Hate Notes(8)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward


Oh shit.

What have I gotten myself into?

At this point, lying was simply easier than explaining the truth.

I started speaking out of my ass. “As you said . . . it’s very . . . involved. It takes . . . a lot of schooling. A lot of practice.”

“How does it work exactly?”

How does dog surfing work? Beats the hell out of me.

“You stand at the back of the board and . . . the dog stands on the front . . . and, um . . . he . . .” I lost my train of thought.

“Surfs.” The word came out in a laugh.

“Yes.”

Reed stood up from the bed and approached me. “So it pays well?”

Swallowing, I shook my head. “It doesn’t, no.”

His questions came faster.

“You have old money, then?”

“No.”

“If your occupation doesn’t allow you to afford a place like this, how do you plan on paying for it?”

“I have other ways . . .”

His stare became icy. “Really? Because your credit report says you don’t have ways. In fact, it pretty much says you don’t have a pot to piss in, Charlotte.” My name rolled off his tongue like an obscenity.

He took a piece of paper out of the folder and held it in front of my eyes.

“Where did you get that?” I hissed, snatching it from him. “You looked me up?”

His tone turned angrier. “Do you really think I’m going to show someone a twelve-million-dollar apartment without a background check? You can’t be that naive.”

Humiliation overwhelmed me. “But you can’t do a background check on me without my permission.”

His eyes narrowed. “You gave me permission when you clicked the box to submit your viewing application. What a surprise, that fact seems to escape you.”

I loosened my defenses in concession. “So you knew from the very beginning?”

“Of course I knew,” he spat. “Let’s look at some of the other things you can’t seem to remember entering on your application.”

Oh no.

Reed opened the folder. “Occupation: dog-surfing instructor. Hobbies and interests: dogs and surfing. Previous employment: night manager at Deez Nuts.” He tossed the folder aside—more like whipped it across the room. The contents went flying.

“Why are you here, Ms. Darling?”

I literally peed in my pants a little. “I just wanted to see . . .”

“See . . .” He gritted his bright-white teeth as he spoke.

“Yes. I came to see . . .” You. “And I wasn’t expecting you to be so mean.”

His laugh was angry. “Mean? You have no regard for the value of a person’s time, walk in here with a completely fake profile, and you’re calling me mean? I think you need to look in the mirror, Ms. Darling. Surprisingly enough, it seems that is your real name. Why you lied about everything else and gave your real name is beyond me, not to mention idiotic. So, no. If I were mean, I’d be calling security right now.”

Security?

I snapped.

How dare he go there? I’d only come to see him. To make sure he was okay, that they were okay. And while I couldn’t admit that, his turning this nasty really flipped a switch in me.

“Okay. You want to know the truth? I was curious. Curious about this place . . . curious about what seemed to be the complete opposite of the life I’ve been dealt lately. I wanted a change. I’ve been down in the dumps for weeks, so I got a little drunk one night. Looked online and found this listing—found you. I wanted to come see, not for malicious reasons, not to waste your time. I just wanted a little bit of hope that things might turn around someday. Maybe I wanted to pretend things aren’t as miserable as they really are. I don’t even remember entering that ridiculous information, okay? All I know is that I got a call confirming this appointment, and I took it, thinking maybe it was fate—that I should come and experience something out of the ordinary.”

Reed was silent. So I continued.

“And I do read, Reed. I was embarrassed to tell you the truth. I still read romance, but only the books with hard-core sex since I’m not getting any at the moment because I don’t trust anyone enough to let them near me after my fiancé cheated on me. So, yeah . . . I read, Reed. I read a lot. And I would use the shit out of that library, except the books on my shelves wouldn’t be anything you’d be able to display to stuffy prospective buyers.”