Angel On Her Shoulder

By: Nia Skye

CHAPTER 1 - Vanessa


“GOOD LORD, WOULD YOU just look at that?” Tamikah muttered under her breath. I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep like it was my job.

“Vanessa!” she hissed at me, slapping at the edge of my chaise lounge chair. “You have to see this. He is chopping wood. He is… literally… chopping wood.”

She flipped her sunglasses down her nose and glared at me.

“Chopping. Wood.”

I refused to say anything because I knew exactly what he was doing. I could hear him. Years of practice visualizing his every move had given me the supernatural ability to close my eyes and see what he was doing with absolute clarity.

The tanned skin. The sweaty, muscular shoulders. The salt-and-pepper curls. The manly jaw stubble. In fact, I could play it like a movie, rewind it, and play it back in slow motion all day long if I wanted to. I just didn’t want Tamikah to know that.

“He’s carrying an armful of wood!” she hissed. “Ohmigod he’s stacking it!”

I knew that. I could hear his boots scraping over the hard-packed dirt on the other side of the fence. In my my mind, I slowed down and zoomed in on his sawdust-speckled forearms as they tossed the split logs on the pile in neat rows. There was sawdust in his chest hair. The top band of his jockey shorts was above the top of his low-slung jeans, and when he paused, he snaked a leather-gloved finger through one belt loop to hike them up.

Oh yes, Thomas Barber, I know exactly what you are up to.

“Vanessa! He’s drinking from a bottle! Oh gawd it’s like a music video over there!”

I even fake-snored a little, hoping she would let up. The sun felt delicious on my oiled up backside and all I wanted was a nice, relaxing nap before I had to go to work.

“See, that’s the kind of man I would like to have for my own,” she babbled. “Somebody to cut wood, and stack wood, and get wood… Hahahaha. Hey… Did you hear what I said? Vanessa?”

“I don’t think you’re his type,” I finally mumbled sleepily. She wasn’t going to let me rest. What was the point?

“Shoot, I am everybody’s type,” she replied with her lips pursed.

I opened my eyes and squinted at her through the glaring sun. She was right. Tiny, ruffled bikini, long and lean toffee-colored legs, flat stomach. Super shiny, jet-black hair that hung over her eyes like a strategic curtain made to flirt.

“Well, throw yourself at somebody else,” I grumbled.

“Why?” she sighed fretfully, raising her arms over her head and posing in case he happened to glance this way.

“Just… Live your life how you wanna, Tamikah, but keep it outta my back yard.”

“Oh! Well, I see how it is!” she exclaimed, but she wasn’t really upset. Maybe a year ago I could have riled her up over her extracurricular activities, but since she had started making serious cash, she had gotten downright easy-going. I guess money really did make some people happy.

“You think he’s too good for slutty old me?” she needled.

“Totally,” I muttered.

“Hmmmm,” she purred, appearing to give it some thought. “You’re probably right. He’s all goody-goody, just like you. Probably never had a dirty thought in his life.”

I yawned dramatically. “You’d be bored to tears,” I suggested.

She nodded. “Bored to death.”

“Absolutely,” I agreed. “So just keep your dirty thoughts off my perfect, saintly, goody two-shoes neighbor lover man, OK?”

“So you admit it!” she crowed.

Shoot. “I’m not admitting anything,” I grumbled and hid my face in the beach towel on my lounge chair. What was I thinking??

“Yes you are! You love him!”

“I do not love him,” I said, raising my head and glaring at her. “And keep your voice down. I barely know him.”

“Uh huh,” she drawled in her sassy voice. “Tell me you haven’t been saving your cherry ass for sexy Mr. Barber since middle school, Vanessa.”

“Shut up, Tamikah.”

“VANESSA,” she said in a low, masculine voice. “VANESSA, I am your mysterious neighbor father figure, watching over you from my side of this Fence of Enforced Virginity!”

“Kim!” I hissed, yanking at her towel. “Shut UP. He’ll hear you!”

“And one day I will bring my muscles and manly expectations to your front door!”

“SHUT UP!!”

I leapt from my chair and tried to cover her mouth with my hand, but it was like trying to climb a really chatty giraffe.

“And I will court you like a gentleman before I take your maidenhead and make you ma woman!”

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