The splash of the water awoke Phil from his sleep. It was early morning and not yet June and he couldn't believe somebody was taking a purposeful swim in the lake this early in the season, especially around his property.
He rolled out of bed and went to the window of his second floor bedroom to glance out at the lake. He saw someone in the water swimming away from shore. It was a clear day and the lake was calm and still with its usual sheer density and it was easy to see that the swimmer was naked.
Phil watched with interest, getting a perfect view of a pretty backside barely covered by the water. He saw long wet blond hair on the swimmer's head and judging from the roundness and curves of the backside he was pretty sure he was looking at a woman.
He glanced at the small Wallace cottage next door, surprised that it was being rented out this early in the summer cycle seeing a small sports car parked in the driveway cutout. His realtor had told him that the place was rarely used when he signed the six month rental agreement for the larger cottage that he had been residing in since March.
Phil threw on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt and he made his way down the stairs and out the door to the lakefront. He stood on the dock and watched the person leisurely swim a fair distance from shore before she turned and slowly made her way back toward the shore.
She was almost to the dock before she realized she wasn't alone and she swam directly to the dock, hiding her exposure by ducking part way under the structure.
"Hello," Phil said pleasantly.
"Good morning," the woman said with some annoyance.
"You're in the Wallace cottage?" Phil inquired.
"As of last night," she confirmed. "What do you want?"
"Our two cottages share the same lakefront and dock," Phil explained.
"Great," she deadpanned.
Phil could tell that she was shivering in the cold early season morning lake water. "Am I making you uncomfortable?" He smirked.
"You have me at a disadvantage," she explained, gesturing toward a robe and towel hanging from the dock rail.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Phil said innocently. "Are you naked down there?"
"Yes," she said with a slight blush.
"I apologize for the intrusion," he said, turning his back to her. "Please, get dressed.
He heard the dripping of the water as she pulled herself up the ladder.
"Okay," she said after a moment and Phil turned to see that she was covered by the white robe. She had a displeased sneer on her face. "I know you did that on purpose."
Phil smiled with amusement. "It was a security and safety check," he remarked.
"Right," the woman frowned.
"I'm Phil Dawson," he said, extending his hand. "I'm your rental neighbor."
"Andrea Pollard," she replied, reluctantly accepting his hand in a shake.
"That name sounds familiar for some reason," Phil realized.
"It's a common name," she shrugged.
Phil peered at her, feeling as though he recognized her from somewhere. "Have we met?"
"No," Andrea replied.
"Why do I get the feeling I know you from somewhere?"
"Is that supposed to be your pick up line?" She asked with disapproval.
"No," he grinned.
"How much did you see, you pervert?" Andrea wanted to know.
"You were swimming on your stomach," he reminded her.
"So, you saw my fat ass," Andrea replied knowingly. "Sticking up out of the water like a submarine periscope no doubt."
Phil was embarrassed for the first time. "Stop," he said.
They were both around the same age – early forty-somethings. She was – what's the polite term? – bulky? Big boned? Husky? She was probably about 5'8 and it was hard to tell how long her blond hair was because it was soaked. She had a full round face, pure blue eyes, and thick lips. She had yet to smile.
"Welcome to the neighborhood," Phil said lightly.
"How long you here for?" She wanted to know.
"Until the end of September," he reported. "You?"
She groaned. "Same."
"Great," Phil said cheerfully.
"No it's not," Andrea complained. "I'm hiding out."
"From whom?" Phil asked.
"Never mind," she said.
"Look, it's all good," Phil assured her. "I'm working on a book and I spend most of my time on the computer or I'm out doing research and conducting interviews. You'll have all the privacy you want but you won't have to be totally alone hiding out if you don't want to be either."
"A book?" She asked, drying her hair with the towel. "What kind of book?"
"It's a biography on Boyd Franklin," Phil revealed.
"He was the headmaster at The Sun Rise Lake School For Boys for about fifty years," Phi explained. "I'm sure you passed it on the way in."
"Yeah," she confirmed. "Nice campus."
"He retired in 1987 and I arrived here as a freshman in 1988," Phil revealed. "I never met the guy but his legacy was larger than life and still is."
"So, you're a writer?"
"This is my first book," he admitted. "I took a leave of absence from my job as a newspaper columnist."
"So, you're hiding out too," Andrea stated.
"I guess we'll both be summer hermits," Phil said lightly.
"You're not married?"
"Divorced," Phil admitted. "I married a local girl I met while going to school here. We lasted about twelve years."
"We discovered too many things about each other," Phil replied.
"There's not much around here," Andrea stated.
"The Lakefront Dinner. The Shore Store. Sun Rise Lake Inn. The art gallery, antique store, motel, tavern and bakery are pretty much it," Phil said. "But there are plenty of towns within driving distance for the rest of your needs."
"I'm hoping to keep a low profile."
"You picked the right place," Phil laughed.
"I'm guessing no more morning skinny dips though," Andrea said as she started to walk off the dock.
"Oh, you can if you want," Phil said lightly. "I don't mind!"
"Have a good day," she said over her shoulder as she continued walking.
"Feel free to use the canoe, paddle boat, or rowboat with the outboard," he called after her.
She lifted her hand up in a thank you wave without looking back and Phil grinned with appreciation and satisfaction. Maybe having a neighbor wouldn't be so bad after all.