Play Me(6)

By: Katie McCoy

The music abruptly stopped.

“Thank God,” I muttered to myself, though the tune was still continuing in my head. With my luck, I was going to be hearing it in my head all day. Fuck my life, I thought, rubbing sleep from my eyes as I heard footsteps coming towards the door. They paused and I guessed she was looking out her peephole at me. I could only imagine what she saw. A tired, annoyed dude barefoot in yesterday’s wrinkled clothes. I guess I couldn’t blame her for not opening the door immediately.

“Yes?” a small, but steady voice asked.

I cleared my throat. “I’m one of your neighbors,” I told her, the rasp in my voice clearly indicating the rough night I had had. Why had I drunk so much beer? “2B.”

“Oh,” she said, but still didn’t open the door. Smart girl, I thought, though I really didn’t want to have this conversation through the door.

“I was hoping to talk to you about your playing,” I said. “Could you open the door please? So I can at least introduce myself?”

There was a pause and then I heard her undo the locks. The door opened slowly and a face peered out. Yep, same big brown eyes I remembered from yesterday, and the sight of them gave me the same strange gut punch. Ridiculous, I told myself. I was hung over. This was nausea, nothing more. Okay, maybe a little horniness, but who could blame me after what I had seen last night.

I tried to give her my most winning smile, but the exhaustion made it more difficult than usual. Still, she seemed to relax a little and the door opened a bit wider.

She was pretty—there was no doubt about that. Her hair was still down, thick black locks that fanned out over her shoulders and down her back, giving her a sexy, disheveled look. I imagined sliding my fingers through that hair, tangling it in my hands as I took her mouth with mine. But when I glanced down, I was disappointed to find that she was wearing the same kind of boxy black clothes as yesterday instead of the silky nothings she had been in last night. She looked a little bit like a nun. But kind of a sexy nun.

My imagination was happy to help me out with that. My fantasy of bending her over the piano, of sliding myself deep inside her, her hips flush against mine, came back at me in vivid Technicolor.

I cleared my throat, trying to get the image of her shapely hips and the long, smooth expanse of her back, her hands flat against the surface of the piano as I thrust . . . dammit. This was not the time to be entertaining fantasies about my new, annoying neighbor. Her looks didn’t change the fact that she had been playing the same song for at least twenty minutes, probably even longer.

“Can I help you?” she asked, and fuck, her voice was sexy too. Low and husky. I imagined the way my name would sound on her lips.

My pants tightened and I shifted on my feet. The last thing I wanted to do was introduce myself to my new neighbor with a raging hard-on. Think of pigs’ feet, I told myself. Pickled pigs’ feet. When in a pinch, the thought of my least favorite food was as effective as a cold shower, though this time it barely seemed to register, completely overwhelmed by the fantasy of fucking this girl on her piano. Jesus. Get it together, man. I took a deep breath and willed myself to focus.

“I’m Jake,” I said, holding out my hand.

“Ella,” she said, opening the door even wider to take it. Her fingers were long and slender, unsurprising given the instrument that dominated her apartment. How in the hell had she gotten the piano in here? I wondered. The thought of maneuvering the thing reminded me how exhausted I was.

“I couldn’t help noticing you play piano,” I said, trying to force my smile back on my face.

Ella nodded, looking at me cautiously, but offered no apology.

“Can I help you?” she asked again, sounding irritated.

Suddenly I was annoyed. I was the one who had been wronged here. She had woken me up with her incessant playing. I needed my sleep.

“I just thought I’d let you know that there’s kind of an understanding around here,” I told her. “I usually get home pretty late, which means for the most part I sleep late.” I waited, hoping she would connect the dots and apologize. But if she realized what I was getting at, she said nothing, just watched me with those big eyes. I took another deep breath. I just wanted to go back to sleep. “The walls here are really thin,” I tried again. “So most everyone is pretty understanding about my situation.”

“I thought they were all at work,” she said. “I tried to wait until everyone was gone.”

“Yeah, well, I’m still here.” I gritted my teeth. “And I usually am in the mornings.”