Author’s Note: This will probably be part 1 of a series, so any and all feedback is definitely appreciated (as always). Thanks!
For almost four hours, Amelia had been pacing around her apartment. Each time she passed her kitchen, she would pause, sigh, and stare at the letter on her counter labeled “FINAL NOTICE.” Then she would groan in frustration and take another lap around her apartment.
Amelia’s roommate had unexpectedly moved out three months ago, leaving her to pay the rent alone until she could find someone new. At first it wasn’t a big deal; Amelia took a couple extra shifts at the bar and had just enough saved to make it work. Or she did, until one month later when the transmission on her Nissan had died. It took over two weeks to fix it, and she’d had to rent a car or else miss work. Things had just spiraled down the drain from there.
In the end, Amelia was almost two months behind on rent, as the letter on her counter explained in all capital letters. Which meant she either had to find a couple thousand dollars fast, or find a new place to live – which wouldn’t be easy without any money for a security deposit and a bad landlord reference. Amelia had spent all morning trying to figure out a solution, but the only thing she’d been able to think had been godfuckingdamnit on repeat.
Ok, Amy. Focus on the solution, not the problem, she thought to herself. After a couple more rounds of cursing, she took her own advice. Go down to the office, throw yourself at the landlord’s mercy. The owner of Amelia’s apartment complex, Mr. Thurston, was a pleasant old man and he’d always been nice to her. If she explained that her car was fixed now, that she’d be taking extra shifts at work, that she was finding a roommate, and that she’d catch up as soon as she could… Throw in a short skirt and bat my eyelashes, maybe he’ll cut me a break.
Amelia stopped staring at the letter and began to stare at her closet. She wasn’t above flirting with her landlord to get an extension on paying her rent, she decided. Hell, is it any worse than wearing a low cut shirt to get better tips at work? If a winning smile and a little bit of skin could buy Amelia a couple extra weeks, it was worth it.
Just a little bit of extra skin, Amelia told herself. Don’t want to go overboard and seem skanky. Or worse, too much cleavage and you’ll give the poor old man a heart attack. Amelia settled on a red tank top, low-cut enough to show off her full breasts, but not too much. She matched it with her shortest pair of jean cutoff shorts, showing off her long, athletic legs. A little cleavage to catch his attention, with enough bare leg to be dangerous to Mr. Thurston’s health. Amelia tied her long blonde hair back to keep it from accidentally obstructing the view. After throwing on some quick make-up and her lucky heels, Amelia finally felt ready. As she played through her excuses in her head, though, the knot in her stomach only grew.
Her doubts about the effectiveness of her plan began to fade after she walked out of her apartment into the carpeted hallway and one of her neighbors walked by. He did a complete double-take when he saw her and nearly walked into the wall. Well, Amelia thought, maybe my strategy has some promise after all. By the time she’d arrived at the main office, she’d passed enough lingering eyes that her hopes were buoyed. Amelia strode into her landlord’s office with confidence.
The main office was small, really just a cheap wooden desk and a computer, with a tall metal filing cabinet next to the only window. A “Classic Boats” calendar hung on one wall over a filing cabinet and a plant Amelia was fairly sure was fake stood in the far corner.
The man sitting behind the desk, however, was not Mr. Thurston. Mr. Thurston was a stocky, elderly gentleman in pleated slacks and a faded polo shirt, with a round, jolly face and thin white hair. This man was tall, with closely cropped dark hair and a strong jaw shadowed by what looked like a couple days’ worth of stubble. His dark suit set off his sharp blue eyes. Instead of looking like he was ready to go golfing, he looked like he was ready to process her taxes.
“Sorry,” Amelia hesitated, looking around, “I was looking for the landlord?”
The man did not look up from his computer. “I’m the landlord,” his answer was flat and succinct.
Amelia was taken aback by his tone, “What happened to Mr. Thurston?”
“The building is owned by Thurston and Son, Inc. I’m the ‘and son’.”
“And your name is…?” Amelia prodded.
He looked up in surprise. After a moment, he laughed wryly and shook his head, as if clearing out the cobwebs. “Sorry. I’ve been spending too much time in spreadsheets. My name is Joshua. What can I do for you?”
Well, progress already, Amelia told herself. She’d been discouraged by Joshua’s demeanor when she entered. Once he laughed, however, the ice thawed from his voice and he actually smiled. Maybe she could get through to him. And if she did have to flirt a little, well, Joshua was certainly easier on the eyes than Mr. Thurston.
“I’m gebze escort Amelia Smith, I live in apartment 306…” Amelia’s voice trailed off. When she mentioned the unit number, Joshua’s eyes narrowed and he glanced back at his computer screen.
“Ah yes, Ms. Smith. Please, have a seat.” The businesslike tone had returned to Joshua’s voice. Amelia sat on the brown vinyl conference chair across from him. Joshua, however, only stared at his screen. A few clicks of the mouse later, he sat back.
“Missing rent for August, September, October, plus late charges,” He read off his screen.
Amelia interrupted to try to defend herself, “Not entirely, I did pay some in August…”
Joshua nodded, not turning his eyes away from his computer yet, “I do see that. Less than the total late fees though.”
“Better than nothing though, right?” She offered with a weak laugh.
“From your perspective, probably not. You might’ve been better off saving it and negotiating an amicable eviction.”
Eviction? Amelia’s heart sank. Her hopes of convincing friendly old Mr. Thurston to give her a break had been dashed by Mr. Spreadsheets. How was a winning smile and a sexy outfit going to win someone over if he wouldn’t even look at her? I guess it’s show time, she thought. Amelia sat up straighter and threw one leg over the other to display a healthy expanse of her bare thighs, hoping to draw his eyes away from the screen.
“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Amelia’s pleaded with a honeyed tone.
Joshua frowned. “Even if we apply the security deposit to your back rent and reduce the late fees by a pro-rata percentage-” Joshua’s analysis stopped as his eyes left his computer. He stopped thinking about the tenant in his office and started looking at the woman sitting across from him.
And the tide begins to turn, Amelia congratulated herself on her small victory. Joshua blinked and recaptured his train of thought.
“You’re, um, you’re still several thousand dollars behind.”
“But it shows I’m trying, right?” Amelia offered. She doubled down, leaning forward to give Joshua a view down her top.
Joshua was silently fixated while Amelia explained, “I would’ve paid on time, but my roommate moved out and then my car died, and between missing work and the rental car everything kind of hit the fan all at once. But my car is fixed now and I’m back at work, and if I can take extra shifts I can catch up…”
“When do you expect to be able to catch up?” Joshua asked. His voice was softer, gentle, almost timid.
“So, I mean, I can probably pay the normal rent now that I’m back at work, and once I get a new roommate I can start paying extra to catch up.”
Joshua turned back to the computer and Amelia cursed silently.
“Probably?” Joshua asked pointedly, picking that one dangerous word.
Damnit, Amy, she scolded herself. “I just meant that as a figure of speech. Like, as long as no giant meteor strikes the earth or something.”
“And do you have a roommate ready to move in?” Joshua’s voice had returned to the dry, calculating tone that had first greeted her.
“Not quite… yet… but I am looking. Unless you want to move in,” Amelia joked. “I promise not to walk around naked or anything.”
For several seconds, Joshua didn’t speak. His mind was occupied with the image Amelia had planted in his head. He only stared forward, his eyes unfocused. Amelia rejoiced in diverting his train of thought. Once she felt he had been distracted long enough, Amelia gave a polite cough and raised her eyebrow impishly. The movement caught his attention. The slight blush that crept into Joshua’s cheeks confirmed that his daydream had not been appropriate.
“Right. Um…” Joshua bit his lip and quickly looked away. He recovered his focus when his eyes found the spreadsheet. “Estimate a roommate doesn’t move in until the first, you continue paying the full rental amount while your roommate pays her half… that comes out to… approximately six months to pay everything back, best case scenario. And your lease expires in four.”
Amelia didn’t like the sound of that. She couldn’t argue with the math, and the math was bad news for her. Amelia knew she had to get him to ignore the numbers on his spreadsheet and focus on the person he’d be evicting. And why he might like to see her stick around a little bit longer.
“How are you calculating that? Can I see?” Amelia didn’t wait for an answer. She stood up and leaned as far over the desk as she could. Ostensibly, she was trying to peek at Joshua’s monitor; Amelia could see a spreadsheet with the amounts she owed and hypothetical future payments. But more importantly, Joshua could see directly down her top.
Amelia could hear Joshua draw a sharp breath, but she dared not look at his face. She pretended to be oblivious to his stare and instead focused on conquering the spreadsheet.
“Okay. What if you increase the amount I pay by another hundred dollars per month? I could squeeze that,” Amelia göztepe escort suggested. Joshua didn’t respond. Out of the corner of her eye, Amelia could see that Joshua had his eye on other things. The slight twitch of his eyebrows when she said the word “squeeze” told her he was listening, but that his mind was not entirely on his work.
Perfect, Amelia thought to herself, just where I want him. But she reminded herself to focus on her goal, rather than the game. She buried her pride under a facade of innocence and turned her face to look at Joshua.
“How would that change the math?” Amelia prodded.
“Sorry, what?” Joshua turned towards her. Amelia realized at that moment how close the two of them were. She could sense him shifting his weight nervously, even smell the faint smell of his cologne. Her own pulse quickened.
“If you add another hundred per month?” Amelia explained
“Right. Sorry, I was- I was thinking.” Joshua excused hastily. He shook his head and turned back to the spreadsheet. With a few quick taps, Joshua made the change and looked at the final number.
“That really doesn’t change much,” Joshua sounded sincerely disappointed. “You catch up in five and a half months, instead of six.”
“That can’t be right,” Amelia said, knowing it was. Without asking permission, she walked around the desk and stood behind Joshua. She leaned over him, placing her left hand on his shoulder to steady herself. Joshua didn’t object, but sat very still.
“Oh, I see. Make that one hundred per week, not month.” Amelia knew she couldn’t afford that much extra, not unless everything went perfectly, but luckily Joshua didn’t question it.
The final number changed again, but not quite enough. Amelia looked at the spreadsheet, quietly doing some mental math. Meanwhile, Joshua stared forward, motionless, like a child with a butterfly on his finger, scared that the slightest movement would scare her away.
After a moment, Amelia came up with a solution. All she had to do was, “Take off the late fees too…” Amelia, with her left hand still on Joshua’s shoulder, leaned over him towards the computer. She pressed herself against his back as she reached her right hand towards the mouse, alighting on top of Joshua’s hand. His skin was warm beneath hers.
Joshua let her guide the mouse to select and delete the column labeled “Late Fees and Other Charges.” The final number jumped again. “There. And I’ll be paid up in just under four months,” Amelia said with satisfaction.
“If you didn’t have to pay the late fees,” Joshua turned to look at Amelia, and misjudged the distance. His cheek brushed up against hers and he flinched. Amelia laughed innocently and stepped back.
“Sorry!” She grimaced in an affected, awkward apology, “I guess I’m not good at the personal space thing, maybe you don’t want to move in after all!”
Amelia stepped back from Joshua and leaned against the edge of his desk. Her long legs stretched out on display between them. He spun in his chair to face her, his knee brushing up against hers. His eyes traveled slowly up her body. When his gaze finally met hers, she could see the uncertainty in his face.
“No, it’s fine, please, don’t worry,” He dismissed her apology, stammering. “Sorry, where was I?”
“Waiving my late fees?” Amelia offered hopefully.
“Right,” Joshua nodded, staring at the filing cabinet behind Amelia while he tried to recapture his train of thought. “If it were up to me, I would. Trust me. If you had said something before you fell behind, we could have worked something out. But once the late fees are incurred and recorded, I need a reason to justify waiving them to my father.” Joshua looked even more apologetic than Amelia had.
“I’ll cook you dinner,” Amelia offered with a smirk.
Joshua looked at her, dumbfounded. He couldn’t tell if she were joking or serious. Then, suddenly, he burst out laughing.
“You know what? You’ve got a deal,” he said with a grin. “We’ll pick this conversation up over dinner on Friday, and if you can show me some progress towards finding a roommate or paying your back rent by then, I can justify waiving the late fees.”
Over the next several days, Amelia rode a rollercoaster in her mind. The only certainty in her mind was that the stakes were high. Convince Joshua to waive the late fees and cut her a break, and she could continue living with a roof over her head. Fail to convince him, and she would be evicted, owe several thousand dollars, and be trying to find a new apartment with no money and no reference.
How Amelia would go about convincing Joshua, however, was a nebulous uncertainty. The rational, socially-proper part of her brain said she should simply try to reason with him, offer to pay back as much as she could as soon as she could, and hope he’d be merciful. The knot of terror in her stomach told her that was a terrible idea, that it would never work, and if she wanted to stay, she was going to have to get in his head like she did in haramidere escort his office.
And then she would try to decide how exactly to get into Joshua’s head. A cute outfit and some flirting was a safe option and it had worked last time. But this was her last shot, and with so much at stake, Amelia was willing to consider anything short of answering the door with a bottle of wine and wearing nothing but a smile. But once she had that idea, Amelia became far too distracted by fantasizing to make any rational decisions.
“I mean, that would certainly work,” Kendra said when Amelia had confessed her idea, “You wouldn’t even need the bottle of wine.” Kendra had been Amelia’s best friend since the fifth grade, and the two were as close as sisters. When the day had finally come for Amelia’s dinner date with Joshua and she had made no progress on figuring out a plan, she’d finally broken down and called Kendra over for help.
“Shut up!” Amelia laughed, nervous and embarrassed, “I needed you to be the voice of reason, not the bad influence! I’m looking for a plan a little bit less slutty.”
Kendra shrugged, “Nothing wrong with being slutty.”
Amelia threw her a skeptical look. “What would Derek think about you saying that?”
“He knew who I was when he married me. Besides, he likes me when I’m slutty,” Kendra answered with a shameless grin, “Last Saturday, when we went out for dinner, I wore this tiny skirt without any-“
“Ah!” Amelia cried, clapping her hands over her ears, “I don’t need to hear this!”
Kendra only laughed, “Look, you said this Joshua guy was cute right?”
“And it sounds like he’s into you, or at least he’d like to be. ‘Cause, I mean, you’re a hottie too.” Kendra shushed Amelia’s half-hearted protests and continued, “You’re both adults. If you want him, and he wants you, have fun! Why not?”
“Because if I do it to get out of being evicted, that’s one step away from prostitution?” Amelia pointed out.
Kendra was dismissive, “So? Who said prostitutes were bad people? If you genuinely want to do… whatever, and he wants to do it too, what’s the harm? If he cut you a break on rent if you promised to cook him dinner for a month, or wash his car, would that be a problem?”
Amelia sighed and flopped backwards onto her bed, “It’s different and you know it.”
“It really isn’t,” Kendra stated objectively.
Kendra patted Amelia on the leg sympathetically and stood up. She walked over to Amelia’s closet, threw open the door, and began to sift through the options.
“So what are you going to wear tonight? You need to blow his… mind,” Kendra winked over her shoulder at her much shyer friend and then turned back to the closet and drew out Amelia’s go-to little black dress.
“What about this?” Kendra asked. “You always look sexy in this.”
“Too formal. I’m trying to get him to want to kiss me, not serenade me.
Kendra nodded in agreement, “Good point. Fuckable, not fancy.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Amelia laughed, “But that’s the right idea. I’m not actually going to fuck some guy I barely know just to get a break on my rent.”
“Why not? Sounds like an awesome idea to me. If I were single with a sexy landlord, I’d be late on my rent on purpose!”
Amelia rolled her eyes at her best friend, “You would not.”
“Are you kidding? After this conversation, as soon as I get home, I’m going to tell Derek I accidentally scratched his brand new car pulling into the driveway. What can I ever do to make it up to him?”
“You’re incorrigible,” Amelia accused.
“That’s why everyone loves me,” Kendra agreed cheerfully. “Now, where’s your shortest skirt?”
Ultimately, Amelia decided on a cream-colored silk cami that clung to her skin, but hung loose enough to show off the lacy bra beneath when she bent over. Her skirt was short, black, and much too tight for a meeting with her landlord. The way it showed off her ass, and would ride up when she moved was, as Kendra put it, “perfect.”
After Amelia had a quick shower, shaved, and dried off, Kendra insisted they tidy up her bedroom and put fresh sheets on the bed: “Just in case.” It left her plenty of time to do her makeup, with a touch of eyeshadow to highlight her soft blue eyes, and some lipstick guaranteed to make him think of kissing her.
“You look great!” Kendra confirmed before she left. “Don’t forget to do everything I would do.”
“I can’t, there’s only one guy coming over,” Amelia teased. Kendra punched her arm playfully, kissed her cheek, and slipped out so Amelia could get dinner started.
By the time Joshua finally knocked, Amelia had just finished baking the lasagna. A simple salad sat on the plain wooden table in her kitchen, next to two glasses of wine. One glass had only one or two sips left in it, as if a hostess had started on the wine early. It helped calm the tempest of nervous energy inside her. As much as she had been convinced by Kendra’s peptalk, Amelia had spent the time since her friend left second-guessing herself. It was easier for her to focus on her nervousness than to admit to her eagerness. If she admitted how much fun she’d had flirting with Joshua, and how much her plan tonight excited her… She didn’t know what she’d let herself do. Oh well, she thought. It’s too late now. Joshua’s at the door. You made your bed, Amy. Now you have to lie in it. With or without company.