The key entered its hole with great force, and it turned to the side four times before returning to the soft and warm pocket.
Teo made sure the door was locked three times, and on the fourth one, he put the key back to be entirely sure. No, he wasn’t used to this kind of behavior. His mind, lately, was all over the place; did he shut the washing machine off? Was the stove turned off, or was he going to receive a call from the fire department? And the balcony doors, were they all locked? Yeah, as if a thief could climb up to the sixth floor just breaking into the apartment. Nevertheless, he had to check. And he did.
“Alright. Off we go” he silently spoke to himself as he straightened his clothes.
The elevator was just a few steps away, and once he got there he pressed the button, waiting somehow impatiently for it. Checking the time on his phone, Teo began humming a random melody, rocking his body back and forth with one hand on his jeans pocket. It was too early to get out of the apartment, but he had lots of work to finish. Also, it was finally this day that his game would get tes-
“Good morning, neighbor!” that voice. He sighed. That voice was about ruin everything.
He stood tall. He didn’t turn. He pretended not to listen. Teo cleared his throat, leaned over the elevator’s door, and browsed through his phone, ignoring Nick’s hyper voice. Where does he get so much energy from this early morning?
“Oi! Teo!” nope, he wasn’t listening. He adjusted the Bluetooth on his ear; pretending once again that his focus was elsewhere but the room surrounding him. A loud groan followed, and then the thud of a door closing.
Teo felt rather proud of himself already. Was it a bit mean ignoring Nick? Maybe, but he was in no mood to chit-chat. And why the hell was the elevator taking so long? He knocked on the metal door and then noticed that the small monitor was stuck on number 3 along with the elevator itself.
“I was about to tell you that technicians came all the way here at six o’clock. They are still trying to repair it” Teo was taken aback by the voice, and immediately turned to look at a quite cheerful boy with messy dark brown hair, fully awake hazelnut eyes, and a cyan tank top with white tight pants. He was holding a half-eaten doughnut with a pink glaze on it
“Just my luck!” Teo cursed away. Stairs it was, then. He had to run if he wanted to get there on time. And running would mess up his looks. No, it wasn’t the right day to show up at work as he had just got off the bed.
“Do you need a ride?” Nick asked bluntly, munching on his doughnut.
“Do you have a car?” he had never before seen him driving, let alone parking a car near. Hell, was he in such desperate need of help?
“Is that a yes or a no?!”
Nick simply grinned and turned his head to the side.
“Babe! Can you come here for a minute?”
Teo felt more dread than when he watched the Conjuring movies on his own. And boy was he right. In just a second a tall guy, much taller than even him, came their way. He wasn’t as threatening as he imagined him to be. Despite his long legs and sharp-edged face, those thick black eyebrows and golden brown curls neatly placed behind his ears were giving away an image of a nice guy. Yes, his skin was a few tones darker – probably tanned from the sun- and his clothing consisted of nothing on top (forcing Teo to focus on his well-built body), a pair of denim pants, and black army boots. Should he also mention the tribal tattoo around his neck? Yeah, other than that, he seemed very nice and friendly.
“My boy here, Teo, is in a hurry. Do you think you can give him a lift somewhere…?” Nick looked at Teo, who was still mesmerized by the sight of the other’s boyfriend, lover, or whatever he was in this case.
“Do I have to? I need to meet the guys in half an hour. The streets will be full by now.”
“Come on. Please, Daniel?” Nick’s voice got all soft and full of vulnerability, something that didn’t suit him at all.
Daniel pulled him into a tight embrace and lifted his chin, shaking lightly his face “You owe me then. Tonight.”
“Woah Woah, there. Ok, Cassanova. Let me talk” Teo took a deep breath; a really deep breath and rubbed his temple. “I don’t need any help” he slapped his chest “. Thank you, but no thank you.”
“You are in a hurry, aren’t you?” Nick was right. He was in a hurry, but owing him a favor? And who knows what kind of a driver the Daniel dude was?
He inhaled and exhaled. Then he repeated that once more.
“Yes, I am, but I got it all covered” his patience had just jumped from the sixth floor. “Listen, kid, I don’t need any favors from you, alright? Have a nice day” and Teo stormed off, running down the stairs, hoping that he would get to work just in time.
Bright blue sky with just a couple of scattered clouds, perfectly white and fluffy. The sun was restlessly lighting up this side of the world, but soon, it would move away, exhausted, giving his place to the moon. Teo leaned with his back against the grid and blew some smoke away, holding loosely his cigar close to his lips, ready for another sip. It was a barbaric day.
“Got one?” he looked over at his colleague as she was approaching him.
“Sure” he shrugged and pulled one out of the package.
“Heard the guys from the art department made a mess” she lit it up and with a deep inhale, she released the pale smoke away.
Teo chuckled, shaking his head. Yeah, they did. A great one.
“Probably some virus, from what they say. Wiped everything off the hard disk. At least that’s what they claim. I am not sure anymore about anything.”
“And what do you say, champ?” the young woman tilted her head, taking a good look at him with a soft smile.
Sonia was a very attractive woman. Her father was Japanese and her mother Australian, born and raised in Perth just like him, yet the mix of the two different races created one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Of course, her mother was the proudest, as the girl inherited her green eyes, freckles, and thick curls. Her father, on the other hand ‘shaped’ her in a sense. Sonia was not too tall, nor too short but she did have a slim, pale body and small yet very expressive eyes.
She also was the head of the legal department, meaning she was the only lawyer in this small company and their best shot if anything happened. A bitch when she needed to be, and a great friend when no one was looking. Teo met her a year after he got his job and even though they’d rarely hang out, he could feel quite the connection between them.
“I say that my life sucks big these days. And I don’t know what else to expect.” Teo sighed and sat on the floor, throwing his head on his bent knees. He shut his eyes and let some of the afternoon breezes caress his hair.
“Ah, yes. The very eventful divorce” she commented with a tad of sarcasm in her voice, and she sat next to him. “You could have just called me in and taught her a lesson.”
“News travel fast, I see.”
“We got James around, in case you’ve forgotten. Our very own personal reporter” she scoffed and threw her cigar leftover away “I don’t get why he is still around. He spends more time talking with girls and drooling over them, than actually offering something to this company.”
“Right. I forgot about him as you keep on forgetting why he is ‘working’ here.” a deep breath. He looked a bit beyond the grid and kept the view of the horizon carved in his heart “Sonia, what would you-” his phone began ringing in his pocket. “Gimme one. It’s probably our best friend, trying to find why I am not back to my office.”
“Take your time, honey. After so many hours you’ve worked over time, you deserve more than just a twenty-minute break. Don’t forget, you got the law on your side.” she winked at him and left.
Teo hesitated. James or not; Ceo or the janitor, he wasn’t in the right mood to talk to anyone. But, his hands worked on their own and reached out for the little device, sliding the ‘Answer’ button.
And up to this day, he still regrets answering it.