Chapter Seven: My Brand New Life

So after Sheila's place got flooded, I ended up agreeing to stay at Walter's for a few days. But I wasn't planning on having it turn into a whole big thing. When we kissed in his car that first time it was late, and I was really tired. Tired and a little bit out of my mind. So naturally things got out of hand!

But by the time I got all my things together and moved into Walter's place, the whole thing just seemed like a dream. I mean, it was a bright sunny morning, and I was walking up the sidewalk with a duffle bag over my shoulder, following Walter to the front door of his house. I was still wearing my Marine uniform, too, so the idea of being Walter's baby doll – which is what he called me the first time we kissed – didn't even cross my mind.

"Hey there, Thelma! How are the hibiscus flowers coming along?" Walter was in a good mood that morning, just like I was. His voice was loud and cheerful, and he smiled at the Japanese lady next door who was outside trimming her hedge. But she didn't smile back. She just looked over at me, her slanted eyes sort of thoughtful and sad. And then she went back to work, clipping away with her great big scissors.

"What's her problem?" When we were inside the house, the first thing I noticed was how cool it was. The living room looked sort of like a western saloon, with a chandelier overhead and all the furnishings made of rich dark wood. You could picture a whole bunch of cowboys playing poker, all sort of manly and rough and smelling like saddle leather. Of course they didn't have air-conditioning in the Old West, but I didn't mind having it on now. Walter's place was sexy and luxurious and yet totally plain and simple too. I liked it.

". . . and Thelma is always complaining about the noise," Walter was saying. He clapped me on the shoulder, sort of waking me up from just spacing on how much I loved the main room of the house. "Come on, let's get you settled in."

"Uh, sure," I said. Walter already had my duffel bag and was charging up the stairs, sort of showing off how much more fit and athletic he was than most rich older guys. I have to admit I was pretty tired just from lugging my bag up the walk.

"Well, what do you think, baby doll?" Walter threw my bag across the bunk in the guest room and turned to me with a dazzling grin, like we were going on a fabulous adventure, setting off to be pirates together, or spacemen or whatever.

"It reminds me of home," I said, pasting a grin on my face too. But really I felt like a popped balloon. The place he'd saved for me reminded me of boot camp. Walter's guest room was really more like a storage closet. All it had was a military-style bunk, a chest of drawers, a closet, and a window. We were on the North Shore, and my room faced away from the ocean, so my view was just some rock cliffs. "What is this, Parris Island, early modern?"

"You said it, beautiful." Walter laughed, looking at me like I was his very own ray of golden sunshine. "But don't feel too bad. Like you said last night, in just a week or two you can get a job and find a place of your own, right here on Oahu. Oh, and speaking of work, I have to get back to my office. We've got some reps from the drug companies coming out, and you know how much time that takes up. A real drag!"

"So what do I do?" The words came out wrong, like I was hoping or even expecting Walter to want to hang around. I blushed, feeling really hot all of a sudden. "I guess it's just a shock not having my days mapped out for me anymore."

"Sure, I know." Walter's voice got low and deep, like when he'd been holding me the night before. Like he totally understood what I was feeling and just wanted to make everything okay. "Get some rest, gorgeous. The bed's right there. There's food in the fridge if you wake up hungry. Tonight we'll get some guys over and celebrate your brand new life!"

"Great!" I tried to sound excited even though I didn't really feel like a party. I felt worn out, on edge but still very tired. But Walter made me sound like someone brave, starting out on this big glamorous adventure. So that's who I felt I was.

After he left me alone, I unpacked my stuff, took a shower, and then sort of tiptoed around in my undies, checking out the rest of the house. All of it was clean, cool, and quiet. Very spare and masculine. Efficient, but also comfortable.

The only shocker was when I peeked into Walter's bedroom. Not the huge king-sized bed, or the extra wide-screen TV. But the view was the most unbelievably gorgeous panorama of the blue Pacific Ocean that I had ever seen in my life. Just looking at it made me wonder what it would feel like to wake up in Walter's bed every morning.

And then I wondered if that was going to be part of my brand new life.

A/N: I know people are reading this story, but so far I'm not feeling the love. If you want to see more, please review!