Chapter excerpt: Desperately Seeking Roommate by Micalea Smeltzer

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WANTED: A ROOMMATE 
Requirements

 

  1. Don’t be a smoker. That’s gross.
  2. Don’t be a jerk. I have no time to deal with your mood swings.
  3. Clean up after yourself. Is it really so hard to put dirty clothes where they belong?

 

If you meet these qualifications, call me.

Sincerely,
Desperately Seeking Roommate

When I put the ad in my university’s newspaper, the last thing I ever expect is for the star football player to respond.

From what I know of him, Abel Russo is a womanizer and an absolute jerk.

Sadly, he’s the only thing stopping me from being evicted by my annoyingly gleeful landlord.

It should be easy enough—there’s no chance we’ll fall for each other. But then he gives me lingering looks, and I might just be looking back.

All I wanted was a roommate, but I’m about to get so much more than I bargained for.

Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43088445-desperately-seeking-roommate

 

Chapter One
Lou

“I can’t believe I have to do this,” I sigh, staring at the ad I’ve typed up.
“It’s not like you asked your landlord to be King of the Douchebags and raise your rent,” my best friend Miranda chimes. She’s lying across my bed on her stomach, swiping madly on Tinder. I don’t know why she likes the stupid app. I find it insulting more than anything. The one time I used it I got a message within five minutes of a dick with a bow wrapped around it. I immediately replied that was not the gift I was asking for at the moment, thank you very much.
She turns her hazel eyes to mine and heaves a dramatic breath. She reaches past me and pushes the pad on my laptop, sending the ad through to our university’s newspaper.
I cry out, hands fumbling toward my laptop. “Miranda, I wasn’t ready! I needed to proofread it again.”
“You would’ve been here all day reading it and then talked yourself out of posting it. It needed to be done.”
She rolls off my bed and strides over to my closet door, swiping through the clothes on the hangers.
Miranda is the first friend I’ve ever had who I could share clothes with. I’m short and curvy—or what most would call plus size—and most of my friends growing up were either thin or average-sized. I always felt like the odd duck out, until Miranda and I met during English 101. Neither of us are from Winchester—I came from the southern part of Virginia to here in the north, and she ventured all the way from Delaware to here.
Somehow, we ended up sitting beside each other in our English class and the rest is history.
She holds up an oatmeal colored over-sized sweater. “Can I borrow this?”
“Sure,” I reply with a shrug, shutting the lid on my computer. With a groan, I stand up, stretching my stiff muscles. I’m twenty-one going on eighty. If I’m sitting or in any position for too long my limbs lock up despite my nearly daily yoga routine. It’s ridiculous.
“Thanks.” She drapes the garment over her arm. Her dark brown curls swing around her shoulders. With her father being Hispanic and her mother Asian, the girl is the epitome of the word unique. She’s stunning and I tell her all the time, but she never believes me because of her size.
I don’t know why us bigger girls have to be shamed by society. We’re normal-sized—I’m sorry your media standards are candy-cane stick thin. I’d rather eatthem than look like one.
“I wish you could move in with me,” I whine, as she goes back to flipping through my closet. I’ve been pouting about this fact for a solid week—ever since I found out rent was going up and I was no longer going to be able to afford my two-bedroom apartment in the historic district. The idea of living with a stranger isn’t appealing at all, and since I have no time to spare, I have to be open to a guy for a roommate too.
The prospect of going to pee and falling into the toilet doesn’t sound like my idea of getting wet, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I need a roomie stat.
She sighs, her lips twisting downward in genuine apology. “I know, babe, but I just re-signed the contract on my apartment. There’s no way I can get out of it. Living here would be so much nicer. My place is a dump.”
She lives in an older apartment beside the small airport of privately owned planes. I still don’t know how I lucked out getting my cute place downtown—but right now I don’t feel so lucky and want to punch my landlord in his smug face. He’s young, probably late twenties or early thirties, and inherited this building over the summer when his grandpa passed away. Now, the greedy bastard wants to make more money off broke college students like me.
“Does this match?” she asks, pairing the sweater with a maroon skirt that ends above the knees with buttons down the front.
“Yeah, it’ll be cute,” I tell her honestly. “But … what do you need it for?”
Color blossoms across her dark skin. “Charlie asked me out.”
“Charlie?” I shriek. “Why am I just now hearing about this? I thought you hated him.” I jolt upright from this news, in desperate need of hearing the tea of how this came about.
Charlie is in our history class—he’s the type who answers every question correctly and then looks around smugly like we all care that he’s so much smarter than us.
Newsflash, we don’t.
She shrugs. “It happened yesterday. I bumped into him in the library and he asked. I don’t really like him, but … Lou, it’s been forever since I got laid and I’m desperate. My kitty needs more than some sweet vibrations. I need a man. On top of me. Inside me.”
“But Charlie?” I can’t get over this. He’s not hideous, but if looks were determined by personality he’d be one ugly guy—like Smeagol.
“He’s not horrible looking,” she reasons. “And you never know, he might be cool.”
“Well, when he bores you with his vast knowledge of the size of every shit a president took, don’t come crying to me.”
“I doubt he knows that.” She spreads the clothes on top of my bed and stands back, assessing how they look together. Glancing at me she adds, “I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, okay. Can you do that, too? For me?”
I hug my best friend. “I’d do anything for you.”
“Thank you.” She smiles, her dark slanted eyes looking relieved. Her relief transitions into worry and her lips flatten. “What are you going to do if no one responds to your ad?”
I sit down on my bed, looking out the old dirty window onto the street below.
“Live on the streets, I guess.”
“You know I’d never let that happen,” she vows. “My place might be small, but I can make room for you somewhere—maybe add a cat cushion in the bathroom.”
I grab a pink pillow and toss it at her. “My ass wouldn’t even fit on it.”
“At least it’s a nice ass.” She gives it a tap. “Can we get something to eat now? I’m starving, and you bribed me over here with the promise of dinner only to spend two hours writing a measly four lines for your stupid ad.”
It was more like seven, but even that is a pathetic amount of time to spend writing it.
“Fine,” I grumble. “I do owe you food.”
She snorts, rolling her eyes and sticking her tongue out at me. “At this point you owe me a whole fucking pizza.”
***
Twenty minutes later we’re seated in a booth inside the cozy wood-fired pizza place—aptly named Woody’s.
The place has a warm and cozy vibe with browns and blacks used for much of the décor. Our booth is beside the bar, packed with people—mostly fellow college students and the random old guy interspersed. I watch one old man leer down the shirt of the woman beside him.
Nasty old bastards. 
Picking up my beer glass, I let the warm liquid slide down my throat. Across from me, Miranda texts on her phone, and I don’t dare ask to whom, because I don’t want to hear the name Charlie leave her lips. The thought alone makes me want to gag.
Who knows, he could prove me wrong, but as her best friend it’s my job to have reservations about any guy she dates. She’s a queen and deserves to be treated as such. A guy will be lucky to get my stamp of approval, and chances are it won’t be Charlie.
She sets her phone aside and stretches across the table toward me. “How much longer until the pizza is here? I’m withering away by the second.”
“Considering we ordered five minutes ago, I’d say you’ll be waiting a while longer.”
“Dammit.” She tosses her head back in aggravation. “Good thing I always have snacks in case of an emergency.” She rifles through her purse and pulls out a small bag of popcorn. She proceeds to open it and start shoving pieces into her mouth.
“If you had that why didn’t you eat it earlier?” I remark.
She shrugs and answers around a mouthful. “Forgot I had it.”
I shake my head amusedly. Miranda is one of a kind.
I wasn’t hungry before, but now that we’re here I’m positively starving. It feels like it’s been a whole day since lunch, not hours. I was too busy agonizing over the stupid ad to think about my stomach.
“Give me some of that,” I plead, holding my hand out for some popcorn.
She cradles it against her boobs. “Mine.”
“Miranda, I gripe. “Please?”
“Fine.” She drops a stingy three pieces in my hand.
“That’s all you get.” She grins and shoves more in her mouth.
I glare at her, but at least it’s better than nothing. I eat the three pieces slowly, savoring them. The food is on its way, and once it’s here all will be right in the world again. I’m pretty sure pizza can solve any problem. Honestly, I’m not sure why the idiots in government haven’t just ordered some damn pizzas already. Nobody can fight when ooey-gooey-cheesy goodness is in front of you. It’s like, against the laws of nature or something. I’m sure of it.
She finishes her popcorn and stuffs the empty bag in her purse.
“I’m full, let’s go.”
I narrow my eyes.
“Kidding,” she adds. “God knows it takes more than that to fill me up.”
As much as I don’t want to bring up Charlie again, I have to. “When is this date of yours with Charlie?”
“Tomorrow.” She bites her lip.
Studying her, I narrow my eyes into slits. “If you never really have liked him why are you acting nervous all of a sudden?”
She tucks an errant piece of dark hair behind her ear. “I honestly haven’t liked him. He’s arrogant, rude, condescending … but also kind of hot in a dork-ish sort of way. The glasses, the floppy hair.” She rests her chin on her hand and gives a dramatic dreamy sigh. I’m friends with a complete and utter nutcase.
“Don’t go falling in love now,” I joke. “I can’t be left alone in my singledom.”
She rolls her eyes and fans her hand through the air. “Not going to happen. I doubt Charlie can handle all of this.” She wiggles her body. “I have needs that need to be met and I’m not certain he’s the guy. It’s only a date though—free dinner and a movie? I’m not going to complain one bit about that shit.”
“True.” When you’re a broke ass college student, getting to go out and have a free meal is the equivalent of the Holy Grail. Toss a movie into the mix and you’ve found Jesus himself.
It’s been so long since I’ve dated I’ve become a Scrooge. Freshman year I went a bit crazy, going out all the time to parties and on dates with guys that usually only led to sex. Then last year I decided I wanted something more serious, but most guys still only wanted a one-and-done experience and the few looking for a relationship didn’t want someone like … well, me.
I never used to be insecure about my size. I don’t think anyone at any size should ever be made to feel ashamed. You never know someone’s personal struggles, so who are you to judge?  But suddenly, I did start to become insecure and wondered if men didn’t see me as the type they wanted to have a future with—that I was only good for a quick lay.
After that, I swore off men, determined to build up my confidence again.
Junior year is supposed to be my year, and I won’t let myself get dragged down by pining for some ideal that exists in my head.
Love will come along when it’s meant to. Until then, I’ll be living my best life, which includes pizza nights with Miranda, manicures and pedicures once a month, and whatever else I want to do—which let’s be real, after I spend the money on the mani-pedis I’ll be sitting in my apartment contemplating my life choices and if I really had to buy those Cheetos from the campus vending machine two years ago for three dollars and fifty cents, because surely if I had that money today I’d be better off. You might say I don’t need the mani-pedis, which might be true in theory, but I don’t need that kind of negativity from anyone in my life, so you can kindly fuck off.
“Here you ladies go,” our usual waiter Joe says with a smile, setting down each of our pizzas—Miranda’s meat lovers and my veggie. Joe is an older guy, probably in his fifties, bald, and has a black goatee. He’s awesome and always makes us laugh. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do tonight.”
Miranda snorts. “Like devour this pizza whole? You bet your ass that’s happening.”
He merely chuckles and walks away to tend to another table.
I cut two slices of pizza and set them on the plate Joe brought earlier to cool down.
Miranda stares longingly down at her plate. “I want to eat it now, but I know if I do I’ll have severe regrets when my tongue is burnt for a week.” She raises her eyes to mine and shrugs. “Eh, you only live once, right?”
Before I can stop her she grabs a piece and takes a huge bite. “Regret,” she cries, pulling a stringy piece of cheese away from her mouth. “Instant. Regret.” She pants, spitting out a blob of too hot pizza.
Stifling a giggle, I gesture toward the unfortunate mess of cheese and other toppings in front of her. “Now look what you’ve gone and done. You ruined a perfectly good piece of pizza.”
She frowns. “Such a tragedy. Let’s have a moment of silence in its honor for its service to my mouth.” She claps her hands together and bows her head. Lifting it two seconds later she announces, “Enough of that.”
She proceeds to pick up the rest of the piece she bit into and blows on it to cool it down.
Once a few more minutes pass and I feel sure my own pizza is green-lit to eat, I take a bite.
Nope! Abort mission!
“Ah!” I cry, as the hot cheese and sauce burns my tongue, bringing tears to my eyes. “Get it out,” I plead stupidly, because it’s not like a stranger is going to shove their hand in my mouth to yank out the scalding piece of pizza. I manage to spit it out and reach for my beer, but the starchy drink does little to soothe my tongue. I spot Joe walking by and wave madly, nearly falling out of the booth. “Water,” I beg when he sees me. “Need. Water.”
He chuckles. “Coming right up.”
Looking across the table at Miranda, I sigh. “We shouldn’t be allowed out in public. We’re both walking disasters.”
“I like to think my awkwardness brings joy to those around me.”
“As opposed to what?” I inquire, thanking Joe with a nod as he sets down a glass of water for each of us. I gulp greedily at the cold liquid.
“Horror at the realization a walking wrecking ball exists, ready to take down anything and anyone around her. I can’t help it that I’m clumsy and stupid things happen to me.”
“Same, girl.” I can relate to that on every level.
When I was six, I fell from the top of the playground slide onto the ground, banging my head into a piece of wood that was a part of the area separating the grass from the mulch playground. Suffice to say, there was lots of blood, more than five stitches, and a scar on my forehead that I carry with me to this day.
“Let’s try this again,” she says, and takes a tentative bite. She gives me a thumbs up. “All clear.”
I take a bite and, thankfully, it’s not scorching hot anymore, but my sore tongue makes it less enjoyable than it should be.
I eat a total of three pieces before asking for a box. After we’ve both finished our drinks we grab our things and head outside onto the cobblestone road in front of the restaurant.
The sun is only beginning to set, and it’s a little before eight, but already starting to get dark earlier every night. I personally love the times when it’s nine at night and still light out. Fall and winter are the bane of existence. I thrive on the energy the sun brings me. If I could hibernate through the winter months I might like them more, but since I have to get out and brave the cold on the daily it’s a hate-hate relationship.
We walk a couple of streets over, both of us much more subdued thanks to the pizza and drinks.
If you put food in me, suddenly I’m ready to sleep. It makes eating breakfast and lunch a game of Russian roulette of will I or won’t I fall asleep in class.
Miranda and I say our goodbyes as she gets in her car, and then I enter my apartment building. It’s a ground floor unit, which I hated at first because it didn’t seem very safe to me, but I’ve come to love it—when I have groceries at least I don’t have to walk up any stairs.
I close the door behind me and sweep my gaze around my place, my home. I’ve spent so much time buying things and making it mine. The white and gray décor with pops of pink in the main space brings me peace. The same theme carries into my bedroom. The spare room has been my office, housing a desk and two bookcases that didn’t fit in the main room—though I do have bookcases lining the wall behind my couch.
Tomorrow, I’ll have to clean out the office. I don’t know where I’ll put the things in there, but I’ll figure it out. Anything I can’t keep will have to be donated, or Miranda can have it if she wants it.
I stand in the doorway of the room, wondering who on Earth my roommate will be. I hope we get along and that is doesn’t end up being a complete and utter disaster.
Though, knowing my luck, a disaster is exactly what I’ll get.

 

Thank you to Micalea for sending me this sneak preview of her upcoming novel. Be sure to follow her on Facebook.

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