The Offer

fall-autumn-red-season

It was a cool crisp Autumn afternoon. Mallory was finishing up cleaning her apartment. When she finished, she decided to go take a walk. There is a park with a path a block away. Since her break up with Ben a month ago, she had been sitting around watching sad movies and feeding her broken heart with junk food. When the junk food ran out, she decided it was time for a change, so she started to take walks and noticed that she was starting to come out of her funk. So now, Mallory goes for a walk every afternoon. When it’s raining, she plays games on her computer or she cleans.

As she is walking up the sidewalk to her apartment building. She sees her neighbor Sam. The creepy neighbor that lives on the first floor. He is known around the apartment complex and quite the ladies man. He has been with some of the married women in the building when their husbands are away. He has been trying to get with Mallory, but she is not interested. But that doesn’t seem to stop him. He makes up needing something.

“Hey Mal, do you have an extra roll of toilet paper?”

“There is my friendly neighbor,” he says with a creepy smile, ” do you have any extra napkins or a roll of paper towels. I ordered a pizza and don’t have any. Want to join me?”

Finally, one day she got tired of him. She went down to his apartment and knocked on his door. He opened it and smiled, thinking that she changed her mind. He opened the door enough that she could have went it, but she didn’t. She told him firmly, ” I am not interested in being with you. I have tried to be nice about it, but you don’t seem to get it. So I am telling you now. Stop coming up and asking me for things. I will no longer provide anything. Ask one of your married lovers. I am sure they will be happy to give you what you want.” She didn’t wait for his reply. She wasn’t interested in what he had to say. He didn’t say anything. He just shrugged his shoulders and closed the door. Since then, he hasn’t bothered her.

It was laundry day. She grabbed the laundry bag of dirty clothes and the jar of quarters and headed out to the laundromat down the street. There were a few people there. One woman had the table covered in piles of folded laundry. She must have been there since this morning. Mallory couldn’t imagine herself being at the laundromat all day. She takes one or two loads at a time and that’s it. The only separating that she does is, one load is clothes, the other is towels and sheets. And everything is washed in cold water. Once she has her wash in the washer, she goes out to the bench and plays a game on her phone. There is a guy already sitting there on his phone, he looks up, they say hello, then they both go back to their phones.

The washer is done and she goes in to transfer the clothes to the dryer. She puts in a few quarters and then turns it on. Checks how much time it’s set for, then heads back outside. When she goes steps outside, she notices the guy isn’t there. He must have been finishing up when she arrived. Mallory was one of the last few left waiting for their dryer to get done. Once her clothes and towels were done, she folded everything and placed them in the laundry bag, and then headed home.

She parked her car in front of the apartment building. As she was getting out, she noticed the new neighbor from down the hall. She never introduced herself when he moved in. That was about to change. She gave herself a pep talk as she walked back up to her apartment with her laundry bag. This is the new Mallory, and you are going to introduce yourself to him and ask his name and offer to cook him dinner sometime.  She smiled as she went into her apartment and went to go put the clean laundry away. Then she made herself a cup of tea and was working up the courage to go down the hall and introduce herself.

Mallory gets herself showered and dressed. Then she stands in front of her door for a few minutes, then takes a deep breath and heads to his apartment just a few doors down. When she gets to his door, she listens to make sure that there isn’t someone already there. She doesn’t want to interrupt him. Then she knocks on the door and waits for him to answer. He opens the door and smiles. Mallory stands there frozen, shocked that she is standing in front of him. He raises and eyebrow and teases her, “Are you lost?” She didn’t expect him to say that, she almost turns and walks away. But she tells herself to keep going.

“No, I um, I’m not lost,” she holds out her hand for him to shake, ” My name is Mallory and I live in apartment 201. I was wondering if you would like to have dinner sometime. I mean, I would like to cook dinner for you sometime. I mean, oh geez, I am so sorry, I don’t mean to sound so stupid. Just wanted to know if you wanted to have dinner at my place sometime and get to know each other.” She lowers her head waiting for him to decline. He finds her adorable.

He takes her hand and keeps a hold of it. She looks up into his eyes as he answers her with a killer smile, “I would love to have dinner at your place Mallory. My name is Greg. I don’t have any plans tonight, how about I come over around 6:30?” Mallory stands there for a minute and thinks of what she has in the freezer that she could cook. “Do you like chicken?” she asks. Greg shakes his head yes. “Sounds good to me.” He lets go of her hand and they say good bye and she heads back to her apartment walking on a cloud. She doesn’t notice that Greg is watching her walk back to her apartment. He closes his door when he sees that she made it to her apartment.

Mallory bakes chicken with some spices and vegetables. Greg offered to bring the wine. Dinner is in the oven, she sets the table and straightens up the apartment.  She puts on a music station that plays soft music and lowers it so it’s so they don’t have to talk over it. Mallory doesn’t want to be forward and light candles setting a romantic mood. She will see how this dinner goes first. Dinner is just about done when she hears a knock on the door. It’s Greg with wine in hand and that killer smile.

Mallory opens the door and he follows her in and closes the door. “Dinner is almost done, I have a cork screw and wine glasses on the coffee table if you would like to pour us some wine while we wait for dinner.” He goes to the living room and uncorks the wine and pours the wine. He picks up the glasses and comes into the kitchen to hand her a glass of wine.

She takes the glass and raises it for a toast, ” Here is to a good night getting to know each other.” He taps her glass and says, ” I will drink to that.” They both take a sip. He leans on the counter as she takes the chicken and vegetables out of the oven and places it on a hot plate on the dining room table. He follows and stands behind her chair to offer to help push her chair in. No one has ever offered to do that for her. He gets points for that. Greg goes to the living room and retrieves the bottle of wine and then comes to sit down across from her at the table. Once they have fixed their plates, they dig in.

“Mmm this is delicious.” After he swallows his first bite.

“Thank you, It’s one of my favorite dishes. It’s simple but has a lot of flavor. Can’t mess up chicken and vegetables.” She chuckles as she puts a forkful in her mouth.

He looks up and jokes, ” You would be surprised. I am not really a cook. I think if i tried, I might set the apartment complex on fire.” As he cuts a piece of chicken and raises the fork to his mouth, he smiles and winks at her. She blushes and takes a sip of her wine. Then for the rest of the meal they eat without saying much.

When dinner is over, they move to the living room with their glasses of wine. They sit on the couch and sit so they are facing each other. For the next two hours. They really get to know each other. Where they came from, what they did for a living, their hobbies. Everything, the conversation just flowed from one subject to another. It has been a long time since she has connected with anyone this easy before. It feels like she has known him for years. Greg is surprised how open he is with her. He feels so comfortable with her. It has been a long time since he has opened up to anyone. He is glad that he accepted to come to dinner.

Neither one wants the evening to end. Mallory forgot all about dessert. She was enjoying the conversation so much that she didn’t want to lose the flow. She knows that he will have to be going soon. “I really had a lovely time tonight, thank you for coming over for dinner. I hope we can do this again sometime.”

Greg doesn’t want to leave, he really likes her a lot. “I would like to see you again. I don’t want to go, but I have an early meeting tomorrow. How about we meet up tomorrow after I get home from work and we can do pizza and a movie. I will bring the pizza.” She smiles and wants to jump on his lap and hug him so much. But she contains herself. “Pizza and a movie sound great. After you get home and change into something comfortable, just knock and come in. I will leave the door open.” He frowns and says, ” Don’t leave your door unlocked, that’s not safe.” She smiles and promises to keep it locked.

They walk to the front door and he turns to her and takes her head in his hands and softly kisses her. He opens the door and turns around and gives her that killer smile and closes the door. Mallory doesn’t remember falling asleep, but she fell asleep with a smile on her face.

 

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