Old 07-17-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
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A Fresh Coat of Paint

<<This thread is closed, for myself and Firmhanded_Daddy. We hope you'll enjoy our story.>>



Dennysville, Maine
July, 1954


Deborah felt as if she’d spent several months of her life on the coach that was currently winding its way through lush green farmland. She was hot and uncomfortable, her back was one long ache of pain. Her eyes idly following the scenery the flashed by the window, anything was better than pretending to listen to the middle aged man who’d sat next to her for the last few hours.
She’d already heard quiet enough of his ‘life stories’ to last her a lifetime of her own. His name was Al. He was a salesman, like his Daddy and his Grandaddy before him. His wife had left him just like his Momma had done to his Daddy and so on and so on. Even though she tried to drown out his loud Southern drawl still it invaded her ears as he related some ‘hilarious’ tale to a man of a similar outlook sat across the aisle.

Feigning drowsiness and then sleep had been the only way of getting him to stop talking to her directly. Subtle hints had simply been a waste of breath. Now his attention was focused elsewhere Deborah had allowed herself to open her eyes. Not that there was much point. Her eyes looked through the glass but they barely saw past her own hazy reflection. She looked sad and tired, she felt worse. This was a journey she never thought she would ever have to make alone.
Deborah was a widow.

Widow. It seemed such an odd label for a woman of her age at barely 32, she was surely too young. After all, it was peacetime, there were no brave young men being blown up half way round the world for ‘the greater good’. The war in Korea was over and the so-called war with Russia wasn’t real, not to her way of thinking. She couldn’t even cling to the idea that her husband, her Danny, had died for any kind of noble or glorious reason. He’d been stolen from her by a drunk driver. And with him, she’d lost everything.

As if losing the love of her life hadn’t been torture enough, it was only at the will reading she discovered just how much she had lost. Her apparently business minded husband had been easily led and a series of cleverly worded contracts had signed over his share of the company he’d founded to his partner upon his death. There were debts she had no idea about which meant their home would be taken. She was left alone and, aside from some small savings in her bank, a house she’d inherited from an Elderly aunt was all she had.

A colonial style, 3 bedroom home on the coast in Maine, was where she was going. A town little more than houses clustered together around a main street, the population she estimated couldn’t be more than a few hundred. One suitcase held all she could carry, the few pieces of furniture she managed to rescue from their home would follow later. She couldn’t think of anywhere else to go but the house. She had vague memories from her childhood of summers spent at her aunt’s house, with its large garden which only ended when it reached the river at the bottom outside the old, slightly, rambling house it had been a joy. Going there now, alone, and without her aunt there to meet her, it felt far from joyous.

Eventually the coach came to a halt in what she assumed was considered the centre of town. Stepping down she instantly felt out of place. The small town where everyone knew everyone, where everyone probably knew her or at least knew of her. She could almost feel the stares as she carried her case down the road in the direction she believed the house to be in. The breeze ruffling the full skirt of her dress as she walked, the bright colour singling her out as much as anything. The dress clinging to her natural curves, highlighting her bust despite the modestly high neckline and wrapping around her small waist. She raised a gloved hand to push an errant curl of honey coloured hair back from her face, pushing it back behind her ear to join the rest of the blonde waves hanging down past her shoulders, a few sections pinned up and back around her face. The sun far hotter than she was expecting made her dress suddenly feeling uncomfortably tight. Eventually her eyes fell on her destination and, grateful for the shade provided by the trees that lined the path to the front entrance, Deborah walked up to the house. Taking a breath she knocked briskly on the large wooden door. To her surprise it swung inwards.

Pausing for a moment she stepped into the relative gloom inside, blue eyes squinting into the shadows.
“Hello…?” Deborah set her case down on the floor, easing off her gloves and looking around. “Anyone here? It’s me, its Mrs. Meadows...” Her voice echoed slightly allowing her to realise just how large a house she’d inherited. She frowned, walking through into the main family room. It was like entering a time warp. Everything from the smell of the wood floors, to the heavy curtains at the windows, there was little that had changed from her memories. The letter from her aunt’s lawyer had mentioned a caretaker who lived in the house and had been helping her aunt maintain the property and garden for the last few years. “Well, he’s got be here somewhere…” She mused, walking through to the kitchen and then stepping out onto the back porch which looked out over the garden. “Hello…?” She called out again, a slight edge of frustration entering her voice, hands rising to rest on her hips.
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Old 08-05-2012, 12:54 AM   #2
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Name: Eric Robbins
Age: 28
Occupation: Former accused felon (acquitted of all charges) Now care taker
Background: Former member of a street gang.

--------------------------

The door had swung inwards because the door handle had been partially taken apart. It was one of many half done projects that lay scattered about the house. Since the lady’s passing his focus just wasn’t there, his mind wandered to the insurmountable tasks he had to do, and to times past where he had company. He had taken her death hard, terribly hard. What had started out as an arrangement of convenience between strangers had become quite the relationship. Not a romantic relationship, but it was a comfortable companionship that had grounded him and given him hope. Now it was gone, and so was his stability.

Whack whack whack whack whack

The pounding of the hammer was rhythmic. He drove the small nail into the wood until the head sunk, then he pulled another nail and repeated the pattern. A storm had come through the night before. Lightning had struck the tree closest to the back of the house and when the branch came down it carved out some of the siding, and took a window with it. The window was being made now, but he was spending his time replacing the busted siding panels.

Another panel up, another batch of nails hammered into the side of the house. He was so engrossed in his work and it was so loud that he did not hear the carriage approach, nor did he hear the woman’s initial calls. He simply continued to work the hammer, oblivious to the fact that a stranger was walking through the halls of what was currently his home.

The hammers rhythmic beat was almost hypnotizing if you listened long enough. It was the soft, irritated female voice that shattered his concentration. With that shattered concentration what came next was an obvious step. The hammer missed the mark of the head of the nail, it found a new foci. The sound was unmistakable and sickening. Skin and bone being crushed by the head of an 8 lb hammer. He bit off a curse and slammed the hammer into his tool belt angrily.

It was already swelling an ugly color as he deposited it into his mouth, suckling it lightly. That really didn’t do anything to help the situation, but it made him feel better damn it. Just a quick glance at the thumb and he knew the nail was going to die and fall off. Damn it. He crawled down the ladder, trying to keep his blood pressure in check as he searched around for the source of the voice that nearly cost him a finger.

He almost fell off the damned ladder in the process as he was doing it one handed. He let the injured hand fall to his side as he searched out the source of the voice. Oh he was irritated now, and why not? Whoever this was damn near caused him to bash his thumb into oblivion. This better be important.

Sweat made the plain white shit cling to his skin, leaving the fabric transparent in streaks. His visible arms glistened with sweat, and dark hair was matted to his head, a few strands covering his face. The normal waves in his hair were weighted down in sweat. Blue eyes glistened in the sunlight as he met the woman just as she was making her way out the back door. His features were hardened by the sun, and physical labor. Broad shoulders, and a well toned chest gave way to a similarly defined abdomen. He was no body builder by any means but his body showed the fact that he was no stranger to hard, honest work.

He gave her a once over with those piercing blue eyes and then his stance spoke of his irritation. One foot in front of the other, his shoulders squared. If there was any doubt left, his voice, and words eradicated them.

“Can I help you miss? Just because the front door isn’t working so well right now this is still private property. I’m not interested in buying whatever yer sellin’. So you can just take yer pretty self right back through the broken front door.”

She was an attractive woman, that was for sure. Part of her sparked a memory as well but the pain throbbing in his thumb was preventing him from focusing on anything other than being pissed off that someone was trespassing on his property. Now he was just outright glaring at the woman, she wasn’t moving fast enough for his liking. Irritation was leading to down right anger.

“Listen sweetheart. I’ve never been one to physically handle a woman before… least not in a way she didn’t like. But you are tresspassin’ and I am about to bend my own rule here if you don’t get off my property. So get moving doll face, don’t make me into a bad guy eh? Not today.”

Yep that mouth was going to get him in a little bit of trouble.

Last edited by Firmhanded_Daddy : 08-05-2012 at 12:58 AM.
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Old 08-26-2012, 03:13 PM   #3
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The young man appeared from the side of the garden, obviously having been in the middle of working and clearly less than impressed to see her going by his appearance, stride and face. His expression was somewhere between absolute fury and sheer displeasure. She held her stance upon the porch as he came to a halt before her. Glancing over him, noting the tool belt, she presumed this was her mystery caretaker although he was considerably younger than she was expecting. In fact, if she was honest, he looked younger than her.

“Can I help you miss? Just because the front door isn’t working so well right now this is still private property. I’m not interested in buying whatever yer sellin’. So you can just take yer pretty self right back through the broken front door.”

Inside Deborah bristled at being thought one of those ghastly door-to-door salespeople but she reasoned his assumption was fair. She was a stranger and she definitely didn't look like she was from around town.

"Yes, you can help me. Can you tell me who you are?" She kept her voice level and polite, her lips smiling before he continued talking and eradicated the curve in her mouth within moments.

“Listen sweetheart. I’ve never been one to physically handle a woman before… least not in a way she didn’t like. But you are tresspassin’ and I am about to bend my own rule here if you don’t get off my property. So get moving doll face, don’t make me into a bad guy eh? Not today.”

For a few moments her mouth worked but no sound came out. She wasn't used to being spoken to in such a tone, least of all by a perfect stranger.
"I beg your pardon? Your property?" Now it was her turn to feel her blood starting to boil. "I think you'll find if anyone is going to do any dismissing around here it's going to be me."

Shocked at her own outburst Deborah dropped her gaze, spotting the angry looking swelling to his thumb and realising this was no doubt part of the reason for the furious reception she had received.
There was an angry pause before she continued, her voice calmer as she reined in her emotions.

"My name is Deborah Meadows and this house is mine.

"It belonged to my Great Aunt, Cecelia, and came to me upon her death. Now, I was informed by my lawyers that a caretaker had been engaged to maintain the property and land and can only assume that's you. So if you would be so kind as to stop yelling at me and tell me your name perhaps we can just move on from this unfortunate beginning and we can take a look at that thumb of yours."

She took a step towards the edge of the porch, hand outstretched to shake his. Hoping he would just take it, tell her his name and let this horrid scene be over. All Deborah really wanted was to get out of her ridiculous dress, have a cool drink and, if possible, lie down and have a good cry at how despite the good feeling this house gave her, the memories it stirred, it made her heart ache that she was here without her Danny.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:27 PM   #4
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She was going to dismiss him was she? He didn’t give a damn who she was, he had worked his tail off to fix this place up and had been since before Cecelia passed on. The two of them had actually formed quite a bond with one another before the elderly woman had unexpectedly met her end. She had been the first person in this town to give him work in nearly six months and while it didn’t pay the arrangement was for room and board and meals. It was a well enough arrangement.

Cecelia had actually been a wonderful, caring woman. He had literally come to her with a pair of beat up clothing on his back begging for work. When you lived in a small town and were accused of rape that sort of thing followed you. It didn’t matter that he didn’t do it and the fact that it was proved later he didn’t. No one would even look him in the eye, let alone give him a job. The whole experience had made him a monolith. He let no one in and never pursued anyone in any capacity.

Yet the elderly woman’s kindness had won him over slowly but surely. He had come to look forward to the end of the day for more than just sleep. They would stay up and talk, play cards, listen to the radio together. She had no companionship herself. With her husband long since passed and her family never really visiting she was just as lonely as he was. It was an odd but solid pair. Both of them needed one another and as he reflected on it he realized that his companionship had extended and enriched her life.

Now that memory was stirring he remembered her talking about her pretty young niece and talking about how she wished that he could have been introduced to the young woman before she had married her current husband. He kept her financially supported but he was never home to be a husband. Seeing her face to face a part of him wished that had happened too. Even sweaty and disheveled as she was she was breathtaking. To be frank that look only seemed to enhance her beauty rather than take away from it.

He remembered seeing the letter, it was still sitting on his night stand now that he thought of it. He felt his skin heat but this time it was from embarrassment rather than anger. He drew a deep breath and extended his hand to shake her own. His voice was suitably chagrined when he spoke. Though it was rich and deep, there was a catch in it. Cecelia’s death was still fresh for him.

“I apologize for that. I am ashamed of my behavior. I… I’m just on edge right now. I was very close with your aunt and her death is still raw for me. She was a wonderful woman and dealing with not having her around… well I lost my best friend. Forgive my lack of manners.”

The handshake finished he motioned to the door.

“Come in please I am sure you are tired from your journey. I need a break anyway. Can I get you something to drink?”
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:14 AM   #5
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Deborah saw his expression change, saw some of the anger leave his face and when he spoke his tone was far less aggressive as he took her offered hand.
“I apologize for that. I am ashamed of my behavior. I… I’m just on edge right now. I was very close with your aunt and her death is still raw for me. She was a wonderful woman and dealing with not having her around… well I lost my best friend. Forgive my lack of manners...Come in please I am sure you are tired from your journey. I need a break anyway. Can I get you something to drink?”

"I think a drink would be an excellent idea…” Deborah replied quietly, stepping back and turning on her heel to head back inside. “Just give me five minutes to go and get out of this silly dress and even more ridiculous shoes. I’ll meet you in the kitchen!”
She called over her shoulder as she grabbed her case and headed up the stairs. They creaked a little more than she remembered, but the bannister was sturdy and held fast as she used it to help her haul her bag with her.

The house was in fairly good shape but it was clear why her Aunt had engaged a caretaker. Cracks in paint and woodwork, wallpaper peeling here and there. Windows that didn’t look like they quite fitted in their frames. It was an old house, it needed looking after. Cecelia couldn’t have done it on her own and, if she was honest, Deborah felt a little better to think her Aunt hadn’t been completely alone. At the end.

Deborah walked past the door to her Aunt’s room with her head slightly bowed. Not yet. Not today. Another day she would go inside. Her heels took her past the bathroom to the next door along the landing. Nudging the door open she assumed this was the room he had chosen for himself, going by the unmade bed and less than orderly state of his clothes. She didn’t linger. It felt odd to be looking in on his personal space, especially without him knowing.

At the end of the corridor was the other spare room and it was to here that she was headed. It smelt a little musty but she was sure a few hours of having the window open would deal with that. The bed groaned slightly as she hefted her case onto it. Flicking the locks open and lifting the lid it took a moment or two to find a pair of jeans and a blouse. The dress took a little longer to peel off but eventually it was laid upon the faded floral pattern of the bedspread while she wriggled into her jeans and buttoned up the blouse.

The denim hugged her rear tightly and the blouse was fitted close to her narrow waist. Barefoot and feeling far more comfortable, she left her room and headed back downstairs towards the kitchen.
“Now, first things first, let’s have a look at that thumb of yours,” Deborah announced as she entered the kitchen, crossing the room to take a gentle hold of his injured hand. She winced as she pulled back his makeshift dressing, nose wrinkled as she looked at the mangled mess that had been his fingernail. “Ouch.” She hissed through her teeth. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have called out like that. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much. Have you put any ice on it…?” Her voice faltered as an almost shy smile curved her lips. “I just realised, you…you didn't actually tell me your name."
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:40 AM   #6
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Crushed thumb and all he would have offered to help her carry her bags. Why? Because contrary to the rumor he was a gentleman. Yet before he was able to even make the offer she was gone, bulging bags in tow. Well he was instead left to himself. He would rather not stay idle either. He pulled out a few glasses and set them on the counter. Then dragging over to the fridge he opened the freezer. He scooped the ice pick up with his good hand and began breaking bits of ice off and into the glasses.

Both of the glasses filled he pushed the freezer closed. Letting out a soft growl as his finger throbbed angrily. Blasted thing must have been worse than he thought. Could he have broken it? He doubted any more than the nail would be broken. Taking a look at it however he grimaced. Looks like pieces of the nail had driven into the meat of his thumb. That was going to have to be dug out. Hell! He could not afford to go to the doctor either. He had the house but didn’t really have any money that wasn’t committed to building supplies.

With a deep breath he looked around for something to wrap up the injury with. Finding nothing he was willing to ruin by bleeding on he pulled out a knife and cut a short strip of fabric from his shirt. It was dirty and sweaty, but it would do for now. He wrapped the angry digit before the blood began to pool in the wound. Wrapping it tight the bandage began to soak deep crimson.

Then he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. His eyes flickered toward Deborah as she announced herself. He was too stunned to answer her as she came into the room. The world stopped. She had been beautiful in the dress, but dressed like that? He felt his cheeks turn crimson, and his blood heat. She was absolutely gorgeous, and he had to admit, very sexy. Those jeans hugged her in all the right places and the blouse did nothing to hide her ample bust. It took will to tear his eyes from her form. He realized she was talking, and unwinding his bandage.

The world began again as he looked down at the wounded thumb. It wasn’t bleeding too badly anymore, but he had a hard time keeping his eyes off of her, despite his best efforts his gaze kept straying to her figure. This close to her he could smell her scent. He wanted to growl and push her up against the counter and kiss her for days. That however was not the proper way to do things and she would think him a horrible man. So he checked his urges and spoke carefully, trying to keep desire out of his voice. Maybe she would mistake the catch in his tone for pain, because there was plenty of that.

“it hurts a bit, I’ve had worse but I think the nail is going to have to be pulled. No I didn’t think about it. I’ll go get some, but first I think I need to come up with a better bandage, one that is clean.”

He blinked. He had never told her his name? Oh that’s correct. When they met he was being a rude son of a bitch. Offering a soft smile as he meets her eyes, he spoke again, more warmly.

“I am sorry! I should not have been so rude. My name is Eric Robbins. I would say it was a pleasure to meet you because it is, however I think I robbed us of that chance earlier. I’m really not normally so Mickey Mouse… I’m sorry about that Deborah.”
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:13 AM   #7
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“It hurts a bit, I’ve had worse but I think the nail is going to have to be pulled. No, I didn’t think about it. I’ll go get some, but first I think I need to come up with a better bandage, one that is clean.”
Smiling slightly, Deborah left his side to pull a clean looking cloth from the rail of the oven. She tipped the ice from one of the glasses into the centre and balled it up. Returning to press it carefully over the injured digit, wincing on his behalf.
"A bandage we can find soon, for now let's try to get the swelling down a bit," She said quietly, supporting his hand beneath with her free hand. "Let us see how bad things really are..."

“I am sorry! I should not have been so rude. My name is Eric Robbins. I would say it was a pleasure to meet you because it is, however I think I robbed us of that chance earlier. I’m really not normally so Mickey Mouse… I’m sorry about that Deborah.”
"There's no need to apologise, really. You weren't expecting me to show up like that and I should have called first."
The ice filled cloth was raised to check the wound beneath it. A slightly satisfied element entering her smile as the redness seemed to be fading.
"There, that looks better already." She smiled up into his face before having to look back down, only realising then how close they were.
"And it's nice to meet you Eric." Deborah added quietly.

"You've obviously done a lot of work around here." She coughed, stepping back to allow some space between them. "I'm sure my Aunt appreciated every bit of it too. Here, you hold this...I'll get us those drinks..." She waited until his other hand rose to hold the ice in place before taking the now empty glass and working to refill it with ice. Placing it on the counter alongside the other one she turned to the fridge and opened the door, bending slightly at the waist to inspect the contents. It didn't take long. Some cheese, some milk, a few eggs. A few paper wrapped packets that looked like they might contain meat of some kind, they also looked like they'd been sat in the fridge for a little while. Two or three bottles of beer on the bottom shelf. There wasn't much to see. A trip to the grocery store would be needed, that much was obvious.

"So, what exactly do you have to drink around here...?" She looked back at him over her shoulder before slowly straightening up and nudging the fridge door closed with her hip. "At the moment, it looks like water might be our best shot." She laughed and surprised herself. It had been a long time since she'd heard herself make that sound. She almost didn't recognise it.

Walking back across the kitchen, pausing to glance into one or two of the cupboards and finding them just as bare, she eased his hand from the ice and lifted it up. The thumb still looked angry but no longer as furious as before. The thumbnail was destroyed, that much was obvious. The ice had taken down the swelling and staunched the blood that had been oozing between the shards of nail. Her nose wrinkled as she considered how much it had to be hurting him. His voice, when he'd spoken had been tight, no doubt from discomfort.
"I think I have some aspirin in my purse, if you think you need one?" She offered, his hand still cradled lightly in hers. "Or perhaps something stronger than water to drink would help...?"
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:43 AM   #8
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He watches as she quickly and efficiently gathered a cloth that was moderately clean, then put ice in it. He only tensed a small amount as the sudden shock of pressure and cold hit the injured finger. It wasn’t until then that the pain flared again. That was the way of wounds sometimes. The initial pain was intense, but then as his body responded all he could feel was the dulling of sensation, the throbbing as liquid filled the thumb. Now as the cold soaked into the damaged skin, constricted the blood vessels the nerves fired on all cylinders again.

The clenching of his strong jaw was all that showed the change in sensation. He managed to keep his face from twisting in pain. He kept his breathing under control, and the only other signs of agony were involuntary. The slight dilation of his pupils, a spike in his pulse.


“There it already looks better”

She was right of course. The quick thinking and the chill of the ice had let it only with a dull ache, and had reduced the swelling notably. The nail however was already turning black and angry. The bruising beneath the nail was only to be expect as that was where the majority of the trauma had happened. He was lucky that he didn’t fracture the bone beneath. He was heavy handed with a hammer after all. What happened next took him by surprise. She looked uncomfortable being so close to him. It had been a while since he had been around a woman that wasn’t forty years his senior so it took him a moment to realize that the closeness between them might be viewed as indecent. Still that was not something he was going to apologize for. It had been her whom closed the distance in the first place. Still he smiled to take the edge off of the situation; That and he was slightly amused.

She began to speak about the work he had done. He nodded his head firmly. If there was one point that he took pride in it was his hard work.

“I have. Though I haven’t been as focused lately. With the passing of your Aunt things just haven’t been the same around here. I’ve been distracted and really just working on whatever has caught my fancy, just to keep my mind off how empty the house feels now. Your aunt had a way of bringing warmth to the house. Maybe it was just the touch of a woman? I’m not sure. She was an impressive woman.”

There was a deep touch of affection in his voice that chased away the tightness in his tone. He didn’t come right out and say it but the reverence and fondness in his voice spoke volumes for how he cared for the aged woman, and the loss that he felt when she had passed. He winced as she pulled open the fridge. He realized suddenly that he hadn’t been shopping in a while and in all honesty he just wasn’t very good at it in the first place. She had normally made the list, he simply did the leg work.

His eyes flicked to Deborah as she bent at the waist. Another oddity after being alienated by your peers, the people you spend every day with is the death of certain details. You censored the perception of the world around you to mute details that simply were no longer possible, were simply too much to bear. It had been a long time since he had noticed the soft song of a woman’s laugh, or the delightful curves of youth. Items that would never be important in this town for him ever again; or so he had thought. Now though, those thoughts, those perceptions had come back with vengeance. He felt his pulse race for another reason, something different than pain. Oh it was accompanied by an ache all right, but one that was sweet and pleasant.

“Yeah. I’m sorry there isn’t much to eat, or drink for that matter. I’ve thrown myself into working lately and have pretty much ignored everything else.”

He tilted his head to her words. Then cast a glance out the window, appearing thoughtful. Sometime in the early afternoon, he guessed. Digging into his pocket as she inspected his wounded finger again he dug out a heavy ring of keys. Setting it on the counter to fish through them one handed he made an ‘Ah ha’ noise and produced a large, ancient looking key. Holding it up for her to inspect he nodded softly.

“Something harder sounds like a good idea. The spirits cabinet is in the next room. The good stuff is in there. I suppose it is yours to do with what you wish now. The left door sticks just a little. A soft tap on the bottom of the door will seat it right in case the lock doesn’t open. I need to take the time to sand it down a little, but that is a small detail in a long list of items.”
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:14 PM   #9
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“Something harder sounds like a good idea. The spirits cabinet is in the next room. The good stuff is in there. I suppose it is yours to do with what you wish now. The left door sticks just a little. A soft tap on the bottom of the door will seat it right in case the lock doesn’t open. I need to take the time to sand it down a little, but that is a small detail in a long list of items.”

"Well I'm sure there are plenty of other things that take priority over a sticky door," Deborah smiled, taking the key in one hand and picking up the glasses with the other. "I'll go see what I can find in the cabinet."
Leaving him in the kitchen Deborah headed into the next room, the living room. It was a big room, not that many of the rooms in the old house were small, with just enough furniture to make it feel relatively cosy without seeming over crowded. An ancient three piece suite was the focus of the room, covered in faded silk. Its carefully embroidered patterns still beautiful but looking more delicate now with age than she remembered.

Putting the key and the glasses on the sideboard that ran the length of the back wall, she wandered further into the room. A slightly sad smile curving her lips as familiar items sparked memories inside her heart. Photographs on the wall and along bookshelves of her Aunt and other members of her extended family. Faces much loved but, in most cases, long since gone. Tales of Cecelia’s childhood running through her mind and making her giggle quietly. Eyes moved over image after image, looking at smiling faces in candid shots, more formal expressions in those photographs captured at weddings and other family gatherings. It was one such photo that caught her unawares and stopped her in her tracks. It was one of the more formal photos but it was the people in it that she hadn’t expected to see.

It was her. And Danny. It was taken on their wedding day. Him looking devastingly handsome with his movie star looks in his suit and her trying to look demure in her dress – trying because, as she remembered, he’d whispered something most ungentlemanly about longing to see her out of her dress into her ear just as the photographer was arranging them into position. She’d always loved that photograph, her own copy was wrapped up tightly and carefully in amongst her clothes in her suitcase upstairs. Tentatively, she reached out and ran her fingertips over his face. For a second she could almost smell his aftershave mingling with her bouquet of roses. Tears pricked the backs of her eyes and she forced herself to turn away.

Heading to the cabinet and pushing the key into the lock. Now was not the time to cry. Twisting the key she tugged on the door handle but the door wouldn’t budge. An exasperated sigh and another tug. Then another. It didn’t move an inch. None of this did anything to help her mood. Frustration bled into sadness into all the hopelessness she tried to hard to ignore for the majority of the day.

“Damnit!” She cursed, rubbing furiously at her eyes, determined not to cry. “It’s just a door…just a stupid door…” She muttered angrily to herself, kicking out petulantly at the apparently guilty cupboard door. There was a pause followed by an odd twanging sound and the door quietly popped open. She stood for a second, trying to control her breathing as she watched the wood swing outward slowly and then sway slightly as it came to a stop. Torn between laughing and crying she sank gently onto her knees and peered into the gloom inside the cabinet. Several bottles stood inside, along with a few dusty decanters. Fingers picked amongst them cautiously, selecting one that appeared to be over half full but the faded label meant its contents were a mystery. Drawing it carefully from within, Deborah stood up and rested it on the top of the cabinet before opening it. The smell was pungent and strong, oddly familiar. It was rum.

“Never figured you as a rum drinker, Cece,” She smiled, pouring some of the dark liquid into the glasses. The scent filled her nostrils once again and for a second or two she was lost in another memory. A memory of the last time she’d smelled that smell. The night the phone call came.

She’d made dinner, it was keeping warm in the oven. She’d been so well prepared she’d even had time to shower and change into something ‘pretty’ for when Danny came home. She’d arranged and re-arranged the tableware so many times she’d lost count. She was just sitting on the couch, reading the newspaper for the hundredth time with the jangling sound of the phone had shattered the peace and made her jump. She’d answered it with a light tone, frowning slightly when a strange voice had asked who they were speaking to. Deborah felt her chest tightening as she remembered how the frown had deepened in confusion and disbelief, how a painful lump had leapt into her throat, speeding up the arrival of tears. Somewhere in the conversation she’d simply let go of the phone’s receiver, leaving it to swing back and forth while she slowly drowned in sorrow. The voice had said Danny was gone. She hadn’t wanted to believe it but some awfully perceptive part of her knew instantly that it was the truth. She’d wept, for hours, crying out his name, crying out why. At some point in the early morning Deborah had felt the need for a drink but not being one for alcohol in general she’d simply grabbed the first bottle she’d found and taken a rather generous slug from the neck. Hacking and coughing as the liquid burned her throat. Making the hot tears run faster. She’d forced herself to have another, and then another. Praying it would help. Knowing that it wouldn’t. She achieved little more than making herself sick and ruining a rug in the hall.

Shaking off the memory and forcing herself back to the present she put the bottle back and snatched up the glasses. Straightening her shoulders and pushing them back slightly, she headed back into the kitchen.

“Here,” She held out a glass towards Eric with a slightly forced smile. “What shall we drink to? New friends?” She nodded before he could reply. “New friends sounds good to me.” She raised hers towards him and then drained the glass in a large mouthful. Coughing slightly as she lowered the empty tumbler from her lips. She ran her tongue over them while she waited for him to drink his own generous measure of rum.

“I couldn’t help noticing the fridge was rather bare. Once we’ve had this perhaps some shopping is in order. After all, I’d like to cook you dinner…would be nice to have someone to cook for…” Her voice broke slightly but she pushed through the wave of emotion that swelled inside her.
“I can bag and carry, don’t want you injuring your hand anymore, and you can give me directions. Deal?”
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:11 PM   #10
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He let his eyes rest on his new… what… house mate? This was going to be a strange turn of things for certain. He was used to Cece sharing the house with him. Sharing this place with a young beautiful woman well, that was going to complicate things in a whole slew of ways he had not had to consider in a good long time. Still he was no fool, he could tell something was eating at her, and it was more than just the passing of a departed aunt she had never come to see. No this was something else.

She drained that glass like the liquid was trying to flee from her mouth. No, something was certainly off kilter here. She talked about cooking dinner, and it being nice to have someone to cook a meal for. He zeroed in on the information and absorbed it in a moment. So it had something to do with a broken relationship then. He could understand that, even if he did not know the extent of it. Putting on a charming and warm smile, he took a pull from his glass.

“To new friends.”

He was quiet for a moment while he considered her with his eyes. There was something about his gaze, something stern and firm. Then he shook his head quietly and spoke in a voice that left no room for argument.

“I will go with you. I can carry a bag just fine. It is only one finger. I earn my keep Ma’am and I don’t think you want me washing dishes with a busted hand. Would just make less dishes for use to eat off of later.”

He couldn’t help it, he let out a roguish grin that lit up his face. It had been a good long while since he had smiled, let alone had a reason to find humor in anything. Maybe there was more of ol’ Cece in this woman than he thought. His eyes drank her in again, damn those curves were dangerous. Yeah, this was certainly going to be interesting. Now it was his turn to drain his glass.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:51 PM   #11
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Deborah briefly debated suggesting they had another but knew as soon as the through crossed her mind that it was a poor one. She moved to the sink, half filling the glass with water and drinking it down before setting her glass to the side.
"Give me two minutes to find some shoes and grab my purse and then I'll be ready to go."
A wider smile than she thought she'd be able to give curved her mouth and she headed out of the kitchen and back upstairs. Tennis shoes were eased out of the case and pulled onto her feet. Sitting on the edge of the bed to tie the laces she saw the corner of a photo frame sticking out from her carefully folded clothes. With a sigh she lowered the lid. Not now. Later.

She snatched up her handbag and pulled out her purse, opting to just take some cash along with ID, just in case. After all, she was a stranger in town. Pulling out a few notes and folding them, she eased them into her back pocket along with her ID and headed back downstairs.
"You ready?" She asked Eric lightly, heading towards the back door but stopping before he could follow her through it. Leaning slightly on the door frame with one arm across it as a barrier of sorts she grinned lightly. "Oh, and Eric? One thing. It's Deborah. Not Ma'am. Alright?"

With a laugh that surprised her, she pushed open the door and they headed out into the heat. Following Eric's directions they soon reached the store and a basket was rapidly filled with dairy products and fruit, meat and some baked goods. She also picked up a few basics to put in the pantry, flour and eggs, sugar and some other cooking supplies.

As they wound their way around the little shop she tried to ignore the almost blistering gazes sent their way from the other shoppers. She was sure they were aimed at her, she was unfamiliar and strange and given the tightness of her jeans and blouse she was sure that was the motivation behind the scathing looks from other women that passed them. Once or twice she could've sworn their unspoken displeasure was actually aimed at her companion but she couldn't believe that for an instant.

Just before she paid, she pulled two cokes from a chiller and as they wandered away, one large brown bag each, she handed Eric one. Condensation running down the outside.
It was so wonderfully cool slipping down her throat that she let out an embarrassingly loud sigh.
"Sorry..." She smiled shyly.

Upon returning to the house they made short work of putting the groceries away and soon were sat out on the porch in the sun, sipping their cokes in relative silence. Deborah stole a proper look at her housemate. He was a good looking young man, that he lived alone with her Great Aunt didn't quite ring true. Surely he should be out with friends, tormenting girls with those dark eyes and toned figure. He seemed friendly enough and she was a little sad, if the truth be told, that he was there with her rather than out enjoying his youth. But she appreciated his presence in the house. She didn't think she'd be able to stay there at all if she had to do it alone.

She ran the icy glass bottle along the side of her neck, closing her eyes and rejoicing in the shocking chill that danced across too warm skin.
"So...Eric..." She sat with her eyes shut for a moment or two before opening them and looking over at him. "Whatever arrangements you had with Aunt Cece will stand. Any wages and accommodation situations will remain as they were...that is, of course, assuming you want to carry on working for me?"

She hoped he did. She really hoped he did.
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Old 04-20-2013, 12:59 AM   #12
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He let his eyes rest on his new… what… house mate? This was going to be a strange turn of things for certain. He was used to Cece sharing the house with him. Sharing this place with a young beautiful woman well, that was going to complicate things in a whole slew of ways he had not had to consider in a good long time. Still he was no fool, he could tell something was eating at her, and it was more than just the passing of a departed aunt she had never come to see. No this was something else.

She drained that glass like the liquid was trying to flee from her mouth. No, something was certainly off kilter here. She talked about cooking dinner, and it being nice to have someone to cook a meal for. He zeroed in on the information and absorbed it in a moment. So it had something to do with a broken relationship then. He could understand that, even if he did not know the extent of it. Putting on a charming and warm smile, he took a pull from his glass.

“To new friends.”

He was quiet for a moment while he considered her with his eyes. There was something about his gaze, something stern and firm. Then he shook his head quietly and spoke in a voice that left no room for argument.

“I will go with you. I can carry a bag just fine. It is only one finger. I earn my keep Ma’am and I don’t think you want me washing dishes with a busted hand. Would just make less dishes for use to eat off of later.”

He couldn’t help it, he let out a roguish grin that lit up his face. It had been a good long while since he had smiled, let alone had a reason to find humor in anything. Maybe there was more of ol’ Cece in this woman than he thought. His eyes drank her in again, damn those curves were dangerous. Yeah, this was certainly going to be interesting. Now it was his turn to drain his glass.

He was studying her, as hard as he tried to avoid it he couldn’t help himself. She was just so damned beautiful, and it had been so long since he had known the touch of a woman. It was all he could do not to stare openly. He did a fair job at disguising his glances, the occasional shot over the rim of his glass, the trail of his gaze along her legs. The worst part was as he watched her down the last of her drink. He watched the slender column of her throat work down the liquid, and he felt his manhood shift in the confines of his clothing. It gave a decided twitch and he hoped to god she did not see it. “No rush Ma’am, I need to get a better bandage on this thumb also.”

As she vanished up the stairs he turned to the sink and let out a deep sigh. He turned on the faucet and began to wash his face gingerly to cleanse the sweat from his face. He dabbed the skin dry with a towel then went about reworking the bandage around his thumb tight, but not too tight. She came back down just as he had finished wrapping his thumb. When he saw her again a warm smile drifted to his lips. It was strange really. He had been so closed off for so long, the only one who was able to pierce that cold exterior wall had been her late aunt. Perhaps that was why it took almost no effort for Deborah to work her way past his walls, she reminded him a great deal of her late aunt. The kindness, the warmth, always quick to smile.

He followed her to the door way then stopped up short to keep himself from plowing straight through her. His eyes fastened onto hers, he digested her words, and a wide grin split his features. With a nod of his head he spoke her name, as if tasting it for the first time. “As you wish. Deborah it is.”

As they came to the store he wanted to crawl inside his own skin. This was why there was no food in the house. Since Cece’s passing he had not really gone to the store. The truth was everywhere he went those scathing gazes followed him. He bore them when he went out to buy supplies to repair the house, but more often than not when it was not a chore that required him to leave the house, Cece had gone. Now with Deborah in tow those gazes seemed to be even more intense than ever. This was the first time he had been seen in public with a woman since it happened.

He was silent, almost deathly so as the shopping trip continued. It was not until she handed him the bottle of coke that he spoke at all. “Thank you.” Suddenly he was projecting that cold distance that she had noticed when she first met him. Even as they made their way home he was near completely silent. The groceries were put away, he was moving almost mechanically. As if his mind was elsewhere, but he was doing the work without thinking. Finally they found themselves upon the porch, sitting there drinking the cold Coke. He occasionally shot glances over to his new housemate. He was slowly starting to relax again, slowly coming back out of his shell. He was not going to be allowed to come out on his own however. After shooting a glance over to her, he saw her with her eyes closed, pressing the cool glass bottle against the side of her throat. He could see the goose bumps ripple over her skin, and it sent a jolt of heat surging through his body. His dark eyes glittered as they took her in. The heat in his gaze was obvious. Yet when she spoke, the heat was instantly extinguished. He drew a deep breath and set down his bottle. Turning toward her in his chair he drew a deep breath, then spoke quietly.

“I appreciate the offer Deborah, and I would be more than willing to accept it but I need to talk to you first before I accept. You may just change your mind about offering me room and board. I have not always been a good man. I ran with a bad crowd when I was younger. I changed though. I met an amazing woman and she helped me screw my head on straight. Well her Da didn’t like me, and who can blame her? I was working to be better, but I did some stupid things when I was younger. Well her Da is not the kind of guy you say no to without consequences. He tried to bribe me to stay away from his daughter. When I refused I found myself on the wrong side of being accused of raping some poor girl. I never met the girl before. I was eventually found innocent of the charges, but well this is a small town. It doesn’t matter that I was found innocent. All of the people who live here have convicted me in their mind. That is why we were getting glared at at the store. You are the first woman in town other than your Aunt to even give me the time of day, let alone walk out with me in public.”

He drew a deep breath, then turned his gaze back to her.

“So there it is. People are likely gonna look down on you if you keep being seen with me. I’ll stay if you want me too, but I can’t in good conscience let you go into this without knowing everything. That ain’t right. I don’t want you to feel obligated, the shelters here are nice, I’ll do ok.”
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