THE WORDS ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ popped in my mind the moment I saw the man walking inside the high-ceilinged lobby of my apartment building. He only had a black hoodie over his denims (also black), but his long, muscular build made the clothes look as if they cost thousands of dollars. Or maybe they really did. Who cared, really? All I wanted to know was whether Tall, Dark, and Handsome was single or married, and my curiosity only grew when I saw him head for the stairs rather than the elevators.
What’s up with that?
And before I knew it, I was already out of my seat and hurrying after him.
The stairwell was empty as expected, and although he took the stairs at a fairly steady space, by the time we made it to the seventh floor, I had already seen enough to question whether he was even human or not. Shouldn’t he be catching his breath by now, even just a little? And they hadn’t even taken a single break, not even for a few seconds—-
The stranger suddenly turned, and my jaw dropped when I saw him stare straight at me. “Why are you following me?”
He had seen me!
“I…I…” I tried thinking of a lie but could only come up with the truth. “I’m scared to be alone.”
“Because…” Lie, Saoirse, lie!
He raised a brow.
“My apartment is haunted?”
Silver eyes narrowed at me. “And your basis for thinking that?”
I had been prepared to hear him respond in a hundred different ways, but the one thing that hadn’t even crossed my mind was for this too-beautiful stranger to take me seriously. “That’s really what you’re going to ask?”
A frown creased his forehead. “Should I have asked something else?”
“You’re kidding, right? Or am I being dense here, and you’re actually being sarcastic?”
And because it did seem like he meant both, I said uncertainly, “9 out of 10 people would have thought I was crazy.”
But this only had him shrugging. “I’ve always been the 1 out of 10 type.”
The words should’ve made him sound like an obnoxious butthole, but there was just something so attractively self-assured about him that the words seemed more like a factual description. It made me wish I was still in the position to ask him out, but…
“You really like staring, don’t you?”
Oops. He got me there, and I could only smile sheepishly in apology. “I’m sorry. I guess I just got used not being called out for it.”
I fought back a grin. While it wasn’t my first time to hear a man grunt like that, I was only kinda used to hearing Henry Cavill doing it when playing Geralt in The Witcher. I was almost inclined to think that this man might be actively imitating the actor, but…
If anything, it would be even more believable if this man turned out to be the inspiration behind those grunts. This man simply didn’t seem the type to fake—-
“If there’s nothing else…”
Seeing him about to leave made me panic. “No, wait—-” And when he turned back to face me, I said in a rush, “I…I meant it about my apartment being haunted.” At this point, I was willing to say and do anything, just to get him to keep me company.
“And you want me to check it out?”
I was half-incredulous, half-hopeful. “You’d really be willing to do that?”
“I have the time for a brief look, I suppose—-”
Oh my God, he was! I beamed up at him. “I’ll take you up on the offer then. My unit’s 13B—-”
“My unit’s across yours.” He was already hitting the next flight of stairs as he spoke, and I hurried to keep up with him.
“I’m Saoirse, by the way.”
“Hadrian.” The briskness of his tone didn’t change, and I took it as my cue to keep my mouth shut for the rest of our trek to 13/F. When he faced me again, we were already in front of my apartment, and I quietly thanked God that the lock was digital as I punched the necessary digits. A moment later, the display screen flashed Welcome, and I turned to him with a smile. “Here we are!”
“You don’t like talking much, do you?” I couldn’t help asking.
Rhetorical obviously wasn’t in his vocabulary, I thought ruefully as the door swung shut behind us, and he began studying my old apartment-—oh, shit. It suddenly but belatedly occurred to me just how wrong this whole thing was, and that I needed to come clean before I ended up getting him in trouble with the current owners. “Um…actually—-” But I ended up losing my train of thought when I saw the way his gaze suddenly snapped back at me. “W-What is it?”
“I thought you were simply joking,” he said abruptly.
I held my breath.
“But you weren’t, apparently.”
His silvery gaze bored through me, and my heart jumped in my chest.