The Arrangement (Chapter 2)

My dress swishes around my knees as I walk down the dorm hallway, toward my room. I'm holding my books under one arm and my heels in the other. My purse is over my shoulder. I have my keys in hand and shove one into the lock and twist. The knob turns and I push, walking forward. The door hits something and I walk into it, smacking my head and dropping everything. It's late and I'm tired. I kick the door with my foot, knowing Amber (the worst roommate ever) blocked the door so I can't get inside.

"Open the door!" I scream and kick it again, but she doesn't open up. I pick my books up off the floor and slip them between the crack in the door. I grab my heels and purse and walk to Melony's room. I knock on the door jam and peek in.

"Hey, how'd your night go?" Melony is leaning toward a mirror, putting on earrings that dangle. They sparkle like sunlight against her dark hair. Her skin is the color of caramel and so are her eyes. She looks like a supermodel. She's wearing a dress that wraps around her narrow waist with a plunging neck line.

"Sucked," I say, laying back on her bed and staring at the ceiling. "I got carjacked again. I really thought thieves were smarter than that."

She turns and looks at me. "Are you hurt?"

"Nah, some guy helped me. I got my car back and the idiot who took it didn't steal anything. He ran when the car stalled. What a dumbass." I press my fingers to my temples, trying to stop the headache that's threatening to tear my brains apart.

"What else happened?" She asks, since having car issues is a normal part of my life. "You seem way out of sorts."

I am way out of sorts. I'm quiet for a moment. I want to tell someone, but Mel has money and I have none. I work my ass off and I still can't get ahead. I swallow hard and say it. "I can't do it anymore, Mel. I can't work and do school. If I don't keep my GPA at a 3.5, I lose my scholarship, but if I don't work – " I groan, covering my face with my arm.

"You can't live. Yeah, I get it." She says, putting away her make-up.

"I don't know what to do. I have a huge test on Monday and I haven't even cracked open the book yet. Then, when the car got jacked – damn – all that I could think was that I'm going to fail the test on Monday without my book. I ran down Deer Park Avenue like a lunatic, chasing a stolen textbook."

The bed next to me dips and I realize Mel is sitting there. "You need a new job, honey."

"I know, but it's the same everywhere. Nobody pays enough. I work until I drop dead at night, and I'm still eating Ramen noodles. I can't stand it anymore."

She pats my arm, pulling it away from my face. Her golden eyes meet mine. "Listen, I have to check in at work, take care of some paperwork for tomorrow, and do a few things. My boss is going to be there. You should come and meet her."

I look up at her, "What? And work at a hotel?"

Mel smiles at me funnily, and nods. "Yeah, I mean, why not? It's a good job, it pays great, and the hours are perfect. I work way less than you and make way more."

"That was blunt."

She stands and smoothes her dress, "You need blunt these days, Avery. You're a mess, your car is a death trap, and you're totally alone. A big pay check will fix some of that."

I don't want to go. My body aches. I'm over tired, and going out again sounds like suckage. At the same time, she's right. Money would fix some of my problems. "Since we're being blunt, how much are we talking about?"

"More than enough for you and all your bills. What you earn in a month, I make every weekend." She stares at me with those tiger eyes and I dart upright on the bed.

"Are you serious?" I think Mel's toying with me, but she nods. "What the hell do you do?"

Mel laughs and shakes her head. "Just come. Talk to my boss. If you're a good fit, she'll give you a job. It's what you want, right?"

I push myself up, muttering, "You suck. Fine, I'll come. But I was planning on spending some quality time with Amber tonight."

Melony scoffs and says, "Yeah, right."