Living with Mr. Reed

When Ellie's best friend decides to move in with her boyfriend, Ellie has no choice but to find another place to live. But Alex Reed is hardly the roommate she was looking for, and the last person she expects to get along with. He's rude, entitled, and an overall ass. Still, as time goes on, Ellie begins to see that there's another side to the jerk she shares a house with. And learning more about his troubled past may be enough to change her mind about him. Perhaps, even enough to make her fall in love...

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4. Her Name is Lucy

Chapter Four

        I woke up the next morning with a start.


        A loud bellow had echoed through the house, ripping me violently from my happy dreams, and my eyes snapped open as my heartbeat thudded loudly in my ears.


        "What in the -"


        "Miss Graves!"


        I groaned. That was Alex. His loud, angry voice carried through the house, echoing off of the bare walls, and everything in my body told me to just pull the blanket over my head and ignore him. I was not about to deal with a grown man throwing a tantrum. But when he yelled my name again, somewhat sounding even more angry than the last time, I threw my covers off of me, a fiery rage beginning to burn inside me. It hadn't even been a whole day, and already we were having problems?


        I padded down the hall, wrapping one of my jackets around me as the early morning chill hit my shoulders. I rubbed at my tired eyes, hoping to rid them of the sleep I was being deprived of, and letting a yawn loudly escape my lips. When I entered the front room, Alex was standing there, and I started to throw him an angry glare, but when I saw him, I instantly stopped in my tracks. He was shirtless, standing in the living room in blue plaid pajama bottoms, and socks. I was taken back by it, and suddenly wide awake as I took in the sight if his bare torso before me. He was surprisingly muscular, though not overly so. His arms were folded over his chest, and my eyes scanned over the muscles in his shoulders, and followed down over his chest, then to his abs. It was all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping.


        “What. Is. That?”


        Alex’s sudden voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and I looked back up at his face, hoping he hadn’t noticed me ogling him like a horny schoolgirl. But he wasn’t even looking at me. His eyebrows were pulled down, wrinkling his forehead, and his mouth formed into an angry frown. I followed to where his finger was pointing, and at first thought he was talking about my television. But his eyes were focused on Lucy, curled up on the floor next to the TV in a sunny spot where the sunlight had poured in from the window. I stood aloof for a long moment, not quite comprehending what the issue was, and my eyes flicked quickly between Alex and Lucy and then back to Alex again.


        "That's Lucy," I answered slowly, still not sure what exactly was going on. "My cat."


        Alex gave me a glare so angry and heated, I was sure it would melt my face off right there. His top lip curved up into a snarl, and his ears were beginning to burn a bright red. "I can see it's a cat, Miss Graves," his hissed, and the words were slow and full of venom. "But what is it doing here, in my house?"


        I was even more confused then than I was when I'd woken up. Shaking my head, I asked, "What do you mean? I told you in my email when I applied for the room that I had a cat."


        His steely gaze wavered for only a split second, before he spat, "No, you didn't. I would have remembered that. I don't like cats."


        I folded my arms over my chest in defiance, and threw him a glare of my own. I was not backing down on this. I paid rent here now, too, (the giant check I had to write for the deposit the day before was proof enough of that). And I had told him about Lucy. I would never have forgotten her.


        "Well," I replied, matching his ferocity. "I'm sorry to hear that you don't like cats, but I did, in fact, remember to tell you I was bringing one."


        He shook his head vehemently, and for a moment he looked like a small child that wasn't getting his way. I let out a heavy sigh. "I assure you, you did not," he insisted. "I don't remember you ever mentioning it, either in the email or in person."


        "Just because you don't remember it, doesn't mean it wasn't brought to your attention."


        He glared at me so hard then, that I was sure his eyes would bug out of his head. "I didn't forget." His word were slow and venomous again. "You didn't mention that... thing."


        "This is ridiculous," I muttered, throwing my hands up in frustration. I spun around then, and headed back to my bedroom with no further explanation.


        "Where are you going?" He called after me. "We aren't finished with this conversation!"


        "Ah, now that's something you are right about," I replied, but I was sure I didn't say it loud enough for him to hear me. I grabbed my phone off of my nightstand, pulling up my email, and searching in the 'sent' box for the application email I had sent him. I found it quickly, and scanned over the contents, a large grin spreading across my lips. "Here," I said, shoving my phone in his face, once I'd made my way back into living room.


        The feeling of having proved Alex wrong, as I watched realization suddenly shift his facial expression, was indescribable. He'd been so sure, so rudely, condescendingly sure that he was right. That I had either just forgotten to mention Lucy, or decided to keep it from him, and bring her into the house without telling him. I usually didn't revel in moments like this – I wasn't one of those people that always had to be right. But Alex had this way of getting under my skin, and taking him down a couple of notches was just so deliciously satisfying. Like having a reply so perfect in the middle of a heated argument that the person you're arguing with is struck speechless.


        Even if I wanted to – which I absolutely didn't – I wouldn't have been able to stop my smile from growing bigger by the second.


        Alex looked up at me, after reading the email for what I could only guess as the sixth or seventh time, and I could see seething anger was fixing itself on his face again. Without a word, he turned on his heel, storming off to his bedroom. I let out a sigh, glancing down at Lucy, who didn't seem to have heard our little tiff as she was still in the exact same spot. Alex returned a short moment later, this time with a shirt and shoes on, his laptop bag thrown over his shoulder, and his keys in hand. I foolishly waited for him to tell me where he was going, but he said nothing to me as he brushed past me to get to the front door.


        And then he was gone, and I was left standing in the middle of the living room, the victor of our first official roommate showdown.


        I shook my head, and looked at the time on my phone, grunting. 7:38am. I looked down at Lucy again, still sound asleep, before heading back to my bed. This time, I pulled the blanket over my head, shoved my headphones in my ears, and fell back asleep to the soft soothing sound of a violin playing into my ears.




        When I woke up again, it was nearly lunchtime, and a loud grumble erupted from my gut as I made my bed. I took a quick shower, trying my best not to splash water all over my floor – I still needed to get a shower curtain – and changed into comfortable clothes. I fed Lucy before making myself a grilled cheese sandwich, then headed out the door – sandwich in hand – with the shopping list I'd written up the day before.


        It was a simple list, which was good. Carrying around a bunch of bags while riding the bus, and dealing with the miscreants one finds on public transportation was never fun. I tried to go more often so I wouldn't have to get as much at one time. I glanced down at my phone as I stood at the bus stop. A text message flashed across my screen, and I opened it, taking a bite into my sandwich.


        From Liv: So! How'd it go last night??


        I rolled my eyes, typing back a message quickly as I held my sandwich with my mouth. The middle aged lady sitting next me with her young son gave me a disappointed shake of her head, which I met with an awkward, sandwich-filled grin.


        From Ellie: Well, nothing happened last night, but this morning things got *really* heated. ;)


        I snorted as I sent that, knowing exactly how she was going to take it. And, just as I expected, it was only a short moment before my phone buzzed violently in my hand, this time with a phone call.


        "Hello?" I said, taking another bite of my sandwich.


        "Tell. Me. Everything." Olivia was unable to contain her excitement, and for a moment, I almost felt guilty for making her believe something – whatever she was thinking – happened.


        "We got into a fight this morning," I said, deciding to just go ahead and end the charade.


        "Oh." The disappointment was clear in her voice. "Well, what happened?"


        I took another bite of my sandwich. "He didn't like Lucy," I answered, my mouth full. The lady next to me vocalized her disgust with me with a grunt, which I promptly proceeded to ignore. "Actually, he accused me of either forgetting to tell him I was bringing a cat, or sneaking her in without telling him. I'm not really sure which accusation he was going with."


        "Did you?"


        "I did not. And I showed him the email I'd sent him prior to our meeting, which made him really mad, because I, of course, was right." Another grin spread across my lips as I recalled that glorious moment.


        Olivia chuckled lightly. "I bet you rubbed it in, too," she replied.


        "I didn't have time to," I answered. "He stormed out, and from what I can tell, hasn't been back since."


        "He didn't say anything else about Lucy?"


        "Nope."


        "Hmm." She was quiet for a long moment, before finally saying, "Well, I've got to go. Keep me updated!"


        "Sure," I said, and then she was gone.


        The bus arrived shortly after, and I stuffed the rest of my sandwich into my mouth before hurrying to find a seat.



        Alex still wasn't home when I returned a couple of hours later. I wasn't sure if I should be worried – for all I knew, he could've been trying to find a loophole in the lease so he could kick me out. But I pushed those fears aside. Sure, he'd been angry, but he wouldn't kick me out just because he didn't like my cat. At least, I hoped not.


        Bored, I took my time putting my new shower curtain up. It was a cream colored shower curtain made of cheap plastic, but it would get the job done. When I was finished, I glanced around the bathroom, hoping I'd find something else to occupy my time, but the bathroom was just as spotless as the day I'd moved in. I decided to iron my work clothes for the next day, despite the fact that they weren't noticeably wrinkled. I set up the ironing bored in the living room, turning on the TV and flipping through a couple of channels before settling on a documentary. It was dull, but I was really only using it for background noise as I began meticulously removing every tiny wrinkle from the blouse of the next day's outfit.


        I wasn't sure how much time had passed, but as I was smoothing out the hem of my skirt, I heard the lock to the front door turn over, followed by the front door opening wide. A cool draft kicked in, sending goosebumps down my arms, and a shiver down my spine. I didn't even look over; I knew who it was. And if he wasn't talking, neither was I. After all, he was the one being childish, all because I had been right. I held up my skirt, scrutinizing it closely, though I knew I'd gotten every single wrinkle out. My clothes had never looked this crisp and smooth.


        Alex cleared his throat suddenly, and the closeness of the sound startled me. I glanced up to see he'd made his way over to where I was standing. He was maybe a foot away from me, his hazel eyes staring down at me intensely. But his face wasn't angry, and I stared back up at him quietly, waiting for him to say something.


        "The... cat can stay," he said, looking over to where Lucy was sleeping on the couch. The statement shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did, but when the words left his mouth, I almost didn't believe him.


        "Thank -" I began, but he interrupted me.


        "But I better not find it in my room, or on my things."


        I was going to tell him he had nothing to worry about, that Lucy was mild, and well behaved. But he disappeared down the hall and into his bedroom, letting the door slam shut behind him.


        I looked over at Lucy, smirking. "You here that, Miss Lucy?" I whispered. "Ellie: One, Mr. Brooding Writer: Zero."


        I shook my head, hoping that fights like this weren't going to be a daily occurrence.

 

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