Hello Neighbor—Merry Christmas!

Hello Neighbor
By Helen Starbuck
© 2017 all rights reserved

You’re kinda, sort of, basically, pretty much always on my mind—talksandlyrics.tumblr.com

She moved into the other side of the duplex he’d rented for about a year during the summer and he was intrigued. She wasn’t his usual type, although he had to admit, it was a rare woman who wasn’t. The women he was normally attracted to though had flash, were pretty overtly hot, and never lasted long. He was happy with that. The last thing he wanted or needed was a long-term girlfriend—just too complicated in his mind. Much to the consternation of his family, who thought he ought to be married by now, and a lot of the women he bedded, he ran through a fair number of women on a regular basis. None of them lasted more than a couple of weeks.
But Angel found himself thinking about her at odd times; embarrassingly just the other night he had slipped and called the woman he was with Annie. Needless to say the date was over rather quickly and without a booty call. Her name was Annie Collins he’d found out when he stopped over to say hi after she had moved in. She was single, taller at five foot seven than a lot of women he knew, slender, and had beautiful brown hair with red highlights brought out by the sun. He felt sure the color and the soft wave was natural and not the result of some hair stylist’s skill. Her eyes were brown and she wore little makeup, some mascara and faint traces of eye shadow, but he thought her pretty. He smiled at the thought that she would look just as pretty after spending the night as she normally did—no smeared makeup, no wonky false eyelashes, no early morning pillow surprises from that one.
During their introduction, she told him she was a nurse in the OR. He guessed that explained the short unpolished nails she sported, which was more charming than he’d expected. Most of the women he dated wore long nails that they fussed over and kept polished. A few had used their nails on him in the throws of passion.
He’d never dated a nurse, had always thought of them as rather plain unappealing women, although he didn’t really know any. Clearly that was not true here.  He was intrigued that she worked in the OR, it had always struck him as an intimidating place. He remembered getting his tonsils out when he was about ten and how weird and frightening a place the OR had seemed to him. She must have balls to work there, he thought, and be smart.
She was more direct than any woman he had ever met. There was no coquetry, no subterfuge, no come-ons or hints of interest in him at all, which sort of surprised him. He wasn’t used to that. Angel Cisneros had gotten quite accustomed to sweeping women off their feet by looks alone and then sealing the deal with charm. His black, slightly curled hair, full almost pouting lower lip, and dark chocolate eyes always appealed. He was lean, well toned, and taller than most Hispanic men at five foot eleven. He wouldn’t have described himself this way, but it had pleased him when he overheard a woman at the DA’s office where he was an ADA tell another woman he looked like a fallen angel.
He wondered if it wasn’t her apparent lack of interest in him that had intrigued him and kept him thinking about her.  It was such a cliché—you always want what you can’t have—that it was embarrassing. He was pretty sure if he persisted he could get her interested. Okay, he wasn’t altogether sure, but he hoped persistence would pay off.
She’d been moved in about a month when he caught her out in the back yard on her side of the fence working the ground for a small garden and leaned over the fence to chat.
“That looks like hard work chica. You into gardening?” He wasn’t sure why he’d called her chica, it had sort of popped into his head. It surprised him as he took pains to keep his Latino roots carefully cloaked. It was no secret he was Latino, his bilingual skills were highly valued at work, but it never hurt to fit in with the Anglo office he worked in. And Spanish was just too personal for him to share with the women he dated.
She looked up and smiled. “Yeah, I like to garden. What’s chica mean?”
“Spanish for girl.”
“I’m hardly a girl.”
“You look like one to me,” he said with a grin on his face. The grin usually caught a woman’s eye. It always looked just a bit too ‘bad boy’ to resist. She however, nodded and resumed planting the shovel in the sod prying it up and tossing it in a growing pile near where she was working. Flyaway strands of her hair were curling around her face in the heat and he could see the sheen of sweat on her brow; her cheeks were flushed. He found himself fantasizing about seeing her naked, sheened in sweat, and flushed after he’d made love to her.
“What are you going to plant?” He said pulling himself out of that fantasy before he embarrassed himself. He really didn’t care what she was going to plant, his father had always had a garden and the produce was good, but as far as Angel could see, it was just too much work. Still if she liked it, maybe this was one way to get her attention.
“Well it’s a little late for tomatoes, I’d plant them but probably wouldn’t get any tomatoes before the frost hits. So it’s wasted effort this season. But I’m going to plant strawberries; they’re perennials, and some herbs and beets and spinach. I’m happy to share the harvest, I usually plant way more than I can use.”
“Yeah, sure, I’ll take some. Maybe when the strawberries arrive you could come over and bring the strawberries and I’ll provide the champagne.”
She looked up, gave him a disconcertingly appraising look, and smiled. “I’ll give you some strawberries and you can share them and the champagne with some of your girlfriends.”
He was quick not to let the annoyance show, lines like that usually worked wonders. “You’re not into strawberries and champagne?”
“I like both, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to get too involved with a next door neighbor. I like it here. I don’t want to have to move. You’re quite the player Mr. Cisneros and I’m not. How about we just stay friends and keep it simple?”
Jesus, talk about cutting a guy off at the knees. Saving face he said, “Well you never know, a player can be fun too.”
She laughed good-naturedly. “When I want a quick bounce I’ll let you know. It probably would be fun, in the short-term.”

He gave her another smile, one that usually had women melting, and turned back to his side of the duplex. Her loss, he thought defensively and knew he was the one who’d lost this round. It made getting her out of his head just that much harder.


  1. Loved the flirtatious dance between cool, smooth, Annie and sensual hot-to-trot Angel. You had me at Hello Neighbor!


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