Home > New Girl on the Street

New Girl on the Street
Author: Donna Jay


Chapter 1

 

January 2005

The word SOLD in big, black letters stamped across the For Sale sign caught Lisa’s eye as she slowed and turned into the driveway. The house next door had been empty for a little over a month, and she wasn’t fussed about who moved in, as long as they kept to themselves and didn’t party until the wee hours of the morning. She was a private person by nature, and the very idea of having a busybody move in made her anxious.

In high school, she’d become an outcast seemingly overnight. Ironically, it had made life easier. Being given a wide berth by snotty-nosed schoolgirls had allowed her to concentrate on her studies. After completing an apprenticeship, she was finally an electrician, and more often than not, she arrived home from work smiling.

A few days later, a moving truck turned out of the street as Lisa entered. Her heart raced as she eased off the accelerator and dropped down a gear. In the driveway, she came to a stop by two fence palings with a small gap where the wood had warped over the years. Even as she mentally scolded herself for being one of those people, a nosy neighbour, she crept toward the fence like a peeping Tom. Unable to resist, she cupped her hands around her face and peered through the gap. A woman with tanned legs and a curvy figure, accentuated by a snug-fitting red dress, bent down and picked up a cardboard box before disappearing inside.

One glance at a spankable backside and all kinds of wicked thoughts raced through her mind. She closed her mouth and shook her head. The chances of the woman being single—and attracted to women—were next to non-existent, not to mention the front end might not be as attractive as the rear end.

Hell, the woman could be a scatterbrain or worse, psychotic. How did you avoid a jilted lover who lived next door? Whoa, back the hell up!

***

Over the next few weeks, Lisa craned her neck every time she arrived home from work, hoping to garner something about her new neighbour. The only thing she deduced was the woman worked irregular hours.

Her orange Corolla was often parked in the driveway when Lisa left for work, and more often than not, it was gone by the time she arrived home. Not that she was paying attention. Oh, hell, who was she kidding? She couldn’t stop looking.

Sunday morning, after lazing in bed reading until ten, Lisa showered, dressed in a pair of faded blue jeans and a white T-shirt, and made a beeline for the kitchen. An hour later, the mouth-watering aroma of double chocolate-chip muffins filled her house.

Feeling happy and content, she rinsed the dishes, swaying her hips to ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’—currently number six on the charts.

Having the perfect excuse to venture next door, Lisa plucked two muffins off the cooling rack and placed them on a napkin in a plastic container.

Before heading out, she stopped to check her appearance in the hallway mirror. She wore her typical summer cut, buzzed at the sides, longer on top and flicked to one side. The rich brown was a shade darker than her eyes; golden brown or, as some liked to say, amber.

Spotting a smear of flour under her nose, she wiped it away. It wouldn’t do any good to welcome her new neighbour looking like she’d just snorted a line of coke. Other than for a brief time when she’d experimented with marijuana in high school, she stayed well away from illegal drugs.

Nerves vied with excitement as Lisa walked up her neighbour’s driveway. At best, she’d make a new friend. At worst, her neighbour would accept the muffins and close the door in her face.

Lisa took a deep breath and knocked on the door. She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans, swapping the container from hand to hand.

While she waited, she rehearsed her speech. Hi, I’m Lisa. I thought maybe you and I could get together. When she realised the words could be misconstrued, her stomach performed a mighty somersault. The safest bet would be to say, ‘Welcome to the neighbourhood.’

The knob turned and the door creaked open. Lisa’s eyes went wide and her jaw dropped. A mixture of disbelief, hurt, and even a little bit of joy ricocheted through her body.

Bella gasped, hand flying to her chest. “Lisa? Oh my God, is that really you?”

Swallowing the sour taste in her mouth, Lisa managed a tight-lipped reply. “Mm, let me see?” She looked skyward and tapped a finger against her lips. “The last time I saw you, I think it went something like this; ‘Lisa the Lezzy.’”

Bella’s smile fell. “That was a long time ago.”

An uncomfortable silence fell between them, and Lisa refused to break it. She should’ve just bolted, but her legs refused to move, and she didn’t run from anyone; not anymore.

Bella’s gaze remained on the Tupperware container. “Whatcha got there?”

Doing her best to act like the mature woman she was, and not the smitten teenager she’d been ten years ago, Lisa plastered on a smile.

“Chocolate-chip muffins.” She thrust the container at Bella. “Welcome to the neighbourhood.”

Bella’s soft fingers brushed Lisa’s as she took the proffered container. “That’s very sweet of you. But you always were chivalrous.” She pushed a lock of chestnut hair off her face, looking the picture of innocence.

Lisa knew better than to fall for the act. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that.

Bella motioned toward the open door. “Would you like to come in? I’ve just made coffee.”

The fact that the person who’d caused her so much trouble all those years ago was inviting her in like they were best of friends made her blood boil.

Lisa declined the offer with a polite, “Thanks, but no thanks.” She wanted to bolt before she lost her cool, but she wouldn’t give Bella the satisfaction of knowing she’d got to her. Taking a calming breath, she turned and walked away.

Before she got far, Bella’s hand wrapped around her arm. Lisa’s anger flared, sudden and fierce. Who did this woman think she was? Being manhandled or womanhandled as was the case, without her consent never sat well with Lisa.

She clenched her jaw and gritted out the words, “Get your hands off me.”

Bella’s hand disappeared so fast, Lisa wondered if she’d imagined the touch. But the tingling sensation on her skin and her racing heart told her otherwise.

As much as she wanted to hate Bella, she couldn’t deny the strong attraction she’d felt for her all those years ago hadn’t gone away. Remorse shined in the depth of Bella’s jade-green eyes—eyes that had haunted Lisa’s dreams for months after Bella’s family had pulled her out of school and moved to God knew where.

Bella bit her lip, looking like a frightened mouse. “I really am sorry. If I could turn back time, I would.”

Before her heart could soften, Lisa shook her head. A small part of her wanted to hold on to the anger, to the resentment; an even bigger part of her wanted to stay safe behind the wall of isolation she’d carefully constructed around herself.

“If you stay on your side of the fence, and I stay on mine, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.”

The words were ironic, given Bella’s attempt at jumping the proverbial fence had resulted in Lisa becoming an outcast at school. It had also put an end to their stolen kisses in the changing rooms after swimming sports.

A pair of men’s boots by the back door caught Lisa’s eye. She nodded at them. “I hope he makes you happy.”

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