She found the man in the kitchen staring at Donny’s knives, which sat in a row on the counter. “These yours?” he said as she entered the room.
“I’m a chef,” she answered untruthfully, not wanting to bring Donny into the picture.
“I see. And what, exactly, are you doing in my house?”
“It was rented to me, short term.”
He turned from the knives to study her. He was handsome with a full head of grey-brown hair and eyes that might have been kind if he weren’t so angry. He carried himself as if he were the CEO of an international corporation, very powerful and important in his expensive suit. “That’s not possible. The house is never for rent. How long have you been here?”
“And your name?”
“Janet Fairchild.” She held out her hand to shake, but he ignored it. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“None of your fucking business.”
Well, that didn’t bode well. They stood in the kitchen talking at cross purposes for the next fifteen minutes or so. In that time, in an attempt to soften him up, she made coffee for them both and offered him a slice of carrot cake (he refused). She learned his name was Roy, but she was so in the dark about who he actually was and where things stood between him and Betsy that she floundered around with half truths. She told him, for instance, that she was in Austin on a brief stint as a chef (when he asked where, she lied and said Sawyer’s). Betsy, whom she knew from early childhood, had sublet her this place. The other person staying here was her brother, but, she lied, he was only visiting for the weekend.
“Tell him to get out,” Roy said. “Your brother. He needs to be gone.” Then he told her she needed to be gone, too, and to go pack her stuff. In tears Janet went to her bedroom. The last thing she wanted to do was leave this place. She’d been happier here than anywhere she could remember. All the vegetables she’d planted in the garden. The mysterious shed – she’d sneaked in there on numerous occasions to snip herbs for a salad, and to experience the strange clammy jungle atmosphere. The kitchen where she and Donny had enjoyed so many meals. Even the sense that the place was haunted and that friendly ghosts protected her. Well, they hadn’t protected her from this creep, Roy, who even now she could hear prowling in the hallway just outside her door. She began throwing things into suitcases. Where was she going to go? She thought of Betsy who had a big house and owed her a lifetime of favors. But that wouldn’t work with the dog. She thought of couch surfing with various friends and acquaintances. Yuk. Then she thought maybe if she put on a sexy dress and fed Roy a marijuana cookie he’d let her stay.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ https://www.theodysseyonline.com/5-stages-of-packing-for-trip