Life Next Door (Love Not Included Series Book 2)

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Life Next Door

 

Life Next Door
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Life Next Door
is a registered trademark of J.D. Hollyfield.

 

Copyright © 2014 by J.D. Hollyfield

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher.

 

Dedication:

To Jeff, Always.

I love you muchograndemore.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

One step, two steps, three steps. You would think such a simple action wouldn’t require such an effort. You would be wrong. Each step I take, literally and figuratively is filled with purpose. And that purpose is getting myself—and my life—back on track. Starting with moving boxes into my recently renovated bungalow without mangling any of my breakables. I miraculously make it to the final step and hit a flat surface, a couple more steps to the door, and…

SPLT!

If my shoe didn’t magically come untied at this precise moment, tripping me and throwing my boxes which were all filled with brand new plates, into my newly painted, still wet front door, then it would not be my life as I know. Hello, my name is Priscilla Westcott, but you can call me CeCe, and this is my messed up life. I use the term “messed up”, not so much because it’s in shambles like my new plates, but because it’s just a complete hot mess.

For starters, when I was born I didn’t make it out of the womb with an appreciation for simple physics. I was given two feet, but I spend more time eating dirt than standing or walking like a normal human being. My life is a walking fluke accident. What’s the chance a bird will poop on you more than once in a day?  Or you’re the one who trips and falls at your high school graduation while receiving your diploma? How about taking out a whole row of motorcycles when you’re barely next to them but the only person in sight?

Ugh, that was bad.

Well, that’s me. My life. I blame it on Murphy’s Law. Ever heard of it? Well I’m being stalked by it. Like it’s my destiny to prove to the world that it does exist.

Of course, I am like any normal human being and don’t take blame for anything, instead I blame it on my parents. My parents grew up in an era where rock-and-roll meant worshiping idols like Elvis Presley, spending their youth listening to songs like “Hound Dog” and rallying the nation. Unfortunately for me, they stuck to their carefree habits while raising me, their only daughter.

I’m pretty sure I was conceived during an Elvis song, hence the name Priscilla. And while normal people’s parents taught their children the ways of the world through education and rules, my parents were feeding me one-liners of Elvis lyrics. Thanks to their parenting skills, I grew up with bad luck and a poor way of making life and love decisions. So, combine all of my distorted views on life, thanks to Elvis and Murphy, and you have one hot mess.

As I stand here staring at my handiwork evaluating the cost of my damage I wonder if it would be less work to just eat off plastic for the remainder of my life than to pick up the mess. I kick the boxes aside and focus on the dent and the paint smudges that clearly do not complement my new door. Drifting my eyes downward, I see all the newly smeared paint now decorating my porch. I sigh.

Thank God it’s Friday.

I lift my arm to look at my watch. 4:57pm. It’s five o’clock somewhere. I kick the broken boxes with my sandal and walk past the destruction. I throw open the front door and walk through my newly furnished living room and straight into my beautiful open-concept kitchen; there’s an island big enough to seat a large family and granite counters galore. I walk straight by my stainless steel fridge and bust open my cabinet in search of the only thing that will make everything that is wrong in the world right… wine.

I pull out one of my faves, a succulent French Pinot Noir. One of the few things in life that has never let me down. I go for the drawer just underneath and search for my fancy wine opener. I can do this all blindfolded, of course. If I ever lost my eyesight, at least my drinking habits would survive. My body is trained to sniff out wine. I crack open the bottle and take a nice whiff. Heaven.

If anything in life is going to shit, I turn to wine. And let’s be honest, quite a lot is turning to shit lately. Everyone has their comfort blankets and I tend to drown myself in mine. I grab a glass. Thankfully, the box with my new set of crystal stemware made it successfully into the house unscathed. I pour a hefty glass and bring the rim up to my lips. This is the moment everything gets better. The moment the first sip of wine pours down my throat. I tip my head back because this sip is going to be a hefty one. I open my mouth in preparation and—

“BANG BANG BANG!” 

“Holy Shhh—!”

Just as my life is about to get better by the sip, the banging on my door startles me, causing me to jump out of my ever-loving skin. The jolt knocks the glass cruelly out of my hands, plunging to the floor.

And it happens.

That slow motion movie reel in my vision. Watching that perfect glass of vino slowly fall to its death. I make no attempt to grab for it; I know the outcome. The second it makes contact with the floor, life speeds back up to the present and I watch in horror as the crystal spills its contents and shatters all over my clean tile floor.

 

“What the shit?” I hiss.

Before we go any further, I would like to introduce a few things about me. There are some things in life that I hold dear and close to my heart. I’m talkin’ things that run deep in my soul. Those mantras I repeat on a daily basis. These are the things that make the world right, so don’t mess with them. First on that list is sugar. I am a professional pastry chef and sugar is my world. My domain. It is what I’ve always known and if you want the truth, I am damn good at what I do. If you stopped and took a good look around my kitchen, I’m pretty sure you’d figure it out. My kitchen gives Martha Stewart a woman-boner.

Somewhere on that list used to be honesty. Up until about three months ago, honesty was a huge factor. You couldn’t be trusted if you couldn’t be honest. And Elvis said it best when he said, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” Therefore, that one is currently shattered and in the hot-mess pile. I’m in the process of scraping honesty off my list with a pitchfork, and gasoline. Possibly artillery.

Blah, moving on.

Number two on that list is wine, so whoever is at that door is going to die. It’s settled. I have had a decent life, but the remainder of it is going to be spent behind bars. I’ve been dealt some shitty cards lately, but to mess with my vino is crossing the line. I kick off the remnants of grape splatter from my soaked leg, step over the crime scene and head toward the door. There are more banging sounds, followed by cursing on the other side. I hope whoever is out there is replaying their last words because THIS IS IT!

I get to the door and whip it open. “What!?” I spit out like a crazy person.

I prepare for the battle of my life, but am quickly shut down by the gigantic male figure standing before me. Looking at this beast of a man, I am not sure who looks madder. It’s impossible for anyone to be angrier than I am at this very moment, but looking at the he-hunk before me trying to wipe wet paint off his knuckles, he seems to be in the running for that title.

“Um, can I help you?”

“Yeah, for starters, you can warn people that you have wet paint on your door.”  

What?

Yeah, um
WHAT?!

This guy should not have gone there. “Excuse me?” I bark out. “You knocked on my wet paint! You can be more considerate of people’s things. Now look at my door!” I turn to look at the damage. I vaguely see knuckle prints over my boisterous ‘box into door’ Picasso display. “Look at my door! You’ve ruined it. Who’s going to fix all this now?”

I watch him as he assesses the damage, moving his line of vision down. The wheels are definitely turning. He starts at the door and works his way down to the pile of boxes playing dead on my porch. “Um, lady, I’m pretty sure you did a fine job without me adding to it.”

Dude, who the heck is this rude jerk? And how dare he accuse me of something I clearly did do?

“Did you want something?” I sneer at him. This guy is seriously wasting my time and the sooner I get rid of him the sooner I can go back to my kitchen and take a straw to my floor. That bottle was seriously one of my favorites. No one wastes good wine. No one!

“Yeah, I was hoping you knew the previous owner of the house next door. I’m renting the place and she was supposed to leave the keys in the mailbox but they aren’t there. Any chance the neighbor left you a spare?”

I glance at the house next door.

The neighbor…

He wants to know if I knew the neighbor.

He wants to know if I have a spare key to the neighbor’s house.

If I was a cartoon character, I think at this very moment you would see steam coming out of my ears and in no time my head would explode. I bring my focus back to the rude but extremely attractive hunk standing on my porch and I. Lose. My. Shit.

“Listen,
PAL
. No, I do not have a key to that shithole of a house. So no, I can’t help you out. And if you ever need anything in regards to that SHITHOLE of a house, don’t come knockin’ on my door again. You get me, amigo?”

 

Yep, that’s the look of someone who is staring at the completely insane.

“What the fuck is your pro—”

I don’t let Do
-
Me Eyes finish his sentence. I slam the door in his face, surely smearing more wet paint along the rim of the doorframe as I storm back into my kitchen. I skip the straw idea and go straight for the full bottle. I take it to my lips and, just like the good ole college days, I chug…and chug...and chug, until my need for air overrides my need to drown my anger and I pull back. I take a deep breath and try to calm my nerves, hoping I don’t explode and break, smear or shatter any more of my new things today.

That would be just my luck.

So, who thinks I am crazy yet? Shall we take a poll? A set of hands raised? Why would such a decent citizen like me go apeshit on a friendly, attractive, arms-of-steel new neighbor? Time to take a stroll down memory lane. But make sure to watch your step or you might walk in to a bunch of bullshit along the way.

As I was saying before, if you have ever sat down and listened to Elvis, you would know he sang a lot about love. Lyrics, like “let’s make a night to remember” or “love me tender, love me true,” blared in our household like a family soundtrack. So, when I was young, love was what I lived for. And at the age of seventeen, all girls know exactly what love is and that it is going to last forever. Surely Murphy’s Law was around as well and put in his two cents.

Fourteen years ago. High school. Year of 2000. Girl meets boy. Boy asks out girl. Girl thinks being easy is the way to go, no thanks to Elvis, and gives boy her virginity. Boy and girl start to date and become high school sweethearts. They make plans for the future, defy their parents, jump the train to the next town over and get married at a Justice of the Peace. High school ends and both realize they have different dreams and only one has a college scholarship. Boy goes off to his chosen college while girl follows him because she is in love. Girl gets job to pay for local community college while boy has a full scholarship and attends a university. Four years fly by and before they know it, they are stuck in a routine: school, work, sleep, repeat.

Time is such a funny thing in life. It keeps going, no matter what is happening around you. Time doesn’t stop to give us a chance to figure out what’s missing or wrong in our life or in the relationship we’re struggling in. So instead of taking time to stop and try to figure out how to fix it, we just continue to turn our backs to the problem, hoping it resolves itself. Therefore, instead of waving the white flag and going separate ways, college boy and girl move back to their hometown of Richmond, Ohio to start their careers. Girl gets her degree in culinary arts and a second degree in business, and envisions this great plan for how she’s going to open up her own bakery. Boy gets law degree and becomes somebody bigger and better than girl. Before you know it, boy is now a man and girl is now a woman and neither have anything really in common with the other.

Well, except for the neighbor. In common means woman lives next to her while man is
inside
her… Literally.

True fact: Women have the best instincts alive. And when a woman has a feeling, she should never talk herself out of it. Or ignore it. So for the last year of woman’s marriage, she suspects man is having a bullshit affair with the neighbor, who, I might add, is years younger than woman. Not that that matters,
really…
Moving to the climax of the story, man and neighbor decide they are in love and cannot hide anymore. Man leaves woman to be with neighbor. The end.

You still with me? Do you need a Kleenex to wipe away the tears you are shedding for me? Don’t cry. Have some wine instead.

In the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t shocked. Man, who I will introduce as Jeff, was never a forever thing. High school makes teenagers feel crazy things. And none of them are real.
Stupid Elvis.
You can only see your dreams. Everyone wants that happily-ever-after and that high school love is something you swear will last forever. I mean, come on, I grew up on songs like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “All Shook Up.”

Well, one day you grow up and realize that fairytales are for idiots and in reality, you have to make an effort to keep your man. In this case, as my mother would say, “If ya don’t work to keep your man, he’ll return to sender.” I’m also pretty sure that’s an Elvis lyric. Oh, well. As the cool kids would say, “#biggirlproblems”.

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