The Sweetest Fix

Page 11

Reese was already fumbling her duffel bag onto her shoulder. “I’m on my way.”

The line went dead. She paced until her screen lit up with a text.

560 11th Avenue.

Wheels were in motion. This was really happening.

Okay, Reese definitely wasn’t the only one who was calling about this room for rent. Most rooms in the city went for double that per night or more, especially in this part of town. Now that the decision to stay in New York had been made, she couldn’t leave anything up to chance. So she ran. All the way up Forty-fourth, hooking left on Eleventh—and it wasn’t lost on Reese that she’d done more cardio trying to make appointments and escaping Leo than she’d done in a month.

At the reminder of the old-souled pastry chef, Reese stumbled a little bit on the sidewalk.

It was far from the first time she’d thought of him since last night.

In fact, it was more like an every-five-minutes affair.

Was he still wondering about the girl who’d ghosted him in the door of his own bakery? Or had he already written the whole meeting off as a passing oddity?

If she actually managed to score this room, there was very little chance she’d ever run into him again. She had no idea where he lived, but she had to imagine he lived on the Upper West Side, as well, since he spent most of his waking hours at the Cookie Jar, right?

God, she was putting way too much thought into something and someone who could not matter to her. Putting Leo and the insanely perfect kiss they’d shared out of her mind was for the best. If she was going to make this itty-bitty window of time in New York count, she needed to put all of her energy and drive into dancing.

Reese skidded to a stop outside of a high rise. She double-checked the address twice, then launched herself into the vestibule, running her index finger down the panel of names until she reached LaRue, hitting the bell and taking her first full breath in seemingly ten minutes. Please let the room still be there.

The door let out a high-pitched beep and she jogged inside, taking the elevator to the sixth floor, stopping in front of the apartment door and squaring her shoulders.

There is nothing a winning smile can’t make better, said her mother’s voice in her head. If your face is in the game, your head will eventually follow.

The peephole darkened, followed by the turning of three locks and finally the door was opened to reveal the most graceful-looking woman Reese had ever seen. Her hair was in a tight bun on top of her head, her mouth in a thin, straight line. She reminded Reese of a mannequin, her features seemingly made of marble.

“I am Marie LaRue. You are…”

She widened her smile, holding her hand out for a shake. “Reese Stratton.”

Marie didn’t spare her gesture a glance. “You can pay up front?”

Taking her hand back awkwardly, Reese nodded.

It was impossible to ignore the fact that her potential new landlady had the unmistakable posture of a dancer. That theory only furthered itself when the woman stepped back and waved Reese inside, her fingers carrying and unfurling slowly in the air like a principal dancer reaching out to caress her love interest’s face.

“I am having breakfast, so give yourself a tour. Your room, if you find it acceptable, is the second door on the left side of the hallway.”

With that, Miss LaRue took herself back out to the balcony overlooking Eleventh Avenue, where an espresso cup and a croissant was balanced on the metal railing. When the croissant made her think of Leo, Reese rubbed at the lump in her throat and went to check out the room.

From the entrance, the apartment looked small. But stepping inside, she could see that is was actually huge. The kitchen and balcony were to the right, a massive living room connecting to a hallway with five doors. Holding her duffel bag to her chest, Reese made a beeline for the room that had been indicated, her mind conjuring up a small but respectable space that made up for its lack of room square footage with a view of the avenue.

That’s not what she got.

“This is a closet,” she whispered to herself, staring at the upright coffin in front of her.

Turning, she counted the doors again. Maybe she’d made a mistake?

Behind her, a door opened and slammed shut, hurtling Reese’s heart up into her mouth. “Jesus,” she breathed, whipping around and throwing herself backward against the hallway wall, coming face to face with another girl, her expression amused. “I didn’t know there was anyone else home.”

“Sorry about that,” the girl said casually, removing one of her AirPods. “You renting the other room? Damn. LaRue works fast. The other tenant only left this morning.”

Reese split a horrified glance between the newcomer and the closet. “Sorry, can this even be referred to as a room?”

“Beggars can’t be choosers, right?” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “I have an extra beanbag chair if you want it.”

Reese blinked.

Chuckling, the girl extended her hand. “I’m Cori. You’re a dancer?”


Cori nodded, giving her a perfunctory once-over, popping her headphone back in. “I guess I’ll see you at auditions, then.”

“Wait,” Reese blurted, before she could leave. “Is this…legal?”

Her apparent new roommate laughed. “I don’t know. My room is just as small, if it makes you feel any better. Maybe even smaller.” She hesitated, then turned to face Reese more fully. “LaRue doesn’t volunteer a lot of information, but over the last two months, I’ve cobbled together the gist. She’s a former dancer. Might be on the militant side, but she could probably rent these shoe boxes out for even more.” Cori appeared a little thoughtful. “It’s her way of giving us a shot, even if she probably wouldn’t admit it.”

“Right.” Reese took in a breath and let it out. “Well, it’s not like I have a lot of options. None, to be exact.”

“You’re like, new-new in town, huh?” Cori asked, a hint of a smile tilting the corner of her mouth. “You need help finding open calls, or…”

“No, thanks.” Reese gave her a grateful look. “I’ve got that much covered.”

“What about the free classes?”

Reese did a double-take. “The what?”

“Oh boy.” Cori clapped her hands twice. “Get changed, new girl. Let’s go.”

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