Low wattage bulbs burned in sconces along the hallway, making it as dimly lit as the ground floor. When they arrived at apartment 3D, the owner pushed a key into the lock and opened the door. A rancid odor immediately escaped. Holy hell. Nick shot a glance at Molly who crinkled her nose. He’d have to deal with the smell later, too.
“Come on in, folks.”
Once inside, Nick glanced around but couldn’t find much “in” in the cramped space. The whole apartment couldn’t measure more than five hundred square feet.
“Someone must have left raw meat on the counter for at least a week.” Molly’s voice wafted from behind him.
“No, no. The unit’s been empty for over a month. We just need to let in some air.” The owner stepped to one of a pair of windows that overlooked the street and cranked a lever. As he forced the metal casement out, traffic noise flooded in.
Molly, who’d moved into the center of the room, couldn’t have looked more out of place in this dump. Nick wanted to take her hand, scrap the crummy elevator, and hustle her down three flights of fire stairs to his car. From there he’d head straight to Fisherman’s Wharf where they’d stroll around like tourists and eat fresh crab and prawns out of paper cones. He gave the idea serious thought, then quashed the impulse. First, he had to prove his point: Low rent units existed in San Francisco.
The temperature inside the apartment must have been close to ninety degrees. Molly lifted the back of her hair with one hand. With the other, she peeled the collar of her blouse off her neck and exposed skin that glowed with a pink flush. Nick knew better than to blow cool air right below where she held up a fistful of russet curls. Curls he’d discovered were infused with the scent of strawberries. Curls that invited him to plow his hands through right now.
“The apartment could use fresh paint.” A few steps took Molly to the kitchen doorway. She peeked into the miniscule space beyond. “Also, someone needs to scrub the stove or, better yet, junk it.” She turned away and let her hair fall back into place. “The whole apartment needs new carpets, and those windows … ” She shrugged and her nose twitched.
She couldn’t have said it any clearer. The place was a hellhole. Still, Nick might be able to convince her that, if spruced up, it could become livable. Even better, at a little over seven hundred a month, clones must exist in other parts of the city. They could discuss it over lunch at the Wharf. His confidence rose.
“This here’s the bedroom.” The landlord pushed open a door and entered a room little bigger than a tool shed.
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