Page 5

She considered him for a long moment while he tried to figure out how to steal back his precious chicken tenders. "Why would you have your aunt pretend she's the landlord?"

"Because I hate dealing with tenants," he said, switching the pizza to one hand and swiping out with the other to grab the small box away from her. She simply moved it back and out of his reach.

"Well," she said, sighing, "then I guess you're the one I should inform that I'm probably going to have to move out in a month."

"Fine," he bit out, glaring at the box in her hands. If she tried to leave with his chicken tenders so help him he would-

"Okay, so give me back my pizza," she said, holding her hands out expectantly.

"No. You give me back my chicken tenders."


Something in him snapped. He wasn't sure if it was from hunger, the embarrassment from knowing that she could hear him at night, or just the bullshit in general, but he said something he regretted before the last syllable left his mouth.

"It's not like you need it."

Chapter 3

Zoe felt her face burn and her eyes water as his words hit home.

"Oh shit....," he muttered, looking horrified.

Biting back a sob, she carefully placed the box of chicken fingers on top of the pizza box in his hands. "Bon appetite," she mumbled, heading for the door.

"Zoe, wait!" she heard him say, but she didn't stop. She ran into her apartment, shut the door, and ran upstairs, wishing for the second time that day that she had just kept her mouth shut.

She crawled onto her bed as she angrily wiped away the tears. After all the crap she'd gone through in the last couple of years she couldn't believe that a gorgeous guy calling her fat finally made her cry.

"What an ass**le," she mumbled around a sob as she buried her face in her pillow.

It wasn't like she didn't know that she was fat, but having it pointed out by someone who looked like him was beyond humiliating. Granted, she knew he was saying it because he was pissed, and she did kind of, sort of go out of her way to embarrass him with that "you're loud" bit, but that didn't stop it from hurting.

She'd lost count of how many times over the years she tried to lose weight. Sometimes the diets would work and she'd lose a few pounds only to gain all the weight back plus some when something in her life didn't go as she wished or work depressed her more than usual.

Well, at least she didn't have to worry about binge eating after receiving another write up for using too many paper towels in the ladies bathroom, she thought dryly. Of course being unemployed was really depressing, but at least she wouldn't have to worry about binge eating while she looked for a job since she couldn't afford it.

What in the hell was she supposed to do now? She was unemployed and probably couldn't count on a good recommendation from The N.W. Corporation, the firm she'd been booted out of a few hours ago. Why hadn't she kept her mouth shut? She'd heard some truly frightening stories about how her old bosses treated their ex-employees. Had those horror stories stopped her from opening her big fat mouth?


Stupidly she thought that they'd appreciate finding out where their money was going. She never expected them to show their appreciation by giving her a raise or a promotion or anything. She wasn't delusional after all, but she had hoped that they would relax their rules a little bit so that going to work wasn't so damn stressful, but really she should have known better.

Telling her immediate supervisor, who in turn let everyone know that one of the partner's wives was stealing from the company was a dumb move. She should have gone with her original plan and anonymously sent the file, but she hadn't thought the information would have been taken seriously unless there was an actual person behind the complaint. She should have known that Mr. Sands would take it out on her.

Now she was facing a future of living out of a car, again. Granted her car at this very moment was rapidly filling up with water or being vandalized and might not be livable come morning.

"Zoe," she heard Trevor say through the wall.

"Go. Away," she said into the pillow, unsure if he could hear her and really not caring. She had enough problems without adding his bullshit into the mix.

"I'm really sorry," he said louder.

She didn't bother answering as she lay there, hoping he would just give up and leave. Of course he didn't.

"I'm really sorry," he said, again.

Frustrated that he wasn't going away and angry with herself for crying, she rolled over onto her side and demanded, "For what? For being a jerk or for calling me fat?"

"Hey! I didn't call you fat!"

"What the hell would you call it?" she snapped back.

After a short pause he muttered something before saying. "You're right. I'm an ass**le."

"At least we're in agreement about one thing," she said.

"Look, I'm trying to apologize here. Could you cut me some slack?"

She thought that over for a minute. "Are you going to give me back my pizza?"

His answer was a snort.

"Fine. Whatever. Keep the pizza," she said, half expecting him to offer to share it at least.

"Thanks," he said brightly, and she could have sworn it sounded like he was eating, but she couldn't really tell through the wall.

She grabbed Mr. Cuddles, the teddy bear she'd had since she was two, and absently ran her fingers over his worn little ears and button nose.


"So what?" she called back, throwing a confused look at her bare lavender wall.

"So what the hell happened to you today to set off that little breakdown?" he asked as she heard a familiar hissing sound. Yup, he was eating her food and drinking her Coke, she thought with a resigned sigh.

"You don't think the shit you pulled was enough to set me off?" she asked, rolling onto her back and placing Mr. Cuddles on her stomach.

"No. Not really," he said easily.

"I just had a bad day at work," she said, wondering why she was talking to him.

"Is that why you said you had to move out?" he asked with what sounded like a mouthful of food.

She snorted. "You don't think the crap you pull is reason enough?"

"Nope," he said with absolutely no hesitation.

Zoe rolled over onto her side, hugging Mr. Cuddles tightly in her arms the way she used to when she was a little girl spending her first night in a new foster home. Even after all these years it still brought her comfort.

"So?" he asked, still eating her damn pizza. It should piss her off, but after everything she'd gone through today she discovered that she really didn't care and didn't have much of an appetite anymore.

"I was fired if you must know so I won't be able to pay you rent past next month," she said, sighing heavily.

"What did you do?" he asked shamelessly, reminding her of the women who gossiped at the beauty salon.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Fucked up big time, huh?"

She titled her head back to glare at the wall, wishing she could glare at him instead. "I didn't screw up!"

"Fucked up. I said f**ked up," he sighed heavily as if reminding her somehow pained him.