Friends with Benefits Ch. 01byPurpleButterfly©
The ad read: Wanted – Housemate, M/F to share house and expenses. Room has a private bath and shared living space with fireplace and hot tub. Immediate occupancy, the address and the amount expected for the rent and damage deposit. The phone number followed with the request to please call for an interview.
Jenna had been thinking she wanted out of her living arrangement with her boyfriend for some time and now the opportunity presented itself – the location was perfect, a ten minute commute to work in a prime real estate location. It must have been the universe trying to tell her something, flipping open the paper at coffee break and there it was in big bold letters that nearly had her name emblazoned above it. After the fight this morning with Josh, Jenna knew it was time to cut bait. She had put up with his habits since college and she was tired. Tired of doing it all, not only did she bring home the bacon, but she was expected to fry it and then clean up afterwards while he lounged his lazy ass all over the living room.
More and more was becoming her responsibility and less was falling on his shoulders, until this morning when he had exploded because his favourite pajama pants weren't clean. 'You're what aren't clean ..., I work, the least you can do is the laundry you lazy piece of ..." Afraid she would say something she would regret more than she did already she grabbed her purse and keys and bolted out the door. Revving her car hard before accelerating out of the drive way. The screech of car tires a testament to how angry she really was.
Braking hard at the stop sign at the end of the street, Jenna pulled the car over, leaned her head against the steering wheel and sighed. "What the hell was I thinking," After the first year together, she could see where this was headed and still she stayed, hoping he would grow up. Now she realized that hope was futile, Josh was so used to being looked after, and Jenna was damned if she was going to be the one to take up where his overbearing mother had left off.
Betrayed by the lone tear that slid silently down her face, she slammed the car into drive and pulled away from the curb.
Anger still writhing within her, she arrived at work not sure how she got there. Pulling into the parking lot, she piloted her berretta into its assigned stall and cut the engine. Gathering her belongings and her emotions she slid out and locked the doors behind her. "What the hell am I going to do?" seemed to be her mantra for the day, until she absently grabbed the newspaper off the stand on her way to coffee in the lunch room.
Without a second thought, she dialled the number from her cell phone. Two rings and a male voice smooth enough to whip butter answered.
"Is the room still available?" Jenna asked, unsure of why she suddenly felt a flock of butterflies take flight in her stomach.
"Yes it is. Are you interested?" the voice itself adding fuel to the butterflies' flight pattern.
"Yes, I am, it says immediate occupancy? Is that right?"
"Yes it is would you like to come and take a look?" The sultry voice sending spirals of flutters jetting through her.
"As soon as possible?" Hoping she didn't sound too desperate.
"I'll be home around 4:00, if you'd like to come by then." He offered the address that sent Jenna rifling through her purse for a pen, before she realized it was printed in front of her, they said goodbye and hung up.
"Damn, I didn't even give him my name." She thought before tucking the address into her purse along with the pen.
Unable to concentrate she left work early and drove over to the address she had ripped from the paper. Pulling up to a two story colonial, she was awed by the wrap around veranda and the beautifully landscaped yard. A pickup sat in the driveway with Harrison Construction written on the door in letters that looked like scraps of wood nailed together to form the words.
Getting out and adjusting her clothes, she walked up to the front door and pressed the lit button to the right. In the recesses of the house she could hear the chime, a series of soft tones that played a familiar melody, one she knew, but couldn't place.
Suddenly the door popped open and there stood the most beautiful man she thought she had ever seen. His biceps taunt against the sleeves of his snug t – shirt and his Levis hugging his narrow hips and muscled thighs like a lover.
"Are you the lady who called earlier?" Jenna swallowed hard feeling like she had somehow managed to inhale the brass door knocker that hung on the door for decoration.
"Yyess, I am, my name is Jenna," her mind drawing a blank on her last name. "Uhm, Campbell."
"Well, hello Jenna uhm Campbell." She caught the light tease in his voice and offered a weak smile. "Won't you come in?"
"Thank you," Stepping into the front hall she couldn't stop herself from gawking in wonder.
"Are you alright?" His honey smooth voice melted into her reverie and she realized she was staring with her mouth agape.
"What? Oh, I'm sorry, you're home is beautiful," She managed before a crimson wave washed over her face.
"Thank you," he replied "You're interested in the room are you?
"Yes, I am." Jenna tried to stay focused on his face. "I need to move from where I am and the sooner the better."
"Would you like to see the room?" his presents near her beginning to melt the ache she had felt in her chest all day.
"That might be a good place to start." He led the way to a main floor room off the kitchen. In any other house this would have been the maid's quarters. In this home it was beautifully appointed with a four poster bed of rich mahogany, matching side tables, a chest of drawers that reached Jenna's shoulders and a dresser built for two. An oval mirror attached to the dresser caught the reflections in the room.
"Wow," was all Jenna could utter as she stood in the center of the room doing a slow spin to take it all in.
"This was my parents' room," he offered. "Dad passed about a year ago and Mom has gone to live with my sister. She needs care I can't help with. I want someone to share the house because I hate living alone."
Jenna watched a hurt look flashed though his crisp blue eyes.
"I'm sorry; did they live with you long?"
"Since I built the house, I had hoped they would have many happy years here... Mom moved a few months ago, and I just got lonelier, an employee suggested I get a roommate. I'm actually surprised the ad was answered as quickly as it was. Would you like the room?"
"Yes, I would, thank you."
"When would you like to move in?"
"Is now too soon?" Jenna tried to make light of her remark, but it still sounded serious.
"Ah, no. "Jenna could tell by the look on his face this seemed all too bizarre. Here she was, wanting to move in instantly without a word of explanation of where she was coming from or why she wanted to move so fast.
"I should explain myself."
Leading her back into the kitchen he offered her a chair and set about boiling a tea kettle.
"Would you like tea?' he offered as Jenna sat down on one of the big hoop chairs set around a wooden pedestal table.
"Yes, thank you. I... I," Jenna was unsure of where to start and how much information to share. "I need to move, I've been living with my boyfriend since we graduated college and it's not working anymore." The verbal purge felt better than she expected. She continued as he casually went about setting out tea cups, spoons, sugar and cream. "We moved in together after I finished my journalism degree. We both got jobs. I'm an advertising associate at Miller/Johnson. He found work with a computer repair company. Things were good for a long time and then one day I came home from work to discover he had quit. He said he was looking for something that 'more suited his interests', I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean. Anyway he hasn't worked since. That was a year ago. I had hoped things would get better, but they haven't. I can't stay with someone who won't help themselves." The rant winding down she realized how much she had just unloaded on this virtual stranger, letting out a weary sigh, she ran her hands through her hair and let them fall to the table. "I'm sorry, you didn't need to know all that."
"It's alright, are you feeling better now?" He poured the boiling water into the teapot and brought it to the table. Sitting across from her, he filled both cups and set the pot down on a hot mat in the center of the table.
"I think I am, thank you" Lifting the cup to her lips she noticed the shaking in her limbs had inexplicable stopped.
"I don't think I introduced myself when you came in, I'm Ben Harrison."
"Hello Ben Harrison," she said setting her teacup down and offering her hand to shake, a smile gracing her lips for the first time since she couldn't remember when.