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Snake (a Stepbrother Romance)

By:Emilia Beaumont



Standing in my property manager’s office after he’d called me to tell me I was late on the rent again - as if I didn’t know - I kneaded my temples. How had I let this get so out of hand? I was risking homelessness! What had I been thinking? “Can you give me another month? I know I can get the money together.”

“Mila, I’ve given you a lot of latitude already. You’re a great tenant, responsible and quiet, and I know you take great care of the place, but I can’t float you any longer.” Harvey folded his arms across his chest, adamant in his decision; there was no way I was getting out of this mess by batting my eyelashes. “I’m sorry.”

I let out a breath, the urge to scream building up inside. “So how much time do I have?”

“The end of the month. That’s it.” He sighed, his eyes darting away in guilt. “But if you can get me the full rent for next month, we can do a payment plan for the back rent that you still owe. If you can’t come up with the full rent by then, well, you’ll have to find a new place. It’s out of my hands - I have a family to feed.”

Smiling, I nodded. There was a sliver of hope after all, yet it would be a struggle to come up with all that I owed. But I was grasping at straws, and I knew it. Even if I managed to get another job in time and they paid me in advance it wouldn’t come close.

“I can do it, Harvey, I promise,” I said, lying to myself and to him, unable to stop the words. “I’ll get a second job,” I mumbled, talking mostly to myself, all the while trying to figure how I could earn some extra cash. I was a lowly secretary for a big real estate firm making a little more than minimum wage. The hours were erratic, and even though I knew I was good at my job, the work never ended. I always had to bring paperwork home to finish it on time, so god knows how I was going to fit in more work. A night shift job perhaps?

I said goodbye and walked over to my place, just a few buildings over from Harvey’s office. My apartment was on the second floor, and I climbed the steps quickly, wanting nothing more than to just crawl into bed and stare at the wall for a while. I’d lived in my cosy little apartment for five years, since I had graduated from college, and it was the only place I really considered home. I’d decorated it myself, hung up the curtains, painted the walls and bought furniture that fit the rooms’ dimensions perfectly. I’d been doing fine on rent for the last few years, but early on in the year, the rent went up, and the struggle began. Six-months of barely scraping by.

And now I needed to come up with more than a thousand dollars; that’s how much I was short, and that was just the back rent I owed, I still had this months to pay. Then there was also another month after that, and then another, and the rent wasn’t going to go down. What I needed to do was win the lottery. As if, I thought, I’m not that lucky.

My cell rang and I answered it, grateful for the interruption into my spiralling, doomed thoughts. If anyone was going to cheer me up it was my cousin, Suzanne.

“Wassup?” she said.

“I need to win the lottery or sell my body parts. Fancy buying a kidney?” I joked.

She snorted, “I’m not quite in the market for one, but I’ll let you know. However what I do want is a thick juicy burger. Wanna meet at Tasty’s?”

“Hell yes,” I said, grabbing my keys off the counter and walking to my car. “I’m on my way as we speak. I have to brainstorm with you on how to get more money.”

“More money, more problems,” Suzanne said.

“Less money, less apartment,” I said.

“Oh, shit, really?” Suzanne grew serious. She could be a completely sarcastic bitch, but she knew when to put the joking aside when a situation called for it.

“Seriously. I’m fucked. I just had a meeting with the manager. I have to have what I owe for last month by the thirtieth, or I’m out.”

“Are you going to be able to do that?” she asked.

“Right now, no. That’s why we need to have a brainstorming session. I’ll buy.”

“The hell you will. I’ll buy you a burger, and we’ll get your life figured out. See you in ten.”

I clicked off my phone and drove to the gourmet burger restaurant, thankful for the distraction and for the support. There were a lot of things I had control over in my life, but my absolute, complete addiction to hamburgers was not one of them. Tasty Burger was the best place in the city; there was always a line out the door and frenzied workers shouting orders out, either back to the kitchen or to customers. Suzanne and I had solved most of life’s problems in a booth over the full works: hamburgers, fries and thick shakes.