Maybe I need to invest in a marine-grade polymer patio chair.
I stare at the guy a moment longer, wondering if he’s ever going to move. He’s just standing there, staring down at the chair. His hands aren’t in fists anymore. They’re resting on his hips, and I notice for the first time how his shirt doesn’t fit him very well around his biceps. It fits him everywhere else, but his arms are huge. He begins fishing around in his pockets until he finds what he’s looking for and—in what I’m sure is probably an effort to release even more of his aggression—he lights up a joint.
I’m twenty-three, I’ve been through college and have done this very same recreational drug a time or two. I’m not going to judge this guy for feeling the need to toke up in private. But that’s the thing—he’s not in private. He just doesn’t know that yet.
He takes in a long drag of his joint and starts to turn back toward the ledge. He notices me on the exhale. He stops walking the second our eyes meet. His expression holds no shock, nor does it hold amusement when he sees me. He’s about ten feet away, but there’s enough light from the stars that I can see his eyes as they slowly drag over my body without revealing a single thought. This guy holds his cards well. His gaze is narrow and his mouth is drawn tight, like a male version of the Mona Lisa.
“What’s your name?” he asks.
I feel his voice in my stomach. That’s not good. Voices should stop at the ears, but sometimes—not very often at all, actually—a voice will penetrate past my ears and reverberate straight down through my body. He has one of those voices. Deep, confident, and a little bit like butter.
When I don’t answer him, he brings the joint back to his mouth and takes another hit.
“Lily,” I finally say. I hate my voice. It sounds too weak to even reach his ears from here, much less reverberate inside his body.
He lifts his chin a little and nudges his head toward me. “Will you please get down from there, Lily?”
It isn’t until he says this that I notice his posture. He’s standing straight up now, rigid even. Almost as if he’s nervous I’m going to fall. I’m not. This ledge is at least a foot wide, and I’m mostly on the roof side. I could easily catch myself before I fell, not to mention I’ve got the wind in my favor.
I glance down at my legs and then back up at him. “No, thanks. I’m quite comfortable where I am.”
He turns a little, like he can’t look straight at me. “Please get down.” It’s more of a demand now, despite his use of the word please. “There are seven empty chairs up here.”
“Almost six,” I correct, reminding him that he just tried to murder one of them. He doesn’t find the humor in my response. When I fail to follow his orders, he takes a couple of steps closer.
“You are a mere three inches from falling to your death. I’ve been around enough of that for one day.” He motions for me to get down again. “You’re making me nervous. Not to mention ruining my high.”
I roll my eyes and swing my legs over. “Heaven forbid a joint go to waste.” I hop down and wipe my hands across my jeans. “Better?” I say as I walk toward him.
He lets out a rush of air, as if seeing me on the ledge actually had him holding his breath. I pass him to head for the side of the roof with the better view, and as I do, I can’t help but notice how unfortunately cute he is.
No. Cute is an insult.
This guy is beautiful. Well-manicured, smells like money, looks to be several years older than me. His eyes crinkle in the corners as they follow me, and his lips seem to frown, even when they aren’t. When I reach the side of the building that overlooks the street, I lean forward and stare down at the cars below, trying not to appear impressed by him. I can tell by his haircut alone that he’s the kind of man people are easily impressed by, and I refuse to feed into his ego. Not that he’s done anything to make me think he even has one. But he is wearing a casual Burberry shirt, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been on the radar of someone who could casually afford one.
I hear footsteps approaching from behind, and then he leans against the railing next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch as he takes another hit of his joint. When he’s finished, he offers it to me, but I wave it off. The last thing I need is to be under the influence around this guy. His voice is a drug in itself. I kind of want to hear it again, so I throw a question in his direction.
“So what did that chair do to make you so angry?”
He looks at me. Like really looks at me. His eyes meet mine and he just stares, hard, like all my secrets are right there on my face. I’ve never seen eyes as dark as his. Maybe I have, but they seem darker when they’re attached to such an intimidating presence. He doesn’t answer my question, but my curiosity isn’t easily put to rest. If he’s going to force me down from a very peaceful, comfortable ledge, then I expect him to entertain me with answers to my nosy questions.
“Was it a woman?” I inquire. “Did she break your heart?”
He laughs a little with that question. “If only my issues were as trivial as matters of the heart.” He leans into the wall so that he can face me. “What floor do you live on?” He licks his fingers and pinches the end of his joint, then puts it back in his pocket. “I’ve never noticed you before.”
“That’s because I don’t live here.” I point in the direction of my apartment. “See that insurance building?”