I looked around the apartment as the movers carried things in around me. It was spacious, large and open, with a big kitchen that I knew I would barely use, and a front room with a fireplace that had been lit by the real estate agent before I’d gotten there. It was meant to be welcoming and it was—I had made a good choice in deciding to move after my younger sister had taken over my apartment with her constant partying, and I had a feeling that this apartment was a good place for me to start a quiet life by myself.
I went downstairs to help unload the truck, incapable of just sitting around while they did it all themselves. I was tired by the time we were finished, having carried countless boxes into the apartment, and by the time the movers left, I had sunken down onto my couch. It was suddenly quiet—much quieter than it had always been with my sister around. Suddenly, the silence felt almost uncomfortable. I looked around at the boxes on the floor, picking one up and unpacking the radio inside. I had just plugged it in when there was a knock on my door. I wiped my hands on my jeans and went to it, opening it up to see a stunning woman on the other side. She was tall and blonde, dressed inappropriately for the weather in a small, tight dress that accented her body, the length of her slim legs.
“Hi,” I said, smiling at her. She was just my type, the kind of girl I always went for.
“Hey,” she said, and already there was a flirtatious tone in her voice. “I saw you just moved in. I wanted to come introduce myself. My name is Amanda Springer.”
“Tyler Norton,” I said to her, taking her hand and shaking it. She held mine for a long moment, her eyes sparkling on mine. She was obvious good at this, flirting with men, getting her way no matter what.
“So since you’re new here, I thought that we could get to know each other,” she said. “I noticed that nobody else seems to live here? No roommate or girlfriend?”
“No, it’s just me,” I said to her. I recognized the tone of her voice and knew that she knew who I was. She looked to me to be a model, and I wasn’t surprised that she was flirting—it was something that happened often with some of the women who thought that it might give them a boost in their career, and getting involved with that wasn’t something that I was the least bit interested in.
“Would you like to come down to my apartment for a drink?” the woman asked, her voice a seductive purr. “We could get to know each other. I have a feeling we’d get along.”
“No, I uh—I’m actually having some friends over,” I said, trying to make my voice apologetic. I really didn’t want to spend any time with her; I was trying to stay away from women, not interested in doing my usual old thing. I had started to feel like I was getting too old to be some sort of playboy, and though I had no intention of settling down, I had thought it best to be on my own for a while.
“Great,” she said brightly, completely missing the dodge. “Hanging out in a group is always fun. What time, do you think? Maybe in a couple of hours?”
“Um,” I said awkwardly, not knowing what to say. I felt like I couldn’t exactly reject her flat-out without being rude, though I had no particular interest in spending any time with her. “Yeah. A couple of hours.”
“Great,” she said, then disappeared down the stairs. I stared after her, blown away by her boldness. From the way she looked, that expertly flirtatious look in her eye, I knew that she was used to getting her way. She probably didn’t even think that there was a chance I might have rejected her. I shook my head, exasperated, knowing those kinds of women—they were always bold, always got what they wanted with just a wink and a pretty smile.
I closed the door and went back into the living room, pulling out my phone to send a group text to some close friends. I was glad that I had decided to have them over—it would be nice to spend my first evening in the new apartment with people I enjoyed being around, even if Amanda had invited herself to crash the party.
My front door opened and I saw Trixie, my sister walk in, as usual not bothering to knock. Trixie was younger than me, only just twenty-four, and had all the energy in the world. She bounced right into the apartment and immediately gave herself a tour, walking through each room.
“You could have so many great parties in here,” she said. I shook my head.
“No more of your blow-outs. I’m keeping this place low-key. I’m getting too old for this.”
“You’re only thirty-one,” she pointed out. “That’s hardly old.”
“It’s time for me to chill out,” I said to her, going to the fridge and pulling out a beer for her. I opened it and handed it to her, watching in exasperation as she downed the whole thing in a few large gulps, then picked up another and popped the top off.
“You are nuts,” I said to her when the doorbell rang, and I went to it to see my friends Aaron and Roger on the other side. They both grinned at me, looking around when I invited them in.
“This place is huge,” Aaron said as he took a seat on the couch next to Roger. “No wonder you moved out. You starting a family we don’t know about?”
I snorted. “Not a chance.”
“You should settle down,” Trixie teased. “You’re getting old.”
I rolled my eyes at her, sitting across from my friends as she plopped down into a chair. It was a few moments later that Amanda arrived, showing up in an even smaller dress than she’d been wearing before. She gave me a seductive smile, presenting a bottle of champagne.
“Thought we could celebrate,” she said, winking at me. I smiled at her and invited her in, looking over her shoulder at my sister, who looked over Amanda with her eyebrow raised.
“Who is this?” Trixie asked, a judgmental tone in her voice. I shot her a look, warning her not to be rude. Trixie had a habit of showing exactly how she felt about someone and not hiding her disdain at all, something that, at times, didn’t go over well at parties. She was known to get in trouble with people sometimes, and I only hoped she would keep her mouth shut and behave with Amanda around.
“My name is Amanda,” the woman said, sitting down in the chair I had been sitting in. I went into the kitchen and poured several glasses of champagne, passing them out to each person. When Amanda noticed that I had moved to the couch she stood up, not so subtly moving closer to me. Trixie stifled a laugh and I shot her an annoyed look.
“So what do you do?” Amanda asked me, inevitably taking the seat next to me, her thigh touching my own. “If you don’t mind me asking.”
I grinned at her, having to force it. I knew very well that she knew exactly what I did and who I was.
“I’m the CEO of Les Chic,” I said. “The—”
“Oh, I know Les Chic,” she said, gushing, her hand fluttering to her chest as if she was surprised, as if she hadn’t known who I was all along. I didn’t exactly have a low-profile face. I had been featured in New York magazines as one of the top eligible bachelors in the city, something that my partner, Owen, had submitted me for as a joke. He hadn’t expected me to win, and since then I’d had a lot of women like Amanda at my doorstep, though it had thankfully died down some in the two years since the article had come out. “That’s you?”
I nodded. Her flirty look was getting to me, especially by the time I was on my third beer. She really was gorgeous—the type of woman I normally went for. Model beautiful. Only the best. I found myself staring at her with some kind of interest, and she responded by doing small things like touching me—a hand on my knee or my arm. I found myself lost in my usual habit of wanting to forget some of my troubles, knowing that for a few moments, a woman might satisfy my need to keep from being alone. It was directly against everything I had told myself at the beginning of the night, yet still I was tempted. A warm body that meant nothing to me was still a warm body, somebody to keep me company for at least a few hours.
I found myself falling into Amanda, and by the time Aaron and Roger left, I already knew what was going to happen. Amanda was leaning into me, staring at my lips, and though I was tired, I knew I was just drunk enough to take her to bed.