"Tie me up."
Three little words. Coming from a sweet young voice. That was all it took to bring Ethan Wolfe to a halt. A few minutes ago, the rugged construction worker had stepped outside his new apartment to smoke.
Bad habit, sure. One of many. He'd spent the day moving and the evening unboxing. When it was all said and done, a stiff drink and a smoke called to him, desperately.
As desperately as he now clung to those words coming from that melodic female voice next door.
The building he'd moved into was a four-plex-styled apartment building. It was near a popular community center, and most of his neighbors were much older.
This building had four units, two upstairs and two downstairs; the lower level also had a small, shared laundry room. Ethan's new apartment was upstairs, and he shared a porch with the one neighbor he hadn't met yet.
The downstairs units held a single lady named Esther, who had to be pushing eighty, and the other unit housed a cute old couple that were getting there soon too. When he saw the name Ivette Doll on the fourth mailbox, he assumed he was the youngest tenant there.
Clearly, he was wrong.
He'd heard the familiar noises of his neighbors getting it on when he first stepped out. Assuming the layout of their apartment was like his, they must be enjoying the carnal activities in the kitchen. They'd probably left the sliding door open, as he could hear it all.
He'd been just about to walk back into his apartment and leave them to it.
Until she said that. Those words called to Ethan's deepest desires like a siren song.
He knew he should leave, yet his perverse mind wouldn't allow him to. It didn't even matter that she wasn't saying it to him; he couldn't walk away.
He had to know...
"Tie me up," she said again, her voice breathy.
Fuck, tie her up, or I will, he thought to himself as his groin twitched.
A chair made a scraping sound, and then -
"What?" A male voice also sounded young. "Did you say tie you up?"
"Yeah," she said, her voice faltering some.
"You trying to get freaky, baby?" The guy laughed, and Ethan frowned and shook his head at that.
"I mean ... um, why not," the confidence had deflated from her voice, thanks to that asshat.
Ethan felt himself start to get angry; he understood what it was like to put your desires out there only to be judged harshly. It ultimately led to his divorce, but that was a story for another day.
At the moment, he was focused on this girl next door and her submissive desires.
"There isn't anything to tie you to," the guy said, "what even with?"
Oh, come on! Ethan clenched the glass in his hand; use your goddamn imagination!
"Never mind, forget I asked." She said in a tired tone.
"We can get the chocolate syrup out if you want to get crazy." The moron offered.
"That is not the...No...you know what, never mind," she said, "I'm tired, just go, Brad."
Brad, of course, he'd be a Brad, Ethan thought as his annoyance grew.
"What!? We're in the middle of"-
"I lost the mood," she cut him off.
Who could blame her? She expressed a want and was laughed at for it.
"You can't change your mind in the middle of it!" Brad complained.
The fuck she can't; Ethan contemplated what to do; she'd certainly be angry he was out here listening. However, he couldn't risk something happening if this guy pushed it.
"At least jerk me off or something!" The idiot yelled, "you can't leave me with blue balls!"
"It's early; go back to the bar. You'll find someone, just get out of here," she snapped in a crabby tone.
Interesting so they weren't serious, he contemplated.
.. and the Brad guy didn't seem like that kind of trouble. So why was Ethan still out there? It was a total invasion of her privacy. He moved closer to his own door, ready to head back inside. Still, he hesitated, just in case.
"This is so dumb!" Brad yelled, and then Ethan heard a door slamming.
Satisfied that the guy had left, and she was safe, he finally slipped me back into his apartment. It was an open layout, and the kitchen table sat outside the big sliding door. He left it open as he took a seat at the table.
He told himself it was just for the breeze; if he happened to hear her step outside for some air... it would simply be a bonus... right?
Three words were all it took to hook him.
He had to know more.
Who was this girl next door?
Ethan wasn't the only one with racing thoughts that night.
In the apartment next door, a petite blonde stepped out of her much-needed cold shower.
The linoleum floor, stained yellow from the years, was cool on her bare feet. She pulled a towel over her shoulders as she started to work the tangles out of her long wavy hair.
As she brushed it out, she closed her eyes for a moment. In the most recent book she'd taken a liking to, the alpha male brushed his submissive mate's hair. She sat between his legs as he took his time with it, worshipping her as he slowly made it shine. She imagined this was her for a moment as she closed her eyes.
That familiar and desperate longing returned, and she huffed out a breath. She put on her loose-fitted pair of flannel pajama pants with a long tee shirt and exited the small bathroom.
She opted to head outside for some fresh air. It would clear her mind. Or fill it with racier thoughts while she sat out there to read. One of the perks of all her neighbors being eighty. She could stay up all night, keep lights on and make plenty of noise., They didn't hear a thing. She could sit outside with a marching band all night, and they wouldn't be any wiser.
It was early September but still warm here in Brookshire. The temperatures would start dropping in a few weeks, give or take.
She helped herself to a glass of wine from the box she kept in the fridge. She then grabbed her cell for the flashlight and the naughty book to head outside.
She saw light spilling out onto the side of the porch that didn't belong to her.
Someone had moved in next door? Interesting. Goes to show how observant she was. Another elderly person, most likely. She was surprised to see a light on this late.
Her phone rang, then breaking up her thoughts. She saw it was her best friend, Gigi, and instantly knew what it was about.
"What's up, Gig?" She answered the phone while sitting at the small table outside her sliding door.
"Brad is here, and he's all over some chick, like bad!"
"It's fine, Gigi. I sent him there," she said with a sigh.
"What!? Ivy, what is wrong with you?"
Not enough time in the world for that, she thought to herself.
"Nothing, it's just a stupid situationship, and it's done," Ivy gritted out, "he can do what he wants."
"Night, Gigi," she clicked off the call.
Ugh, Brad. What a mess! What in the hell was she thinking tonight? She let those stupid books and her damn fantasies go to her head.
Brad would probably laugh about it with the other guys at work. How would she ever show her face again!? What was she thinking about getting into a thing with him anyway?
The server and the line cook, how cliche, she thought wryly as she sipped her wine.
The sound of the screen door on the other end of the porch caught her attention. She looked up as a man stepped out.
Not just any man! Holy fuck, she thought as her eyes drank him in, he was not eighty, and he was hot! He was tall and fit, big but not bully, with dark hair a little overgrown, messy like he'd been running his hands through it. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans with a flannel shirt.
He turned and caught her curious gaze. His eyes, too dark to tell the color, seemed to hold her silently still for a strange moment.
"I didn't realize anyone would be out here," he finally spoke, his deep baritone voice seeming to fill the air.
"Me neither," she admitted as she picked up her wine glass, "I've gotten used to being the only person who stays awake past eight around here."
He let out a soft chuckle as he took a small step closer.
"Mind if I join you for that drink?" He held up a short glass with a dark amber liqueur in it. She gestured to the chair across from her.
He came and sat down, and she got a closer look. His face was etched with rugged lines, and his jawline was firm.
His eyes which she could now see better were a dark forestry green, and he had thick eyebrows. He brought the glass to his plump lips and sipped. She noted the large calloused hand wrapped around his glass and gulped.
He was such a man. She couldn't help it. She found herself instantly attracted to him, despite the apparent age gap.
"I thought I'd maybe be the youngest one here. That's saying something at thirty eight," as he spoke, he held eye contact with her; there was something about his gaze... she couldn't look away.
"After meeting the downstairs neighbors, I get that!" She giggled softly, "they're all very nice, though. I was only twenty-two when I moved in last year, and they welcomed me with open arms."
"They were very kind when I moved in earlier," he responded. "I noticed the name Ivette on the mailbox? An older name for a twenty-two-year-old."
"That's me, and I'm twenty-three now. I'm named after my grandmother," she explained, "I go by Ivy."
"A pleasure to meet you, Ivy Doll." She noted a hint of flirtation in his tone.
"And you are?" She asked with a tilt of her head.
"Ethan Wolfe," he replied.
"Welcome to the building, Mr. Wolfe," she replied back in kind, and a slight smirk tugged at his lips. "Sorry, you're not the youngest tenant after all."
He chucked again, and she found she liked the sound of it. It was a sexy rumbling laugh.
"I'll get over it." He lifted his glass to his lips and took a longer sip this time.
"Where'd you move from?" She asked as she mimicked his actions with her wine glass.
"Fern Landing, a few hours from here," he explained.
"What brings you all the way to Rotheside?"
"I went through a messy divorce," he spoke candidly, and she listened intently. "as soon as the house sold, I packed up and left."
"I'm so sorry!"
"Don't be," he replied quickly, "should've happened much sooner. We fell out of love years ago."
"That's sad," she commented with a little frown.
"It's reality," he shrugged it off.
Her phone buzzed, indicating a text; she glanced at it to see a message from Brad. It said, are you over it? So apparently, the girl he was "all over" didn't want to put out.
"So over it," she said out loud without meaning to. She sent Brad back, sleeping- leave me alone, and then shut her phone off.
"Relationship trouble?" Ethan asked.
"Hardly," she scoffed, "more like a mistake I shouldn't have made, repeatedly."
"Been there," he said kindly.
"Guys my age are so... "she struggled to find the word.
"Immature, selfish, unworthy?" He offered.
"Yes! All of those!" She agreed as she swallowed the last of her drink.
"Not at all like the men in these romance novels..." before she could stop him, he picked up her book.
Her cheeks instantly flamed up. The title was, becoming the alpha's, and the cover had red silk sheets with handcuffs. He'd know immediately what kind of book that was...
"But it seems you have a taste for something darker."
He studied the cover a moment longer before setting it down. Ivy's brain screamed at her to protest, to say it was just a book, but when she parted her lips, no sound came out.
"You're not alone," he spoke in a husky tone, his eyes smoldering as they stared into hers. She felt that familiar longing and pressed her thighs together.
"I.. um," she stumbled over her words.
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about," his tone; still, husky, held a bit of authority to it. "I have some books like this too."
He leaned closer, "although my books may be a little too much for you. They're very explicit."
Wetness began to dampen her panties; she licked her dry lips as she struggled to get her brain to work.
"You don't think that one is," she motioned to the book he was holding.
He raised an eyebrow as a sexy grin curled over his lips, "do tell, Miss Doll." He flipped it over to look at the back.
"Tell you what?" She asked as her heartbeat picked up.
"Tell me what you like about it." He asked the intrusive question in such a calm manner she found herself at ease, despite discussing such things with a stranger. A stranger that was nearly old enough to be her dad. Somehow that made him even more enticing.
"I.. like, um, a lot of things about it," she said in a nervous tone.
"Tell me your favorite scene," he said as he set it back down by her. There were many. The hair-brushing scene was a new one for sure. However, that wasn't the one. She traced a hand over the cover and hesitated.
The scene that really spoke to most profound and darkest desires...
Ivy couldn't voice it out loud, especially to this stranger. Or could she? Something about him drew her in.
"You trying to get freaky, baby?" Brad's words from earlier came back to haunt the young woman. She felt her confidence begin to falter. Is that what she was? A freak?
"You'll laugh at me," she sank into her chair.
"I promise you, I won't," he said smoothly.
Why did he want to know? More so, why did you want to tell him?
"It's the folded page," she shoved the book at him, "read it yourself."
He laughed then, a deep belly laugh as he picked up the book.
"I'd rather hear it from your lips, but I'll play along," he said slowly, "come back out here tomorrow night, and we'll talk more."
About what!? The book, the scene? What was she supposed to say about it!? Her heart was racing, but she couldn't find the words.
With that, he rose and left her stunned as he walked away.
"Good night, Miss Doll."
He ducked inside, shutting the sliding door behind him. She sat there numbly, staring at the door as it closed.
Who the hell moved in next door!?