The prompt will be bolded in the story.
Mallory lugged her backpack and suitcase up seven flights of stairs to the stupidly small apartment she’d agreed to share with her sister, Nina. After a total of three flights and twenty-three hours worth of layovers, all Mallory wanted to do was wash the airport off her, crawl into bed and sleep for at least three weeks. That wasn’t too much to ask, was it? When she finally reached her floor and heard the techno-punk base pounding out of what sounded like her flat, she realized it was.
She shoved her key into the lock and discovered that her sister hadn’t bothered to secure it in the first place. Mallory rolled her eyes. Apparently, Nina had never gotten the memo that older sisters were supposed to be responsible. Opening the door, she spotted a strange man standing next to the kitchen table and stopped dead. Was this the wrong apartment? She glanced at the number on the door, then at the canvas hanging on the wall. That was her painting–she was in the right place.
The guy turned around from where he’d been chopping vegetables, paring knife in his hand. For a moment, confusion marred his brow, then his expression cleared. “You must be Mallory. Hi.”
He extended his hand–the hand still clutching the knife. “I bet this is a surprise. I’m Jace.”
Mallory stared at him, her gaze dropping to the cutlery still pointed at her.
“Oh. Yeah. Um…sorry.” He tossed it on the table behind him and offered his hand, again. “Like I was saying, I’m Jace, Nina’s boyfriend.”
What the fuck, Nina?! I’ve only been gone two weeks and you move someone in and don’t bother saying shit? Shaking his hand, she said, “Nice to meet you.” After all, she was from the Midwest. “So…is Nina here?”
“Nah. She picked up an extra shift. So, it’s just me and Clive.”
Mallory set down her bags and shut the door. She really didn’t want to ask, but she had to know. “Clive?”
Jace looked confused. “Nina’s kitten.”
Oh good. So Nina had not only moved in a strange guy while she was gone but had also gotten a kitten. They were going to have to readdress the apartment rules later.
“I was just starting supper,” he said, gesturing loosely toward the stove. The stove that was coverer with what looked like three months’ of baked-on food splatters. Which was impressive, really, since she’d only been gone for a week.
“It should be done soon, if you’re hungry.”
She glanced at the mountain of dishes in the sink that had spilled over onto the counter, noticing the slightly rancid smell that permeated the air. Yeah…she wasn’t eating in this kitchen until she had the chance to bleach the fuck out of it.
“I think I’ll just have a cup of tea and go to bed. I’m exhausted.” That was provided she still had a bed. Who knew what else Nina had done while she was gone.
She walked toward the cupboard where they kept the tea and reached for the knob, but Jace got there first. The cupboard stuck like usual, and he wrenched on it, driving it straight into her forehead.
Mallory let loose a torrent of curses and cradled her throbbing head, and slowly realized blood dripped against her hand.
“Oh shit! I’m so sorry…I didn’t mean to–”
“Just get me a wet washcloth, please.”
He pulled a sopping, sour-smelling dishcloth from the sink.
“God no! What is wrong with you?!” She stomped over to the bathroom, yanked open a drawer, and grabbed a clean cloth with her free hand.
Jace followed her. “I”m so sorry. I feel terrible.”
“Good.” She glanced at him as she wet the fabric.
He stared at her, eyes wide.
“What?” she demanded.
“Um…well. It’s just that all that blood looks good on you.”
He shrugged. “It really brings out your eyes.”
That was it. Nina was going to have to find a new place to live. And take Jace with her.
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