Chapter One

Ad-Inspired Bad Idea

A good cup of coffee was something that Eliza Sullivan hadn't had in quite some time. In fact, she hadn't had a cup of coffee, good or otherwise, in about three months. Perhaps that had something to do with why this particular cup tasted like liquid heaven.

The little Washington shop where she had bought her cup of joe (screw the iced-mocha-chocolate-sugar filled-crap drinks, black was best) was mostly empty. A few patrons sat around the book store themed café. They sipped their sugar filled crap drinks and talked quietly. Eliza watched, bored and yet interested. People were so simple, yet so fascinating.

The bell on the door tinkled and the four other people glanced at the newcomer, narrowed their eyes, shook their heads, or showed some other form of dislike, and returned to their previous actions. Curious after a welcome like that, she looked over at the stranger.

Now, Eliza knew she probably didn't look that great herself. She hadn't walked by any mirrors recently, but she couldn't imagine her appearance. Her blonde hair was probably frayed, wild, and definitely in need of both a wash and a trim. There were dark circles beneath her honey eyes. Her jeans were tattered and unraveling, white shirt covered in mud, tennis shoes falling apart. Her black leather jacket was in better condition that the rest of her clothing, but it, too, was beat up. Scratches and dirt covered her sun-tanned skin. Her appearance, accompanied by the equally filthy backpack at her feet, more than likely made her seem like a crazy homeless girl. The twenty year old, frankly, didn't give a damn.

The girl who had just joined the crowd (did five people make a crowd? Probably not), the girl who had just joined the small group looked like she had just run a mile in 90F heat away from a serial killer. She was sweaty and frantic. Her raven black hair was in a frizzy mess in what appeared to be an attempted ponytail. Olive skin was shiny with a layer of perspiration. Glasses covering jade green eyes slid down her nose. A stack of papers in her hand seemed in danger of falling. All in all, the nineteen? twenty? year old Asian woman seemed to be in a hurry to be somewhere. Maybe it was simply to be out of the shop, after the greeting she had received.

The stranger hung one of the papers, flyers apparently, on a bulletin board before rushing out the door. The bell tinkled again as she hurried off.

Nearby, Eliza heard one of the customers mutter to his companion, "I don't know why she's bothering. Who would want to live there?"

To which the young woman with him replied, "Who would want to live with her?"

He chuckled and they resumed their boring conversation. She stopped listening and looked over at the flyer.

"Roommates wanted.

1742 Old Oak Lane.

5 bedrooms, 4 baths.

$300/mo + utilities."

It listed a phone number and said, 'Ask for Adeline.'

A roof over her head was definitely appealing. A bathroom sounded like heaven. That was pretty cheap rent, too. She wondered what was wrong with the house and the girl after the conversation, but did she care? Roof. Bathroom. Cheap rent. Oh, god, a shower. An actual shower! Not a river or a lake or anything, but an actual shower.

She stood, shouldered her bag, grabbed her coffee and heading out, whipping out her cellphone and dialing the number listed. Even if it was just for a month, a house sounded like a good place to be, no matter the quality. And even if the girl was crazy or something, Eliza was 5'10. Adeline (assuming the stressed female was Adeline) was like, 5'1, maybe 5'2. Eliza could take her. As if the eight inch height difference and the fact that Eliza was lean, but definitely muscular wasn't enough, there was always the advantage of being a werewolf. Just one of those handy things about being half human, half extremely strong wild animal.

Considering she'd literally just seen the girl, it was no surprise when she went to voicemail. Shrugging, she headed to the nearest public restroom to clean up some, in the event she would actually get an interview. No loss if she didn't. She would leave the town, hang out in the woods for a few more months, and then head back to civilization when she eventually started missing human contact.

She was rather surprised to get called for an interview, but she didn't question her luck. Besides, the girl had seemed rather desperate.

The house happened to be the only one on Old Oak Lane, which Eliza definitely liked. However, as she approached it, she felt like the dumb blonde from every horror movie ever, because this house undeniably belonged in a horror movie. It was large, no doubt. It was also old and creepy looking. The yard was enclosed in a black iron fence, the lawn unkempt, and the trees dead. The two story house was in need of a coat of paint or something; the wood was in bad shape. The windows were dusty and dark. Roof tiles were loose or missing. And…were those scorch marks on the northwest corner? What the… The place didn't look lived in. It didn't really look like it even should be lived in.

What am I doing? Eliza couldn't help but ask herself as she opened the gate and entered the creepy, creepy yard. But there was a roof and walls and no matter how shady it was, she wouldn't turn her back on that. Sleeping in the woods sucked.

She took the three steps up the rickety porch and knocked at the front door. There was even a creepy brass knocker. Was this house for real?

She had done her best to clean up, though she knew that she most likely still smelled…homeless. Not much she could do about that and after so long, it didn't even bother her anymore.

The Asian girl from the coffeehouse opened the door and visibly tried not to crinkle her nose. Well, Eliza had tried.

"I'm Adeline Mayfair," the girl introduced, offering a hand to shake.

"Eliza Sullivan. I usually go by Elli," she replied, shaking the girl's hand.

The door was opened wider and Elli was invited inside. The first thing that hit her when she walked in the door was the smell. The place smelled like death. That was bad.

There should have been other smells, but there weren't. None that she could detect just yet, anyways. Death didn't normally smell that strong. It was disturbing. Was Adeline some sort of crazy serial killer or something?

Aside from the truly awful smell, the inside of the house was in much better condition than the outside. She followed Adeline (against her better judgment) to the living room and sat down on pale blue, plaid couch. The living room was the first room on the right. It took up the southeast corner of the house, making it rather large. The blue couch, a black recliner, two green arm chairs, and a white loveseat made a 'C' shape around a glass coffee table, which rested in front of a grey brick fireplace. One picture sat on the mantle of it, a younger Adeline with a little girl who may have been her sister and what appeared to be her parents. Boxes were piled in the far left corner of the room. A dusty glass chandelier was lighting the room, along with the windows. The equally dusty grey curtains were drawn back to let the sunshine in. It was a pleasant change to see sunlight in Washington.

"Sorry about the mess," her potential roommate apologized, gesturing over at the boxes and the general area. "I'm just moving in."

"Don't worry about it. I've seen worse." She'd squatted in worse, too.

"So how did you hear about this place?" she asked, beginning the interview.

"Your ad in the café." A new smell was reaching her nostrils, faint, but definitely there.

"And why are you interested in it?"

"Honestly, I've been travelling on foot for the past few months. Done a lot of camping, walked a lot of miles. The idea of a room to call my own sounded nice."

"Do you have a job?"

"No and I don't plan on getting one, but I can pay the rent. And the utilities and I can even pitch in for groceries, if you need." Vampire. She was pretty sure the faint smell was vampire, which would explain the death smell. She was going to have to look this place up, find out what had happened here.

"How long would you be staying?"

"Two months, if that. But even if I leave early, I'll still leave my share of the rent." Yeah, she was certainly picking up on some undead bloodsucker. It had been a while since it'd been there though.

Adeline nodded. "Do you have a lot of friends or family who would visit?"

"No friends and my parents are dead. I have an older brother, but I doubt he'd come by. We pretty much talk on holidays and that's about it. Most of our contact is through text." They weren't estranged. It killed both of them that that's how things worked. But their parents had been killed and after that they'd abandoned the pack. Travelling separately and speaking minimally made them harder to find. It was better that way. She honestly didn't even know where he was these days or if he was still alive. She would never know the former and she wouldn't find out the latter until one holiday he failed to call.

"I'm sorry to hear that." And she did look sorry.

Ellie shrugged. "It's life." Especially for werewolves.

"Do you have unusual habits or anything?"

Besides changing into a murderous half human once a month? "I'm a night person. I don't drink or party or anything. Not much for hobbies. I do like to go for a late night walk or run. Oh, and I'm a vegetarian. I won't even cook meat for other people. Sorry."

"No problem. Alrighty. Thanks for stopping by. I'll get back to you and let you know if you got a room."

"Thanks. So, you're looking for three other roommates?"

"Four. The house is actually six bedrooms, but I advertised it was five, because one's mine. Oh, would you mind sharing a bathroom?"

"I don't care, to be honest. A bathroom is a bathroom."

"Okay. Good to know." They stood and Adeline showed her out. She left the creepy house and headed to the main street, hoping to find the local library and discover what she could about the house.

It was an unlucky place, apparently. It had been struck by lightning twice in nearly the same spot (explaining the scorch marks). The first owners had disappeared without a trace. Their son sold the house (this was back in 1864, holy crap), to some other family. They moved out within the year, saying that something just 'felt wrong' about the place. They sold it and that family died. The pattern just sort of continued on, with people leaving or dying. She finally reached a recent article. It seemed about five years ago, eight people were sharing the house and were brutally murdered. It explained the smell of death and, as she read the gruesome details of the murders, it explained the faint vampire scent.

Well, no wonder she was having issues finding a roommate. If Elli were human, she wouldn't want to live there either. Even as a werewolf, she was having serious second thoughts about this idea. Settling down was never a good idea. She probably wouldn't even get to stay for more than a month. Getting a hotel room would be a significantly better idea. Why did she even consider this plan?

Her phone rang and she answered it, receiving numerous glares from the librarians and the other people in the room. Oops.

"Hello?" she whispered.

"When can you move in?" came the response.

Well, so much for the hotel.

A/N: Chapter One of my newest story. I'd love some feedback on it. Tentatively titled 'The Housemates' until I can come up with something better. It feels good to be writing again. (So much for ending my posting on here. *sigh*)