The South Window
While Dan is called away to manage a corporate takeover, Allie is left alone. When Marty Crawford moves in next door, her friend Tess begins planning her hot pursuit. What starts as a congenial friendship between the three drifts into uncharted waters when Marty confides in Allie, sharing that Tess belongs to a swing club and has taken Marty there as her guest. Marty struggles with the lifestyle.
Seeing Allie as a woman with depth and substance—and available for the taking—his attraction to Allie grows. With Dan gone and Tess’s impulsive plans to take a trip with her swinger friends, Marty and Allie travel down a road where there is no turning back. A careless mistake one summer afternoon provokes a life-threatening confrontation.
Upon Dan's arrival home, he realizes that his answer to mending his broken, neglected relationship with Allie is right next door, and Marty is more than willing to help.
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre
THE SOUTH WINDOW
MENAGE AND MORE
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage and More
THE SOUTH WINDOW
Copyright © 2012 by JC Szot
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-101-4
First E-book Publication: January 2012
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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The South Window
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The South Window
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The South Window
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Copyright © 2012
“Tess, don’t do that.” Allie yanked the curtain down. “You can see through, the material’s sheer enough.”
“Come on, we want to get a good look at him. Besides, you could use a little stimulation.” Tess turned, flashing her dark, sultry brown eyes.
“Thanks,” Allie sighed, feeling beaten down again by Tess’s brutal honesty. “Listen, I have work to do. Federal Express will be here by noontime tomorrow.”
Allie crawled off the love seat and watched Tess perched on the windowsill with the binoculars as close to the screen as she could get them, the seam of her short-shorts riding up her behind. Allie wondered how she could cope with that thick denim seam searing through her crotch all day.
Tess rested the binoculars on the cushion then scooted off. “Oh well, we’ll just have to investigate him now, won’t we?”
She walked over to Allie’s drawing table. “So, what do we have here? A wedding, baptism, or are those sympathy cards?” Tess eyed all the pastel drawings that lay on her table.
“They decide when they get them.” Allie started to organize her tools, eager for Tess to leave.
“Okay, I’ll stop back tomorrow after I see your truck leave.” Allie listened to Tess’s blackened bare feet slide across the hardwood floor and descend down the stairs.
Allie sat down and attempted to finish the meadow scene with a rustic, red barn in the background. Being in the greeting card business required a lot of thought, and the study of nature. Whenever she felt starved for new ideas, she’d just get in the car with her camera and drive. Nature never failed her.
A loud clanking noise drifted through the open window, coming from next door. Distracted again, Allie got up and went to the window. A rather interesting man had just moved in. The house adjacent to her and Dan’s lot had been empty for years, a foreclosure that just didn’t sell, but now they finally got their new neighbor.
Now Allie felt like a hypocrite as she reached for the binoculars and focused in on him. He looked to be in his midthirties, tall and lanky, with dark hair that rested on the nape of his neck, wavy and thick. He was walking in and out of his shed carrying planks of wood. His jeans hung low, clinging to his hips. With every swaggering step, it looked as if the red bandanna in his back pocket would fall out. There was a peculiar limp in his step.
When he turned, Allie saw his face so close she had to take the lenses away from her eyes for a minute. Raising them back up, she zoomed in for a closer look. His eyes were a light-cedar brown. His chest was bare, displaying a crimson-red tattoo of a bleeding heart on his tanned upper arm. The inked droplets leaked from the bottom like red rain. He turned his head, as if his eyes felt hers, his gaze reaching her window. Allie immediately leaned back, placed the binoculars on the end table, and returned to her work.
She finished her drawings but chose to keep working. Dan would stay in the city tonight. Allie had a long night ahead of her. After a pathetic frozen dinner and a glass of wine, Allie returned to her studio. A knock on the door resounded through the quiet house. She bolted down the stairs, knowing that Tess would just enter on her own accord.
Allie opened the door just in time to see her new neighbor’s figure step off the porch into summer’s early-evening dusk.
“Hello,” she called, trying to get his attention. “I’m sorry, I was upstairs. Can I help you?”
He turned around. Allie watched that same saunter she’d witnessed under close-range magnification earlier this afternoon. He retraced his steps back up onto the porch.
“Yeah, um, I’m sorry, Miss. I’m Marty Crawford, just moved in across the way here.” He extended his hand. Allie’s fingers wove through his, his palm gritty and calloused.
“Yes, hi, I’m Allie Kramer. It’s nice to meet you.”
His eyes skirted around her, almost probing their way in the door, as if looking for someone else. Allie noticed how dirty her hands were. She hastily picked at her cuticles that were marred with paint and smudges of charcoal.
“Is that your property line there?” He pointed across the yard to the edge of the hedgerow, near the split-rail fence.
“I don’t think so.” She felt foolish, never paying attention to those types of details. “My boyfriend would know, but he travels a lot and stays in the city during the week. Is there a problem?” Allie hoped she didn’t sound snobby as soon as the words left her mouth, noting her tone.
“Not at all. I just needed to stack some lumber there for a—I don’t know—maybe a few days or so.” He raked his fingers through a mass of unruly hair.
“That’s not a problem, Marty.” Saying his name made her feel more polite.
“You’re all right with that?” He squinted at her, his eyes straining through the last minutes of muted light.
“It’s fine, really.”
He turned around, looking across the yard. The pectorals in his chest rose with his every breath.
“You’ve been working all day. Can I get you a drink?” Allie’s eyes lowered, taking him in. His jeans were dusty, his work boots caked with dried mud.
“You know, I appreciate that.” He turned, facing her. “I’m a bit bushed, but tomorrow I just might take you up on that. I’ll be out here again all day, this place is a mess.” He laughed, digging at his scruffy cheek.
“Well, I’ll let you go then. You put your wood wherever you need to.” Allie smiled back, wanting to be helpful.
“Thank you, um, Allie, right?” His brows lifted.
“That’s right.” She nodded.
They stood there for a few awkward moments.
“Okay, you have a good night then.” Marty turned and stepped off the porch.
* * * *
Allie sat on the sofa staring out the window at Marty’s house. She assumed he was single. There didn’t seem to be anyone else coming and going, a wife or children. He had one light lit upstairs. When eleven o’clock rolled around and she realized that Dan wasn’t going to call, she went to bed.
Allie never understood why Dan insisted on buying a king-size bed. He was never home. With just her sleeping in it, it made her loneliness hard to ignore. Every time she rolled over to a cold spot on the mattress, it was like a slap in the face.
Dan earned a lusciously fat salary, but their so-called relationship suffered for it. Their daily way of life was worlds apart, his filled with rigid, money-driven professionals, sexy secretaries and interns, and the expense accounts to go with it.
Allie spent her days in quiet solitude, drawing and painting her dreamy land- and seascapes, lush flowers, and soothing sunrises. Tess’s remark about some needed stimulation was a cold, hard truth, but Allie couldn’t hang around with her too much, afraid her brash and flirtatious ways would rub off on her.
With Tess being bold and Allie being more reserved, they were an odd match for a friendship, but there weren’t many people to choose from in a rural neighborhood. When she and Dan had first moved in, Tess had welcomed them into the neighborhood. As their friendship progressed, Allie became aware of the vast differences in their personalities, but she’d been a bit starved for companionship with Dan being away a lot. They got along well, but there was always that line of division that emphasized the differences.
Tess usually got her way due to her brash nature. She had actually demanded, in the middle of her divorce court hearing, that she should be allowed to stay in the marital home as long as she needed to due to emotional trauma and distress. Tess had seduced the judge with her hypnotic curves and suggestive eyes. He had ordered that she be able to stay, her soon-to-be ex-husband, Kyle, footing the bill, along with a fat alimony check each month. Tess really knew how to work it.
Allie was eager to see how Tess would welcome Marty to the neighborhood. The next morning, while sitting in the kitchen with her coffee, Allie chuckled out loud when she saw Tess slinking across the front lawn carrying a foil-wrapped package. Allie knew Tess wouldn’t make her wait too long.