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Housemates,Neighbours and Workmates

Housemates,Neighbours and Workmates

This extract is from Housemates And Friends

"How the hell did I ever get us in to this?”
She sat at her desk looking at the clock which clearly displayed five minutes to five o'clock. She didn't even realise she’d spoken out loud. Her boss sat at his desk the other side of the front office watching her impassively. She dragged her eyes down from the clock to see him watching her and struggled to suppress the shudder that ran down her spine. At that moment the glass door to the street opened and her two housemates walked nervously in. As the door closed behind them she watched the sign that read ‘Easy Option Property Rentals Ltd’ and her mind skittered back to that fateful point just six months earlier.

* * * *

It had started so innocently. The three of them, Carrie, Susie and herself, Lizzie, had been friends through college and had somehow managed to end up working for the same large pharmaceutical company in the same city. They’d had to move out of their student digs and this office had seemed to be exactly as it said – the easy option. They had rented the three bedroom modern town house just four doors up from the landlords’ office at a very good rent – even less than the student rents they’d been paying. For two months they’d had a ball and then the bombshell struck. Lizzie was informed that her probationary period was being terminated and that she would not be employed on a full time basis after that. She was out of a job, with student loans over her head, and no income to pay the rent.

* * * *

“Please, sit down ladies.”
Phil's words jerked Lizzie back to the present as she watched her friends sit in the two visitor chairs’ Phil was indicating.
“Liz, please put the closed sign up and join us.”
Lizzie hated Liz as a diminutive of her name and she knew Phil knew it. He was continuing the dominance game and she was not in a position to challenge him. She got up from her desk, unconsciously smoothed her skirt down and moved across the office and put up the closed sign and shot the centre bolt home. She turned around to find all three were watching her. Her friends with a look of sympathy on their faces, Phil still gazed at her impassively.
She approached the indicated seat to the right of her housemates, sat down and waited for Phil to speak. She didn't have to wait very long.
“Well ladies. I think you know why we’re here don’t you?”
The three girls nodded.
“When Lizzie lost her job I took her on in the office as Angela, my previous assistant was leaving to have a baby. I thought I was doing a favour for a nice girl. How did she repay me? Why don’t you tell us all Lizzie, just for the record?”
Lizzie assumed he was running the tape recorder in his desk. On the record would mean exactly that, but he had told her she must do exactly as he said or he would call the police.
“I . . .”
She stopped, her lip trembling as she fought for enough control to go through with this.
“I . . . I was in charge of reconciling and banking the rents.”
“What happened then, Lizzie?”
“Carrie . . . and Susie . . . well they were laid off the same way I was.”
“And the rents?”
“It always takes time for them to come up with benefit money so they were short for a while.”
She’d reached that point; the next sentence would incriminate her and her friends. But she had no choice, now it came out in a rush.
“I stupidly falsified the rent books and forged receipts so it would look like they’d paid their rent. I never intended for you to find out and I intended to pay it back as soon as the money came through.”
“But I did find you out didn't I?”
“Yes . . .”
Again she hesitated.
“Go on.”

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