I avoided any and all contact from my next door neighbor. Every time he walked outside, I conveniently had something to do inside. When he busied himself by washing his car shirtless, I buried myself in homework. It was like I was in this never ending cycle of lust toward him and it needed to stop. He was cocky and arrogant; everything I was trying to stay away from, but somehow, it allured me even further.
To keep my mind off of the cop, I made plans with Riley. Since I rarely ever go out, Viv happily helped me put together an outfit, do my hair, and apply my makeup. With a red wine colored off-shouldered mini dress, dark brown curled hair down the length of my spine, and winged eyeliner, Vivian sent me off into Riley’s waiting car. As I pulled open the door of Riley’s Jeep, I made eye contact with Officer Rivera as he sat on his patio with a beer bottle in hand. Feeling a rush of embarrassment, I quickly jumped into the car and buckled myself up.
On the way to the restaurant, Riley was a complete gentlemen. He asked how comfortable I was, if I need the car’s temperature hotter or cooler, and how the hell I’m so damn pretty. When we pulled up to the five star establishment, I bit my lip.
“We don’t have to go here, I heard this place is wicked expensive.” I watched as he shook his head with an amused grin, jogging over to the passenger’s side of the car and opening the door for me.
“Let’s just say, I have an in with the owner.” He winked and we walked inside, past the line of hungry waiting restaurant-goers. We were seated in a private room in the back; the walls a lavish red, gold fixtures and table settings, mahogany wood flooring, and a live jazz band that played softly in the background. “Riley, you didn’t have to do all of this for me.” I insisted, but he shook his head again.
“You’re special, Jane. Anyone with half a brain can see that.” He shot me a charming smile and I, quite honestly, nearly melted. Having long forgotten the cop next door, I ordered the fettuccine with a side of broiled asparagus in a garlic butter sauce while Riley splurged on a twelve ounce steak and a side of rosemary-infused mashed potatoes. My date was everything a girl could hope for; smart, funny, easy-going, and goal oriented. “I have a job lined up after graduation at a private marine animal hospital.” I took a sip of the wine Riley had chosen for us, my mouth swirling with hints of rich earthiness and a sweet after taste. “Good, isn’t it? It’s a 2008 Littorai Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay.” I nodded pleasingly.
“I don’t usually drink, but this is amazing.” I smiled, setting the glass back down.
“Well, Jane,” Riley folded his hands together and set them on the table in front of him, eyeing me with a curious expression. “We’ve sat here talking about my life, school, and the weather for about forty-five minutes and you haven’t told me a lick about you.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I’m awful at first dates and I hate talking about myself.” I gushed, knowing that first dates had always been a weakness of mine. “What would you like to know?”
“Where are you from?” He asked, cutting into his medium-rare steak.
“A little town in Wisconsin, a couple hour from Milwaukee.”
“When did you meet Vivian?” I blushed as I thought back to Vivian giving Riley the “parent talk” and supplying me with a tube of pepper spray.
“Have her home at a decent hour and if you hurt her, I will hunt you down and rip your dick off.”
“We’ve been friends since diapers; she packed up her whole life to move here with me, I owe her everything.” I said honestly, feeling my love for my best friend resonate throughout the small room.
“She seems great, it must be nice to have someone like that in your life.” He replied, popping a piece of tender meat into his mouth.
“You don’t?” I questioned, taking a bite of my own food. God, this was fricken good.
“After high school, I kind of just put my all into studying and passing college that I lost touch with a lot of my friends.” He shrugged, “But I just see it as an opportunity to move forward and make new ones.” That was one thing I really liked about Riley: he was always so optimistic. “Anyway, what does your family think of the move? Don’t they miss you?”
This was the question I had been waiting for all night.
“Um, no.” I shook my head, a lump forming in my throat. “They died a year and a half ago.” Riley paled, quickly taking my hand in his and giving it a gentle squeeze.
“Damn it, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know-”
“You couldn’t have, it’s okay.” I smiled reassuringly, pushing back the tears that wanted to pour out of my eyelids. “But I’d like to think they miss me.” Riley’s embarrassed expression turned to one of sympathy, his thumb running over the lines on my palm.
“I’m sure they do.”
He quickly changed the subject to my favorite food and I was thankful, finally letting go of the breath I had been holding. At the end of our meal, the waiter that had been assigned to our table handed over the check to Riley.
“Thank you, Colin.” He opened the fold and took out the receipt, signing the small piece of paper before handing it back to the waiter.
“Will there be anything else, Sir?” Colin asked Riley, but he shook his head.
“No, but please tell my parents to order more of the Littorai Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay.” The waiter nodded and walked back to the kitchen, but my jaw had hit the hardwood floor.
“Your family owns this place?” I whispered in disbelief. Riley chuckled and nodded, standing before helping me out of my own chair.
“It doesn’t take much to impress you, Jane.” He said, amused at my reaction.
“Says the guy whose family owns a restaurant that has chains all over the world.” I smacked his arm playfully and he opened my car door, helping me inside. The ride back to my house was short, but nonetheless lively as Riley told stories of his parent’s rise to success. When we pulled up to my house, Riley walked me to my door.
This was the tough part: to kiss or not to kiss?
The blonde man in front of me lifted his hand and gently trailed his thumb along my cheekbone and my eyelids fluttered shut.
Yes, please kiss me.
Taking the hint, Riley slowly leaned in and pressed his soft lips to my own. His fingers cupped my cheek while his teeth softly grazed my lower lip. Parting my lips, I waited eagerly for more before a loud bang interrupted the moment. Riley and I both turned to watch my neighbor exit his home and lean against the railing of his patio, his eyes on us but somehow his demeanor seemed hostile. His hands were balled into fists, eyebrows furrowed, and muscles constricting under his tight plain white v-neck tee.
“I guess that’s my cue.” Riley laughed awkwardly, letting his back face the cop that lived next door to me. I smiled apologetically and kissed his cheek.
“I had a really nice time tonight.” I whispered, my hand now on the front door’s knob. Riley’s face lit up at my words and he nodded.
“Me too, I’ll call you later.” He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” I waved as he got back into his car and drove off. I leaned dreamily against my front door, my fingertips brushing across my lips in remembrance of Riley’s kiss. But then I remembered the perv who sat on his patio, still watching me. I quickly pulled out my keys, fumbling to find the right one before he spoke.
“You know, Princesa,” He leaped from his patio and pulled himself onto my front porch. My heart jumped into my throat, my palms becoming slick with sweat. His arm were now on either sides of me, trapping me between them as he looked down at me with his emerald gaze. “I have a feeling you’ve been avoiding me.”
“I have.” I shot back, my embarrassment taking a turn into anger for having ruined my first kiss with Riley.
“Why is that?” He questioned, his lips now just milometers from mine.
Fucking kiss me. I thought at him. No, Jane, stop it!
“Stop it, Dax.” I wouldn’t meet his eyes, I couldn’t. His hot breath trailed up my neck, his soft lips ghosting over the exposed flesh. He chuckled when my back arched involuntarily, my cheeks flaring hot and pink.
“It’s Officer Rivera, to you.” His deep voice rasped quietly in my ear. “Besides, you don’t want me to stop, Princesa.”
“If you don’t stop, I’ll-”
“You’ll what?” He interrupted, smirking against my jawline. “Call the police?”
I gasped softly and ducked under his arms, quickly unlocking my door and slipping inside. Leaving the sexually charged officer on my doorstep, I slumped against the door and slowly sank down to the floor.