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Water gushed from the top of the washing machine, slopping mercilessly onto the floor.

“Shit, shit, shit.”

I danced around it, reaching for the cutoff valve as my clothes got drenched in cold, soapy water.

It was almost midnight, just about the only time of day I could ever find an open machine in the small laundry room of the apartment complex. I just wanted to get this done and get to sleep. But instead, I got to deal with this.

Standing in the puddle, I allowed myself a few more swears and then I switched the machine to “Drain” and grabbed an unwashed towel from my laundry basket.

I heard another person enter room behind me.

“Uh oh. Need a hand?”

I turned to see a 20-something brunette wearing jeans and a baggy t-shirt and glasses, holding a basket that was overflowing with laundry.

“I think I’ve got it,” I said over my shoulder. “Thanks though.”

She set the basket down on a chair and watched me for a sec.

“That machine did the same thing to me last month,” she said. “I told the office, but I guess we don’t pay them enough to fix things around here.”

I laughed.

“I don’t think they’ll fix anything unless they smell a lawsuit,” I said.

I stood and kicked the towel around a little, stomping on it to sop up the last bit of water. I exhaled and looked up at the girl, giving her a shrug.

“What are you gonna do?” I said.

“Burn the place down?” she said.

We both chuckled.

“I like the way you think,” I said.

I watched the girl as she bent to load the machine next to mine. She was slender, I saw, with long legs and a cute butt. I made sure not to stare; I’m not a creep, and anyway, I was taken.

I set about the annoying task of transferring the load of sudsy, wet clothes to the third and only remaining machine in the room. Without thinking much about it, I tugged off my wet t-shirt and threw it in with the rest. Might as well, I thought. I decided to keep the wet shorts on. One can’t just go stripping to one’s underwear in front of strangers.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the girl glancing at me.

I’m well-built, but I’m not a bodybuilder by any stretch. Still, being checked out by a pretty stranger was enough to make me feel like I was in high school again. It didn’t help that she was probably a decade younger than I was.

I felt a surge in my groin, and I knew I needed to distract myself. If there was an ideal place to sprout an erection, I knew that standing in an open room, wearing shorts, was not it.

I quickly picked up an empty basket to hide my bulge and turned to the row of dryers, emptying a load of whites from the one that had just buzzed. I carried the clothes to a corner by the window where a large table sat, and I started to fold.

As I did, I was aware of an interesting silence in the small room. Even though she’d been chatty before, the girl had now fallen quiet.

The window in front of me looked out on the dark lawn of the complex, and in the glass I had a near-mirrorlike view of the room behind me in the reflection. Along the ceiling ran a greenish-blue fluorescent light, and she was standing squarely under its bright wash.

She clearly hadn’t noticed that I could see her. She had one leg crossed over the other, leaning back against the washing machine and biting her lip, arms folded. And she was staring lasers directly at my butt.

I smiled to myself. What a time to be alive.

The next day, I took my laptop out to the pool. I needed the change of pace. I liked my apartment, but any four walls can get oppressive if you stare at them long enough.

A large faded green umbrella offered some shade at a glass table, and I sat down and got as comfortable as I could. A light breeze carried the smell of the ocean to my nostrils. I started to work, and I quickly lost all sense of space and time.

I hadn’t even noticed the girl until I’d been working there about ten minutes.

But now I saw her: just a stone’s skip across the corner of the pool from where I sat. And boy, did I see her. She was stretched out on a lounge chair in a skimpy blue bikini, her pale skin glazed with a sheen of sweat. She had dark sunglasses on, and a book splayed open on her stomach. She might have fallen asleep, I thought.

I stood and approached her. She didn’t move.

“You’re gonna get a nice book tan,” I said with a little chuckle.

She started, rousing awake and pulling her glasses up on top of her head.

She looked down at the book, then up at me.

“Oh!” She laughed to herself, setting the book aside. “Um, thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” I said, smiling. “I’m Kent.”

“From last night,” she said. “I recognize you.”

“Ah yes, my misadventures with laundry.”

She nodded.

“Title of my memoir,” she said, giggling. I laughed. Then she sat forward and stuck out her hand. “I’m Sam. Nice to meet you Kent.”

I shook her hand and made a gesture toward the pool house.

“Well Sam, I’m getting a snack, want anything?”

“I’m good,” she İstanbul Escort said with a shy smile. “Thanks.”

After I’d taken my seat again and started to work, I quickly realized it was going to be harder than I’d thought to get anything done. At the slightest shift of Sam’s pretty legs, my eyes would leap across the pool and rest on her body. I’d chide myself each time and glance straight back at the screen again, but I was sure she must have noticed me ogling her once or twice.

She lay there for another half hour or so, giving me an eyeful, before she finally stood, picked up her bag and towel and headed back to her apartment with a wave in my direction. I waved back at her and smiled.

An hour later, the skies turned ugly and dark, and I quickly packed my things up as a gentle rain started to fall. No sooner had I made it back to my apartment and shut the door behind me, than the skies opened and unleashed a massive, torrential rain storm.

That was the moment I realized that I had left the sun roof open on my Range Rover.

Grabbing a windbreaker from a nearby hook and pulling it on, I jumped back out the door and raced down the steps, water hammering my head and shoulders as I ran across the lawn toward the parking lot.

I yanked open the driver-side door and looked up at the ceiling of the car. I let out a sigh of relief: I’d been wrong, the sunroof had been closed after all. I swung my legs inside and pulled the door shut behind me, sitting in the dry car and letting my pulse settle. I wasn’t too anxious to run back through the rain.

Better to sit out the storm for a minute, I thought. Maybe it wouldn’t last long.

As I sat staring out the rain-streaked windshield, I saw the door of a nearby first-floor apartment open and a girl stumble out. A man loomed in the doorway behind her. He screamed something at her before he slammed the door shut, leaving her alone on the stoop in shorts and a t-shirt, with a duffel bag slung over one shoulder.

I blinked and realized at once that the girl was Sam.

She looked around the complex for a second, then glanced up at the sky in a look of complete despair, and then her body sagged and she crossed to a nearby flight of steps, sat down, and started to cry. Rain angled in under the high eave and soaked the place where she sat, drenching her hair and clothes and the cloth bag. But from where I sat, she didn’t seem to notice.

I bit my lip, weighing the situation. After a beat, I knew what I had to do. I pocketed my keys, pulled the hood of my windbreaker up over my head, and ducked back out into the rain.

“Sam!” I yelled across the grass as I jogged toward her.

She glanced up, startled. I waved, hoping she recognized me through the torrent.

As I neared her, I saw that her eyes were red and puffy from crying, and the look on her face was of a tired, spent girl.

I offered her my hand; a rainstorm was no place to hold a conversation.

“Come on!” I said.

She let me help her up. I pulled off my windbreaker and draped it over her head, placing an arm around her shoulder and running alongside her as we headed toward my apartment.

Once inside the door, I stamped my shoes dry and took the windbreaker from Sam, hanging it on the wall beside the door. I quickly retrieved two towels from the bathroom and offered one to her.

“Please,” I said, “sit.”

I gestured to the low couch, a long beige leather sectional that she must have sensed was expensive, because she looked down at her drenched clothes and shook her head.

“I’m soaked. I’ll ruin it.”

“Here then,” I said, kneeling down next to her.

I untied the black high-top boots on her feet and helped pull them off, setting them by the door mat.

“Head to the bathroom and clean up; take a shower if you want to. The towel on the rack is fresh.”

She shrank back slightly.

“I— … I can’t use your shower, I’ll just—”

I stood up.


I put my hands on her shoulders and she looked up at me.

“It’s OK. Please. You’re fine. Take all the time you need here, you’re safe.”

She looked at me for a second hesitantly, like a lost kitten, wary of her new environs.

Then her face softened and she leaned toward me very, very slowly, and pressed her lips against mine.

It was so soft and slow and sensual, like warm sunlight crawling across the kitchen floor, or dough rising in the oven. I stood as still as a statue, electrified and mute.

After a second, she pulled back, as though startled by her own action. She touched her lips with her fingers, looked at me, and then looked quickly back down at the floor, taking a step back and raising both hands to her mouth.

“I’m… sorry,” she said. “I don’t know why I did that.”

I started to reach for her to reassure her, but that seemed wrong, so I pulled back and stood there for a moment, unsure what to say.

The poor girl had been through a lot. It wasn’t her fault.

“Sam, you didn’t do anything wrong,” I finally said. “Listen, İstanbul Escort you’ve had a pretty rough day. You’re not yourself.”

I did step toward her then, and I placed a hand on her elbow.

“Please,” I said, leaning down to make sure I caught her gaze. “You’re safe here,” I said. “There’s nothing you need to do.”

I rubbed my thumb against her elbow reassuringly.

“Go wash up, change out of your wet clothes, and I’ll make you some tea.”

Sam emerged from the bedroom twenty minutes later, her skin glowing, damp hair down around her shoulders. She had a towel wrapped around her that covered her chest, although it did very little to cover her long legs. Not that I minded.

“I um, left my things out here,” she said nervously, pointing as she walked to the duffel bag by the door.

Against my more civilized instincts, I studied her half-exposed figure from my post by the stove, where the kettle was just starting to heat.

She lowered herself to her knees, flipping her wet hair back over her shoulder, and unzipped the bag. After a few seconds of rifling through it, her shoulders sank.

“Aw man, everything got soaked,” she said, holding up a t-shirt that was visibly wet. The canvas bag hadn’t done much to protect her clothes from the rainstorm.

I quickly crossed the apartment to my room.

“Don’t worry Sam, I’ll find some clothes for you,” I called back to her.

I came out a minute later holding a long-sleeve tee with a Columbia logo across the chest and one of my newer pairs of sweats.

Sam was now seated on the couch, still in the towel, flipping through the pages of an Architectural Digest on the coffee table.

“Here,” I said. “You’ll be more comfortable in these.”

I handed her the clothes.

“Thank you,” she said.

She glanced down at her chest, where the towel was starting to sag. I caught a brief glimpse of her slight breasts through the gap. Blushing, she pulled the towel up and rolled the edge tighter.

She held the clothes in her lap, but didn’t move to go put them on right away.

“I, um, love your apartment,” she said, looking around.

“Thanks,” I said.

I couldn’t help feeling that she was avoiding the subject of the little tableau I had witnessed from my car. I frowned to myself, trying to figure out what I should say.

I lowered myself to the couch next to her, folding my hands in my lap. Outside, the rain pounded at the roof.

“Sam…” I started in.

She looked at me.

“What happened? Who was he?”

Her eyelashes fluttered for a second, like she might have been trying to hold back tears.

“He’s nobody.” She looked away.

“Sam,” I said.

I put a hand on her back, sliding up over the towel until my fingers brushed her bare skin. She twitched slightly, and I realized that it was a pretty intimate gesture for someone I barely knew. I pulled my hand back slowly, placing it back in my lap.

She looked at me and met my eye, and then she looked down at where my hands were folded.

“He’s my boyfriend,” she said softly. “—was… my boyfriend.”

I waited for her to go on.

“Today I read his texts by accident. I thought I had picked up my phone, but it was his. And—…”

She stopped and put the back of her hand to her lips, heaving with a sudden sob. After a moment, she collected herself, sniffling and straightening up.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” I said. I reached out and took her hand in mine and held it. “Your boyfriend’s an asshole.”

“He was sweet at first,” she said. “But…”

She looked down at her lap and didn’t finish the sentence.

“He kicked me out when I found out. Threw a bunch of my clothes in a bag and pushed me out into the rain.” She squirmed, then said to herself, “What kind of person does that?”

I let go of her hand and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her into an embrace and placing my palm on top of her head. Her cheek rested on my shoulder.

“Sam, I’m sorry,” I said.

She burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably into my t-shirt. I held her as she cried, stroking her damp hair.

“It’s not fair,” she said. “It’s not fair.” She said the words over and over.

After a couple of minutes, she seemed to have exhausted all her tears. She grew quiet in my arms, and her breathing stilled.

Then, softly, she said, “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t seen me out there in the rain.”

As she said the words, she pulled her hand out of her lap and reached toward me. Her fingers trembled as they brushed against my chest. She raised up and looked at me, and our eyes met, just inches away from each other.

Then she leaned forward slowly, and I instinctively parted my lips.

Out the window, lightning flashed suddenly. And at the same moment, the tea kettle on the stove blew its whistle.

I jerked my head toward the kitchen.

Sam pulled her hand back like it had been burned, and I started up from the couch as a loud crack Escort İstanbul of thunder sounded.

“I’d um, better… get that,” I said jutting a thumb toward the stove.

She brushed a strand of hair away from her face.

“Yeah,” she said, looking around like she had lost something in the couch cushions.

When I brought the tea into the living room a minute later, Sam had already gone to the bedroom to change and come back, wearing the shirt and sweatpants. She had tied her hair up into a bun and donned her glasses again.

“Feel better?” I asked, handing her a cup and saucer.

She took it and nodded.

“You didn’t have to do any of this,” she said. “I wish I could repay you, somehow.”

Her voice was halting, like she wasn’t saying everything that she was thinking.

“You don’t owe me anything,” I said. “Plus, it’s not every day I get to rescue a pretty girl from a rainstorm.”

“I’m not pretty,” was all she said.

I gaped at her, lowering myself to the couch beside her.

“Sure you are,” I said.

“Not pretty enough for him, apparently.”

I sat back, frowning.

“Or the guy before him,” she added, trailing off.

She looked up at me with a wan smile.

“I sure can pick ’em, huh?” She let out a sigh.

“Sam, you are a beautiful girl,” I said. “Those guys just couldn’t see what they had.”

“You’re just being nice. I’m a nerd with glasses. I get it. It’s OK.”

“Hey now, some of my best friends are nerds,” I said. I leaned forward and rested a hand on her thigh. “There’s nothing wrong with nerds.”

“Tell me something,” she said, sliding away from me so my hand slid off her leg. She turned on the couch, squaring her shoulders to face me.

“Why do guys always say stuff like that and then they stalk the slutty girl on social? They drool over the little TikTok hottie in her sports bra and her— fucking, bike shorts or whatever—” Her face was red, and veins stood out on her forehead. “—and they fuck around with her and then they toss out the nerdy girl like me like she’s a used condom or something?”

A tear streamed from each of her eyes to trail down her cheeks.

“Listen Sam, I’m not your enemy—” I started.

“—But you probably do it too, don’t you?” she spat.

“Do what?”

“Look at me: I’m no one,” she said. “I’m nothing special. Would you have even given me two glances if we hadn’t run into each other outside just now, and if I wasn’t sitting here in your living room?”

“Sam, first of all, I told you you’re a beautiful girl, and second of all, yes,” I said. “I would have.”

She didn’t say anything.

“And… I did,” I said. “I noticed you last night. In the laundry room.”

I hadn’t planned on being so honest, but here we were.

“I guess you didn’t see me checking you out?” I added.

“You mean in my frumpy t-shirt and jeans? Yeah, I’m sure you were.”

“I was,” I said. “You’re a cute girl. T-shirt and jeans, whatever. You’d look cute in anything.”

“Just cute?” she said, wiping her cheek with one hand.

“Well,” I said, “‘cute’ wouldn’t have been the word I’d have used out by the pool earlier.”

I saw her soften visibly. She fidgeted with her hands in her lap, looking down at them as she spoke.

“Oh yeah?” she asked. Her voice was much quieter. “What … word would you use?”

I’d backed myself into a corner, but there was no sense trying to get out of it now.

“You were … sexy,” I said. “The little green swimsuit. It was hot.”

“You thought I was sexy?” Her face was still downturned, but her eyes darted up to lock onto mine.

I swallowed and nodded. My head felt like it was floating in a fish tank.

What happened next seemed to unfold both in slow motion and all at once.

Sam pulled off her glasses and set them on the coffee table. Then she reached behind her head, loosening her hair to let it fall down around her shoulders. Then she stood up.

As the storm continued to rage outside the window and the sky faded into dusk, the only light in the apartment came from across the room, a single warm bulb over the kitchen sink. Sam’s figure was cast in sharp shadows as she stood in front of me.

“Lie back,” she said.

I did as she asked, staring up at her.

She moved so that she was knee-to-knee with me. And as I watched, she grabbed the hem of the oversized shirt and pulled it up over her belly, and then higher still, letting her small breasts fall from under it as she tugged the garment over her head.

“Sam…” I started to say something, but the words died in my throat.

Her body was smooth and gorgeous. She looked down at me, eyes half-lidded. The mousy, shy brunette had transformed into a sexy minx.

She tossed the shirt casually onto the couch cushion next to me.

“There’s your shirt back,” she said.

Swaying her hips slowly, she raked her fingers up over her torso and squeezed her breasts, kneading her fingers into the flesh one at a time like she was playing a piano.

“Sam, I—” I tried again, and gulped.

Behind her on the coffee table, my phone suddenly lit up, vibrating loudly.

We both glanced at it. The face of Jenna, my girlfriend, filled the screen.

“Who’s she?” Sam asked, turning back to me. “Oh god, you have a girlfriend.”

She crossed her arms over her chest.

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