The hour was growing late, but Melanie continued to look interested in the subject occupying the apartment. Thoughts of a hot bath haunted her mind, while the leftovers of her mother’s strawberry cheesecake occupied her flowered plate. The day had seemed like one endless activity after another. It had proven to be a long conclusion to an exhausting week.
She worked later than normal so she could organize her classroom for Monday and submit her final grades on time. She stopped by a small drive-in on the way home and found herself finishing out her Friday with a greasy burger and cold fries. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her old Camry stalled on the freeway during rush hour.
After waiting an hour for AAA to come out and help her replace her battery and alternator, she finally got home, shortly after eight o’clock, to find herself the unwilling victim to a surprise visit from her parents and little sister, Stephanie. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see them, it was just that her sister was getting married in a few weeks and her excitement was a bit overwhelming.
Her mother insisted on having Melanie involved in the plans, though her daughter could really care less what color the flowers were, or which of the nieces and nephews were old enough to be in the procession. It really didn’t matter anyway, Melanie thought. It was the same way with her own wedding. Regardless of the choices the bride made, it was up to their mother if she acted on them or not.
Where Stephanie wanted a bouquet of carnations and daisies, Vera insisted that it had to be roses. Stephanie argued on having a reception at the family farm, with a large barbeque and loads of fun, while Vera assured her that a catered dinner would be preferable. Vera had already put a deposit on the chicken and salmon for the reception, along with a spread of assorted cakes, chocolate fountain, ice cream, and eclairs, but opted in to saving money by providing the side dishes.
Melanie forced about as much enthusiasm in the plans, as she had that hamburger a few short hours ago. She wanted to be happy for Stephanie and added a few comments to the endless list of details, but for the most part, she just listened to her mother and sister. If she had a single piece of advice for Stephanie, it would be to skip the wedding and just shack up. It was easier to sort out their lives if things didn’t last. That, however, was completely against their mother’s religion and personal beliefs. Sex before marriage was just not acceptable.
Vera Kent was known as a natural born organizer. Her parties were the talk of the county for months. It was only natural she would want to put as much detail into her daughter’s wedding, as she had last year’s Christmas pageant. It would be the talk of the town for the next year, with every young bride trying to top the event. It had been the same with each of her other siblings’ weddings, not to mention her own.
The clock ticked past ten, then ten thirty and even eleven, and still her mother talked on. Memories of her wedding filtered through her foggy brain, and Melanie found herself forcing the images of the event away. Out of the three years she was married to Donald, it was most likely the only day she was actually happy.
Curtis Kent had drifted to sleep over forty-five minutes ago, yet the visit lingered on, leaving Melanie to wonder about her parents immediate plans. She knew that driving the three hours back to Vernal was out of the question, but she hadn’t bothered to ask if they wanted to stay with her or get a motel. Despite the arrangements they had made for sleeping, the hour was growing late, and she was finding it difficult to stay focused.
Melanie tried suppressing the yawn that threatened to escape her tired lips, but its insistence was too strong to ignore, and she was forced to give into the urgent demand. Stephanie brushed her dark curls away from her pale face and stared at her older sister strangely.
“Are you tired?” she asked, her ignorance of the late hour echoed through her tone.
“It is nearly midnight,” Melanie answered, hoping her attempt at a smile wouldn’t give away her exhaustion. “I’ve had a long day, and I’ve been up since seven.”
She turned her attention to the grey-haired woman on the sofa next to Stephanie, then glanced at the nearly bald man snoring softly in the arm chair.
“Are you planning on driving home tonight, Mom, or do you want to stay here?” Melanie asked.
The older woman scowled at the man who stirred softly before letting out a loud grunting snore.
“I don’t suppose there’s any use in driving back. You know your father. Once he falls asleep he’s useless for the next eight hours. We’ll stay the night, Dear, if you don’t mind the imposition?”
Relieved to at last move from the small confines of the arm chair, Melanie stood up, depositing the clippings from the newspaper and magazines her mother passed her way to the coffee table, then headed towards the door at the far end of the living room.
“You’re more than welcome, you know that,” she said, opening the door to the guest room and switching on the overhead light. “You and Dad can sleep here, and Stephanie can share my room. There’s clean towels in the closet and extra blankets in the dresser. You know where everything else is. Just help yourselves.”
Vera shook her husband awake, frowning at the gasping snort he gave before opening his eyes. He looked around the room, though Melanie was certain he had no clue where he was, or even cared. He pushed out of the chair, kicking his discarded shoes aside, then staggered forward.
Melanie kissed the somewhat chubby cheek of the near unconscious frame of her father, as he stumbled stupidly towards the open door. She watched for only a moment as he pulled his shirt off and began unfastening his pants.
“We’ll be fine,” her mother assured her as she gathered together the scattered disarray of bridal magazines, color samples, clippings, and notepaper from the coffee table where they had been working at the past four hours.
Stephanie handed her mother the pages of wedding gowns she had collected on her lap and stood up.
“I think I’ll call Cory and tell him I won’t be back tonight,” she said, stepping around the small table.
“You can use the phone in the bedroom,” Melanie told her with an amused smile. “You’ll have privacy there.”
Vera carried her bundle into the kitchen next to the living room and deposited them on the counter. Melanie kissed her mother goodnight and watched as she walked to the guest room, closing the door behind her.
“Two down, one to go,” she told herself as she breathed a sigh of relief.
The apartment was quiet as she rinsed out the dishes they had used for dessert and stacked them in the dishwasher. The robust snore of her father could be heard through the silence, assuring her that her mother had rolled him over to stop the noise. Oddly enough, it gave her a sense of security. It had been months since she had company, even if it was her family, and it was nice to know she wasn’t alone. She knew by tomorrow afternoon however, she’d be happy to see them leave. As much as she loved her family, she hated the mess people left in their wake.
Melanie organized the stack of papers her mother left behind, then moved them to the dining table. She picked up her father’s shoes and set them beside the chair, then straightened the sofa cushions. She replaced her grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth back on the coffee table, arranged the vase of plastic flowers in the center, and hung up her parents’ jackets in the small closet next to the door.
She was about to switch off the lamp, when a soft knock sounded at the door. Melanie frowned as she looked at the clock on the wall. Fifteen minutes after midnight. Far too late for visitors, she thought as she shut off the kitchen light. She found her hand on the deadbolt before she had a chance to reconsider her actions and ignore the visitor.
Melanie cautiously kept the chain across the door frame as she pulled the barrier open, just enough to peek out. Standing in the narrow hallway of the old refurbished Victorian mansion, stood a dark-haired stranger. His jaw shadowed with the day’s growth of beard and a wide smile across his full lips. For a moment, she could do nothing more than stare. He was quite possibly the most handsome man she had seen in a very long time. His torso was broad beneath the old white tee-shirt, his long muscular legs strained against the tight denim of his jeans.
“I’m sorry to disturb you so late,” he said, his voice deep and his tone friendly. “I’m Jordan James, I just moved in next door.”
Melanie’s stunned silence gave way to a shy smile, as she recalled her landlady telling her she had a new neighbor when she arrived home that evening. She said he had been moving in all day and hoped he wouldn’t disturb her.
“Um...right,” she answered, finding her voice again. “Mrs. Walsh told me you were moving in.”
She slowly unlatched the chain from the door, and opened it a bit wider, as the bathroom door shut. She knew Stephanie was off the phone and had washed up for bed, which meant she could now go into her own bedroom. Somehow, the thought of sleep at the moment didn’t cross her mind, as she stared at the handsome man outside her door.
The light from her apartment fell on him, casting a seductive shadow across his features and for a brief, fleeting moment, Melanie froze. He was more handsome than she had originally assessed, yet his longer-than-normal dark hair and matching eyes made him appear bewitching. Her hand twitched on the doorknob as she forced herself to remain calm in front of this strange man.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Jordan?” she asked, praying her voice didn’t reveal the eruption of nerves that exploded inside of her slender frame.
“I know this is going to sound very strange, but I haven’t had a chance to go to the market and I’m too tired to embark back out tonight, so...” he hesitated briefly, the smile deepened as a slight color rose to his tanned cheeks. “Would you mind loaning a complete stranger a bar of soap?”
Melanie’s apprehension suddenly turned into amusement, and she laughed at the man’s pitiful expression on his handsome face. His smile widened even further, and he seemed to relax his stance.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Jordan,” she apologized, stepping aside to allow her new neighbor admittance. “Please come in. I’ll see what I can find.”
“Thank you, Miss...” Melanie blushed, realizing she had yet to introduce herself.
“Kent. Melanie Kent.”
The man shook her hand, sending a tingle of excitement up her arm and along her spinal cord.
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Kent. And my first name is Jordan, not my last.”
Melanie’s blush deepened as she lowered her eyes from the intent look on the man’s face.
“I’m sorry. I’ve never really been very good with names.”
“No problem. It’s not exactly a very common name, and I did catch you off guard.”
“You’re not from Utah, are you?” she smiled.
“Is it that obvious?” he asked with a slight frown.
“A little. The name Jordan is probably one of the most common names in Utah.”
“Don’t tell me, a religious reference to the River Jordan?”
“Probably, why?” she frowned.
“Because that’s what my parents named me after. My mother is the daughter of a preacher. My brother is Jacob, and my sister is Rachel.”
“Your family would fit right in with the rest of the population,” Melanie said in an amused tone as she excused herself.
She walked down the small hallway across from the kitchen and opened the linen closet that stood next to the bathroom. She quickly glanced at the organized shelves of items before reaching inside. She passed over the lilac scented liquid soap and loofa her mother had given her for Christmas, then retrieved a box of Irish Spring bath soap. She pulled down a large blue bath sheet and wash cloth, then removed a roll of toilet paper from the package on the floor. She took out the motel sized shampoo, then thought for a few moments, before taking the package of disposable razors she picked up, because they were on sale, then hurried back to where her visitor stood waiting.
“I have some shampoo and a razor here for you, as well as the soap,” she told him, handing over her recently acquired bundle.
Jordan took the items, smiling at the toilet paper. His dark eyes twinkled, and his smile widened, revealing perfectly white teeth that would make him an enemy to any dentist.
“I take it you don’t think I look very good with a beard?” he teased, receiving a blush in response. “I thought every woman liked the rugged, outdoors look.”
“Not really,” she lied. “I’m old-fashioned. I like a clean face and short hair.”
“Then there’s no hope for us ever getting together,” he said with an exaggerated sigh. “I haven’t had time to get my hair cut in weeks.”
“I didn’t mean to imply…” she began, watching his smile deepen, revealing a small dimple in his left cheek.
“No need to apologize,” he told her, glancing to the towel she had handed to him. “Actually, I don’t much care for it either. I like my hair longer than most, but this stubble itches.”
“Well, on you, the long hair looks good.”
Melanie instantly found the heat rising up her neck. Why had she said that? She barely knew the guy and it sounded like she was flirting with him.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he chuckled. “I don’t want to put you out though,” he continued, lifting the stack in his hands a bit higher. “Can you spare these?”
“The one thing I never found when I moved, was the box with my towels. I’m still not sure where they are.”
“I could use them, thank you. I didn’t pack everything, and I don’t own such luxuries yet. To be completely honest, I have no clue where the nearest store is.”
“There’s a Walmart a few blocks away, but it’s too late to go tonight and you look tired. Have you been moving all day?”
“Pretty much,” he told her with a heavy sigh. “The moving truck with my furniture arrived shortly after noon, so at least I have my bed put together and a coffee pot, but everything else is sort of in the middle of the floor in boxes. Fortunately, Mrs. Walsh pointed me in the direction of McDonald’s, so I know a little bit about the area, and I won’t starve.”
“I’ll be happy to give you a map tomorrow,” she told him. “How about a toothbrush, are you set for that?” she asked him, then quickly bit her lip as he laughed, his eyes taking on a seductive gleam.
“I think we should save that until we get to know each other better. At any rate, thanks for all you’ve done, and I promise to return the favor.”
Melanie walked to the door with him and watched him step out into the hallway, forcing herself to keep her eyes off the back of his jeans.
“Just don’t hurt my towel. They’re part of my new set and I don’t want anything to happen to them.”
“I promise to treat it as if it was a newborn kitten.”
Jordan stepped toward his apartment then turned back to his new neighbor.
“Would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow night?” he asked, his dark eyes twinkling happily at her pale blue ones. “As a thank you for your kindness.”
“I’d love to, but I have other plans. Maybe another night.”
The thought of spending an evening with Stephanie and her future husband held as much promise of excitement, as a visit to the gynecologist, but she had agreed and backing out now would only cause hurt feelings.
“I’ll take you up on that. Thanks again, Melanie. Night.”
Jordan opened his apartment door as she uttered a goodnight and closed the door. She locked the deadbolt and leaned against the cool wood. The handsome young stranger had been in her life less than fifteen minutes, and already she was missing him. There was something about those eyes that seemed to drill holes into her soul, yet somehow, they seemed strangely familiar. She could only imagine she had dreamt this wonderful new neighbor up out of thin air. His broad shoulders and long legs, his handsome smile and twinkling eyes, made her feel things she hadn’t allowed herself to feel in a very long time.
This is ridiculous, she scorned herself. For all she knew he was an escaped axe murderer living right next door to her. And she loaned her new towel to him!
She shook her head once. This was as pointless as day dreaming about a knight in shining armor. That kind of man didn’t exist and never would. She had allowed herself to fall in love with a handsome face once before, and paid for her dreams with three long, painful years. That was one mistake she would never repeat, Melanie promised as she switched off the lamp and went to her room.
Besides, for all she knew, her new neighbor was married with three kids. Just because he asked her out for dinner, didn’t mean there wasn’t a wife waiting somewhere for him to come home. She learned that all too well with Donald, and she wasn’t about to become the next notch on the man’s bedpost.
The next morning was very much out of the ordinary, as Melanie found herself growing irritated with her mother and Stephanie. She could hear them down the hallway and through the closed door of her room. Reluctantly, she surrendered her usual habit of sleeping late on the weekends and climbed out of bed. She hurried through her morning shower, trying to ignore the mess her father had left in the sink after he shaved. Damp towels were bunched on the rack and the tube of toothpaste was left open on the back of the toilet.
She moaned inwardly when she went into the kitchen. Her clean apartment once again looked like a cyclone had hit it. There were dishes in the sink, pans on the stove, and a mountain of food on the counter and table. Stephanie was sitting on the counter next to the sink, a plate in her hands as she listened to her mother once again rambling on about the wedding.
Melanie frowned at the enormous amount of bacon, eggs, toast, hash browns, pancakes, and juice, fixed and waiting for consumption. Her mother was used to cooking for a large family, and it was obvious they had gone shopping before she woke up. She didn’t keep this much food in her house, and besides the breakfast items, her mother had prepared three recipes for side dishes as samples for the wedding reception. Her father had gotten a newspaper, and it was strung across two chairs and the end of the table in front of him.
“I hope you don’t mind,” Vera said when she saw her eldest daughter. “We noticed you didn’t have many groceries, so we bought you some things.”
“You didn’t have to do that, Mom. I don’t keep food in the house because I eat out most of the time. It just goes bad before I can use it.”
“Nonsense,” Vera argued. “You used to be a wonderful cook. You just need to get back into the habit. Maybe you can find a decent man to settle down…”
“And cook for him like a woman should,” Melanie said, adding her words to her mothers.
Her mother frowned at her as she turned around and opened the fridge. It had been an old argument and she was growing tired of it.
“Cory loves my cooking,” Stephanie added, preventing the two women from continuing their disagreement. “I can’t wait until we have our own place and I can start cooking for him.”
Melanie rolled her eyes as her sister continued to ramble on about her fiancé and how badly she missed him, as her mother dished up a plate for her. The girl’s insistence that she was the luckiest woman alive to have found such an incredible man, made Melanie groan inside. She knew Stephanie was excited about getting married, but it was too early to rehash all of this again. She had her fill of it the night before.
Taking her plate and sitting at the end of the table, Melanie tried to resist the irritation building up inside of her, with the continual praising of the boy. Vera and Curtis listened to her, glancing occasionally at their eldest daughter, as if expecting some sort of breakdown or tantrum. Melanie added her views when asked, but mostly just remained quiet. This wasn’t exactly how she had intended on spending her first Saturday, virtually free of work, in months.
The sun was shining through the open curtains in the kitchen, basking the room in a warmth that promised summer was on its way. She longed to pull her hair back, slip into the new bikini she bought at last year’s clearance, and lay out next to the pool in the backyard. She wanted to turn her pale, too-many-days-indoors skin a dark brown that would last until Thanksgiving. She was eager to get her bike out of storage and start riding it again, and she was looking forward to jogging in shorts instead of the heavy stretch pants she’d used all winter.
A loud banging sounded through the wall of the living room and for a moment, Melanie forgot about her self-pity. She became lost to the conversation, as she remembered her handsome new neighbor and wondered what he was doing. The hammering continued as visions of his smile and dark eyes washed over her. She had a sudden and overwhelming urge to go to him, to say good morning, and to just look at that dimple in his cheek.
“It sounds like you have a new neighbor,” Curtis told his daughter, stuffing a healthy mouthful of eggs into his mouth.
“Yes, I do,” she answered, pushing her half-eaten breakfast aside. “He came by late last night to borrow a bar of soap. He said he forgot to go shopping.”
“Your new neighbor is a man?” Stephanie asked, looking much like the local matchmaker from her home town of Vernal.
Melanie wrinkled her nose in response but chose to ignore her younger sister’s growing interest.
“I didn’t hear the door last night,” Vera commented, eyeing her daughter oddly. “When did he come over?”
“Right after you went to bed. I was just locking up, when he came by.”
“What’s he like? Is he cute? Where’s he from? Did you find out his name? Is he single?”
Stephanie blurted out her questions so fast, Melanie felt a strange dizziness wash over her at the cross examination. She watched her sister jumped down from the counter she’d been using as a table and went to the wall, pressing her ear to it.
“It sounds like there’s a herd of elephants over there,” Curtis said. “Your landlady is going to throw a fit over all the noise.
“So, who is he?” Vera asked as she seemed to take particular interest in her eggs.
“His name is Jordan James, I don’t know if he’s married, or even if he’s cute,” she lied, as the vision of the man’s warm eyes and handsome face danced before her pale blue eyes. “He’s just my neighbor and he had to eat at McDonald’s last night. I’m sure he’s starved for real food.”
“You should invite him over for a homecooked supper,” Stephanie said as she returned to the counter and hopped back up on it. “It’s the best way to get to know someone.”
“Yeah, like you can find a lot out about a person over dry meatloaf and lumpy gravy,” Melanie grumbled, hoping to avoid her sister’s interference in her love life.
“Perhaps you should take him some breakfast,” Curtis suggested, stuffing the last of his pancake into his mouth. “I’m sure he could do with a decent meal, and Lord knows there’s plenty.”
“He did say he was still unpacking,” Melanie said, eyeing the plates of food in front of her. “If he’s anything like I was, he has no idea where his pots and pans are, and if he hasn’t gone shopping, he may not have any food in the place.”
“That’s a great idea,” Stephanie said with a wide grin. “I’ll help you.”
“You stay here,” Vera insisted quickly, preventing her daughter from jumping off the counter. “You and I still need to decide on your menu for your wedding.”
Melanie casually walked into the kitchen as the banging ceased. She dished up a generous helping of everything her mother had made.
“I wouldn’t be in the way,” Stephanie pouted as she watched her sister take a cup out of the cupboard.
“Let the poor guy find his footing before he has to endure an encounter with you,” Melanie teased. “Besides, Cory would throw a fit if he knew you were flirting with my handsome new neighbor.”
“I thought you said you didn’t know if he was good-looking or not,” Stephanie said with a suspicious grin.
“Lay off,” Melanie insisted, fighting the color from tinting her cheeks. “Just because you’re getting married, doesn’t mean everyone should follow your example.”
“But you deserve to be happy.”
“I am happy. This is the life I’ve chosen for myself, and I’ll thank you to stay out of it.”
Melanie poured a tall glass of orange juice and buttered four slices of toast. By the time she was finished, she had two plates of food and a glass of juice on a small tray she used when she wanted to eat in front of the television. She walked to the door and eagerly left before Stephanie started arguing about her growing old before her time. This, too, was a longstanding argument, and she wasn’t in the mood to listen to it again.
The hall was well lit this morning, as light filtered in from the skylight in the ceiling. Melanie forced herself to remain calm as she walked next door, then stopped short of knocking as a wave of nerves washed over her. What if he was busy, or maybe had company? It could prove quite embarrassing if she intruded on a lover’s morning romp.
Logic soon shown through the darkness of confusion. Jordan had arrived late last night asking for aide from a total stranger. It was unlikely he would have left a guest alone while he went to another woman’s apartment.
Melanie was still debating with her conscience, when the door jerked open and she found herself staring at the surprised, clean shaven face of Jordan James. She blinked twice then smiled as friendly as possible, given the unusual situation.
“Well, good morning,” he said, his perfect smile spreading across his full lips, making the small dimple more pronounced without the shadow of hair to cover it up.
“I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you,” she said, glancing behind him at the stacks of boxes in the middle of the living room. “I thought you might be hungry and I seem to have enough food this morning to feed an army.”
Jordan laughed lightly and glanced at the tray of food in the woman’s hands.
“Actually, I’m starving,” he admitted, stepping aside to allow his neighbor admittance. “I was just going to go get something to eat, but this looks more appetizing than anything McDonald’s could offer.”
“If you would rather go out...”
“No, please, this is perfect. Come on in, just don’t mind the mess. My maid doesn’t come in on the weekends.”
Melanie laughed as she walked past the man, fighting the urge to brush against him. She set the tray on the counter next to the coffee pot, then glanced around the disarray of boxes. He had hung a painting of a stream above the leather sofa, and two framed awards beside it.
There was a leather recliner, a heavy looking bookcase with boxes, a small glass coffee table, and a matching end table. A small glass lamp lay in the recliner, the coffee table held a stack of books, and the sofa had a stack of clothes on hangers, laying across the arm. On the other side of the room was a large empty fish tank with a flat screen television on the wall above it. In all, what she could see of the place, it definitely looked like a bachelor’s apartment.
“Do you have any silverware?” she asked, trying to avoid the man’s unsettling stare as she glanced up into his eyes.
He grunted loudly and scratched his forehead.
“I know I packed them, it’s just a matter of trying to find the right box,” he chuckled.
The next few minutes was spent in search of utensils. Eventually, a fork and a serving spoon was found in a box, under the gravel for the fish tank and a pair of boxer shorts. Melanie sat beside the man at a round glass dining table, as he began devouring the meal her mother made, unwilling to return to her own apartment just yet. She watched as he washed the fork, then sat down next to a box marked UTAH OR BUST.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Jordan began, sipping on the sweet juice, “but why aren’t you home entertaining some lucky fella? I know if you were mine, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight, even to help the new neighbor.”
“Actually, I do have company,” she told him softly, as if her family could hear through the walls. “The fact is, I’m trying to avoid going back. I’m hoping everything will be back to normal when I get there, and I can have my apartment back. I really hate unexpected visitors.”
“Pretty bad, huh?”
“The worst. My place is a disaster and it’s going to take me the rest of the day, just to clean up the kitchen. As a man, I’m sure you never notice how messy you can be, but believe me, I do. You should have seen my bathroom. I never thought shaving could leave such a mess in the sink. The whole place is officially trashed.”
“Don’t be so hard, Melanie. It’s always difficult to share what you consider to be your private sanctuary, especially with someone of the opposite sex.”
“Is this from personal experience?” she asked, then bit her bottom lip.
She wasn’t sure if she wanted to know more about his private life or not, and the idea of learning if he had a lover wasn’t what she had set out to discover. Perhaps it was subconscious curiosity, but the idea of him lingering in bed on a Saturday morning, a beautiful blonde next to him, suddenly appeared in her mind.
“I’ve never officially shared my apartment, but I have had overnight guests before,” he told her with a suspicious gleam in his eyes.
“I’m sorry. That really wasn’t any of my business.”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t really have much to hide.”
“Well,” she said, reluctantly standing up from the chair. “I better be going. I need to at least say goodbye, I guess. I don’t think I’d ever be forgiven if I didn’t.”
“Thanks for the food,” Jordan told her, stepping to the door with her. “It was more than I would have expected from a friendly stranger.” Melanie laughed, stepping back out in the hall. “I’m really glad I moved here,” he added with a twinkle to his dark eyes.
“It’s much nicer to have someone younger than sixty in the building,” Melanie told him. “The old lady that lived here before had four cats and hated any noise. She complained every time I used my blow dryer.”
“That’s what the smell was when I moved in,” Jordan chuckled. “I thought the place was sitting next to an ammonia factory.”
“Mrs. Walsh isn’t much on cleaning the places after someone moves out. She offers discounts on the deposit if you do the cleaning yourself.”
“That might be why she only charged me a security deposit.
“I have the carpet cleaners coming out in a couple of weeks. If you’d like, I’ll have them stop by and do your place as well.”
“I’d love it, but I insist on paying half of the cost.”
“That will be difficult since it’s not costing me anything. I have a friend who owns a cleaning service, and he’s always giving me special deals. All he asks in return, is a pizza and a beer.”
“That’s a price I can definitely agree with,” Jordan chuckled. “I’ll get your dishes and towels back after I wash them.”
Melanie smiled when he thanked her again, then hurried back to her own apartment, closing the door and leaning against its cold, hard barrier. She didn’t notice the way her family stared at her as she bit her bottom lip and closed her eyes. The man’s good humor and smile made her feel happier than she had in years, and his chocolate eyes made her pulse quicken.
“Well?” Stephanie asked suspiciously. “Is he cute? Is he single?”
Melanie snorted her discontent and headed down the hall to her bedroom, smiling to herself as she imagined the man again.
“You’re hopeless, little sister,” she called over her shoulder as she swung the door closed.
Even the messy, unmade bed and the scattered array of clothing across the floor didn’t affect her present mood. She was feeling the buzz of life coursing back through her tired, sexually numb body.
For the first time in years, Melanie was aware of another person, and not just any person, but a drop dead gorgeous man.