Breaking Open: The First Chapter

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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Breaking Open

The First Chapter

Nicky Foster pressed her face up against the glass wall of the apartment she was looking at buying. The newspaper ad said it had the most mesmerizing view, and now she knew it hadn’t been an exaggeration. The view outside the spotless glass wall held the most precious sight of the Atlantic Ocean with the glistening skyscrapers of downtown Miami in the distance.

“I’ll take it.” Nicky declared, turning to face the building’s landlord, Jim.

“It will be six hundred up front, but the rent will be eight hundred and fifty.” Jim notified, and Nicky bit her lip.

The ad in the paper had said the rent would only be six hundred a month. However, that didn’t matter. This building held the highest security, most helpful staff, and came fully furnished. It was more than she could ask for. Therefore, she would simply have to put an ad of her own in the paper. Collecting a couple roommates should do the trick. After all, it was a three bedroom apartment. She had been hoping to turn the extra bedrooms into her personal library and fitness room, but the master bedroom was plenty spacious for her to fill with her books, and she could always use the university gym if she wanted to.

“The ad in the paper said the rent would only be six hundred a month.” Nicky pointed out, thinking that maybe Jim had made a mistake about the higher price.

“Must be a typo.” He responded with a shrug. “Will the rent be a problem for you?”

“No sir. Not at all.” Nicky declined, shaking her head emphatically.

“Good.” He nodded his head. “The six hundred, please?”

“Oh, of course.”

Nicky quickly retrieved her checkbook from her Coach purse, and quickly scribbled out the payment. Jim looked over it carefully when she handed it to him before he nodded his head slowly. Then, he handed her the key to the apartment, shook her delicate hand, and walked out of the door.

Nicky sighed as she looked back out the glass wall. It was the day before her twenty-first birthday. In less than twenty-four hours, she would be celebrating her birthday. Thinking of this, she hastily pulled out her Blackberry and dialed her boyfriend, Kale’s, phone number. He picked up on the very last ring.

“Hey, babe.” Kale greeted. “What’s up?”

“I was just wondering when I’ll get to see you.” Nicky responded, and Kale sighed.

“I’m so sorry, babe. I forgot to tell you that Angie and I are staying in Vegas for a couple more days. I promise I’ll be back for school, though.”

What about my birthday? Nicky wanted to say, but she didn’t. She also didn’t break down in tears at the thought of having to spend her birthday alone while Kale spent time with his best friend, Angie, in Vegas. Angie and Kale had grown up together, but even though they both claimed repeatedly that they only felt sibling-love toward each other, it still bothered Nicky that Kale spent so much time with Angie. It wasn’t just because Angie had won all twenty-six beauty pageants she had been in, and was a runner-up for Miss America the previous year, coming in second only because she didn’t have quite enough philanthropical pursuits. It was also the fact that she had given up her beauty pageant career to become a Burlesque dancer. That’s what they were in Vegas for. Angie had just been given the job, and would be moving there. Kale went with her to help her move in and make some good friends, and Nicky understood that. She wouldn’t want to move somewhere incredibly different without the support of someone she loved either. She just wished Angie hadn’t taken her boyfriend away from her when she had a birthday to celebrate. She supposed it didn’t matter, though. It was just a birthday. She had one every year.

“That’s okay.” Nicky croaked, forcing back tears.

“I knew you’d understand, babe. You’re great like that. I’ll have to make it up to you when I get back. Does that sound cool?”


“Alright. I love you, babe.”

“I love you too, Kale.”

Nicky thought about telling him about her new apartment, but she would rather tell him in person. She wanted to see the look of pleasure on his face at the thought of them finally having more privacy. Kale lived in a dorm on campus while Nicky had been living with her dad and her dad’s too-young girlfriend. Neither of the two places offered very much privacy, which was why Nicky and Kale had managed to keep their relationship activities PG-13 for the past eight months they’d been together. At least that was the excuse Nicky was going with. An excuse she was planning to overcome with her new place. She knew Kale would be excited.

There was some shuffling on the other line before Angie’s voice sounded in the background. She was asking Kale if the dress she was wearing looked great on her. Kale replied back with a “yeah you look hot” and Nicky felt a lurch of jealousy in her chest. She hated it when Kale complimented Angie.

“Hey, babe, I gotta go. Angie and I are going out. I’ll call you later, though, alright?” Kale parted, and Nicky nodded, even though he couldn’t see her.

“Yeah. Okay.” Nicky replied.

She opened her mouth to tell him she loved him, but Kale had already hung up. Nicky sighed again before making her way into the kitchen. The apartment was as modern as it could get, featuring dark mahogany floors and furniture with slick surfaces and dramatic angles. She ran her hands along the coldness of the granite countertops before checking herself in the mirrored doors of the refrigerator. Her lime green eyes reflected sadness back at her, and her plump, glossy lips drooped down a bit at the corners. She ran a hand through her thick, gleaming, brown hair, and tried not to notice the bags under her eyes. The bags were the only thing that made her flawless fair-skinned face look less than perfect. She blamed it on the nightmares that caused her to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. They weren’t just nightmares, though, they were memories.

She shook the thought out of her head, and turned away from her reflection, but not before she was able to be disgusted by the sight of her short, shapeless body. No wonder Kale would rather spend time with Angie. Her voluptuous body, wavy blonde hair, wide blue eyes, and ample lips were a million times more attractive than Nicky. She wondered what Kale saw in her at all. If he knew what she had been hiding from everyone for years, though, what spurred the nightmares each night, he probably wouldn’t want her. If it weren’t for that secret, though, she probably wouldn’t have wanted him either. The only reason she was attracted to him was because he offered the one thing she felt she needed more than anything else: protection. That was the first word that popped into her head when she saw him walk into her Chemistry class last semester. He looked like a model for a body-building supplement advertisement, all muscle and arrogance with the kind of deep brown eyes that put puppies to shame. She felt safe with him, and she needed to feel safe after what happened all those years ago.

Nicky made her way into the master bedroom where she would be staying. It was only slightly larger than the other two rooms, and didn’t have it’s own bathroom. It was the closest one to the bathroom at the end of the hall, and that was the reason she claimed it as hers immediately. If she was going to have roommates, she wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be the one fighting over the bathroom. She pressed her hand down on the plush, memory foam, sheet-less, queen-sized bed, comforted by the softness of it. She then took a look out of the glass wall in the bedroom, envisioning the curtains she would hang, and seeing all of her books lined up orderly on the modern bookshelf set against the glass wall. The room was spacious. It would surely fit everything she would need, and she was glad that it already had a desk and rolling chair set up for her. The closet was a bit small, but there was a dresser that she could use as well. This was perfect.

When she was done gazing at her new home, she pulled out her phone to call her father. She would need his help moving all of her belongings into her new home.

“How’d the house hunting go, Knicknack?” Her dad asked, and she could just see the grin on his face as he asked her.

Her dad always seemed to be smiling now. She probably should have been glad. He had taken Nicky’s mom’s death really hard, and had been depressed for months. Then, he met Ainsley. She was only a few years older than Nicky, but had won her dad’s heart in an instant. Now, the two were living together, expecting a child soon. That was one of the reasons Nicky had been eager to move out. She hated Ainsley, and she knew she would hate the baby even more.

“I found the perfect place, dad, and I need your help moving in.” Nicky told him.

“What about that boyfriend of yours? Why can’t he help you?” Her dad asked, and Nicky felt a pang in her chest at the memory of how she would be spending her birthday without her boyfriend.

“He’s still in Vegas.” 

With Angie, she wanted to add, but she knew better than that. Her dad already hated Kale, and she probably shouldn’t blame him. Kale had the most egocentric personality, and had no respect for women at all. Telling her father that he was also in Sin City with his gorgeous, Burlesque dancer best friend would only end with a miserable lecture about how Nicky could do so much better. She always wondered if he would feel differently about Kale if he knew why Nicky wanted him so badly. She could never tell anyone, though. Never.

“What the hell is he doing there?” Her dad questioned.

“Dad, that’s not important, okay? I’m coming over to get my things. I’ll be there soon.”

She hung up before he could respond, and then left the building. Tears came to her eyes as she drove to her dad’s suburban home. Thankfully, the wind blowing through the convertible top on her BMW convertible whipped her hair around her face, concealing her tears from the traffic around her. Luckily, she was able to compose herself by the time she pulled into her dad’s driveway. She cringed at the sight of the red Ferrari parked next to her dad’s Dodge Ram. She would never get used to having Ainsley around.

“Knicknack! Welcome home!” Ainsley greeted when Nicky walked through the door, wrapping her skinny arms around Nicky.

Nicky tried not to be repulsed by the bulging belly pressed against her, and bit her tongue to keep from screaming at Ainsley for using her dad’s nickname. She hated Ainsley, and thought the young mother had no right to be referring to Nicky as if she belonged in this family.

“I’m just here to get my stuff. I’m moving out.” Nicky said, gently pushing the girl away from her and rushing off to her room.

Nicky had prepared herself before she had left that morning. She had known she wouldn’t be returning home. Therefore, everything was already packed, and ready to be loaded into her car. She just needed her dad to lift all the boxes for her.

“You know, you’re going to have to accept this sooner or later.” Her dad reminded her, referring to Ainsley and the growing baby inside of her as he helped her carry her boxes to her car.

“I’d prefer later. Or never.” Nicky grumbled.

“She loves you, you know. She really does. And I love her too. She makes me happy, Nicole. I know she’s nothing like your mother. Nobody could be. Your mother was the best thing that ever happened to me, and nobody could ever replace her. You know that, don’t you?”

“What do you think mom would say about this? About you knocking up a girl who’s only three years older than your daughter? Don’t you find that sick at all?”

Her dad was quiet. She wanted to apologize, but her dad didn’t deserve it. What was he thinking? How could he do this to her? She was beginning to hate her dad just as much as she hated Ainsley, and as soon as all her boxes were tucked inside her car, she didn’t hesitate to show him that by speeding off without a single word.

After setting everything up in her room, she typed up an ad for the paper. It would appear online automatically, and then it would be printed in the papers the next morning. Therefore, when her Blackberry chimed the signal that told her she had an email, she crossed her fingers in hope that it would be a potential roommate already and not her boss. It was supposed to be her day off, but her boss had a habit of calling Nicky to work when she wasn’t supposed to. What could she say, though? Nicky was the best photographer in Miami. At least her boss, Dana, thought so. Dana didn’t let anyone else take pictures for the big jobs, and paid Nicky profusely to show her appreciation for the young, college student. Dana even worked around Nicky’s busy schedule, and stood up for her every time someone made a comment about Nicky’s young age. Nicky loved Dana like a mother, and knew Dana saw her as a daughter as well. If only Dana weren’t so busy. Then, maybe she could have set Dana up with her dad, preventing the distress that ripped through her family now.

My name is Marco Rodriguez, and my brother Wes and I are very interested in your offer. We’ll be able to pay the three hundred a month each for the rent, and extra (for groceries or anything else needed). We’d appreciate an immediate response.

Nicky read over the email several times before thinking of what she should do. Obviously, these possible roommates were guys, and could she really live with two guys she didn’t know? She shuddered at the possibility of what could happen to her. What had happened to her all those years ago. However, Nicky would be expected to pay the full rent in only two weeks, and she didn’t think she’d have enough money by then to do so. What if these guys were the only offer she got during that time span? She would have to give them a shot. She quickly typed back a response, telling this Marco that she would like to meet him and his brother as soon as possible before making a decision. Marco immediately replied that they could meet right now, and asked where she wanted to meet them. She gave them the address to the apartment. Might as well give them a tour. Marco responded that he and Wes would be there soon.

Nicky, both excited and nervous, jumped up from her desk to make sure everything was perfect for their arrival. By the time the door buzzer went off, everything was perfect...except Nicky’s nerves. The fear of what could happen to her made her wary about pressing the button to allow the two strangers into her new home. However, this was her chance, and she wasn’t going to ward them away without meeting them first. After what had happened to her, she had studied people like crazy, and now had the godly judgement that protected her from ever crossing paths with anyone dangerous. She would be able to tell who these guys were from just one glance. Even so, she was frightened when she swung open the door to reveal two very handsome guys.

“Is Nicky here? I’m Marco Rodriguez, and this is my brother Wes. We were supposed to meet him here to talk about the offer on this apartment.” 

Nicky laughed. She probably should have seen this coming. This wasn’t the first time her name had been mistaken as belonging to the opposite sex.

“Him? There’s isn’t a him.” Nicky corrected. “I’m Nicky.”

“You? You’’re Nicky? But you’re a girl! How old are you anyway? Like seventeen? Do your parents know what you’re doing?” Marco interrogated, and Nicky laughed again.

“I’m twenty years old. My parents don’t control me anymore. Now, are you going to come in or will living with a girl be a problem?” Nicky asked, and Marco looked at Wes.

When Wes shrugged, the two of them walked into the house. After shutting the door, Nicky took a good look at the two guys in front of her. They were both of average height and build, but they looked nothing alike. Marco had short, black hair, amber eyes set below thick, bushy eyebrows, tan skin, chubby lips, and a few days stubble covering his face. Wes, on the other hand, had fair skin speckled with freckles, baby blue eyes, curvy lips, a clean-shaven face, and curly blonde hair piled on top of his head. If they were brothers, it definitely wasn’t by blood. Maybe by marriage. Possibly adoption.

“This place is perfect.” Marco observed, awkwardly avoiding Nicky’s gaze. “Exactly what we’re looking for.”

“Does that mean you’ll take it?” Nicky asked hopefully.

“That depends. We’ll need to set some rules.” Marco responded.

“Oh goody. I have some rules for you guys too.” Nicky grinned.

“First, I want to know more about you. So start talking.” Marco ordered.

“Well, my name is Nicole Foster, but I go by Nicky. My mom is dead and has been replaced by a twenty-four year old whom my dad proudly knocked up and invited into his home. Thus why I’m moving here, and desperate to have roommates. I attend the university plus work a photography job, so you probably won’t see much of me. Especially if my boyfriend, Kale, is in town.”

“And this boyfriend of yours, Kale? He won’t mind that you’ll be living with us?” Marco asked, and Nicky shook her head.

“No. Why would he?”

“Um...because we’re guys? Because we can walk in on you changing or naked? Because we can raid your panty drawer while you’re gone?”

“We wouldn’t really do that.” Wes comforted, finally speaking. “Marco is just being a jackass.”

“I know.” Nicky said. She had heard the teasing in Marco’s voice, and she could already tell these guys were perfectly harmless anyway. “Besides, Kale could take you guys down in one hit at the same time.”

Marco snorted, and Wes just shrugged. They obviously didn’t believe her, but they would when they met him. She only hoped that would be soon.

“We’ll take it, but only if you follow the rules.” Marco decided. “No loud sex with Kale.”

“That won’t be a problem. Loud sex is only in pornos. Nobody actually screams and has an orgasm the entire time.” Nicky rolled her eyes.

“Then you haven’t been with Wes. All the ladies scream for him.” Marco teased, and Wes punched him in the arm.

“Shut up, man.” Wes snapped.

“Gross. No loud sex for either of you.” Nicky demanded. “Also, don’t forget you’re living with a lady. Put the toilet seat down when you’re done using it. I won’t tolerate any drugs, parties, or alcohol either.”

“No alcohol! Now that’s just unfair!” Marco whined, and Nicky rolled her eyes.

“No alcohol in excess. Don’t get drunk because I don’t want to be the one scrubbing the vomit off the toilet.” Nicky bargained.

“That’s fair enough. But you can’t forget you’re living with guys. No feminine products will be kept in sight of a guy or you’ll be scrubbing vomit off the toilet for a different reason. And no hogging the bathroom either. We both have work to get to that we can’t be late for. I don’t care how disgusting you think you look. Don’t be taking forever.” Marco reminded, and Nicky nodded her head.

“Is that all?” She questioned.

“I guess so.” Marco shrugged. 

“Good. I’ll be in my room. You guys can set up your stuff. The code to get in is 557, and Jim, the landlord, will give you the keys if you ask for them.” Nicky informed as she began walking to her room.

“When will dinner be ready?” Marco asked, and Nicky whipped around to face him.

“Excuse me?” She asked. “Do you think that since I’m a girl I’ll be cooking meals for the two of you?”

“I think we should at least take turns.” Marco suggested.

“Fine, but I haven’t been to the grocery store yet.” Nicky agreed.

“Pizza is good.” Marco said.

“Then order it.” Nicky said.

“I will. After we move in.” Marco said. He raised his eyebrows at her. “Are you sure this is going to be okay? You didn’t even ask us any real questions. Are you that desperate for roommates?”

“I’m a photographer. Capturing the essence of something in an instant is my life. If I was unsure about either of you, you wouldn’t still be standing here. I trust my judgement.” Nicky says. “And yes, I’m also desperate for roommates. This place is perfect, and I don’t want to risk losing it.”

“Why not ask your boyfriend to move in? Or a friend? Someone you actually know?”

Nicky cringed at the question. Her entire life was built around school, work, and avoiding her father’s new bride. Ever since her mother died, she’d kept to herself. All the friends she used to have slipped away into their new lives. Kale, Dana, and her family were the only people she really talked to, and none of them knew the intimate details of her life, the thoughts and memories that filled her head. She kept people at a distance, especially the people she cared about. Living with strangers seemed to be a much safer and practical option for her than asking anyone she knew. Kale was the only person she could feasibly ask to move in with her anyway, and she wasn’t ready for that. 

“It’s complicated.” Nicky said.

“Fair enough.” Marco said. “Come on, Wes. Let’s go get our stuff.”

Nicky waited for them to leave before she retreated into her room. She wondered if Kale really would be okay with her living with these two guys. He wasn’t exactly the jealous type, but she knew he would be if Marco and Wes tried to make a move on her, and she didn’t want Marco or Wes to get hurt. Maybe she should tell Kale after all instead of waiting for him to come back. She collapsed onto her bed, clutching her Blackberry in her hands. Should she call Kale? Would he even answer? Nicky didn’t want to find out. She didn’t want to be filled with the worry that would consume her if Kale didn’t answer her call. He said he would call her later anyway. She could wait until then.

At least she hoped she could.

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