Chapter 1 - Stazi
The street and sidewalk outside of the shop is quiet in the early evening as she stands there, staring up at the large apartment windows above the store and fumbling with the boxes in her arms, the slight breeze blowing the loose tendrils of her light brown hair around her face. She was still uncertain as to who sent the letter in the mail, a letter that had been sent to her from here in Colorado, from this very store, stating her application had been accepted and that a room would be furnished for her while she was employed there. Washington had been wonderful but she had felt that the letter was trying to lead her in a different direction. Living in Seattle hadn’t been all bad, but it had been a little boring. No one really talked to her even when she went out of her way to try and mingle with other people. All it did was convince Stazi that people were inherent assholes and she should just stick to herself.
One of the things that was still tickling the edge of her thoughts was when had she applied to work at this place? Maybe it was part of that program she had signed up for online that searched for people to come work for them. You know, put in your general application with a resume and it finds a place for you with employers that had listed positions that were open in the area of interest you had also listed with your information. The thing is, it was difficult to tell what kind of store this was as the windows were all darkened and the street lamp outside offered no help as to what was inside. It was getting dark out and she couldn’t really make out the name on the sign overhead… She also couldn’t remember the name of it on the letterhead either. Wow, way to win the employee of the year award when you can’t even remember the name of the place you work at.
She wasn’t sure how long she stood there before moving forward to the glass door that led upstairs to her new apartment. Juggling the boxes, she managed to get a hand on the door handle but the door was locked and she muttered several colorful words as she took a step back and ran into someone, their soft voice carrying a lighthearted chuckle as a pair of hands landed on her upper arms and kept her from falling backwards.
“Oh hey! Whoa, do you need help with something?”
The young man comes around to her front and grabs the top box out of her arms without asking, flashing a bright smile full of straight teeth. Either someone had braces when they were a little or he’s one of those lucky kids that were blessed with perfect teeth.
“Well, ah... “ she tries to keep the other box from falling and barely manages it as she looks at the young man. He was a slight bit taller than she was with a thin but athletic type of build. His short blond hair was a tousled mess and it seemed to fit him as his extremely light blue eyes held the same mirth that his smile did. She mutters out a response as she turns her own hazel eyes to the ground. “Yeah, thank you.”
“Not a problem. You the new tenant upstairs?” He raises an eyebrow at her, his mouth still holding that impossible grin. It was really hard not to smile back and her own mouth picked up a bit at the corners.
“Yeah, but I can’t get to my keys and these boxes are a bit heavy.” Stazi manages a smile that probably looked more like a grimace as she tries to hold the box and search in her pants pocket.
The young man’s mouth moves into a circle as he hastily puts the box back on the other in her arms and she almost drops both of them with a rather loud curse. He turns and pulls out some keys of his own and opens the door, pushing a small rock over with his foot to keep the door from completely closing.
“The door auto locks when it closes.” He comes over and grabs the box he had held earlier and smiles brightly. “My name is Trevor. What’s yours?”
“Ah… Anastazia. But you can call me Stazi. Easier for most people to pronounce correctly anyway.” She almost drops the box and gives the one named Trevor a pained look. “Can we hurry though? This stuff isn’t getting any lighter.”
“Oh yeah, yeah! So freakin’ sorry! Come on, the stairs can be a pain and they’re kinda narrow.”
He opens the door and stands in front of it, holding it open enough so she can slide past him sideways and stand at the bottom of a very narrow stairwell. Wow, he wasn’t kidding when he said they were narrow. Stazi takes in a deep breath and begins her ascent of the stairs, making sure she had her foot planted firmly on each step before going to the next. While she may not be clumsy, her middle name was definitely not grace. The saying makes her heart twinge a bit as it reminds her of something the little old lady that used to live across the street from her would say. She manages to make it up the stairs without incident and turns to face down the hallway to her left.
There are four doors down the hall with two on each side. On the left she passes by one door and then there is a recess where a washer and dryer are set. There is a dollar store picture of a vase with assorted flowers in it on the wall by the washer and a similar picture with a different floral arrangement on the wall by the dryer. The area is free of lint and dust and there is a small rack with assorted laundry items such as dryer sheets and single use powder detergent with a clipboard underneath with apartment numbers and times listed on it.
“Those are free to use as long as you replace them.”
Stazi turns to give the young man behind her a confused look as he walks past her. She notes that he nods towards the shelf with the laundry items with a bright smile. She felt a blush of embarrassment creep across her cheeks when she realized what he was referring to. Holy hell, how long has it been since she’s had an honest-to-God conversation with someone? It was like she was having to remember how to interact with people all over again and Stazi felt like she was failing miserably. With any luck he wouldn’t notice, or at the very least, not point it out to her. When he turns and goes across the hall a little more without another word she breathes an audible sigh of relief and follows him to the first door on her right which is almost right across from the washer where she stood.
“Do you remember what apartment you’re in? There is the one here or the one at the end of the hall. What number does your key have?” He sets the box down and grabs the one out of her arms and sets it on the floor by the one he’d been holding before she can argue with him about it, her arms being quite thankful to release the heavy box. She takes the key out of her pocket, turning it over to see the etched number “3” on the wide upper part of the key.
“Ah, apartment number three I think.” She looks up at the door right where he is and nods at the large numeral “2” on the door. “Looks like I need to go one more door down. Sorry I am not right across from you.” She motions towards the door just behind them.
“Oh! Yes you are! My apartment is number four at the end of the hall.” God that boy’s smile was infectious. Almost as much as his easy laugh. “I haven’t been in apartment number three yet so I am kinda stoked to see what it looks like.” Trevor literally reminded her at that moment of an extremely hyperactive toddler that had a fierce need to use a restroom crossed with a puppy that was way too happy to see her. She raises an eyebrow at him as she goes down the hall to the door and inserts the key into the lock and turns it.
“Are you always this hyper or…”
“Me? Oh, no. This is totally mellow. Usually I’m a lot more energetic.” Trevor claps his hands together with a light slapping noise as he bounces in place. “I had my coffee today so I am like, way mellow and shit.”
“Right.” Stazi draws out the letter ‘i’ in the word a bit more than she should as she goes back down the hall a ways to pick up both of the boxes, much to the dismay of her arms. “Care to help me bring these in then?”
“Oh yeah, yeah! I’m on it!” He picks up the top box and skips down the hall.
Stazi stares after him with a puzzled expression as she follows slowly after him. How old was this guy? Who in the hell skips anywhere? On carpet no less, without tripping and falling. More power to him if he can do that stuff on the regular, she comments to herself as she follows the last few steps to the open door of her new apartment. The numeral on the door is a large ‘3’ and was slightly crooked. She adjusts the number with a finger while balancing the box between her hip and the doorframe and then opens the door wider, her arms shaking slightly as she bumps it open more and walks inside. Trevor is right behind her with the other box and follows her inside.
Apartments, when entered for the first time, always have a unique smell and this one is no different. The musty smell of sitting for a while unoccupied is apparent but so is the underlying whiff of wood polish and bathroom cleaner which means it had been kept clean between tenants. The walls are a soft beige without any age spots and the door frames sport what looks like a dark stained wood around the edges. To her immediate left was a large coat closet that dominates almost the whole wall and is big enough to use as a regular closet. She shook her head at that as she didn’t really feel comfortable hanging up her personal clothing in a closet that could be opened and ruffled through by anyone that came to visit.
To her right at about the halfway point in the hallway was an open doorway that led to a small living area with a decent sized couch, a coffee table and a small television on a metal stand. Stazi raises an eyebrow as she looks at it and wonders if it has color or not. She would have to check it out later as she looks at the end of the hallway and sees two doors and another open doorway.
To her right was the kitchen area which was absolutely huge in comparison to the rest of the apartment. She walks in and sets the box she was holding on the round table, moving one of the two chairs that sat by it and looks at the rest of the kitchen. The sink looked like the one her gran had, one basin only with a large faucet and tall cabinets above it, the stark white of it standing out against the dark olive green paint on the walls. The small stove was next to the sink, also just as white and clean with no sign of grease on it anywhere. A fridge in the opposite corner by the table just off of the doorway completed the room but left quite a bit of space between the table and the window that went almost to the ceiling. At least there was a curtain she could pull shut. The area was big enough to do yoga stretches and she really didn’t want people to walk by while her ass was trying to scrape the ceiling when she did the downward dog.
Trevor comes past her and sets the box he had on the table alongside hers and gives a low whistle in appreciation. “Nice sized kitchen. A little sparse though. Oh the ideas I have for this room!” She could see him rubbing his hands together and Stazi shakes her head. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what was going through her neighbors mind at the moment.
Stazi moves past him across the hall to a small bedroom with a full sized bed that took up most of the space in the bedroom. It looks almost antique, with the soft curls of the cast iron headboard resting against the wall that is the same dark olive color of the kitchen. Across from the bed was a doorway that was the closet and she pulled on the small chain to turn on the light, peering at the bar with a few empty hangers and the shelf above it. She jumps a bit when the loud squeal of noisy bed springs fills the room when Trevor dives onto the bed and bounces on it. She sighs and shakes her head as he continues to bounce on it, making the bed squeak even louder.
“Holy crap, if you ever bring a boyfriend home the whole floor is gonna know you’re doing the hunka chunka.” He laughs at her then, boisterous and musical at the same time and she can’t help but chuckle too, even if her face was burning at the thought. Trevor was still bouncing on the bed and it looked almost as if he wanted to stand up and jump.
“I highly doubt that I will have anyone come over and do that kind of stuff with me. I swear I am an anti-guy magnet.”
“Say it isn’t so! My new friend is single!” Trevor fans his face and pretends to faint. “I will definitely have to remedy that. Maybe you just haven’t met mister or… miss right?” He waggled his eyebrows. “Oooo, maybe you just need a set of twins. One of each gender to satisfy whatever carnal desire might take hold of you in the middle of the night.” He gives a throaty growl and moves his hands like they have claws on them to scratch the air. Then his face gets a slight pink color as he slaps his own cheeks. “Oh no, are you a vir-”
Stazi cuts him off in mid sentence. “You, sir, are a complete deviant.” Stazi looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “No, I am not a virgin and you need to get off my bed.”
“Ah, you wound me fair maiden.” The young man makes a grandiose gesture of gripping his chest above his heart and putting the back of his wrist to his forehead before falling backwards onto the mattress, which of course makes it squeak with every bounce. Stazi shakes her head and chuckles to herself. It was really hard to be upset with the guy when he was being so adorably freaking weird.
Stazi walks out of the bedroom and turns immediately to her left and opens the bathroom door and stops, her mouth dropping open a bit.
“Oh. My. God.”
The bathroom was incredibly small. The door barely cleared anything as it opened, coming close to hitting the toilet which was almost right up against the sink, which is right next to the wall-slash-door frame and a stand up shower on the other side of the toilet. The door itself was only a few inches away from the edge of the shower stall. Trevor looks over her shoulder and clucks softly.
“Definitely no sex in the shower for you. This thing is almost too small for one person anyways. Who the hell designed this room? And check out the ugly wallpaper.” He points to the wallpaper that was a very busy mix of geometric shapes set in black, white and grey.
“Who puts wallpaper in a bathroom anyway? And I agree with you on the no sex in the shower thing. Holy shit.” Stazi walks into the bathroom and opens the door to the shower, stepping carefully into it. “Jeez, that’s a tight fit.”
Trevor snickers behind her in the doorway. “I’ve said that a time or three.”
Stazi turns her head to look at him and then shakes her head. “Oh my god…” Having this guy for a neighbor was going to be a trip. She steps out of the shower and walks into the kitchen, still chuckling at Trevor’s lude comment.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a coffee maker would you? I didn’t have one that I was able to bring --.” She jumps a bit when he grabs her hands and jumps up and down excitedly. Stazi thought he would pull her arms out of their sockets if he yanked any harder on them.
“Oh, I have more than just a coffee pot my dear neighbor.’’ Trevor grins widely from ear to ear. “How do you like your espresso?”