Frank spotted her from a mile away and used this as an advantage. Without thinking it twice, he instantly dropped to his knees and hid behind his car. Those pale grey eyes and that chalky complexion were unforgettable and they still triggered something in him, something wicked. Everything he loathed could be found in those weary eyes, those eyes he had once loved dearly and he had a heart throbbing feeling he was close to meeting with them face to face after such a long time.
Frank peered underneath the car and groaned bitterly. She was coming right his way in a hurried pace. She was an expert walker with six inch heels on her feet, had always been.
He could make out her rosy scent as she stood before him. The red heels glistened in the sunlight.
He looked up, feigning his surprise and got on his two feet nervously. The eyes were looking curiously at him.
"I'll be damned," he ran a hand through his hair. "What a delight to see you, Anna!" His sarcasm was cold and deliberate.
"I've always been a fan of your sarcasm, Frank," she said dryly. "Why are you hiding from me?"
He snorted, a little too over the top, "I was tying my shoe."
"Right. So, how have you been?"
"Excellent. And how's the kid?"
"The kid I caught fucking you from behind on our anniversary. Don't tell me you broke his heart too."
"Cut the bullshit. I didn't come here to review my past mistakes."
"So why are you here?"
"Um ... this is a little difficult to say standing in a parking lot. Can we go to your place?"
? What for?"
"I ... I need your help, Frank."
He stared at her and for the first time since knowing her, he could sense her nervous nature. Frank had never seen her bite her lips or blink so repeatedly. Her beautifully polished fingernails were drumming the hood of his ancient car impatiently.
Frank sighed. His hand hesitated as he went to open the door. Anna saw this and looked away in slight pain.
"I'm sorry I hurt you like that," she began. "I was stupid and horny and you were the only person in the world who loved me --"
"Don't bring up all that meaningless crap. Just get in."
"You mean that?"
He opened the door and got in. "Last chance, Anna, do you want to amuse me with your problems or not?"
"I really appreciate this," she said as she sat carefully in the passenger's seat. "You know, I wouldn't be here unless it was urgent."
"I can't wait to hear about it."
Frank started the car and from the corner of his eye, he saw his ex-wife smoothing her short black skirt. She was elegant and sat orderly, with her back straight against the seat and her hands clasped together in her lap. Such a different image from Jill's. So neat and precise. Then again, this was Anna's major flaw. She was what you'd call a neat freak
. At times, Frank had felt like her son during their five years together. At first, her constant perfectionism was tolerable, and even quite sensual. Then it turned unbearably bothersome.
"How was your class?"
"I was in a good mood today, in fact."
"That's a first. I don't remember you ever smiling before or after teaching."
"Yes, well I usually smile a lot on Fridays. I look forward to the the weekend."
"That explains it. And are you seeing someone?" she said pleasantly.
"Oh, why not?"
"I'd rather not talk about my love life with you."
"Suit yourself. Where are you living?"
"I'm living in a hell hole because somebody
thought it would be great fun to steal my house."
"We bought that house together," Anna responded stiffly.
"And you kept the Mercedes," he added.
"You never even drove it."
"So? I could've sold it somewhere."
"Do we have to talk about this now?"
"We don't have to talk at all."
They sat silent for a few minutes, until Frank suddenly broke the tension.
"If you respect me .... wait, no. If you still have a small speck of that decency I knew so well, I'd really appreciate it if you returned some of my things I left at your
"My CDs, my books ... my magazines --"
"I threw out those dirty magazines months ago. We were still married at the time."
"You threw them out," he repeated coldly. "Are you out of your damn mind?"
"You knew very well how I felt about that pornographic material in the house. I must've told you a hundred times to get rid of that crap."
"Alright, Anna, you threw out my porn. What else did you throw out? Please don't tell me my books. I had a few first edition copies in there."
? Are you kidding me?"
"Ulysses cost me about three grand. And then there's Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities which both cost me four ... " his sentence was beginning to strain. "You still have them, don't you?"
"Oh God," Anna hid her face in her hands.
"What-did-you-do-with-them?" said Frank angrily with clenched teeth. "They were in a box, I recall. Did you move them to the basement next to my other crap you thought useless?"
"Frank ..." she tried to look at him but couldn't. She could already sense the fire in his soul. "Look, that's what I wanted to talk to you about --"
"Jesus Christ, you screw me over with the house and the car and now you take my books? You don't even fucking read, Anna!"
"Calm down, for God's sake. There's a logical explanation for it all."
"I'm calm," Frank breathed in and then out, the wind hissing through his teeth. "Okay, I'm calm."
"Are you still practising those breathing exercises I taught you? You know they helped you a lot when we were married."
It was during those seconds when the heat spread throughout his body that he finally understood why fate had flung her into the arms of that thirty three year old kid. He couldn't live with her. He couldn't stand the thought of returning to her. The mere sight of her flinched the muscles of his face.
"What did you do with my things?" he whispered vehemently, glaring ahead, clenching the steering wheel.
"The house burnt down." she whispered back.
"What?" he glanced at her with widened eyes. "How?"
"God, I don't know!" she suddenly shouted. "I went to work and when I got back there was a herd of fireman and nosy neighbours outside."
"Holy shit. So nothing got out okay?"
"Everything was destroyed, Frank," she said hoarsely. "My furniture, my clothes... God, my Gucci handbags!"
"Nobody gives a rat's ass about your fucking bags, Anna!" Frank exploded, sending spit everywhere. "I just lost a small fortune, extremely rare valuables I cannot easily get in any old book store, and all you think about are stupid bags? Are you a fucking idiot, by any chance?"
"Don't you dare insult me, Francis Cooper!"
"Eat shit, ma
"Get a hold of yourself, for the love of God! I lost a lot too. I've been staying at a hotel for the past couple of days. At least you've
got a place to live."
"Is that why you came to me, Anna?"
"I told you it was urgent."
"Oh, Frank, seriously? After all we've been through you're just gonna say no?"
"Exactly. What makes you think I'll help you out after everything you did to me?"
Silence. Then a heavy sigh. Then, at long last, a long and pleading stare.
"Anna, I can't." he said firmly.
"Just for a week. My parents are out of town. In Bali. They'll be back next week and I'll stay with them then."
"What about your sister?"
Anna snorted. "I came to you instead of her. What does that tell you about our relationship?"
"This is really inappropriate, you know that, don't you?"
"Don't make a big deal out of it and it'll be fine," she leaned closer to him and his heart froze as she planted a small kiss on his cheek. "Thanks, Frank. You're a sweetheart."
Frank couldn't understand why he didn't just throw her out of the car and drive off into the sunset. His thoughts ran around that precise moment of glory, the ultimate revenge, and he made nothing of that happen. It was almost impossible to turn her down before and he certainly wasn't going to do it now. They were now standing outside the grey flat. It looked almost as bad on the outside and he knew perfectly well Anna was going to complain very soon.
"You live here
Frank stepped out of the car and opened the door to her. She stepped cautiously onto dirty pavement, staring wide-eyed, almost in fear, at the flat.
"Yes, Anna, this is where I live. Problem?"
"No, no, it's very ... quaint."
"You can always sleep in your Mercedes if you don't like where I live."
"Too late, I sold it."
"So this can be like a business deal. I'll have half the money from the Mercedes and we'll call it even," he added in a lower tone, "even though you owe me thousands for my books."
"Too late, all the Mercedes money was invested in my bags. Damn it
"So what are you willing to give me for offering my services?"
"Are you kidding me?"
"Not at all."
"I don't have any money on me now. I'll have to go to the bank tomorrow ..."
"That would satisfactory."
"God," Anna pushed him aside and stomped inside the flat. "It's not like I'm staying at the Ritz."
"Would you like it better in the sewer?"
"Yeah, very funny."
She walked up the creaky stairs, Frank following closely behind and kept his eyes on her buttocks. He couldn't help any of this behaviour, he was a man after all, and Anna, though pushing thirty eight, still had the firm body of a twenty year old.
"Right here." said Frank and moved in front of her to lead her down the corridor. Jill
She was right there, standing at her doorway wearing a tight t-shirt and a pair of denim shorts. She was speaking on the phone with much enthusiasm and was now looking their way. Frank smiled and nodded as they passed by. Jill responded with a smile also, but a puzzled one.
Anna followed Frank in the apartment and closed the door. She looked around with unblinking eyes and then smiled falsely.
"It's really nice."
"Beer?" Frank called from the kitchen.
"God no!" she called back. "Got any wine? But something decent, I can't stand that cheap stuff."
Frank returned with his can of beer. "You know I don't drink wine. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford anything but the cheap stuff you're talking about."
"I've got milk. Would you prefer that?"
Frank sat down and signalled the chair opposite him. "You can sit down. I won't bite you."
"I saw your neighbour," she said and sat down, crossing one leg over the other. "She's cute."
"So I think you're dumb-ass if you haven't made a move on her yet."
"My love life doesn't concern you."
"See there? You're a dumb-ass."
"For once, I agree with you. I'm a dumb-ass for letting you stay here."
"None of that, Frank," she moved and sat eagerly by his side, brushing her knee against his. "What's her name?"
"Cute, cute, cute. Why do you even care?"
"I'm worried about your sex life. Are you celibate?"
"You're getting a bit too cosy here, Anna," Frank edged away from her slightly and sipped his beer as casually as he knew how to.
"You weren't too shy talking about those dirty magazines when we were married."
"Anna," he laughed nervously. "You need to stop this. It's getting awkward."
"I never thought things between us would get awkward." she answered sincerely.
"Things between ex spouses usually get awkward."
"Or ex lovers."
Frank gulped down his remaining beer and hurriedly went for another. As he returned to the tiny sitting room and sat on the opposite chair, Anna was taking off her blazer. Frank glanced discreetly at her breasts held back by the tight dress shirt, and noticed that one of the buttons was strained. It looked ready to fly directly onto his head. Anna knew how to dress decently, yet with a touch of sensual shrewdness that could arouse even a monk.
"Can I use your shower?"
"Yes, right over there," Frank got up quickly and pointed the way.
He then walked to the door and as he turned the handle, Anna inquired, "Where are you off to?"
"I'll be right back."
He didn't mention a thing about going next door and he didn't know why this sort of secrecy was essential. All he knew was his need to see Jill and when she opened the door to him, she didn't kiss him roughly nor tenderly.
"Who was that?" she asked directly, with her arms folded across her chest.
"Somebody I'm helping out. It can't be helped."
"Oh my God," she said almost in whisper. "I think I know who that is."
"Take a guess."
"Your wife. It's her, right?"
"Ex wife. Ex
. There's a difference."
"Yeah, there is. You shouldn't be helping her out if she's your ex."
"Look, it's the right thing to do, Jill, our house -- her
house burnt down and she has no one else. She'll be gone by next week."
"I'm not bothered at all."
"Hell, I couldn't give a shit about who stays where. I'm just worried about you. I remember what you told me about her. And that's another thing ... why can't she stay with that other guy?"
"I don't think I was her first option when looking for a place to stay. She probably broke his heart too."
"Charming piece of trash you married, Frank." Jill pulled him forward and kissed him.
Frank groaned against her lips and bent his forehead against hers.
"I have to go. She might need something and I don't want her going through my things."
"I understand. Come tonight, okay?"
Frank kissed her hungrily, sliding his hand up her thigh. Jill sighed and pushed his hand away.
"You don't wanna keep her waiting."
Frank returned lazily to his apartment and called out to Anna.
"Get in here, Frank
!" she shrieked from the bathroom.
He walked unhurriedly with both hands in his pockets and found her cowering on the toilet seat, a small white towel concealing her body.
"You have roaches!" she screamed at him and pointed at the invisible bugs on the floor.
"I don't see anything." he replied nonchalantly and shrugged.
"They were here. The size of God damn rats, Frank! Don't you ever clean in here?"
"Maybe you can do that for me during your stay. There's nothing you like more than getting rid of dirt and dust."
"Too right. This place is filthy! Aren't you ashamed?"
"No, not really. I have better things to worry about. Are you showering or not?"
"I can't figure out the knobs. Which is the hot water?"
"The left one. I'll leave you to it."
As he closed the door, a speck of her naked flesh caught his eye as she removed the towel. Her left breast. A pink and erect nipple. The picture was impossible to block out, even after turning on the television and submerging himself in an old classic film. But he couldn't be completely submerged by the favourable actors. He was distracted. He couldn't focus on the screen and mindlessly, his hand went down and he stroked himself. He was growing hard.
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with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/straight-sex/the-neighbour-part-v.aspx">The Neighbour: Part V</a>