By Allyson Scott
Disclaimer: This crack-headed plot and all of its surrounding characters have come from my own mind so I'll just warn you now that silliness, stupidity and the occasional need for vengeance abound here. Oh yeah, there's also a curse or two and some lascivious behavior. Unfortunately, these two ladies are a bit private and didn't really want to show their wares so there's no sexin' this time around; however, I may be able to change their minds at a later date. We shall see...
Feedback: Is fun and always appreciated so please direct all comments, concerns and anything else to WarpedScribe@yahoo.com
Dedication: This one is dedicated to Mandie who allowed me to pester her through four severely unfinished versions, two slightly devastating MS Word crashes and a random disappearing virus. She remains to this day the best "Skimmer" I've ever had.
This story was done as part of Mavis' B-Day Challenge. All of that said...sit back and enjoy.
My father always said that I should think before I act. Then again...he also told me to give as good as I got. I'd like to think that's exactly what I did. Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard when I nailed those doors shut from the outside, but really...how was I supposed to know the house was going to catch on fire?
Um...that sounds a lot worse than it really was. Well aside from the obvious. Perhaps I should go back and explain. You see it all started with the paperboy...
Five Years Earlier...
I dart through the house looking for my wallet, "Coming!" No one need tell me who it was incessantly ringing my doorbell, Robbie was on time as usual. Finally locating my wallet in yesterday's pants, I rush down to the door. Standing there with his usual skulk firmly in place is the ten-year-old menace who delivers my daily newspaper.
"Good morning, Robbie," I smile trying to keep some semblance of the niceties. Truth is, this kid has watched Better Off Dead way too many times and I'm not giving him an excuse to chase me all over town looking for two dollars…well ten in this case.
He's scowling back at me as he takes the money I'm holding out to him. As he slowly counts it out, his demonic little face falls with the realization that he can't get his little paperboy friends together to roughhouse me over money. You're not getting me as your John Cusack replacement kid...this ain't the 80's. I thought cheekily to myself.
Mission accomplished, I close the door and head out to the back deck for my usual morning ritual. I'm a bit of an odd duck so right off I'll tell you that it isn't anything as mundane as having coffee while doing a crossword or even t'ai chi forms. Nope none of that was quite for me when I moved to this little suburb. Instead, I people watch. Yep, that's right...I'm one of those people watchers. I'm also a writer so it kinda comes in handy with the job and all.
On this fine Monday morning I notice Joan's already in her garden. It really should be a crime for her to be dressed like that...forty-five year old housewives shouldn't look that good. "Good morning, Joan, how's the crops?" I smile over at her. Every morning we engage in playful banter that always starts when I ask her about her crops. Truthfully she doesn't have much, just some tomato plants, cucumbers and oddly enough cabbage.
"Just fine Torrence," she smiles settling her hazel eyes on me. "Are you ready for a sampler?"
"Depends on what I'm sampling," I banter back.
"Aye, you're a feisty one today."
I laugh before giving her my patented toothy grin, "Joan, I'm always feisty…the day really doesn't make much of a difference."
She nods in agreement and bends over, my eyes following as she continues to tease me with her daily gratuitous cleavage shot, "How's the new book working out?"
I pull my eyes back up to meet hers all the while shooting her a wicked grin. "Just fine, although I'd like a bit more inspiration."
Joan stands up her eyes shifting away from me towards the house next door, "What's the matter T...Queen B over there not giving you enough?"
I turn around slowly to face the quaint little "Spanish" villa next door and growl a little. Quinne Peterson, or "Queen B" as Joan likes to call her, is not just my neighbor but my neighborhood nemesis as well. She's been a holy terror since she moved in six weeks ago and lately I've taken to eviscerating her in fiction.
"Joan, I told you I write happy things, not revenge stories." As I'm touting my innocence, Queen B comes roaring out of her backdoor. Pity she's so damn hot, actually all of the women in this neighborhood are…myself included.
I pleasantly chime out, "Yes, Miss Peterson?" while putting on my most charming smile. Just because she's the neighbor from hell doesn't mean I won't at least try to act nice.
She stalks over to the fence separating our yards giving me the evil eye the whole way, "I just know you sent that paperboy over to terrorize me this morning."
Damn, I never even thought of that. She's fuming at me and I decide I need to at least defend myself from her accusation even if I wish I'd actually done it. "I didn't do anything; that's just how Robbie is." Apparently she hasn't learned to pay for her newspaper on time yet.
"You can deny it all you want, but I know you sent him!"
She's practically clawing at the gate to get to me so I figure Robbie must've gotten her pretty good this morning. Just when it seems she's about to vault the fence in her effort to strangle me, Joan is at my side attempting to calm the little fireball down, "Quinne, Robbie really is like that. Around here you learn pretty early to pay him on time, otherwise he gets a bit...crazy."
Queen B seems to settle down a bit at that although sparks are still flying at me from her stormy gray eyes. The least she can do is apologize for her accusation but of course she doesn't. Joan and I stand there watching as she suddenly turns stomping off back to her house in a huff.
"I am so glad your house is between hers and ours."
I scowl at my friend, "Gee thanks, Joan, rub it in why don't you?" I'm not really offended; it's just my luck to live right next door to the devil herself.
"Sure!" She chirps and retreats back into her own yard before I can decide whether or not to chase her. Giving it up as a lost cause, I go back to my porch and settle down with my giant yellow legal pad to do some work.
Two hours later, I'm on my roof patching a hole I discovered after last week's storm. All is going pretty well until I look over into Queen B's yard and notice her lying next to the pool...naked. Of course that's when the hammer slips and nails me right on the thumb.
I'm cursing up a blue streak and sucking on it when I look back over at her yard and see her laughing at me. Of course she's still naked, a fact I'm pretty sure she's completely forgotten until I give her an unmistakable leer that sends her bolting back into the house.
As I'm coming down she rushes the gate again, this time abundantly clothed. I can't tell if her face is red from anger, embarrassment or both. With no one there to stop her she vaults the fence coming to rest right in front of me and my painfully throbbing finger. "Do you enjoy violating other people's privacy, Clark?"
She always calls me "Clark" or "Torrence Clark" never just plain old "Torrence" I wonder what it would take to change that... Ideas of naked swim parties dance around in my head until I'm thrown out of my thoughts by the hand on my shoulder that's wildly shaking me.
"What the hell is your problem?!"
Looking down into her eyes, I growl out, "You apparently...what's your excuse?" I'm silently cheering myself as the Queen B's mouth stretches wide open in shock...guess she didn't expect that reply.
"What?! You... you were peeping on me!"
"I wasn't doing a damn thing!" Okay so maybe it wasn't exactly the truth, but she didn't know that, "I was sitting up there fixing my roof and slammed a hammer on my thumb."
She steps back taking her warm hand off my shoulder, "Then why did you look over at me in my yard."
By this point I'm already more than exasperated with her attitude already, "You were very loudly laughing at me, pretty hard to miss that. How was I supposed to know you were naked?"
"Yeah, right like I believe that," she scoffed.
I found myself getting really tired of the situation. I was hot and sweaty all over. My thumb was throbbing and had started swelling, and she had the audacity to hop my fence and accuse me of violating her privacy. About now I'm thinking I was starting to suffer from heat stroke…perhaps that explains what I said next, "Get out now, before I call the cops and have you arrested for trespassing."
Her mouth opened and closed repeatedly like a fish out of water. Nothing came out for once, and she stomped off though the gate to her back door slamming it as she went through. I started heading back to the house to tend my wounds only to stop and stare at the sky asking God one simple question, "What did I ever do to deserve this?"
My thumb wasn't seriously hurt, but it hampered me. That kind of sucked actually since I'm hosting my brother Cory's bachelor party tonight and had to get everything set up practically one handed. It got much better after Steve, Cory's best friend, showed up to help out.
For some odd reason, Cory wanted a full-blown party tonight…even though his wedding isn't until next Saturday. I think he was hoping for a Tom Hanks-esque Bachelor Party thing. Not in my house, Scuppy. I don't think he quite believed me when I told him it wasn't going to happen. Either way, my house is going to be jam packed with people, a real live band and a ton of alcohol. If my house makes it out of this in one piece, I'll be quite happy tomorrow.
The party was in full swing and all of the guests were having a good time…especially the guest of honor. Somehow I don't think his fiancée would like him dancing half naked on the table like that. Everyone else seemed much more calm, the liquor was flowing, the band actually rocked and things were relatively quiet for a bachelor party...that is, until Queen B came home.
Because we were one of those "happy community" type neighborhoods, I sent out a huge ass notice to everyone that I was having this party before I had even started planning the shindig...hell I even invited them to come. Interestingly enough, a lot of them actually did.
I won't even mention what Joan was wearing when she decided to sidle over to my yard and grind against me to that Enrique song during one of the band's radio breaks. Um...yeah, that's really not pertinent to the details of this little tale. So why don't we just get back to the point... Everyone agreed and I planned out this party. So could somebody please tell me why the little dynamo was making a beeline straight for me with the wrath of hell on her face?
"Something I can do for you, Miss Peterson?" I'd had a few Triple Blacks and was feeling more than a bit comfortable but remained alert enough to fend her off if necessary.
"You can stop this racket and send these people home! I don't appreciate coming home to a full blown orgy going on next door."
I turned around looking back at the party. My brother was drunk, topless and quietly dancing on a table...other than that, there were a few couples dancing pretty normally and the main bulk of people were just sitting around chatting and drinking. "What the hell are you talking about?!"
She scowled at me apparently angry that I wasn't going to disband the party. "I'm talking about your inconsiderate behavior by having this party!"
"Inconsiderate..." I focused on her in outrage, "I sent out a damn memo a month ago. How much more considerate could I be?!"
She stepped back at my outburst looking a little bit frightened. I'm sure the combination of alcohol and my sudden anger had me looking pretty scary...friggin' gorgeous...but scary all the same. "If you don't stop it, I'll call the cops and they will!"
I looked on in disbelief as Queen B stomped her feet like a two year old before turning on her heel and practically running back to her house. Damn, Quinne Peterson is one cranky bitch. I thought before turning back to the bar in search of another drink.
Three Smirnoffs, two very steamy dances with Joan and a rant later, the police were at my front door telling us to break up the party that they could just barely hear from the street. Cory didn't take too kindly to that, but Steve managed to hold him back and get his shirt on before he did something really stupid like assaulting a cop.
As everyone calmly left and the police thanked us for our cooperation, I noticed Queen B sitting out on her back stoop watching everything with a smug grin. Actually John, Cory and Steve noticed it too. Perhaps that's how the whole thing got started...
Since he hadn't stayed the full night, the bartender left us with quite a few bottles. We each grabbed one, deciding to sit down on the patio where we all plotted a very gruesome death for Quinne Peterson.
Now this next part is a little fuzzy... You see, we'd been outside drinking for a while and I had been bitching about Queen B having made herself a nuisance all day long. Cory, or maybe it was John...I'm not quite sure which, said that we should teach her a lesson. Even Steve, who normally shows good judgment, agreed so we all put our soused little heads together and started making a plan.
Since problems arose just about every time she came out of her house, we decided to make it so that she couldn't. John went down to the shed and found a nice big piece of plywood, which he and Steve took to the backdoor along with my hammer, and Cory and I found several thick boards to put up across the front with my nail gun.
It wasn't long before we had quietly finished our job, well as quietly as four supremely drunk people possibly could. We were trudging back to the fence patting each other on the back for mischief well done when I noticed an acrid smell in the air. "Anyone smell that?"
John sniffed the air, "Eh...it's probably just someone throwing some steaks on a grill somewhere."
"It's after midnight, putz...no one is grilling around here." Perturbed I continued sniffing as we hopped the fence over into my yard. As I was pulling my other leg over the top I happened to glance up at my neighbor's second floor and stopped cold. "Oh...My...God."
Two of the side windows were lit with an orangy red glow and smoke was pouring out of the opened bottom of a third. "Guys, wait come here!" I yelled. I whipped around to stop them only to catch my pants on the picket fence. "Dammit! Guys, you gotta come here." My voice broke in near panic, "Her house is on fire!"
John stopped carousing and came over to see what was going on. "What'd you say? Her..." he stopped as his eyes focused on where my finger was now pointing, "Oh shit...Cory call the fire department!" He looked back over his shoulder to see Cory passed out at the table, "Steven! Call 911!"
I watched him run around to find a phone while John continued to watch the upstairs windows in panic. My leg was still sticking up and starting to feel rather uncomfortable since I had yet to get myself off of the fence, "John a little help here would be nice!" I growled out. He came over and tugged me off, both of us watching as the side of the building started to burn.
I suddenly realized that Queen B could be inside and unable to get out because we blocked her damn doors, "John!" He looked at me as if he had also just remembered.
"I'll get the hammer."
John ran off into the house and I hopped the fence again. The smoke seemed to be spreading through the upstairs quickly, and I knew if we didn't get the boards off or the fire department didn't come soon, she would die in that house.
Rushing to the back door, I started clawing at the plywood trying to pry it from the portal. The boys nailed it in good and it wasn't budging. I heard banging around the front of the house and assumed John had gotten Steve and they were working on the front door.
It felt like everything was taking forever. I cased the house looking for another door we might have missed, but there wasn't another door. By now, the front door was only half uncovered and smoke was pouring out of the upstairs.
Grabbing one of the 2x4s from the front, I ran to one of the back windows and smashed it. I quickly jumped in head first as a light tracing of smoke came out of the open window. Damn it, why didn't I put something over my mouth and nose first!
I stayed down feeling around the floor for a possible body. There was nothing so I raced to the front door to check there too. Once again I found nothing, which could only mean one thing...she was still upstairs.
Quickly ripping the lower half of my shirt, I rushed to the kitchen wetting it in the sink before tying it around my face. I walked around to the stairs mindful of the heat and smoke that were getting stronger the higher I went up.
Peeking over the top of the stairs, I saw that the hallway was clear of fire and crawled into it. Choking black smoke belched from the room at the far end and I instantly started coughing. I checked the knob of the first door to my right and found it cool so I entered. It was an office and I didn't see her inside, so I quickly shut the door and tried the next one.
Three rooms later, I still hadn't found her and I was running out of doors. I could hear sirens in the distance and knew that the fire department was somewhere close by, but in all reality, the smoke was pretty bad and she could die very soon or be dead already. Realizing that I was probably the only chance Quinne had, I sped up my search.
Finally in the next to last door, I found her. She was curled up in a fetal position on her bed looking as if nothing was amiss. Come on Queen B...time to get you out of here. I jumped up running to the bed. She was sweating and her breathing was labored but she was still alive...I counted myself very lucky.
Pulling her into my arms, I ran towards the bedroom door. As I walked out, something made me look to my left. The door was bubbling out of its frame and glowing red as smoke poured out around the seams. Hearing a loud pop, I jumped back into her bedroom closing the door just as a searing ball of heat and flame roared down the hallway.
"Queen B, you better thank me for this when we get out of here," I choked out to the inanimate woman in my arms. Shifting her into a fireman's carry, I checked the door handle. It was very warm but not hot so I pulled back on it cracking the door open. The hallway was now on fire but remained passable. Realizing it was possibly our last chance to escape the house, I readjusted her weight on my shoulder and ran for all I was worth.
To make a long story short, we made it out just as the fire department was on their way in. She got shipped off to the hospital, well, we both did. I got recognized in the community for my "heroic act" of stupidity and the mayor gave me a medal. You're probably wondering how this happened since we'd blocked her in the damn house to begin with... Apparently John and Steve got all the doors uncovered before anyone got to the house so no one ever knew what we did. Well that is, until now...
"You did what?!"
The shrill voice piercing the air didn't sound happy at all, and after the last five years or so, I should know enough to expect it if I'm going to tell a story this damning. Especially when it's my story conveniently set down in the first draft of my latest book, which I finally relented to let my darling wife read. "Did you say something dear?" Perhaps playing dumb would keep me out of the doghouse.
"You know damn well I did, Clark!"
Nope, didn't work...time to try a new tactic. "Did you know I was supremely drunk that night? That life saving thing was quite a feat considering..." I instantly shut up sinking down into my chair when I saw the steely-eyed glare being shot my way. Perhaps mentioning the whole "drunk thing" wasn't such a good idea... As the silence continued I started thinking that allowing her to read my new book wasn't exact the smartest thing either.
My eyes were drawn to her as she slowly stalked across the living room eyeing me like a predator following its prey. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't draw some sort of parallel between your "fictionalized" account and the night you saved my life?"
Oh shit...I'm in for it now. I quickly decided to not do anything. Nope, I wasn't talking, thinking, looking or breathing... Well, maybe I'd forgo that last one; she'd probably be even more pissed with me if I passed out from a lack of oxygen.
"Quinne, I..." I tried to at least explain myself but her death glare made me start panicking and pretty soon I was hyperventilating...or at least pretending to be hyperventilating.
Quinne ran to the kitchen and came back with my favorite paper bag. "Here Torrence, use this." She knelt down in front of me, the anger in her eyes melted into concern for my person. Works every time. I took a few breaths in the bag just to add some realism to my spontaneously planned diversion.
I know what you're thinking... "How could I deceive this poor woman like this?" Well the truth of the matter folks is that I've been living with her for five years now; I had to develop some sort of trick or she'd still be mad at me for some youthful stupidity or other.
"Are you okay honey?" She was still looking up at me rather worried.
Okay, so maybe I was starting to feel the slightest twinge of guilt for worrying her. "I'm fine Quinne." When she looked at me rather dubiously, I knew that my little ploy had gotten maybe the teensiest bit carried away, "Really I am."
She got up from the floor and straddled my lap, the front of her body resting comfortably against me. It was something we'd been doing for years that secretly made me chuckle considering our mutual dislike in the beginning.
She sighed in warm contentment as her head lay against my shoulder, "I'm not really mad you know."
"I know." I've learned that sometimes it's best to just agree with her. Especially when I know she's wrong or isn't quite telling the truth about letting me off the hook.
"Even if you did trap me in my house during a potentially fatal event..."
Uh oh...I knew it was coming. "Um, I... Uh... I still rushed into a burning house to save you!" That's my only successful defense against her and I still cling to it for all I'm worth.
Quinne shifts in my lap wrapping her arms around my neck. "No matter what the circumstances are, you're still my hero, Torrence. Besides, I've already got way too much time invested in this to start divorce proceedings."
Releasing the breath I didn't know I was holding, I bring my arms up wrapping them tightly around the woman I had hated, saved and eventually grown to love. "I'm really glad of that, Quinne." I smile sweetly at her as she beams back at me, "I'd really hate to have to find a new source of inspiration."
My whole body jumps as a result of the pinch two tiny hands have just put on the back of my neck. "I'm kidding! I'm kidding!" I yell out as Quinne gleefully eyes my discomfort.
"I thought so."
As Quinne loosens her grip around my neck, I relax into her sighing contentedly.
"Hmm?" I mumble from my currently happy place.
"In your book...why didn't you write about how we actually got together?"
"Huh?" I decide to play dumb just to tweak her a little bit.
"You know...the part when you finally succumbed to my superiority."
Eh...two could play this game, "Oh, you mean when you finally realized I was God's gift to women?" The sudden feel of a well placed elbow in my stomach quickly made me rethink that statement, "I mean, when I finally realized how wonderful you are and just had to make you mine?"
Quinne turned her not quite innocent smile up at me simultaneously batting her eyelashes, "Yes, that's it exactly dear."
"Oh. Well my publisher said I needed to start leaving the public wanting for more...so I did."
"It'll be in the sequel...which I start work on tomorrow."
Before she could get another word out, I swooped down suddenly covering her lips with mine in a hair-raising kiss. It was another one of those necessary distraction tactics I'd developed over the years and I liked it way better than the other ones.
Her body melted into mine and I could feel the quickened pulse of her heartbeat as she released a deep moan further inflaming the already incendiary kiss between us. I surged up out of the chair, my arms tightening around her as I began moving toward our bedroom.
As if she'd suddenly realized where we were going, Quinne broke the kiss leaving both of us stunned and breathing heavily. "But..." she paused as I zeroed in on her neck, "What about your story? Don't you... Oh God, Torrence." I smirked into her skin as I slowly tongued one of her more sensitive spots, "Don't you...have to finish it?"
The way her legs were clenched around my waist, not to mention the little rocking motion her hips persisted in doing, didn't lead me to believe that she wanted to stop this anymore than I did. The fact that she'd also started toying with my ears didn't help. God, she knows how that drives me crazy. I quickly began weighing the pros and cons of making it all the way to our bedroom versus taking her in the hallway.
Just as I was deciding I could probably get her into our big comfy king sized bed before things went any further she pulled my face to hers in a searing lip lock I felt all the way down to my toes.
Dropping to one knee I broke the kiss, quickly easing Quinne down to the floor. Before she could ask what I was doing, my legs were already nestled on either side of her body and my lips firmly attached to her pulse point.
"What about your story?" She groaned out as I started moving further down her body.
I looked up briefly catching her eyes as they teased me with that "come hither" look I love so much. "Tomorrow," I gasped out as her warm hands slid up my sides taking my shirt with them.
"Are you sure? I can't have you disappointing your readers now," she smirked up at me.
"Oh yeah...I'm sure." I meant it too. I most definitely believed Scarlett O'Hara had it right... Tomorrow really was after all, another day, and if I have any say in the matter, I'll get to spend most of it with this beautiful willing woman under me, over me and in just about every position under the sun. I'd have to be crazy to stop and write about the experience of loving her when I can just do it all right now. The rest of this whole novel thing can most certainly wait until tomorrow...perhaps even the day after. I groan as Quinne slowly starts flicking her tongue back and forth across my hyper sensitive nipple further inflaming my passion. Oh yeah, tomorrow was looking better every minute...
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