The stately grand dame sat nestled between her neighbors, admiring how the sun reflected off her newly painted walls. Oh how grateful she'd been when her new caretakers (she refused to call them "owners") opted to restore her original beauty instead of resurfacing her exterior with cheap plastic siding. She preened, fluttering her new shutters lest her neighbors not notice.
The brick ranch house beside her sighed, rolling its front windows slightly. "Yeah, yeah, so they fixed you up. Big deal. I got a new sprinkler system!"
Delores sniffed, horrified by the mere thought of her lovely lawn dug up to install sprinklers. As if! Her caregivers lovingly watered her lawn by hand. And she had to admit that the new rose bushes set off her all-weather paint exquisitely.
She cast her gaze up and down the street, sorrow tugging at her heart. Of the old crowd, she alone stood proud and tall, once snidely referred to as a relic from another age, a moldy, crumbling ruin. And she had been, she thought sadly. Before "her boys" showed up.
"It's perfect!" one crowed the moment the realtor stepped out of earshot. Billy, the dreamer.
"Shhh… not so loud. It's been empty a while, maybe I can talk him down," the other replied. Eric, the sensible one.
"I don't care what it takes! I've loved this house since I was a little kid, and it breaks my heart how run down it's gotten."
Delores tried her best to hug the dear boy, whom she'd once watched ride his bicycle past her sidewalk every day, book bag slung over his shoulder.
Eric put his head close to Billy's. "If you want it that bad, it's yours." He smiled, melting the cold cockles of Delores' rusted-out furnace.
Then the two men… kissed! Oh! She swore her chipped and peeling paint flushed flame red. Two. Men. Kissed. Well, in her day Delores had been considered a bit before her time, and if they used their hands as skillfully on her rotting floorboards as they did on each other…well…
The next time she saw her boys they pulled up in a pickup truck, several other trucks pulling alongside, carrying friends with power tools. The group rewired her circuits, replaced weak boards, and scrubbed that embarrassing crud off her porcelain fixtures. Every weekend she looked forward to a passel of buff young men, lavishing her with attention. And when the weather warmed, they worked shirtless, in shorts. She couldn't help herself and occasionally goosed one of her handsome admirers with a well-aimed cabinet door.
Then, after months of work, she opened her doors once more and her boys moved in. How happy they'd all been for four wonderful years full of kisses, laughter, and moments when Delores confined her consciousness to the attic or basement to give the boys some privacy.
Lately, though, Eric had been spending more and more time at work, and Billy, worried soul that he was, often shared his woes with Delores.
"It's that slut, Christian, I know it is," he grumbled into the ruined tuna casserole that he'd lovingly kept heated, anticipating Eric's return.
When Eric came home, Delores couldn't help noticing that he reeked of cologne that didn't come from one of the bottles kept in her bathroom.
"Oh, you're home!" Billy exclaimed. "Dinner didn't wait very well, but I can fix you a sandwich. Are you hungry?"
"No, I'm tired," Eric said, ignoring Billy to trudge up the stairs. Delores didn't miss the tears in Billy's eyes. She gently opened a closet door, tenderly stroking his back. "There, there, dear," she whispered, which Billy probably misinterpreted as a creaking hinge.
And now Billy was away visiting his sister. An unfamiliar car pulled up outside, and a handsome man stepped out. Delores knew his kind, so like the prefab down the street who thought he was all that when he was only a cheap knockoff of a Greek revival.
The guy had the nerve to open her door without knocking! As if he owned the place! She struggled, but he still succeeded in wrenching the door open. "Cheap-assed old house," the guy muttered. "Once Eric gets me my bonus, I'll buy that condo I want downtown."
The guy stepped inside, grin becoming positively feral when he heard Eric whistling upstairs. He bounced up the stairs two at a time.
She hated to do it, for it was Billy's gift to her two Christmases ago, but Delores loosened the hall chandelier, ready to drop it on the idiot's head.
"What are you doing here?" Eric stepped out of the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist. His voice wasn't welcoming.
"I came to see you, babe. I know Billy's gone and I thought, well…" He skated his fingers up Eric's bare arm.
Okay, if she aimed right, she could bounce those crystals off both their heads.
"I told you, I'm not interested. It's bad enough your fuck-ups mean I have to stay late at the office, but I'll not have you coming here, to my house."
The guy smiled, pouring on the charm. "After all we've been to each other?"
"What the hell are you talking about? I've never touched you!"
"Oh yeah?" The guy's grin turned vicious. "Then how do you explain these?" He held out a photo of himself and Eric in a compromising position.
Delores rocked on her foundations until taking a closer look. Something about those photos didn't look right. For one thing, the man in the photo's shoulder was bare. Her Eric had tattoos. Even a '30s Tudor like her recognized a fake when she saw it.
"That's not me, that's Photoshopped!" Eric shouted. "Get the hell out of my house, now! I'm a happily married man and have no intention of playing your little games!"
Delores loosened the chandelier a little more…
"Uh-huh. And what will your darling hubby say when he sees these?"
"Nothing! Because he trusts me! He'd never believe your lies."
"Uh-huh, and how did sweet cheeks like that scent I sprayed all over you?"
Delores wished she could agree with Eric's assessment, but she couldn't. Poor Billy. She felt bad about having wanted to whack Eric over the tuna casserole incident.
Eric's stern demeanor faded. "What do you want?"
"Simple. You hand over the Rogers portfolio to me, and give me full credit for landing the Edwards account."
"Wait a minute. Rogers is my most lucrative account, and I had to chase Edwards down and apologize after you blew the deal!"
Maternal instincts kicked in. A little sweet talking and a biddable squirrel caused the asshole's car to shriek in fear. "My car!" the guy exclaimed, darting out of the room and down the stairs.
Delores couldn't be sure, but she might, just might, have wiggled the top step loose.
Thank*snerk*you, Eden, for putting such great words to this picture!
Eden has a completely different but equally terrific story, and for my opinions on it, see the next post down. Diversion is one great read!
Drug dealers aren’t always on the streets; sometimes they sit in offices and boardrooms, selling merchandise in official-looking bottles instead of little cellophane bags...
When given a choice between eight more years in prison or using his “expertise” to assist the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau's Department of Diversion Prevention and Control, convicted drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter takes the sentence with the illusion of freedom. Cynical and unwilling to admit he’s begun to care about his job, he counts the days until his debt is paid. His sole obstacle to getting his life back is the rookie he’s assigned to train before he leaves—a rookie who quotes pharmacy texts, hasn’t paid his dues, and has the obnoxious tendency of seeing the good in everyone, including the target of their investigation.
Former Marine Bo Schollenberger dreamed of becoming a pharmacist, but watched the dream turn into a nightmare of PTSD-fueled prescription drug abuse. Battling his demons daily, he wakes up every morning, wondering, “Will this be the day I give in?” To keep his license, he must now put his skills to use for a diversion control task force, deal with a crude partner with too much attitude and no brain-to-mouth filter, and take down a drug lord who reminds him of his favorite cooking show hostess.
The bad guys don’t stand a chance—if Lucky and Bo don’t strangle each other first...
Buy it here.