Kelvin Hayes noticed her as soon as she moved into the studio efficiency apartment directly under his Aunt's condo where he had been living for a while.
The back of the building was built into the side of a hill on the ground level, housing a garage for the yard machines and supplies, as well as the trash room, laundry room, tenant storage spaces, and a couple of efficiency apartments.
A pickup truck pulled into the parking lot one Saturday morning and three guys carried some furniture and belongings into the studio efficiency that had been empty for several months.
The helpers eventually left, leaving behind the new resident – who looked to be in her early twenties, perhaps a college student even though it was July and school wasn't in session.
Greenville Pines Condos wasn't that far from the community college or Green College for that matter so college renters did come and go all the time.
The condo property was modern and spacious. The outside of the units were made of natural pinewood and there were several pine trees on the property.
The new resident drove a beat up older car and she apparently worked a second shift job because Kelvin would see her leaving around three thirty in the afternoon most days and he heard her entering the sliding glass door of the studio apartment (which was directly under his bedroom) a little after midnight.
Kelvin parked his bicycle in the storage shed behind the condo building where the new person's studio apartment entrance was located and sometimes he'd see her lying on a lawn chair on her small cement slab of a patio outside her sliding glass door.
Other times he'd notice her walking to the community pool on the other side of the building. She was certainly an attractive woman (especially when she was in her bathing suit) and the sixteen year old could only sigh at the very thought of her.
Kelvin hadn't uttered a word to the woman since her arrival – to shy and intimidated to even say hello. She had to be at least five years older than him so what was the point? One afternoon, however, as he rode his bike around the back of the building to park it in the storage shed, the woman stuck her head out of her sliding glass door.
"Hey kid, do you know anything about computers?"
"Enough," he mumbled as he stepped out of the storage shed.
"Could you look at mine?" She asked hopefully. "It's all malled up."
Kelvin shrugged and stepped toward the sliding glass door. He saw the '1A' number on the wall by the door. She stepped back to let him in and he was surprised at how tiny the little studio efficiency was.
"Geez, is the all the room you have?" He asked, glancing around.
There was a queen sized box spring and mattress on the floor, a beat up leather arm chair, a card table with the computer on it, and a couple of folding chairs. Clothes and books and other junk was piled in the corners of the room.
"It's only temporary," she said. "Just until I figure things out."
He glanced at the computer. "What's wrong with it?"
"It's hopelessly slow," she complained. "It keeps freezing up."
Kelvin took a seat in one of the folding chairs in front of the computer and he started playing around with it. The woman took a seat in the leather arm chair and observed him.
"What's your name, kid?"
"I'm Carin," she said. "Do you think you can fix it?"
"I'm deleting all the history and spam stuff," Kelvin said. "You need to install some malware protection on this."
"I thought it came with the internet provider," She said. .
"I'll check the settings," he said. "Looks like some stuff is getting through."
"Thanks," she said with relief. "I'd be lost without a working computer."
He glanced around the space. "No TV?"
"Everything I need is on the computer," she explained.
He focused on what he was doing with the computer.
"You live right above me, right?" Carin asked after a few quiet moments.
"With my aunt," he acknowledged.
"Why your aunt?" She asked with interest.
"It's a long story," he sighed.
"I've got time."
He threw her a look, wondering if he should be so bold. He hadn't really talked to anybody since he moved in and he was rather starved for some interaction.
"I grew up in a chaotic and violent environment," Kelvin revealed.
"What do you mean?"
"My father was a violent and evil person and my mother was a drunk," Kelvin told her.
"Oh," she said with surprise. "I'm sorry."
"My aunt took me in."
"Is that good?"
"Better than how I was living before," Kelvin admitted. "But she works a lot. Doesn't have the time or insight to devote to me. Professional career woman and all that."
"How bad was it?" Carin asked. "Before?"
"Bad enough," Kelvin answered.
"But it's better now?"
"I'm not going to kill myself if that's what you were thinking."
"That's not what I was thinking," she said, surprised by his remark.
He glanced at her and he was struck at how pretty she looked sitting in the chair. He was almost embarrassed just being in her presence. "Sorry," he said. "I guess I have a lot of baggage."
"Don't we all," Carin sighed. "But I bet you're a normal person underneath all that pain and hurt and abandonment. Just because you've had a terrible life didn't mean you deserve to be treated terribly."
"I can deal with what happened to me," Kelvin said proudly. "All the abuse."
"I can see you've overcome a lot."
"I still have my moments," Kelvin admitted. "But I've learned survival instincts and coping mechanisms along the way."
"That's good," Carin said with encouragement.
He did a few more tricks with the computer while she watched.
"Who were those guys who moved you in?" Kelvin asked after a while.
"Just some friends," she said. "Guys I know."
"Did you move out of your parents' house or something?"
"A couple of years ago," Carin revealed. "It was time to develop some freedom and independence." She paused for a moment. "Then I met a guy"
"Lived with him for a while."
He nodded his head with understanding.
"We had a fight," she explained. "He kicked me out. I didn't want to move back in with my parents."
"Why'd you pick this shoe box for?"
"My parents bought it as an investment years ago," Carin said. "My uncle travelled a lot so he'd stay here instead of at our house! Later, after he moved away, my folks rented it out to college kids and as one of the first Airbnb's around here. Obviously, the rent's pretty cheap for me."
"That's because it's pretty small!"
"You going to college?"
"Green," she said. "And I'm a waitress at the truck stop a few exits down the interstate."
"I lost my job when I moved here," Kelvin explained, hoping she didn't seem him as a slacker.
"I haven't seen you at the pool," she remarked..
"I don't use it," Kelvin revealed.
"What's wrong with you!?" Carin laughed.
"It's not safe to swim alone," he joked.
"Well, you can swim with me," she said and Kelvin tried not to blush.
He messed around with the computer for a while longer.
"Okay," Kelvin finally announced. "Everything's off it that shouldn't have been on it," he reported. "I downloaded some stuff for protection and I adjusted some of your settings that you should have done when you first moved in here."
"Thanks," She said, standing from the chair. "I owe you."
"It should work fine now," Kelvin let her know, standing from his chair too.
Carin stepped closer to him and he noticed that they were about the same size. But she was definitely more physically mature and he saw how smooth her skin was. He liked the way her brown hair set on her shoulders.
"Stop by anytime," Carin invited. "I don't get a lot of visitors."
"Sure," Kelvin said, assuming she was just being polite.
He stepped through the glass sliding door, nodded his goodbye as she stood in the doorway, and headed for his aunt's condo apartment.