The Girl Next Door
"Have you never looked up to the stars and just wondered?" she said, gazing up at the star-kissed heavens. Erik looked at her.
"Wondered about what?"
"Anything. Everything! A little question that you keep asking and never answering. Big things, like does he love me? Wonder about why bad things happen and how you can feel so happy just because you're with someone who makes you feel special. How that someone can love you even though you're so silly. Does it matter, Erik?" She looked at him, her face an expression of happiness and wonder. Erik smirked.
"I haven't ever looked up to the stars and wondered."
"Oh!" She slapped his arm but he caught her hand and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms tightly around her. She gazed up at him and he said in a perfectly serious voice,
"Perhaps you should be the first one to show me how."
"Anything you want, Erik." She smiled. "What would you like to know?"
"I'd like to know if… it will rain tomorrow."
She looked up, her arms around his neck, and examined the sky.
"Nope. Bright, beautiful sunshine all day." She said decisively. He considered.
"I'd like to know if… I should get up early or late tomorrow."
"Late. Most definitely late." She said, after a quick glance upwards, a knowing smile playing about her lips.
"Very well. I'd like to know if… if you'll marry me."
She looked at him in amazement. He was watching her with deep, serious eyes. She smiled and tapped her chin, considering the sky above.
"Well, let's see…" She looked up for a few moments before meeting his gaze. "Yes, Erik. I'll marry you."
"Here's the key. It's all yours, Miss Daae." The landlord said, passing the key to the young woman who was looking around the apartment. She took it and smiled.
"There are two apartments to each floor, opposite sides so you won't disturb anyone. There's a security office downstairs."
"Thanks." She said again, rather keen for him to go. He nodded and said,
"Well… glad to have you with us."
He let himself out. Christine glanced at the huge pile of boxes and grimaced. She really didn't feel like unpacking them all but if she didn't do it now, it would never get done. Besides, the sooner her things were out, the more it would look like home. She decided to do the necessaries first. Bedding. Bedroom was fairly vital.
She found one of the boxes labelled bedroom and ripped off the tape that held the box shut. No, this wasn't bedding. She reached for another box and this time she struck gold. Christine pulled out the sheets and went to the bed. Once it was made with her pale blue sheets, the room looked cosier. Since the other bedroom box was open she started to set everything out.
An hour later the room looked cosy and welcoming. Christine nodded, satisfied. What next? The kitchen came fully supplied with dishwasher, washing machine, oven and all the other basics. She'd need to find her cutlery and plates though.
She spent the whole day unpacking and arranging. By six in the evening the apartment was starting to look like home, even with the discarded boxes and bubble wrap all over the place. Christine collapsed onto the sofa and looked around.
This would do nicely. But now she was starving, having skipped over lunch altogether. The idea of cooking did not appeal. She wanted saturated fat-laden curry, a bottle of wine and a movie to watch, then a nice bath and a good night's sleep before she faced the world.
She decided that the bath was her best option. She didn't want to wander down the street covered in dust and dressed in tatty jeans and a too-big t-shirt. Christine set the hot water running and dribbled a little bubble bath mixture under the stream. Whilst the tub filled, she stripped off her dirty clothes, set a CD playing and stepped into the deliciously warm water.
Christine let out a satisfied sigh as the hot water flooded over her, washing away the grime that coated her skin and hair. A rinse of shampoo and conditioner on her long, curly locks and she soaked until her fingers were wrinkly. Wrapping a towel around her body, she stepped out of the bath, putting her hair into a turban.
She pulled on a fresh pair of jeans and t-shirt, an old cartoon character grinning cheerfully from it, faded a little from too many turns in the washing machine. Christine pulled on some socks, trainers and tied her hair into a loose ponytail, too lazy to blow-dry it.
Seizing a bag, she stuffed her keys into her pocket, picked up her mobile phone, purse and pulled on a denim jacket before leaving the apartment. She took the elevator to the ground floor and walked along the sunny streets to the Indian restaurant and then on to a supermarket to collect the wine.
When Christine got back to the apartment building the elevator had just opened, a man stepping into it. She started to run.
"Wait!" She cried. He looked up and then pressed the hold button until she had stumbled through. She smiled gratefully.
"You're welcome." He said quietly. And Christine blinked in surprise as she was met with a scowling white mask. She looked away quickly, knowing that if she didn't she would start to stare. She shifted the bag holding her dinner, the bottle of wine tucked under her arm.
The man stood tall beside her, hands clasped behind his back as he watched the numbers flicker past, heading higher up the building. Christine glanced at him briefly before chewing the inside of her cheek as she looked at the numbers as well.
They stopped at floor 5 and both stepped out. Christine blinked at him in surprise. This must be the owner of the flat opposite hers. He moved down the corridor without a word and went straight to his door, taking out his key. Christine was fumbling for her key when she heard him talk, in a voice like black velvet.
"You should drink that wine chilled."
"What?" She looked up. He was standing in the doorway and she caught a glimpse of a room decorated in dark red beyond him.
"That particular wine is best served chilled." He said before closing the door. Christine stared at the closed door of apartment 5a before turning to her own door and unlocking it.
Curled up on the sofa, the empty curry plate left on the table with a half filled glass of wine beside it, Christine stretched and looked once more around the apartment.
"My apartment." She said firmly. Because it was hers. No one else's. Nobody else would be calling the shots in here.
She pulled on a pair of slippers and looked at the dirty plate. Deciding it could wait until morning, she switched off the lights and crossed to her bedroom. After brushing her teeth and taking her make-up off, she pulled on an old t-shirt that came down to just above her knees and climbed into bed.
Snuggling between the cool sheets of the bed, she looked around once more with a satisfied smile before turning off the lamp.
A/N: OK – I was supposed to be taking a break from writing for a few weeks. But I couldn't. When I'm not writing I just end up fidgeting and wasting my time. So I might as well do something productive! I know this chapter is short, but it is only a prologue.
I'm not sure about this story yet, OK? I'm always nervous starting a new story and think everyone will hate it. But here it is and I hope you'll bear with it. I'm hoping to make this a little more grown-up than my previous stories, try to push myself a bit. I don't want to fall into a rut with my writing, you know? So this is all new for me.
Lotsa luv 'n' huggles