Lisa Taylor, in a way, could be considered an unlucky and lucky being due to her situation. Considering that in her world where everyone was "special", being normal was the new abnormal. Not that this bothered her that much. Sure, when she was younger, she wished she had some kind of superpower or was related to some supernatural creature or came from outer space, but she had long since outgrown such thinking. Now, all she wanted to do was find a job and settle down and live her life. Of course, that was easier said than done with how the current job market worked. Even her parents - both who had some kind of superpower - didn't have high paying jobs. In fact, her mother was a landlord renting out rooms in order to pay for everything and don't get her started on her father.
She rubbed her forehead, brushing aside brown strands, as she groaned in annoyance. Another rejection letter lay in front of her. It had been her third one that week and her twelfth for the month. It hadn't even been two weeks into the month and those were just the ones that responded back. At this rate, she would graduate high school without a job waiting for her and there was no way she could afford college.
Deciding a change in scenario would relieve some tension, she slipped out the front door of her apartment with her bag in hand. She barely made it a few feet when she spotted a flicker of black not too far ahead. At first glance, one might have assumed it was the trick of the light despite it being so sunny, but the flicker of black quickly changed to form into a black puddle. Something slowly rose out of the darkness and she instantly realized that it was a person. Considering the unbelievably long hair, one would have thought it was a woman, but Lisa noted that the necessary curves were not there under the suit though she could be wrong. With the mysterious figure facing the other way, she couldn't see his face, but idly wondered if he was human or something else.
Not wanting to draw attention to herself, she kept absolutely still as the puddle underneath him reformed into his shadow. She watched as he seemed to look left and right, searching for something, before turning to face in her direction. Startled, she nearly jumped as their eyes met. Long, black bangs covered the right side of his very human and fair brown face, concealing his right eye. His only visible one - a shade of violet - widened a fraction in surprise as if not expecting anyone else to be there. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was a long few seconds. Her neck hurt staring up at the man who was at least a head taller than her.
He inclined his head in greeting before walking towards her or rather towards the building she left. Apparently, he wasn't much of a talker.
He went past her door and continued until he found the one he wanted and knocked. Placing his gloved hands behind his back, he waited for the person inside to answer. It was undoubtedly rude of her to continue staring, but it wasn't every day someone showed up out of nowhere to talk to her mom. Perhaps he was a tenant interested in living one of the buildings. Debating whether or not she should leave, she opted to help him since she knew her mother was out. There was no way she could leave the man out there in the hot sun.
"Excuse me?" When he didn't respond right away, she tried again. "Excuse me sir?" This time he turned to face her again. "Is there something you need?"
"Pardon my intrusion, but I am here to speak with the landlord, Mrs. Taylor."
So she was right. "She's out right now."
"Oh, do you know when she'll be back Miss..."
"Lisa. I'm not sure, but you can wait inside."
"I would appreciate that Miss Lisa."
He stepped away from the door as she pulled out her set of keys from her bag. It was a good thing her mom gave her the spare keys for everything. Shifting through the collection of keys - which were way too many - she finally settled for the one she had marked as the office key. It entered the keyhole easily and with a twist, she could hear the lock being undone. Retrieving her key, she pushed the door opened as she led her guest inside and closed the door behind them. She paused to take off her shoes and politely asked her guest - she still hadn't asked his name - to do the same. He didn't seem to mind and removed his own before accepting a set of black slippers from her.
Once that was settled, they continued on their merry way. There wasn't much to see. The walls were a boring, stark white with nothing decorating them saving for a picture or two which neither took any mind. She gestured for him to take a seat at the coffee table while asking if he would like some refreshments. Taking up on her offer, he simply requested tea. With a nod, she left him along with her bag to enter the small kitchen. She set out a tray with two cups as she let the water boil. Going through the selection of tea her mom had - oh, there was still some Earl Grey; maybe her mom won't notice if she took some - she pulled out green tea. Opening the box, she realized she hadn't asked what kind and was too embarrassed to go out to ask. Praying he didn't mind - who wouldn't? Green tea was a popular tea - she quickly added water.
Before taking the tray, she snatched up a few snacks to go with it. Upon her return, she found that he had sat completely still. His stiff posture gave away nothing and his sole eye followed her movements. It was unnerving to say the least. Her unsteady hands set the tray on the table with a slight clatter which made her wince. Out of the corner of her brown eyes, she saw that he hadn't reacted in the slightest. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought he was some kind of rock creature or had the power to turn to stone.
Distributing the cups and the plates she had the foresight to grab, she sat across from him. She waited for him to speak first only to find silence filling the void. Perhaps he was thinking the same and was waiting for her to speak. The problem was that she had found herself unable to speak. For all her bravo, she was still technically a kid, one who didn't have experience entertaining quests by herself. Sure, she had helped her mother deal with any possible tenants, but that was it. She only helped. Now she was alone with a man of questionable origin - oh god, what did I get myself into - in a room where she doubted there was anyone nearby that would hear her if there was trouble.
"U-um, so, uh, well, I'm Lisa Taylor and, uh..." He remained silent and she couldn't figure out what was going through his head. Clearing her throat, she tried again, "I never got your name."
She winced. While it could have come out a lot better, he didn't seem to take offense though it wasn't like she could tell with him. "My apologies. You may refer to me as Kali."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Kali." His name rang familiarly, but her mind couldn't process it. Perhaps later.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. Are you perhaps related to Mrs. Taylor?"
"Yes, she's my mother."
His eye widened slightly. "I didn't realize she had any children."
The strange phrasing threw her off, making her forget her uneasiness. There was so many ways for her to interpret it and most were not good. She wasn't sure if she wanted him to clarify, but he seemed to realize just how badly phrased his own words were as he coughed in embarrassment.
"Excuse me, I meant no offense. What I meant was that she didn't mention she had family here and she seemed quite young."
Well, the first part was an easy explanation. Her mother hadn't seen any point in decorating her office with family photos since she rarely stayed there. It was only used to entertain guests and hold meetings. There wasn't even a bedroom. If she wanted to sleep there, she would have to make herself comfortable on the couch. The second was just as easy. Everyone said her mother had a baby face and it didn't help how small her mother appeared despite being only an inch shorter than her. She, on the hand, had the opposite problem of where everyone mistaken her to be her mother's sister. It was annoying to say the least.
"Excuse me, I'll be right back."
She slipped into the actual office part of the apartment and shut the door behind her. Pulling out her phone, she hoped she could get her mom to hurry over soon. She wasn't certain how much longer she could stay alone in the man's presence. Before she could make the call, she spotted something on the office desk that made her pale. Setting her phone aside, she picked up the letter that was addressed to her. Upon opening it, she found that her fears were not unfounded.
You can't be serious. How could she leave without telling me? She could have at least sent me a text or told it to me face to face. We live in the same building for goodness sake!
Taking back her phone, she immediately dialed her mother's number. Pacing back and forth, she waited as she heard the phone ring. She only stopped when she heard it go through.
"Lisa? It's great to hear you."
"Why didn't you tell me you were going on a trip?"
"Well, honey, you were so busy with interviews and job applications that I didn't want to bother you."
That was her excuse. They lived right next door to each other. They were family and she didn't think it was important to let her only daughter, child, know where she was going? This was the perfect moment for her to rage and scream about how irresponsible she was being.
Deep breaths. Getting upset wouldn't solve anything. It also would attract Kali's attention and he would come to investigate what the problem was.
"Yeah, well, you have someone interested in renting an apartment waiting for you. What do you want to do?"
"Oh, you mean Mr. Kali." - I thought that was his first name. - "Has he and his employer decided to rent one of the properties?"
She knew she had forgotten something. "Let me check. I'll be right back."
Cracking open the door, she stepped out just enough so she can see him taking a sip of the tea. She noted that none of the snacks were touched.
"Kali, my mother would like to know what you are interested in renting."
He set down the cup as he looked up at her. "My employer is actually hoping to rent several properties from her. I have a letter from him for her."
"Okay, thank you." She quickly retreated back into the room to answer, "Several. The problem is your signature."
"You can sign for me."
She wondered if her mom had somehow hit her head and had short term memory loss.
"Mom, I'm underage."
"You're going to turn 18 in a few months. Besides, I got the paperwork stating you'll be my representative so your signature should be valid."
I think it's supposed to be used the other way around.
"Why did you set me up as your representative?"
"If anything happened to us and considering, well, how hard the job market is, I wanted to leave you something."
"Mom, I'm fine. You're fine. Dad is fine. I'm sure I'll find a job." Considering all the rejection letters stacked in her room, she didn't really believe her words.
Her mom seemed to be of the same thought as doubt oozed out of her. "I'm sure you will, but I would feel much safer leaving them to you."
"I don't exactly have the experience."
"Nonsense. You've helped me out plenty of times. I have absolute faith in your abilities." There were noises in the background as her mother started talking away from the phone. Maybe it was her father. "I have to go now. Take care."
The phone disconnected and she was left staring at the screen. Great. Just great. Now she had to somehow handle the whole situation by herself. In fact, she had forgotten to ask when she would be back? Would it be for a week? A month? Several months?
Well, first things first, Kali. Returning her phone back to her pocket, she returned to find her guest still drinking his hot tea.
"It seems she won't be joining us."
"I'm sorry to hear this. When will she be back?"
"She will be gone indefinitely."
This earned a frown. "This is completely unexpected. My employer will not be pleased."
"She has left me in charge of affairs if that is alright with you."
When he didn't say anything, she knew he was hesitant to answer. She didn't blame him. If she was in his place, she would have been acting exactly the same way. He had absolutely no reason to trust her. Maybe if she provided her mother's number-no, he should already have it. Still, giving it to her and allowing him to try to talk to her to confirm if this was true might alleviate his worries. Before she could say anything, however, he made the first move.
"Very well then." He presented the letter to her.
He either was a very trusting person or his employer must really want some of the properties her mother owned. She wasn't sure which one was worse. Choosing not to make the situation worse, she accepted the letter and quietly read the contents. It seemed fairly straight forward and polite, and she could find no reason not to rent it out to them. In fact, a security deposit was enclosed and the interested party indicated that Kali was in possession of the contracts and would gladly hand it to her to go over.
She didn't need to ask as he assumed based solely on her expression. Flipping through the paperwork, she made sure to pay attention to every detail. He had mentioned making slight changes and she didn't want to sign without making sure of what was different. One such example was the occupation limit.
While the original limited how many people and who would live on the properties - usually it was only the tenants on the contract and minor children - he wished to be allowed to house others. When directing her concern to Kali, he explained that they were hoping to open up several businesses which meant hiring more employees who would live on the properties. The idea was sound, but she didn't like the idea of just anyone coming to live there. The problem was eventually resolved where they agreed to allow her to screen through the applicants to avoid conflict of interest. She hoped her mother would be back before then so she could handle the screening process, but she wasn't holding her breath.
After several refills of tea, she was finally satisfied with the result and signed the paperwork. Making a copy to give to Kali, she allowed herself to breathe a sigh of relief. She managed to survive the whole ordeal without messing up. Maybe being a landlord wasn't so bad.
Once he had the papers in hand, he gave a nod before moving to leave the apartment. After a moment's hesitation, she followed after and caught him as he was exiting the apartment.
"Kali!" He stopped to turn and face her. "Thank you for coming. Come visit me from time to time."
He blinked. Then he gave a nod of acknowledgment before he was swallowed up by the darkness.
Completely exhausted, she opted to stay in instead of going out like she had previously planned. It was only as she filed away the paperwork into the necessary places did she have a revelation.
Wait. Did I just agree to lease out properties to someone I hadn't met? What have I gotten myself into?!