Out of Her League(5)

By: Samantha Wayland

His parents clearly liked her, too, their smiles wide and genuine when they spoke, his father’s cheeks pink the one time he spun her across the floor. She had that bizarre ability to flirt outrageously with his father and only leave his mother beaming at them with approval.

How the fuck did anyone even do that?

And she was moving to Cambridge.

Fuck his life.

Chapter Two

Moving sucked. Moving to a new apartment, in a new city, in the depths of August when the humidity was so thick the air tasted heavy, and with no help other than the movers, sucked a lot.

Michaela’s brothers had offered to come up, but they had lives and jobs in New York, and she’d wanted to move in on a weekday when there were fewer people around to witness it. She’d make a point of introducing herself to her neighbors in the coming week, but for now she was careful to stay out of sight while the movers lugged all her belongings into the elevator.

Her new doorman, Mike, seemed surprised when she came up to introduce herself and then stood by his desk chatting, keeping an eye on the flow of men and stuff. She hung out there for a while, until he was joking with her about the sheer number of boxes labeled “clothes” and she’d discovered that his niece was also due to start law school in a week.

By the time she went upstairs to supervise the placement of the big pieces of furniture, she thought she had a good sense of who Mike was. His quick humor and big smile were hard not to like. And she even felt a small ray of hope that she could trust him. It was probably foolish. She’d liked her doormen in New York a lot, too—but that hadn’t stopped them from selling reporters and photographers information about her comings and goings, and letting them paw through her mail.

She was, as had been proven time and again, a terrible judge of character. But hey, maybe this time she’d get lucky. There was, after all, a first time for everything.

Clinging to that optimism, she looked around her new home and smiled. She’d liked this apartment when she’d seen the listing online, and had made an offer as soon as she’d seen it in person. It wasn’t huge, but it was more than big enough for her, including a spare bedroom for her exercise equipment if it turned out the gym in the basement wasn’t a good place for her. She was used to people taking her picture, but she’d defy anyone to look good after a hard slog on the elliptical machine. Those were always the shots at the checkout line, announcing her descent into drug addiction or the latest in a series of mental breakdowns. If the Weekly Inquisition was to be believed, she was up to number forty-seven. Or was it forty-eight, now? She’d have to check with her brother Damon. He liked to keep track of these things.

He was such a help.

So, yeah, spare bedroom. Check.

The best part about the apartment, though, was the light. She was used to the high rises in New York, but for all that her last place had been twenty floors higher up, the windows had looked out at the buildings across the street. This place was on the top floor of the tallest building for blocks, and the windows and skylights were huge, bathing the open floor plan in unobstructed sunlight. Even better, off the kitchen there was a large rooftop terrace, which begged for a potted herb garden. She was trying to learn to cook, which wasn’t really going very well, but she had a refined enough palate to know fresh herbs were better.

And she probably couldn’t poison anyone with an herb. Which was more than could be said about her first attempt at chicken piccata. Damon had sworn he’d never sit at her table again.

Shaking off that memory, she ran down to the underground garage, grimacing when she heard the high-pitched barks echoing against the cold cement walls. She cast an apologetic look at the man striding past her car, ignoring his startled recognition. She focused instead on Fang, who had apparently been working on his best Rottweiler impersonation for anyone who dared to walk nearby.

She sent him a supremely unimpressed look through the back window and popped the door open.

“Are you done?”

Liquid brown eyes stared up at her, his whole body quivering with joy.

Michaela rolled her eyes, but her heart melted, as always, when five pounds of mutt flung himself against her chest. She could only hope her new neighbor found his ridiculousness as endearing as she did, and wouldn’t tell anyone about the stream of baby talk falling from her lips.

Tucking her little monster under her arm, she bypassed the elevator—preferring the eight flights of stairs to the company of her unknown neighbor—and ran back up to the apartment. She set Fang down to explore and went to work dragging boxes and smaller furniture to different places to see what she thought, and, once decided, putting stuff away. Her mother had suggested she hire someone to do this, but she didn’t like the idea of strangers going through her stuff. She’d been nervous enough about the moving company, wondering if her shit would end up for sale on the internet rather than in Cambridge.