“This is so stupid,” I tell myself as I grab my purse and put it on my shoulder.
I should be able to leave my apartment whenever I want because that’s the point of having my own place. I should be able to come and go as I please and not have to worry about answering to anyone. Instead I keep having to face someone who is looking for a reason to complain.
Gah, he’s making this so awkward. Why can’t I be a jerk and tell him to leave me alone and that he’s making me uncomfortable?
I walk over to my peephole and look out, hoping he’s not home. I bite my thumbnail as I stare across the hall at my new neighbor’s door. I thought I could be a little strange, but he takes it to another level. I curse my politeness with taking him cookies that first day he moved in. Now this weird dance has started and anytime I open my front door he’s opening his. How is that even possible? Is he doing the same thing I am and staring out his peephole waiting for me to leave?
I lean back from the door and sigh. I need my sugar fix and he’s standing in the way of that. Forget it. I’m leaving. I will not be held prisoner in my own home.
I grab the door handle and pull it open, and for once his door doesn’t open. I turn around and lock my door as fast as I can so I can get out of here.
“Ahh!” I scream as I almost run right into Peter. He’s right in my space when I turn around and my heart jumps into my throat. “You scared the crap out of me.”
“Where are you off to tonight?”
Peter is in his usual polo and khaki shorts with his short blond hair perfectly in place. Everything about him is always so put together. He works from home for some kind of internet security company or something, and he’s got the vibe of someone who thinks he knows it all.
He doesn’t say sorry for almost giving me a heart attack and just stands there waiting for me to answer him.
“Coffee.” And maybe also to see if the coffee shop has any treats left because my sweet tooth is killer.
“I’ll come with you,” he says, inviting himself.
“Okay,” I agree, because what else can I say? No, you’re not allowed to go to the coffee shop?
He places his hand on the small of my back and I walk faster, trying to get away from his touch. He only walks faster to keep up with me and I wonder why this man who seems so smart can’t read body language.
“How is your grandma?”
Some of my resolve fades because I always enjoy talking about my grandma. I miss her something fierce.
“She’s good. That woman has more energy than I do.”
She’s always planning some new group or having a party. Even her dating card stays full. At least that’s what she calls it.
Peter reaches for the door of the coffee shop and opens it for me. “You should work out.” I stop walking and look over at him. “It gives you energy. You can come running with me in the mornings.”
I make a mental note that mornings would be a good time to sneak out of my place unnoticed.
“I’ll think about it,” I say, but it’s a total lie. I hate running and I’ve tried it more than once. I have two left feet and the last time I only made it a block before I tripped over my shoelaces and sprained my ankle. I took it as a sign that I should never run again.
“Erin!” Jenna waves and calls to me from behind the counter. “The regular?”
“Yes please.” I walk up to the counter and keep my eyes on the cake pops. “This is always the hard part,” I sigh, unsure what flavor I should get.
“I think you should get one of each. I mean, there are only four types,” Jenna laughs, and I nod.
“I have to say I like your style. Hit me with all of them and I can save whatever I don’t eat.” We both burst out laughing knowing that’s not going to happen. There will be nothing left to save.
“What’s so funny?” Peter asks, looking back and forth between Jenna and me.
“Is this your cousin?” Jenna asks, nodding at Peter.
Thankfully I’m still laughing about the cake pops, so Peter doesn’t realize I’m now laughing at her question. She knows he’s not my cousin.
“No,” he scoffs and tries to put his hand on the small of my back again.
Luckily I’m quicker as I step sideways and pretend to be really interested in the coffee mug display and hand Jenna my card.
“I’ve got it.” He tries to take my card from Jenna’s hand, but she pulls it back, not letting him. I really don’t want him buying me anything because then I’d feel like I owed him something.