To Catch a Shadow

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Chapter 3

The world stood still for what seemed like eternity. Her brown eyes staring into his green ones, neither saying a word. They could have probably stood there longer if not for the interruption.

"Who's at the door?" one of the voices inside called. That snapped them both out of it. The stranger gave Nira a once over, and she blushed at the lack of discretion he had. She took a few steps away from the door as another two men approached where the first one was standing. She could see they were all surprised to see her there, but before anyone could say anything, the younger of the three introduced himself.

"Hi there, I'm Cody. And you are?" he asked with a wide smile.

She could tell he was definitely younger than the other two. Probably no older than 18. It was his face that gave it away. All three of them had very built statures, no doubt spending a lot of time taking care of their physical health, but this one still looked like a kid.

The first one with the green eyes spoke up. "I'm Drew. And this is Colten," he gestured to the other man next to him, one far more serious than the others. Colten had brown hair and eyes. His complexion was caramel tan, and his aura screamed "tall, dark and handsome". He was very different from Cody who was a few inches shorter and had short sandy blonde hair. She even noticed a few freckles across the bridge of his nose. She also noticed Cody had a natural smile that didn't seem to leave his face, radiating a very friendly demeanor.

Drew on the other hand was a mystery. Like Colten, he had short, brown, cropped hair that accentuated his sharp jawline and those mesmerizing green eyes she had been hypnotized by when she first saw him. There was no trace of emotion in his face, so it was hard to see what he was thinking or feeling. His light skin and muscular build made him very attractive, and try as she might, it was very hard to keep her eyes off of him.

Breaking her away from her thoughts, he said, "I'm your new neighbor. Or at least, I assume I'm your neighbor." he looked down skeptically at Nira's hand, still holding the keys in between her fingers.

Suddenly feeling embarrassed, she let go of the keys and clutched them in her hand like a normal person. "Oh sorry, I didn't mean to do that, I just didn't think that anyone new was moving in. I thought maybe someone was breaking in." She could feel her face start to get red as she rushed to get out an explanation.

"Do a lot of people break into this place?" asked Colten.

"You'd be surprised," Nira chuckled. She wasn't lying. While Nira adored her apartment, she had to admit that it wasn't exactly in the nicest part of town. But it was close enough to the coffee shop and to her parents that she was comfortable enough to call it home. But she made sure to lock her door every night, and kept a metal bat by her doorway as insurance.

"Well it's very nice to meet you, Nira. Seeing as we're going to be neighbors, I look forward to seeing you around" said Drew, with a sly smile on his face. If Nira's face wasn't red from embarrassment before, it definitely was now.

"It's nice to meet you all as well," she said, limping backwards to get herself back to her apartment as quickly as possible. "I should leave you guys to do your unpacking. Don't want to keep you longer than necessary." With that, she finally reached her door and closed it as quickly as possible.

Leaning her back against the door, Nira tried to calm her breathing.

Could that have been any more awkward?

She mentally cursed herself for such a terrible first impression and decided that she would do what all people should do when formally introducing themselves to a new neighbor: bake a pie. Luckily for Nira, she had grown up with a passion for baking and knew exactly what to make.

Back in Drew's apartment, Cody was talking his mouth off at how nice the neighbors were. "There's an old lady down the hallway that told me I looked like a young Robert Redford. I don't watch a lot of movies, but I'm sure that's a good thing, right?"

"Sure, Cody," said Colten, leaning against the countertop.

"I think I can finish up unpacking the rest. I didn't bring a lot anyway, so you guys can head back home." Drew said, hoping he didn't seem as if he was kicking them out.

The truth was that Drew didn't want them to leave, he wanted to go back to their base, where it truly felt like home. But after recent events, he needed to sort some things out on his own, without the help of his teammates. Living in an apartment next to Nira's was just...an added bonus. Of course he couldn't tell them that though, they would try to get him to talk about things he wasn't ready for.

"Alright then. Let's go Cody."

Colten raised his fist across his chest towards Drew in a sign of farewell. Drew brought his arm up to meet Colt's, and after a quick bump, turned to Cody to do the same. But Cody never liked doing those kinds of greetings and farewells. Although they were protocol back home, he opted for a hug whenever it was allowed. Seeing this as an opportunity, he gave Drew a quick hug and pat on the back so it didn't seem that he was as sentimental as he was actually feeling.

"Don't forget to lock up the closet, unless you want someone thinking you're a serial killer," said Cody jokingly on his way out. With that, Drew closed the door and proceeded in unpacking the rest of the boxes, making a mental note to buy a lock for the hallway closet.

~

A few hours later, the entire third floor of Nira's apartment smelled like freshly baked apple pie. But it wasn't just any apple pie. Nira had made her specialty Apple Crumble Pie, which was now cooling on her kitchen island, ready to be presented to her handsome new neighbor.

While Nira wasn't much of a flirt, she definitely didn't feel like making a fool of herself twice on the same day. So she changed out of the clothes she left the hospital in and instead opted for some plain black jeans and one of the few nice tops she owned. Making sure not to damage her broken rib more than it already was cost her an extra five minutes, but at about 7pm she was ready to go greet her new neighbor, again.

As she reached Drew's door, she debated whether this was really a good idea or not. But before she could talk herself out of it, she raised her fist and gave the door a quick knock, hoping that he wasn't asleep yet and this wasn't all for nothing.

She didn't have to wait long before he answered the door. He looked just as handsome as the first time she saw him, his green eyes seemed as if they were looking into her soul. Even after flooding her floor with the scent of apple pie, she could still smell his scent. He smelled fresh, like if he had just gotten out of the shower.

"Hi. I don't think our first introduction went as well as I had hoped, so I made you something to welcome you into our lovely apartment complex," she said, hoping she sounded as sincere as she felt.

All she got in response was a chuckle. Drew found it both amusing and adorable that she would go through the trouble of baking him an apology pie after their first meeting. But seeing the strange look on Nira's face from his reaction made Drew instantly stop laughing, and in an attempt to make her feel better, asked her if she wanted to come inside.

She gave him a small smile, and accepted.

Walking inside his apartment was like walking into a furniture display at a store. There were no personal touches or pictures. The only thing that stood out were the cardboard boxes folded and stacked in a corner. Other than that, his apartment was very basic.

Placing the freshly baked pie on the kitchen counter, she turned around only to be greeted by a t-shirt covered chest. Nervously, her eyes slowly travelled up over a sharp collarbone, jawline, and finally landed on green eyes.


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