RoomHate - Penelope Ward

CHAPTER 1

A car nearly hit me as I practically floated across the street in a daze after leaving the attorney’s office. All these years, I’d tried so hard not to think about him. Now, he was all I could think about.

Justin.

Oh my God.

Justin.

Flashes of him invaded my mind: his dark blond hair, his laughter, the strum of his guitar, the deep sadness and disappointment in his gorgeous eyes the last time I saw him nine years ago.

I was never supposed to face him again, let alone own a house with him. Living with Justin Banks was not an option, even if just for the summer. Well, it was probably more like there wasn’t a chance in hell that Justin Banks was going to agree to share a house with me. Whether we liked it or not, though, the beach house in Newport was ours now. Not mine. Not his. Ours. Fifty-fifty.

What the hell was Nana thinking?

I’d always known she cared deeply about him, but there was no way I could have predicted the extent of her generosity. He wasn’t even related to us, but she’d always thought of him as her grandson.

I picked up my phone and scrolled down to Tracy’s name. When she picked up, I let out a sigh of relief.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“On the East Side. Why?”

“Can you meet up? I really need to talk to someone.”

“Are you okay?”

My mind went blank before slowly filling again with fragmented thoughts of Justin. My chest tightened. He hated me. I’d avoided him for so long, but I was really going to have to face him now.

Tracy’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “Amelia? Are you still there?”

“Yeah. Everything’s fine. Uh…where are you again?”

“Meet me at the falafel place on Thayer Street. We’ll have an early dinner and talk about whatever is going on.”

“Okay. See you in ten.”

Tracy was a fairly new friend, so she knew little about my childhood or teen years. We taught together at a local charter school in Providence. I had taken today off to meet with my grandmother’s attorney.

The smell of cumin and dried mint saturated the air inside of the Middle Eastern fast food restaurant. Tracy waved from a corner booth, a piled-high Styrofoam container of tahini-covered chicken kabobs and rice already planted in front of her.

“You’re not gonna get anything to eat?” she asked with her mouth full. A dollop of yogurt sauce coated the side of her mouth.

“No. I’m not hungry. Maybe I’ll take something to go on the way out. I just needed to talk.”

“What the hell is going on?”

My throat felt parched. “Actually, I need something to drink first. Hang on.” The room felt like it was swaying as I made my way to the refrigerator by the counter.

After returning from purchasing a bottle of water, I sat down and let out a deep breath. “I got some pretty crazy news today at the lawyer’s office.”

“Okay…”

“So, obviously you know I went there because my grandmother passed away a month ago…”

“Yes.”

“Well, I was just meeting with the attorney to go over her estate. Turns out she left me all of her jewelry…and half of her summer house on Aquidneck Island.”

“What? The beautiful house in that picture on your desk?”

“Yeah. That’s the one. We’d always go there a lot in the summer when I was younger, but in recent years, she’d rented it out. The property had been in her family for generations. It’s older, but it’s beautiful and overlooks the water.”

“Amelia, that’s amazing. Why do you seem so upset?”

“Well…she left the other half to a guy named Justin Banks.”

“Who is