Author's Note: Two things about this story. One, if this story seems familiar to you, it is possible you have seen it before. A couple of months ago some lit authors got together for an anonymous writers challenge. We could not use our names and all stories went into the little read chain story category. After the contest I pulled the story and am now releasing it under my name and in its proper category of Mature. Second point is ever since I wrote Home is Where The Heart is, people have been asking me to do another story that focused more on romance than taboo, or hardcore erotica. "Home" was a very different story for me and I did not think I had another one in me, but my muse said otherwise and here is my second attempt to show off my softer side. On that note, keep in mind that being a bit of a romance it takes a while to get to the fun stuff. I hope you enjoy. LC68

I sat on the couch waiting to hear the tell tale creak of the stairs signaling my landlords inevitable visit. Toying with the locket my mother had given me four years ago on my sixteenth birthday; I stared at the two suitcases on the floor, hoping I wouldn't need them. I shouldn't have to; after all I was a big believer in my namesake and had been doing all the right things. I was a full time student; worked four mornings a week at the diner, didn't party like many of my girlfriends, and was proud to be referred to as a prude rather than a slut by the asshole frat boys at school.

My grades were good; I was responsible, reliable and had my own place. Well now it was my own place, which was the problem. Up until two weeks ago, I had shared the cute little two-bedroom apartment with my former best friend Jen. Former because she had dropped the bomb on me she was moving out to go live with her boyfriend. Not so bad, if she hadn't meant that night, and worse, stiffed me her half of the rent due the next day.

Because wait staff received tips, state law only required we be paid two fifty an hour. Billy, the owner of Kim's Kitchen, was a sport and paid us an extra dollar an hour so between hourly and tips I had been able to pay my half of the five hundred dollar a month rent. I had given Hal my half on the first and told him the story, but he was unsympathetic and started on about how easy he could get somebody else to take the apartment seeing it was only two blocks from the university.

I had to all but beg him to give me a little time and he said he would give me a week to get the other half or get a roommate. I'd put an ad on every bulletin board at school, but had no takers and I'd had to buy books for the semester with the last of my savings. The money accessible money I had left from mom's life insurance had been used to fix the transmission in my car only to have the motor blow a month later. Per mom's will, her attorney would use the rest of the money only to pay my tuition each year.

I had tried to get some of it to get a cheap used car and he seemed to sincerely feel bad for me, but said his hands were tied. It would be a waste of time to ask for help with the rent. My stomach twisted at the sound of the steps creaking from beyond my front door. I held my breath then released it when the footsteps passed my room and headed down the hallway. I had no idea what to tell Hal and truth was he could have the place rented before my bed grew cold.

Hal had a deal with the school that students received a discount from him and the school paid the rest, which was covered in my tuition. This allowed him to charge close to a thousand dollars a month for what really was only worth what we paid. But the lease stated in order to get that discounted rate the rent could not be more than three days late. If this had happened early in the semester I could have found a roomie easily, but this far in everyone was settled in.

I looked down at the locket I'd been fondling and felt that all too familiar burning sensation in my eyes, I glanced over at the cheap end table I had bought at a yard sale and looked at the picture of mom and I taken at my high school graduation.

Mom hadn't come from the best of stock as she'd put it and I was the first in her family to finish high school. The fact I'd graduated with honors and was now in college was a source of great pride for her and she would tell anyone who would stand still long enough about it. Mom had quit school, but when I was barely a year old earned her GED and through a state program to help young mother's received a bachelor of science in hospitality, which had led to her running a local Marriott.

Mom was making good money, but tended to spend it, mostly on spoiling me and going on cruises. She had some money put away, but not much. After all she probably figured she had plenty of time to do that. She certainly hadn't planned on being diagnosed with stage four liver cancer at the age of thirty five. She had passed away six months later, mercifully quick according to the doctors who said she suffered much less that way.

I'd sat and cried by her side and told her many times she was too young, but mom's response had been because of her past many people had though she would never make it past eighteen so for her the last eighteen years had been a bonus. She had made me promise to graduate and continue to do the right things because good things came to people who did them. That's why she had named me...


The voice from the other side of the door startled me and was followed by a loud knock. Dropping the charm back against the old baggy Nickelback t-shirt I was wearing, I called out "Coming!"

I took a deep breath and crossed the room on trembling legs. I paused in front of the door and flipping my long brown hair back out of my face, squeezed my locket for luck and opened the door.

"Hey were you sleeping?" Hal asked without so much as a hello, "I knocked twice."

"Oh," I gave him a nervous laugh while stepping back to let him into the living room, "Guess I was just kind of zoning on the couch."

"Zoning or boning?" he leered at me.

Saying Hal was a pervert was like saying the sun was warm. He blatantly stared at every girl in the building and was always making lewd remarks. Most of the time it was under his breath, but he had been pretty forward with me in our last conversation and was already starting in, probably because he knew I was in a bind and wouldn't say anything. As if to enforce my point he had turned around to look at me and was staring at my legs. I was wearing a pair of loose jogging shorts, which combined with my mussed hair and unflattering t-shirt, left me feeling far from sexy, but he was all but licking his lips.

"I told you before, I don't have a boyfriend." I told him as I walked past him.

I could feel his eyes on me and knew they were glued to my ass. What he was seeing I had no idea. I was on the thin side, but had run track throughout high school. I knew my legs and ass were my best feature body wise, which was good compensation for the fact I didn't have a whole lot on top. But I doubted the shorts were showing anything.

"Oh? Cute little thing like you? Why not?"

"I need to work and study, no time for that right now." Sitting down, I pointed at the old armchair across from the couch, "Would you like to sit?"

"I own the place kid, I don't need your permission." He smirked, "So you play a lot of sticky finger?"

"What's that mean?" I widened my big brown eyes, feigning ignorance.

"Oh come on!" he waved his hand at me, "You know."

I shook my head and shrugged and he rolled his eyes. He didn't sit, but instead walked over to the couch until he was only an arm's length from me. Hal was a big guy, around six feet, with broad shoulders and what at one point, was probably a decent set of arms. But his gut hung past his belt and his arms appeared to have as much flab as muscle. His face was always red and he was sporting a pretty decent whiskey bloom as my mother had always referred to the tell tale sign of a serious drinker.

I could smell beer on his breath now and his eyes seemed brighter than usual. That explained his more forward behavior and I did the best I could to try not to look nervous. I wasn't worried he would hurt me, but I doubted I would get any leeway in his current state.

"Well maybe you kill a lot of batteries instead; I forget you girls watch as much smut as guys these days."

"I don't watch..."

"Whatever, your goody two shoes bullshit doesn't fool me. The nicest girls are always the biggest sluts." He paused, waiting for me to bite, but I let it go. He frowned, then with the grin returning shrugged, "Anyway Carmen."

"Karma." I corrected him.

"What?" he asked, while wiping at his watery blue eyes.

"My name isn't Carmen, its Karma."

"Like Sutra."

"Like what comes around goes around." I said with an edge in my voice.

"Ohh, feisty! I like that!" he laughed and I sighed, realizing I should just say as little as possible.

"Well let's see if you're a feisty girl who has the rent."

"I..." As always my hand found my locket, trying to draw strength from it, "I'm sorry Hal, but I don't."

"I gave you an extra week kid." He spread his arms, "You work don't you?"

"Yes, but I had to pay off my books and I have to eat and do laundry and..."

"Maybe you should get another job." The leer was back, "stead of serving coffee you should be showing some of that cute little body of yours and making some real money."

"I'm not like that. But I promise I can have half again on the first and I'm looking for a roommate and..."

"The first? Kid, you think you're going to live here for half?"

"I promise I'll catch up!' My voice cracked and I wanted to kick myself for showing I was nervous.

"You can't pay current never mind catch up and I can have my full rent in no time, I have a waiting list for this place."

"But the students are all set until next semester."

"I don't have to rent to students; I can get full boat from people who work at the school too."

"Please give me some more time Hal, I'll figure something out!"

He sighed as if I was getting to him and lowered his voice, "Look Carmen, you seem like a good kid, but..."

"Karma." I said automatically.

"What's with that weird name anyway?"

"It meant something to my mother."

"Speaking of your mother, why not get the money from her?"

"Because she passed away a year ago."

"Shit don't I feel like a fucking asshole?" he looked like he genuinely felt bad and as bad as it was, I tried to push that advantage.

"My mom named me Karma, because she always believed good things come to people who do good things."

"Do a good deed and get one in return you mean?" he asked, rubbing one of his two chins.

"Exactly." I gave him a big smile and deliberately widened my already large expressive eyes, "So if you were to be a good guy and give me a break then maybe something good will happen to you!"

"I like that idea" He returned the smile, flashing his nicotine stained teeth.

Releasing the locket, I felt my stomach unclench itself, "Good, so I can stay?"

"Sure." He said cheerily, "But seeing you need the good deed from me, you should be the one doing one, right?"

"Um, well...." My stomach immediately began to tighten again.

"And I think you know what you could do for me." Stepping up to the couch so his crotch was directly in front of me he placed his hand on his zipper.

"I don't do those things." I said, shaking my head.

"You don't suck cock? Give me a break kid, I don't buy you're a twenty year old virgin."

"I'm not, but I...I don't just do that stuff."

"Stuff? Grow up honey, it's called a blow job."

My cheeks became warm and he laughed as I blushed. "Man you are a good girl aren't you?"

"I am and that's why I won't do it."

"But it's a good deed to get one remember?"

"It's disgusting." I pointed at the door, "Get out."

"Get out? Kid you don't own the place, I do, and you're late enough for me to kick you out."

"It's blackmail." I crossed my arms and gave my hair a toss.

"Whatever," he unzipped his fly. "Listen Karma, you take care of me, I'll take care of you."

"This how you get your kicks?" I asked, staring him in the eye.

"Not usually; the other girls pay their rent, besides they're slutty and I like slutty, but getting a little prude like you to suck my cock would be a lot more fun."

"I won't..."

"Would it be so bad?" he waved at the apartment, "This is a nice place kid, and you could stay here and all it would take is you getting on your knees and being a bad little girl for a few minutes. Come on, you know you've sucked cock before."

I didn't reply and had to force myself not to grab the locket again. I kept my hands folded in my lap and found myself staring at his crotch. Appalled at what was going on, I turned my head and was now staring at the suitcases. I had nowhere to go. My friends either lived in the dorm or apartments like this where it was against the rules to have other people move in. Where would I end up?

"That's right." Hal said softly as if reading my thoughts, "You'll be on the street and let me tell you, what I'll ask you to do will be nothing compared to what you'll end up doing when the pimps find you."

I looked back at his crotch and to my dismay, began to think about it. I didn't have a lot of experience. My first time wasn't until a month after my eighteenth birthday and I had been dating Roger for over a year before we did it. I'd been with two guys since, both of which I'd dated a few months.

But I'd gotten no complaints from any of them and had to admit I enjoyed oral sex, but I had liked them and they had been good to me. Hal was an old fat asshole who would probably go around telling his friends all about how he got sucked off by the little whore who couldn't pay her rent.

I swallowed hard and told myself I could do it, he'd probably go off in two minutes. It would buy me time to find a roommate and...

"Tell you what, honey," Hal leaned over and I flinched as he brushed my long hair away from my neck so he could speak in my ear. "I'll make a deal with you. You take care of me once a week and you can stay here by yourself and just pay me half for as long as you want."

"I..." I turned my head to look at him,

"I mean it; think about it, not only staying, but the whole place is yours. All you have to do is play around with me on Friday nights and we have a deal, how's that sound?"

I released a startled yelp when he grabbed my wrist and pulling my arm up, placed my hand on his crotch. I could feel he was hard through his baggy jeans and noticed he wasn't small.

"Easy, Karma," he let my hand go, "I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to have fun with you." He tried what he probably considered a sexy smile, "It can be fun, trust me those kids you've been with don't know what to do with a hot little thing like you."

I forced myself to keep my hand on his dick and reaching out with the other, grabbed the snap of his jeans.

"That's a good girl" he told me. "I knew you were a smart kid."

My hands were trembling and I tried to work myself up to pull his pants down and get this over with. I began to tug on his jeans and turning my head away I sought out the suitcases as an inspiration to do what I had to. Instead, my eyes found the picture of mom. I recalled her telling me of her troubled past and some of the terrible things she had done to get by. Removing my hands I shook my head.

"Kid, this is your last chance." He said in a tone that told me he wasn't kidding.

"You know." I fought to keep my voice steady. "Like I said what comes around goes around and if you make me do this then something bad might...."

"Karma, the only thing that should be cumming around is my cock all over your pretty face, now we both know you need this, so stop pretending you're not going to do it."

I looked up into his eyes and taking a deep breath braced myself for what was to come and began to slide off the couch.


"Excuse me, Miss?"

I jumped at the sound of the voice in front of me, and then released a sound somewhere between a squeal and a scream at the feeling of someone grabbing my shoulder. Before my eyes were completely open I was bringing up the small can of pepper spray I'd fallen asleep with in my hand.

"Whoa!" The man, who to my chagrin was a police officer, raised his hands, "Easy Miss, I didn't mean to startle you."

"I...I'm sorry sir." I exclaimed, putting the spray down next to me on the bench I'd chosen as my bed last night.

"That's okay." He said, "I shouldn't have touched you, but you know you're not supposed to be sleeping here, right?"

"I know." I gave a small shrug, "But I got thrown out of my apartment last night and I really don't have anywhere to go."

"Last night?"

"Yes, I...I couldn't pay my rent." And had decided not to offer services for it I added to myself.

Hal had stared in disbelief when I'd stood up from the couch and grabbing my suitcases took them into the bedroom and began throwing my clothes and other small belongings into them. He watched me pack, probably hoping I would change my mind and when I dragged the suitcases past him and tossed my keys at him he declared, "You'll be back you little slut and you better be crawling because it'll save you the time to get on your knees for me."

I'd resisted the urge to tell him to go fuck himself. I was raised better than that. Well, okay, my throat was so tight I was afraid I would cry and wouldn't give him that satisfaction. I'd lugged the suitcases down the road and past the university, heading for the diner, figuring that wherever I stopped for the night I wanted to be close to work. When I could no longer keep the cases off the ground I spotted the benches in front of the Hilton and sat down planning on just catching my breath.

But by then it had been after eleven and the street was quiet and I'd decided to close my eyes and see if I could sleep. After all benches and I were about to become good friends.

"What's your name, miss?"

"Karma, sir."

"Well Karma, you certainly don't look like the usual type I find on the benches, but I still have to tell you to leave. The manager of the hotel saw you and called it in." he shrugged, "They're pretty snooty around here."

"Sorry." I said meekly and slipping the spray into the pocket of the jeans I'd slipped on over my shorts grabbed the handles of the suitcases. "I...I won't do it again."

"You really have nowhere to go? No family or friends?"

"No family and my friends can't let me stay, they all live on campus."

"Well I wouldn't suggest sleeping on benches. You'll get arrested in the decent parts of town and that would be a good thing compared to what might happen if you sleep in the park or other parts of town."

"I...I don't know where to go!" I fought to keep from sobbing, how the hell was this happening to me?

"There's a woman's shelter over on Elmwood Avenue. They might be able to find you a place." He watched as I nodded dumbly still wondering if this wasn't just a bad dream, then asked, "Have you eaten yet?"

"No." My stomach reaffirmed that response with an ominous grumble and it hit me I had been too nervous to eat dinner last night and had not thought to grab any food from the cupboard.

"Well Crossroads is only a few blocks that way," he pointed across the street. "They serve a hot breakfast and dinner."

"A soup kitchen." I said softly my eyes filling up. "I can't eat there."

"You don't look like you've ever had to, but it's a meal."

"I just...can't."

"Your choice Karma," he shrugged, "But let me tell you something, humble pie is a lot more filling than chewing on your pride."

His words stung and his face had changed from one of sympathy to a slight smirk. Probably thinking I felt I was better than my circumstances. I nodded and standing, grabbed the suitcases.

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