No Tomorrow, Part 56

6:00 pm – continued

Stacie had made it only a couple of feet with one of the black bags when her neighbor’s door opened and he stepped out. Dressed casually in jeans and a plain shirt under a gray hoodie, he glanced up at the noise Stacie was making and met her eyes, a bewildered look in his own. Slowly, he closed his door behind him and took a couple of steps towards her.

“Hi, Ryan,” she greeted him as she dropped the bag she had hoisted over her shoulder. “Oof.”

Ryan smiled back at her as his eyes wandered over the black bags collected around her feet, giving her a chance to really take a look at him. He was tall and lanky with thick, wavy black hair and sparkling dark eyes. He was pretty good looking, but Stacie had never really noticed him before now since she’d always been so caught up with Brant. Now she realized just how good looking her friendly neighbor was. She also took note of his casual attire. She was pretty sure Brant had never owned a pair of jeans, much less a hoodie, in his entire thirty-two years of life. And were those flip flops of Ryan’s feet?

“Hi, Stacie,” Ryan said. His deep, melodious voice suited him perfectly as the choir director at the middle school. “Need help with that?”

She grinned and blew a wisp of hair from her face. “That would be great. I’m trying to take them down to the dumpster. Do you mind helping me?”

“Not at all,” he said, reaching down to grab the other two bags, making the shards of the lamp clink together. “What’s all this, anyways?”

Stacie grunted as she hoisted her bag up. “Junk. Useless junk.”


Stacie laughed and explained, “Just stuff that reminds me of my ex.” She rolled her eyes. “I figured it’s time for me to move on, you know, with it being our last day on Earth and all. I mean, he’s really not going to come back to me and, besides, if he does, I think I’m over him. He didn’t want me when he broke up with me last week, so I don’t want him, either.”

Ryan nodded, a thoughtful, yet understanding look on his face. “Sounds good to me.”

They reached the elevator and he smacked the down button. They waited in silence as they listened for the moving elevator. When they still didn’t hear anything, he smacked the button again.

Stacie gave him a sideways look and raised an eyebrow. “Are you in that much of a hurry?” She gasped and covered her mouth with a hand. “Oh, no, are you on your way somewhere and I’m holding you up? I’m so sorry. I can handle this on my own.”

Ryan laughed softly as they finally heard the elevator start up. From the sounds of it, it was somewhere around the first or second floor. They knew it had to be slowest elevator in the world since most of the fourth floor residents used to complain of being abandoned way up there every morning. It did, though, give them all great physiques as they had quickly discovered it was faster to go up and down the stairs every day. 

“Don’t worry,” he said, waving a dismissive hand. “I was just heading out to find some food. You know, last dinner and everything.”

She gave him a dubious look. “At six in the evening? Ryan, I think everything’s probably closed by now.”

He shrugged. “Probably. But, knowing my mom, her refrigerator’s probably stocked to the hilt. She always believed in being prepared for everything.” He lowered his voice and gave her a conspiratorial wink. “She also thinks this whole exploding at midnight thing is some kind of conspiracy and we’re not really going to die.”

Stacie cast him a disbelieving glance. “Are you serious?”

“Sadly, yes.” He shook his head. “She was always a little paranoid, but it got worse after my dad died a few years ago. Now my sister and I go every other day just to make sure she hasn’t barricaded herself in her house again.”

She could only shake her head in disbelief. Sure, she knew there were some crazy people out there, but Ryan’s mother was sounding more and more like a lunatic with every sentence he said about her.

He shrugged as the elevator doors finally slid open. Grunting, they both dragged the trash bags into the elevator and Ryan pressed the button for the ground floor. Ever so slowly, the doors slammed closed and began its slow descent.

“I’m nervous,” Ryan abruptly said as they descended past the third floor, drawing her curious look. “I guess I’d better tell you before we all die that I’ve had a crush on you ever since you moved in.” He laughed self-consciously. “I hadn’t planned on ever telling you, but, well, with your boyfriend out of the picture now, I thought it was now or never.”

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Really? Well, then. Hmm. Why don’t you come over to my place and have dinner with me? I have an amazing roast in the oven. And, hey, if you don’t have anyone else to go out with tonight, why don’t you come with me and a couple of my friends?” She smiled up at him as the elevator finally made it to the first floor. “There’s no use being cautious and going through the whole getting to know each other now.”

“Seriously?” he asked, as though he couldn’t believe his good fortune. “I’d love to have dinner with you and hang out with your friends. Just let me know when you want me knocking at your door.”

Stacie studied him as they exited the elevator, dragging the bags behind them. He was dressed in a nice pair of jeans, worn but without any holes, and a clean, white polo shirt. His plain hoodie was unzipped and the inside looked soft and worn. The man was presentable and relaxed at the same time. She remembered Brant was always one or the other. And he had scoffed at her whenever she suggested he get a pair of jeans for casual outings. He always claimed the material made him itch like crazy. But she liked a guy in jeans and Ryan looked absolutely delectable in them. It made her like her neighbor all the more.

“Why don’t you just come with me back to my apartment?” she suggested as they made their way out the side door to where the dumpsters were kept. “The roast should be done soon, anyways. I’m picking up my friends around seven or so, after we all eat. If you don’t have anything else to do, just come back with me. We’ll eat and then I’ll get changed and we can head out.”

He dipped his head in a nod before hoisting the bag she had been dragging around over the side of the dumpster. “Sure. Sounds great.”

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