She shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, managing a small smile.
“Hello,” she said softly. The girl on the phone. This really was her. “Are you Alex?”
“You must be Tia.”
I stepped to the side, gesturing with my hand. “Come on in, Tia. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Her cheeks and the tops of her ears were an adorable shade of pink. She entered slowly, curiously taking in the apartment. I watched her form as she passed me, my eyes settling on her perfect ass. It was better than I had imagined. The yoga pants that she wore hugged her curves, hypnotizing me senseless. I could look at her all day. Out in the hall sat a brown suitcase, stuffed to the brim with contents. I decided to be a gentleman and dragged it inside before closing the door behind us.
“Is this all your stuff?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, her voice echoing off the minimalist walls of my apartment. “I’ve got a few more things downstairs. The doorman said he’d bring it up for me.”
“Ah, that was probably Joe. He’s a good guy.”
Tia stared out the window, glancing down at the busy city down below. She clutched the strap of her purse like it was a lifeline, clearly a little uncomfortable. She turned slightly to face me, avoiding eye contact as best as she could.
“So,” she started, “about that room.”
“Right, I can show it to you if you’d–”
“I’m sorry,” she interrupted bashfully. “Would you mind maybe putting on some pants or something?”
Right. I had been so distracted by Tia that I had completely forgotten.
“Sure, sorry,” I said with a sheepish grin. “I was in the middle of a shower when you called.”
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. I don’t know why her words left me on such edge. Why was she apologizing? She had gifted me with her very presence, so her apology was entirely unnecessary.
“I’ll be one sec,” I told her as I hurried back to my room. I could feel her eyes on me as I walked away. Once behind closed doors, I shuffled through my drawers and pulled out a clean pair of jeans and a grey shirt. I slipped into them in a rush, using the towel to dry of the remaining dampness of my hair.
I returned to find Tia sitting on the living room couch, a deliciously long leg crossed over the other with her hands folded politely on her lap. She looked up at me, a faint eagerness in her eyes as she studied me from head to toe. I couldn’t tell if this was a good sign or not.
“Your place is beautiful,” she said kindly.
“Thank you very much,” I replied. “I’m quite proud of it.”
“Where are the rest of your housemates?” she questioned, glancing around for signs of my nonexistent roommates. The corner of my lip ticked upwards into an amused grin. She didn’t think I owned this place.
I tossed my head in the direction of the vacant room at the end of the hall –the room I had set aside for Eliza to use as her office space. “Would you like a tour?” I asked, blowing right past her question.
“Sure,” she answered sweetly, standing up.
The room was spacious, made even more so by the apparent lack of Eliza’s things. She had left the desk and shelves where they were, but she had taken the blackout curtains to leave the massive floor-to-ceiling windows completely exposed. Sunlight streamed into the room, highlighting the high speckled ceiling and soft beige carpeting.
“So this is it,” I stated. “Sorry there’s no bed in here. I can have something express shipped, if you’d like. Just pick something out and I’ll order it for you.”
Tia put her hands up in protest, shaking her head in profuse denial. “That’s really kind of you, but I really wouldn’t want to put you out.”
“It’s no trouble,” I assured her. “Of course, you can always sleep in my bed, if you want.”
Tia’s face turned a bright red. She picked nervously at her nails, worrying her plump bottom lip with her teeth. I swallowed at the sight, wondering what it would be like to worry her lip on her behalf.
“I can sleep on the couch,” I added. Tia visibly relaxed, shoulders slumping a bit. Teasing her was turning out to be a lot of fun.
“I mean, if you’re sure it’s no trouble. To order something, that is.”
“I promise, it’s totally fine. Molly seems to like you, which means you’re all good in my book.”
“So, in terms of rent,” she started, getting to the point. “I’ll admit I don’t have very much. I’m not sure if Molly told you, but I’m starting a new job tomorrow. It’s going to be a little while until I can really pitch in.”
“That’s cool. Where are you working?”
“Richardson & Sachs.”
Something in my mind snapped. There was no way this was a coincidence. Tia was working at the same rival law firm that my ex did? Life couldn’t be that cruel, could it?