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Author:Stefanie G. Torres

Ambivalent by Stefanie G. Torres

To my sisters Natalie and Sabrina- because I love you.

Chapter One


Taking a sip from the mug in my hand, my nose wrinkled when cold coffee sloshed over my tongue. I should toss it out and make a fresh pot but well calculated revenge took some planning. And as much as I needed a caffeine fix, my spite was taking first priority. So, I kept chugging while I plotted and impatiently eyed the dark hallway.

An angry buzz emerged from the cell phone resting on the kitchen counter next to where I stood breaking through my depraved thoughts. With one hand, I smoothed down the front of my beige silk blouse and took a quick glance at the screen. Stuart. Not exactly the person I wanted to hear from this morning. I tapped the screen and opened his message.

Stuart: Good morning beautiful. See you in a couple of hours.

With an eyeroll, I choose not to respond and flipped the phone face down while my gaze returned to the hallway. I had no time for him because I was about to murder my pain-in-the-ass roommate.

I could faintly detect muffled voices coming from behind the guest bedroom door, which was surprising considering Melany’s usual routine consisted of sleeping well past the noon hour. I would have thought she would be in some sort of coma right now, based on the x-rated sounds that kept me awake the entire night. Maybe she never went to sleep.

I was beyond pissed. Not only had I been robbed of precious unconscious minutes, but I was about to enter shark infested waters. We needed to have another conversation concerning the lack of respect she had for people living under this roof (me). The sad thing is, I knew from the get-go us living together would eventually blow up in my face. It was inevitable, as if it ran in our blood. We knew no other way to exist.

Two months back, after my original roommate informed me she was moving in with her boyfriend, I decided to search for someone else to take her old bedroom. I mistakenly let it slip during a phone conversation with Melany. Shortly after that, I was headed home from work with a salad I had picked up for dinner in my hand. I found her sitting against the apartment door with three large suitcases. She tearfully explained she had broken up with her latest fling and needed a place to live. Of course, I was the first person that popped into her needy little head.

I should have told her no and forced her to deal with reality but that’s where I royally screwed up. After hours of groveling on her part, I caved but only if she agreed to pay half the rent, which she informed me wouldn’t be a problem. Drained by our conversation, I retreated to the bathroom to splash water on my face. When I returned, Melany had her bare feet resting on top of my new coffee table while she ate my salad. A bigger sign couldn’t have slapped me across the head but instead, like an idiot, I ignored it and retreated to the kitchen in search of food.

I couldn’t pretend to be surprised by any of her behavior. Melany had always been self-centered. Yesterday was a perfect example. She tossed a quick goodbye over her shoulder as she left for work without mentioning any late-night plans so I expected her home afterwards. I waited up for her until midnight. When she still hadn’t shown, I retreated to bed like any responsible adult would do, but not before placing a plate of grilled chicken and veggies I had prepared for dinner in the fridge. I even left her a note on the kitchen counter so she knew how to reheat the thing. Had I known she would be filming a porn movie that was going to wake me at two in the morning, I wouldn’t have bothered being so kind.

At the sound of a bedroom door creaking open, I rinsed my mug in the sink and trudged into the living room. Just as I entered, the front door clicked closed leaving a squealing Melany alone in the room.

I fiddled with the small hoop earring in my left earlobe and frowned.

“You’re going to get more wrinkles if you keep making that face, Ciaran.” She was apparently awake enough to resume being a pain in my ass; however, my thought process was having issues keeping up.

Rolling my lips, I racked my fatigue-fogged brain for a response. One had just hit the tip of my tongue when Melany threw her head back, laughed and walked towards her bedroom.

Slowly counting to ten, I glanced at my purse sitting on the foyer table to the side of the front door. The urge to leave for work without dealing with the situation was extremely tempting but I knew I wouldn’t. It was too important to confront my issues with Melany head on, just as it was with anyone who had the power to emotionally drag me to hell.

I entered the second bedroom and discovered she was already dressed in jeans and a tank top with a pair of flip-flops on her feet. She was rapidly shoving clothes into a small red suitcase opened on top of her full-size bed.

“Where are you going?” I asked apprehensively.

“I’m leaving for Cancun with Chris,” she announced frankly, as if leaving the country with a man she had known less than a week was no big deal.

Pressing a finger to my right eyelid to stop the twitching there, I watched her continue to cram clothes in.

“What do you mean you’re leaving for Cancun?”

“I told you. I’m going with Chris. He invited me on an all-expense paid trip for three weeks, so I figured why the hell not? He ran back to his place to grab his bags.”

“You can’t go to Cancun with some guy you hardly know. It’s not normal. Why can’t you act like other women your age?”

I knew better. The reference to her age wasn’t the mistake. It was the use of the word normal, which was a complete waste of time because it did not exist in her mental little head.

“Ciaran, I swear to God you need to pull the stick out of your ass. Or have that drip Stewie pull it out for you, if he can find it,” she huffed.

That stick up my ass was called responsibility and maturity, but I wasn’t about to waste my energy explaining it to her because she would never, ever get it.

And Stuart Whitman was actually a great guy. We had only gone out on two dinner dates but the last one ended with a kiss, even if it was somewhat sloppy. I wasn’t worried, though; a sloppy kiss didn’t equate to a drip. Or that I had a stick up my ass.

Melany was only being ugly because one of her favorite pastimes was to mock my want of a serious loving relationship with a nice, respectable man. The woman had been married six times and wouldn’t know true love if it fell out of the sky and crushed her to death. I sure as hell was not trusting her opinion.

“I don’t have a stick up my ass. You can’t just pack up on a whim and leave the country. You have responsibilities here,” I snapped.

Violently waving her hands in the air, lacy scraps of material she liked to call underwear flapped around like tiny bright colored flags. “Oh whatever. I’ve already done my time. You’re twenty-seven and more than capable of taking care of yourself.”

“Gee, thanks for your concern, but I wasn’t referring to me. I was referring to your job at the department store.”

“Ciaran, I know I didn’t raise you to be such a wet rag. Trust me, it’s no big deal.”

“You didn’t raise me at all but that’s beside the point. And what do you mean it’s no big deal? They approved three weeks off?”

Only employed for a little over a month at the department store, her job was fairly new. It seemed fishy management would approve a three-week vacation so early in the game.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course they didn’t approve the time off. I quit.”

“Have you lost your mind? How are you going to pay your half of the rent?” I yelled.

“Your job pays you enough to float me until I get back on my feet. Now be a peach and go get me your orange bikini.”