Lady Hideaway Ch. 01byBlulady©
This story is not like my other work, this chapter is basically character introduction, mostly because these characters you can’t just throw into bed together. Anyways, this isn’t a quick fix kind of thing; I’m going for something with a little more depth. (Even if this was inspired by the hot roofer that’s been working on my building all week.) Feedback and constructive criticism is always appreciated, thanks
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Conner Desway looked at the thermometer he kept hung on the rear view mirror of his old Chevy work truck. One hundred and nine degrees. Well, at least it wasn't as hot as last week, when the air conditioner in his vehicle had stopped working. He had been meaning to get it fixed, but lately he had no time for it, and if he did, he just didn't feel like it.
In the small Arizona community Conner was the well known 'Mr. Fix it.' He owned the local pool service business. At twenty-eight years old, it had been his life for the past nine years, after he had happened to stumble across the idea of opening his own business rather than going to college with everyone else. He had thought that high school had been school enough, and even without further education he had discovered he had quite the head for business, at least his business. It was quite successful, considering that just about every house in the neighborhood had a pool. It had started in his parent's garage, and nine years later he had his own small shop and four guys working for him. Of course, Conner was still working with the rest of them, however, not always servicing swimming pools and spas.
He had established a good reputation with many locals in the area, and soon after he had started his business he was also being called to do odd jobs, painting, yard work, and sometimes a few old women would even call him over to change out their old light bulbs. Conner never sent a bill for most of the smaller jobs, unless he detested the person he was working for, which was a rarity; he was well liked and often liked others. He was an outgoing man, although some of the gossipers would think he was too outgoing, considering a good portion of his business came from lonely housewives who saw him as a good looking man with a friendly smile and as the object of their fantasies. He was somewhat popular in his looks, he was tall, handsome, short dark hair and even darker eyes, and when he smiled it was very difficult to say no to him; not that Conner ever took advantage of his gifts.
He had been wanting a vacation for a long while now, not that he didn't like his work, he was simply craving some quiet time. Even as he stepped out of his truck with the paper bag full of groceries the women down the block were flaunting themselves from their yards, giving him small waves and calling out his name. He in turn, gave them his usual charming smile, that often could look sly or sexy even, and then preceded to walk towards the two-story house of the lot he had parked in front of.
This house was not Conner's. In fact, he had never even been here before. He had passed by it several times, it looked like every other brick house in the neighborhood, except the lawn was overgrown and the curtains were always drawn shut. He had heard rumors about a crazy cat woman who lived here, so he was somewhat relieved when there was no potent smell of cat flooding his nostrils.
The only reason he was here now was because his dentist had asked him an odd favor during his last cleaning. Apparently, the woman who lived here was unable to leave her home, and the dentist, Dr. Formike had been helping her out. The doctor would tend to her lawn once a month, not enough, Conner thought, even in this dry heat.
The doctor had also been doing the woman's grocery shopping for some time now, but apparently Conner's dentist was going to be getting a vacation before Conner, because during their conversation Dr. Formike had somehow managed to talk Conner into taking over the job while he was away in Barbados. The bastard. Anyways, it had been difficult for Conner to say no to the job, especially with the latex covered fingers in his mouth. Besides, there could be a possibility with these chores he had agreed to. The dentist was paying him, and apparently the woman Conner was catering to needed her house painted, so he felt less foolish after purchasing a bag of mixed fruit and vegetables, along with a lady shaver and tampons at the local market, knowing he was doing this for a potential job.
He had imagined the woman to be old and senile, especially after the rumors about the cats, but she couldn't be to old, he decided, if she required tampons and other items he had been somewhat uncomfortable about buying. And she seemed to be a healthy eater, no meat he noticed, except fish, but to Conner fish wasn't meat. Conner had added a carton of chocolate ice cream to the list on his own. Everyone needed ice cream; Conner didn't care who they were.
He came to the door and fished the key the dentist had given him from his pocket, but he knocked first, not wanting to take anyone by surprise. After an appropriate amount of waiting he slid the key into the door and opened it easily, taking a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness when he stepped in.
"Hello? Ms. Aarons?" He called; remembering the name the dentist had given him.
He nearly tripped over the stand in the dark entryway; catching the falling vase before it broke on the floor, and deciding no one was there, he searched out the kitchen as he had been instructed to do. He found it fairly easily, the house was very simple. He couldn't see much of the furniture, but the air smelled like flowers, and it was quite cool. When he found the kitchen he was able to flick on a light, revealing a kitchen that was too clean to be used, the walls a grayish color that matched the table and chairs. It seemed sanitary yet gloomy, and he could see why someone might want it repainted.
Conner felt somewhat anomalous opening someone else's refrigerator. The dentist had suggested Ms. Aarons was unable to leave her home, yet she wasn't there. Oh well, maybe she had a doctor's appointment or something.
He reached into the bag to put away the groceries, but when the first thing that he picked up was the box of tampons, he hastily dropped it back into the bag and shoved the entire bag into the refrigerator, of course after removing the ice cream and placing it in the freezer. It wasn't that Conner was a prude, but his father and older brothers had instilled their family's male pride into him while growing up, and he had never in his life purchased woman's products at the store, not even when he had been married.
He shook his keys at his side as he made his way back through the house, opening the door and squinting against the sun, ready to get out of the unfamiliar house. He felt something shift above his work boot as he stepped outside and when he saw it was an envelope, 'Mr. Desway' written on it, he picked it up and placed it in his shirt pocket. It must have fallen from the stand when he had run into it.
He closed the door and used the key to lock it. He had just started to walk towards his truck when a sound caught his ear and he looked back. The sound came from the other side of the door as someone secured at least three deadbolts, and then a chain. Conner was curious. Part of him wanted to go back and knock again, see who was on the other side of the door, but he was on a schedule, he still had pools to service for the day, and Conner was never one to let down his customers.
That night Conner was exhausted when he came home. He collapsed on his couch, hardly able to close the door after entering his house. It was a nice place, much like the other homes in the area, but a bachelors home no less. The house was just about all he had left from his divorce a few years earlier, the ex wife had taken most of the furniture and he hadn't bothered to replace much of it. So he had a couch, his big screen television, and the cactus in the corner that he usually forgot to water, but hell, it was a cactus.
He knew he needed to shower and get the chemicals he had used that day off his skin, and the heat had caused him to sweat, so he swore that there was just as much sweat as shirt on his back, but he needed to rest first. Thank god the air conditioning in his home worked. He let himself cool off as he pulled off his shirt first, the envelope from the strange house dropping at his feet.
He forced himself to pick it up and tear it open. Likely it was the money for the groceries, and he was right, cash payment, and a tip. Nice. He shoved the cash into his dirty jeans and pulled out the rest of the contents. A work order, it seemed the homeowner needed her house painted after all, the entire first floor. She had even included paint samples and directions, and a check.
Conner lifted the check and his eyes widened. He hadn't seen the house very well in the dark, so he wasn't sure what he was dealing with, but the check was for double what he usually charged, and even after supplies he was going to make quite a bit off the job. Maybe he could have his vacation after all.
He almost immediately decided to take the job; after all, he'd been paid up front. He spent the next hour working out a schedule. Apparently Ms. Aarons wanted the job done quickly as stated in the work order, and if he was going to do it alone, he would have to turn over his business to his employees for a while, not something he would normally do, but painting a house in an air conditioned environment sounded like vacation enough, at least for the moment.
Conner had no way to reach Ms. Aarons, but she had been good enough to leave instructions. She wanted him to start almost right away, so he made the proper arrangements and the day he was going to start the job he drove away from his house with a truck full of paint supplies rather than his usual pool equipment.
He was half way to the house when his cell phone rang and he tiredly lifted it from the passenger side seat, it was early, and he never liked early calls, but he answered as politely as always.
"Conner, it's doctor Formike." The dentist said cheerily, he was obviously enjoying his vacation, and Conner wanted to be happy for him, but crap, he was not a morning person, and he would have rather been the one on vacation.
"What can I do for you?" Conner asked.
"Tessa tells me she's decided to hire you." Dr. Formike replied.
"Right." Conner shook his head; he hadn't even bothered to get her first name. "I haven't been able to get a hold of her, but I've got the supplies, I'm supposed to start today, so if all goes well the job should only take a few days."
"Well that's why I'm calling Conner, Tessa likes her privacy, and she doesn't speak to many people, so I've agreed to communicate with you for her."
Odd. Conner thought.
"That sounds fine doctor Formike." He said out loud.
"Anyways, just use the key when you go over, but the thing is, you can't be there before ten a.m. and you need to finish every day before two."
Maybe this job wasn't going to be finished as soon as Conner thought. Four hours a day, unless he was able to leave all the equipment he needed at the house, he wouldn't be finished anywhere as fast as he had hoped to be."
"Do you understand Conner?" Doctor Formike asked.
"Yea." Conner sighed.
He said goodbye and hung up as he stared at the clock in his truck. It was only six in the morning. He had wanted to argue but this job was paying way too much for him to be picky. He obviously had time to kill so he spent a few hours at his office catching up on paper work and another in his favorite diner eating a large breakfast. By ten o'clock he was sliding the key into the strange house, after knocking of course, and he began to bring in his supplies.
He looked around briefly, and knowing that Tessa Aarons must be somewhere in the house, he felt awkward being there. He quickly pushed any uneasiness aside and took a quick look around.
There were two furnished bedrooms downstairs, both looked unused, and he decided that once he was able to move the furniture he could finish both fairly quickly. The bathroom would also be simple enough, it was the living room that would take the longest, and he immediately decided to do it last. He would have to move three matching sofas, the entertainment center against the wall, and take down a few hung paintings.
It didn't take long for Conner to get set up, starting with the smaller of the two bedrooms. He only ran into trouble when he discovered that the heavy mahogany bed frame and dresser weren't entirely simple to move. Conner was generally a strong man, but it still took more time than he had wanted. By the time he had covered the carpeting and started painting he had wasted an hour. It was another hour before he had painted the dreary dark blue walls white, and then he moved onto the ceiling, having to stop for small periods when calls came in for his business, and just as he had started moving the furniture in the second bedroom he realized it was dangerously close to two o'clock. He quickly gathered what he could, and moved most of his supplies out of the way before he left the house on schedule. Just like before, after he locked the door he heard the sounds from within again, as someone secured the deadbolts.
Conner was able to move more quickly the next day, with most of his supplies being inside, he finished the second bedroom and then the bathroom, and as he worked he began to hear creeks above him, someone moving upstairs.
It severely bothered him that Tessa Aarons refused to introduce herself. It also made him curious. He wondered what kind of person she was, and it was strange she had her dentist communicating with her painter. At least, he assumed Dr. Formike was her dentist. The only type of contact Conner had with her was when she was locking the door every day as he left.
The third day Conner had put the furniture in the bedrooms back in place and he moved onto the kitchen, moving his supplies and deciding where to start. The kitchen was also to be painted white; everything was to be painted white. Conner thought it seemed boring, but whatever worked, at least things were brightening up.
He checked his watch just after he had started painting. It was only noon. He had another two hours but his stomach was rumbling. He had skipped breakfast that morning and when he remembered that he had left a bag of chips in his truck he went to get it.
He decided to sit in his truck for a few minutes to eat and then drink a soda he had forgotten earlier, now hot from the sun. He knew he could have gone back inside but the idea of eating inside didn't set right with him for some reason, after all, he was on a job. He decided a ten-minute break wouldn't hurt though. He finished the chips, crinkled the bag and dropped it on the floor of his truck, and then he washed the chips down with the hot soda.
He made his way back into the house, lifting a brush as he entered the kitchen. He was so busy concentrating on getting back to his work that he didn't even notice he wasn't alone as he silently whistled to himself. He had a habit of whistling when he was in 'work mode,' but he often didn't notice it himself, only the few times his friends and coworkers had pointed it out.
It must have been his whistling now, that had startled his unknown company, and when he heard a glass break he immediately spun around, noticing the spilled juice and broken glass on the floor before he noticed the young woman.
She was small, maybe even petite, but she wore thick sweats that made her look somewhat pudgy. Sweats in this heat? Conner wondered over the wardrobe, another oddity.
She had pale skin and wide blue eyes surrounded by thick lashes. Her wavy hair was a color of strawberry blonde and it trailed over the baggy shoulders of her sweatshirt, nearly reaching her waste. She had a pretty face, small nose, but not too small, and full, pink lips. It was clear that he had startled her more than she had startled him, but he didn't seem bothered by it as he immediately gave his usual friendly smile and quickly lifted a towel to help clean up the mess.
"I'm sorry." He said, "I wasn't expecting to run into anyone, I'm the painter, Conner. Are you Ms. Aarons's... daughter?" assuming she had a daughter...
He extended his hand before he planned to clean up the mess, but he was entirely shocked when the woman lunged back, shaking the refrigerator behind her, even with her small frame. She was entirely terrified, that was easy for anyone to see. Conner could almost hear her heart pounding and he quickly lowered his hand when he realized that he was causing her such fear. It was confusing for him. He had never seen a woman so terrified, and the idea that he was causing it nearly sickened him.
He stared blankly for a moment and then he realized something. He was surprised he had realized it so quickly with all the questions flooding his mind. He immediately took a step back, trying to show he was not a threat as he watched her painfully watch him.
"Ms. Aarons." He shook his head, realizing this frightened creature was in fact Tessa Aarons, not her daughter, "I'm so sorry, I just went out for a break, I didn't realize..."
He instinctively stepped forward again. He had meant to convince her that his apology was sincere, but the movement was a mistake and sent her into another panic and he immediately backed off.
Tessa Aarons. She was twenty-four years old, and everything scared her, especially the intimidating man in her kitchen, tall, strong looking, and covered in paint. A very attractive man she noted, it had been a while since she had been so close to a man like him, he was definitely attractive, but intimidating nonetheless, and she could do nothing but stare, surrounded in her fear.
"I'm sorry." He said in a lower voice than before, "I'm... I'll take another break."
That was all he said. He began to move for the nearest exit but stopped when she suddenly ran past him, running through the living room and up the stairs until he heard a door slam shut from above him. She had run away from him in her own home. Conner stood for only a moment before he continued his retreat, and he sat in his truck, in the scorching heat for the longest time, at a complete loss over what had happened.
Conner had no idea what he should do. Part of him knew he had done nothing wrong, it wasn't two o'clock yet. But the other part of him told him that he had frightened his customer, a woman no less. He was still a firm believer in chivalry.
This was a first for him. She was obviously not normal, she looked normal, but she wasn't, and as he began to piece things together he realized he had put the wrong picture of her together in his head. She was not an older woman with some mysterious illness who couldn't leave her house; she was a young woman who didn't leave because she was afraid. He had truly never seen anything like it. He had heard stories about people like her, who never left their homes because they were so afraid, but she seemed so young.
Conner began to wonder if he should quit now. He could charge the supplies and return the rest of the money to Dr. Formike. He would explain he couldn't finish the job; Tessa Aarons probably didn't want him to finish now anyways. There was only one problem; he had foolishly left his wallet on the kitchen table. He had to go back in.
Conner began to think about how he could replace his driver's license, credit cards, there was only about twenty bucks in cash, he could live without that. He entertained the thought for a while before he realized how incredibly foolish it was. He was a grown man. He would have to go back in, so after a good twenty minutes had passed he decided the chances of running into her again were unlikely.