“Listen,” she said, turning around to face him. “I don’t like having a male roommate. I think you will agree that getting shacked up with a woman you don’t know isn’t your idea of a good time.”
Raif did not agree with her. He had had twelve roommates over the past five years and the clean, sensible, beautiful woman in front of him had nothing in common with any of them. He was not at all opposed to having her as a roommate. Her name was Wyntessa, which was not at all normal. Most of the time he heard her called Wyn, sometimes Wynny, though the two ys rubbed him the wrong way. In any case, she was spectacularly pretty with gray eyes, twisted cedar hair, and a kitchen that had no dirty dishes in the sink. He kept involuntarily glancing in the kitchen. She had fresh-cut flowers in a vase and a scented candle burning in the center of the dining room table.
Wyn kept talking like Raif had agreed that the situation was bleak. “It’s unfair to you and it’s unfair to me.”
She was referring to what happened to her roommate and his roommate. Two women had moved into apartment number 201 on the first of September (that had been Wyn and Muriel). Two men had moved into apartment 202 on the first of September (that had been Raif and Trevor). By the twenty-first of September, woman number two, Muriel, and man number two, Trevor, had fallen deeply in love. They decided they wanted to move in together and since the ladies’ apartment had two bedrooms and the fellers’ apartment had one, they came to a simple solution where no one had to be overly inconvenienced and Trevor and Muriel could start playing house immediately. All they had to do was trade Raif for Muriel and all would be well.
Except all was not well as Raif was staring down a very angry Wyn, who did not want to room with a man.
Raif started talking slowly and quietly so he wouldn’t scare her or turn her fury toward him. “I’m very clean,” he began. “I’m not loud, and I don’t have parties. I may stay out late, but you don’t have to keep tabs on me. I’ll be sensitive and not hang out in the common rooms if you have company.”
Wyn pouted beautifully. “You are not the problem. Though us rooming together is obviously what we have to do, I will find you a new place to live and get new roommates for both of us. If all goes well, you won’t have to live here longer than a week.”
“If you don’t want me here, I can find my own place. I don’t need your help,” Raif argued.
“No. I know Trev was a pretty good roommate. I mean, if he was trash, Muriel wouldn’t be at Ikea buying lamp shades with him, now would she? I can’t make you so desperate for a new place to live that you move in with just anyone. We have to find someone of quality. And I’ll help, at least.”
Raif nodded. He motioned that he wished to move past her to the bedroom behind her. She swished a hand in assent and let him enter Muriel’s freshly emptied room.
He looked around the bare room and noticed where the power outlets were, what kind of light bulb was in the overhead light fixture, and how many holes there were in the drywall. He opened the closet door and looked inside.
Wyn leaned against the door frame, her arms crossed protectively, and trembled slightly.
“I’m harmless, I assure you,” Raif said as he closed the closet door. “Nothing funny is going to happen, and hey, maybe having me around will be fun.”
“What could be fun?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Say you’re on a date and end up not liking the guy. At the front door, you tell him off, but he’s not listening. You open the door and he ducks under your arm, only to run into me watching TV. You come in and ask me what I’m doing here when we broke up all those months ago. I say I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You appear to gush. Boyo leaves, annoyed and humiliated. You and I smack a high five.”
Wyn cupped both hands under her face. “That’s quite the imagination you have. Never once in my life has a man ‘ducked under my arm’ or done something I’ve asked him not to do.”
Raif scanned the beautiful, yet severe, line of her lips. She had to be telling the truth. As alluring as she was, she was also completely terrifying, and yeah, he bet none of her dates disobeyed her if they wanted a second date. Over her shoulder, he could see the clean sink. For more than one reason, all of her dates would want a second one.
He sighed. “I’ll find a way to be useful to you. I’m handy and well organized. I’m good at carrying very full laundry baskets, and grocery bags.”
“Please stop,” she groaned. “I need some alone time.” She rounded the corner and vanished into her bedroom.
While she was having her ‘alone time’ Raif brought over his things. Trevor helped him move his bed frame, mattress, computer desk, and drawers full of his clothes. Normally, they would have talked, and they did, right up until the moment they entered Wyn’s apartment. Raif put a finger to his lips and Trevor nodded. Upsetting Wyntessa by making a racket would not help anything.
After everything was arranged in Raif’s room, he came out to find Wyn sitting at the kitchen table. She was cutting strips of colored paper, scribbling on them, and then rolling them around a pencil. When the paper was tightly rolled, she tied the tiny scroll with a string and pulled out the pencil.
“Are you having a good time?” he asked, pulling up a chair. “Want my help?”
“No!” she said, covering up her work with her hands, and grasping at an unbroken sheet of paper.
“Okay. I won’t intrude, but we need to talk about how we’re going to split some things.”
“Like what?” she barked.
She frowned and looked downcast.
“You don’t even want to share a fridge with me?” he asked patiently.
It obviously took considerable effort for her to say her next words. “I suppose we could just split it down the middle.”
“Wait,” Raif said. “Why does this seem like a brand new idea to you? You’re what? Twenty-one? This can’t be your first time having a roommate.”
“Of course, it’s not. I just usually did all the shopping and all the cooking and my roommate would clean up after.”
“So, Muriel is the one who cleaned the sink?” Raif asked with bated breath.
“No. I cleaned the sink.”
He let out a sigh of relief.
“She’s been out dating Trevor every night since we got here. I have been cooking for myself and cleaning my own sink. I kind of got used to doing everything myself. I suppose I see why we need to come to a temporary arrangement about splitting things.”
“Halving the fridge is fine with me.”
“And you’ll wash the dishes you dirty?” Wyn asked suspiciously.
“And you’ll pay half the utility bills?”
She picked up her pencil with an air of finality. “Then I guess there’s nothing else for us to talk about.”
Raif got up and started for his bedroom when suddenly Wyn said, “Before you go, will you pull that jar down from the cupboard for me?”
Tall as he was, he didn’t question her, and obediently looked above the cupboard. “There are a lot of jars up here. Which one do you want?”
“The biggest one,” she said casually.
“The biggest one it is,” he mouthed as he easily hefted it and sat it down on the table next to her.
“Thanks,” she said, though it seemed like it somehow hurt her to say it.
“It was the least I could do,” he said because it actually was the least he could do.
Author’s Notes: Thanks for reading! This is going to be a novelette and not a full-blown novel, so it's