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Chapter One

The carpet was off-white. The front door was apple red. The living room was...teal.

The house Renee and I had moved into was cookie cutter; predictable; part of a master plan. In other words, this was not the norm for Renee.

In fact, Renee never usually rented houses in the first place. I was used to apartments and duplexes, but never a house. Especially not a house in a neighborhood with a HOA and a pool.

"This doesn't make sense," I said for the fifth time today. And Renee blew me off for the umpteenth time. "We don't need a house this size when it's just the two of us."

And yeah, I could never say 'just the two of us' without thinking about Bill Withers. Or Will Smith, for that matter. It was a curse.

"We deserve to indulge a little, baby."

No. No. No.

"The rent alone is going to kill us," I murmured, more to myself since Renee didn't care about stuff like that. She knew I'd always take care of it. That was my mistake; I always followed through on saving her ass. "Why didn't you talk to me first? And how did you find this place, anyway?"

Renee attempted to pick up a large box as she said, "Newspaper. The guy was practically begging me to lease it. I'm doing him a favor, really."

"I understand that you think we can afford this, but we can't," I said adamantly. "We just can't."

"I signed the lease," she said, giving up on the box.

"Well..." I didn't really know what to say to that. I figured un-sign it wasn't a valid rebuttal. "Just because Gramps left us a little money, doesn't mean we should go blow it all!"

A little money meant thirty thousand. It was a lot, yeah. Especially for us since before that we had...well, not a whole lot. But Renee was acting like...like we were rich; like we had struck gold. And earlier today, she even bought name brand laundry detergent which was totally unnecessary.

"Isabella! I'm still hurting over the death of my father. I would appreciate it if you wouldn't talk about this right now." She stared at me with sad eyes.

Right. Because when he was alive she spent so much time with him. I was the one who signed her name on the cards we sent him for his birthday and Father's Day. I was the one who arranged the funeral two months ago.

If I was being honest, Renee only received the money because Gramps probably forgot to change his will.

But fine. We didn't have to talk about this now. I was hungry, anyway. "Okay, okay. I'm sorry."

"Here. Help me with this."

"What is it..." I trailed off as I peeked inside the box, groaning at the sight of hemp netting. "Oh, no. Not the hammocks."

Her eyes lit up as she walked into the living room, extra bounce in her step. "Can you picture it? I figured we can use the hammocks instead of a couch! What do you think?"

Pushing the box into the living room instead of trying to carry it, I pretended to mentally take measurements. I could only pretend for so long.

"I think you're being completely ridiculous."

"No, I'm not. Why shouldn't we use the hammocks in place of a couch?"

"Because! There's absolutely no reason why we should. That's why." I resisted the urge to stomp my foot.

"We have ten hammocks, Bella. Ten. That is reason enough right there," Renee argued as we stood in the empty living room.

"No. I'm sorry but I'm not going to invite people over and force them to lie in a hammock."

Renee pouted, looking so very childish as she said, "You never invite any friends over anyway, so what's the problem?"

I wanted to point out it was because she embarrassed me. I wanted to yell that it was hard to make and keep friends in a matter of six months. I wanted to pull the stupid braided feathers out of her hair, just in case they were somehow keeping her from making rational decisions.

Instead, I stood there and did nothing. Said nothing. Because she was all I had and, let's face it, I was all she was ever going to keep for longer than one-hundred and eighty days.

A/N: I think the landlord is going to stop by soon. You should probably try to look presentable, k?