Valerie sucked her teeth, her hands on her hips as she explored Mateo's new bedroom. She pressed the mattress of his bed curiously, impressed with how soft it was. "This is softer than my bed. What the hell." She looked back at him and shook her head. Mateo couldn't help but smile at her reactions. She'd been to the old place only once and compared to the mattress in the sofa, this new bed was like lying on a pile of clouds. She took a seat and whipped her phone out. Before he knew what was happening, she snapped a picture of him in the doorway.
"What was that for?"
"To commemorate your new apartment," she said as if it were obvious. He rolled his eyes. She was always posting random things on her Instagram. If it was even mildly important, she posted it up for all of her followers to see.
"You haven't even seen the best part," he said. He dragged her into the kitchen and flung the doors to the cabinets open. Rows and rows of snacks stared back at her. Valerie's eyes went wide.
"This is a stoner's pearly white gates," she whispered, pushing aside a few boxes of crackers and looking at the rest of the items inside. He had name brands - something he'd learned to avoid back when he first moved home. They were overpriced and he could ignore the difference of taste with the generic knock offs.
"I have Gushers, dude," he exclaimed. Sweets like that had been a luxury. Now it wasn't the case.
"You had Gushers," she corrected him, reaching into the box and pulling two packs out. He didn't mind, either. She'd fed him more times than he could count. It was only fair in his eyes that she took some for herself and reaped the benefits. She opened a pack and removed a few, popping them into her mouth. "Please tell me that SweetDaddies site is looking for hot young things like me still? My actually daddy is playing games with this whole, 'I'm cutting back your allowance' shit."
Mateo cracked a can of soda from the fridge and nodded. "It's not a seasonal job or anything," he smiled. "You can do it whenever you want."
"I might take you up on that, for real. One month of being in that kind of relationship and you got this." He knew she was talking about more than just the food in the apartment. She was talking about the apartment itself. Mateo had used the extra two thousand from Arthur to get the five of them out of their old neighborhood. Rent was double the price, just barely over a thousand a month, but it was a decent deal for a three bedroom apartment in LA.
If he were being honest, he'd made more than two thousand dollars last month. With two hundred, he and Rob had gone to one of Rob's friend's house and did a little gambling. He wasn't going to risk it all by bringing more than he needed. Despite the rush of excitement he got from winning game after game of poker and dice, he knew his limits. He stopped when he'd turned his two hundred into fifteen hundred. Was he Marco's new favorite person? Not at all. Thankfully Rob had been there to calm the guy down. Mateo wasn't a fool, either; he knew he couldn't go back there and continue to disrespect the guy in his own house.
The money he'd won from that night had been used to purchase a cheap car for Amira. It came from Craigslist, so it was as busted as predicted, but it did the job and so did his mother. Within a week of driving around, looking for applications she was working in the kitchen at a relatively popular Mexican restaurant. Mateo didn't consider himself religious in the slightest. He'd never been excited to go to church. But with all that was happening, how could he not think that there was someone or something up there watching out for him? It wouldn't have been possible without that, he knew it.
"Shit, I didn't realize the time." Valerie jumped up and grabbed her coat from the rack. "I have a shoot in like, forty-five minutes. I'll call you later, okay?"
YOU ARE READING
Mateo put his entire life on hold when he found out that his father's Alzheimer's had gotten worse. He dropped his textbooks and returned home despite his dreams of graduation, never once outwardly complaining about the turn of events. It was his...