Play Me(7)

By: Katie McCoy


“Well, I’m practicing for something quite important,” she told me, clearly missing the point. “And ten a.m is not that early.” She gave me a long, assessing look that I did not appreciate. “At least for most people.”

I could feel my temper rise. “Well, it might not be early for you,” I said through my teeth, “but it sure as hell is early for me.”

“Well, maybe you should get to bed earlier,” she retorted. “Your late nights are not my problem.”

Whoa, I thought. This little nun has attitude. But I wasn’t one to back down.

“Actually, lady,” I told her, “they are your problem. One call to the superintendent . . . ”

“And what?” she snapped back. “You’ll have me evicted? I signed a lease.”

“Leases can be broken.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “Is that a threat?”

“It’s a warning.” I pointed at her. “And one you should listen to.”

“I don’t have to listen to you.” She began to close the door, but I stuck my foot in her doorway, stopping it.

“Just be reasonable,” I tried, but she ignored me and began shoving the door against my shoe. Ouch.

“Move. Your. Foot,” she ordered.

“Maybe we should start over,” I tried, even though I realized there was no coming back from this.

“Maybe you should get out of my apartment.” She slammed the door against my foot again.

“Maybe you should learn another piece of music,” I shot back, trying to hide my wince.

She glared at me. “Maybe you should learn to appreciate classical music.”

Though I might have appreciated her fire another time, at that moment, I was exhausted and crabby. And my foot really hurt. “Maybe you should get curtains on your windows before you give the neighbors the same show you gave me last night,” I said and watched her face turn bright red.





Chapter 4




Ella



My mouth dropped open. Oh no. OH NO. Yesterday, I had told myself to buy curtains and then promptly forgot. So of course it made total sense that I then spent hours last night at my piano in my underwear. My best underwear. Something my new neighbor had gotten a front row seat to. My incredibly handsome new neighbor. It was the guy I had seen yesterday—wearing the same clothes he had been wearing then, only more rumpled. In fact, all of him was a bit more rumpled—his hair was a mess, his face covered in what could only be considered a 7 o’clock shadow. And somehow that didn’t detract from how drop dead gorgeous he was.

His ratty Astros T-shirt was stretched taut across his chest. And what a chest it was. The shirt was so thin that I could pretty much see every pack in his six-pack. And I couldn’t take my eyes off his arms—lean and dusted with dark hair, decorated with half a dozen tattoos, several which I could only see half of, the rest hiding away underneath his shirt. I felt the urge to discover the rest of them. An urge I quickly pushed away.

This was the guy who had seen me half naked last night. At least I had been wearing something sexy. What? No. That’s not what I should be thinking.

I wanted to disappear into the floor. But instead, I squared my shoulders and tried to ignore my red-hot face. No doubt I was as bright as a tomato. There was no way I was going let this guy—this Jake character—come down here and embarrass me. He shouldn’t have been looking in my window in the first place. And who did he think he was, coming down here and demanding I adjust my schedule to fit his? It wasn’t my fault if he liked to go out drinking every night. I wasn’t going to waste precious rehearsal time so he could sleep off his hangover every morning. So what if he was cute? I had the right to practice in my own home whenever I wanted. Well, not whenever, but I had waited several hours for everyone else to leave. I needed to practice. The next round of the competition was coming up and I kept screwing up the same section. And I was not going to let this cute but totally annoying guy keep me from what I had been practicing for months. He wasn’t my type. Not at all. But somehow, that message hadn’t made its way between my legs.

And the way he was looking at me didn’t help. Like he wasn’t sure if he was going to kill me or kiss me. He licked his lip and my pulse skipped. His foot was still jammed against my door. “Maybe I’m the one who should be calling the superintendent.” I lifted my chin. “To tell him one of his tenants is a Peeping Tom.”

“Hey!” He looked offended. “I do not peep.”

“Clearly you do!”

“Look.” He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, okay, but you didn’t have any curtains and . . . ”