Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
TITLE: A Real Soap Opera
By Kelly Klepfer
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She'd given up an extra hour of sleep in an attempt to get her stuff in the washer before he came down and stripped in the laundry room.
With a loud huff, she slammed her apartment door.
Mrs. Finch answered on the sixth ring, and her sleep-slurred words caused Missy a second of concern, but the three baskets of dirty clothes by her door spurred her on. "Mrs. Finch, this is Missy Wells. You've got to do something about Mike in apartment sixteen. Every time I try to do laundry he's there."
A long yawn from Mrs. Finch ended with a squeak. "Missy, there are three machines."
"I know that, it's not that he uses all the machines, it's that he does his laundry half-naked."
"Now that's something I'll have to check into -- at a more reasonable hour. What's the problem again?"
"Can you put up a dress code sign or anything?"
"We're all adults. If it bugs you to see a fine specimen of man in his skivvies then say something. Better yet, if it's that big of a concern, there is a Laundromat just a few miles down the road. I'm going back to sleep, if I can. You won't be calling back at midnight if he decides to wash his car in a Speedo, right?
Missy apologized and hung up the phone. Okay, no help there. She'd suck it up and go do her laundry, even if he was stripped down. Taking a couple of deep breaths while reminding herself that she was a young woman of twenty-five who had cut her adolescent teeth on Baywatch, she grabbed her clothes basket and headed to the laundry room.
Mike sat in one of the squeaky plastic chairs. His shorts were so short Missy couldn't even see them under the magazine he read. Not that she actually looked in the split second her eyes ran the length of his body. Was it possible he didn't have shorts on at all?
She zipped to the empty washer - he'd used two -- and began unloading her whites. His washers chugged as she dumped the bleach into the unit, and his voice, close to her ear startled her and she jerked, spilled the bleach, and squealed.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I was just trying to say hi."
Peripherally, she caught a glimpse of his muscular tanned chest and she forced her eyes straight ahead. She removed her hand from her chest. "I'll live. Hi."
"Could I borrow your bleach?"
Missy turned and arched an eyebrow. Did he ask her that? "I think you could really benefit from a little more preparedness, Mike. Weren't you ever a scout?"
He splayed his hands over his chest. "Have pity. I'm out of bleach. Actually, I don't own any and I have a nasty ketchup stain on my favorite t-shirt."
"Shout it out."
"I tried and it just whimpered and put its sleeves over its ears."
Missy smiled. Well -- he was a charming half-naked man. "Okay. You can use my bleach on one condition."
She glanced at his fish-belly-white legs under his 8o's style cut-offs and then turned back to the washer and twirled the dial for a bigger load. "Could you at least get some sun on those legs if you insist on showing them off every time I have to do laundry?"
He leaned in toward her, his dimples deepened and his green eyes sparked. "Ahh, my plan is working then."
Were they flirting? Aware of her increased heart rate she suppressed her smile. "What's that?"
"I've been trying to get your attention. If the sculpted Adonis bod failed, I hoped to fall back on my secret stun weapon -- the bright white legs."
Missy grabbed her basket and held out her bleach bottle which he grabbed as she walked toward the door. "Oh, you got my attention alright."
"So you want to go out sometime? I owe you at least a hamburger for your generous favor."
Missy stopped at the threshold. "Depends. Will you be dressing for the occasion?"
His laugh followed her to the stairs, and her grin lasted way past dinner.
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