Page 5 of RoomHate

My inclination was to try to come up with a comeback, but then I realized that was probably what he wanted. I needed to kill him with kindness instead of showing my anger.

“Thank you. That was nice of you to make it for me.”

Asshole.

I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “What did you put in this? It’s so strong!”

Instead of answering me, he just started to crack up. His laughter resonated through the kitchen, and as much as I hated that it was at my expense, it was the first time he’d laughed. It took me back in time for a moment and served as the only real reminder that the smoking hot asshole in front of me used to be my best friend.

“You don’t like it?”

“It’s a bit strong. What is it?”

“It’s coffee fusion, actually.”

“What does that even mean?”

Justin sauntered over to the cabinet and took out a can and a package. “It’s my own recipe. Cuban coffee mixed with this one.” He pointed to the black packaging that had a white skull and crossbones on it.

“What the hell is that?”

“It’s coffee. I order it online. Nothing else is caffeinated enough for me.”

“That’s why you wanted to serve it to me, wasn’t it? You knew I’d hate this…concoction.”

Instead of answering, he simply let out that raspy laugh of his again, except this time, he was laughing way harder than before.

Jade entered the kitchen, wearing a long black t-shirt that must have been the one he wasn’t wearing. “What’s so funny?”

Justin’s mischievous eyes peeked from behind his mug. He snickered. “We were just having coffee.”

Jade shook her head. “You didn’t drink his mud, did you? I don’t know how he likes that stuff.”

I reminded myself of my plan to kill him with kindness. Taking another sip of the coffee, I nodded. “Actually, at first taste, it was pretty strong, but I actually think I really like it.”

It was disgusting.

“You’d better be careful. That shit is potent. Justin is immune to it, but the one and only time I drank it, it kept me up for like four days.”

Justin chuckled. “Apparently, we kept Amelia up last night.”

Jade turned to me. “Oh, shit. I’m sorry.”

Shrugging, I said, “It’s no big deal. I got used to it after a while.”

“Was that when you decided you wished you could join in?” he cracked.

Fuck him.

I was not going to respond to that.

The more I looked over at his smug expression, the more determined I became to finish the entire damn mug of coffee to spite him. “I’m really surprised at how much I’m actually liking this,” I lied.

Jade chose to ignore Justin’s earlier comment. “What do you say after breakfast we head to town, Amelia? I’d love it if you could show me around the island.”

“Alright. That would be nice.”

She walked over to him and wrapped her arm around his waist. “You want to come with us, babe?”

“No. I have shit to do,” Justin said before finishing off the last of his coffee and putting the cup in the sink.

“Okay. Just the girls then.”

***

The coffee had turned me into a spaz. As Jade and I walked around Newport that morning, she kept having to tell me to slow down. Apparently, in her heels, she couldn’t keep up with me.

At one point later in the afternoon, we stopped to rest our legs. Jade and I sat on a wooden bench overlooking the dozens of docked sailboats as the sun shined over the water.

“So, how did you and Justin meet?” I asked.

“I was in the audience at this club called Hades in the city. Justin was performing there that night. He was eyeing me the whole time he was singing and after the show, he came to find me. When he said he was thinking of me while he was singing the last song, I nearly died. We’ve been inseparable since.”

My face felt hot. I wasn’t willing to admit to myself that it was jealousy. The thought of them connecting so intimately while he was in the middle of performing made me uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe because it reminded me of the songs he used to write for me. You’d think nothing would bother me after having to endure their fucking last night.

“What kind of music does he play now?”

“Well, he does some covers of artists like Jack Johnson, but he also writes a lot of original stuff. He mostly plays clubs, but his manager has been trying to get him a music deal. Of course, the girls all go crazy over him. That part has taken some getting used to for me.”

“I’m sure it’s hard.”

“Yeah. Big time.” She tilted her head. “What about you? No boyfriend?”

“I just got out of a relationship.”

I spent the next half-hour rehashing to her what happened with Adam. Jade was really easy to talk to, and I could tell it really upset her to find out about Adam’s cheating on me.

“Well, better to find out these things now while you’re still young than to waste a decade with someone like that.”

“You’re very right.”

“We’ll have to find you someone this summer. I’ve seen a lot of hot guys walking around here today.”

“Really? Because the only ones I’ve seen were holding each other’s hands.”

She laughed. “No. There were others.”

“I’m really not looking to get into another relationship.”

“Who said anything about that? You need to get laid…have some fun, especially after what that dick of an ex did to you. You deserve a hot summer fling, someone who knocks your socks off, someone you can’t stop thinking about even when they’re not around.”

Sadly, it’s your boyfriend that I can’t get out of my head at the moment.

She meant well, so I just smiled and nodded even though I had no intention of sleeping with anyone this summer.

On our way home, we passed Sandy’s on the Beach, a restaurant that was known for live music at night and really good food. A sign out front read, Temporary Summer Help Wanted. Since there was a university just over the bridge, a lot of the students went home in the summer, leaving some of the local restaurants in need of temporary wait staff.

I stopped short in front of the entrance. “Do you mind if I go in and inquire about this?”

“Sure. I’d actually like to check it out, too.”

It turned out that Sandy’s was desperate for summer help. Both Jade and I had waitressing experience, so we sat down and filled out applications. By the time we walked out of there, we each had a job. The manager basically told us we could work any night we wanted. The extra money and flexibility was impossible to pass up. Jade was particularly happy that he’d told her it was no problem if she had to suddenly cancel a shift in the event she got called back to Manhattan for an audition. We were each going to start tomorrow.

That night, Jade thought we should celebrate our new jobs over dinner and drinks on the upper deck back at the house. It hadn’t dawned on me how peaceful being away from Justin all day had been.

When we walked in the door, butterflies started to swarm in my stomach again as soon as I smelled his cologne. Justin was standing in the kitchen drinking a beer when Jade ran over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Justin was tall—over six feet—but Jade wasn’t that much shorter than him. Next to both of them, I was basically a midget.

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