Portia Bledsoe is a recent resident of the Sunshine State. She inherited a house and some money from a great-uncle she barely knows, though she has come to find out that he was very fond of her, despite family distance. She also inherited a wonderful neighbor, Carl, who looks after her with fatherly care. Portia is in the process of fixing up her home and Carl has a suggestion for a contractor to handle the job.
"This contractor have a name?"
"Wow, that's a mouthful!" I muttered it to myself once or twice, getting the feel for the name. "How did he get saddled with a name like that?"
"By being the only grandson," another voice said as the back screen door swung open. "I got a name from every branch of the family. You should see my birth certificate."
I looked up into the smiling face of my Home Improvement buddy, Wood. "So, this is your contractor, huh?" I allowed myself to giggle. "Good to see you again, Mr. Sherwood Cirocco. When you gave me that list of contractors, did you plan to just give me your number?"
"Of course." He trotted down the steps, dropping into the chair next to me. "Question is, would you have called?"
"Oh, yeah," I replied, failing to curtail my enthusiastic tone.
Sherwood grinned, winking at me. "Cool." He glanced over at his uncle. "Can I help with anything?"
"Yes, entertain my guest. I need to get the water bottle." Carl trotted up the steps, letting the screen door drop behind him.
"Subtle," Wood said, watching his uncle's retreating back. "Since he's already got one." He pointed to the clear plastic spray bottle sitting by the grill.
Another giggle escaped me. I couldn't seem to stop myself. "Yes, that's a word with which I always describe Carl. He's a great guy, so subtle."
"There are worse things to be called. Boring. Deformed. Addled. The list is endless."
"You'll be glad to know that you aren't any of those things." I blushed, dropping my head to my chest. I wanted to crawl under the picnic table and quietly hide until he left.
Wood chuckled. "Thanks. You're pretty well formed. You don't seem to be boring. Now addled. . . ."
I laughed loudly, throwing him a harsh look. "I'm not addled. I just embarrassed the hell out of myself."
"Oh?" He crossed to the back porch and pulled a couple beers from the red cooler on the steps. He popped off the tops, handing me one.
"The not deformed comment. I don't want you to think I'm staring or anything."
Wood struck a pose, foot on the step, shoulders back, chin high, like a Captain Morgan ad. "Look all you want. I'm not offended." He held the pose a moment longer before taking a manly swig of his beer. He closed his eyes, enjoying the cold liquid.
I indulged myself, staring hungrily at him, watching his adam's apple bob as he swallowed. How is it possible for someone to be sexy drinking beer? I mean, my God, it's just . . . . a long, lean, tanned throat with just enough stubble to be sexy as ever loving hell. . . . Oh, God, I need to get laid!
Wood spewed his beer, nearly toppling over from his manly pose. He stared at me, wiping the dribbling beer with the back of his hand. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, Jesus! I said that aloud?" I pulled my shirt up, ducking my head in like an ostrich. I buried my head under my arms, nearly spilling my beer over my head. "Holy shit," I muttered. "I'm so sorry."
Wood couldn't stop laughing. I don't know what was worse, the fact I said that or the fact he thought it was so amusing.
"It wasn't that funny," I muttered, swiping at my eyes. I was so embarrassed, I was crying.
"No, my turn to be sorry," he chuckled, wiping tears of his own. I need not add that his were from mirth. "I totally did that on purpose," he admitted, handing me a napkin from a stack on the table. "I'm really sorry. Been a long time since a woman looked at me that way."
"What way is that, Mr. Cirocco?"
He flashed his crooked grin. "Like she wanted to eat me—in a completely non-carnivorous and consenting adult kind of way."
"Dream on, Mr. Cirocco!"
"So, you weren't thinking that you wanted to lick me from head to foot?" He shook his head in disbelief.
"Your imagination, completely."
"Yes, I'm sure it was." He winked at me.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes