Viktor whirled around at the sound of a woman shrieking, trying to pinpoint its location, yet the sound was not coming from within his apartment nor was it a sound of terror.
He smiled a bit and wandered towards the large glass doors of his balcony, just in front of his kitchen to look across the way. There was an incredibly attractive woman standing in the condo across the way laughing as she held a rather fluffy orange cat in her arms. The balcony door was open, probably to let the breeze in, but it gave him a full view of the condo in the building next door.
“I missed you too,” she said gently. “But you have to play nice with the books…”
Viktor smirked watching the woman walk past the window and through the condo. When he’d first moved in all of a month ago, he’d been so very grateful to be somewhere with so much security. However, no one mentioned that his unit had a giant balcony that nearly touched the balcony of another unit.
Yes, the condo across the way had been empty at the time, but did no one think that perhaps he didn’t want a giant window facing someone else’s room? He was a famous athlete, didn’t he have enough windows into his life?
He shook his head and resolved to buy curtains. That had been the plan until she moved in.
He’d been at home that day, taking some much-needed rest after a series of tough games and practices. His rugby team was doing well, but he was just a mortal and his coach was half-demon he was sure. Either way, he hadn’t been prepared for the door to open, nor the woman to come in carrying a pet cage and a box. Her hair had been tied up in a tall wrap above her sportswear and tennis shoes. Smooth brown skin, a plain face, and a tilt to her lips that made him wonder what they tasted like.
Sin is what his mind provided him before he’d even seen the body carrying the box and cage. She was strong, clearly. Athletic like a dancer or a gymnast, though he couldn’t imagine her being able to fling herself through the air very easily without wearing some very high-end sportswear from the way her arse moved as she walked and the size of her breasts.
For the love of all that was holy, she was goddamn trouble, hell on his senses and right across the way. He’d prayed that she was maybe a mover, but as other faces appeared and the very clearly uniformed movers came as well, he had to pray that she was just helping someone move in rather than the new tenant.
In just a few hours, the movers were done. She was surrounded by boxes stacked up and there were three people laying out on the rather comfy looking couch. She lifted the phone high and across the distance, Viktor made out the word pizza.
The bodies cheer lamely and Viktor can’t help but stare at her rather lovely backside.
For god’s sake, Viktor thought. He was going to die. Please let her be a friend.
The pizza arrived and after a few more hours, the three were gone leaving her alone in the condo.
At least, the view would be nice.
It takes a while for her to unpack, far shorter than Viktor in any case as his condo was still half-packed despite him having lived there for nearly a year. He was told by his teammates that a week was a good time to shoot for unpacking a condo of his size. She had it done in three days. Everything from her bookshelves to her pot rack and so much more along with the rather fluffy cat who pranced around the condo like royalty.
Sometimes, he’d feel terrible, watching her moving around in her condo, but most of the time, he can’t think to feel that way–especially after catching her watching him through the very same window.
“I’m… too tired to cook, Crookshanks. What do I do?”
He purred at her, licked her hand, and turned away. She shook her head, of course, Crookshanks had nothing to say on the matter… His meals came out of a can.
Hermione groaned and sat up and froze looking through the window to see him. She’d gotten a few glances of the man across the way and, as she preferred natural lighting, had never really bothered with blinds or curtains. He was in the kitchen now, somewhere she usually saw him and shirtless.
“Crookshanks,… I think those despicable hormones are making a comeback.”
The cat didn’t reply as her mouth went dry. She was hungry, but she was pretty sure it was more for something that didn’t necessarily go in her mouth.
Well, it certainly could go in her mouth.
She groaned and licked her lips. She’d been hanging out with Cormac for far too long if that is what came to mind.
Sweet god, he was beautiful. All broad shoulders and heavily muscled with olive skin. He was clearly not from London, from a warmer climate she was sure. She’d never heard him speak, but whenever he was cooking, it always smelled good and he always looked good no matter what he was doing. Push-ups, chin-ups… cooking…
Maybe he was a chef?
A chef with those shoulders? She shook her head, probably not. Maybe he just worked out hard. She had no idea, but she did wonder what the hell he was making with his windows open like that. She went to her balcony door and opened it. She could have cried because there was no mistaking the smell of spaghetti, real spaghetti with real marinara sauce. Her phone rang and she turned, keeping her eyes on the wonderful masterpiece across the way before answering.
“‘Mione? Have you eaten yet?”
“No,” she said distractedly. “But… I was going to.”
Harry sighed, “Right… I can’t trust you with your own health. Put the book down.”
Hermione scoffed, “I’m not reading at the moment.”
“You’re also not eating.”
“I am currently feeding my spirit,” she said watching the man move around and put the finishing touches on his bowl of pasta. She swallowed a groan as he moved from around the counter revealing nothing but the towel around his waist, tiny and stretched tight around his waist and thighs.
“What does that mean?”
“I… am currently watching… a chef.”
“Yeah, a very hot chef.”
“Hermione, you need to eat.”
“I will,” she said distractedly. “I promise… just…”
Harry shook his head, “I’ll bring you food.”
“Huh?” Hermione asked, tilting her head as Viktor bent over to grab something he’d dropped.
She wondered if he was into anal sex for a moment before swallowing and forcing herself to pay attention to the fact that Harry had hung up. This was no time to indulge in her fantasies. Harry would arrive sooner than she thought.
She could hardly care because all at once he turned and saw her staring at him. He flushed, across his face and down his chest.
His heart stopped as she stared at him then the bowl in his hand topped with chopped onions and tomatoes. The phone in her hand made him flinch, wondering if she was calling the tabloids to tell them that he lived across from her and cooked fairly close to naked.
He wasn’t sure about her personality, but if he had any doubts about what she was doing she smiled, white teeth in a brown face and hungry eyes that had him even more confused. She blew him a shameless kiss and winked at him making his cheeks heat even more as she made a heart with her hands. She moved away from the window and returned with a large piece of paper. Scribbling on it, she held it out so he could read.
I love a man who can cook.
He blinked and laughed, tossing his head back setting the bowl down and bowing over with laughter before he stood up and walked towards the door with a laugh and out to the balcony to open it. He set the bowl on the edge and waved to beckon her out.
“I think you have seen me half-naked, I should have your name.”
The woman grinned, tucking some hair behind her ear as she stepped closer to the edge of her balcony.
Her voice was even nicer up close.
Viktor nodded working the syllables around in his mouth, “Is… Greek, yes?”
She nodded, worrying her lip.
“Hermione,” he said fluidly. “I am Viktor.”
He extended his hand out to shake and she took it, probably shocked that he was so warm though he was clearly half-naked. It was an oddity of these two buildings that they were close enough for only these two balconies to be close enough to reach across. Hell, he could vault into her balcony if he wanted to. What if he was a crazy person? What if she was a crazy person?
Glass doors offered little to no security, but what was done was done.
“Hello, Viktor,” she said. “I’m… sorry… I’m not usually so shameless… I haven’t eaten and–”
“Is okay,” he said with a smile. “Have watched you stretch.”
Her jaw dropped, “You… you watched me?”
Viktor grinned, “Is hazard of living nearby, yes?”
Hermione swallowed and nodded, nevermind that she did yoga in her underwear most days. She wondered if he liked what he saw and was even a fraction as mesmerized as she had been.
“You have not eaten?” Viktor asked, looking up at the sky. “Is late.”
Hermione winced, “I… got a little caught up with work.”
He extended the bowl to her with a smile, “Is called… truce yes? Clean slate?”
She swallowed and took the bowl with a smile, “That’s very kind of you. Thank you.”
Viktor nodded, “Would wait? Eat together?”
Hermione nodded, “I’d… like that.”
Viktor nodded and turned back inside to make another bowl for himself and join her on their near touching balconies. It takes all of five minutes before Hermione breaks the silence and starts asking questions about where on Earth he’d learned to cook like this.
“Have family in Italy,” he said. “Also wanted to be chef once.”
“Well, I’d certainly eat at your restaurant.”
He smiled, “Could cook for you again if you like. Am… not home often, but when I am…”
“We could trade,” Hermione said looking up through her lashes. “I’m not very good at presentation, but I promise it will be good.”
He smiled and nodded, “Would like that.”
When they are asked five years later how they met, they’re sitting on the TV set’s couch, comfortably leaning together, hands threaded together, and looking at the news anchor. Viktor’s family had all but showered her in love, his teammates teased them endlessly.
“Was it romantic?”
Hermione chuckled a bit and looked at Viktor as he flushed.
“Our balconies almost touched,” Hermione said. “I’d watch him cook in his towel, and he’d watch me do yoga in my underwear.”
“Wow,” she said looking at Hermione as Viktor cleared his throat. The audience let out a scandalized sound and Hermione laughed.
“It was the architect’s fault,” Hermione said. “Our condos at the time had a huge glass door leading onto the balcony that spanned from the kitchen into the living room. You could see practically everything and our balconies were close enough that we could vault over if we wanted to.”
“How unconventional… but what was it that sealed the deal?” the woman asked, leaning forward. “His chiseled jaw? His smile?”
“Oh, of course, it was all that,” Hermione grinned at him. He rolled his eyes fondly. “But he was also a man in the kitchen– How could I resist?”