Hard Rock Arrangement Online - Ava Lore

Chapter One

I excel at only two things in this world: the first is feeling sorry for myself, and the second is housework. The first inspires the second, and my whole family knows it. This makes it difficult to hide my feelings, but it doesn't stop me from trying. If I can't clean out in the open, then I have to do it stealthily, after everyone has gone to bed. I'm like one of those shoe-making elves, except instead of making shoes I scrub the crappers.

Even crapper-scrubbing elves, however, sometimes give themselves away. Bright and early one Monday morning, one week after I had showed up on my older sister's doorstep and begged for a place to crash, Rose stumbled out of her bedroom in search of coffee and found me on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, grinding borax and lemon juice into the grout with a toothbrush. I'd forgotten that she had to go into work early this morning, and I started guiltily when she cleared her throat.

“Rebecca...” she said, crossing her arms and sounding just like our mother.

I was caught red-handed, but I still tried to cover things up. “Haha!” I said. “Just getting some housework done.”

“I see that,” she replied. “I appreciate the effort. And yet I can't help but wonder what you aren't telling me. What time did you wake up to clean? Don't look at the clock.”

Dammit. “Five-thirty?” I hazarded.

“I see,” she said. “You mean five-thirty last night, yes? Because it's only five o'clock right now.”

Double dammit. “Sorry, I meant, er, four-thirty.” I tried to meet her eye while I lied my ass off, but unfortunately Rose is not like me, always thinking the best of people and getting shit for her trouble. Rose is the go-getter sister, the one that doesn't take crap from anybody, the one who went to law school and is now an excellent lawyer who mows down all who seek to oppose her. I'd always hung back and tried not to screw things up.

That's why Rose landed a sweet job as an associate at a prestigious law firm here in LA, dealing in entertainment industry contracts and I was a shiftless—and now homeless—bartender whose last known residence was a studio apartment in San Diego. So while I can smell vodka on someone's breath, Rose can smell a lie from a hundred yards away. Sometimes she can even sniff one out over the phone. I didn't stand a chance.

I only lasted a few seconds before I dropped my gaze. “I didn't go to bed last night,” I muttered. “But it's okay! It's the least I can do since you're letting me stay here rent free!”

Rose shook her head. “Rebecca, I let you stay here free because you are my little sister and I'd be a terrible person if I didn't. I don't need you to clean my apartment.”

I couldn't stop myself from saying it. “Actually,” I said, “you, uh, kind of do.”

She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, and I knew it was all over. She knew I was in a Bad Spot, and now she was going to help me in her usual go-getter Rose sort of way.

"Rebecca, I'm afraid it's time for you to get a fucking job," she counseled.

Yeah. That's Rose.

“I'll get a job,”I said. “I promise.”

Rose dropped her hand and stalked across the floor. Bending over, she grabbed my wrists and hauled me to my feet. “No you won't,” she said. “I know you. We are going to find you a job now. Whatever shitty personal thing you're working your way through, it will help if you have something else to think about. And stop cleaning!” She grabbed the toothbrush out of my hand and tossed it in the trash and I felt a pang lance through me.

“Hey,” I protested, “I was using that!” My despair at losing my precious toothbrush was very real. I'd been in the zone. I'd been about to conquer the forces of entropy. I didn't need a job, I needed a Nobel prize, or at the very least some grant money.

Rose didn't care. "When was the last time you showered?" she demanded, steering me into her room. "The last time you had a decent meal? The last time you talked to someone besides all those dumb parents on Supernanny? They can't hear you, you know. They're in the TV."

I opened my mouth to reply, but honestly I couldn't think of the answers to any of those questions,