So I promised that I would write a post about the day I got in to town with my moving truck. The broken wrist thing kind of interrupted that, so since I had to close the shop for the week (Ben and Miles insisted I take a vacation and spread the word that I was not to be bothered. I can’t decided if I’m amused or annoyed by their gesture.) I figured it was a good time to work on writing with only one hand.
If things are a little out of sorts, I blame the pain killers.
So I got into town on a Friday, so there were plenty of people out and about as I pulled on to Springfield Avenue in Truce Acres. I bought a place at the back of the neighborhood so everyone got a good look at me and the truck as we wound our way around to Spring Street and then on to Flower Lane.
I’ll have to find a map later and post it for you. It’ll be better than my trying and failing at describing the neighborhood. Flower is a quite street, there’s only five houses on the street and until I arrived, there hadn’t been anyone new in almost three years. Everyone knows everyone in this town and it use to bother me, but not anymore.
At least when everyone knows what happened to you, you end up with an influx of visitors with strange and wonderful casseroles and people dropping by with gifts. I think my favorite so far has been the drawings of Elanor, our lake monster, that the neighbor kids have left on my porch. They’re adorable.
Anyway, back to Moving Day.
I finally pulled in to 357 Flower Lane at around 5pm in the evening. As I backed the truck in to the driveway of my newly purchased cottage in the woods, I noticed that my neighbor on the left was outside his castle and watching. I lost track of him as I tried to make sure that I wouldn’t hit the end of the house or the driveway overhang that lead to the garage behind the house. I really like that overhang.
I got out of the truck and took a good long stretch before locking the cab and going around to the back to open up the back-end so I could pull off the groceries I bought. Moving as many times as I have, makes me annoyingly efficient when it comes to moving day.
So there I am, walking towards the house with my box when my cell phone rang. It was Miles, telling me that he’ll be a bit late to help me unpack some of my stuff from the truck. I tell him not to worry about it, that I’ll be just fine until he gets here. Dropping the phone in the open box, I managed to get my keys out and unlock the door. I carted it in to the kitchen at the back of the house and dumped it on the counter before going back out for the other box. None of what was in the carton was perishable.
Pulling the next box off the truck when I got out there, I was about to step up on to the walkway when I heard a soft hello coming from the front of the truck. I stumbled and nearly dropped the box and went ass over end. That wouldn’t have been pretty.
There was a soft huff and then a laugh when a pair of really strong arms picked me and my box up.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Oh, you didn’t scare me. I just have that much natural grace when someone I’m not expecting surprises me.”
A louder laugh came from the man as he set me back down with my box. I walked to the front door and placed it just inside, careful not to put it where I would trip over it later. I turned around and got my first good look at the man who managed to sneak up on me.
What I saw, I liked. He was tall, well over six feet, had a mess of curly black hair to match his brown skin and eyes. His nose was a little crooked though, but I liked it. No one could be perfect.
A smile tugged at my mouth.
“I’m really sorry about that. I just came over to introduce myself. I’m Ben. I live next door.” He said as he gestured to what I had pegged earlier as a castle. It was three floors with its own turrets and a tower, a sprawling front lawn and the most adorable pair of marble bears and lions guarding the door. It was an unusual home and now that I knew he was the owner, it suited him.
“Nice to meet you, Ben. I’m Marlowe.” I said. I reached out to shake his hand.
He smiled and took it, giving it a quick firm shake before letting go. “Do you need a hand with all those boxes?”
“No, my cousin is on his way here to give me a hand. The offer is appreciated and I’ll let you know if anything changes.”
Ben smiled. “All right. I’ll be just across the hedge if you need a hand. Just pull on the door bell.”
I laughed. “That house of yours have anything that doesn’t remind me of a medieval castle?”
“It even comes complete with a moat on Halloween.” He said with a grin.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“This is Blueville. Anything is possible here.” He said with a smile as he walked away.
He was out of earshot before I could reply, so I just stared as he ran around the end of the hedge. This town was strange and I was definitely going to grill Miles when he got here about my neighbor. That man’s ass was worth talking about in those jeans, at least.
I had managed to unpack the truck to the point where I was able to pull the dining room table and chairs off the truck before Ben came back around the hedge and lifted up one end.
“I can’t watch you struggle with this damn table any longer. Where’s your cousin? I thought he was supposed to help?”
I was a little frustrated that Miles wasn’t there either and I refused to take it out on him. I’d take it out on Miles later. He was going to owe me dinner for not helping with the move after begging me to move here in the first place.
“Hell if I know, he was supposed to be here two hours ago.”
Ben grunted. “That sass in your voice tells me he’s going to pay for not showing later.”
I smiled back at him as we hauled the table into the dining nook just off the kitchen. “Oh he is, he’s going to owe me major. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have moved here after the accident.”
Ben’s eyebrows shot up at that I silently cursed. I wasn’t going to mention that to anyone just yet. I was still getting used to being me again.
“Care to explain or shall we go grab that dresser that’s been pushed to the end of the truck?”
“I think that story is third or fourth date material, so I’m going to go for the dresser.”
Ben grinned. “Did you just ask me out?”
“Did I? You must have wax in your ears.” I said as I strolled past him out to the truck. Any guy who’s willing to blow his Friday night helping a new neighbor move was worth a try in the dating pool again and I could use a few laps.
Ben followed me and together we hefted the white pine dresser that I bought at a garage sale a couple of years ago. I had sanded it down and painted it a deep, rich purple. I’d hunted down and found the most amazing bright purple crystal knobs for it too. I loved that dresser.
But it was so fucking heavy.
We were both out of breath when we finally set it down in the master bedroom. I looked over at Ben and laughed. His face had gone pale.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good. I just wasn’t expecting it to be that heavy.”
“I know, I wasn’t either when I first picked it up at sale. It was worth the wait though.” I patted the dresser and motioned for him to follow me out in to the kitchen. I walked over to the fridge and pulled out a couple of beers, handing him one before twisting the cap off of mine. I tossed the cap into the sink and hiked myself up on top of the counter before taking a long drink.
“I wouldn’t have taken you for a beer drinker. You seem more like a wine or hard liquor drinker.” Ben said as he finished his first drink.
I grinned. “You haven’t seen my liquor cabinet yet. It’s very well stocked.”
Ben saluted me with his beer. “Good to know.”
I grinned and took another drink. That’s when I spotted my phone sticking out of the top of the carton of food I’d brought in earlier. I pondered the thought of checking it to see if Miles had ditched me for sure, but It was getting late. My stomach decided to make itself known, very loudly. Ben laughed because he was about to say something when it happened.
I smiled sheepishly and said “You do you happen to know the number for a good Chinese take out place? I’m starving and I haven’t eaten since noon.”
“Yeah I do. I’ll be right back.” He left and was back about forty minutes later, while I was pulling apart the box of food and putting it away where I wanted things. I looked over my shoulder and realized that he had changed his shirt about five seconds before I smelled the food in his arms. I already had it bad if I was skipping over the food to admire the man’s chest through his green t-shirt. He’d thrown on a green and yellow flannel shirt over it, with the sleeves rolled up. I was about to say something when I swore I heard a cannon go off in the distance. I yelped and dropped the canister of coffee I had in my hand.
“A cannon? Yes. Old man Sweeny’s Friday night tradition.” Ben checked his watch as he put down the food. “He’s five minutes late though. I wonder what held him up.”
“Oh. Good to know.”
Ben laughed. “You’ll get used to the town. I did. I’m not from here either. I moved just after college.”
“College?” I eyed him over. “Wait, before you say anything, I get to guess.”
“All right, but you’ll never guess. No one does.”
“Show me your hands.” I demanded. He held them up and I found calluses along his left and right index fingers, along the inside of his thumbs and across the tops of his palms. He smelled of dogs of the wet variety earlier. “Ranch hand or Vet, which one?”
Ben’s mouth dropped open. “Vet. How the hell did you figure that out?”
“Your calluses. Ranch hands and vets would have the same ones. Especially if they worked with wet hides of any kind.” I said.
“Damn. I owe Miss Maggie a ten. I bet her no one would ever get it right.”
I laughed at that, I thought it was cute.
“Okay, my turn. What do you think I do for a living?” I asked as I poked in the box of food he brought.
“Oh I already know that.”
I looked up at him. “Oh? What gave it away?”
“The tool boxes on the very back of the truck. You’re a mechanic and a damn good one judging from the size of those chests.”
“Why thank you. I am. I restore older cars.”
“Define your version of older.”
“My cars will be here tomorrow, but on the truck there’s a 47 Nash, a 56 ‘Bird and a 72 Fury.”
“Marlowe, I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”
I smiled. “Well, I have hope for you yet. You didn’t tell me my career choice was a guys’ job. That get’s you major points.”
“My sister was one before she died.” Ben said as he passed out the containers of food. Before I could ask he added “Lupus induced heart attack.”
I didn’t quite know what to say except that I was sorry to hear that and I had a feeling he’d heard all that before. So I went with my fall back line. “You need whiskey.”
Ben laughed. “Points for you. You didn’t say you were sorry.”
“I thought it. It just didn’t seem right. I only just met you.” I dug around in a box that I’d brought in while I was waiting for him to come back. I came up with a bottle of Jameson.
“Even more points for honesty and again for choice of whiskey. You’re quickly becoming my favorite neighbor.”
“I’m your only neighbor.”
“Then you’re a shoo-in.”
“Flatterer.” I said as I poured out a glass for him.
“Of course. I’ve got to keep you interested. I still want that story, but I can wait for a third date.” Ben said with a grin. I threw a fortune cookie at him and we both dug in to our food. I’d been so hungry, I didn’t even bother asking what it was. I only remember that it was delicious, we drank our way through a good portion of the bottle before Ben announced that he’d better leave if he wanted that second date with me. I was charmed when he left me on my stoop and closed the truck up, tossing me the key before drunkenly weaving his way back to his home. I passed out on the couch, which we’d brought in sometime during the night, after locking my door and finding a blanket.
Miles woke me up the next morning, with a how-do-you-do and a “Good morning, you hussy.”
I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, I’m going to bed. My arm is starting to hurt and Winston needs a walk.