“Dude! Could you be any lazier? You do know there’s still a ton of stuff in the U-Haul, right?”
Joshua Gentles looked at his older brother Marlon who barely glanced in his direction from where he had taken up residence on the sofa. He was engrossed in unpacking his precious cookbooks. Joshua took up the nearest thing to him, which happened to be a stress ball and tossed it at him.
“What!?” Marlon narrowed his green eyes at his brother and growled. Joshua slitted his own green eyes back at him and growled likewise.
“Stuff… downstairs… needs up… in the apartment.”
“Well, my books aren’t going to unpack themselves, you know.”
“Well, the stuff in the U-Haul isn’t going to grow feet and walk up a flight of stairs magically, you know.”
“I’ll meet you on the landing.”
Joshua threw his hands up in defeat. Marlon’s procrastination was one of the reasons they always had disagreements. One would think Marlon was the 27-year-old, and Joshua was the 30-year-old and not the other way around. Even in their town back home, Joshua would have to keep reminding folks that he was Joshua Gentles the younger and that Marlon Gentles was the older.
In their younger days, they were often mistaken for twins. They had the same charcoal black hair and stormy green eyes with hints of grey. Both of them were both six feet three inches tall and up to a few years ago had the same build. But Joshua had been working out since leaving college, and his muscles were more defined. He flexed a bicep as he reached for the hem of his t-shirt to wipe at a bead of sweat. It had chosen that precise moment to escape from his forehead and run down his aquiline nose. The tug upward of the shirt revealed his rock-hard six-pack that he had worked super hard to get and would damn well keep, especially if the business took off. He had to maintain a distinct look like a fitness instructor.
He sighed and left the apartment and headed back down to the parking lot. It was slightly warm for September, and he was glad he wore a sleeveless t-shirt and basketball shorts. His well-worn good and faithful sneakers completed the look. He unloaded another set of boxes that he could carry up in one trip and left them on the landing to get a second set. Just about two more flights and the U-Haul would be empty.
As he got back to the landing, he was surprised to see it empty. It seemed as if his lazy brother had gotten off his ass after all. He carried the ones in his hand into the apartment. He needed a breather before going back downstairs again. As he slumped against the island in the breakfast nook, he felt a cold bottle at his elbow. He took it, clinked bottles as the first gulp felt heavenly. He breathed deeply.
“We’re doing the right thing, Josh. Don’t worry about it. We have a good spot. It’s busy and central. We have good referrals from the previous owner. And we have a good product. Whoever heard of a gym that also has nutrition classes for its clients?”
“True. We have that unique spin to the whole concept of going to the gym. What’s the sense in taking off the weight if you can’t keep it off?”
They both fell silent. Had it been just five months ago that Marlon had gone home and made a pitch to his brother about fusing a gym workout with nutritional advice added to the package? Marlon was quite convincing. He had to have been, or else they wouldn’t be here right now. Joshua had to admit that it was one of the less hairy of Marlon’s usually airborne fairytale-like fantasies. For all his fantasizing, this one felt close to reality. And this time, he had taken a hostage – Joshua.
“Yeah. It will be just fine. Imma grab the last box. Meet me on the landing.” Joshua left his half-empty bottle and headed back down to the parking lot. This one was a big box. And it was chock full of his junk. He flexed a bit as the weight of it caught him slightly by surprise. When he had locked the truck and the U-Haul and pocketed the keys, he hefted the box into his arms. It obscured his vision, but he had made no less than ten trips on this path all morning, so he picked his way by memory. He breathed a sigh of relief as he stepped over the threshold. Now for the tricky part. The stairs. Carefully he picked his way up, feeling with his feet as he went. He passed the landing and decided what the heck, it was just a few more steps up and then into the apartment. One… two… three…eight… nine…
Joshua gave a slight jerk at the warning. That jerk was his undoing. It had been sheer nerves that had gotten him and the large box to the top of the staircase. He started to feel lost all his feeling in his arms at the doorway. But that jerk had brought the sensation back. And with it an immediate mutiny from his muscles as they went into hiding. The box slipped as the voice cried out, and he lurched forward. He felt a connection and heard a thud as it seemed something had fallen. He allowed the box to fall to the floor and looked over it. His eyes met a pair of dove grey ones. It seemed as if he had run down, not a what, but a who. And a very “pretty” “little” who it was indeed. Her hair was a deep shade of chestnut brown and hung straight in a bob cut, which ended just at the nape of her neck. Her face had a fullness that did not make it seem as if she would ever have bones jutting out from her cheeks. Her mouth had fallen open as she looked up at Joshua, stunned. He remembered his manners in an instant.
“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“Ya think?” She scowled from the floor even as she attempted to get to her feet.
Quickly he was by her side. He offered her a hand up, and she accepted. She had a firm grip. He liked that.
As she righted herself and adjusted her clothing, he was struck speechless. The woman standing before him was a knockout in every sense of the word. She was quite a bit shorter than he was. The top of her head probably did not reach further than the middle of his chest. A pair of cupid’s bow lips graced her cherubic face and made him want to take a nibble right then and there to see if they tasted as sweet as they looked. She wore a denim dress that hung loosely around her full figure. Her breasts were full and pressed the bodice of the dress outwards. A few buttons at her top were opened and showed a slight hint of creamy cleavage. The dress skimmed over her broad hips, ending just below her knees.
He felt as if he was starting to have palpitations just looking at this woman. He wanted to take her into his apartment, undress her, and bury every part of himself in her soft fullness. He felt his cock twitch slightly at the very thought. His eyes flew back up to her face and saw that she was watching him with an odd look. He stretched out his hand and smiled.
“Hi. I’m Joshua Gentles. My brother and I are moving into apartment 36.”
“Anabelle Landers. I live in 35.”
He smiled even wider as if he had just won a million-dollar jackpot. His neighbor!
“It’s very nice to meet you, Anabelle. And it’s even nicer to know we’re neighbors.”
Her face remained blank. They stood looking at each other for a few moments. Joshua didn’t know where her thoughts were, but his wandered back to where they had been earlier. He needed to get to his apartment before he started to show evidence of his thoughts and cleared his throat.
“I’ve got to get this monstrosity inside and unpacked, Anabelle. But listen out for me to come and borrow a cup of sugar as sweet as you are.” He winked at her and bent to heft the box into his arms again, then thought better of it. He stood up straight.
“I think pushing would be easier at this stage.” And with that being said, he bid his new wet dream material goodbye and pushed the box the few meters it required to get to his apartment. When he got to the door, he turned to see that Anabelle had watched him all the way. Nice! He had her attention. He gave her a little wave before disappearing inside.
Anabelle Landers stood looking at the closed door, temporarily forgetting what her errand was. She was the newly elected president of the tenants’ association. It was a task she was more than up to doing. It was something she had wanted to do since she moved in two years ago after leaving college at the ripe old age of twenty-two. She had spent an extra year to do an additional course in teaching methodology and was happy that she had. It had helped her to get a bit of an edge. That edge had landed her a promotion after her first year. She was a young teacher who was now a grade supervisor and doing a fantastic job. She was a girl who was always up for a challenge. Rallying the persons who lived in this complex was one she was going to enjoy. She had had so many ideas over the years. However, they had always ended up getting swept under the rug. When the previous president had moved out of the complex a few weeks ago, she had thrown her hat into the ring. No one wanted the position, and it was with relief that she was accepted unanimously. She had a ton of ideas, and one of them was first to get to know her constituents. She needed to have a meeting and get some plans underway for the rest of the year. She also needed to hear the concerns of the community and see how she could address them. It was big shoes to fill, but then again, Anabelle Landers could never be considered small.
There used to be a time in her life when she wished she was a smaller person. But as she grew her face rounded, her bosom expanded, and her hips widened. And so, she had embraced her weight and size and rather than hide stepped out in confidence. There had been a moment in high school that had severely shaken that confidence. But she had picked herself up and moved on, even more confident than before. One thing that anyone could say about her was that even when she was knocked down, she was never knocked out. Resilience was her strength. And that was what she was going to need to deal with this new neighbor.
If the truth was to be told she had not been paying close attention to where she was going. Her head was down as she checked her messages. She had looked up just in time to give the warning before being knocked flat on her back. She had managed to scramble into a sitting position by the time the offender came into view and had been shocked speechless. Gazing down at her had been the most scrumptious specimen of a man, the likes of which she had never seen since she had dated briefly in college. His hair was so straight it looked as if it could cut you. His eyes were the swirling colors of green and grey and incredibly deep-set under a pair of inky black brows. Women paid good money to get brows like that. His nose was straight and his cheekbones high. His face alone would sell a million magazines. But when he came to stand beside her it was all she could do not to lick his feet and keep licking upwards. He was tall—a tall specimen of a man. And built! Damn was he built! His chest was broad. The flimsy t-shirt he wore left little to the imagination. She could only imagine what the slight sheen of sweat would look like all…over… his … body. Whew! His legs, from what she could see of them, were strong and well built. It made her think thoughts of what they would feel like pressed between her own as he urged her thighs apart...
She had had to let her face go blank then, even as scandalous thoughts raced through her head. His hand had been strong and firm as he reached down to help her get to her feet. Again, her thoughts raced as she wondered what they would feel like being all over her body. She had to get under control. She knew herself wasn’t some horny lovesick teenager and a fully-grown woman.
She had gone into her usual defense of being snappy, but he had done nothing more than smile… and blind her in the process. It would make sense that his smile was as perfect as the rest of him. He had smiled even wider when she introduced herself and he realized they were going to be neighbors.
She had watched as his eyes had raked her body. She knew guys like him too. All he would think she was good for was a roll between the sheets and another variation to add to his bucket list. She guessed she would come under the category of ‘doing it with a chubby girl.’ She had blanked her expression once again.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Anabelle. And it’s even nicer to know we’re neighbors.”
She had remained silent. Her mind was in a struggle between wanting to engage Joshua in conversation and wanting him to be on his merry way as quickly as he could. Now, standing there staring at the closed door, she realized that as president of the tenants’ association, the polite thing she should have done was to introduce herself as such, and welcome him to the complex. Instead, they had stared silently at each other. She gave herself a mental slap. The phone in her hand reminded her of her planned errands - before Joshua Gentles had knocked her off her feet…literally.
A week later as she approached door 35, she felt her heart skip a beat.
“Come on girl. Get a grip. He’s just another tenant. Just like Mr. James in 07.” She smothered a laugh at that comparison. She was positive that even in his younger days, the 65-year-old great grandfather had looked nothing like Joshua Gentles.
She raised her hand and knocked steadying her nerves as she heard shuffled coming from within. She waited until they looked through the peephole, and then the door was thrown open.
“You must be our neighbor. I’m Marlon Gentles. You met my little brother Joshua the day we moved in.”
She gawked. “Little?” There had been nothing little about Joshua Gentles. She looked up, waaaaayyyyy up. There was nothing small about Marlon Gentles either.
He smiled and she bit back a shudder. Where had these guys come from with their megawatt smiles and magazine cover looks? She stuck her hand out.
“I’m Anabelle Landers, president of the tenants’ association. We’re having a meeting next Monday and I’m going around personally to invite persons to attend. Even if we don’t have everyone present, we need representation for each floor and block.”
“Hey, Josh!” Marlon turned and bellowed into the apartment. Before she could react, Joshua appeared behind his brother.
He had just emerged from the shower as he brought a fresh scent with him. Marlon stepped to the side so that Joshua could stand beside him. Big mistake… for her.
His hair was slicked back and lay flat against his scalp. His chest was bare, and droplets of water still clung to his pectoral muscles. Anabelle had to bite her tongue to prevent it from coming out to lick her suddenly dry lips, pretty much the way she wanted to lick those drops from his chest and nipples. But she would linger on those nipples, just nibbling softly while her fingers played in the soft trail of hair that went down, down, down his washboard abs and disappeared beneath the towel that was slung low on his hips. She couldn’t help but gawk then as she realized that fresh from the shower more than likely meant he was standing here in the doorway in her presence with only a towel between himself and dignity. She felt her face heat up as she forced her eyes to his. She saw the warmth she felt mirrored there and she blushed even more.
“Dude! I didn’t realize you were still naked. No one wants to see your scrawny body. Now you’ve embarrassed Anabelle. Go get some clothes on!” Marlon nudged his brother’s shoulder playfully while Joshua leaned against the door jam and crossed his legs and arms. The towel swayed precariously, and she could swear she saw it twitch. If nothing though, there was the outline of what looked to be a very robust masculine tool. The man was a damn walking wet dream and from the grin on his face, she was sure he knew what her thoughts were.
She hurriedly thrust two printed brochures in their direction.
“The meeting will be next Thursday in the rec room. We start at 7.” She released the brochures and turned and all but ran the few steps to her door. She prayed she wouldn’t fumble with the key and embarrass herself further. She thanked the gods when it went in on the first thrust and turned immediately. She gently closed the door behind me. Was it her imagination or could she hear laughter coming from next door?