Out of the Ashes(8)

By: Anne Malcom



It might be rewarding and challenging, but my job was also exhausting. I was there from eight until six every night and running around doing things the entire day. Lexie came after school to help out and to hang out in the small restaurant attached to the hotel to do her homework. She seemed to be settling well into her new school. We hadn’t had much time to explore Amber or to even scope out the takeout situation, but we intended on starting the recon tonight with Chinese food. Plus, tomorrow we were going to check out the retail offerings. I didn’t expect much, but there was a small store next to the coffee shop that had caught my eye.

“Seriously, Mom, get up now and come and look at this,” she demanded sharply, not glancing away from the window.

I groaned and pulled myself up from the sofa, abandoning the tales of the latest Kardashian scandal. I took a tug of my beer and joined my daughter at the window.

“Has President Obama finally decided to take us up on our invitation to come over for a beer?” I asked. “Because that is the only reason I should be getting off the sofa.”

Lexie grabbed my chin between her thumb and forefinger and pointed my face at the house across the street.

“By Zeus’s loins,” I whispered under my breath.

Our house was at the end of a quiet street where the houses were separated by reasonably large yards. We had a little two-story place, with a large front yard and a separate garage. I loved it already. We couldn’t afford any of the beachfront stuff and this was a little older than a lot of the other ones around town, but it had character. Me and Lexie did good with character. We decorated the house in our signature vintage boho theme and felt at home here already. Thanks to its position at the end of the street, we were removed from the rest of our neighbors and our closest was directly across the street. It was a small, one story house with a sad yard and not much personality. I had thought it was empty since we moved in, thanks to its lack of personal touches and not seeing anyone in or around it the past week. It was most certainly not empty.

A large shiny black Harley sat on the driveway of the house. I didn’t know much about motorcycles, but it looked nice. The kind of nice that made me question why it was sitting in the driveway of the house. But the motorcycle was not the thing I was currently feasting my eyes on.

“We need popcorn,” Lexie said, her eyes glued to the driveway.

I nodded. “And a recording device. Or binoculars.”

I knew my daughter was giving me a sideways look, but I refused to tear my gaze away. How could I? The shirtless man tinkering with his motorcycle was a sight to behold. His muscled chest was unlike anything I had seen before, and it was covered in tattoos. Obviously I couldn’t make out the tattoos, which was why I needed binoculars. Well, maybe it wasn’t the tattoos I wanted a closer look at; maybe it was the six pack and the little v that was visible thanks to low riding jeans.

“How could we not know this was across the street? I know we’ve been busy, but you’d notice this guy if you were trying to solve a quantum physics equation or performing brain surgery,” I remarked, letting my gaze roam over the specimen in front of me.

I probably shouldn’t be condoning my daughter leering at a way older man, but that would mean I would have to stop leering at him. That wasn’t going to happen. I needed to drink this sight in. Plus, my daughter was the most well behaved teenager on planet Earth. Having me as a mother I don’t know how this was possible, but she was happy with a book or a record on a Saturday night, not a party full of meatheads from a football team. She was a teenage unicorn. I had thought such creatures were myths, but she was flesh and blood. And I gave birth to her.

Suddenly, as if he could feel the eyes of a sixteen-year-old unicorn and her voyeuristic mother, the man’s eyes darted over to us. Like we had rehearsed it, Lexie and I both dropped to the floor in a coordinated move, hiding under the windowsill.

“Do you think he saw us?” I whispered. I don’t know why I was asking; the flutter I felt when furious eyes met mine told me he saw us. I didn’t know why I was whispering either, but I felt like he had crazy hot guy powers, which included super hearing.

Lexie glanced at me. “I don’t know. Check.”

I sank farther into the wall, my eyes widening at such an outrageous suggestion. “I’m not checking. I’m staying in this spot for the remainder of my life. Or at least until he’s gone,” I declared.

“How are you going to know he’s gone if you don’t move?”

I rolled my eyes. “Duh, that’s what you’re for. I don’t keep you around ‘cause you’re pretty to look at,” I stated.

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