Neighbors

 

She stood outside of the door to his flat, her heart pounding and her palms sweating.  She could hear Maura’s voice, “You don’t have to wait for him to ask you out.  This is the twenty-first century.  You ask him out.  Based on what you’ve told me, it’s obvious that he’s interested in you.”

“Then, why hasn’t he asked me out?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe he’s shy or isn’t sure about how you feel about him.”

“I hope you’re right.  I hope I don’t make a fool of myself.”

That was yesterday.  Now, here she was, about to do something she had never done before in her life–ask a man out.  What if he had a girlfriend?  What if he wasn’t interested?  What if–?”  She shook her head as if to rid herself of these nagging doubts and taking a deep breath, she rang the doorbell.

A few minutes passed and then she heard the latch drawn back.  The door opened and there he stood.  He looked surprised and pleased to see her.  His gaze was riveted to her face.  “Hello,” he said.  “Would you like to come in?”

“I haven’t come at a bad time, have I?” she asked.  He looked like he was dressed to go out.  He was wearing a red knit sweater over a white shirt and dark grey pants.

He shook his head.  “No, I’ve already been out and was just getting changed when the doorbell rang.  Please, come in.” He opened the door wider and stepped aside so that she could go in.

She couldn’t help but notice how neat, modern and decidedly masculine decor.  This was definitely a bachelor pad.  She slipped off her sandals, feeling very short beside him.  He towered over her and he was staring at her with those sexy hazel eyes.  Working up what courage was left, she said, “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Let’s go into the living-room,” he suggested and led the way.  He invited her to sit on the sofa while he sat on the Ottoman opposite her.   “What is your name?” he asked.

“Pamela.”

“I’m Leonard.  What would you like to ask me, Pamela?”  His French accent added to his charm.

“I–I won two tickets to The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre in a raffle and was wondering if–if you would like to go with me.  The performance is on Friday at 7:30 pm.”

“I would be delighted to go with you,” he said.  “Do you have to go somewhere now or could you stay longer?  I was just about to have dinner.  Would you like to join me?”

She blinked.  He wanted her to have dinner with him.  How could she refuse?  She glanced down at her cream sweater and jeans.  She wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion but if he didn’t mind, why should she?  “Yes, I’d like that.”

“Make yourself comfortable,” he said rising to his feet.  “Do you like classical music?”

“Yes.”

“I have this marvelous CD which I bought just recently.  I will play it and hope that you enjoy it.”  He went over to the stereo and popped the CD in and soon the flat was filled with Vivaldi.  Then, he excused himself and went to get dinner ready.

She sat there for a moment, hardly able to believe that she was there in his flat.  Maura was going to be thrilled at how things had turned out, especially when she told her about the impromptu invitation to dinner at his flat.  She heard him busy in the kitchen and soon something that smelled very appetizing assailed her nostrils.  She got up and followed the scent and sound of dishes.  Whatever it was it was piping hot.  “Can I help you with anything?” she asked.

He shook his head, smiling.  “Just have a seat at the table and I will join you shortly,” he said.

She went over to the dining-table and sat down in the chair facing the kitchen so that she could wait him.  A few minutes later, he carried two plates of food to the table and set them down.  She looked at the plate he put in front of her, her mouth watering.  “That looks and smells really good,” she commented.

“Thank you.”  He went into the kitchen for the salads, the bottle of non-alcoholic wine and glasses.  He sat down opposite her.  “I hope you enjoy your dinner,” he said.

“I’m sure I will,” she said, placing a napkin in her lap.  “Do you like cooking?”

“Yes.  I learned how to cook from watching my mother.”

“Is your mother here in London?”

He shook his head.  “No, she is in Nice.  I’m the only member of my family living here.”

The Apple Cranberry Walnut salad was delicious.  She thoroughly enjoyed it.  As she reached for the plate with the roasted chicken thighs with zucchini and Feta served over Quinoa, she noticed that he was watching her.  She quickly lowered her eyes, feeling self-conscious.  “Do you miss your family and Nice?”

“I do but I try to visit them every year around the Christmas holidays.”

“Why did you move to London?”

“I always wanted to study here.  And it was the best way for me to learn English.”

“You speak perfect English.”

He smiled.  “Thank you but, enough about me,” he said.  Tell me about you.”

“I was born here but my family is from Haiti.  My father and I were very close.  One of my favorite memories of him is when he took me to the zoo.  I was nine.  Before I started university, I went to Paris for two weeks by myself.  I loved hanging out at the sidewalk cafes, listening to snippets of conversation.  Once I heard a man telling his girlfriend that she had to choose between him and her poodle.  And she chose the poodle.”

He stared at her.  “Es-tu en train de tirer ma jambe?”

She shook her head.  “No, I’m not pulling your leg.  The woman chose the dog over the boyfriend.”

He looked at her.  “Do you have any pets?”

“No,” she cried throwing up her hands.  “As much as I like animals, I don’t have any pets nor do I plan to.”

He looked relieved.  Leaning back in his chair, he said, “It is never a good idea for people in relationships to give one another an ultimatum.  It is best to work something out that would benefit both parties.”

“I agree,” she said before taking a couple sips of the wine.  “Dinner was delicious,” she added, smiling.  “Thank you.”

“I’m delighted that you enjoyed it.  Perhaps we can relax for a while in the living-room.”  He got up and started to clear the table.

She helped him, insisting when he protested.  They stacked the dirty dishes and glasses in the dishwasher.  They went into the living-room and this time he sat next to her on the sofa.  They talked and laughed for a while.  She found it so easy to talk to him.  He helped her to relax and be herself.  The time went so quickly and it was after eleven.  Reluctantly, she stood up.  “I’d better go now,” she said.  “I have an early day tomorrow.”

He looked regretful as he followed her to the door.  “May I see you again tomorrow?” he asked as they stood in the doorway.

She nodded.  “Yes.”

“You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, his eyes riveted to her face.

She smiled shyly up at him.  “Thank you,” she said breathlessly.

“I’ll see you tomorrow evening.  We’ll have burgers and watch a movie.”

“Sounds great,” she said.  “Thank you for a lovely evening.”

“You’re welcome,” he said quietly before he reached for her hand and raised it to his lips.

She felt her skin tingle where his lips touched and her heart was pounding as their eyes met and held for a long time before he released her hand and she turned away.

“Goodnight, Pamela.”

“Goodnight, Leonard.”

She crossed the hall to her flat, feeling his eyes on her as she inserted the key in the lock and opened the door.  She turned and waved at him before going inside and closing the door behind her.  Before she headed to her room to get ready for bed, she called Maura.  She told her everything and her friend was ecstatic.  “Good for you, Pam.  I wish I were neighbors with an eligible bachelor who invited for homemade dinner at his place.  Have fun tomorrow and at the theatre.  I want the juicy details.”

Pamela rang off and headed for bed although she didn’t fall asleep right away.  She lay there thinking about Leonard and how he had told her that she was beautiful.  Her body reacted every time she remembered the way he looked at her when he said that and the kiss on her hand.  She couldn’t wait to be with him again.

The following evening came and they enjoyed his delicious Black Bean Nacho burgers with a salad as they watched a foreign film.  Afterwards they went for a walk.  They saw each other the next evening but this time they spent it at her flat.  She was happy to make dinner for him this time which he seemed to enjoy.  They watched television, talked and played dominoes, something she hadn’t done in ages.  This time when they stood outside of her door, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.  She closed her eyes as her senses reeled at the warmth of his lips.  His eyes were dark when he drew back to look down at her and she couldn’t hide the quick rise and fall of her chest.  They said goodnight and he went across to his place.

Friday evening came and just as she was slipping on her shoes, the doorbell rang.  Excitement filled her.  She hadn’t been to the theatre in a long time and she was looking forward to seeing Phantom of the Opera.  Most of all, she was going to be with Leonard.  She opened the door and smiled at him as he stood there in his long black coat over a black suit and black turtleneck sweater.  Underneath her coat she was wearing a long sleeve red knit ankle length dress with a side slit just above the left knee.  Before she locked the door, she made sure she had the tickets.

There was a bite in the evening air as they walked down the one-way street to the theatre.  She was thankful when they were inside and could feel the warmth.  If she had known that it would have been this nippy she would have worn something else.  Still, she liked the way he looked at her after he helped her remove her coat and drape it over the back of her chair.  The dress hugged her in all the right places and flattered her complexion.  She sat down and saw his eyes lower to the slit which exposed her leg and when they returned to her face, admiration and something else which made her pulse race shone in their depths.  Nervous excitement filled her as she returned his gaze.

“You look beautiful, Pamela,” he said in a low voice and then he reached for her hand, lacing his fingers through hers so that their palms touched.

“Thank you,” she said, her heart pounding hard against her chest.  “You look very handsome.”

“I wanted to look good for you,” he said huskily.

“You always do,” she told him.  Her gaze lowered to his mouth and her lips parted.  How she longed to kiss him.  Just then, the lights dimmed and she dragged her eyes away from him and turned her head to face the front.

All through the performance they were aware of each other.  At one point she felt his knee touching hers and his thumb was rubbing against the back of her hand.   She could hardly concentrate on the show.  All she could think about was how much she wanted to kiss him.  During the intermission, she went to the washroom to cool off.  By the time she rejoined him, it was time for the second half of the show to begin.  As the lights dimmed, she felt his hand reach for hers and she swallowed hard as his warm palm pressed against hers.

When the show was over, he helped her on with her coat and then put his on before he took her by the hand and led her through the crowd and out of the theatre.  They walked briskly to the car.  The temperature seemed to drop.  As soon as they got inside, he turned on the heat. Then, without saying a word, he reached over and his mouth found hers, devouring it hungrily.  Moaning, she kissed him back.  She clutched his head, her fingers burying themselves in his hair as they exchanged frenzied kisses.  The windows were fogged up so no one could see them.  They were oblivious to what was happening around them.

Several minutes passed and then he broke off the kiss and buried his face in her neck, his breathing harsh and unsteady.  “I’ve wanted to do that all evening,” he muttered thickly.

She held him against her, her eyes still closed as she breathed in the scent of his cologne mingled with his aftershave, savoring the feel of him in her arms.  “I thought of nothing else,” she murmured.

He raised his head to look at her.  “Je t’aime.”

“Je t’aime aussi.”

“Your place or mine? ”

“Mine because I want to make you breakfast in the morning.”

He smiled and after kissing her hard on the mouth, he moved away and started the engine.  They drove off, anxiously looking forward to the rest of the night and the future.

 

Source:  Really Useful Theatres;

4 responses to “Neighbors

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – Jack Strange – Manchester Vice (Noirvella), Confessions of an English Psychopath (Comedy/Thriller) & Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse, Zomcats and Thatchenstein (Horror/Comedy/Post-Apocalyptic) | toofulltowrite (I'v

Leave a Reply to notestowomen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s