April 2, 2019

Desperately Seeking Roommate Chapter Two

UNEDITED AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Read Chapter one here: https://micaleasmeltzer.com/desperately-seeking-roommate-chapter-one/

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Chapter two

Lou

I manage to get all the books off the bookshelves in the office space and I stack them up in piles in my room, planning to go to HomeGoods to see if they have any wire baskets I can put them in or something. I saw something on Pinterest like that and it looked really cute. Granted, Pinterest seems to be full of lies because nothing I ever try on there turns out decent. But baskets seem like a safe bet since it doesn’t involve sugar or flour.

I decide to leave the shelves themselves since my future roommate might have books they’d like to house there. If they want them gone … well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Pulling my hair back into a ponytail, I prepare to move my desk into my room. I moved things around to make space for it earlier, but I’ve been avoiding heaving the heavy monstrosity from the other side of the apartment. I’m already a sweaty hot mess and it’s not even ten in the morning.

I deserve an award for my dedication to my future roommate, because this shit sucks.

Once all my stuff is out of the spare room—except the bookcases of course—I vacuum every square inch and then go through the entire apartment while I’m at it.

After that, my OCD kicks in and I decide to scrub the entire place until it’s spotless. I figure that way when someone inquires about the place it’ll be decent when they see it.

When everything is clean, I take a shower and change into a pair of real clothes—not my usual fuzzy pajama pants and loose t-shirt attire. It’s after one now, and I’m in desperate need of caffeine. Normally I would’ve had three cups by now, but I was busy and it kept the urges at bay.

I grab my phone off the counter—the case it’s in holds my credit cards and some cash—and make my escape before I find anything else I need to clean.

I walk out the door and walk smack dab into my landlord.

“Oh my God,” I cry, my hand flying to my chest.

“Not God, but close enough.” He grins devilishly. His reddish blond hair is neatly trimmed but worn messily, his face is lightly stubbled like he didn’t have time to shave this morning, and his hazel eyes pop against his tan skin. He’s hot, even I’ll admit it, but hot doesn’t make up for his asshole personality.

“How can I help you, Jamie?” I ask him in a biting tone, knowing there’s no good reason why he’s here.

He gives me one of his signature smarmy smiles and I resist the urge to roll my eyes. It’d be my luck he’d kick me out on my ass based on rudeness, even though he needs to take a good strong look in the mirror.

“I was just swinging by to remind everyone rent is due next Friday at the new price.”

I give him a mock thumbs up I’d love nothing more than to turn into a middle finger salute. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“Mhmm, see you around, Louise.”

He starts down the hall to the next tenant and I call out, “It’s Lou.”

He knows this, but he doesn’t care. As long as his pockets are padded with our cash, he doesn’t care about any of us.

I walk out the main door onto the sidewalk. The nearest coffee shop is only a block away. It’s one of the perks of living downtown. I’m in walking distance to so many things, and as someone who has an aversion to driving, it’s great. It’s not that I don’t drive, I kind of have to, but I white knuckle it the entire way to wherever I’m going.

The trees are bright with the color of fall, and more people than usual stroll around in the cooler weather. Like them, I’m thankful to finally say goodbye to the ridiculously humid weather. Walking outside and immediately becoming drenched in sweat isn’t my idea of fun. Boob sweat is a freaking nightmare and impossible to avoid when it’s ninety degrees but feels like one-hundred and ten.

Griffin’s, the best coffee shop in the world, appears around the corner and I smile. I love the old-fashioned brick building with green trim. It’s unique and doesn’t quite look like it belongs in this town, but better suited for a cute hideaway place in some foreign country.

I push the door open, the cheery bell signaling my arrival.

I pause for a moment, inhaling the sweet warm scent of coffee and baked goods.

The line isn’t too long, and I send up a little prayer for this small blessing. At times I’ve had to wait thirty minutes just to order here. It’s a favorite with the locals, and even the out of towners, for its charm and the fact it frequently hosts music acts and open mic nights. Plus, with the university not far away students flock here to study or hang out, myself and Miranda included.

Finally reaching the counter, I order a latte and banana muffin. There’s an empty seat near the windows, which never happens. I run toward it like I’m racing in the Indy 500 only to get there the same time as a guy.

“This is my table,” I declare.

“Pretty sure I got here first,” he argues back.

I put my hands on my hips. “Nope, it was definitely me.”

He grins, and it’s a boyish kind of smile, sweet but with a naughty edge. His teeth are slightly crooked, but I think it’s cute. Too many perfect teeth in an imperfect world is a bit much for me, personally.

“How about we call it a tie?” he suggests. “We could share? There are two tables and plenty of space.”

My head cants to the side as I think it over. There are other empty tables, but this one is the best.

“Fine,” I agree, albeit reluctantly since I’m not fond of strangers. “We’ll share. But if you think I’m going to share my muffin with you, you’re wrong.” My sharing streak does not carry over to food.

His smile grows wider.

Not the muffin I meant.”

He chuckles, and it’s a husky raspy sound—almost too sexual sounding to be a laugh. “It was still funny.”

My cheeks heat. Why do I have to be so awkward?

I sit down and he follows suit. He looks to be my age, and I wonder if he’s going to the university too. Campus is large and it’s impossible to know everyone. He has light brown hair, brown eyes, and a heavy dusting of stubble on his cheeks like he couldn’t be bothered to shave the past couple of days.

“I’m Tanner.” He holds out his hand.

I take his hand and shake it before letting go. “Lou.”

“Lou?” he repeats, raising a brow. “Can’t say I’ve heard that one.”

“It’s short for Louise,” I explain, tucking a stray piece of blonde hair behind my ear.

“Family name?”

I nod. “My grandmother’s. She passed away before I was born and my parents wanted to honor her.” My name is called for my order. “That’ll be me,” I say unnecessarily. “Try not to give my seat away.”

He chuckles, leaning back in his seat to watch me. “It seems like a hot commodity. Someone might buy it from me and who am I to turn down a few bucks?”

“Don’t even think about it,” I warn with a joking smile.

I grab my order and return. Tanner’s made himself comfortable. His long legs are sprawled out into the aisle and he’s set up his laptop on the table.

He looks up at me and I shake my muffin. “Not sharing,” I remind him.

He chuckles, closing the laptop lid so he can look at me. “What about your coffee? You sharing that?”

“Nope.” I pull my muffin out of the bag along with a plastic fork.

“So mean to me,” he remarks, pressing a hand to his chest.

I notice then he’s dressed nicely in a dark blue sweater and jeans that look like they cost more than my rent.

“I guess it’s a good thing I already placed an order.” His eyes sparkle with barely contained laughter.

I peel the wrapper away from my banana muffin. “That’s a very good thing,” I concur. I pull off a piece of the muffin and pop it in my mouth. I’ve always eaten them that way, much to mother’s chagrin.

She’d scoff and say, “Louise Myrtle Powell, a lady does not walk around with crumbs on her bosoms.”

But in my opinion, if there aren’t crumbs then you’re not enjoying yourself. Life’s too short to not get messy.

Tanner smirks at me over the top of his computer. “I’m suddenly very jealous of your … muffin.”

I choke at his words and muffin crumbs tumble down my throat, the once soft bites now feel like ice picks digging into my esophagus as I try not to hack up a lung.

His smile widens as I grab my coffee and try to compose myself. “You’re kind of adorable.”

Adorable.

That word feels like an ice cube dropped down my back—cold, prickly, and utterly distasteful.

Most girls get told they’re pretty, or if they’re lucky beautiful, gorgeous, or even stunning. I’ve always been stuck in the cute or adorable category. It’s a corner I don’t like being shoved into. Is it my size that doesn’t make me worthy of more flowery descriptors or am I forever going to be the girl that never is in the starring role, even in her own life?

About that time his name is called. I doubt he even notices the shutters I close around myself. I don’t like people-ing, and this is what happens when I do.

Honestly, why do I have to leave the house? Human interaction is overrated. I could survive as a hermit. Me, myself, and I sounds like a mighty fine life to me.

Tanner slides back into the chair across from me with a gigantor cup of coffee.

He must have asked for the ‘I’m a closet dick’ special. Actually, in that case his coffee should be the tiniest cup size imaginable to match his, I’m sure, below average penis size.

“Why are you glaring at me?” He raises one brow, lowering the lid on his laptop.

“You called me adorable,” I blurt the words before I can stop them. I wouldn’t be so hung up on the silly word if one of the horrible guys I went out with last year didn’t tell me, “This was fun and all, don’t get me wrong you’re adorable, but this won’t be happening again,” after slept with him.

I hate myself for letting it get to me now, but let’s face it, word vomit is the worst kind of vomit of all. At least if you’re sick you can clean up the mess and move on, but words? Once you speak them you can’t gobble them back up and swallow them down.

He narrows his eyes in confusion. “What’s wrong with adorable?”

I roll my eyes, swaying my hand casually through the air. “Little girls are adorable. I’m a woman. I should be can’t-touch-this hot, or sexy-and-I-know-it sinful, not adorable.”

He throws his head back, laughing so hard his whole body shakes.

“Why are you laughing?” I hiss, my palms landing flat on the table to stop it from moving along with him.

Laughter that can only be described as giggles, erupts from him. There are literal tears in his eyes and I feel like a fool. I want to grab my stuff and run far and fast away from him, but something keeps me compelled to my seat.

Why is it so funny that I think I deserve to be called hot or sexy? Just because I’m a bigger girl, doesn’t mean I’m any less than any other woman—so why does it feel like I am.

When he finally sobers, wiping tears from his eyes, he leans over the table and motions with his hand like he wants to tell me a secret. I lower my head, my ear tilted toward him and he says, “You’re not my type.”

I rear back like I’ve been shocked. Any time I’ve heard that line it’s usually followed by, “Look at me and look at you. We don’t match.” It’s beyond frustrating feeling like I’m constantly being judged. I’m happy, smart, and I know I’m pretty. Yeah, maybe I’m not a Victoria’s Secret model, but I’m Lou. I’m me. The most beautiful thing we can be in this world is our own self. No one else can ever be you, so I believe in loving myself whole-heartedly. I’m stuck with myself until the day I die. If I hate who I am and what I look like it’s going to be a long damn ride.

“Because of my size, right?” I challenge, raising a brow. I never defend myself when this kind of thing happens, because frankly anyone with that kind of mindset isn’t someone I want to associate with, but this time I refuse to let it go.

His eyes widen like saucers and his cheeks redden as he too whips back in his seat. “Oh, fuck, God no. I’m gay.”

My whole body collapses onto the table, my head in my hands. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry so I settle for a combination of both. It figures when I finally decide to call a guy on his bullshit he’d end up gay.

When I finally gather my wits, those pesky little buggers, I sit up straight and hold my chin high.

“If you weren’t gay, would I be your type?” I give him my best duck lips and sultry-eyed Instagram worthy look.

He looks me up and down and a slow grin spreads over his face.

“Most definitely.”

I shrug and let out a sigh. “I can live with that.”

I finish my muffin, sipping my coffee along. Brushing the crumbs off the table I stand up, my half full cup clasped in my hand. “It was nice meeting you, Tanner.”

“Leaving so soon?” His fingers halt against his keyboard and one brow peaks as he regards me with a grin.

I lift my shoulders in a small nonchalant shrug. “I’ve peopled enough for today.”

He lets out a full laugh. “Not much of a people person, are you?”

I let out a small not-very-lady-like snort. “Not really. I only like a few people.”

“Well,” he drags out the word. “Give me your phone.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.” His smile never falters.

For some reason I hand it over.

A moment later he hands it back to me, his number added to my contacts under Tanner-The-Very-Gay-Coffee-Non-Date, and I can’t help but burst into laughter.

“If you ever decide on adding a fun gay bestie into the mix, I’m available. I’m a great time at parties, an excellent study partner, and in case a spontaneous pillow fight breaks out you don’t have to worry about a boner taking flight. Pussy doesn’t do it for me. I like hotdogs, not tacos.”

My laughter only grows. “You know, I think Miranda and I could totally use a new gay bestie.”

He smiles. “I’m new in town, so friends would be nice.” There’s something vulnerable in his eyes, as if he hates admitting it.

“Here,” I motion for his phone, “I’ll give you my number too.”

He slides his Android—blasphemy—into my outstretched palm and I add my contact info.

He chuckles when he reads my contact name. “Lou-That-Weird-Coffee-Bitch.” He shakes his head and clucks his tongue. “For the record, Lou, I bet your taco is the best one out there … if one enjoys tacos.”

I smile back at him. “Oh, I know. It’s time for the male population to figure that out. I’m amazing, a total catch.”

With that, I swish my hair over my shoulder and saunter out the door.

I might have my moments of weakness, who doesn’t, but I never let my self-doubts dull my sparkle for long.

I’m a unicorn—a rare, precious thing, and any man will be damn lucky for me to choose him.

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Welcome!

Micalea SmeltzerHi. I’m Micalea. Ma-call-e-uh. Weird name, I know. My mom must’ve known I was going to be odd even in the womb. I’ve written a lot of books. Like a lot. Don’t ask me how many, I don’t remember at this point.

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