This idea came to me a few months ago and today, as I took a break from my current WIP, I started playing with it. So tell me, does it grab you? Does it skate close to the icky factor?
The Kissing Tree
“If one more thing in this house breaks I’m gonna take a match to the whole damned place,” Susan muttered to herself as she tried to wriggle out from under the sink in the downstairs bathroom. The metal catch that slipped over the lever that attached the drain plug to the small handle that open and closed it had slipped off, again. It was a simple repair that took all of ten seconds, but it was the third time this week and just one of a growing list of “quirks” her ancient house seemed to have.
Buying this house in what the natives insisted on calling the historic downtown of Willow Corners had been Paul’s idea twelve years ago. It and he had gone the same way, south. The house figuratively and her ex-husband literally. “At least I know you won’t leave me for some little redhead.” She patted the counter in the bathroom. “You and I are pretty much stuck with each other.”
The attic fan did a fine job of cooling the upstairs of the house, but the downstairs was sweltering. Hoping for a breeze she grabbed a glass of lemonade and let herself out the backdoor. The old metal lawn chair squeaked when she sat in it, the “u” shaped legs bobbin the seat up and down for a moment as she settled herself. She’d just gotten herself settled and her book opened when she heard a grunt. Looking up and to the left she saw a portion of the fence between her yard and the neighbor’s suddenly develop a huge hole.
Her new neighbor was pulling planks off the old frame of the fence with a crowbar. True it was technically his fence, but wasn’t this the sort of thing you usually mentioned to the person next door? With the removal of the third board, a tanned and sweating body came into view. Large biceps bulged with the strain as he pried loose another board. Abs and laterals flexed as he twisted the wood loose and tossed it aside.
Susan was grateful for the shade of her porch and the lack of a reflective surface at that moment because she was certain she looked like a cartoon lothario whose tongue was hanging out and unrolling across the floor. My God he was gorgeous. When he’d moved in three weeks ago she’d noticed he was killer handsome. Blond hair a bit too long, a face that could have been chiseled out of stone and a pair of stunning blue eyes. Well, the truth was she hadn’t actually been close enough to see his eyes, but she knew they were blue.
“Susan, you are a dirty old woman,” she grumbled, her face infusing with heat. She forced herself to look away. She knew those eyes were blue because they had been blue when he was younger. Trey Robertson had lived in this town until his father had died and his mother had moved him to North Carolina when he was sixteen. And the last ten years had been very nice to Trey. He’d been sweet and polite. Helpful as could be to the then newly married Mrs. Hilliard who'd opened a florist's shop right next door to his father's hardware store. Susan had been head over heels for her husband and barely noticed him except for the startling steel blue eyes.
Now he was definitely all grown and all man. She did the math. He’d just gotten his license before his father had passed. So he would have been sixteen…ten years…he would be twenty-six. “Oh now that’s ridiculous,” she dismissed. “At twenty-six you thought thirty was the end of the world. What the hell would he make of a thirty-eight year old woman?”
But those pecs, that delicious golden skin, the way his face strains when he pulls on the boards. That’s the way it would look as he moved over her. His face straining with determination as he strove to please her. Damn it was suddenly very warm. She felt the circling tingle center itself and her arousal start to grow.
“Oh snap out of it, Mrs. Robinson. You are not Anne Bancroft,” she snapped at herself. She stood up quickly, too quickly. She bumped the metal table and the ceramic pitcher of flowers tipped over and clattered to the floor. The pitcher split in half and water spilled out.
“Shit,” she stomped her foot childishly and bent to pick up the broken pieces of Fiestaware. "That’s what I get for putting it out here.” The pitcher was valuable, not break the bank valuable, but she’d had to go high at the estate sale last summer to get it.
“Are you alright?” the concerned male voice jerked her head up and she smacked it hard on the underside of the table. The metal ledge dug into her scalp and scraped. Pain shot through her head and she felt the blood already beginning to ooze.
Please no, please no, be the meter reader, be someone who’s lost, be a serial killer just don’t be…
“Mrs. Hilliard? I’m sorry... you’re hurt.” He jerked the dirty work gloves from his hands and shoved them in a pocket. “Let me help, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have startled you. I heard the crash and…” His words stopped as one hand cupped her elbow and the other laid against her waist. Heat burned through her shirt to her skin from the large strong hand. He smelled gloriously of outdoors, sunshine and healthy exertion. He guided her to her feet and urged her toward her chair. “Let me see that,” his fingers parted her hair carefully, his touch gentle. “Your bleeding, let’s get you inside.”
She finally found her voice, “Thank you, T…Trey,” she fumbled over his name. “I’m fine. I’ll just…”
“It’s fine, let me help you. You won’t be able to see to clean that cut anyway.” She opened her mouth to argue but stopped when he turned a devastating smile on her. “I owe you any way.”
She had no idea what he was talking about but while he was talking he was guiding her into her house. He looked around for a moment and then gestured with his head. “Bathroom’s over there if I remember right. Do you still keep the first aide kit under the kitchen sink?”
How the hell did he know that?