Head Over Heels
Cupid’s arrow has a funny way of setting the wrong people up. Catching feelings for someone often prevents people from being able to detect the red flags that suggest they may not be who they were cracked out to be.
Especially “Paige,” who wishes she never met her ex named “Bryce.”
During her shift at her part-time job in the mall, Bryce found his way in and made small talk. His charming good looks roped Paige in instantly.
Within a few months, Bryce moved in with Paige as things got serious. Thinking back on it, Paige realized how idiotic it was to move in with Bryce so quickly, but she was young, dumb, and in love. Bryce was the perfect man, but when Paige started noticing red flags, his actions would soon lead to them gradually beginning to fall apart.
A Totally Different Person
Not too long after Bryce moved into Paige’s apartment, he mysteriously lost his job. The sudden loss of income was quite a setback, but with Paige working two jobs, she was sure things would be fine until Bryce found his next occupation.
Unfortunately, things weren’t that simple.
Bryce did not seem to be in a rush to rejoin the workforce. His days went from job hunting to playing computer games all day. Paige, exhausted from picking up extra shifts at her two jobs, found herself coming home to a filthy house every day. To make matters worse, Paige was bombarded with Bryce’s putrid bodily smells and had to remind him to shower. The smells that permeated the apartment could have easily gagged a maggot.
Paige would inquire a few times a week about Bryce’s “job hunt” only to be dismissed or given a growing amount of excuses.
If there was one thing Bryce did bring to the table, was excuses as to why he still hadn’t found a job. “Oh, babe! The internet went down,” became another justification for Bryce to stay home and do nothing. Meanwhile, Paige was working double and even triple shifts at her jobs to try to make up for the lost income. The two of them were so behind with their bills, they could only afford to keep one of their phones on, which was Paige’s. Because of this, all of the applications Bryce submitted had her contact info on them. This led to Bryce holding onto Paige’s phone while she was at work.
However, weeks after having her phone, Paige noticed how things started getting weird.
Too Little, Too Late
Bryce started staying up later than normal. He was either on the computer, tapping away at the game, or sending messages to his “buddy” using Paige’s phone. Every time Paige asked to have her phone, Bryce was reluctant it hand it over.
When he started asking to use her car to go see his best friend from school, Paige was skeptical, but still didn’t question it. She wasn’t comfortable with Bryce driving her car, but she did know Bryce’s friend and didn’t want to be the reason they couldn’t hang out.
Then one day Bryce asked to borrow Paige’s car to attend a card game tournament. Seeing how important the game was to Bryce, Paige handed over her keys and phone.
After he left, Paige decided to kick back and relax. After a few drinks and movies, Paige passed out on the couch. Hours went by before she woke up feeling violently ill. Paige made a beeline for the restroom where she vomited until there was nothing coming up. With no phone, she had no way of contacting Bryce or anyone to help.
Eventually, Paige was able to crawl to the living room where she pulled herself on the couch. Terror took over as she realized the serious trouble she was in. It took all her might to crawl down the apartment building stairs. She began knocking on all the closest doors, frantically seeking help.
It took three apartments before someone allowed Paige to use their phone. Paige called Bryce four times before giving up and calling her mother. Paige was then rushed to the ER where she was diagnosed with an aggressive antibiotic-resistant strain of C-Dif.
When Bryce finally showed up later the next morning, Paige couldn’t even bring herself to look at him. He had her phone, the one that he was too busy to answer, and car keys in hand. Bryce apologized repeatedly, but Paige’s mother went off. Paige didn’t even bother defending Bryce. She urged the nurses not to keep her in the hospital for long because one of them had to work to keep a roof over their head. Bryce never shared the outcome of the tournament, but he didn’t have a magical wad of cash to help pay the rent either.
Luckily, Paige was back to work a few days later. But the damage was done. What happened next would be the final nail in the coffin.
No thanks to Bryce, Paige was able to recover but was still working herself into the ground just to make enough for rent. The two of them were constantly scraping by due to Bryce’s lack of consistent income and poor spending habits. Bryce managed to secure jobs, but for various reasons, he was back to square one within weeks. It was a hopeless game that Paige had had enough of.
Out of desperation, Paige asked around and managed to score a job for Bryce at a furniture and electronics store three buildings down from the mall she worked at. Paige actually used to work with one of the employees there, and the hiring manager was a regular at one of her part-time occupations. Paige was able to use what little pull she had to get Bryce hired as a delivery man.
Within a few weeks, Paige came home from work to find a jaw-dropping surprise. A brand new TV and entertainment system greeted her, along with Bryce cheesing like a chester cat.
“What is all this?” Paige asked. “Bryce, we can’t afford this! We can barely eat and pay rent.”
“But babe,” Bryce pleaded. “How could I resist? My new job has an amazing employee discount. The rental fee just comes out of my paycheck! It’s no big deal.”
“No big deal?” Paige repeated in disbelief. “Are you serious? The whole point of you getting a job was to help pull your weight around here!”
To make matters worse, Bryce not only didn’t consult her about this decision, but he added Paige’s information as a co-signer on the account as well. He forged all of Paige’s information on an online application. It upset Paige to know that if Bryce flaked on his payments, she would be liable.
Meanwhile, rent was late and eviction notices were finding their way under their door. Paige had to walk away from Bryce that night. However, Paige wasn’t sure how much more of Bryce’s shenanigans she could take.
A few days later, Paige came home from work and found that the television was mysteriously gone. The next day, Bryce paid the rent, sending Paige a wave of relief.
Until she found a pawn slip for the TV in his pocket while she was doing laundry.
When she confronted Bryce, he once again played off her concern.
“I have a plan to get it back, alright?” Bryce said without even glancing in Paige’s direction.
Paige’s anxiety grew with each passing day. On one of Paige’s off days, she woke up with a massive migraine. The stress of the entire situation had really taken its toll. Bryce took the car that morning but left the phone with Paige.
A few hours of uncomfortable sleep went by before Paige was awoken by the phone buzzing next to her. Thinking it was a robocall, Paige answered the phone with a groggy, “Hello?”
There was a long pause on the other end. Paige was about to hang up, but a female voice suddenly jolted her awake.
“Umm is Bryce there?”
Trembling, Paige said, “No, he’s at work right now. This is his girlfriend. Is there something I can help you with?” Paige tried to sound polite as possible, but hearing another pause suggested that she might have scared the mysterious woman off.
Just before Paige thought of saying something else, the other woman on the phone began to stammer about maybe she had the wrong number. It was obvious to Paige that she just wanted to get off the phone as quickly as possible, but Paige stopped her.
“Please,” Paige said out of desperation. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I really need somebody to tell me the truth.” Paige couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
“Listen,” the woman said softly. “My name is Nina. I can tell you what I know.”
After Paige introduced herself, she and Nina began comparing stories. Nina shared that she and Bryce had been in a relationship several years prior to Paige being in the picture. Bryce and Nina broke up but ran into each other at the aforementioned card game.
All the days and nights Bryce had been on the computer, he had actually been chatting with Nina. All those times Bryce had gone to hang out with his “friends,” he had been using Paige’s car to take her out. The time Paige was sick and alone with zero resources, Bryce was with Nina!
Just when Paige didn’t think it could get worse, Nina suddenly asked:
“Do you have a little silver hummingbird necklace?”
“Yes, my mother gave it to me for my 27th birthday,” Paige replied.
“Really?” Nina said, “Because Bryce gave me one for Mother’s Day.”
“Are you serious?!” Paige yelled into the phone as she ran to her room and tore open her jewelry box. Her heart shattered when she saw that the necklace wasn’t inside.
From there, Paige discovered that not only had Bryce been giving her property away as gifts, but he’d invited Nina over to the apartment several times passing it off as his own. Paige didn’t want to believe Bryce was capable of doing something so cruel and disrespectful.
Unfortunately, Nina began describing the apartment perfectly, all the way down to the bed sheets. Nina then shared how Bryce pulled out Paige’s “secret box” from beneath the bed. Horrified, Paige covered her mouth as Nina shared how Bryce offered to use her adult toys on her. Nina said she found it odd and didn’t partake, but Paige threw them away due to the shock of it all.
After a moment of silence, Nina apologized and said that she didn’t know. Then she said something that sparked Paige’s interest.
“You know what we should do? We should bust him together.”
Paige agreed to team up with Nina. Unfortunately, Nina lived too far away. So, Paige called a trusted friend and begged for a ride. When Paige got to Bob’s workplace, she went inside to confront Bryce but decided against it. Before she stormed out, Paige was stopped by Bryce’s manager wanting to talk about the payment due on their account.
Paige then turned around and said, “Look, I don’t know when you are going to get your payment for the TV. I begged Bryce to give it back, but now we don’t have it anymore because he pawned it and-”
The manager cut Paige off. “You said Bryce pawned it?”
Paige then presented the manager with the pawn ticket.
“Pawning a rental under contract is a serious offense!” The manager snapped. Such an act was illegal and was terms for immediate termination, but the manager assured Paige that if she could get the TV back to him, he would terminate the contract without any penalties.
Paige could feel her heart in her stomach as her friend drove her to the mall where she worked. As soon as her friend dropped her off, she felt her heart sink when she saw Bryce making his way over.
Then, Paige saw Nina walking from the other direction. It was satisfying to watch Bryce’s shoulders sink as he saw her walking right toward them.
Bryce turned to Paige with a lie at the ready.
“It’s all just a terrible misunderstanding,” he began.
Finally, Nina approached the two of them. “Hi, Bryce. How are you, hun?”
Bryce’s face went pale. Paige and Nina exchanged glances before turning back to Bryce.
Seeing that he had nothing to say, Nina started berating Bryce. Paige stood in silence as she watched the man she loved transform into the very bane of her existence. After Nina was finished, Paige finally spoke up.
“We are done, I don’t want to see you ever again.” Then Paige said she would pack up Bryce’s things and told him to contact his sister to pick them up.
“Now I want your key,” Paige held out her hand.
Bryce glared at her before he said, “Not until I get my stuff out. Then you get your key.”
Paige tried to argue, but Bryce insisted on getting his items first. He towered over Paige knowing she had no chance in a physical altercation. He then turned and jumped into Paige’s car and sped off, leaving Paige and Nina stunned. Suddenly, Nina produced Paige’s hummingbird necklace and wished her luck.
Paige could only think of one other way to get the key back.
But she was going to need some help.
Serves You Right
Paige’s mother was the first person to come to mind.
The moment she answered, Paige broke down as she explained what had happened.
Within a few hours, both of Paige’s parents pulled up. They drove Paige to the pawn shop where they wrote a check for more than five hundred bucks to get the TV out. They then drove over to Bryce’s workplace where they helped Paige return the TV. As the manager finished up the cancellation paperwork, Paige’s dad spotted Bryce pacing around the back of the parking lot. He was waving his one arm around while the other held a pre-paid phone that he was screaming into. Although Paige didn’t hear what Bryce was saying, her dad left them at the front counter. When he came back with Bryce’s keys, Paige was overjoyed as she threw her arms around her father.
“They’re firing him,” Paige’s dad said once she stopped hugging him.
Hearing this made Paige smirk. “Now he’s jobless and homeless.”
Bryce and his sister showed up at the apartment a few days later for Bryce’s stuff. Paige made sure she blocked him on social media so that he could never contact her again.
She never learned what became of Bryce, and frankly didn’t care. Paige swore to never be someone’s doormat ever again.