A New Neighbor
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Sheila and her daughter, Veronica, were looking over the bills, and trying to make sense of them. Veronica watched as her mother created an Excel spreadsheet. Recently divorced, this was the first month they were on their own. Mike, the ex-husband had fought the divorce proceedings, but the evidence was against him. For the last several months, they were separated, and his paycheck was still being used to pay the bills.
This month was the first where his child support and alimony was the only money they would get from him. Even though the judge had been generous, Sheila knew it wasn’t as much as when Mike was paying most of the bills.
“Okay, I think we have a solution, but it’s only temporary. We can make our payments this and the next couple of months, but we need to get more money coming in.”
“So, can I still play softball?” Veronica wavered side to side.
“I think your father said he would pay this season, but that’s it. If you can text him and confirm it with him, it’ll be easier than if I try talking to him.” Sheila said. “The first of three payments are due in the middle of next month, if you want to add that to your text.”
Vero texted her dad, and hoped for the best. When she got the response later, he acknowledged his promise and stood by it.
“I’m going to post the loft is up for rent, I think that’s the only way to get some more money into our household.”
Veronica didn’t say anything, she might be a senior in high school, but she still had a lot to learn about adulting. She simply nodded and agreed with her mom. The real decisions were made by her parents, so she just assumed they knew what was best. She hoped she could keep playing sports and not have to get a part time job. Her mother worked in a law firm, but had married young and didn’t finish college.
“Okay, I’m tired of looking at bills and budget’s. Let’s get some lunch!” Sheila announced.
“Can we get Five Guys burgers?” Veronica asked quickly.
“No baby, we need to tighten our belts moving forward. I’ll make us some sandwiches and a salad, okay?”
“Sure,” Veronica responded more than a little deflated.
Later that evening, after dinner was taken care of, Sheila typed out an ad on Facebook Marketplace and Rent.com. She described the loft, it was 720 sq ft and came with a full bathroom, kitchenette, and single large room. It was located above the garage, and had heating and AC. It could be accessed via a thin sidewalk that ran along the side of the house. She had taken some photos of the exterior to create the initial layout. She was not looking forward to cleaning up the space, but she would add pictures after it was thoroughly cleaned. She listed it at $1,550 per month with first and last month rent due as a deposit upon moving in.
Now if only she could get it rented out within the next couple months, then they would have a cushion for their finances. Suddenly, things were looking up, and Sheila felt better about their situation.
Sheila printed up a generic Renters/Lease Agreement, and began the process of interviewing possible renters. From the start, the people that interviewed almost immediately asked if the monthly rent could be lowered. Sheila kindly told them it was already just below market value, given its size and location.
There were people Sheila’s heart broke to deny them. A young mother with a newborn, and poor to boot. A ‘down on their luck’ retired school teacher was promising, but when she ran the background check, she found out why they were down on their luck. A huge debt left from gambling addiction was all she needed to know.
A few young couples applied, but Sheila wisely chose not to rent to them, sensing as young people they would try to host parties.
Finally, a young gentleman came by. Victor was attending the local Elmhurst university, and was starting his second year. He was tired of the dorms and wanted something close by, but not one of the many student filled apartments. His maturity stood out from the rest, and sold Sheila on him from the beginning. Since he didn’t want to stay in student apartments, she got the feeling he wasn’t into big parties. He seemed focused and his major of Electrical Engineering seemed like it would be challenging.
“Do you have any questions for me?” she asked, having been very satisfied with his responses.
“Is there a ‘Mister’ at home? What is your family situation, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Well, no…I’m divorced now going on eight months, give or take? I live here with my daughter, who is finishing high school as a senior. She has top grades and hopes to win an athletic scholarship.”
“For my part, I won’t be around a lot. Classes during the day, labs and studying in the library most nights. Weekends and the occasional day of light classes is when you might see me around…if you choose to rent me the loft that is.”
That sold her, besides the fact that he seemed very smart and dedicated, he was easy on the eyes and very fit almanbahis for a ‘nerdy’ major.
“And you’re okay with the monthly rent? I only ask because several potential renters all asked if I could lower the rent.”
“It’s fine. I can understand their request though, with inflation skyrocketing. But I’m okay with it. Also, I have a bank draft for $3,100 with me if you are ready to have me sign the lease/renters agreement.”
If Sheila wasn’t sold by then, this was the coffin nail that hammered it shut. She smiled and produced the Renters Agreement from a manila folder. He signed it, making sure to initial the different criteria for being a renter.
“I would like to move in this coming weekend, will that be a problem?” he asked politely.
“Not at all, that gives me time to spruce up the place a bit. Do you need help moving your stuff in?” she asked.
“That’s very kind of you, but no…I should be fine bringing my stuff in. Thank you nonetheless.” as they shook on their deal.
Before the weekend came, Sheila had Veronica help her clean up the loft. They dusted every corner and mopped the place down. There weren’t a lot of creature comforts, so Sheila dug around her basement. She found a dusty old sofa, several old utensils, and some old paintings and posters. She had Veronica beat the sofa cushions and vacuum it and get all the dust off it. She then had her daughter wash the cushion covers, and then dry them in the dryer. Once they were done, they put it all together and took it upstairs. The couch was outdated stylistically, but was fairly comfortable otherwise. The paintings and posters she had placed on opposing walls. Some paintings were natural settings, like a creek with hunting dogs in the foreground. Only one had a faux Renaissance painting of a young lady in ringlets and peasant dress. The posters were movies and rock bands from the 90’s. By offsetting them, she figured they didn’t clash as they weren’t close to each other.
When the weekend arrived, Victor knocked on the door and asked if they could move the car out of the driveway. He pulled up in a Toyota Tacoma, backing it in reverse so he didn’t have as far to carry his stuff. In quick order, he had his clothes stowed away in the closet. Then, when it came time to move his mattress and bed upstairs, Sheila and Veronica helped him. He tried to dissuade them, saying he could do it, but he accepted the help when he realized how heavy it was.
“Well, that was more work than I expected,” he huffed. His t-shirt was sweaty and clung to his body.
It was the first time the girls got a sense of his worked out body and physique. Although they didn’t say anything to each other, both mother and daughter liked what they saw.
Sheila offered them all some fresh squeezed lemonade, and no one declined. She walked out of the back door into the yard, and they sat at a small picnic table in the shade. The glasses ran with rivulets as the condensation built up.
“So how do you like your place so far?”
“Not too bad, it’s cozy. I might swap out the paintings though…” he shrugged.
Veronica smiled at that, she had told her mother they were ‘old hat’, but her mom had insisted.
“So what can you tell me about college?” Veronica ventured, “Is it as hard as they say it is?”
“Oh yes! But most seniors in high school are kicking their feet up, and relaxing. I would suggest taking a college class at a JC and getting used to the workload during your senior year. Maybe a dual enrollment course?” he said knowingly, having experienced the learning curve that was the first year of college.
“Any advice for my daughter for her senior year?” Sheila asked.
“Do all the stupid events, go to senior sunrise, senior breakfast type stuff. It’s the last time you’re going to see many of your school friends, and only a few will survive the transition to college. Also, find out if any of your teachers attended the university you want to go to. Ask them for the ‘hidden gems’ and ‘inside knowledge’ about the campus and the culture. It never hurts to have an ace in your pocket.” He smiled.
Both Veronica and Sheila smiled at that. They had gotten very comfortable with him in a short amount of time. After some more small talk, they decided to call it a night. Sheila offered Victor some dinner, but he declined, saying he had to go to the university and would pick up a bite there, on his student card. With that they retreated to their respective homes.
Ten minutes later, Victor walked out to his truck and drove off.
“He seems nice enough,” Veronica said, looking out the front window.
“He does, doesn’t he?” Sheila responded.
When Victor returned, he quietly walked up the driveway and took the external stairs to the door of the loft. There was a small balcony/deck that hung out over the garage door and he got some cool air from the breeze. He opened up the doors and windows to air out the space. As he faced down the driveway, he almanbahis yeni giriş noticed he had a good view of the master bedroom, but the curtains were pulled shut so he thought nothing of it. With that, he went inside and called it a night.
The next week, he popped into the university and got his schedule. He found each of his classrooms, and created a schedule for the semester. His busiest days were Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday were a tad bit lighter, but not by much. Since classes didn’t start for another two weeks, he checked out some novels from the library and returned home. As he walked up the driveway to his loft, he spied Veronica out on the lawn sunbathing. He tried to be quiet as he walked up the stairs, but those old boards kept creaking as he walked up.
“I’m sorry! I should have known you would be back soon,” she said as she wrapped her pullover over her bikini.
“No worries, nothing I haven’t seen before. Enjoy the last of your summer days.” he said as he stepped inside.
He opened up the sliding glass door to the deck and the windows. He also decided to keep the door open so the breeze would flow through his place. Despite that, it was still a little stuffy in the place and he thought about getting started on one of the novels he had checked out. Problem was, there was a deck chair in the yard, in a nice patch of shade…right behind a bikini-clad teenager. He wavered, then decided to simply ask. He stepped out to the landing at the top of the stairs and looked down at her.
From here, he had quite the view. Her body was fit as a fiddle, she clearly played sports. Her bottom was wedged up her crack to give her a fuller tan. Her top was untied, so her back could get full coverage. He debated whether or not to ask, when she said,
“Did you want to ask me something?” never looking up from her tanning.
“Do you mind if I read a book in that deck chair?” he asked. “I’m guessing it’s cooler down there in the shade.”
“Sure, knock yourself out,” she replied. He gladly came down the stairs and plopped down on the deck chair. Right where he had a view of her delicious backside and the thin material that covered her vulva.
He got up and spun the chair around to face the house instead. While she had a tempting figure, he wanted to make some progress on his book. He cracked open Stephen King’s “If it Bleeds” and started reading. It wasn’t long before he had turned several pages and casually noted he was on page 20. He looked up, and saw Sheila in the house. She glanced in their direction briefly, then continued with her chores. He figured he had got a good start to the book and got up to go upstairs. Reasoning that it was cooler now, he could continue reading in his loft.
When he turned towards the stairs, he saw she had flipped over so her face was turned up to the sun. Her bikini top was still untied, but the two triangles of cloth covered her breasts…just barely. She had placed the strings inside the two triangles and her rather round breasts were almost all out, there were plenty of mounds to appreciate hanging out. Her side and under boobs were visible. He quickly walked up the stairs to his loft, and tried not to think of it. After all, she was the landlady’s daughter.
He found the loft cooler, now that air had circulated enough. He plopped down on the sofa, and started reading again. Before he knew it a hour had passed as he started feeling the first stirring of hunger pangs. His 3/4 fridge was empty, and the stove was unused. He had the basics of cooking gear; pots, pans, knives, cutting board, etc. So he decided to go shopping for some groceries. The sun had gone down, and she was no longer sunbathing. He jumped in his truck, and drove to the closest grocery store, which happened to be one of those health food themed stores; Sprouts.
As he walked in, he grabbed a cart and started getting the essentials. He knew he would eat at the university the most, but wanted food for when he was home and wanted to snack, or in this case, make himself dinner. He strolled leisurely down the aisles, picking up ingredients here and there. Reaching into the refrigerator, he grabbed two frozen lasagna and two frozen chicken cacciatore.
“Imagine finding you here,” he heard over his shoulder. It was Sheila and Veronica standing behind him.
“Well, you know…empty fridge, so I had to stock it up. I was getting hungry and decided I can’t eat fast food every day.”
“Well, get your groceries, and then come over. I’m making dinner and it would be nice to have some company.” Sheila said, while Veronica gave him a look.
“Uh, sure…but I was going to make myself my own dinner,” he stammered.
Sheila pointed out the frozen dinners, and made a sad face.
“I’m sure you can eat better than that. Come over for dinner, you know you’ll love my home cooked meal.”
“Okay, I guess I’m coming over for dinner then.” He gave up.
Sheila and Veronica almanbahis giriş left and rang up their groceries. He had arrived later than them, and was still shopping. He put back the frozen dinners and went and bought fixings for lasagna instead. Turns out it was cheaper than the frozen dinners.
When he pulled up, he took his groceries upstairs and filled his 3/4 fridge. Once he had put away the dry goods, he wandered down stairs and knocked on the back door. Veronica answered and let him in. She was wearing jean cutoffs, and a small shirt. He had visions of her in her bathing suit flash across his memory, but she didn’t seem to notice nor did she act strange. Taking advantage of leaving the grocery store after the mom/daughter pair, he had bought a bottle of wine. He pulled it out and presented it like a waiter at a fancy restaurant.
“Veronica, hand me that bottle, honey. Looks like our guest has style and a sophisticated palate.”
Sheila finished the last of the dinner, and lightly opened up the bottle. She looked at a cabinet, and Veronica read her mind. She pulled out three wine glasses from the cabinet. In no time, they were filled up, just as she pulled out plates.
“Victor, be a dear and serve yourself. Veronica, you too. Let’s eat at the table, since our gentleman caller was smart enough to bring wine.”
They ate dinner and drank, as luck would have it, Sheila had cooked up Italian and it paired perfectly with the wine. The conversation slowly took off, but once it was in full swing, the three of them were sharing freely and laughing at the occasional joke. Victor found out that Veronica was starting school next week, he didn’t start till a week later. He also found out her birthday was in November, in the first week. She would be 18 most of her senior year.
As Sheila drank most of the wine, youngsters didn’t have the taste for good wine, she became more loose-lipped. Some tidbits dropped here and there, comments about her divorce, and other more lewd innuendos. Victor really appreciated the candid night of talking and dinner, the wine playing a big part in their humorous night. When he felt it was time, he mentioned he shouldn’t overstay his welcome, and he should head out.
“Party pooper!” Sheila slightly slurred. “Just when the conversation was getting interesting too.”
They parted ways and Victor walked the short distance to his loft. He had a good feeling about the family he was staying with. That’s when he put two and two together. Sheila had been making more and more innuendos when he had said he was leaving. That’s what she considered the conversation getting interesting? He made a mental note to buy her more wine in the future.
Once school started they rarely saw each other. True to his word, Victor stayed on campus a lot, staying at the library to study and keep up with his massive reading assignments. The odd night he was home in the evening, the two women were in their work-week cycle of making dinner and studying/doing homework for Vero. Sheila was up to her nose at work, and had put in for a promotion, hoping she could get a raise out of it.
Veronica had sports after school, so her afternoon and evenings were spent making sure her grades were up to snuff. No university would give her an athletic scholarship if her grades were in the dog house. So, once fall semester began, the lazy days of summer vanished and it was back to the grind.
Eventually, they settled into their routines, Veronica getting a handle on her work/sports load, same as Victor. Victor started taking advantage of his tuition fees by working out at the student athletic center on those lighter Tuesday/Thursdays. Sheila did get that promotion after a month of showing her dedication, and it did in fact come with a pay increase. She found the new position more to her liking and soon had it nailed down.
It was late September when Victor got home and found a note on his door. He was invited to eat with his neighbors this coming weekend. He made a mental note and decided he would buy two bottles of the wine Sheila had enjoyed. As the week passed, he was looking forward to her home cooked food more and more. He also hoped to have more of a conversation with Veronica, the very good looking daughter. As he came home Friday from school, he made sure he got those bottles of wine. He was sitting on the deck, reading and finishing his novel, when he saw a truck pull up in front of the driveway. Not wanting to pry, he couldn’t help notice a man walk up to the front door. A few minutes later, Veronica was walking back to the truck with him, and had an overnight bag over her shoulder. Victor figured that must be Sheila’s ex-husband and Veronica’s dad.
“Do you still want me to pop in for dinner tonight?” Victor asked Sheila. She was in the yard doing some reading.
“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” she said looking up.
“I thought since I saw Veronica leaving with her dad, that maybe your plans had changed.”
“Oh, you saw that. I forgot he had her for this weekend, an early birthday weekend with him. I might have invited you thinking Vero would be with us, but I’m not going to renege on my offer. Please come over at 6pm.” she smiled up at him.
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