Neighbors

Overview

At seventy-five, widower Ted Butler is content to spend his day growing prize-winning tomatoes, fishing on his mountain lake, and visiting with his children and grandchildren. His expectations of life suddenly change when he delivers a basket of tomatoes to his new forty-something neighbor and finds himself delightfully seduced.

Lauren Haas has just moved in across the street from Ted's home of forty years with Ellen, her roommate and fellow high school teacher. After Ted shares...

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Neighbors: A Summer-Winter Affair

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Overview

At seventy-five, widower Ted Butler is content to spend his day growing prize-winning tomatoes, fishing on his mountain lake, and visiting with his children and grandchildren. His expectations of life suddenly change when he delivers a basket of tomatoes to his new forty-something neighbor and finds himself delightfully seduced.

Lauren Haas has just moved in across the street from Ted's home of forty years with Ellen, her roommate and fellow high school teacher. After Ted shares an unbelievable, intimate encounter with Lauren-who turns out to be the same age as his son-Ted can't help but feel insecure, remembering the saying, "There's no fool like an old fool." Is it really him she wants, or is she just lonely? As a summer-winter romance ensues, Ted and Lauren spar to maintain dominance; jealousy and deception surround them, turning an already complicated relationship into a thorny, crushing affair of the heart.

With a feverish passion, Lauren and Ted's relationship accelerates to a surprising climax fueled by little white lies, a jealous lover, and an itchy trigger finger.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781450233866
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/2/2010
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Nelson was raised on a California dairy farm during the Great Depression, served his country during World War II, and graduated from UC Berkeley. His first book, Thoughts of a Boy Growing Up, was delivered to a thousand high school libraries in California. He currently lives in Sacramento, California.
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First Chapter

Neighbors

A Summer-Winter Affair
By Kenneth E. Nelson

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Kenneth E. Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-3386-6


Chapter One

Getting Acquainted

It was almost eight-thirty when his golden-haired neighbor, Lauren, answered his knock. "Well, hello Ted. We've already drunk all of the margaritas." She stepped back and swept her arm ushering him inside.

Ted had hesitantly accepted the evening's invitation to toast her roommate Ellen's 60th birthday because he knew he might be delayed. However, earlier in the week he'd delivered half-dozen fresh tomatoes from his garden to his new neighbors as a way of saying "Welcome," and been invited for a drink. It seemed un-neighborly to turn it down.

Lauren Haas had been outside pulling weeds from around the neglected front walkway when he crossed the street with the tomatoes. At forty-something, she was the younger of the two women teachers who were moving into the rental unit directly across the street from Ted's home of forty years. She accepted the tomatoes with an open and friendly smile.

"I just love fresh tomatoes! I know it's too late now for a summer garden, but if I stay here I want one for myself next spring. There's some space out back."

Ted's interest picked up, and he immediately offered his help. "When the time comes, and if you can use a hand, I'm pretty good with a spade."

She glanced appreciatively up and down Ted's trim figure, which was surprisingly fit for a seventy-five year old grandfather, made a muscle with her right arm and gave him a quick "You're on!"

Lauren seemed in no hurry to get back to what she was doing. "Why don't you come in, and I'll show you what's going on?" She took off her gardening gloves, and brought him in the front door through the house.

"This will be my bedroom and also my office. I can look through this big window while using the computer." Then, with another smile, "I'm glad you keep your house and front yard looking so nice because I'll be forced to look at it while I'm working."

His wife of fifty years had died unexpectedly a year earlier, Ted explained to Lauren. "I'm trying to keep the place looking presentable. My wife insisted on having the shrubs and flowers at their best, and spent a lot of time at it. She was equally meticulous around the house and would have applauded what is being done to yours."

Lauren led the way to another room. "This will be my roommate, Ellen's bedroom. It has its own bathroom. Don't you just love those oak floors? They've been covered with old, dirty carpet for too many years. We plan to place rugs around that can be cleaned easily. There will be a lot less dust to breathe."

Their final stop was the living room. "Do you see that pad by the fireplace? I'm sleeping there during the renovation. We can't put up the beds until the rooms are painted." Her eyes softened and small lines appeared at their edges as she seemed to note Ted's pained expression. "It's not really comfy, but I can put up with it for a couple of weeks. Besides, it's sort of like camping out. Ellen wont move in until this house is completely ready. But, my lease ended a few days ago, so I decided to move on in. It's a little inconvenient, but there's no rent to pay until the work is finished. And you can't beat that deal."

He was aware that the home was owned by Ellen's mother. She had been in declining health for a number of years. Occasionally, if Ted was entering his driveway when Ellen was across the street, he would inquire about her mother's health. Ted thought back to the many times he and his wife had been awakened by ambulance sirens responding to her calls for help. Now, she was confined to a convalescent hospital.

Lauren explained that she had known Ellen for almost ten years, with their friendship starting when they attended college courses together. Ted had been surprised with her explanation of her role in Ellen's mother's life.

"I'm really no stranger to this home. For about a year, I worked as a paid companion for Ellen's mother. On several days each week, I'd come over and help with laundry, bathing and some housework. She still liked to get out a little, so I would drive her to lunch and to meetings with friends. Along towards the end of the year she became rather obnoxious to be around and her physical health was visibly declining, but the work fit in well with my college teaching, and I sure did need the money."

"Do you mean you were the young woman loading her wheelchair and walker into the car trunk and helping Ellen's mother into the car?" Ted asked. "I have to confess that I thought you were a pretty athletic chick being able to toss that heavy wheelchair around."

Ted found himself staring at Lauren while shaking his head. He reflected on the home's history. One guy's wife had mental problems and was institutionalized, prompting the family to move. A single woman with two teenaged daughters had committed suicide just inside the front door. Ellen's mother had owned the property for about fifteen years, but Ted's wife had been very specific about not getting involved with her when she moved into the house that had formerly been inhabited by such complicated stories.

"I remember you and your wife as an older couple who kept up a lovely home but didn't seem too involved with the neighbors. I thought your wife looked awfully thin and fragile."

Ted's eyes dropped. His wife, Joan, was then thin and fragile, and though they didn't know it, her heart was struggling. It hadn't always been that way. He'd married a vibrant and lovely young woman, slightly taller and more slender than Lauren. Joan had led the way, raising two healthy, well-adjusted children. And yes, she was reserved, not one to immediately want to meet new neighbors. Her cadre of women-friends, developed while they lived in an earlier rental home and mostly mothers of young families, had remained stable long after the children were grown. Their social life, other than family get-togethers, was built around several couples their age, and came through Ted's old business relationships. He and his wife had had little social contact with Ellen's mother during the period she owned the home across the street from them.

As he came through the doorway into the freshly painted hallway, Ellen joined Lauren and Ted stepped forward to greet her.

"The paint makes the place look better already."

"Thanks. I suppose Lauren told you, we are out of margaritas, but would you like a cold beer or some wine as a substitute?"

Ted accepted a beer while Ellen poured herself a glass of wine. She directed him to a spare chair, and sat down nearby.

"Thank you for the beer, and I understand this is your birthday, Ellen. Happy birthday!"

He noticed Lauren disappear and could hear her in the background busying herself around the house.

"Lauren showed me through the house several days ago. You're putting a lot of work and money into fixing up the place. I'm impressed."

"Thank you. I didn't realize how things had become so neglected since my mother became ill and began to lose her strength and even some of her memory. On top of not feeling up to doing housekeeping, she didn't throw anything away, and stuff was stacked everywhere. It's going to cost my mother a lot of money, but whether it's for Lauren and me or for another renter, the house has to be made attractive. A new roof and an outside paint job will also help sell this house when we have to face that some day."

Ted watched the salt and pepper haired woman while she motioned with her hands from one room to the next indicating the various work locations. He noticed that her hands were strong and her nails were short, very utilitarian, to match other aspects of her appearance. He couldn't avoid looking through the open door and into the almost empty dining room. Finally, he raised a question.

"What have you done with the furniture that was your mother's? Lauren doesn't seem to have a lot but I'm assuming you'll both want to use your own."

"My mother would be sick if she knew we have already put much of her furniture and other belongings into storage. You should also see the garage! It's loaded! There's no room for a car. But, we had to give the workmen space to do their jobs." Ellen grimaced, and added: "It was awful. I was here and could hardly breathe when they tore up all of the old carpeting. We're lucky, though. There were barely any stains on that beautiful original oak flooring that has been hidden all of these years."

Ted chuckled aloud. "I never gave it much thought but I've lived in that house across the way for forty years and don't believe I've seen a stitch of hardwood for thirty-five of those years. Maybe I got a glimpse if I happened to be home when my wife was having some carpeting replaced."

Ellen tilted her head to the side. She leaned slightly forward and looked at his blue eyes. "I'm sorry about your wife's death. It wasn't until almost a month later that a neighbor walked by as I was about to leave and asked if I knew that the old guy across the street had lost his wife."

"Well, thank you, Ellen. At the time it felt so unbelievable. Here were paramedics and an ambulance at my house instead of at your mother's. Some of the close-by neighbors were standing outside on their sidewalks at about ten that night when the ambulance slowly pulled away. I was numb."

Ted was silent for a minute. "I know you'll understand what I mean when I tell you that I'm now glad her death was so sudden, a heart attack, not like your mother's seems destined to be." Ellen nodded and waited for him to continue.

"In a way my situation was fortunate. I couldn't easily drop out of life, so I didn't. My grandchildren counted on us to visit them pretty regularly. How could I let that drop? Also, I had two summer school lectures to give on the day following my wife's funeral. It seemed best to not even tell the teacher what had happened. It helped me to have to concentrate on the program I was giving."

Ellen brightened. "I'm a high school teacher. What do you lecture about?"

He could picture Ellen in front of her class, tall and in charge, using her hands for vivid descriptions. "Well, my topics are pretty much limited to alcohol abuse and drunk-driving as these relate to teenagers. It's volunteer work that I've done for almost fifteen years. It's been a rewarding retirement career. When school starts again I'll be doing lots of speaking."

She put down her drink and turned completely towards him so that her denim-covered knees were almost touching his. "I teach English, but I'm sure what you say would have a positive impact. Would you consider being a guest speaker for my classes?"

"Yes, of course! You can be sure I don't turn down many invitations. I work at filling most of my spare hours because living alone in an empty house and not being busy can be pretty awful. Most of my classes are health or driver ed, but I'm sure you're correct in feeling that your English students would listen. I get a wonderful response from most teenagers."

Ted nodded at Ellen with his entire upper body as if he were just completing a business deal with a favorite customer. "Just let me know after the new semester begins if you have an appropriate date. But, enough of that! Right now I'm more interested in fishing and hiking at my place near Truckee. Are you a hiker, or like to trout fish by any chance? It's a spectacular wilderness place that a bunch of us own, and it's less than a three hour drive from Sacramento."

"I like to eat trout that someone else catches," Ellen laughed a hearty, throaty laugh. "But I haven't the slightest idea of how to go about it myself. I love to hike, though, and envy you." Ellen glanced at her watch and stood. "I really must go now. I'm glad you came over."

Ted stood to leave and shook Ellen's hand. "Me too. I've enjoyed the visit. Again, Happy birthday! Now, I'd like to say so long to your roommate as well."

Lauren showed up almost immediately, hugged Ellen and saw her to the door. Lauren closed the door and turned to Ted.

"Ellen is a nice woman," Lauren said, as she placed her hand on Ted's elbow and gently turned him back into the room.

"She certainly is," Ted replied.

"I hope you'll stay a bit longer."

"Well, I ..."

She turned him towards her, looked directly into his eyes, and gave Ted a challenging grin. "I feel really horny tonight."

Dumbfounded and trying to gain composure, he blurted out,

"The hell you do!"

"I think I'm also kind of drunk."

"That isn't surprising if you drank my share of the margaritas. I did enjoy the beer and the visit with Ellen, however." He began walking slowly with her into the bare-walled living room. Music from a transistor radio in the kitchen wafted barely audibly into the room. "You don't look drunk, though, and I could hear you in the kitchen doing the dishes. Would you like me to make you some coffee?" Noticing her hesitation and her expression, he added, "You look mighty beautiful tonight."

"No thanks on the coffee, but aren't you sweet. Why don't you stretch out on my pad? I'm going to get into something comfortable."

She turned again as she entered the hall illuminated by a bare bulb. "I'll turn this off ," she said, gesturing to the light, "And why don't you take off your pants and relax."

In the dark room, the windows framed the inky sky and the silhouette of the tree in the front yard. Ted's thoughts raced back to his early relationship with Joan. She was part of a large East Coast family. His brief meetings with her family prior to their marriage convinced him that her mother dominated the roost. Sex for a girl was not before marriage; love making from the start needed to be thoughtfully discussed and limited. Although seldom spontaneous, Ted had always considered his intimate times with Joan as being wonderful and fulfilling, but vastly different from what this free-wheeling young woman seemed to be offering.

Like a wide-eyed robot, Ted did what he was told. He was stretched out on the pad in his T-shirt and shorts when Lauren returned, her long blonde hair loose around her smooth, tanned shoulders, dressed in a short, see-through garment and bikini panties. There was no doubt now that this young, highly attractive woman thirty years his junior was serious. What an unexpected invitation!

At seventy-five and without sex for several years, Ted's excitement was tempered by alarm bells. What if he couldn't respond? That would be a terrible disaster! What if she was promiscuous, and he contracted some disease? Supposing she became pregnant and insisted on marriage? One glance provided the answer. What the heck! He'd take his chances. It had been a long while and might be long again. Damn, why hadn't he taken the time for a shower?

All of the house lights were out except for a muted glow coming from a corner table lamp. Lauren closed the horizontal Venetian blinds tightly. He had no concerns about their privacy as she stretched out beside him on the narrow pad. He momentarily wished he'd had a second drink.

Ted pulled her close to him and these two neighbors kissed for the first time. Their kissing increased in intensity and she pressed her body tightly to his. He began to feel a youth he had almost forgotten. This night was going to be all right after all.

She did things to him he had never known a woman would do, and he wanted it never to end. Afterwards, they remained stretched out on the uncomfortable pad and talked quietly. Ted's confidence level had been raised several notches, but for the first several minutes he did more listening than talking while his heartbeat subsided. He realized that he had layered some new sweat over what he had earned in the afternoon's basketball game with the grandchildren.

"You don't smell very good!" she suddenly blurted out. "Didn't you take a shower today?"

"Not since morning," he admitted. "I worked hard in my grandchildren's garden for an hour and then played basketball with them for thirty minutes before begging off. It was hot. Then, after dinner, I raced home and came directly over here so as not to be late for the birthday margaritas with you two ladies. I missed the drinks anyway, so, I'm sorry, I should have taken time for a shower."

She reached over and squeezed his hand. "You're forgiven. I'm sure you weren't expecting this kind of a reception. How old are these grandchildren? Do you have any others?"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Neighbors by Kenneth E. Nelson Copyright © 2010 by Kenneth E. Nelson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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