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The Ugly Girlfriend

By:Latrivia Nelson

He quickly removed it like an admonished child and looked at the small dirt mark it left on the satin-finished paint. “Yes, there are more down each hall,” he said, bending down to wipe the mark. Realizing it would need more care than a touch, he finally raised back up and guided her to the main hall. “The living room, dining room, uh, the kitchen are down this corridor. It’s a real monster in the kitchen, by the way. And the den and the media room are down the other corridor along with a guest bathroom and a few closets and what not.”

She walked behind him, watching his every move. He seemed nervous, which was typical for new clients. No one ever really liked having someone in his or her home.

After quickly looking through the other rooms with him, she finally made her way to his disheveled kitchen, where she sat down at the paper-covered table and pulled a contract from her backpack.

He sat down across from her with a cup of coffee and put the white porcelain to his lips.

“And this gets me services three times a week?” he asked, still looking down at the paper.

“Yes.” Her voice was calm and soothing. She averted her eyes away from his mouth. “And you can decide on having a team to come in and clean it once and one person to keep it up on a regular basis, or you can pay to have a team of three to come in three times a week on a regular basis. The team is obviously more expensive but also quicker. It’s really dependent upon your own preferences.”

“Oh, I don’t need all of that. The team can come once, and then the main person can come three times a week,” he laughed nervously. “I’m not rich.”

I can’t tell, she thought to herself. “I understand,” she said, pulling out a shiny, silver pen. It was her lucky closing pen, responsible for countless contracts. She’d had it since she started her business.

“Who will come in three times a week? And can I get a background check on them?” he asked.

“More than likely it will be me. I’ll come in for about 2 hours, three times a week. Once we get the house under control, it will drop to an hour. But I have to be honest, Mr. O'Keeffe...”

He looked up from the paper quickly. His emerald eyes sparkled. “Please, call me Mitch.”

“Okay, Mitch. It’s going to take a lot of work to get your place up to par.”

“I know.” He scratched his head. “It’s sort of embarrassing how horrid this place is.”

Not as embarrassing as last night, she said inwardly. “I assure you that I’ve seen a lot worse. And yes, I will give you my information so that you can perform a background check.”

“Well, if it’s you then...” He didn’t finish his sentence, but he did give her an approving smile, warm with true sincerity. Taking the pen, he signed the contract quickly and sighed. “Thank you for this, LaToya. I really appreciate your help. You don’t know how much I need some organization in my life.” He placed the pen down beside him and smoothed out the white paper.

“Well, I appreciate your business. And that’s what my service is here for…to make your quality of life better,” she said, hearing the doorbell ring.

“Speaking of quality of life,” he said with a low growl. Standing up from the table, he never took his eyes off her. “Would you please excuse me for a moment? I have to see my son out to my ex-wife, or she’ll think I’m procrastinating on purpose.” His voice was low.

“Sure,” LaToya said, putting the pieces together. His ex. The locked door. His kid had been upstairs.

Nodding at her, he stuffed his balled-fists into his pants pockets and strode out of the room in a slow mope.

About fifteen minutes later, as LaToya sat curiously and patiently waiting, she heard a door slam loudly. The bang made her sit up in the chair. What the hell, she thought to herself. I hope I’m not getting into any mess.

Shortly after, Mitch walked back into the kitchen with his head down. Instead of coming to sit at the table, he walked directly over to the kitchen island and planted his large hands on the cool ceramic tile beside a pile of blueprints and coffee mugs. Swallowing hard those words of disgust that sat at the tip of his tongue, his bulging Adam’s apple moved under the weight of his frustrated reflex.

LaToya thought he looked as if he wanted to hit something. Clearing her throat, she motioned towards the contract. “Is this a bad time?” she finally asked. “I can always come back.”

“No. No.” His voice was solemn. It was apparent that he was pained terribly. He tried to recover from an obvious argument. In a quick motion, he turned to her and folded his large arms in front of him. His bulky muscles tightened under the thin plaid shirt. “I took my son to the dentist earlier, and he asked me on the way back to the house why me and his mom were getting divorced. When I tried to explain, he got upset and locked himself in his room. I imagine that it must be really difficult for him to understand.”

“How old is he?”

“Nine,” he answered with a small grin. “And big for his age.”

“Any siblings?”

“No, we never got to that.” He forced a smile to lighten his mood or at least lighten his brooding features, but she could see his sadness. It was apparent as the wedding ring that he wore. Catching her glancing at his hand, he shifted in his stance. “Enough about me. I’m sure that you don’t want to hear my problems.” He walked back to her. The chair screeched against the tile floor as he pulled it from under the table. “Let’s talk about how this cleaning service can help me begin to get my life back.”

With a comforting nod, she passed him the service documents.

Chapter Three

LaToya looked at the scale and cursed. Four more pounds? Ridiculous! Stepping down, she slipped on her robe and moped into the kitchen. What should she fix for breakfast? She wanted scrambled eggs and bacon, butter-covered panca