What’s it about? The title answers your question! An adorable fish out of water trope… or should we say “vampire out of coffin”?
A September Indie Next Pick
One of Amazon's Best Romances of September
One of Apple's Best Books of September
True love is at stake in this charming, debut romantic comedy.
Cassie Greenberg loves being an artist, but it’s a tough way to make a living. On the brink of eviction, she’s desperate when she finds a too-good-to-be-true apartment in a beautiful Chicago neighborhood. Cassie knows there has to be a catch—only someone with a secret to hide would rent out a room for that price.
Of course, her new roommate Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is far from normal. He sleeps all day, is out at night on business, and talks like he walked out of a regency romance novel. He also leaves Cassie heart-melting notes around the apartment, cares about her art, and asks about her day. And he doesn’t look half bad shirtless, on the rare occasions they’re both home and awake. But when Cassie finds bags of blood in the fridge that definitely weren’t there earlier, Frederick has to come clean...
Cassie’s sexy new roommate is a vampire. And he has a proposition for her.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Roommate Wanted to Share Spacious Third-Floor Brownstone Apartment in Lincoln Park
Hello. I seek a roommate with whom to share my apartment. It is a spacious unit by modern standards with two large bedrooms, an open sitting area, and a semiprofessional eat-in kitchen. Large windows flank the eastern side of the apartment and provide a striking view of the lake. The unit is fully furnished in a tasteful, classical style. I am seldom home after sundown, so if you work a traditional schedule, you will usually have the apartment to yourself.
Rent: $200 per month. No pets, please. Kindly direct all serious inquiries to email@example.com.
"There has to be something wrong with this place."
"Cassie, listen, this is a really good deal-"
"Forget it, Sam." That last part came out more forcefully than I'd intended-though not by much. Even though I needed his help, my embarrassment over being in this situation in the first place made accepting that help difficult. Sam meant well, but his insistence on involving himself in every part of my current situation was getting on my very last nerve.
To his credit, Sam-my oldest friend, who'd long ago acclimated to how snippy I sometimes got when I was stressed-said nothing. He simply folded his arms across his chest, waiting for me to be ready to say more.
I only needed a few moments to pull myself together and start feeling badly for snapping at him. "Sorry," I muttered under my breath. "I know you're only trying to help."
"It's all right," he said, sympathetic. "You have a lot going on. But it's okay to believe that things can get better."
I had no reason to believe that things could get better, but now wasn't the time to get into it. I simply sighed and turned my attention back to the Craigslist ad on my laptop.
"Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is."
Sam peered over my shoulder at my screen. "Not always. And you have to admit this apartment sounds great."
It did sound great. He was right about that. But . . .
"It's only two hundred a month, Sam."
"So? That's a great price."
I stared at him. "Yeah, if this were 1978. If someone's only asking for two hundred a month today there are probably dead bodies in the basement."
"You don't know that." Sam dragged a hand through his shaggy, dirty-blond hair. Messing with his hair was Sam's most obvious I'm-bullshitting-you tell. He'd had it since at least sixth grade, when he'd tried convincing our teacher I hadn't been the one who'd drawn bright pink flowers all over the wall of the girl's bathroom. He hadn't fooled Mrs. Baker then-I had drawn that aggressively neon meadow landscape-and he wasn't fooling me now.
How would he ever make it as a lawyer with such a terrible poker face?
"Maybe this person's just not home a lot and only wants a roommate for safety reasons, not income," Sam suggested. "Maybe they're an idiot and don't know what they could be charging."
I was still skeptical. I'd been scouring Craigslist and Facebook since my landlord taped an eviction notice to my front door two weeks ago for nonpayment of rent. There'd been nothing available this close to the Loop for less than a thousand a month. In Lincoln Park, the going rate was closer to fifteen hundred.
Two hundred wasn't just a little below market rate. It wasn't even in the same universe as market rate.
"There are also no pictures with this ad," I pointed out. "That's another red flag. I should ignore this one and keep looking." Because yes, my landlord was taking me to court next week if I didn't move out first, and yes, living in an apartment this cheap would really help me get on top of my shit, and maybe even keep me from ending up in this exact situation again in a few months. But I'd lived in the Chicago area for more than ten years. No deal in Lincoln Park this good came without a huge catch.
"Cassie." Sam's tone was quiet, patient-and more than a little patronizing. I reminded myself he was only trying to help in his very Sam way and bit my tongue. "This apartment is in a great location. You can easily afford it. It's close enough to the El that you'll be able to get to your jobs quickly. And if the windows are as big as this ad says they are, I bet there's tons of natural light."
My eyes widened. I hadn't thought of the lighting in the apartment when I'd read the ad. But if it did have huge, lake-facing windows, Sam was probably right.
"Maybe I'd be able to create from home again," I mused. I hadn't lived somewhere with good enough lighting to work on my projects in almost two years. I missed it more than I liked to admit.
Sam smiled, looking relieved. "Exactly."
"Okay," I conceded. "I'm at least willing to ask for more information."
Sam reached up and put his hand on my shoulder. His warm, steady touch calmed me, just as it had every time I'd needed it to since we were kids. The knot of anxiety that had taken up what felt like permanent residence in the pit of my stomach these past two weeks began to loosen.
For the first time in ages, it felt like I could breathe again.
"We'll see the apartment and meet the roommate first, of course," he said very quickly. "I can even help you negotiate a month-to-month lease if you want. That way, if it's really awful, you can leave without breaking another lease."
Which would mean I wouldn't have to worry about getting hauled back into court by yet another angry landlord. Honestly, that would be a decent compromise. If this person turned out to be an axe murderer or a libertarian or some other awful thing, a month-to-month lease would let me leave quickly with no strings attached.
"You'd do that for me?" I asked. Not for the first time, I felt badly about how short I'd been with him lately.
"What else am I gonna do with my law degree?"
"For starters, you could use it to make tons of money at your firm instead of using it to help perennial fuckups like me."
"I'm making tons of money at my firm either way," he said, grinning. "But since you won't let me loan you any of that money-"
"I won't," I agreed. It had been my choice to get an impractical graduate degree and end up hopelessly in student loan debt with few job prospects for my troubles. I wasn't about to make that anyone else's problem.
Sam sighed. "You won't. Right. We've been over that. Repeatedly." He shook his head and added, in a more wistful tone, "I wish you could just move in with us, Cassie. Or with Amelia. That would solve everything."
I bit my lip and pretended to study the Craigslist ad intensely to avoid having to look at him.
In truth, a large part of me was relieved that Sam and his new husband Scott had just bought a tiny lakefront condo that barely accommodated them and their two cats. While living with them would save me the stress and the hassle of what I was going through now, Sam and Scott had just gotten married two months ago. Not only would my living with them hinder their ability to have sex wherever and whenever they felt like it the way I understood newlyweds tended to, it would also be an awkward reminder of just how long it had been since I'd last been in a relationship.
As well as a constant reminder of what a colossal failure every other aspect of my life was.
And, of course, living with Amelia was out of the question. Sam didn't understand that his straitlaced, perfect sister had always looked down on me and thought I was a total loser. But it was the truth.
Honestly, my finding a place to live that was neither Sam and Scott's new sofa nor Amelia's loft in Lakeview was best for all of us.
"I'll be fine," I said, trying to sound like I believed it. My stomach clenched a little at the look of concern that crossed Sam's face. "No, really-I'll be okay. I always am, aren't I?"
Sam smiled and tousled my too-short hair, which was his way of teasing me. Normally I didn't mind, but I'd cut my hair pretty dramatically on a whim a couple weeks ago because I was frustrated and needed an outlet that didn't require an internet connection. It was yet another of my not-great recent decisions. My thick, curly blond hair tended to stick up in odd places if not cut by a professional. In that moment, as Sam continued to mess with my hair, I looked like a Muppet who'd recently stuck her finger in a light socket.
"Stop that," I said, laughing as I shrugged away from him. But my mood was better now-which was probably exactly why Sam had done it.
He put his hand on my shoulder. "If you ever change your mind about the loan . . ."
He trailed off without finishing his sentence.
"If I change my mind about a loan, you'll be the first to know," I said. But we both knew I never would.
I waited until I was at my afternoon gig at the public library to reach out to the person with the two-hundred-dollar room for rent.
Of all the part-time, not-art-related gigs I'd managed to string together since getting my MFA, this one was my favorite. Not because I loved all aspects of the work, because I didn't. While it was great being around books, I worked exclusively in the children's section. I alternated between sitting behind the check-out counter, shelving books about dinosaurs and warrior cats and dragons, and answering questions from frantic parents with tantruming preschoolers in tow.
I'd always gotten along well with older kids. And I liked tiny humans as an abstract concept, understanding-in theory, at least-why a person might intentionally add one to their life. But while Sam and I definitely thought of his spoiled kitties as his children, nobody in my life had an actual human child yet. Dealing with little kids twenty hours a week in a public-facing service position was a rough introduction.
Working at the library was still my favorite part-time job, though, because of all the downtime that came with it. I didn't have nearly as much free time during my shifts at Gossamer's, the coffee shop near my soon-to-be-former apartment-which was the worst aspect of that particular job.
"Slow afternoon today," my manager Marcie quipped from her chair beside me. Marcie was a pleasant woman in her late fifties and effectively ran the children's section. It was our little inside joke to comment on how slow it was when we worked together in the afternoon, because every afternoon was slow here. Between the hours of one and four, most of our patrons were either napping or still in school.
It was two o'clock. Only one kid had wandered through in the past ninety minutes. Not only was that nothing noteworthy, it was par for the course.
"It is slow today," I agreed, grinning at her. With that, I turned to face the circulation desk computer.
Normally, library downtime was for researching potential new employers and applying for jobs. I wasn't picky. I'd apply for just about anything-even if it had nothing to do with art-if it promised better pay and more regular hours than my current cobbled-together situation.
Sometimes, I used the time to think through future art projects. I didn't have good lighting in my tiny current apartment, which made drawing and painting the images that formed the base of my works difficult. And while I couldn't finish my projects at the library, as my paints were too messy and the final steps involved incorporating discarded objects into my work, the circulation desk was big and well-lit enough for me to at least make preliminary sketches with a pencil.
Today, though, I needed to use my downtime to reply to that red flag of a Craigslist ad. I could have replied earlier, but I didn't-partly because I was still skeptical, but mostly because a few weeks ago I'd gotten rid of Wi-Fi to save money.
I pulled up the listing on the computer. It hadn't changed in the time since I last saw it. The oddly formal style was the same. The absurd rent amount was also the same and set off as many alarm bells now as it did when I first saw it.
But my financial situation also hadn't changed. Jobs in my field were still as hard to come by. And asking Sam for help-or my accountant parents, who loved me too much to admit to my face what a disappointment I was-was just as unthinkable as ever.
And my landlord was still planning to evict me next week. Which, to be fair, I couldn't even blame him for. He'd put up with a lot of late rent payments and art-related welding mishaps these past ten months. If I were him I'd probably evict me, too.
Before I could talk myself out of doing it, and with Sam's worried voice ringing in my ears, I opened my email. I scrolled through my inbox-an ad for a two-for-one sale at Shoe Pavilion; a headline from the Chicago Tribune about a bizarre string of local blood bank break-ins-and then started typing.
From: Cassie Greenberg [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Your apartment listing
I saw your ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate. My lease is up soon and your place sounds perfect. I'm a 32-year-old art teacher and have lived in Chicago for ten years. I'm a nonsmoker, no pets. You said in your ad that you aren't home much at night. As for me, I'm almost never home during the day, so this arrangement would work out well for both of us, I think.
I'm guessing you've gotten a lot of inquiries about your apartment given the location, price, and everything else. But just in case the room is still available, I've included a list of references. I hope to hear from you soon.
A pang of guilt shot through me over how much I'd fudged some of the important details.
For one thing, I'd just told this complete stranger that I was an art teacher. Technically, that was the truth. It's what I'd studied to be in college, and it isn't that I didn't want to teach. But in my junior year of college I fell in love with applied arts and design beyond all hope of reason, and then in my senior year I took a course where we studied Robert Rauschenberg and his method of combining paintings with sculpture work. And that was it for me. Immediately after graduation I threw myself into an MFA in applied arts and design.