Worrying my bottom lip with my teeth, I carefully traced a finger over the bandage Edgar had applied. I mentally kicked myself. This wasn’t exactly the freshest of starts. A quiet nagging feeling had settled in my stomach, gripped at my guts. First the loud music, and then the whole debacle with my hand. I never thought I was the type to be a bad neighbor, but I’d definitely proven to Edgar that this wasn’t the case time and time again. What was going to go wrong next? Were these muffin-pucks going to catch fire and burn the whole apartment building down? There was no way Edgar would over look something like that. Maybe that was why I was watching my pastries so carefully, even at the risk of drying my eyes out from the heat of the oven. If I saw even so much as a spark, at least I’d be at the ready with a fire extinguisher by my side.
I wanted to make things right with Edgar. The thought of having a neighbor who despised me left a bitter taste in my mouth. He’d been surprisingly charming, not at all what I expected when I came plummeting through his front door. I decided that this plate of baked goods could be a peace offering, of sorts. Maybe we could have a fresh start, a new beginning. That’s why I moved to Sacramento in the first place, after all, and I really wanted that to extend to all aspects of my life. Even my grumpy-but-surprisingly-helpful neighbor next door.
After somehow managing to get five of the eight muffins out of the baking tray –the other three were hopelessly burnt and stuck to the metal– I gathered the little pastries up on a plate and headed down the hall to visit Edgar. I stood before his door, oddly intimidated by the inanimate object, and took in a deep breath through my nose. A sudden surge of doubt crossed my mind. Was this even a good idea? Edgar probably had a life. The chances that he was actually home in the middle of the day seemed unlikely. And even if he was home, I was probably the last person he wanted showing up again. But I knocked on the door anyways because I’d already gone through the trouble of baking him up apology pucks, and I didn’t want them to go to waste.
After the third wrap of my knuckles, the door popped open by itself on creaky hinges. I raised a curious eyebrow when it didn’t open all the way. Was Edgar even home? Had he forgotten to lock the door?
“Hello?” I called out, voice a soft whisper. “Anybody home?”
I placed the flat of my palm on the door’s surface and pushed it open slightly. Edgar’s apartment was completely quiet. I poked my head around to take a quick look and instantly froze. From where I was, I could see Edgar exiting what appeared to be his bathroom in nothing more than a towel around his waist. My heart railed against the inside of my ribcage as all of the blood drained from my legs and pooled in my face. My breath caught in my lungs and left me absolutely dizzy because damn was Edgar sexy. I only caught a glimpse of his bare shoulders and naked chest and stomach, but it was enough to ignite a fire inside of me.
I dropped to my knees and immediately placed the plate of muffins on the floor just outside his apartment and awkwardly crept back to my own. I locked the door behind me quickly and let out a shaky breath, hot tongue darting over my dry lips. Edgar had never been particularly bad to look at. And yes, I joked on several occasions that he was an old man. But now I knew the indisputable truth. Edgar was a man in his prime, taut skin drawn over defined muscles. His skin had been dewy, fresh out of a hot shower, with wet hair slicked back to reveal high cheekbones cradling catastrophically handsome eyes. I bit my lower lip and squeezed my knees together.
I couldn’t remember the last time the sight of a man had left me so undeniably aroused. How was it possible I felt this dirty after watching a man come out of a literal shower? It was alarming how filthy a mere glance made me feel. I found myself silently wishing that his towel had slipped, even a little, just so I could get a figurative taste of what lay just beneath. The rest of Edgar’s body was already impressive, so surely if I allowed my imagination to over indulge a bit, there’d be no harm.
“What the–” came Edgar’s deep voice.
I hesitantly pressed myself against the door to look out the peephole. My whole body was shaking. The cool air of the apartment felt like fire against my skin.