I'm wiping down tables at Denny's, waving goodbye to our last customer of the night. It's been a long day and I'm extremely looking forward to going home, ordering a late night pizza and spooning my bed cushions to sleep.
"Hey Mia, good tips tonight?" Lila asks me from behind the counter, sorting through the till. I shake my tips pouch on my apron, the coins jangling against one another.
"Just the usual. Edith was my best tip as she always is." I smile, grateful for the old lady who's taken a shine to me since I started working here. Lila sighs, tying her blonde hair up into a ponytail before taking off her apron.
"Are you okay? Something troubling you?" I ask her, walking towards the counter and leaning on it. I place my cleaning cloth and spray behind it before turning my attention back to Lila. She pauses before looking up at me from under her long lashes. Her green eyes are covered in a layer of unshed tears and upon seeing them, I quickly scurry around the counter to envelope her into a tight hug.
"What's wrong? You know you can talk to me." I tell her. Lila is like my adopted sister, we met working at Denny's but she quickly became a close friend. I've known her for almost a year now and I couldn't imagine going a day without seeing her usual smiley self. She sniffles before pulling back, her face an expression of sadness.
"My landlord says I have two weeks to leave my apartment because he's housing his great aunt Judith or something. I don't know what I'm supposed to do! I can't afford a deposit on another place." Lila says, covering her face in her hands. I take hold of her shoulders, racking my brains to come up with a solution —
"Come and live with me." I suggest. Lila pauses, dropping her hands and giving me a questioning look. I smile reassuringly at her in return.
"You don't have the space."
"Sure I do. We can buy one of those pull out sofa beds and we can split the rent. You'd be doing me a favour, trust me." I smile at her. She reaches up and wipes away at her eyes —
"Are you one hundred percent sure?"
I nod my head, completely sure of my decision. With Lila moving in, the rent money won't be so difficult to pay all on my own.
"I could use the company." I smile, shrugging my shoulders. Lila releases a deep breath, her shoulders relaxing. "Thank you so much! I'll be the best roommate you've ever had."
"You'll be my very first roommate I've had." I laugh, handing her jacket over to her. We both grab our belongings and lock up for the night. I say goodbye to Lila after reassuring her another several times that I'm happy with her moving in with me. I feel the pressure of paying bills melt away and I'm also excited to share an apartment with her.
It sure can get lonely living with no-one but your plants.
When Monday morning comes, I wake up with a spring in my step. For the first time in what feels like forever, my apartment is clean and organised along with my schedule. I quickly give myself a check over in the mirror before shrugging and spritzing some perfume on my collarbone and wrists. I flick my hair over my shoulder, giving myself a coy smile before laughing to myself in the mirror.
I grab my car keys and head outside, noticing the sun beginning to peek through the early morning clouds. On my drive over to pick up Caleb, I turn on the radio and belt out some of my current favourite tunes. When I pull up along Caleb's house, he's already stood outside waiting for me, looking as professional as ever.
"Good morning," I smile to him as he slides into my passenger seat. He turns to look at me whilst pulling over his seatbelt and I try and not squirm under the heat of his gaze.
"You're chirpy today." Caleb says, sounding amused.
"Aren't I chirpy everyday?" I respond.
"You're correct but today you're extra chirpy. Is there a reason for that?"
I bite down on my lower lip and turn to face Caleb. For a moment, his dark eyes linger on mine before dropping down to my lips. I automatically release them, my cheeks heating up in slight embarrassment.
"N-no. No, nothing out of the ordinary." I tell him, stuttering a little. I shuffle awkwardly in my seat and stare straight ahead at the road. Caleb chuckles quietly under his breath before turning to look out of his own window. An awkward silence falls upon us and I breathe in sharply, desperately racking my brains to change the subject.
"So how is work?" I ask him. I still don't know what Caleb Stonehouse actually does. I don't know where he works or who he works with. When it comes to his personal life, Caleb is incredibly mysterious and vague.
"Work is fine."
"What do you actually do?" I tell him, unwilling to take his response as an answer. If my question makes him nervous or agitated, he doesn't show it in the slightest. Caleb is the kind of man who reacts completely calm to any situation which doesn't help when I'm trying to figure him out as a person.
"I work in law." Caleb surprises me, his words spoken slowly. For some odd reason, I don't fully believe him but I dig in deeper anywhere.
"Law? That's pretty cool. What kind of law?"
"All of it." Caleb says rather abruptly. He shuffles in his seat, turning his head to watch the cars passing by next to us. I nod my head slowly —
"So you're a lawyer?" I ask him, deciding I don't want to sit in silence today. It would be nice to know a little more about the guy who gets in my car every single week day. My question seems to fall upon deaf ears and after minutes of nothing but silence, I breathe out deeply.
When I eventually reach the coffee shop and turn the engine off, Caleb pauses. Whilst staring straight ahead, he speaks in a low and slow tone —
"I'm not ignoring your questions to be rude. It's better if you don't know."
And with that bombshell of a mystery response, he leaves my car and disappears into the crowds of people on their morning daily commute.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" I mutter to myself as I turn my car around. I don't stop thinking about his words the entire ride home.
It's better if I don't know?
Is Caleb some sort of dodgy lawyer?
I try to picture him in a courthouse and shake my head, that doesn't seem right. After a half hour of racking my brains to come up with an explanation, I'm left stumped and decide to push Caleb's statement to the back of my mind.