tagRomanceLearning to Love Louise

Learning to Love Louise

byRetroFan©

Introduction & Disclaimer - Set in the city of Adelaide, South Australia, this is the tale of what happens when divorced single mother Louise moves in next to Paul, a never-married high school teacher. Paul is immediately taken with the pretty redhead but cannot work up the nerve to ask her out, finally getting the courage to do so after plenty of encouragement from Jane, Paul's co-worker and platonic friend.

But while it is fairly obvious why Louise is single - she is a divorcee - the reasons why 41-year-old Paul despite his nice personality and good looks has never married are not so clear. Was Paul unlucky in love, never meeting the right girl at the right time? Has shyness with the ladies always been a problem that led him to bachelorhood? Was Paul in his younger years a playboy who played the field until he found himself alone as middle age approached? Or is there more to Paul's story than meets the eye? Find out by reading 'Learning to Love Louise'.

All characters and events in this story are fictional, with similarity to real persons living or dead coincidental and unintentional. I hope you enjoy my latest submission, and please rate and comment.


*

Paul Johnstone exchanged a wave with his neighbor Louise Bradshaw as she climbed into her small blue car, reversed out of her driveway and headed for Adelaide city and her job as an accountant in a bank. Her tall slim figure attired in a smart black jacket and knee length skirt with a white blouse, stylish black boots on her feet, 38-year-old Louise looked pretty fine this morning, especially when the rays of the sun on this beautiful South Australian autumn morning reflected from her long red hair, this when combined with Louise's fair skin and unusual pure green eyes made her a woman of stunning beauty.

Louise had been occupying 41-year-old Paul's thoughts more and more recently, and this morning was no exception as he got into his own car, reversed out of his own driveway and drove the ten kilometers to his own job at a high school in Adelaide's northern suburbs, where Paul was employed as a high school teacher.

Paul much like Louise retained the good looks and fit physique of his younger years, and the highlights of his handsome face were his deep blue eyes and blonde hair. He waited at a red light and thought more about the pretty divorcee who had purchased the house next door and moved in 18 months ago with her two young sons, Tyler and Josh aged 10 and 8 respectively. Paul always admired the way single mother Louise raised her boys, she was always firm but fair, a really good mother. Football-crazy Tyler and Josh were generally both good kids, but tended to get a bit hyperactive at times especially when other boys in the form of their friends or cousins came to play, so therefore it was lucky that Louise was no pushover. As a high school teacher, Paul certainly wished there were more parents like Louise around given some of the teenage kids he had to control and try to convince that studying geography, history, economics and accounting were more interesting to them to online games and social media.

The light turned green and Paul proceeded through the intersection, his mind still filled with thoughts of Louise. The only man he had ever seen call to the house was Louise's exceptionally good looking former husband Simon to collect their sons for access visits, and Paul was always amazed that such a beautiful woman didn't have a new man in her life. Paul often thought about how much he would like to fill this role, but each time he tried to muster up the courage to ask Louise out on a date nerves overtook him and he did not put the plan into action, or he would come up with any number of reasons why asking Louise out was a bad idea.

Paul arrived at the school and got out of his car, seeing a small white hatchback pull into a parking space a short distance away, and Paul smiled as the driver got out. Paul had never been married and could not pluck up the courage to ask his neighbor Louise for a date, and it could be assumed that he was extremely nervous around women. However this wasn't the case, as Paul's best friend was a woman and who at the age of 25 was 16 years his junior, in the form of science teacher Jane McKinnon. It was extremely unusual for a man and a woman so different in ages to be best friends especially when one of them -- in this case Jane -- had a partner, but their platonic friendship worked so well. Paul always felt so relaxed with Jane, he could talk with her about anything.

Pretty and petite with long dark brown hair and beautiful deep brown eyes, Jane was attractively attired as always, today wearing a blouse and a short skirt that came to just above Jane's knees. A brilliant smile filled Jane's attractive face as she made her way towards him, the young woman giving Paul a friendly wave, a gesture he returned.

"Hi Paul, how was your weekend?" Jane asked as she walked alongside him into the school buildings.

"Yeah, pretty good," said Paul. "How about yours?"

"Really good," said Jane. "Yesterday my partner and I and some of our friends went out cycling around the river, then up through Woodville and out to Port Adelaide."

"That's a great ride, really scenic," said Paul. "So, you're fit and fired up for first Monday morning class?"

Jane laughed and put a fake grimace on her pretty face. "Year 9 physics. I think not."

Paul and Jane rounded a corner and passed Henry, one of Paul's fellow social studies teachers who was coming in the other direction. Henry, an extremely portly man aged in his mid-50s was juggling his text books and always looked stressed thanks to his shrill and domineering wife, this morning no exception. Despite this he managed a smile. "Morning Paul."

"Morning Henry," said Paul, he and Jane walking towards the staffroom.

Getting right to the point, Jane asked, "So Paul, did you ask Louise out like you promised me you would last week?"

Paul blushed. "Um, no -- ah I wanted to, but the opportunity never came up."

Jane laughed. "Come on Paul, you've used that excuse before. Time to think up a new one, or even better ask Louise out. What have you got to lose?"

"Louise might say no," Paul offered.

"Yes, but at least you'll know for sure," said Jane. "A nice-looking lady like Louise, if you don't make a move some other guy will, and then you'll wish you'd taken a chance."

"But we're neighbors, don't you think it might be a bad idea?" asked Paul.

"No, not neighbors," said Jane. "Asking out somebody you work with, that's a bad idea. But there's nothing wrong with asking out a neighbor."

"Yeah, but I'm sure Louise has enough on her plate without me bothering her asking for a date. She's got her two sons, her job and other things going on in her life." Paul looked at Jane. "Maybe I could join an introduction agency instead? Then I can get matched up with somebody by a consultant."

Jane nodded. "Sure you could do that. You could call into an introduction agency and sign up when you're returning your videos to the rental shop, when you're dropping in your photos to be developed at a one hour photo booth, or when you're buying a dot matrix printer."

Paul laughed. "Okay Jane, point taken, there's no introduction agencies any more, everything is online nowadays. But I certainly wouldn't try online dating."

"I don't blame you, there's too many weirdos and strange ones out there," said Jane. "But I'll tell you who isn't online. Your neighbor Louise who you have a crush on."

"I don't have a crush on her, I never ..." Paul stammered.

"Yes you do, there's no fooling me," laughed Jane. "If you were kids in school, you'd be annoying her by following her around the playground asking her if she likes stuff. So come, be brave and ask her out. If you don't, I'll only keep bugging you about it until you do."

"Okay then, I'll give it a try if only to keep you happy," said Paul.

The first bell of the day rang. "I'd better get to my class," said Jane, turning to head towards the science block. "So, I'll see you at lunchtime then Paul?"

"Yes, see you then Jane," said Paul, turning in the other direction to go and teach a class of 16-year-olds who would rather be anywhere else but school learning about double entry accounting. Still, talking with the bubbly, supportive and peppy Jane had gotten the day off to a good start, and her words had given him the encouragement he needed to finally ask Louise out at the first opportunity that arose.

*

This opportunity seemingly presented itself to Paul much earlier than expected. When he arrived home from work and pulled into the garage, he could see that Louise was home from work and had changed into an old shirt, jeans and sneakers, and was busy pruning the bushes in her front garden. Piles of cuttings were around her, and Paul immediately worked out his strategy. He would go over to her, volunteer to help her rake up the clippings and put them in the wheelie bin, and as they conversed while they were doing this he would pluck up the courage to ask Louise out on a date.

Butterflies fluttering in his stomach from nerves, Paul closed and locked his garage door and walked over to next door, Louise turning around to see him approach and greeting him with a friendly smile. "Hi Paul, how are you?"

"Good thanks, Louise," said Paul. "How was life in the bank today?"

"Pretty hectic at times," said Louise. "Still, it makes the day go fast."

"It looks like you've got a lot of work ahead of you there," said Paul, indicating the piles of cuttings. "How about I give you a hand to rake up? That way you'll be finished in half the time."

"Thanks Paul, that would be a great help," said Louise.

"My pleasure," said Paul, as he took hold of a rake and some gardening gloves, following behind Louise raking up the clippings and placing them in her wheelie bin.

Paul and Louise engaged in small talk about the weather, sport and their respective days at work as they continued their gardening work. As they drew closer to the house, there came the sound of four young male voices from inside, engaging each other in a lively debate over which football teams were better.

Louise grimaced. "Tyler, Josh, it doesn't sound like you're doing your homework like I told you to," she called.

The older boy Tyler's voice was audible. "We're just getting some drinks."

"Don't take too long about it," replied Louise, before turning to Paul. "Tyler and Josh have got their cousin and a friend from school over this afternoon. Four boys instead of two is double trouble."

"They're great kids," said Paul. "I've seen them playing with their football together, they seem to have a lot of fun."

"Yeah, they are great," said Louise. "If only they'd focus and follow my instructions a bit more, everything would be perfect. You're a teacher, have you got any tips?"

Before Paul could say anything, silence fell in the house followed by Tyler's voice. "Oh no!"

"What happened, Tyler?" Louise called.

"Mum, how do you get cola off the kitchen floor?" Tyler called.

"Why is there cola all over the kitchen floor, Tyler?" Louise enquired. "I told you no soft drink right now, only water."

Her son remained silent for a few seconds, before the boy offered, "We went into the fridge to get the cold water, and the bottle of cola fell out and split on the floor."

Louise rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Oh bullshit," she said to Paul in a low voice. Turning back to her house, she called out, "Get cleaning cloths out of the laundry and cold water and clean it up properly. When I get back inside I'll check that you've cleaned away the spill correctly."

"Okay Mum," Tyler replied.

Things went quiet inside the house as Louise and Paul finished the pruning and raking. The quiet in the house raised Louise's suspicions. "What's going on in there, Tyler?" she called.

"It's all under control, Mum," Tyler called back.

"Yeah, we've nearly finished cleaning up the mess," affirmed the younger brother Josh.

"Make sure you rinse out the cleaning cloths thoroughly," Louise advised them.

"Oh, they weren't any good so we used something else," Tyler said.

Louise looked concerned. "What did you use then? I hope not my bedspread or a table cloth."

"No, something much better we found in your bathroom cabinet," said Tyler.

"What did you use out of my bathroom cabinet?"

"We found this packet that said 'Super-Absorbent'," said Tyler, Paul watching as Louise's face showed intense dismay, her mouth dropping open.

"Yeah, we opened it and there were these little blue packets," said Josh. "We opened some and there were these weird white rectangle shaped things with wings. They were really good, they soaked up all the spilled soft drink."

Paul shifted awkwardly on the spot, as Louise's fair skin turned the same shade of red as her hair. "I think -- I'd um better -- go inside and check this out," she stammered. "Thanks for the um, help, with the gardening."

"That's okay," Paul managed to say, himself blushing bright red, returning home as Louise, trembling with embarrassment, went back inside to sort out the mess the boys had created.

Inside Paul's house his cat Missy, a black and white tuxedo cat 16-years-old came and rubbed around his legs, calling out for food, not at all pleased with the unacceptable delay in service by her owner. Paul stroked the cat and fed her, and listened to her purring loudly as she ate. He again lamented the lost opportunity to ask Louise out, but given what had happened, this definitely was not the time to go asking her out.

*

Jane laughed when Paul told her how the latest aborted attempt to ask Louise out had gone, but assured him that other chances would arise sooner than later. This was not the case on Tuesday or Wednesday. On Tuesday, Paul saw Louise see her sons off to walk to the bus stop to catch their school bus, then she left for work. In late afternoon, the boys' father came to collect them to take them out for the evening, while Louise went out into the front garden, watering her plants while talking to her sister on her mobile phone.

Wednesday saw Louise take the boys out in the car after school for dental appointments. When they got back, Louise was clearly not very happy with Tyler and Josh's antics, and Paul could see that tonight wasn't the night to go and knock on his neighbor's door and ask her for a date.

On Thursday, Paul had another problem to think about. He had recently purchased a new printer for his home PC, but no matter what he tried and read in the manual, he could not figure out how to get it working.

"Lucky you told me," said Jane, when Paul recounted the printer problems to her during the lunch break. "Why don't I come over to your place after work today and I'll help you to get it set up?"

"Are you sure?" asked Paul. "I don't want to put you to any trouble."

"Of course I'm sure," said Jane. "Consider yourself lucky to have a friend aged under 30 who can fix things IT related."

"Yeah, I admit I'm a bit of a dinosaur," said Paul.

"So, I'll come around straight after work?" Jane confirmed.

"Yes sure, thanks Jane," said Paul.

"My pleasure, I love problem solving, the only problem I can't seem to solve is getting you to ask Louise out," said Jane, a playful and teasing tone in her voice.

After work, Paul drove home parking his car in the garage, and closing and locking the roller door. About 15 minutes later, Jane's small white hatchback pulled into the driveway, and Paul went out to greet her, Jane dressed in a pink blouse and blue hipster-style jeans. Next door, Tyler and Josh were playing with their football in the front garden, the two boys running around pretending they were at the Adelaide Oval and that they were kicking match-winning goals or taking spectacular marks in front of a stadium full of people.

"They're Louise's sons?" Jane asked as she and Paul went inside, scaring the cat with Missy running off into the lounge room with her ears back, hissing.

"That's right, Tyler and Josh," said Paul.

"They sure are active," observed Jane, the boys noisily commentating their own play.

"Yeah, but great kids," said Paul. "Louise is really good with them."

"You think everything Louise does is great." Jane laughed her good-natured laugh. "Now, let's take a look at this printer of yours."

Paul and Jane went into the study, and they examined the printer together. "I see what the problem is right here," said Jane. Having diagnosed the issue with the printer, it took less than five minutes to get it working correctly.

"Thanks Jane, I really appreciate it," said Paul.

Before Jane could say anything, there came a loud thud on the back patio roof and he jumped. The cat also reacted to the scare. Missy had been lying on an armchair in the lounge room, but now went and hid behind the sofa.

From next door, there came the voices of Louise's two sons. "Tyler you idiot, you kicked the football onto Paul's roof," despaired Josh.

"It was a good kick though," said Tyler.

"Mum is going to be really pissed off when she finds out," said Josh.

"What is Mum going to be pissed off about, and why are you using that expression when I've told you not to in the past?" said Louise, exiting her house dressed in jeans, a white tee-shirt and a check shirt slightly too large for her over her tee-shirt, a pair of black flat-heeled shoes on her feet.

"We um, kicked the football onto Paul's back patio roof," said Tyler.

"I didn't kick it, Tyler kicked it," Josh protested.

"We'll go and get it back, Mum," Tyler said.

"No, you won't be getting it back," said Louise. "I'll be getting it back and then it's my football for the rest of the week."

"Oh Mum!" complained Josh.

"Not fair!" whined Tyler.

"Yes, completely fair, I've told you before to be careful, you'll break a window or somebody's TV aerial or satellite dish one day. Now go inside and get ready for tea."

Grumbling and complaining under their breath, the two boys made their way back inside while their mother made for Paul's house.

"That's called serendipity," said Jane. "Louise is on her way over, and now's your chance."

"She doesn't seem very happy," observed Paul.

"Not with her sons she isn't, but you're okay." Jane stood up. "I just need to go to the loo. Good luck with Louise."

Paul watched Jane depart and heard the toilet door close and lock, then came the sound of Louise ringing the front doorbell.

"Hi Louise," said Paul, opening it to find his attractive neighbor standing on the doorstep, a stressed look on her pretty face.

"Hi Paul, I'm really sorry about this but my kids have managed to kick their football onto your patio roof. Would it be okay if I came and got it back?"

"Sure, come on through," said Paul. "I'll get the ladder, and we'll go and retrieve it."

Missy came out of her hiding spot in the lounge and walked towards the front door, her attention taken with the newcomer, the cat immediately commencing rubbing herself around Louise's legs.

"Oh, you're friendly, aren't you?" said Louise, bending down to stroke the cat. "What's her name? You did tell me once, but I can't remember now."

"She's called Missy," said Paul. "She acts like she owns the place most of the time, and I'm the tenant."

Louise laughed. "That's cats for you, but you can't help but love them. I've seen Missy at your windows a few times, she's such a beautiful cat." Louise looked at the adjacent wall where there was a large framed photograph of Missy playing with a second cat, this one a ginger cat.

"You have two cats, I've never seen the ginger cat before," said Louise.

Paul shook his head. "No, that's Judy, Missy's sister, from the same litter would you believe? She's our second cat." Paul paused, then corrected himself. "Sorry, I mean Judy was our second cat. She passed away a couple of years ago."

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byRetroFan© 13 comments/ 18556 views/ 26 favorites

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