Logan’s fidgeting leg was making the uneven table he had happened to pick to sit at wobble. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Logan to try to distract himself by figuring out which leg of the table was uneven.
(It took him far too long to realize that it was the chair that was uneven rather than the table.)
Logan took a deep breath, checked his watch to be sure Glenn still had a few minutes to arrive, and tried to look composed, certain that Glenn wouldn’t want to meet someone shaking with nerves. Logan did his best to relax, did his best to ignore the voice in his head that sounded too damn much like his mother’s to sit up straight, keep his eyes open, don’t yawn when the interviewer is talking—
(The advice was what he needed, but the voice was not.)
The door to the Starbucks creaked open, loud and protesting as it moved too fast on its hinges. Logan glanced up and spotted a young woman, most likely a few years older than him, marching into the place. He wouldn’t have given her a second glance except that the bright red t-shirt clinging to her curves demanded to be noticed, but he supposes that was a good thing, for it took him another moment to realize that she was wearing a gray baseball hat with the Batman logo emblazoned on the front.
Logan’s brows furrowed, even as the young woman paused in the middle of the Starbucks – completely heedless of the few stares she was getting from employers and other customers alike – to look around, clearly trying to spot someone. She paused as turned his way, and Logan found himself staring into a pair of dark brown eyes.
She cracked a grin. “You expected a guy.”
“Uh…” Logan cleared his throat and remembered to stand up when he was greeting someone. “I did, actually. I apologize for making an assumption.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Glenn waved off his apology. “You can imagine how often I get that. Pretty sure most of my high school teachers all thought I was joking around when they called my name on the attendance sheet and a short girl raised her hand instead of a guy. My parents’ reasoning is that they apparently saw a Glenn Close movie the night before they found out Mom was pregnant with me.
“Now that you know some random facts about my backstory,” she said, “I’m going to get a drink and I’ll join you at your table here so we can chat a little more about you. Be right back!”
She gave him a smile over her shoulder as she joined the line of customers and Logan shakily took his seat again. He was smiling too, but his nerves were shot and the espresso shot in his Frappuccino probably wasn’t helping.
(He had gotten back to his motel room late last night due to a customer knocking one of his trays of food to the ground. Thank goodness the laundromat by the motel was open 24-hours.)
“Alrightie.” A tall caramel, by the smell of it, Frappuccino plopped down on the table across from his seat, and Logan stood up before Glenn could sit down.
“Despite your cracks about me being formal,” Logan said, his smile easily growing as he stretched his hand out for a shake, “I would like to introduce myself. I’m Logan Fields.”
“Glenn Connors.” Her handshake was firm, unwavering, and Logan wasn’t sure if she was trying to test his strength or not yet. Once the pair sat down and Glenn took a long sip of her Frappuccino, she asked without preamble, “So, what about the room’s description caught your eye?”
“How it was written, really,” Logan answered honestly. “It sounded like I was talking to a person – talking to you, I presume – and it clearly laid out the rules for the rent, the other bills, what was allowed in the place, a bit of background of the landlord… And you mentioned pets. I like pets, but was never allowed one growing up.”
She grinned and shoved some of her loose black hair back under her Batman hat. Whipping out her phone, she showed off her lock screen that had a couple of dachshunds sitting pretty on a leather sofa. Pointing to the silver dappled one, she said, “That’s Peppermint, but we mostly call her Pepper, and the chocolate-brown one is Mocha. They’re sisters from the same litter, we got ’em a couple of winters ago, so naturally we named them after our favorite hot Starbucks drink.”
“Peppermint Mocha.” Logan chuckled. “They’re adorable. They’d be cool with a new person in the house?”
“Considering they weren’t too thrilled with our last roommate,” Glenn said, taking her phone back and swiping at the screen a couple of times, “I think they’d be fine. They can be little yappers, as most small dogs are, but they’ll warm up to you eventually.”
Logan smiled, pleased to hear the positive annotation that it could be him moving into the third room of Glenn’s apartment.
“Here’s Snickers.” The new picture was of a brown maine coon-like cat staring out a window.
“Named after your favorite candy, I’m guessing?” Logan asked.
Glenn shared his smirk. “My sister’s, actually. She’s the one who picked out Snickers at the shelter and ended up picking the name that would stick. I wanted to call him Churro because we had just gotten back from a trip to Disneyworld and those things are absolutely delicious. By the way, my sister is our other roommate, in case that wasn’t mentioned. Her name is Meredith, nicknamed Merry, after a Lord of the Rings character. She’s a couple of years younger than you, by the looks of it, and just finishing up her junior year of high school. How old are you, anyway?”
“Eighteen,” he said. “Just graduated high school.”
One eyebrow rose slowly. “Already trying to get out of your house, huh? Is it that bad?”
(Considering he had been out of it for a couple of weeks already, yes.)
“I just felt the need to get on with my life,” he settled for saying. Keeping an easy smile on his face, he added, “There wasn’t much left for me back there.”
Glenn hummed, a neutral reply, but her dark eyes stared at him as if they were going to strip his soul away. He’s seen that calculating look on plenty of people before. Madison, when she had been getting a scoop for the school newspaper. Carter and Aidan, when April Fool’s Day came around. Seamus, when he was figuring out a particular science equation. His mother, when she was crushing another independent store beneath her stilettos.
(Granted, no one else’s calculating look was as terrifying as his mother’s. Most people’s calculating looks still held a shred of humanity in them.)
“Did you graduate from the local high school?” Glenn asked. “Belleview High?”
“No,” Logan said. “It was Havana High, just a couple of cities over.”
“A couple of cities my ass,” Glenn said. “That’s almost seven hours away from here. Please don’t tell me you came all the way here just for an interview for a room?”
“No, I’m working and living here,” Logan said.
“Havana High’s graduation wasn’t even two weeks ago.”
“Right,” Logan said, nodding and doing his best not to fidget under Glenn’s gaze. “I’ve been out here for about that long.”
Glenn’s brows furrowed and she proceeded to take a long sip from her drink as she tried to figure out Logan’s timeline of his life.
“Where are you living right now?” Her question was almost gentle.
Logan hesitated, wondering if dashing out of his hometown so soon after graduating was a point against him getting this room, but Glenn may be persuaded by pity to give the place to him if she didn’t like the sound of the motel he was staying at. She was an older sister who apparently cared enough about her younger sister to live together even though said sister was obviously young enough to still be with their parents. The sympathy card may work against her.
Then again she played the part of a tough interrogator, the kind that made the conversation sound amicable but was really filing away every word, every tone, every new shift of body language away in whatever file was her mind to gleam over later for clues and truths and lies.
Logan couldn’t start off a living arrangement lying to his roommates, though. He couldn’t even consider trying to create some little story of him living with a nearby cousin or a coworker from the restaurant.
“I’m at the Red Hawk motel at the edge of town,” he said. “I booked my room there about two weeks before graduation. I’m a waiter at Chefron’s.”
Glenn pursed her lips and Logan wondered how affective playing the sympathy card would be. He could be manipulative and persuasive when he wanted it to be.
(It was something that he had learned from his mother. For the most part, he hated it, but every once in a while he could justify it when something harmless worked out in his favor.)
(He pointedly ignored when that just made him feel worse.)