The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 3

MONROE

As I walked into the sterile white walls of the medical office, I could feel the fatigue weighing me down. Another double shift here and at the catering company yesterday, followed by a late-night class, and I was beyond drained—physically and mentally.

But I had no other choice.

I’d had to wait a month after getting to Haven to take my GED test, wanting to make sure I was eighteen and the Detweilers had no legal claim over me before I did anything that left a paper trail. The shelter had been crowded. But it was clean…and safe. So I’d been okay. I’d gotten a job at another grocery store, but I hadn’t been able to save up enough to actually move out of the shelter until one of the staff members had heard about a job as a receptionist in a medical office.

It had been a year since I’d moved into my new place. Between Tres Medical and the catering company, I did okay. But add in attending community college, and it was exhausting.

I greeted my coworker, Katie, with a forced smile as I fidgeted in my scrubs that everyone had to wear, trying to keep up the facade of being cheerful despite my exhaustion. She was one of the popular ones at the office, always eager to socialize and make plans. Living a carefree lifestyle that I could only dream of, a life I could never afford.

As the day went on, my workload piled up, and my energy levels dwindled. I was barely keeping my eyes open as I went through the motions, taking patient histories, scheduling appointments, and doing whatever the doctors needed. I also had a paper to write tonight before class started. Classes at the local community college weren’t glamorous, but every credit got me closer to my dreams.

I sat in the cramped break room of the office, exhaustion seeping through my bones. Only a few hours left. I could do anything for a few hours, right?

It seemed to be what I told myself every day. And kind of like when someone said, “just one step at a time”, thinking they were being helpful…the words rang hollow.

I was nineteen, and yet, I felt like I was a hundred year old bag of bones.

Because the day just had to get harder, Kevin, one of the doctors in the practice, walked in then. He had an annoying smirk on his face that he thought was sexy and cool, but actually had him resembling a demented clown. The side part combover and the smirk together had that effect. A pang of annoyance flashed through me as I braced myself for what was to come. He was always trying to flirt with me, despite my obvious disinterest.

‘Hey there, gorgeous,’ he said, leaning against the counter with a cocky grin. ‘You look tired. Why don’t you let me take you out and help you relax?’

I forced a polite smile, while my mind continued to race with irritation. Didn’t he understand that I was juggling two jobs and night classes just to make ends meet? I’d mentioned it every single time he’d asked me out. I didn’t have time for his shit.

‘Thanks, but I’m really tired,’ I replied, trying to keep my tone civil. ‘I have a long evening ahead of me at the catering company after this, and then I’ve got night classes.’

Kevin’s grin faded, replaced by a look of disappointment. ‘Come on, babe, don’t be like that. We could have some fun together,’ he persisted, moving closer. “Why don’t you just take the rest of the day off?”

Of course, he would say that. He was a trust fund baby, and I was still shocked he’d somehow made it through medical school. I had a sneaking suspicion his family had padded quite a few pockets in order for him to do it. If not for the other doctors here stepping in, this place would’ve closed long ago because of malpractice claims.

I felt my patience wearing thin. ‘I appreciate the offer, but I’m really not interested. As you know,’ I said firmly, hoping he would take the hint and back off.

Kevin’s expression turned sour, and he crossed his arms over his chest. ‘You’re always so serious,’ he muttered, frustration laced through his voice. ‘Maybe if you had a better attitude, you wouldn’t walk around like you have a stick up your ass all the time.”

I clenched my jaw, my fatigue momentarily forgotten as my annoyance flared. Who the fuck did he think he was? I was working my ass off; I didn’t have time for distractions, especially not from someone like Kevin.

‘I know how to have fun just fine,’ I retorted, my voice tinged with irritation. ‘But right now, my priority is taking care of my responsibilities, and I would need it to be worth it for me to ignore them.’

His jaw dropped. My point, that he wasn’t someone worth hanging out with, hitting home.

With that, I stood, grabbed my bag, and headed towards the door, leaving Dr. Kevin behind in the break room, his smug expression replaced by a scowl.

If I wasn’t sure that the other doctors would side with Dr. Kevin, I would have reported him ages ago.

I stepped out of the office and into the fresh air, taking a deep breath and closing my eyes for a moment, trying to center myself.

I could do anything for a…

Fuck.


I was feeling slightly better after the walk to my apartment. I lived in a studio shit hole, but it was my studio shit hole, and there was something to be said about that. I’d done my best to make it livable…I’d painted the walls a bright cream color and scrubbed it from top to bottom when I’d moved in.

But there was no central air, just a window unit that only operated if the temperature was below seventy-five…rendering it pretty useless. The carpet was old and threadbare…and so dirty when I’d moved in that I had to spend money I didn’t have to get it professionally cleaned. Cleaners I’d hired had done what they could, but it was still this questionable gray color, and there were stains all over whose origin I never wanted to know. The kitchen sink dripped, and there was no oven.

And those were just some of the things wrong with the place.

But I made it work.

I sighed in annoyance as I walked through the very unlocked front gate and up the steps to my apartment. Every month, when I paid my rent, I’d ask my greasy landlord, Jared, to fix the gate. And every time, he’d ignore me. It would have been nice to have an extra barrier between my apartment and our sketchy street considering all I had on my door was one flimsy lock…

Speak of the devil. I’d been in my apartment for less than five minutes when there was a knock on my door. When I peered through my peephole, there was my landlord, Jared Thomason, himself. As I opened the door to greet him, I was met with the unmistakable sight of a man who had let himself go. His sweat-stained shirt clung to his massive belly, and his pants were unbuttoned and barely hanging on. His thinning hair was slicked back, and his beady eyes scanned me up and down, leaving me feeling exposed and uncomfortable.

His leering gaze lingered on me for a moment too long, and I could feel his hot breath on my face as he leaned in. The sour stench of his breath filled my nostrils, and I had to suppress a gag.

I tried to keep my eyes from wandering to his flabby arms and the thick layer of hair that covered his knuckles, but it was impossible to ignore. He was like Jabba the Hutt in human form–grotesque and repulsive.

‘Hey, Monroe,’ he wheezed, his eyes roving over me in a way that left my skin crawling. I was on the third floor, so I’m sure the trip up had been a journey for him. ‘I just wanted to see if everything was okay with your apartment.’

I forced a smile. Of course, he was just checking…he was always checking. But any time I told him about all the things that were, in fact, not alright with my apartment…he had decidedly not been interested.

‘Yes, everything’s fine. Thanks for asking.’ I moved to close the door, and he stepped closer to me, sticking his foot in the door. ‘You know, Monroe, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. A beautiful woman like you…all alone.’

That wasn’t creepy at all….

“How about we go out for a drink tonight?’

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. As if I would ever want to go anywhere with this creepy old man. ‘No thanks,’ I said, trying to push the door closed once more.

But he wasn’t finished. He reached out and grabbed my arm, his grip tight and insistent. ‘Come on, honey, don’t be shy. I know you barely make rent. I could help you out…if you know what I mean.’

My stomach churned. This was the last thing I needed, the last thing anyone needed.

“I could waive your rent for a few months if you spend some time with me.’

My heart raced, and I worked to control my breathing. I didn’t want him to know how terrified I was. I tried to yank away, but his grip only tightened. ‘Let go of me,’ I hissed, my voice shaking with anger.

He chuckled, as if I’d actually complimented him. ‘What’s the matter, sweetheart? You’re not into older men?’

My stomach turned as I continued to try and pull away from him. Obviously, this was wrong, but I also knew I couldn’t afford to lose my apartment. I took a deep breath, pushing down the anger choking me, and stammered out a reply, ‘Not really. I—I’ve got to get to work.’

Jared squeezed my arm, his voice growing angry. ‘You ungrateful little brat. I’m doing you a favor, and you won’t even consider it? You’re lucky I haven’t kicked you out on the street already.’

‘Jared, I just want to be left alone. I can’t accept your offer. I’m sorry.’

But he didn’t budge. Instead, his grip tightened even more, turning painful. ‘Don’t be like that, sweetheart,’ he sneered. ‘You know you want it.’

Bile rose in my throat. How could anyone be so disgusting, so vile?

‘Let go of me,’ I snarled again, my voice turning low and menacing.

He only chuckled. ‘Why so hostile, little bird? I can give you everything you want. All you have to do is play nice.’

I was going to get a complex at this rate. All the men around me seemed to think I resembled a bird.

Nausea churned in my stomach. The thought of giving in to him, of letting him touch me, made me want to scream. But I knew I had to be careful. This man held all the power, and if I wasn’t cautious, he could destroy me.

So I did the only thing I could. I balled my fist and lunged forward, punching him as hard as I could in the face. He stumbled backwards, clutching his nose as blood poured down his chin.

His skin turned mottled red with anger, matching the blood on his face as he leveled a heated glare at me. ‘Fine,” he choked out as he backed away. “Suit yourself. But don’t come crying to me when you’re homeless and penniless.’

The threat was implicit–things were about to get much harder for me.

Worth it though.

I watched as he stormed away, dread coiling in my gut. I couldn’t afford to move. But I had to find a way out of this, and fast.

Why were men such fucking douchebags?

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