The ancient Honda sat on the side of the road, stalled, lifeless. Elyse rested her head against the steering wheel.
“Not again. Seriously?”
With a sharp inhale, she pulled her coat tighter and stepped out of the car, taking care to lock the door. The scent of crisp night air and gasoline hung heavy, as she stepped away from the car.
Two miles. That was how far her apartment was. The distance to a snug bed and something hot to drink. If she made it. Which, at the moment, didn’t seem likely. She grumbled against the chill and tucked her stray charcoal hair deeper into her scarf, mittened hands safe within the pockets of her coat.
Why did it always end like this? A crap day with an even crappier end. Did God hate her or something? There was absolutely zero good that could come out of this.
On she trudged, around the corner, into the bright lights of the Mini-Mart. Her best friend was on vacation – somewhere tropical – and she had no other friends to call. Thus was the life of an introverted writer who preferred to keep others at a distance. Elyse ground her teeth. Again, really?
The bell over the door rang as she entered, her fingertips at her teeth so they could help extricate her hands from their wooly home. Coffee. The smell of leathery coffee filled her lungs. Coffee would make this whole thing so much better. Then maybe she could make it home, take a hot shower and forget this day ever happened.
“Won’t that keep you awake?” a voice said from beside her.
She whirled. It was the man who lived on the floor below her. At least she thought he was one floor down. He was on the elevator all the same times she rode. He’d moved in exactly one year, two and half months ago. She’d counted because he was kind – always carried in the groceries for the old lady on the ground floor – and incredibly good-looking. Her arms began to sweat and her heart raced as he gave her a smile.
“Um, yeah. I’ll be fine. My body’s used to it.”
“Hmmm.” A dimple appeared in one cheek, those baby blues like the twinkling lights of her Christmas tree.
“Fancy meeting you here, by the way,” he said with a chuckle.
Elyse cleared her throat. Holy jalapenos. The hot guy who lived downstairs spoke to her! “Erm, yeah.” She licked her lips. Why hadn’t she worn make-up today?
“So, headed home?”
She managed a pitiful grin. “If I make it there… car broke down.”
He bit his lip, his smile even broader than it had been before. “Well, that’s good news.”
Her eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
The man held out one arm. “For me, that is. May I give you a ride, Elyse?”
Cheeks warm and spirits lifted, Elyse accepted. Maybe this day wasn’t so bad, after all.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016