Note: Despite faulty wiring and an interruption to their dinner, Cynthia and Alex had an enjoyable time. Someone was watching. Have you figured out who?
Lurking in the shadows had become his habit. He ducked around the corner and waited for the man she called Alex, to unlock his door and slip inside. He grew tired hanging around outside her apartment, straining to hear their conversation and hoping no one saw him. They'd had quite a time tonight, the two of them. He'd heard enough to know that he'd have to make his move soon. She was just too charming for her own good.
Cynthia opened her eyes and thoughts of the previous night flooded her mind. Her mouth curled into a smile thinking of Alex, and she hugged herself beneath the covers. The faint aroma of his aftershave lingered on her hands, so she knew the evening hadn’t been just a dream.
Rays of sunlight filtered through a separation in the curtains. Cynthia pulled an arm from beneath the blanket and swatted the dust motes dancing along the beam of light. She couldn’t wile away time in bed all day with her thoughts lingering on time spent with Alex, so she threw off the covers and stood. Her body‘s impression remained in the sagging mattress, but for some reason, she found nothing to complain about. Instead, she wanted to dance with glee. A little voice inside niggled her that maybe he hadn’t shared the same feelings.
She shook her head with vigor. “I’ll not feel any negativity today,” she proclaimed, and grabbed her robe from the foot of the bed. She pulled on the chenille garment and meandered into the kitchen. While filling the pot with water and measuring out the grounds, she kept focus on the end table where the telephone sat. Every minute that ticked by without hearing his voice was torture. She rolled her eyes at feeling so invested in someone after such a short time. Was she being an idiot?
While waiting for her morning brew to finish, she washed, dried, and put away the leftover dinner dishes. She poured herself a cup of coffee and moved into the living area. Even the dingy furniture held more appeal this morning, and Alex's seductive aftershave lingered more heavily around the dilapidated sofa. She sat on the same cushion where she had sat last night and pretended he still sat next to her. "Girl," she chided herself, feeling like a foolish schoolgirl, "you are one sick puppy. Get a grip and drink your coffee! Maybe the caffeine will shock you back to reality."
She sipped from the hot liquid and slopped a little on her lap when the ringing phone startled her. She ignored the burning sensation in her hurry to answer.
“Hello." Her heart race while she blotted the soggy spot on her robe and massaged the sting on her thigh.
“Good morning. This is Alex. Hope I didn't wake you." His sexy voice raised goose bumps on her arms.
Cynthia's heart skipped a beat. "Oh, Hi Alex! No, you didn't wake me." She tried to suppress the excitement in her voice. "I've been up for a while. I was just sitting here having my morning coffee." She stopped short of adding she was thinking about him and praying he‘d call. Curling her legs up beneath her robe, she waited through a lengthy pause.
"I called to thank you again for last night. I had a great time."
"Me, too. It was probably the best Saturday night I've spent in quite a while." So ask me out already, she agonized internally. Please, Please, Please.
"And to think our date all started with an exciting trip to the trash dumpster." He laughed and she forced a chuckle to avoid being rude. Was he calling to ask her out or just talk about garbage cans? She thrummed her fingers on the coffee table while leaning her arms on her knees.
"Yeah! Did I remember to thank you for the personalized tour?" Cynthia forced herself to say something to end the silence.
"Not a problem. Always happy to help."
Funny, they hadn't had a communication problem the previous evening, so why did they both suddenly become tongue-tied? She struggled to think of something unrelated to trash to keep the conversation going. She had to. If he called to ask her out, she sure didn’t want him to lose his nerve?
"So, what are you doing up so early on a Sunday morning?" She wasn't about to let him hang up.
"Couldn't sleep. I can't quit thinking about the case I'm working right now, trying to piece it all together. Seems I always wake up early when I don't have to. Ticks me off! During the week, I have to drag myself out of bed, and here it is the weekend and I'm up with the sun."
Her curiosity piqued. "Are you by chance working on the case involving the missing women?"
"Yep, that's the one that keeps me up late and wakes me up early. What gets you out of bed?" Clearly, he wasn't going to discuss any details with her. Maybe that was a good thing. She didn't really want to hear anything that was bound to feed her fear.
"Oh, I've always been an early riser. It's the afternoons I dread. I tend to run out of steam around two-thirty. Gee, we make a great team. I can keep you awake in the morning and you can keep me from dozing in the afternoon." She rolled her eyes. He probably thought she was trying to hook him.
His laughter danced across the phone lines, and she imagined the twinkle in his eyes. "Are you offering to come over every morning and throw me in the shower?"
A image of his unclothed body flashed through her mind, and warmth climbed her neck. She swallowed hard at such out-of-character thoughts. "Only if..." She stammered, "you come by my office every afternoon and bring me strong coffee."
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