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Chapter 1 – Alex Finally Has a Girlfriend
Alex was a better than average student, and his mother had college hopes for him, even though they were a blue collar family. Alex’s father worked hard when he was sober, but couldn’t hold a job because of his drinking and one night ended it all by driving into a bridge abutment.
Alex was good with his hands and enjoyed making all kinds of things work. He got a part time job at Fred’s garage and specialized in the old cars that old men brought in. He learned about the ones with chronic bad electrical systems, and ones whose carburetors always clogged up, and soon was known as the kid who could fix any old car. Fred wanted Alex to work full time, but Alex was very interested in wood working and looked for a way to make money as a carpenter. His mother’s older sister Alice, who was the village librarian, lived in their parent’s house on the edge of town, and told Alex he could stay rent free in her guest house if he would fix up the broken down mess.
No one had been in the cottage for years and it was inhabited by all kinds of little creatures. Spiders ruled the attic, and mice ruled the cupboards. Raccoons had babies under the house and there was a rank smell around the whole place. It took a full weekend, and buckets of soapy bleach, to get the inside cleaned up. There was a towering pile down at the road of discarded trash and moldy mattresses.
Alex made the mistake of peeing in the toilet and flushing. Pee water went all over the floor. Alice came down to visit and told him the septic system for the main house was failing, and the guest house was connected to it. Alex asked Fred for advice while fixing a beautiful pre-World War II Buick with twin carburetors that never seemed to be in sync. The car ran like a top after Alex spent several hours tightening and adjusting the linkage, and Fred charged the wealthy owner extra for the great job. He told Alex that his brother owned a concrete place in the next town and if Alex would dig the hole, his brother would drop a precast septic tank into it. Alex borrowed a digger from his uncle Tom, and soon there was a giant hole in Alice’s backyard and piles of dirt everywhere. Once he got the hang of it, Alex was a good operator, which made scraping the new drain trenches to just the right dimension easier. Alice was so pleased to end the stopped up drain problem that she paid for all the materials and bought a new sofa and bed for the guest house that would be delivered whenever Alex was ready.
Alex started disassembling the inside and kept finding more and more bad news. The plumbing was leaking and corroded. The toilet drain was cracked. The wiring was a joke. Alex began to wonder if he would ever be able to live in the place. At the junior college, where he was taking a cabinet making class, he confided in one of his former classmates, Marie, who was taking pharmacy related classes so that she could join her mother in operating the only pharmacy in town. Originally, her dad had been the pharmacist, but he contracted liver cancer and left the planet at age 44. Her mother, a strong woman, found a traveling pharmacist who specialized in vacation relief for solo pharmacists, and talked him into running the family enterprise until she could get her own license. With any luck in her own classes and exams, Marie could qualify for her license in another year and join her hard working mom. The two of them would have reasonable hours, spelling each other at busy times and when covering at night.
Marie sat across the lunch table and said to Alex, “You are brave to take on that project. There are so many different skills needed to fix it. You and Alice don’t have much money, so you have to be flea market scroungers, I guess.”
Alex stared at Marie, a girl he had never noticed, even though she was in his class. How could you get all A’s, as she had, and be almost invisible? She stared back at him and said, “What’s wrong?”
He took her hand and pressed it. “Nothing. I was just wondering how a pretty girl in my class could get super grades and I didn’t even notice you. I must be really dumb about women.”
A smile crinkled her face. “Lots of guys are. Makes it tough for those of us looking for a decent interesting person to meet. Someone like you, maybe.”
“I don’t know. I’m kind of shy and don’t have any social skills. And I like working on things, which isn’t very exciting.”
“Maybe if you would ask me out, we could check compatibility.” The smile lit up her face again.
As they got up to go to class, he said, “Well, I’m willing to try. What about Friday night?”
Another smile. “Yes. I’d like that. Will you come to my house? Say hello to my mom? She’s nice but old fashioned. Likes to see who is taking her girl out.”
“Great. How about if we dress in movie casual?” They both laughed.
Friday night, with determination in his step, he marched up on the Thompson’s porch and rang the bell. It opened and a woman who could only be Marie’s mom said, illegal bahis “Hi, I’m Sheila. I understand you are taking Marie out for dinner and a movie.”
“That’s right, Mrs. Thompson, we won’t be very late.”
“Yes, I know about those promises. But you are to call me if Marie is going to be out after midnight.”
Marie breezed by her mom, saying, “Yes, mom, a call if after midnight. Bye.”
They were driving away when she said, “Where to?”
“I was thinking of Riley’s, in Morgantown?”
“My sister went there when she was dating the guy who is now her husband. My mom had a fit. Said nice girls didn’t go there. But Sarah said the food was great, the beer was fine and they danced to live music. And she didn’t get hassled or groped.”
I looked at her and smiled. She punched me in the arm. “So you’re just going to take poor innocent me to a dive across the river anyway?” She tried on some fake outrage looks.
He grabbed her hand and kissed it. “Even worse, I’m going to ask you to dance, which I’ve never done before.”
They were both still laughing when she looked around and said, admiringly, “You restored this?”
The 1952 Chevy pickup had taken more than two year’s part time to get going and looking good again. Used up most of his earnings from Fred for a long time.
Marie moved over. “I’ve never ridden in a car with a bench seat in front before.”
“Fred told me the guys in the shop are calling it my ‘datemobile’ because of this seat.”
“So if a girl wants to show her appreciation, she snuggles right up to you, puts her arm around your neck, pushes her boob into your side and …”
“And the guy drives off the road he is so excited.”
They were still laughing when he turned into Riley’s parking lot, which was pretty full. Marie wasn’t big in the chest department, but what she had was definitely pressed up against him. He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek and got her lips. Soft, sexy lips that sent a charge all the way through him.
“Hmm. Did I do something to deserve that?”
“If you keep being nice to me, you will get more. Are you buying me dinner or not?”
Riley’s was noisy but the hostess managed to find a table in a quiet corner.
Conversation was slow and Alex began to worry. Marie said, “I’m not a very talkative person. I hope you don’t mind.” She smiled and put her hand on top of his.
Strangely, that loosened them up and the conversation flowed freely, mostly about themselves and growing up without dads, and helping their moms get by. Left hanging out there were their own small town futures.
After a nice meal, they were driving away in the restored pickup, Marie close by his side, when she said, “I don’t really feel like a movie tonight. Would you mind showing me your work on the guest house?”
“It’s a terrible mess, but sure, if you’d like. I need to call Alice and warn her about a night visit. She lives alone and worries about strangers.”
The guest house had a large space in the front that was a living room, more or less. Marie looked around and said, “You were right about mess. What’s that in the corner?”
“It’s a blow up air mattress. I bunk down here once in a while.”
He showed her the demolished kitchen and bathroom in the back. Everything was down to the studs with wires and pipes sticking out randomly.
“It looks bad, but actually, this guest house was well built. The foundation is sound and even level. The walls from the studs out are ok. My buddy Sam’s dad is an electrician and he is going to install a new master breaker box this weekend so we can begin doing the wiring over.”
She wrapped an arm around him and leaned up for a kiss. “Would you like a helper?”
Alex kissed her and held her and wondered if helping with the project might lead to more benefits.
“What if I come with you tomorrow and do a little cleanup and organizing while you are with Sam’s dad?”
He kissed her again and said, “You sure you want to get involved? When I was in the middle of all that dirt out back, I thought it was the project from hell.”
“Let’s give it a try and see what happens. Kiss me again.”
When they got back to the truck, in order to get Marie home before midnight, she pulled him down for another steamy kiss and put his hand on her breast. “I think I’m getting to like you. And like your truck. This is a great place for making out.”
He walked her to the door. Sheila was there to open it, “I’m not really hassling you, Alex. I was just making some tea to take to bed with me. Thank you for bringing my daughter home safe and sound.”
Marie giggled and said, “Yes, mom.” She turned and gave Alex a passionate wet kiss right in front of her mother. “Good night, see you tomorrow.”
Alex was almost walking on air, but told his mom, Sheryl, only that he had a nice date with a girl from school and she wanted to help with the guest house project.
She said, “Alex, don’t you get her hurt in that awful mess. She could illegal bahis siteleri fall through the floor, or grab a live wire. That’s a war zone out there,” she kidded him.
“Marie is smart about those things. She got A’s in high school and is studying pharmacy so she can help her mom at the drugstore.”
“Oh, you were out with Marie Thompson? I’ve known her mom for ages. You be nice to her, no rough stuff, you understand me?”
“She told me at dinner that she took the women’s self defense class in high school and is taking karate at JC now. I think I am the one who is in danger.” He grabbed Sheryl around the waist and gave her a good kiss on the neck.
“Alex, I think there is hope for you yet. You went through high school not even looking at a girl, much less dating one.”
Alex headed for the stairs. “I suppose the next thing, you are going to want all the details of my romantic encounters?”
“Absolutely. It’s my duty as your personal adviser on affairs of the heart.” They went up the stairs together.
In the morning, Alex was up early and throwing down a good breakfast when his mobile rang.
“Are you up yet? When will you pick me up?”
“Well, I guess I have to give you an hour to do your makeup and pick out underwear.” He was smirking as his mom came into the kitchen.
“Alex Livingston, I’m giving you exactly twenty minutes to be at my door. Otherwise, you are in big trouble. No kisses, no nothing!”
“Yes, ma’am, right away ma’am.”
“What was that?” his mom asked.
“Marie wants to know why I’m not at her house already.”
“I guess you’d better get your buns moving. Your helper is better organized than you are.”
Alex ran out and found Marie at the curb when he got to her house. She jumped in and kissed him.
“Am I allowed to tease you like I did on the phone?” She was being very cozy this morning, sitting so close that one leg was on his side of the old fashioned floor shift. “Do you want me to shift for you, or do you need to put your hand in here?” She pressed his hand into her crotch and Alex almost died.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend before, so I don’t know what to expect.”
She pulled his hair and kissed his ear. “Just be yourself. I like you that way.”
She discovered there was a brand new stereo in the truck and even a Taylor Swift disc in the player. She hummed along to ‘I’m Never Ever…’
She asked Alex, “Did you know she makes up songs for her ex-boyfriends? It was on the Web.”
“If Taylor Swift was my girlfriend, I’d do a lot to avoid being an ex.”
Marie laughed and poked him in the ribs. “It’s too soon for us to be ex’s. We haven’t had our first fight.”
Alex wondered what had happened to have such a girl interested in him. When they got to Alice’s place, she surprised him again by asking to borrow the truck for a little while.
“You know how to drive shift?”
“Check me out when I drive away.” Just like that, she was disappearing down the road, smooth as silk.
Sam was there in a few minutes, saying, “Alex, we have to get a move on, I’ve had an emergency job come up with a good customer. We can finish this by noon if you help me.”
Alex hardly noticed when the truck came back, although he did hear noises from the front. Sam had him holding large conduit while he cut and bolted it to the side of the house.
In a while, Marie appeared and introduced herself to Sam. “I don’t know anything about electrical but that looks good.”
“Sorry I can’t talk Marie, but Alex and I have to get this box and breakers installed and cut over by noon. Nice to meet you.” Marie disappeared back to the front of the guest house.
They actually had the house service cut over and several circuits installed by eleven. Alex took a break as Sam drove away. He came around the side of the house and nearly fell over. Marie had come back from the lumber yard with plywood and 4×4’s and tarps. On top of the new platform, she piled all of the stuff from the living room she thought should be saved.
“My gosh, Marie, you are incredible.”
“I talked to Mom’s friend, Jack, who did the floors in our house. These are the same narrow strip hardwood and can be restored. He says if you and I take up the baseboard today, he will come over and sand them tomorrow. They have to be sealed and varnished immediately and he told me what finish to buy. It’s water based and won’t stink for days. Now, why don’t you take me someplace for lunch and we can get supplies on the way back.”
“Holy shit,” Jack said to himself, this girl is something else.
Driving back to the project, Marie said, “Here’s my plan if it is ok with you. I’ll do the cleaning and painting of the ceiling and walls, and the floor once it’s sanded. You get new power to new receptacles, and the phone line back. You subscribe to broadband Internet. We make the front room into a study hall with our computers and a printer. That way, we can work on the house and keep up with canlı bahis siteleri our schoolwork at the same time.”
He parked the truck and took her into his arms. “I don’t know how I deserve all this, but I’m sure happy to have you doing it. You’re my partner, not just a helper.”
“Keep talking that way, you’ve got me all jazzed up about making a real livable space out of this wreck.”
Alex and Marie spent every available hour for the next ten days working on the project. Marie had a parallel project, which was seducing her new boyfriend. She was sure Alex was still a virgin. She told herself that she wasn’t going to get hot and heavy with Alex until there was a working bathroom. Then she made things more difficult by showing Alex some design ideas from a magazine about bathrooms. “It says here,” she told him, “that every modern bathroom needs a waterfall shower and a bidet.”
He looked at her blankly and said, “What’s a bidet, and what’s a waterfall shower?”
She showed him pictures. In one, a couple were standing under a big shower head that was raining straight down on them. In another, there was a toilet with a bidet next to it. She whispered in his ear, “That’s a bottom washer. It’s mostly for girls, but guys can use it too.” She giggled and put her arm around his neck. “Do you get the idea? Sometimes, women need to wash their parts. The French invented it.” She giggled louder.
He said, “So, when…” and hesitated. She kissed him and said, “Yes, when.” Then she said, “When is going to happen when the new bathroom has one of these installed and working.” A lot more giggles followed. She hugged him and nibbled on his ear.
The following days saw a new burst of energy on Alex’s part to get the bathroom usable. Without saying anything to him, Marie went to see Alice and asked if the new sofa could possibly be a new sofabed. Alice looked at her and smiled and said she thought that was a nice idea and could be arranged. The seduction plan was falling into place.
The moms heard nothing but project talk and decided they had to come out and inspect. Alex and Marie begged off, promising an event a week from Saturday. In advance, they invited Alice to take a look and she was so impressed, she agreed the new furniture could go in the front room immediately.
Saturday afternoon, they asked if they could shower at Alice’s house. She welcomed them and insisted on providing some munchies and wine to carry to the guest house. Fred and Sam and Jack were invited too, but begged off saying business was too good.
The two of them just barely got fresh clothes on by five and rushed down to welcome Sheila and Sheryl. The front of the house was not much from the outside, but the inside of the remodeled living room was very nice. The new sofabed looked great. Flea market antique floor lamps went with the house. Marie’s computer table in the corner had their school things and a large display on it. There was a mostly clean sheet over the doorway to the rest of the structure. Alice and the moms were very impressed. “You seem to be very good at this. It looks like contractor work. Do we get a peek at the other part?”
There still was no kitchen except for a portable camp stove. In between the studs, new wiring and new plumbing poked out. But the bath was almost finished and gleamed with new fixtures. The three middle aged women looked at the bidet, and then looked at each other and Marie. She put her finger to her lips and shook her head to keep them quiet.
Everyone trooped back to the new living room. Alice and the moms insisted Marie and Alex sit on the sofa while they took the folding chairs. Alice said, “The three of us are really impressed with your dedication and your talent. We would like to take you out to dinner when it is actually livable. When do you think that might be?”
Alex and Marie were holding hands and smiling at each other. She said, “Alex tells me that never in his wildest imagination did he think a girl would be his partner in a house restoration. Isn’t that sweet?” She leaned over and kissed him.
He said, “With Marie’s help and a little more budget help from you ladies, we might have it ready in another month. Don’t forget, the two of us have first quarter finals in a couple of weeks.”
Sheila smiled, “Honey, the two of you make such a nice couple. What is it young people say today, they are hooked up, or having benefits, or something like that?”
“Mom, how can you say things like that in front of company! I’m not sleeping with Alex, at least not yet.” She blushed very pink and looked lovely.
“That’s all right, dear. Every generation has to invent some new words for doing what comes naturally. I know there is more work to be done, so we will just mosey along. Don’t forget to hit the books now and then.”
Marie picked up the truck keys and said she would be right back. Alex was sitting on the new sofa and sipping a beer. He looked at the large packages in her arms and said, “What’s that?”
“It’s sheets and blankets and pillows for the bed you are sitting on.”
“You dummy, get up.”
She made him help her unfold the sofa into a double bed. He looked awestruck. “When did this happen? Did I miss something?”
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