The fire was already blocking my escape route through the main door, trapping me inside. I did the only thing I could do, snagging my towel and dumping it into the tub, which was already half-full because I’d been drawing the bath. I then locked myself in my room, putting the towel down to cover the crack beneath the door. My bedroom had a window that faced out to the street, so I figured it’d give me the best shot at waving for help. Who knew that help would come in the form of Max and Jeremy?
It must have been kismet. They were really turning out to be my guardian angels.
I sat up in bed and looked around, squinting in the dark to get my eyes to focus. I could make out the rough outlines of spare boxes and an old wooden desk shoved in the opposite corner to the bed, but that was about it. What alarmed me the most, however, was the crack of sunlight shining through the space in the far window’s curtains. If the sun was up, that meant it was morning. And if it was morning, that meant I was going to be late for my shift. I didn’t have my phone –that was probably a melted disc by now– so I couldn’t call work to tell them I was running late.
Throwing the covers off of me, I jumped straight out of bed. I nearly tripped over my own legs as I snatched my work uniform off the end of the bed, throwing Jeremy’s oversized sleep clothes off to get dressed. It was then, and only then, that I realized I didn’t even have shoes. I sighed in frustration. This definitely wasn’t the best way to start my day. My hands were still shaking from the night before, and a building pressure over my shoulders was starting to crush me into the ground.
I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had no one to turn to for help. Max and Jeremy had been kind enough to offer me a place to stay, but how long was that going to last? I was sure suddenly having a girl live with them would throw a wrench in their bachelor lifestyle. They didn’t need me squirreled away most days, madly counting every dollar I earned until I could finally afford a place of my own. Frustrated, I took a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. There had to be a solution. I just needed some more time.
I quietly left my room and tiptoed down the hall, surprised to find that Max and Jeremy were already awake in the kitchen. Jeremy was sitting at the small wooden table, big enough for three or four, sipping at a comically massive mug of coffee while scrolling through his phone. He was already dressed for work in a pair of dark blue jeans and a tight grey t-shirt. I was really starting to wonder if the guy liked to buy his clothes small on purpose, because the fabric hugged him so tight, it left little to the imagination. Granted, from where I was standing, I definitely wasn’t complaining.
Max was in an apron by the stove, frying up some delicious strips of crispy bacon, sunny side up eggs, and keeping an eye on the toaster. He was similarly dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt, practically bursting at the seams in an attempt to contain his hard muscles. I watched his back moving about, hard lines shifting with ease beneath his shirt. Maybe in another life, these two could have been models, gracing the world with their expertly sculpted forms. The thought of Max and Jeremy posing on the cover of Vogue made me giggle. Jeremy would probably have the time of his life, while Max would just scowl through the session –but still look stupidly handsome at the same time.
“G-good morning,” I said cautiously, like I was afraid my voice would somehow destroy this peaceful domestic scene.
Jeremy straightened in his seat immediately and smiled. I could tell he was a morning person. “Good morning. How’d you sleep?”
Before I could answer, Max interrupted, “Why are you dressed for work?” His voice was still a little groggy. I took that he wasn’t a morning person. I wondered if these two planned this whole yin-yang thing they had going on.
I took a quick glance at the time off of the microwave. Luckily, I still had a half an hour before my shift started. I threaded my fingers together and shrugged, keeping my eyes on Jeremy because he was far less intimidating. “I’m going to work, obviously. The sooner I get back to earning some money, the sooner I can pay you guys for–”
“Whoa!” said Jeremy, throwing his hands up. “Who said anything about paying us? You’re our guest, Alice.”