All Ray wants is peace and quiet—something he is never going to get with his idiotic neighbor blasting anime and crazy music at all hours. When he finally breaks down and asks Cata to knock it off, he doesn’t expect a friendship to develop. And he definitely does not anticipate a romance.
A romance he fears won’t last, given that Ray is much more than he seems and only in the apartment building because he’s desperately searching for a serial killer—and trying to keep Cata from becoming the next victim.
There were mornings when he felt this overwhelming urge to strangle his new neighbour. Mornings when he would love nothing more than to wrap his fingers around his neighbour’s neck and squeeze until said neighbour’s eyeballs bulged, until they were rasping for breath and ended up collapsing from the lack of oxygen.
He had such vivid dreams of the person in apartment 3C that it was disturbing. However, what made it worse was the fact that he hadn’t even met said nuisance yet. With his insane schedule and busy weekdays and weekends, he hadn’t been able to make an introduction to them.
As another horrendous Japanese song blasted from speakers that caused the walls to shake and had him grinding his teeth, Ray Zielke figured there was no day like today to make an introduction.
With his mind made up, he threw on his trusty pullover sweater and drawstring pants. He ran his fingers through his sandy brown mop, absently noting that a few tendrils had grown long enough to brush against his collarbone, and with determined steps walked out of his apartment and across the hall.
If he thought that the cacophony of sound was bad whilst he was inside, it was nothing compared to standing outside his neighbour’s door and hearing what the idiot probably thought was good music. How could anyone live with such noise? How can anyone hear themselves think with that kind of noise?
Ray noted Mrs Braun, who lived in 3B, returning to her apartment carrying a trashcan. On her shoulder was the fake stuffed bird she had on her arm the first day they met. Her hearing wasn’t as good as it used to be, and after having some conversations with her, he concluded that her marbles weren’t as good either. But she was lovable, and she most likely got irritated by the noise as well. Although, now that he thought about it, why hadn’t she complained to their co-tenant? The more he considered it, the more it seemed likely that she probably had and their neighbour was a stubborn arse who didn’t listen to their complaints. Because there was no way he was the only one who had a problem with the noise.
And the noise was probably turning him deaf, because he couldn’t hear what Mrs Braun was saying. Ray tilted his head to the side as he tried to read her lips. What was that? You’ll grow to love it? Arachnids exist? Don’t complain?
Ray shook his head. He had obviously lost his lip-reading skills. None of that made any sense. The music was probably messing with his head.
He raised his knuckles and rapped sharply on the door. Hopefully, his neighbour would be able to hear the knock over the ruckus. After several more minutes of knocks with no response, Ray took to pounding the door and yelling at the top of his voice. “Hey. Is someone there? Turn it down.”
He had his fist raised and was about to resume pounding on the door when suddenly it swung open and he was looking up into the most delicate lavender eyes that were rimmed in a deep blue eyeliner that set them off beautifully.
Ray took in a deep breath as he took note of the thick, long, and black eyelashes, the dark eye shadow, eyebrows that had been carefully plucked, a strong nose with a nose ring, pierced ears with varying loops that linked the rings together, defined cheekbones, and lips that were slightly pink and swollen. This was all set on a face that was beautifully male and on a body covered in a flowery, feminine kimono with wide sleeves. What the hell?
He saw the man bend his head slightly and heard a sound that brought Ray’s attention to the cowrie beads that his neighbour had threaded into a long, bright red mane that completed the fiery package.
“You know, you look silly standing there with your mouth open like that. You should close it, or a fly might get in.” The words were spoken softly in a voice that was neither masculine nor feminine, but which fit the person he was looking at. “Now, is there a reason why you’ve been pounding on my door and dragged me away from what I was doing?”
The words were also enough to snap Ray back to reality and to the reason why he was standing there.
“Yeah. The sound is too loud. I would appreciate it if you turned it down a bit. And quite frankly, between you and me, that crap you listen to is not music.”
Publisher: Less Than Three Press