When Marcie ignored the February rent, Kayla knew she had no choice but to get Marcie out of the apartment. Before she said anything to Marcie, she talked to Drake. It was a good thing that she had decided not to tamper with the standard contract she had downloaded. She hadn’t required two months’ rent or any deposit. The rest she left as it was – with all the terms that she had thought were unnecessary. She had used the month-to-month rental agreement form, which allowed Marcie to move out when she wanted to – but it also allowed Kayla the same option. She didn’t have to renew the rent at the end of the rental period. She had never enforced the late fee, even though it was in the contract.
She had also left the part in that prevented Marcie from letting anyone else move in. Only Marcie and Stephanie were on the rental agreement. Drake didn’t know if she had nullified that part by not protesting when Marcie moved David in.
According to the contract, she only had to give Marcie one-day notice, since she had already violated the contract. Kayla felt that was unreasonable and didn’t want to enforce it, so Drake advised her not to accept a partial payment. If she did, Marcie could get another month without paying one more dime. It made no sense, but that was the law.
Kayla finally agreed to a Notice To Pay and Quit, which gave Marcie three days to come up with all the rent plus the late fee, or quit the premises. Drake explained that she didn’t have to kick her out after three days, but it effectively terminated the contract.
He advised her to pay for someone to deliver the notice, but she didn’t want to do that. This was why her parents had advised her not to rent to a friend.
“Kayla, the purpose of having someone else deliver it is so that you have proof that it was delivered.”
“Can’t I just have her sign something?”
He met her gaze for a minute. “How do you envision that going down?”
“She’d be upset, but…”
“Do you think she would sign the delivery notice?”
“I don’t know, but…It’s so cold and impersonal.”
“So is not paying the rent and causing you to be late on your obligations.”
She gnawed on her lower lip. All that was true enough, but…. “How much would that cost?”
He shrugged. “Maybe $50, but if that’s what is stopping you, I’ll pay it.”
She shook her head. “No. It’s one thing to accept free advice from you but paying for my obligations is too much.”
“Look, Kayla. This could get ugly. It would be emotional for both of you, but it could even get physically dangerous if her boyfriend gets involved.”
He was right about that too.
“If you insist on delivering it yourself, let me go with you.”
She caught her breath. “No! If it’s not safe for me; it’s not safe for you either.”
He met her gaze with a stern expression. “I don’t like this, and I’m sure your father would be concerned as well.”
She sighed. “Okay. For sake of everyone’s peace of mind – and for legal reasons – I’ll pay a carrier to deliver it.”
He looked relieved. “That’s making sense.”
He stood. “I need to get back to the house. I’ll send you an email with the notice attached and the telephone number of the carrier.”
She followed him to the door. He stopped with his hand on the door knob and gazed down at her for a moment. He took her chin in one hand and lifted it, his thumb gently stroking her jaw. The expression in his eyes increased her pulse. She waited, actually hoping he was going to kiss her.
His hand slid to the back of her neck and he leaned down. Then he stopped and dropped his hand. He stepped back and spoke in a husky voice. “You’re not simply innocent, Kayla. You’re pure.”
She stared up at him, her heart still pounding with anticipation. “What?”
He smiled. “Your father would know what I meant.” He opened the door, stepped outside and closed the door without another word.
She watched through the window as he climbed into his car and left. What was that supposed to mean? Had her father warned him to keep his hands off her? She stomped her foot in frustration. A goodbye kiss was innocent enough. Wait, was he trying to tell her she was a prude? She’d show him next time he offered the opportunity. She’d kiss him first.
She wasn’t sure when or where the notice was delivered, but there was no mistake about Marcie’s response. She was hostile. Kayla was alone in her apartment when Marcie pounded on her door. She wasn’t merely angry. She was livid.
She shook the paper under Kayla’s nose and screamed at her. “You were the one who pushed me into this. You and Drake plotted against me!”
Kayla knew better than to argue with her. “Calm down, Marcie. We’ll talk about this when you’ve had time to think about it.”
“I’ve been thinking about it all day – stewing. How do you expect me to come up with all this money in three days?”
“All but the late fee is you’re normal rent.”
“I explained to you….”
“Not now, Marcie. Go home and think about it and you will realize that I have no choice.”
She didn’t wait for Marcie to answer. She gently closed the door – and then locked it. A few minutes later she heard glass break next door. She assumed that Marcie had thrown something and broken it.
The next morning, as she climbed into her car to go to work, she noticed that a piece of cardboard covered a broken window in Marcie’s duplex. So now she was not only refusing to pay rent but destroying property as well. She needed to get Marcie out of there before she trashed the apartment.
That evening, when she came home from work, there was an extension cord stretched across her porch and plugged into the outlet she used for her electric weed eater. The cord made a direct line to Marcie’s apartment. Normally she would have knocked on Marcie’s door and asked what was happening, but after the fit Marcie threw last night, it might be best to let the issue alone for a while. Marcie was clearly challenging her. A little increase in her electricity bill wasn’t worth another confrontation. She stepped over the cord and entered her apartment.
When Drake called that evening, she told him about the confrontation, but didn’t mention the broken window or the extension cord. If he didn’t drop everything and come running over, he might fret about her safety. In any case, she still wasn’t certain what he meant when he called her pure. She might have evaded the issue of the confrontation if he hadn’t said that he had tracked the notice and it had been delivered. Drake was getting too involved in her business – and not involved enough with a relationship.
That thought troubled her. She had let the situation with Marcie get out of control because of their friendship. She didn’t want to do the same with Drake. Her friendship with Marcie had already been destroyed.
When her mother called that evening, she surprised herself by telling her what Drake had said about her being pure.
Mom chuckled. “That’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I imagine he’s telling you that you have a pure heart – free of the normal jealousies and grudges.”
“Or that I’m a prude.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t think of you that way. He is so respectful of you.”
Kayla sighed. “Maybe he could be a little less respectful. We’ve known each other for months now and I haven’t even got one little kiss. That isn’t normal, is it? Maybe he doesn’t feel the same about me.”
She was revealing way too much to her mother, but she needed to talk to someone about it and co-workers were not a good choice.
Mom was silent a moment. “Well, I hear absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe you should cool it for a while. He might be taking you for granted.”
If anyone were taking someone for granted, it was she taking Drake for granted. Why would he want a relationship with someone who was draining him emotionally with their problems?
“You’re probably right about the cooling.”
She hadn’t told her mother about the latest situation with Marcie. They would be concerned, and she didn’t want to saddle them with worry. She needed to handle this situation on her own and stop involving Drake and her parents. Drake told her what she needed to do. She should simply do it and get it over with. How much worse could it get?
She shouldn’t have asked. The next morning, she got a call at work from the electric company. The electricity had been cut off to Marcie’s apartment because of non-payment. What was Marcie doing with her money? She certainly wasn’t paying the rent.
“I understand you are the owner of the apartment,” the caller said.
“Yes, I am, but she pays her own electric bill.”
“Correction; she isn’t paying the electric bill. She is two months behind. You do realize that whether she had the electricity turned on in her name or not, if she doesn’t pay the bill, it’s your responsibility.”
Kayla gasped. “What? How can that be?”
“You own the property.”
“But I didn’t have the electric turned on.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Without electric for heat, the plumbing might freeze and bust, so she might as well pay it. “How much is the bill?”
“With both months and the late fee, it’s $380.”
Kayla caught her breath. “How can it be that much? I live in the duplex apartment next door and my electric bill is only about $60 a month.”
“I don’t know ma’am. We can send out someone to double-check the meter if you want.”
“Yes, please do that.”
“Would you like us to turn the electricity on in your name?”
“I guess I might as well.”
“You will need to pay the bill before we can turn it back on.”
“But you said you were going to send someone out to check the meter. How long will that take?”
“I’ll have to schedule it. I can call you back.”
“Please do that.” Kayla gave the woman her work phone number and her cell phone number.
An hour later they called her on her phone and told her it was scheduled in three days.
“But the pipes could freeze in that amount of time.”
“I’m sorry. That’s the earliest time available. If they discover that there is an error, it will be credited to your account.”
“Credited to my account? So, if there was an error and it was supposed to be $60 you can spend months paying it back. That hardly seems fair.”
“I know. It’s not your fault. You don’t make the rules.”
She could pay the $380, but then she wouldn’t have the money for Marcie’s half of the mortgage payment. On the other hand, if the water pipes froze and busted, the repair bill could run into the thousands. Hopefully Marcie would move out and she could rent it to someone else by that time.
“Ma’am, what do you want to do?”
That was a loaded question. Still, the poor clerk needed an answer. Kayla sighed heavily. “I’ll pay the bill and have the electricity put in my name. When will it be turned on?”
“We can have someone do that early tomorrow morning.”
Wait.... ”Why can’t they read the meter then?”
“It’s not the same department.”
“Okay. Have it turned on tomorrow morning.”
She paid the bill with her debit card and got back to her job.