I put my blue toothbrush into a glass on the sink and checked myself in the mirror. I needed to shave. I ran my hand over the dark-budding stubble along my jawline. If I still lived with my mom, she’d say I looked like a bum. I opened my medicine cabinet to grab some shaving cream, but hesitated. I was my own man. Fresh out of college. Living on my own in a new house, in a new city. Nobody knew me here. I could be whoever I wanted, a new person. This new person didn’t feel like shaving. The decision actually gave me a bit of a rush. I’d never gone a day without shaving and breaking my routine felt awesome...and a little scary. I’ve never been one for change, but I had to admit, I was getting bored. Bored with my routine and bored with the straight laced path I’d set for myself. I started to shut the cabinet when I remembered my job interview in the morning. I was to be Jane Valderamma’s new assistant. I couldn’t show up unshaven. I might appear to her as lazy and unkempt and could hurt my chances at getting the job. I sighed. The new me would have to wait until tomorrow afternoon.
After shaving, I stopped downstairs to get a drink of water. I heard the staccato beeps of my cell phone coming from the living room. At this time it was almost 10:00 pm. I checked the caller ID and rolled my eyes.
“Hello?” I grumbled.
“Hey, man,” said my best friend Nick. “How’s the new place? You settled in yet?”
“I just moved in this morning.” I started making my way upstairs to my bedroom. “Why are you calling so late?”
“Late? It’s only 10:00.”
“I have to get up early remember? I have a job interview in the morning.”
“Oh, yeah. With that news woman. Let me ask you something, does she seem a little nosy to you?” asked Nick. I could hear him smacking on gum through the phone.
“She always wants to know everyone’s business.”
I walked over to my bedroom window to shut the curtains. “She’s a reporter. That’s her...” I trailed off. Something from the apartment building across the street caught me off guard. I could see directly into my neighbor’s bedroom window and my eyes locked onto a woman slowly lifting a purple crop top over her head. She turned her back to the window before tossing the garment to the side.
“Dude, you alright? You still there?” asked Nick.
“Yeah.” I murmured. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was too focused on the woman. She had to be the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen and I had yet to see her face. My jaw dropped as she took off her black laced bra and let it fall to the floor. I swallowed hard. I felt horrible for invading her privacy, but I just couldn’t look away. She turned around and grabbed a brush from a bedside table. “No way.” I said into the phone.
“What?” asked Nick.
“You are never going to guess who my neighbors are.”
“Well, you’re just setting me up for failure. You know I’m terrible at guessing. Who are they?”
“Get the fuck out of here,” spouted Nick.
“I’m serious. You heard in the news that they fled Stilwater after that last bank heist went sour. They must be laying low here in Steelport.” I took in a breath and kept staring across the street. “My God, she is so hot.”
“Shaundi.” I replied. “I can see into her bedroom window.”
“Oh, man! What’s she doing?”
Shaundi bent down to remove her panties. “She’s...she’s not doing much. Just kinda...walking around.” My heart began to race and I started to feel tremendously guilty. I tried to look away, to shut the curtains, but something inside was stopping me.
“I told you moving there was a good idea,” said Nick.
I nodded, forgetting the fact I was still on the phone. Shaundi straightened up and faced the window. I got a full view of her fit, tan, naked body. My eyes trailed up from her perfectly curved hips to her exceptional breasts. I was sweating. I felt like I’d just ran a marathon. Though I was across the street, I could still make out every feature of her gorgeously symmetrical face. I took in everything from her almond shaped eyes to her full and sultry lips as she let loose her ponytail. Her wavy-brown locks fell to her shoulders and she started to brush it out.
“You’re breathing really hard,” said Nick.
“Am I?” I asked, still transfixed on Shaundi. She stopped brushing her hair. She scrunched her face and leaned closer to the window to look outside. Our eyes locked for a moment and she grabbed a nightgown to cover herself. “Shit.” I muttered and ducked out of view.
Nick smacked his gum into the phone. “What happened? You alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied. “I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.” I hung up and peeked over the windowsill into Shaundi’s bedroom. She was gone. I leaned against the wall and let out a breath.
“What the fuck is the matter with you?” I asked myself and ran my fingers through my hair. I stood up and closed the curtains. I shook my head. “Why didn’t I just look away?”
I turned off the lights, set my alarm clock, and started to crawl into bed when I my doorbell rang. I furrowed my brow, wondering who the hell it was. I got up and made my way to the front door. I rammed my toe into an end table along the way and cursed under my breath. The knocking persisted. “I’m coming.” I said through clenched teeth. I limped to the door and looked through the peephole. My eyes widened. It was Shaundi. She stared into the peephole with angry eyes. “Fuck me.” I whispered. I placed my back to the door. “Maybe she’ll go away.”
She knocked again, with more force.
“Dammit.” I took a deep breath and opened the door. “C-Can I help you?”
Shaundi’s angry expression changed in an instant. She smiled. “Hi, I’m Shaundi. ” She put her hand out for a handshake. “I’m staying in the building across the street.”
I shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“It’s really cold out here.” Shaundi rubbed her arms from the cold night air. She had her put her hair back in a ponytail and had redressed into a pair of tight purple pants as well as her purple crop top. Not much in terms of clothing if the goal was to stay warm. “Do you mind if I come in?” she asked.
“Thanks,” said Shaundi. She pushed her way through the door and stepped inside before I had time to answer. She looked around my house. “There’s a lot of boxes here. You just move in?”
I cleared my throat. “Yeah.”
“From Stilwater. I just graduated from Stilwater U.”
Shaundi raised her brow. “Stilwater U? I went there.”
I nodded. “I think I remember hearing stories about you. You were...uh...very popular.”
Shaundi gave me a half-smile and walked upstairs like she owned the place. I noticed a pistol in the hem of her pants...as if I wasn’t already nervous. I slowly followed her up and found her in my bedroom.
“Nice room.” She commented as she pulled back the curtains. She shook her head and stared out the window at her apartment. “Jesus, that place looks worse from over here. I can’t wait until we get a new crib.”
“I take it your apartment isn’t that great?”
“It’s my ex’s apartment.” She sat down on my bed. “And, no. It’s far from great. The word ‘shithole’ comes to mind and even that doesn’t come close describing it.”
“Sorry for what?” Shaundi leaned back on my bed. “Sorry for the shitty apartment, or sorry for watching me get undressed?”
I suddenly forgot how to breath. “Look, I didn’t mean to...”
“What’s your name?” She interrupted.
I couldn’t look at her. I was too embarrassed. “My name’s T-Thomas.”
“People call you Tom?”
I caught a glance at Shaundi drawing little circles on my comforter with her finger. “Kinda ironic isn’t it? Your name being Tom. It fits this situation pretty well.”
An image of her naked body laying on my bed entered my mind and I closed my eyes to chase the thought away. “I am so sorry.” I said. “I really didn’t mean to...It won’t happen again. I swear.”
Shaundi stared me down for a moment. “I believe you.” She said with a smile. “Besides, it’s not like half the men in this city haven’t already seen my tits, right? Hell, they were on the cover of BoyToy.”
I took a sigh of relief and returned her smile, somewhat awkwardly. My smile faded when she gestured to me.
“Well?” she asked.
She leaned back on her elbows. “You saw me naked. I think it’s only fair that I see you.” She tilted her head toward me. “So, strip.”
I stepped back. “Right now?”
“Uh, look, I think it’s about time you left.” I said and pointed to the door.
Shaundi shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere until you strip.” She set her pistol beside her on the bed and stared at me.
“Are you gonna shoot me if I don’t take my clothes off?” I asked nervously.
“You want to take a chance and find out?” She raised her brow and tilted her head toward me again. “Go on.”
She continued to stare at me, her hand resting gently on her pistol. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as I reached for the bottom of my white t-shirt. I pulled it over my head and heard an intrigued “Hmm.” I opened my eyes. Shaundi seemed surprised.
“What?” I asked and looked down at my hairy chest. Under all that hair was a modest six-pack, though I wasn’t ripped. I just liked to keep fit. I waited for an answer from Shaundi.
“I didn’t tell you to stop,” she said. “Keep going.”
I sighed and pulled the string on my pajama pants. I looked away from her and let the pants fall to the floor before stepping out of them.
“The boxers too.” she ordered.
“C’mon, please.” I begged.
“You saw all of me. Now, take ’em off. There’s nothing you have that I haven’t seen before, believe me.”
I clenched my jaw and pulled down my boxers. I kicked them off to the side. Shaundi grinned.
“That’s it. Now, turn around and walk forward, please.” she said.
I gave her a confused look but did as I was told.
“Perfect. You can turn back around now.” Shaundi pulled out her phone and snapped a quick picture the moment I faced her.
“Hey!” I covered my bare crotch with my hands. “Why the hell did you do that?”
Shaundi hopped off the bed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She grabbed her gun and put a hand on my shoulder. “It won’t happen again. I swear.”
My mouth was agape. I was speechless. She pat me on the back and leaned close to my ear. “You feel pretty fucking vulnerable right now don’t you?” she asked. I didn’t even need to answer, my body language said it all. “Remember this feeling.” she said, her face stern and threatening. I don’t think I’d ever seen a more serious expression than the one she gave me at that moment. We locked eyes as she walked past me and I felt my heart stop in fear.
“It was nice meeting you, Tom.” She called from downstairs before slamming the front door behind her.