Karmic retribution. That’s what it had to be, Zelda thought. Every morning since she’d moved to Denver from Kansas City she’d made it a point to watch her backyard neighbor as he did his prejog warm-ups on his back porch. She’d been admiring the perfect specimen of a man on the whole, but she’d been particularly enjoying the sight of his rear end.
And now there she was, stuck in his doggy door, presenting her posterior while her upper half was inside his house as she tried to reach her recalcitrant pooch, Charlie, who had availed himself of the minientrance.
“I know this looks bad,” Zelda called in answer to her neighbor’s “What the hell is going on” when he’d prematurely returned from his run to find her like that. “But I’m your neighbor from behind and my dog jumped the fence and ran in here. I was trying to get him out but I got stuck.”
“Or maybe you’re just an inept burglar and I’m lucky to have you incapacitated while I call the cops,” the man suggested in a tone that might have been angry or might not have been. Zelda couldn’t tell.
“Do I look like a burglar?” she countered before she recalled what part of her he could see. “Scratch that,” she added, realizing only after the words were out how they sounded. “I mean, never mind what I look like. My name is Zelda McAffry and I assure you I live in that house right behind you. I just moved in. And I could use some help getting out of here.”
“Mm-hmm,” he said noncommittally.
“Really, I’m not a burglar,” she assured. “I’m perfectly harmless. I’m just stuck. And getting very uncomfortable.”
Her neighbor didn’t say anything to that and she didn’t know if he was contemplating whether to call the police or how to help her. She just knew that he was out there, ogling her derriere.
“Please?” she said as if that were the magic word he was waiting for.
“I honestly don’t know what to do except to try to give you a shove,” he finally said, apparently giving up the whole burglary theory.
“Go ahead and shove,” Zelda said.
“That means my hands on your -“
“Just do it!” she ordered.
So he did. He put his big, warm hands on her sweatpants-clad butt and pushed.
And two things happened. She didn’t budge and she liked the feel of his touch. More than she should have.
“Don’t be so gentle,” she advised, trying to ignore her response to him.
“I could hurt you.”
Not any worse than her pride was. “It’s okay. Just put all your strength into it and push.”
So that was what he did. He put the force of all those muscles she’d been admiring into shooting her into the dining room, where she landed with an extremely unladylike thud.
And then she heard him put a key in the lock to open the door, and she knew she was about to have to face him - the jaw-droppingly handsome neighbor in front of whom she’d just humiliated herself.