Roommates with Complicated Benefits - J. S. Cooper

Prologue

Molly

I’ve been living in New York City for exactly three weeks. Three weeks in a hotel, and now my savings are almost gone. I’d been stupid enough to get a place in Times Square because I thought, as all British people think, that it would be really fun and exciting to live in Times Square. But I soon gathered that it was only tourists and newcomers like me that thought that.

I scoured the newspaper, looking for roommate listings. I needed to find an apartment. And unfortunately, I needed to find one that had a roommate because the salary I was earning in my new job wasn’t anywhere near enough to get my own place in New York City by myself. Not that I would tell my parents or my friends back home that because they already thought I was absolutely crazy. I’d left a perfectly good flat in London. Yes, it was only a one-bedroom flat, and it was on the ground floor, but it was still my own.

I’d jumped at the opportunity to come to New York to work for an up-and-coming fashion designer. Granted, my particular role wasn’t very exciting. I photographed the clothes, trying to make them look good on the models, which wasn’t hard because my boss, Marcia Fredricks, was really talented and she made the most amazing clothes; well, some of her clothes were nice. But she hadn’t made it yet, and as such, I hadn’t made it yet. And on my salary, I needed a roommate. But I didn’t mind because I also had dreams about being on stage and what better place to get a role in the theater than in New York City?

I frowned as I looked at yet another ad that offered lower rent in exchange for personal favors: “Single white male seeking female. Rent lowered in exchange for nightly massages and other duties. Call 718-555-2289,” I read out loud and rolled my eyes.

Yeah, right. Not interested.

I kept looking, but there was nothing that looked like it was going to work for me. It sucked. I had no friends in the city, aside from some coworkers, and it wasn’t like I could ask them to find me a place. I mean, this was Manhattan. They probably had trouble finding an affordable place themselves.

I turned the page in the newspaper and paused. “Hmm. This seems interesting,” I muttered out loud, trying to ignore the screaming and shouting coming from the street below.

I was really ready to be out of Times Square. Not only was it obnoxiously loud, but I was pretty sure that there were bed bugs in the mattress. I didn’t have the budget for a nice hotel in Times Square; I was in some cheap hotel around the corner from the nice ones. And let’s just say there was a reason why the rooms were so cheap. I scratched my leg and tried to ignore the itch.

“Don’t think about it, Molly. Don’t think about it,” I told myself as it started to itch even more. “Ooh, what’s this? This looks interesting.

That didn’t sound half bad. Single female seeking single female for roommate. Nice apartment in the Upper West Side. Two bedroom, very private.. Looking for friendly, outgoing, and easy-going roommate. If that’s you, contact me at 510-555-2210.

I grabbed my phone and quickly called my best friend Henrietta, hoping she’d pick up. “Please answer, Henri. Please answer!”

“Hi, Molly. Is that you?” she yawned.

“Oh no, I didn’t wake you up, did I, Henrietta?”

“No. I was just about to fall asleep, though. It’s ten o’clock here, you know.”

“That’s nothing. You don’t normally go to bed until midnight.”

“I know, but I had a long day today.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, remember I told you I started my new job?”

“Oh, yeah. How’s it going?”

“Not bad. Quite boring, if I’m honest. I mean, you’ve never heard of an interesting chartered accountant, have you?”

“I guess not.” I laughed. “Guess what?”

“You met a handsome American man who wants to marry you?”

“I wish.”

“Let me see. You met a handsome Canadian man that wants to marry you?”

“I haven’t met any handsome men. You know I’ve basically just been at work this whole time.”

“You need to get out, Molly. That’s part of the experience. You got to meet a handsome Yank.”

I smiled. “They don’t call them Yanks here, you know.”

“Yeah, but you’re not from there. You’ve only been there, what? It’s not even been a month yet, has it?”

“No, it hasn’t. And you know, I’m feeling awfully homesick.”

“Yeah. But you don’t have to stay there very

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