Author's Note: Bear with me for the first half of this chapter. It's way too stream-of-consciousness for my liking, but I wrote the chapter in about three hours and uploaded it pretty much without editing, because I'd probably think too much about the plot and kill it if I held onto it.
I might change this chapter sometime in the future, but in the meantime, at least read until the end of the chapter 2?
Pretty please? With a cherry on top?
But um... no pressures, yeah? P
Chapter One: Threads Unloosed
You'd think, at 22 years of age, that I'd have control over my own life. I thought so too, until now.
I stared at the quaint and homely looking villa. It had a red roof, a porch, a swing, and – honestly – a welcome mat. The whole scene was so idyllic I could scream.
How the hell did my parents rope me into this?
OK, there's the money. But was it worth it to live in this nothingness for two months? For one thing, the past ten minutes I'd been staring at the front door with a sinking feeling of horror not one car had drove by. What if I was attacked by wolves or bears or something? Oh god… I'm going to die here.
I reluctantly walked up the steps and unlocked the front door. It opened without a creak. Fabulous, now I won't even know if a murderer enters the house. The furniture was a mixture of assorted pieces probably picked up at the dump. Most of them looked like they belonged on the set of That 70's Show, except these probably had fleas.
I laid my laptop on the kitchen table, plugged it in and switched it on. Then I remembered that I needed to connect the phone and internet. I shut the lid and sighed. I got up and walked to the window. There was nothing but grass until a long way out where there stood a neat row of hedges where the neighbour's land started. I wondered how long it took to mow all that grass. Maybe I'll just hire someone.
I looked at the clock and saw that it was nearly three. I decided to go to town and connect my phone and get some dinner.
The drive took about ten minutes. It wasn't hard to find since there was only one road. I saw a few other houses, none as shabby as mine, and a few looking positively shinylicious. I envied its occupants and cursed my parents for not getting one of the houses in the brochure.
I went to the post shop first. That's generally where everything happens on TV and I was not disappointed. I connected my phone, paid an outrageous price for 56kb internet and discovered that neither the electricity nor water hadn't been connected.
The clock ticked by as I filled out page after page of mind-numbing agreements and contracts. By the time I had finished, I'd misspelt my mom's name twice.
The lady at the counter promised everything should be set up by the time I got home. Then I went to the corner store to get a loaf of bread, milk and microwave dinners.
The drive home was uneventful, still didn't see any cars on the way. Saw a few in the drive way though. Guess I missed the 5 o'clock traffic.
I entered the house and held my breath as I pressed the ON button on the TV remote. And voila! There was a fat guy trying to do a sit up. As my dinner was heating up, I got a phone line and tested to see if the internet was available. It was, and my heart sang. I checked my email, sent one to my parents and my best friend to complain and garner sympathy, then read the news. The world was still going to hell, but that's OK, because Apple just announced the new iPod, and it is beautiful.
Halfway through my dinner, I finally heard it: the crunch of tires rolling down the gravel road. I rushed to the window and saw the car turn into the drive next door. I had been wondering who my next door neighbours were. They were too far for me to see properly. I could only make out the shape of a man and a woman. The man seemed to be talking on the phone while lugging their bag inside. I guessed that they were from New York or L.A. and was here for the weekend. They'd rented a townhouse in the countryside to reignite their passion and love. They would be relaxed by the beach and nature walks that by Monday morning they would look back fondly and decide to make the retreat an annual event. And boy do I wish I was their kid.
I woke up at five the next morning. I think it might be those goddamn chickens or perhaps the twittering birds. Did they need to catch worms this early? Were the worms going to drop dead at nine? I got up anyway and decided to explore the area on my run. I'd seen a lagoon on the map that was close to the house and headed in that direction.
Let's just say that "Oh, oh, ohhh" is not a sound I ever want to hear out of anyone else's mouth. Especially at 5.30 in the morning. I sprinted out of there like my life depended on it.
I ran home and took a shower and tried to put the sounds I heard out of my mind. It was quarter after six when I stepped out of the shower, which means nothing was open yet.
Except her legs.
There was a knock at the door. I opened it to see the couple from next door and this morning.
"Hi, my name is Katrina and that's Ryan," She pointed to a man facing away from us talking angrily into his cell phone, "we just moved in last night and didn't realise nothing was connected. Would it be all right to use your shower today?"
"Uh… sure." I opened the door wider for them to come in. Now they were going to be naked in my house too. I showed them the bathroom and Katrina went in first.
I went in to the kitchen and Ryan followed me, still talking on his phone. I took out the bread and milk and offered them to him. He shook his head, scowling. I hoped that scowl wasn't for me, he seemed unpleasant enough as it is.
I microwaved the bread for ten seconds and plucked at its chewy softness. I listened in on Ryan's conversation unabashedly. It was boring and he didn't seem to mind. His conversation was boring too.
Finally, he put away his phone and faced me.
"Interesting place." He said, his gaze resting on every stain and well-worn hole. Sure I hated the place, didn't mean he had the right to, too.
"It's homey." I said. More like holey. I thought.
"So… are you here for the weekend?"
"No. Listen, can I use your computer to check my email? It's very urgent."
I had barely opened my mouth before he thanked me and opened my laptop. I moved around the room, trying to find something to do. I began rearranging the glasses in order of size. It didn't take too long since there was a grand total of 10 glasses in the pantry. I poured myself a glass of milk and leaned against the counter and watched him out of the corner of my eye as I pretended to think.
He was nice looking. Sort of a serious-cute look. His hair was still ruffled from the morning's… exercise. I found myself thinking that he must be a lot of women's dream man if he didn't speak. Not mine, of course, he's already said two sentences to me.
"Please stop staring at me. It's rude."
There's sentence number three.
And what a hypocrite, he was the epitome of rudeness.
"I was thinking." I lied, "The world doesn't revolve around you." I muttered under my breath.
"All right," he said suddenly and turned around. He looked at me strangely, as if I had something funny growing on my face."You're right, I was a little abrupt before. I'm sorry about that, can we start over?"
"So… what's your name?"
"Erica Bennet." He repeated it carefully. His eyes rested on my face for a beat before he said, "Before I forget to give you our cards."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He handed me two business cards. I was about to politely put them away and label him as a freak when I saw the name.
"Yes…" He said slowly.
"She's…" I gestured towards the bathroom door, "the Katrina Huxley? The historian?" When he nodded I thought I would pass out. The most promising history scholar is in my bathroom taking a shower.
"How long is she staying?" I asked and hoped he would say 'forever'.
"Couple of months." He scowled.
I clutched my chest and laughed happily.
"Are you OK?"
"Professor Huxley is living next door to me. This is like a dream come true!"
"You didn't know? Odd. Your dad mentioned you."
"What?" I asked, "Why didn't he tell me?" Then I remembered that my parents had looked all mysterious as they waved me off and said, 'You might be pleasantly surprised.' Back then I had thought they meant the scenery.
"I don't know, ask your father." He said, looking unconcerned. "This wasn't the way I expected to meet you."
Oh, how I wish this was actually the first time we met.
"That's all right." I murmured.
"Ryan, your turn!" Katrina yelled as she opened the door. The room was filled with steam. She came out dressed in slacks and a t-shirt with her hair wrapped in a towel.
Ryan grabbed his bag and headed for the bathroom.
"So my dad talked to you?" I asked when she had sat down.
"Yeah, what a coincidence."
Coincidence? I would bet that my parents brought the property for the sole purpose of having me near her. Ever since I told my parents I had no wish to study for a masters degree, they'd been trying to change my mind. I've got to hand it to them though, this was actually a good idea.
"Your dad mentioned you had a few papers to show me?"
"Oh, it's nothing. I'm not planning on pursuing an academic career." I said, trying to discourage her. Yet at the same time feeling as if I was throwing away a priceless gift.
"Actually, your parents showed me some stuff you've written and they're very good. I was hoping to read some more."
I grinned, who can resist flattery? "If you insist. I'll bring some over later."
"Definitely. Come over anytime, I should be home most of the time."
"So what brings you here?" I asked, "Research?"
"I grew up here, and I come back for the summer every few years." She said and chuckled, "Ryan hates it here. I'm trying to wean him off the phone. He's like me at 12."
She thought a moment and said, "It should get better in a few days when the others stop asking him for every detail of the cases."
"He's a lawyer?" I asked to confirm.
"Yeah. Nice, respectable job." She pressed a finger to her lips, "Scratch the respectable part. Pay's great though."
"You know, this is going to sound bizarre. But he seems kind of familiar somehow."
"The university's one of his firm's clients. Maybe you've seen him around?" She suggested.
"Hm…" I considered it, but I doubted it. "Maybe."
We both heard the bathroom door open.
"Thanks for the hospitality, Erica." Katrina said as she stood up to leave. "Don't forget to bring your stuff over."
"I will. I'll do it this week." I promised her. I followed them to the front door and waved them off. I watched them walk down the path together, hand in hand. Ryan said something and Katrina laughed heartily. He stopped suddenly and pulled her to him and kissed her.
I slipped back inside, feeling like a peeping tom. I brushed away the tears on my cheeks and scolded myself mentally. It was three months already and I still cried when couples kissed each other. What a wuss.
One last time, I reasoned. I would cry this one last time for him and that would be it.
Then I'd better make it good, I thought as I slid down the wall and my tears rolled down my face and landed on my shirt. The sobs shook my body and I hiccupped. The last time. I can't stand to love you anymore.
End of Chapter One
I would totally love to hear what you thought, so please review if possible! (And there is a reason that Ryan is being a class A asshole.)