Love Thy Neighbor<br/>

Author: Jan Abney
Publisher: Janet Abney
Published: 2011-10-11
ISBN(s) 978-1463522377
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Romance & Friendship Read Excerpt >

It was nearing seven o'clock when she arrived home that evening. She'd lost all track of time, getting involved in finishing a special project for a customer. She remembered the new neighbors once she saw the sold sign again. The large truck was gone, but the house was lit up, and as she was getting out of the car, she could see two children through the still bare living room windows, carrying boxes up the stairs to the second floor. The way it looked from her side of the street, she wasn't the only one who'd had a busy day.

In the kitchen, she took out her favorite cookbook, turning the worn pages, looking for the right goodie to cook up. It couldn't take long, as she'd had to bring another endeavor home to finish. A woman had seen it this afternoon and asked if she could pick it up the next morning, and being the kind of person she was, Michelle couldn't say "I'm too busy at the moment", truth or not.

At eight fifteen, plate in hand, she crossed the street. While the no-bake cookies had cooled, the rush project was sanded, ready to put a coat of varnish on it. Things were going right on schedule as far as getting to bed at a decent hour.

The doorbell chimed inside. Small footsteps could be heard running toward the door. She could imagine the excitement the children would feel at their first visitor in a strange neighborhood. When the door was flung open, there stood a little girl, about six year old.

"Why didn't you turn the porch light on first?" Another girl, probably four years older, came up behind the first, turning on the outside light as she spoke, neither acknowledging the visitor.

"Hello. I'm Michelle, from across the street. Is your mother home?" Standing on the porch, holding the plate of cookies, she didn't know what else to say to get their attention.

The youngest looked up at her as if the woman had come from outer space. "My mother died." Plain English, no beating around the bush.

"Oh!" Her exclamation was more embarrassment than surprise. "I'm sorry. Maybe your father?" What should she say now?

It was the older of the two who answered then, the youngest leaving the room calling out for her daddy. "He's pretty busy. We're just moving in, I guess you noticed." Her eyes were on the plate of goodies. "I think he and my brother, Chet, are putting dad's waterbed together. Maybe if you come
back tomorrowY"

"Who is it, Kelly?" A masculine voice came from the upper hall as a tall man, looking close to forty, appeared at the top of the stairs.

"I've come at a bad time. I'll just leave these and come back another time." Michelle held the plate out to Kelly, intending to turn around to walk back down the concrete stairs in the middle of the front yard.

Putting the screwdriver he held in his back pocket as he descended, he offered his right hand when he stood in front of her. "Chester McWillams. And you haven't come at a bad time. Actually it's time for a break, and those look like the thing to take it with. Thank you." His smile brought out laugh lines around his brown eyes. It was friendly, something she could interpret as a welcome.

"You're welcome, and I'm Michelle Collins." She was shaking his hand. "I live across the street, and thought I'd do the neighborly thing and welcome you to our neighborhood. I'm sorry it's so lateY" Her rambling stopped when she realized she was doing just that.

"It's not too late. Please, come in and join us." The father answered as the youngest girl came up behind him, all three stepping back to invite Michelle in.

With an apologetic look, she declined. "I'd like to, but I'm in the middle of finishing a potato/onion bin. I've got to varnish it so it will be dry enough by morning. Maybe another day?"

"Sure, anytime. It's been a hectic day, this moving and all. I hope not to have to do it again, ever!" Chester thanked his neighbor once more, watching as she walked out of his yard before closing the door.

Michelle varnished the two-foot tall wooden vegetable box, all the time thinking about the new family across the street. She felt awful having asked for their mother, the youngest child telling her she had died. It was plain to see that it hadn't been very long ago, the effects still in the child's eyes. The older one seemed a little indifferent to much of the world around her, or that was the impression she had given. There was another child, a boy, older or younger she couldn't say. It would have been nice to have meet him, but it would happen another time, she was sure. The father was good looking. He had been dressed in khaki shorts and a white tshirt. She had to stop her thoughts, as she had begun wondering about things she had no business thinking about.

The next evening, Michelle was getting out of the car when she heard Kelly skipping up her driveway. Turning, she saw that the child was bringing back the empty plate. A smile came on her face at having company, as not many of her acquaintances had much time to visit. She really couldn't call
them friends, as she left so little time to have that luxury.

"Hello, Kelly." Michelle greeted her warmly. "Thank you for bringing my plate back. I hope you liked the cookies."

The girl handed the plate to the woman. "Thank you for bringing them over. They were so good. Maybe you could teach me how to make them sometime. Dad especially liked them." She stood just outside the garage door. "We teased him that he was going to get fat because we couldn't get him to leave them alone. He had more than his share" Her brief laugh filled the garage.

"Would you like to come in? I could give you the recipe now. They aren't hard to make, and I bet you'd have no trouble doing it." Michelle was unlocking the door that led from the garage to her kitchen. "It would be nice to meet your little sister and brother sometime. Chet, that's your brother's
name, right?"

"That's his nickname. He's named after my dad. Carleen is my younger sister." Kelly followed through the door, waiting to be asked to sit before she did. "We did a lot of unpacking yesterday and today. Have to start school on Monday." The last bit of information didn't sound very positive.

"Well, I hear the school in this district is a good one. I'm sure you'll make friends quickly." Michelle set the plate on the cabinet, getting out the cookbook. "Have you had a chance to look around the area yet? There's a great park about four blocks from here, with a duck pond and a big ball field."

"We just got here early yesterday. Dad found the house a month ago, and we moved." Kelly shrugged her shoulders as if she didn�t care. "I didn't want to leave my friends, even if it was just across town." Disappointment was not disguised as she let the woman know how she felt, contradicting the first emotion. "I try to do the cooking, but I'm not too good at it yet. When Mom died, I tried to keep up what she taught me, but it's so hard." The little girl's voice whined a slight bit.

Michelle's heart went out to her. "What are you, about ten?"

"Eleven." The word came out with a huff, as if it should have been known.

"Well, taking care of a house and family isn't any job for an eleven year old, or a sixteen year old." She was trying to help, but probably wasn't giving the right advice. What did she know about children, much less this new family?

Kelly looked surprised. "How did you know how old Chet was?"

Michelle laughed. "I didn't. I was just using that as an example. I can see you helping around the house, all three of you, but one doing it all, it wouldn't be right. Will your father be hiring a housekeeper?"

"I don't really do it all." Kelly corrected her exaggerated statement. "I tried, but Dad said I shouldn't. Everyone pitches in to keep things going. It's not always easy. No housekeeper, though. We tried that. Couldn't find anyone who would do the job right. I think Dad expects every woman to be like Mom was, especially when he pays them to do it."

"Well, having to pay for it, I would expect the same thing." She was bent over the cabinet as she spoke, writing down the ingredients for the cookies.

"You don't have any kids, do you?" It was spoken as if it was just an observation.

Michelle was a bit surprised at the unexpected question. "No."

"Ever been married?" Kelly was full of questions about her neighbor's personal life.

"Yes, but we divorced several years ago."

"Going to get married again?"

"Haven't given it much thought, actually." Putting the last of the instructions on the three-by-five card, she straightened, smiling at the girl. "Why all the questions?"

Kelly smiled back. "Just curiosity. Dad says when I grow up, I'll make number one journalist on a newspaper staff." Taking the recipe card, she stood. "Well, I guess I'd better get home. There's still a lot to do. Wish we had a good cook. We've been too busy all day again." With that, Kelly was out the garage door with a skip.

With a deep breath and a shrug of her shoulders, Michelle went about her evening routine. Try as she might, thoughts of the family across the street running around with just sandwiches for their evening meal again, wouldn't leave her. Maybe she should do something for them. It would be the neighborly thing. It must be hard, raising three kids on his own.

Love Thy Neighbor   by   Jan Abney   |   See Bio >
Divorced, childless, neighbors, attraction, store owner, neighborhood

Every day is the same for Michelle. Up early, a little exercise, shower, dress, a quick breakfast,
then off to her little shop where she sells handcrafted items that she and other locals make. The
same until today. Her routine would have to be interrupted by the need to welcome the new
neighbors. The large moving van parked across the street simply won't be ignored, nor the 'sold'
sign on the lawn.

Delivering cookies that evening, the routine is yet interrupted further. not only are there three
children living in the home, but a widowed father who's handsome face just won't leave Michelle's mind. She has been alone for four years now, and has always wanted a family. Here was one that needs her.

Will this be the change she needs - or wants - so badly?

BWB never takes commissions - Authors! Sign Up Now! Only $9.99
Retail: $4.99FAIR TRADE Price: $1.99

More books by

Bringing Indie Authors and Readers Together...
© Bookstore Without Borders | T 403.336.1313 | E | Powered by