Authors: Alora Kate
The Price We Pay
“I hear voices in my head and I love that it’s totally okay.” ~ Alora Kate
Copyright © 2016 by Alora Kate
Editor: Silvia Curry
Cover by: Alora Kate, Dollar Photo Club
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction.
Characters, Names, Places, and Incidents are products of MY crazy imagination.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Copyright © 2016 by Alora Kate
To the ladies in my life, your love and support mean the world to me.
These are just a few …
Silvia Curry, Ella Winters, Kim Sutton, Sarah Darlington, Sylvia Volkmer Schneider
Thank you to these amazing BLOGGERS…
Bloggers For The Love of Authors and Their Books,
Elusively Ella's Bookishness
Undeniably Addicted To Books
Marnie’s Musings and Special Events,
Abibliophobia Anonymous Book Reviews
There are so many more, I wish I could list them all.
And most of all, THANK YOU READERS!
I love hearing from you and reading your reviews!
A note from me: This story started about two years ago but I didn’t think they’d all be in this together.
I had one folder that contained the names and ideas for each of them and some scenes already wrote.
One day, I was looking over my notes, and they basically told me that they belonged together.
All of them! Their stories worked with each other, things came together and here we are.
I truly hope you enjoy their story.
I loved writing it and getting to know all these people.
Dedicated to the READERS!
I appreciate all of you!
Thanks for everything!
The Price We Pay
“His name is Latch,” Sofia said holding back the floor to ceiling beige curtains just enough to allow her to peer out the living room window at our neighbor. “Well, at least that’s what I heard the doorman say when he walked in the building earlier. Took me long enough to figure that out. Who has a name like that? Latch. Latch.” She said his name a few times, testing it out, rolling the sounds around in her mouth.
She was at it again. She was convinced that our neighbor was a drug dealer, a sex trafficker, a gun smuggler … you name it, she thought it.
“I’m pretty sure it’s not his real name,” I replied. Even if it was his real name, Latch wasn’t as bad as Marvey.
A boy named Marvey; now that could work. I bet he would be an accountant, and Marvey was the cutesy name his obnoxious girlfriend would him when she needed some money. A girl named Marvey? Nope, it doesn’t work. I had to endure years and years of teasing from nasty ass kids, teachers always questioning me on the first day of school, and even people wondering if that was my real name.
I mean, who names their kid Marvey?
Oh, that’s right, the woman who gave birth to me - gave me life - then waited until I was tucked away in the nursery to leave. Yes, just up and left! No note, no explanation, just up and left me, her daughter, in the hospital alone with no family.
But not before naming me Marvey!
Yes, this was still a sore subject for me.
“Probably not, but still.” Sofia twirled around from the window to face me, making her thick, long, chestnut brown hair fling around her shoulder. Her mom was from Brazil, so you can guess what she looks like already. A tan that never fades, high cheekbones, flawless skin, eyes that match the color of her hair, perfectly shaped eyebrows - only because she gets them waxed once a week –, and full, heart-shaped lips.
She shut her notebook and eyed me up and down.
“Seriously Marv, you have unlimited access to my wardrobe and you still dress like that?”
She rolled her eyes at me and set the notebook on the table. She closed the distance between us, disappointment and disgust marring her perfect features.
I glanced down at myself – hot pink tank top and black capris, my standard outfit. Well, the capris were more like sweatpants, but so damn comfortable. My black flip-flops completed my look. Anyway, it’s not like I could ever afford the clothes Sofia wore.
I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s comfy.”
“Just because it was cheap doesn’t mean it’s old.”
“You look old,” she eyed me up and down again, “and frumpy.”
“I’m twenty-four!” I snapped.
She’d love it if I wore her clothes. She has too many as it is and she can’t be seen wearing the same thing twice. Her family is a bunch of rich uptight bastards in my opinion and object to her being in public wearing the same outfit twice. Even though Sofia is super rich due to her family, she isn’t an uptight bastard. And me? I’m dirt poor. I barely graduated high school and never even tried to get into college. It just wasn’t my future. My future was working three jobs and living with Sofia, aka ‘Richie Rich.’ She doesn’t flaunt it or rub it in my face; she’s actually a cool person once you get to know her. But when I want to piss her off, I’ll say her nickname, Richie Rich.
We first met six months ago at an upscale restaurant. Sofia and her family were there for dinner along with her boyfriend’s family, and I was their waitress. Of course, there was a problem with the order; something was too cold, too bland … blah, blah, blah. Long story short, my dirtbag manager fired me before they even got the check. I was pissed and stormed off to the bathroom so no one would see me cry. I hardly ever cry, but rent was due and I was already facing an eviction notice. It wasn’t like I was in love with my little dump of an apartment, but it was mine. It wasn’t a good thing to get canned from a job that paid half my rent. It was hard to get the good shifts unless someone called in sick on a Friday night. That was rare and I had jumped at the chance to work. The tips were fantastic if you knew how to kiss rich ass. I acquired this skill quickly.
Sofia showed up in the bathroom shortly after I stormed off, feeling sorry for me. I’ll never forget her cursing my boss in Portuguese. I laughed and for some reason, I told her my pathetic story. She fluttered her dark eyelashes at me, and like it was something she did on a daily basis, she offered me her spare bedroom. She said she always wanted a roommate and this was the only chance she was going to get. I’d lived on the streets before and I really didn’t want to go back. I’m not sure why she trusted me, but she did. Her dad hates me and her mom tolerates me. Sofia was spoken for; arranged marriage type shit if you ask me, but that’s not what the
call it. According to them, it’s normal, and Sofia was raised knowing she would marry the man they picked, Kennedy. I’ve met him a few times and I liked him. He was totally in love with Sofia, I could tell.
“Look,” Sofia said, changing the subject, “I’m seriously thinking this Latch guy is dangerous.”
“If you honestly believe that, then call the police,” I lifted an eyebrow, “or tell your father.”
“He’ll probably make me move. Or take matters into his own hands, and I don’t need either right now. I love this place.” She looks around and admires its beauty. She’s filled the apartment with high-end shit, like stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and a built-in coffee pot. It’s my favorite and the only gadget I know how to work. This place is just right for Sofia though and she doesn’t want to move.
I’m saving up and once I’m stable with work, I’m out. This was only supposed to be temporary anyway.
“I need more dirt on the guy, and then maybe I’ll call the police. Try and leave my dad out of it.” She smirked. “Make it anonymous.”
“The owner wouldn’t let a drug-trafficking, woman-stealing kind of man in the building.” Without looking, I reached over and set my coffee mug in the sink. “They run background checks and stuff on the people who live here.”
“True, but something is going on and I’m going to find out.”
“Maybe you should be a detective, or private investigator, instead of a wife. You’re not just a hot piece of ass, Sophia. You’re smart and can read people! You deserve more than being some man’s arm candy.”
She’s graduating in a few weeks with her Bachelor in Science degree, whatever that means. I’m sure she could get a normal job that paid good money because it sounded important.
“Thank you, it’s so sweet of you to notice.” She smiled her big, phony smile at me, the one she usually reserves for the paparazzi. “I’m also an impeccable dresser.” She ran her hands down her silky white dress.
I laughed. This is one of our standard exchanges. Deep down she’s a good person, not at all the shallow, famous-because-she’s-famous person that the media always makes her out to be. That’s all an act she puts on for everyone because it is expected of her. Given the chance, I think she might ditch the whole persona and try to live a normal life.
Of course, that would mean giving up all her stuff.
“Yes, you are an amazing woman with a killer sense of style.”
On a normal night, she would have gone on to elicit compliments on her hair, make-up, musical taste, whatever she could think of. The game was to see which one of us would get nauseated first.
Sofia hadn’t given up on me yet, so she flipped things around in a way I hadn’t expected.
“Well if that’s the case, why don’t you take my advice and not dress like such a frump?”
I stuck my tongue out at her. “Don’t you have a ribbon to cut or a dinner to
Sophia glanced at the clock. “I do indeed, and I’m going to have to hustle buns if I want to get there fashionably late. Now get out of those nasty clothes and come back here so I can dress you properly.”
I raised an eyebrow at her. “Why the hell would I want to do that?”
“Well, I’m not going to be seen in public with you looking like a bag-lady.”
I could feel my cheeks start to get warm. “I don’t look like a bag-lady.”
“Right, bag ladies know how to coordinate better. Seriously, flip-flops?”
I clamped my mouth shut to keep from yelling something horrible. Sometimes Sofia took things too far.
She noticed my silence almost immediately. I have no idea how I looked at the time, but I could feel my teeth grinding so I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Whatever the look, she downshifted out of bitch-mode pretty quickly.
“Oh, Marv. I was just kidding. You look fine, really you do. I just wanted you to come out with me tonight and the dinner is, of course, a little fancy.”
I hated that word.
“I don’t really feel like going out tonight,” I whined.
To be honest, I never did feel like going out. Sofia loved dragging me to places that were well outside of my price range. She always said I was her guest so it was her treat, but after a while, I started to feel like a leech. Besides, the place would be filled with her rich friends and family and I didn’t need the stares and glares, or to be ignored by them all night. They just wanted a chance to be seen.
“Oh please,” Sofia whined. “Pretty, pretty, pretty, please?” She clasped her hands together and widened her big brown eyes, never breaking eye contact as she started to inch closer to me.
You would think that the sight of a grown ass woman pleading like a little girl would be annoying, but Sofia pulled it off without a problem. It must have been all those years getting stuff from Daddy Warbucks.
“No, thank you. I do appreciate the offer, but I’m beat.”
Sofia’s shoulders slumped and she pouted. I’m sure this look worked on all of the guys, and probably some of the girls, but it did nothing for me.
“Okay then, can you do me a teensy favor?” she asked pinching her thumb and finger together.
I rolled my eyes. “What?”
“Keep an eye on that creep, Latch.”
“Are you kidding? I’m not going to spy on him for you.”
“Then you’re coming out with me.”
I sighed and gave up way too easily. I was too tired to keep this circle going with Sophia; I worked late last night for some shitty fucking tips and I wasn’t able to sleep.
“Fine. I’ll feed your weird paranoia.”
“Cool. Don’t forget to take notes.” She pointed a manicured finger at the notebook, the little sparkly chips in her French tips gleaming.
Twenty minutes later, I was at the curtain, peering across at the opposite tower. We lived in a condo high-rise. Each unit had two floors and an ungodly amount of square feet given the location. The complex itself was made of three towers. Latch, the object of Sofia’s current obsession, lived in the 300 tower while we were in the 200. His patio was directly across from ours, separated by an expanse of open air the size of a large swimming pool.
I felt ridiculous, so I decided to make a game of it.
“Continuing surveillance on the subject known on the street as ‘Latch’,” I said to the empty room, giggling. If I could do this, maybe I could quit waitressing and get an acting gig on one of those cop shows that had nothing but letters in its name.
I pulled back the curtain slightly. The subject in question was standing on his balcony, gazing out into space. For a second I thought he had seen me, my heart raced and I felt my cheeks burn, but he gave no indication that he had.
He was a tall man and I could tell from the distance he was well muscled. He was dressed plainly, blue jeans and a plain black t-shirt. He had a full sleeve of tattoos on one arm and he sported a slicked up rock-a-billy hair-do. It was kind of hot.
Sofia was right. He didn’t fit in with this condo crowd any more than I did. In fact, he would have fit in better at my old dump.
Jeez, he was handsome from a distance.
We stayed that way for what seemed like an hour but were probably only a couple of minutes. He stared out at nothing. I stared at him. Then he seemed to make up his mind about something and he disappeared into this apartment.
I kept watching, waiting for him to reappear. I was just about to give up when he popped back out again. He had added a pair of biker boots, real shit-kickers, with tons of buckles and zippers, and a worn leather jacket. I could tell, even from the other building, that the leather would be buttery soft from wear. It had epaulets on the shoulders, a pair of chains attached to the left one.
He pulled on his leather jacket and held a slim cell phone to his ear. Seconds passed, he jammed his finger on the phone and shoved it back into his jacket pocket. He turned and headed back inside. He was leaving his apartment.
A normal person would have turned around and watched some television. A slightly less than normal person would have jotted all of this down for her even less normal roommate and then sat down to watch television.
I have been called a lot of things in my life, normal is not one of them. I ran into the guest room I called mine, grabbed my matching sweater-jacket and bag. Then I headed for the front door.
After all, I had promised Sofia that I would keep an eye on this Latch fellow, right?