Short Story 1
He stood there watching her for a moment. Those big, blue eyes hidden by the shadows of the setting sun. Her neck glistening with sweat from the late summer heat. The four bottles she carried were pressed firm against her chest. She held one out to him. James blinked rapidly. Did she realize that he'd been staring? He glanced around at the others. No one seemed to notice. He took the cold beverage and nodded a "thanks".
She half-smiled. A look of worry was across her face. She offered the other three drinks to Sam who dispersed them among the others. Her fiancee. Or were they married? They'd separated for several months last year. Were they even engaged at all? He realized he knew very little about his neighbors at all. Just that he enjoyed watching one neighbor in particular from afar.
James realized he was starting again, but he couldn't bring himself to break away. He'd not felt this excitement in quite some time.
"Come on, babe, we're going to need more than that."
James looked over at Sam. He was already past the tipping point and had been for quite a while now. He must have started drinking before everyone else even got there.
"How about you sip on that one and then I'll get you another when you're done," Emily asked.
Sam rolled his eyes, tilted the new bottle back, and proceeded to gulp the whole thing down. James watched Emily, who watched Sam with distaste. She bit her lip and folded her arms, waiting impatiently for him to finish.
"There," Sam said after the last gulp. "Now will you please go get us some more?" The words were nice enough; it was the tone that infuriated her.
The other men didn't seem to notice. They continued their worthless conversations about salary and long weeks. Sam handed off the two empty bottles to her and returned to the others.
Emily gripped the bottles so tightly in her hands that James thought certainly they would shatter. She opened her mouth to say something, but the words sat dormant inside her throat. With a heavy sigh, she turned on her heals and headed for the door.
James stood there for a moment watching her, yet again. Could she feel him staring at her all evening? Did she know just how much he'd really been looking at her? The screen door fell shut behind her. He felt himself walking toward it, but didn't care to stop. He muttered something about the bathroom, a half-hearted explanation of his leaving, but no one was listening.
The cool air inside the house washed over him. The sudden change in temperature sent chills up and down his arms. He paused as he saw her disappear around the corner into the back of the house. He pulled the door shut quietly, so not to disturb her.
He heard the bottles clank together as she tossed them rather aggressively into the garbage can. Then there was silence.
James craved to know what she was thinking. How she was feeling. He crept over to the hallway as quietly as possible. He took notice of the basement as he walked. Everything was so neatly placed. They had children, and yet you would never know it. No toys scattered about. No blankets, clothes, or diapers lying around. Actually, it didn't even look like a woman lived here at all. Everything had a brown tone to it. No vary colors of any kind. The few pieces of artwork throughout the room were very bland and uninteresting. There were no flowers, colors, or a female touch of any kind.
He walked down the hall toward the bathroom he'd told the others he was going to. She wasn't in it. To the right was a small utility room. He eased against the wall carefully, side-stepping the small desk against the wall. He peered around the corner.
There she was, head back as she leaned against the counter and her hands covering her faced. She was stressed. Her ample chest raised as she heaved a long, weighted sigh. He felt guilty for watching her yet again.
James started to back away. Maybe he could go to the bathroom and splash some water on his face. That might help wash away the unholy thoughts he was having about his neighbor's woman, whatever her label may be.
She let out a groan of frustration. He froze.
"I hate you so much," he heard her whisper.
Was she talking to him? Did she know he'd been there the whole time? No more sound came from around the corner. He turned to rush away, but to his dismay, smashed his knee into the damned desk behind him. "Fuck," he grumbled to himself and started to limp away. Her heard her footsteps. That small hallway suddenly felt a mile long. He couldn't make it to the door quick enough.
He halted and turned slowly to face her, still rubbing the sore place on his knee. Her cheeks were flushed. Her eyes full of the tears she'd been holding back.
"Are you okay? Can I get you something?"
He straightened his posture. She was much shorter than he remembered. Of course, she'd been in heals the last time they met. "I'm fine," he cleared his throat, "I uhh... just coming to use the bathroom."
She nodded slowly, her focus clearly drifting elsewhere.
"Are you okay," he asked her quickly, hoping to keep her attention.
Again a nod.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm fine." Her voice sounded strong and confident. Her face told another story. "I have to get them more beer," she murmured and weaved around him in the narrow hallway. "Let me know if you need anything," she added as she hurried away.
Before he could stop himself, his hand was around her wrist. It startled her, but she didn't struggle. For a moment they stood there, her back to him while he held onto her. He was afraid to move. Would she be upset?
After what felt like enough time had lapsed, he gently pulled her closer, turning her around and settling her against his chest. Her head was lowered, so he kissed her forehead and took a deep breath. He ached to do so much more. Her hair smelled of coconut and her skin of lavender, and he was dying to get a taste of her.
Rather than remove his lips and back away, which arguably was the right thing to do, he leaned over and grazed her neck with his lips. She gasped, her body quivering beneath him. He opened his mouth wider to taste the salt from her sweat, biting gently on the warm skin. A soft moan released. He could feel himself grow with anticipation.
"No," she whispered against his ear, but slid her hands up his chest, grabbing at the fabric of his shirt.
"Yes," he corrected, pushing her back against the wall, finally tasting the softness of her lips.
To be continued...