Ego Maniac(3)By: Vi Keeland
Shit. She was telling the truth. Well, at least some of it had to be the truth. “You said you moved in a week ago?”
“And you rented the space from whom, exactly?”
Both my brows shot up this time. “John Cougar? Did he drop the Mellencamp, by chance?”
“How should I know?”
This wasn’t sounding good. “And you paid this John Cougar?”
“Of course. That’s how renting an office suite works. Two months’ security, first and last month’s rent.”
I shut my eyes and shook my head. “Shit.”
“You got conned. How much did all of that cost you? Two months’ security, first and last month? Four months in total?”
“Ten thousand dollars.”
“Please tell me you didn’t pay cash.”
Something finally clicked, and the color drained from her pretty face. “He said his bank was closed in the evening, and he couldn’t give me the keys until my check cleared. If I gave him cash, I could move in right away.”
“You paid John Cougar forty thousand dollars in cash?”
“I paid him ten thousand in cash.”
“I thought you said you paid four months.”
“I did. It was twenty-five hundred a month.”
That did it. Of all the crazy shit I’d heard so far, thinking she could get space on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month took the cake. I broke out in a fit of laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re not from New York, are you?”
“No. I just moved here from Oklahoma. What does that have to do with anything?”
I took a step closer. “I hate to break the news to you, Oklahoma, but you got ripped off. This is my office. I’ve been here for three years. My father the thirty before that. I was on vacation the last two weeks and had the office remodeled while I was gone. Someone named after a singer scammed you into giving him cash to rent an office he had no right to rent. Doorman’s name is Ed. Walk through the main building entrance, and he’ll verify everything I just said.”
“That can’t be.”
“What do you do that you need office space?”
“I’m a psychologist.”
I held out my hand. “I’m an attorney. Let me see your contract.”
Her face fell. “He hasn’t brought it by yet. He said the landlord was in Brazil on vacation, and I could move in, and he would come back on the first to collect the rent and bring me the contract to sign.”
“You’ve been scammed.”
“But I paid him ten thousand dollars!”
“Which is another thing that should have tipped you off. You couldn’t rent a closet on Park Avenue for twenty-five hundred a month. Didn’t you find it strange that you were getting a place like this for next to nothing?”
“I thought I was getting a deal.”
I shook my head. “You got a deal alright. A raw deal.”
She covered her mouth. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
I felt like such a damn idiot.
A light knock came on the bathroom door. “You okay in there?”
“I’m fine.” Embarrassed. Stupid. Naïve. Flat broke. But fine.
I washed my face and stared at myself in the mirror. What the hell was I going to do now? My phone line was finally being installed this week, and my stationery was being delivered. My beautiful stationery. With the pretty logo and fancy new Park Avenue address. Ugh. Another two hundred and fifty dollars wasted. I hung my head and stared down at the sink, unable to look at my dumb face any more.
Eventually, I cracked open the bathroom door and stepped out. The rightful tenant leaned against the wall, waiting for me. Of course, he had to be gorgeous. Because I couldn’t just mortify myself in front of an ugly man. No, definitely not.
“You sure you’re okay?”
I avoided eye contact. “I’m not. But I will be.” I hesitated before continuing. “Is it okay if I go back into my office…I mean…your office…and clean up my stuff?”