Across the Way


Copyright © 2012 Lux Zakari

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, and actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.


It was by accident. That's what she'll say, anyway.

Sam didn't mean to drink so much cranberry schnapps and end up dancing around her apartment in her underwear to Joan Jett that night. She also didn't mean to see the light on in the building next door, and she definitely didn't mean to notice The Boy.

She also didn't intend on buying a two hundred dollar pair of binoculars with high quality multicoated lenses, extra eye relief, and water resistance, either, but sometimes impulses make a person do strange things.

There was a time when Sam thought that she wasn't cut out to be a voyeur. She was curious at heart, sure, but she would always avert her eyes when strangers did anything even remotely worth paying attention to. She was scared to be caught watching, although if she was honest with herself, she couldn't explain why that was so frightening.

This time, though, she wasn't afraid of The Boy catching her, partly because she wanted him to and partly because it was then she realized she was so damn good at being inconspicuous.

It wasn't like The Boy was so interesting. He did nothing unusual, and she didn't even get a good glimpse of his face or his body, but the schnapps turned him fascinating. Of all the apartments in the building next to hers, his was the only one she could see into. His blurry form reclined lengthwise across the sofa in front of the TV. Everything was dark except for his window, reminding Sam of being at the aquarium, a place she'd always found intensely sensual with its shadowy corners and blue light.

The night crackled with a sudden sexual charge. She darted around her apartment, turning off all the lights. Then, giddy with anticipation, she returned to the wide window with the tied-back curtain. She pretended she was on a stage, like a red-lipped dancer wearing elbow-length gloves that she peeled off with her teeth. It was easy enough to imagine; she was about to give a never-before-seen performance.

Sam slipped her fingertips inside the cups of her bra, pinching her nipples erect. The straps slipped from her shoulders and her breasts spilled over the top of the bra, exposing her nipples to her unknowing audience of one. She palmed her breasts, wondering what would happen if The Boy happened to see her, touching herself so intimately in plain view. Would she stop? As she unhooked her clasp, letting the satiny fabric fall to the floor, and her hands moved lower, it didn't seem likely.

This was not the norm. She didn't do things like this. Her ex once asked for a striptease and she'd declined. She didn't think the prospect of being so vulnerable, of trying so hard to be sexy at the risk of being laughed at, was so erotic.

Somehow this was different. She felt powerful, not vulnerable. She was on display but was the only one who knew it. Therefore, she could do anything she wanted with no repercussions or risk of humiliation at all.

She smoothed her palms over her stomach and down her thighs, her breath quickening. For the first time, she felt like the sexiest woman in the world, and it was her little secret. One hand came to the edge of her panties at the inner crease of her right thigh. She cupped her breast again, scratching her fingernails over the nipple while tracing her slit through the crotch of her panties with her index finger, the feather-light touches making her head spin. That same finger sneaked inside her panties to meet the molten heat pooling there and her now swollen clit.

Sam let out a soft moan, partly for effect and to enhance the mood, but the sound of her own satisfaction was a turn-on. She inched her panties to mid-thigh, exposing her cunt to anyone who happened to notice, and experienced a jolt of fear at the wanton thrill of it. What was she doing? This was the behavior of perverts, the deranged. Still she leaned forward, bracing herself with one hand against the glass as she circled her clit with her fingertip, throwing in another moan, strictly for her benefit.

She moved her thumb to her clit and slipped two fingers inside her cunt. She teetered on the brink of coming while standing there, exposed to an oblivious stranger, after a lifetime of orgasming on her back with the help of a vibrator and her eyes squeezed shut. It was a whole new world, all right.

Sam looked to The Boy, still on his couch. He reached for what appeared to be a canister of nuts on the coffee table and gobbled a few handfuls, wiping his fingers on the cushion beneath him. He was so ordinary, minding his own, boring business. It intrigued her. She spread her legs as far as the panties still around her thighs would allow her and pumped her fingers deeper, faster. She imagined how different The Boy's evening—and hers—would be if she only turned on the light, if he only looked up. The possibilities were so exciting, it only took a few more moments before her cunt spasmed, and with a huge sigh, she kicked off her panties and dropped onto the couch, lusciously exhausted.

Sam was a good girl. She called her mom every other day. She wrote prompt thank-you notes. She had the same best friend, Lauren, since third grade. She never hit the snooze button. But that night, before she drifted off, she realized a person can do all those things and still act like a total whore—and that felt fantastic.

* * * *

It wasn't like Sam staked out in front of her window, staring at The Boy going about his business every night until he went to bed. Not at first, anyway. That came later.

In the beginning, she was simply curious. Stepping out of her life and into someone else's without actually being a part of it was nothing but fun. When she came home from her job, she'd stretch in front of her window and see him. Her guess was that he recently moved in, as she had never seen him before and unpacked boxes stacked on top of more unpacked boxes littered his apartment. When she got the binoculars, she saw that there were the words Crap I Don't Need written on the cardboard.

Occasionally he would leave, and she assumed that he was grabbing something to eat or meeting friends, so she'd make herself a sandwich or some noodles. When she would later wander back to the window, he would be doing push-ups, flipping through what looked like photo albums, or watching television. When she figured he'd be sitting tight for a while, she'd return to her own life and make phone calls and answer emails. Before she went to bed, she would check on him again, just to see what the person across the street in the next building was doing. Aside from the episode with the cranberry schnapps, it was all quite innocent.

Sam's life didn't screech to a halt or revolve around his schedule. She still went to work every day, checking facts on the stories at the local newspaper office. Sometimes she went to happy hour with her coworkers, and she'd twirl a straw in her Captain and Coke while her coworkers downed Irish car bombs and drunken middle-aged people danced to the live band. The weeks continued as usual—for a while at least.

Meanwhile, Sam's path continued to cross with The Boy's. She would just happen to glimpse him eating a bowl of cereal in front of the TV. (She later discovered that his preference was Lucky Charms.) She would just happen to see him doing a couple of sit-ups in the middle of his living room or hanging up posters in his bedroom. (A closer inspection revealed the posters were of Led Zeppelin's burning Hindenburg and the cover art from The Who's Who's Next album, and one was not a poster at all, but a tapestry of Jim Morrison.) It all just happened.

She liked the power she derived from observing what was so removed from her and yet so close. She could walk up to him and reveal herself, but she had the option of continuing to observe unnoticed. As the weeks drifted past, it was a strange thrill to be like his guardian angel, watching over him.

Sam likened it to TV. Some people watched certain programming, she watched The Boy in the building opposite her. Some people adjust their antennas for a clearer picture, she bought the binoculars. Some people lost themselves in front of their favorite show, she lost herself in The Boy, who became her favorite, period.

* * * *

Her tax return vanished with the purchase of a new digital camera, but every photo she took reminded Sam that it had been worth the splurge. Photography had become her new hobby. Every picture she took was art. The camera boasted an impressive 35x zoom lens, which resulted in pictures so crisp and clear that she could almost make out each individual hair on The Boy's arm.

He didn't know it, but he was her muse, even at his most mundane. She had shots of him yawning in his pajamas, pouring coffee on himself, hurling the controller across the room in a fit of anger when playing a video game, and making a disaster of his TV dinners.

There were some really beautiful pictures, too, like close-ups of him smiling or laughing, and the troubled expression on his face when he slept at night. Her favorite pictures were the ones of him breathing hot air on the cold windowpane and then drawing little cartoon faces.

God, she thought. What am I doing?

* * * *

Her best friend Lauren called, and Sam listened to her vent while drifting from room to room like she always did when on the phone. Lauren was getting married next year to a computer programmer, and it was such a pain in the ass trying to find an officiator for the wedding who would agree to leave out all the "God stuff."

"But enough about that," Lauren said with a sigh. "What about you?"

"I haven't found anyone to officiate my wedding either," Sam half-joked, although her heart hurt beneath her faded tee. By twenty-seven, she thought she'd be married by now. She wasn't anywhere close.

"No, sil." Lauren laughed, but Sam could hear the concern that always laced her friend's voice whenever the conversation turned to Sam's lack of a love life. "I meant what about you in general? What's new on the dude front?"

Sam debated what to say. She was sick of telling her non-single friends—who were becoming fewer and fewer—that as for her, there was nothing man-related to report on her end. Besides, that wasn't exactly true this time. Her thoughts turned to The Boy. He'd certainly become more than a one-night fascination. Still, it would do no good to tell even Lauren just how fascinated she was. Her interest could be construed as insanity, and Sam wasn't so sure there was a difference in her case.

"There is someone with potential," she said, wandering toward the window and peering at The Boy's apartment. "It's too soon to tell for sure though."

"Really?" There was a hint of relief in Lauren's voice. "Tell me all about him."

Sam smiled. Now that she could do.

* * * *

Although The Boy often talked on the phone and some nights he wasn't home, Sam assumed he didn't know too many people in the city, which to her was both sweet and disheartening.

However, one night when he walked through his door, he had a date with him. Sam dropped everything and ran to the window with her binoculars.

He helped his new friend take off her jacket, and Sam sneered at his date's tight jeans and cropped top. Surely The Boy could do better. His date looked around the apartment, picked up picture frames and put them back down, and ran her fingers over the furniture like a sergeant inspecting a soldier's quarters. Finally she sat on the couch like some sort of queen as he fetched them bottles of Yuengling then sat beside her. They sipped their drinks and their lips moved in silent conversation for a while until she went in for the kill, her mouth crashing against his like idle chit-chat failed to entertain.

Sam's manners and morals told her she shouldn't watch such a private act unfold, but she couldn't look away. She had to know what would happen next. She had to see it all the way through.

In a surprising turn of events, the girl shoved The Boy off of her, sending him face first into the carpet. Sam couldn't think of anything The Boy could've possibly said or done to upset his date, but the girl looked pretty pissed as she buttoned her shirt back up with great violence and left. It looked as though she wouldn't be back. How could she just walk away? How could any girl deny The Boy anything? Sam pictured herself in the girl's place just moment earlier, and her skin prickled. The things she would do to him...

Poor thing. The Boy looked so disappointed and lonely. Feeling an odd mix of pity and joy, Sam wanted to run across the street into his building and up to his apartment to console him but refrained, wanting to leave the likeliness of a restraining order out of the evening.

Her breathing paused as the Boy placed his hands on his knees and pushed himself off the couch with what looked like great effort. He shuffled to the door and checked the lock. What now? Off to bed? He regained his spot on the couch and dimmed the side table's lamp to what Sam had come to recognize as its lowest setting. Then he raised his pelvis, unzipped his jeans, and pushed them down his hips.

A stunned gurgle sounded in Sam's throat as she watched The Boy take his half-erect cock in hand and moved up and down the shaft. Her mouth went dry. Oh God. She'd never witnessed him jerking off before and figured he must do it in the shower or late at night after she went to bed. Sam had had the occasional idle thought that it would be fun to catch him doing it, but now that it was actually happening, she didn't know what to think. This was crossing some kind of line. This couldn't possibly be on his terms. She knew she should put the binoculars down, close the drapes, and walk away.

And she knew that if she did, it'd be the biggest regret of her life.

Transfixed, she stared as he fisted his now hard cock. He stroked the shaft a few times then paid special attention to the heart-shaped head. His other hand cupped his balls, massaging them in a circular motion. He looked like he wanted to make it last.

Oh, fuck, he was divine. Never had she ever seen a sight more beautiful than The Boy, closing his eyes and leaning his head back against the couch, his lips slightly parted and his chest rising and falling with his quickening breaths. The lamp's dim light made shadows and gold of his body as he sought to give himself nirvana.

Sam shifted in her spot, her legs cramping and her muscles aching. The motion brought the knowledge of how soaked her panties were, the wet fabric rubbing against her clit. God, if just the sight of The Boy in such an intimate situation could do this to her, what could the actual feel of him do?

No, that would never happen. Best not even consider its unlikelihood; it would ruin everything. It was more important to derive pleasure from the present than have lackluster reality break her heart.

The Boy sank further into the couch as his movements increased in speed. He winced as though in pain, but Sam guessed he felt anything but agony. What was he thinking about? What if he imagined himself getting off for a voyeur across the way? What if he knew she was there, and this show was for her benefit?

His body stiffened and a look of pure bliss blossomed on his face. Sam bit her tongue, suppressing the need to lick him clean. After a long pause, The Boy looked at his now limp cock, and Sam recognized his expression—the one that seemed to ask, Why does it have to be this way?

With what looked like a huge sigh of resignation, The Boy reached over and switched off the lamp, plunging the apartment into darkness.

Sam rose from her position and staggered to her bedroom with legs of lead. She rummaged through her night table's drawer until she found Nigel, her vibrator—a novelty gift from Lauren that was in the shape of a happy Buckingham Palace guard. Nigel only had one speed, but that night she didn't think she would need anything fancier than that to suit her needs. She was right: she peeled off her shorts and panties, pressed Nigel against her swollen clit, and came in less than twenty seconds. Even then, no relief.

She remembered the expression she'd seen on The Boy's face and wondered if they were more alike than all her spying had allowed her to guess.

* * * *

One day, she followed him.

Sam knew she was probably breaking about five different laws by now but couldn't help it. She wanted to see him up close without the binoculars, maybe hear his voice, find out more about him. Maybe she'd even get up the nerve to talk to him. Knowing that would never happen, she grabbed her sweatshirt and oversized sunglasses just as she saw him pull on his worn suede coat and head out the door.

Not bothering to wait for the elevator that always took ages to arrive, she ran down five flights of stairs and sat on the steps outside of her building, gasping for breath and trying to look inconspicuous as she waited for him to appear. When she saw him push open the door, she straightened and, feeling a loss of control over both her body and will power, trailed him down the street.

The Boy kept his head down and his fists buried in his pockets as he wove through the bustling crowd. He walked a few blocks to a nearby park, where he passed the primary-colored plastic playground, sat on a bench near the small pond in the center, and took out a book.

Even though he was just reading all alone on the metal bench, Sam was completely taken aback at how spellbound she was with something so mediocre. She hid in the shade of some skinny bare trees and stared at the back of his head, her heart hammering. No longer was she in the safety of her apartment, staring at The Boy separated by yards and yards of city pavement. This was real—and terrifying.

She knew that she had to see him up close without the magnification of binoculars. Such an act would surely drag her down to earth and remind her how foolish she acted. It would reaffirm the complete humanness in him, the humanness that she should not find so damn special. It would let her have a semblance of a life again, which she desperately needed. After all, while she knew everything about his daily routine, he didn't even know she existed. She'd seen his cock without him knowing it. She'd watched him come without his consent. Fuck, this was not good.

Sam left the safety of the trees, feigning as though heading to a set destination from which no one could sway her. The closer she approached him, the more her legs wobbled but she couldn't stop moving.

Just as her nearing shadow reached the bench, The Boy looked up from his book so suddenly that she stumbled, stunned. After all this time of being invisible to him, she never expected him to see her.

There he was, in the flesh, his eyes a china blue behind his wire-frame glasses. She hated to admit it, but he truly was beautiful, all curly red-gold hair with a beard and eyelashes to match, sweetly freckled skin, and pillow-like lips. Her breath caught in her throat and her thought process sputtered. He squinted at her, the sun in his eyes, and his mouth twitched in a shy, uncertain smile.

It was too much for her. She forced a weak grin that felt more like a grimace and quickened her pace, hurrying past the park's gates and moving quicker and quicker until she lapsed into a run. She fled home, back to the safety of her apartment, past the tall brick buildings and the scurrying people, her feet pounding on the tarmac and her breath coming out in short, choppy gasps.

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