Copyright @ Ashley Hastings
Okay, enough. I was going after this woman. I would look at the house, make my recommendations,
and then I would ask her out. No harm in making it an actual date, right?
I would take her out for dinner, and we could share a good bottle of wine and even better conversation.
I wanted to get to know her. I wanted to hear about her travels and why she had chosen such a vagabond
existence. So what that I was deviating from my usual routine. Yes, I trolled bars and
looked for the easy hookup, no strings attached. Dinner never happened, and conversation was
kept to a minimum. But that was okay. Was there really a problem with becoming friends before we had
sex? I would be clear on my expectations and expect the same from her.
I took about two minutes to unpack, which consisted of throwing my folded clothes into the dresser and
putting toiletries in the bathroom. I would worry about cleaning and uncovering the furniture later. Right
now, I had a woman to woo.
After stopping at my truck to grab my toolbox, I walked back to the main house and let myself in, making
a note to get a copy of the key from Alice. I made my way back down to the basement, figuring that was
as good a place to start as any. I was surprised to see Alice on all fours at the entrance to the closet
underneath the stairs. I took a moment to appreciate the view, because I’m still a man, before saying her
name. She jumped.
“Oh!” Alice got to her feet in a hurry. “You snuck up on me. I’m trying to get Sharpie to come out of hiding.”
“I forgot he was in here.” I crossed over to where she stood and peered into the closet. “I don’t see him.”
“He ran in here a minute ago, and I think he might actually be in the wall. See that little panel?” Alice
pointed to an access panel I assumed hid some sort of plumbing or electrical system. It was ajar.
She leaned into me, trying to get a better look in the gloomy basement. My brain promptly short-circuited
as I breathed in her natural scent. Like rainwater or newly fallen snow. Fresh and beautiful.
Shaking it off, I reached in the toolbox for my flashlight and switched it on. I illuminated the dark corner of
the closet, and Alice stepped in front of me. Crouched down on the floor again, she called for Sharpie, and
his shining eyes appeared. Alice held out her hand, and Sharpie slowly advanced, finally giving in to head
butt her outstretched hand. His purr filled the closet. Alice rubbed his head. “Does that feel good, Little
Sir?” I bet it did.
“This is an odd place for an access panel. I mean, it’s so low to the ground.” I was mostly talking to myself,
but Alice nodded.
“Yeah. And it’s kind of hidden. If it were closed, I don’t think I would even realize it was here.” She pulled
the panel open wider so I could see inside. Nothing. I leaned in further and shone the flashlight deeper into
the panel opening. Still seeing nothing of interest, I stepped back. Alice stopped me with one dainty hand
on my arm. “Wait! What was that?” Alice fished her hand around, out of my view, and pulled out a small
cloth bundle with a triumphant flourish. We stepped out of the cramped closet, and Alice unwrapped her
find. We stared at a small, leather book of some kind. Alice opened the old book with care. Scrawled
on the first page with a feminine hand were the words, “Diary of Willow Baxter, Started
November 1918, Age 16.”
I scratched the stubble on my chin with one hand, still looking at the diary. Alice did a little happy
dance. “Willow must have lived in the house and hid her diary here. This is so freaking cool.”
Fuck, she was adorable. We sat down on the stairs together, and Sharpie sat a few steps above us,
spread his legs, and started cleaning his asshole with no shame whatsoever.
Alice turned the page with extreme care, and her eagerness to read the secret thoughts of a
teenager from over a hundred years ago made me smile.
“So, let me guess. She’s going to ramble on and on about petticoats and ribbons or some shit.” I
rolled my eyes, prepared to be bored.
Alice punched me in the arm. “Hush! Let me read.”
I was ready for any excuse to spend time with Alice, so I shut my mouth and listened.
Author Ashley Hastings:
Ashley Hastings latest book is Sweet Talk.
She writes new adult, romantic fiction with a dash of suspense and a liberal sprinkling of humor.
A lifelong Southerner, Ashley creates quirky characters in a small-town setting. When she’s not
busy plotting her next book, Ashley is collecting cats and planning a future as a crazy cat
Ashley’s favorite quote is “If opportunity
doesn’t knock, build a door,” by Milton Berle. She intends to build all the doors.