There were two ways I knew I was screwed. The first was after my sister had been in the hospital for over twenty-fours. The second was when the sink sprang a leak and began flooding my kitchen. I sighed and walked down the hall to her apartment. The numbers 322 stared dauntingly back at me. I took a deep breath and raised my fist. I knocked on the door hoping the owner wasn’t home. My pulse quickened as I heard the locks being undone. The paint chipped door swung open to reveal the devil himself.
Noah leaned against the doorframe. He wore a wifebeater and a pair of worn out jeans. A lazy smile spread across his lips making the cigarette between them twitch. “Well, well, if it ain’t Little Miss High Society,” he said, causing the cancer stick to jump up and down. He removed it and blew a gust of smoke directly into my face making me cough. “What causes you to show up on my doorstep?”
I swatted away the noxious cloud of nicotine. I spoke through clenched teeth. “I need your help with my sink. It sprung a leak.”
Amusement lit up Noah’s eyes like I had just told him a joke. “Why you telling me? Don’t you got some type of plumber at your beck-and-call?”
I had known this wasn’t going to be easy. He was enjoying my helplessness; it was fueling his power complex. Noah would get pleasure from me having to admit I couldn’t accomplish, especially without his help. I should have just Googled what to do instead of asking for his help.
“No, I don’t.” I let out a sigh of frustration. “Look if you don’t want to help me that’s fine. I’ll just go ask someone else.”
“Never said I wouldn’t help ya,” he said in his Southern drawl. “Besides, what kinda man would I be if I ain’t help my sister-in-law?” Noah took a drag off the cigarette and blew another cloud of smoke at me. “I might just need you to ask in a nicer way.”
Of course he would want me to beg. I should have never walked down here.
He raised his eyebrows, waiting.
I briefly closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath. “Noah would you be so kind as to take time out of your busy day to fix my sink?”
I fingers itched to punch him as he rubbed his chin, pretending to debate the issue.
Noah smirked. “Of course I would! Let me grab a couple tools.”
As he retreated into his apartment, I had half a mind to run back to my own and lock the door. Too soon he returned with a wrench and two screwdrivers and a devious smirk on his lips.
An hour and two shots of vodka later (one for each of us) my sink was back in working condition. Noah gathered his tools and stood up.
“Thank you,” I muttered after a beat of silence.
He hooked his thumbs around the belt loops of his jeans, causing the waistband of his underwear to peek out. “You ain’t gotta thank me. But I don’t favors for free, sweetheart.”
A knot twisted in my stomach. I stopped myself from running over to the couch.
Noah’s blue eyes roved up and down my body. They seemed to darken with lust as he gazed into mine. “I’m sure you’ll find a way to pay me back, Vivian.”
I swallowed hard and folded my arms across my body. “So did you go visit Michelle today?”
He slowly nodded his head. "Sure did. I took her some food after I got off work." Noah took a step closer to me.
My eyes drifted from his intense gaze to his shoulder and down each of his glistening arms. Sweat had soaked through the top half of his muscle shirt making it cling to his skin.
"How about you?" he asked.
My eyes snapped back up to his face. "Yeah, I stopped by early this morning."
"You seeing anyone?"
The question caught me off guard. "What?" I asked.
He moved closer. As he spoke, Noah slowed his words down like he was speaking to a clueless child. "Are you seeing anyone?"
"N-no. Why?" I took a step away from him but he simply countered my step.
He lifted a shoulder and a mocking grin slipped onto his mouth. "Figured a princess like you would have her perfect knight picked out already."
The knot twisted in my stomach again. "Why are you so interested, huh?"
He laughed but there was an edge to it. Noah's eyes dropped below my face and he reached towards me. I flinched but he fingered the gold V hanging around my neck.
"You always so jumpy 'round men?" He asked without glancing up.
I snapped, "Only when I don't trust them."
He dropped my necklace and crossed his arms, making his biceps bulge. The left side up his mouth curled up in a smirk. "Vivian, you don’t trust me?"
I moved to the shared threshold of the kitchen and living room. I focused my eyes on the white cabinets behind Noah's head. "What happened to Michelle again?"
"She slipped in the shower."
"Uh-huh. And how long did it take for you to get home to find her?" I turned my heated gaze on him.
Noah unfolded his arms and strode over to me. He growled, "You a cop now or somethin'? Think I'mma liar? I told you what the hell happened. 'Less you got another theory how she got hurt?"
The faint smell of cigarette smoke was permeating my nose. He was too close to my face and I could see the gray around his pupils. The rage burning in them was barely controlled. If I pushed him anymore, the beast inside of him would come out. There's no telling what the consequences would be.
"No," I said raising my hands level to my shoulders. "I don't have another theory. I had just forgotten what she told me happened. Michelle had been full of morphine when she talked to me."
"She tell you anything else?"
He was testing me.
I smiled and shook my head. "Nope," I lied, "just something about missing her favorite TV show."