Paula stepped away, holding back a scream when the neighbor who had just moved into the apartment above her entered the shared laundry room, saying softly: “Is there a problem?” (In the Laundry Room, continuing from last week…)
“Oh. Um. Hello! It’s Stefan, isn’t it? Hi. I’m Paula.” Paula nodded her head as if in a business meeting, berating herself silently. He’s creepy!
Stefan ignored her as he glared at the laundry in her hands. “I believe those are my jeans. And Darlene’s nightgown.”
Paula peered down at the incriminating evidence. “I was looking for my laundry. I placed my, um, things in the washing machine late last night.”
“Yes, I know.” Stefan replied. The man was taller than Paula by half a foot and looked down at her with distain, until interest lit his eyes. “I placed your ‘things’ … (Paula flinched when he used his fingers as quote marks) … “in the dryer for you last night. I needed the washing machine.”
Paula stood stock still. Okayyyy, So, where were her undies?
Suddenly she realized that Stefan had mentioned Darlene, who lived in the apartment across from hers. Single woman, Paula’s age, gorgeous, worked in a downtown San Francisco ad agency.
Why was Stefan washing Darlene’s nightie? The nightie that had a bloodstain on it?
Paula began to back out of the laundry room. She didn’t like that light in Stefan’s eyes, and she sure as heck didn’t like it when he suddenly exclaimed, “And your whites are all folded up in my place. Why don’t we go up there and I’ll give them to you.” Stefan’s grin seemed forced. Paula’s heart jolted faster than the agitator of a washing machine.
“That’s okay,” she replied, stepping more quickly, backwards, out of the room. Until she hit a moving soft body and shrieked.
“Paula? Are you okay?”
Darlene stepped in front of Paula, looking as fresh as a newly bloomed rose, wearing a pink velvety robe and fancy bedroom slippers. Her long brunette hair was tousled in that “just out of bed” way, and her large green eyes widened as she viewed the scene between Stefan and Paula.
“Stefan!” Darlene scolded. “Did you put your jeans in with my nightgown and pink top?” She tut tutted as she grabbed her items and surveyed them. “You lout,” she exclaimed, but with a smile and a quick push on his chest.
“I’m sorry, babe,” Stefan said with an abashed expression crossing his rather handsome (Paula now noticed) face.
Paula’s felt her face turn fifty shades of pink. “Oh,” was all she could manage.
“Of course he put your things in the dryer, and I folded them early this morning. They’re up in Stefan’s room. Wanna come get them?”
And buy her own washer/dryer, stat.