this sincerity surprised me actually. Why was he so open about his own business? I mean, I'd never reveal to anybody what my problems are, but I'm guessing he thought being direct was the best solution to bring me to accept him as my roommate.
"I've never lived with a boy."
I mumbled. He smirked.
"I won't hang around naked, if that's your problem."
He replied. I gave him a dirty look and his smirk widened.
"Unless, of course, you do want me to ..."
I narrowed my eyes at him and he chuckled.
Great, he's a total ass. Wonderful.
I crossed my arms, leaning back on the armchair and crossing my legs. Lukas followed my movements with his eyes and I swear, if I hadn't been so insecure about my looks, I would have said he was actually checking me out.
"What makes you think I'll accept you in my house?"
"Technically, it's not your house."
"I live here and I choose the roommate, so ..."
"Ok, uh ... because I'm ... interesting to look at?"
I snorted, rolling my eyes. Jeez, can this guy be more arrogant? Yeah, ok, you're handsome, but there's no need to throw it in the others' face, for God's sakes. Lukas chuckled.
"Ok, sorry, I'm not really making a good impression, am I? But seriously, I need a place soon."
"Where are you staying now?"
"In a much expensive hotel. I can't squander all my fund on that."
I looked at him intensely for a moment.
"I can't just accept whatever stranger in my apartment."
I said, voicing my thoughts.
"I'm no murderer or rapist. I swear."
He replied, amused, placing one hand on his heart and the other up in the air to actually swear.
"Yeah, like a murderer or rapist would say yes, I am."
I commented, rolling my eyes, and he chuckled.
"Come on, if I was a girl you wouldn't be so hesitant."
"Of course not. It's easier with a girl."
"Look, I don't ..."
I started, but then ... Epiphany.
"Lukas ... Lukas Bennet. God, of course I know you! You were the worst element of our school!"
I voiced my thoughts, but he just chuckled.
"Well, that's flattering. I'm sure there were worse subjects."
"Not worse than you. Bad boy was your reputation mark. I've witnessed more of your fights than football games. And I am a fan of European football. You practically were in the principal's office every day. It's a miracle you graduated on time."
I explained, like I even needed to. He chuckled.
"Any chances you'd believe me if I said that was my evil twin?"
He mocked and I glared at him.
"Flattered to be in your memories anyway."
He said, faking a light bow, to which I glared.
"Look, it's been ... three years already. I've changed. Believe it or not."
I looked at him, disbelieving. Certainly he's physically changed, I mean, I hadn't even recognized him, but what tells me he isn't the same troublemaker, the same ill-tempered asshole he was in high school? Can't say I had an actual acquaintance, I mean, Sheila certainly knew him better, they've flirted for a while, but me, I was too shy to even approach such a guy. If ever we've been face to face, it was because he stopped by us to talk, better said, flirt with my best friend. I should call her for advice.
"How about a ... month trial? If by the end of the month we don't get along you'll kick me out."
Lukas proposed. I leered, amused.
"Why so complying?"
"I need a damn place to live, Tara."
I grimaced at the tone.
"Look, I don't know what you've heard about me, but I've changed. Really."
"It's not just your past. It's all the thing."
"Come on, just because I'm a man? I won't do anything against you, I swear."
I pressed my lips.
I need somebody to split the bills and no one has answered to my offer. Plus, living with a boy might have its benefits, I mean, maybe it'd be ... safer? Yeah, I can take care of myself, I've had self defense classes, but a male help might be useful anyway ... I sighed.
"Ok. You're in."
I said and he smirked.
"But one thing wrong and I'll kick you out."
I added, purposefully to erase his smirk. He just nodded.
"Thanks ... I think. I'll just go pick up my things and ... we'll be roommates."
He told me with a smile. I grimaced instead. Of course I don't trust him. Of course I don't think we can't work as roommates. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't judge the book by its cover, but if you knew his reputation ...
"I guess we'll need to set some ground rules, though."
He said. I bit my bottom lip, thinking about it.
"It's pretty simple. No parties in here."
I replied and he chuckled.
"You mean big parties or ..."
I rolled my eyes.
"Bring girls here only when you're absolutely sure I won't be at home. And in any case restrict your ... intimate parties to your room. Do you smoke?"
"No, I don't. I'm a sportsman, it'd be counterproductive, don't you think?"
"Mmh ... ok. Guess I should show you the rest of the apartment ..."
"Just my room is enough for now."
"It's the one on the left."
I pointed at the end of the corridor.
"The bathroom is on the other side, but you've got one in your own room, so ... the apartment is big enough for us not to bother each other, I think."
"You want me out of the way the more possible, huh?"
"It's not you, well, not just you, I just ... like being alone."
He leaned out again, scrutinizing me for a moment.
"You know, I remember you much more shy."
He commented, blue eyes piercing through me, so much that I blushed lightly.
I mumbled, lowering my glance. That's the Lukas I remember. The intimidating, often scary and menacing one, that boy who could bring you down with a single look, that guy who had girls swooning for him with a simple smile ... that, that's the Lukas Bennet I remember. My best friend used to have a big crush on him, and they've played for a while, but it didn't work, don't know why.
"What about cooking?"
He asked, leaning back on the sofa.
"We can take turns. But I highly doubt we'll ever eat together."
I replied and he half smiled.
"You should give me a chance at least, Tara."
"I am. I said you're in."
"No, I mean, if we're to live together, we should try to be friends, but if you reject me in advance ..."
"I don't need your friendship. I just need your help to pay the bills. That's all. We can live together without even talking to each other for what I care."
"Tell me, Tara, why do you hate me?"
"I don't hate you. I just don't trust you."
"But you don't even know me."
"I know your reputation."
I snorted, looking away.
"If you've changed so much, why can't I?"
I turned to him again.
"I haven't changed."
"Yes, you have. I remember you much more shy, insecure. You barely talked. Now here you are, facing a whole conversation and with what fierce ..."
"Maybe I'm just in a bad mood."
"Yeah, and it's me to cause that?"
"You tell me, you practically broke into my house."
"Hey, I knocked. You didn't hear me."
"And that's reason enough to enter without announcing yourself?"
He smirked,the annoyingly smug kind of smirk and his eyes landed on my body.
"Didn't know I'd find you naked, sweetheart. In that case I wouldn't have even knocked..."
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