Loathe to Love You by Ali Hazelwood

            Liam stares, expressionless. “You don’t think?”

            “I don’t. Want to sell, that is.”

            He nods once, curtly. And then asks, “How much more?”


            “How much more do you want?”

            “No, I—I’m not interested in selling the house,” I repeat. “I just can’t. Helena—”

            “Is double enough?”

            “Double—how do you even—do you have corpses buried under the flower beds?”

            His eyes are blocks of ice. “How much more?”

            Is he even listening to me? Why is he being so insistent? Where has his cute, boyish blush gone? At the door, he just seemed so . . .

            Whatever. I was clearly wrong. “I just can’t sell. I’m sorry. But maybe we can figure out something else in the next few days? I don’t have a place to stay in D.C., so I was thinking of moving in for a little while . . .”

            He exhales a silent laugh. Then he realizes that I’m serious, and shakes his head. “No.”

            “Well.” I try to be reasonable. “The house seems large, and—”

            “You’re not moving in.”

            I take a deep breath. “I understand. But my financial situation is very precarious. I’m starting my new job in two days, and it’s really close by. On foot. This is a perfect place for me to live for a little while, until I get back on my feet.”

            “I just handed you the solution to all of your financial problems.”

            I wince. “It’s really not that simple.” Or maybe it is. I don’t know, because I just can’t stop remembering the ginkgo leaves settling on the hydrangeas and wondering what they would look like in the spring. Maybe Helena would have wanted me to see the yard in every season. If she’d meant for me to sell, she would have left me a chunk of cash. Right? “There are reasons why I’d prefer not to sell. But we can work out a solution. For instance, I could, um, temporarily rent you my half of the house and use the money to stay in another place?” That way, I’d still be holding on to Helena’s gift. I’d be out of Liam’s way and above the destitution threshold. Well, slightly above. And in the future, once Liam gets married to his girlfriend (who’s probably a Fortune 500 CEO who can list the Dow 30 by market cap and has a favorite item in the goop newsletter), moves to a McMansion in Potomac, Maryland, and starts a politico-economic dynasty, I could revisit this place. Move in, like Helena seems to have wanted. If by then I’ve gotten a raise and can cover the water bill on my own, that is.

            It’s a fair proposal, right? Wrong. Because Liam’s response is:

            “No.” Boy, he loves the word.

            “But why? You clearly have the money—”

            “I want this settled once and for all. Who is your attorney?”

            I’m about to laugh in his face and crack a joke about my “legal team” when his iPhone rings. He checks the caller ID and swears softly under his breath. “I need to take this. Stay put,” he orders, way too bossy for my taste. Before he steps out of the living room he pins me with his cold, stern eyes and declares, “This is not, and will never be, your house.”

            And that, I believe, is it.

            It’s that very last sentence that clinches it. Well, together with the condescending, domineering, arrogant way he talked to me in the past two minutes. I walked into this house fully ready to have a productive conversation. I gave him several options, but he shut me down and now I’m getting pissed. I have as much legal right as he does to be here, and if he refuses to acknowledge it . . .

            Well. Too bad for him.

            Anger bubbling up my throat, I tear the paper Liam gave me in four pieces and drop it on the coffee table for him to find later. Then I go back to the porch, retrieve my suitcase, and start looking for an unused bedroom.

            Guess what? I text Sadie and Hannah. Mara Floyd, Ph.D., just moved into her new house. And it’s most definitely on fire.