A sharp whistle rings out and we snap our heads to the front door where it came from.
An odd tingle tickles my skin when I see my neighbor guarding the entryway. It's the same one I got the other day when I was getting into the passengers side of my dad's car to go out to dinner and I saw my neighbor getting into his truck. He had stopped when he noticed me watching him and we both stood, unmoving, taking the other in. After a beat or two he flipped his black shades down from the top of his head and got in his truck.
This past week I tried pushing him to the back of my thoughts, which was hard to do because he consumed a good portion of them. I wanted to slap the stupid out of myself every time I considered going back over to talk to him more. I'm not usually one who goes looking for trouble, but I'm intrigued.
“Was he whistling at us?” Naomi asks, confused, moving her head to see who else it could be.
He's staring at us...or at least I think he is; it's hard to tell with his black shades on. He must have noticed our confusion because he lifts his shades and my friends gasp, as well as the people standing in the front of the line.
“Fucking creepy,” Stevie mutters under her breath.
“He's staring at us,” Naomi says, not looking pleased.
His eyes lock with mine and the strange tingling sensation returns.
“That's my neighbor.”
“Wow, he looks like someone who'd live above a bar, not the suburbs,” Stevie responds.
He gives a slight nod for us to come over, then puts his shades back down. It frightens me how willing my body is to comply.
“Lily, what are you doing?!” Naomi whisper-shouts behind me as I make my way to him.
When I reach the front he steps aside for us to enter.
“Damn, that guy is a gladiator meets spartan beast!” Stevie exclaims so loudly I'm sure anyone close by heard.
My neighbor smirks.
“Are you the bouncer?” I stupidly ask.
“Well of course he is, dummy,” Stevie steps in front of me to eye him better. She's five-nine and her head still has to look up to see his face. “Look at him, who would mess with that?” She waves a finger at his raw, hard muscles to emphasize her point.
Mysterious neighbor guy chuckles, “I like your friend. She's smart.” His voice is just as inviting as I remember: masculine, rich, warm, and deep.
“Does this mean you're letting us in?” Stevie asks hopefully, batting her enviously thick lashes.
“Yeah, I owe my neighbor here for the pie she brought me.”
Both my friends gape at me and I nudge them inside.
“Thanks,” I smile at him.
“For every pie you bring me, I'll let you and whoever you're with straight in.”
“You liked it?”
“Best fucking thing I ever put in my mouth.” He gives me a slight half smile before resuming his hard expression and turning back to face the crowd. Never in my life has my heart beat this fast from a compliment; I feel it in my ribcage, my throat, my veins, everywhere. Shit, I'm in trouble.
I easily find my friends at the crowded bar trying to order drinks. Naomi hands me my usual: vodka gimlet on the rocks.
“You made him a pie?” Naomi seems disturbed, and the all too familiar look of concern takes over, “Is this because of Will? Because that scary ass gladiator-killer isn't going to help you move on.”
I'm so sick of everything I do relating back to Will. “It has nothing to do with Will. My mom,” I state clearly, “asked me to bring him a plate on Christmas because he was all alone. That's it. I guess this was his way of thanking me.”