Sugar on the Edge(4)

By: Sawyer Bennett

“What did he do this time?” Casey asks, her eyes narrowing at me.

“The same… casual brush ups against me, dirty comments,” I tell her wearily. “You’d think he’d come up with something original, right?”

“Well, your luck is about to change, girlie,” she tells me with a grin, dropping her hands to rest on the counter at her hips. “I found another house for you to clean… it’s huge and the guy that owns it is super rich. With that, you can leave the douche bag forever.”

I take a bite of a carrot and, with my mouth full, demand, “Tell me more.”

“His name is Gavin Cooke, and he’s kind of weird… well, he’s kind of an asshole. He’s some big-time, British author that moved here to finish writing a book. He needs someone to clean his house a few times a week, and he told me to have you call him.”

Munching and then swallowing the carrot, I consider this. Between the contract work at the newspaper, the part-time work with the douche bag photographer, and the two other houses I clean, it will mean even longer hours for me. I’m barely functioning as it is, and this will mean less sleep and sorer muscles.

Unfortunately, I really don’t have a choice. Between my student loans, living expenses, and the brand new transmission I had to put in my car last month, I barely make enough money to feed myself much more than carrots and apples. On top of that, cleaning houses and hauling camera equipment provides me with too much of a workout for the very few calories I’m able to consume each day, and I’ve lost weight I couldn’t afford to lose.

Still, the alternative isn’t appealing either. If I can’t make it here on my own, my only other choice is to move back home to Clearview, Indiana, and become that weird twenty-five-year-old woman that still lives with her parents. And while my parents are the nicest, sweetest, Midwest couple you can find, my life will absolutely stagnate back home. I worked hard to get out of our little town, so I could travel the world and take photographs of all the wonders I would behold. Granted, I haven’t made it any further than the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but that is practically a world away from my humble upbringing.

Yes, I don’t have a choice. I’ll have to slot another job in. Once I get the transmission work paid for—which, thankfully, Smitty down at the local garage is letting me make payments on—I can ditch the douche bag and have more of a manageable life.

“I’ll call him after I eat my dinner. Do you think it’s too late?”

“Nope. My guess is that as a writer, he stays up late. At least, that’s my impression from when I went to pick him up at his hotel room to have him sign the closing documents and then show him the house. It was around noon, and I’m pretty sure he just rolled out of bed.”

Setting the carrots aside, I pick up the apple and take a bite. It tastes like chalk going down, my interest in food waning over the past several weeks. I’ve been so mired in hard work, coupled with a rising sense of panic that I’m not going to be able to survive on my own, that my appetite has been off.

“I have some leftover pasta in the fridge I made tonight,” Casey says as she eyes me eating the apple. I don’t know what expression is on my face, but I’m guessing she can tell the apple isn’t doing much for me.

“No thanks,” I tell her with a small smile. I’m too proud to take help from her, and even leftover pasta is still charity to me.

“You’re wasting away to nothing, Savannah,” she gripes at me. “You can’t go on much longer like this.”

“I’m fine,” I drawl out with false confidence in my voice. “Like you said… this house cleaning job will be enough to put me in the black on my expenses.”

“You’re not fine,” she practically barks at me with narrowed eyes. “You’re working yourself to the bone. What are you up to now… like three jobs, plus you volunteer every week at The Haven with Alyssa and Brody. You’re hardly eating. Seriously, you’re putting your health in jeopardy.”

Now… I’m normally a polite, sweet, Midwestern girl. It takes a lot to rile me up, but having these reminders of my failures thrown into my face gets me a little irritated. “Back off, Casey. While I appreciate your concern, I’ve got this handled.”

She blinks at me in surprise, because I think this may be the first fight we’ve had as roommates. Out of my core group of girlfriends, Casey, Alyssa, and Gabby, I’m the least likely to get irritable with anyone. Some would even call me a pushover.

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