Old house, new owner

by Doreen F.

I had always wanted to have a dog. So when a friend of mine told me she was going to participate in a social project where she had to go to South America for 3 months and needed someone to care for her dog, I did not hesitate and offered to take him. JJ was a well-mannered Labrador and I had always liked him. My friend told me everything I needed to know. Since I lived in a house with a big garden JJ would have plenty of space. I only hoped that the neighbours would not mind. But most of them had either dogs or cats themselves so I thought it would be fine. The owner of the house next to mine had died a couple of months ago and it had been empty since then. Some work had been done, but nobody had moved in yet. I did not even know if it had been sold or if some heir would move in. I remember that when I was young my neighbour used to have at least one kid and a grandchild, a boy, my age playing in the garden, but as I grew older I never saw him again. My neighbour hardly ever had any visitors. After JJ had been living at my house for about a week a haul truck came and furniture was moved inside the house. I did not pay too much attention, but JJ got really excited and would not quit barking. So I went outside to see what was going on.

"JJ, itís okay, relax." The dog stopped barking and a man coming out of the house waved towards me. I waved back. "I hope he hasnít been bothering you."

"No, not at all, I donít mind. Besides he only wants to be in the centre of attention. As soon as I spoke to him he was quiet."

"Sounds just like him. Heís not mine, but Iím taking care of him since his owner is participating in some voluntary project in South America."

The man had come to the fence.

"Iím Josh by the way. Iím moving in here. My granddad used to talk about you, youíre Kirsten, right?"

"Yeah, thatís true. So, Josh, you inherited this house?"

"Kind of, my father did, but since my parents have been living in Portugal these past few years and have no intention of returning to their home country, my father gave the house to me. Iíve been living in a small flat in the city and I have always liked that house."

"I remember you from when we were kids!"

"So do I. Gosh, this has been quite a long time ago."

"When are you moving in?"

"Next weekend."

"Great, Iím looking forward to that."

"Me too, look, I have still some things to move in. I gotta go. Bye Kirsten!"

"By Josh! And if you need help, you know where to find me, right?"

"Of course, take care!"

"You too!"

Back inside I still could not believe my luck. Josh was gorgeous and really nice. I did not remember much of our time when we were young, but he had definitely not been that cute. JJ had decided to stop barking and was watching Josh moving his furniture. I was wondering whether Josh had a girlfriend and I was sure he had one. The guys I liked always had girlfriends.

The week passed quickly and finally the weekend came when Josh was supposed to be moving in. I felt kind of quivery and found myself watching out of the window a little too often. I was out for a walk with JJ, when Josh arrived. When I came back a car was standing in front of the house. As I was opening the gate Josh came out of the house.

"Hi Kirsten!"

"Hey Josh, howís it going?"

"I finally made it. I hope I didnít leave anything behind, but Iím quite sure I didnít."

"Whenís your welcome party going to take place?"

"Iím not sure Iím going to have one. My girlfriend and I just broke up and Iím not in the mood of celebrating in the home of my deceased grandfather. It doesnít feel like my home yet."

"I see. Well, if you change your mind, let me know. And if you need anything, Iím next door."

"Certainly, thanks. Do you want to take a look inside? I havenít shown it to anybody so far."

"Why not? Iíll just lock JJ into the house, Iíll be right there."

"JJ can come with you, if you like."

"Okay, come here boy."

Inside the house everything looked so different. I had not been inside for a very long time. The old furniture was gone and the walls were painted in bright colours. Everything smelled brand new and it looked great.

"Nice, very nice. It must have been a lot of work for you."

"Not really, I didnít have the time, so I hired someone to do most of the work. Iíd offer you a cup of coffee, but I havenít unpacked most of my things as you can see there are so many boxes full of stuff I didnít even know I had."

"Iíll leave you to it then. Thanks for showing me around."

"Youíre welcome."

"I could fetch us something to eat if you donít have any plans for tonight."

"Thanks, Iíll accept that offer."

"Come over at 7. Anything you donít eat at all?"

"Apart from mushrooms, I eat almost everything."

"Great, see you."

I went back home and I really had to drag JJ out of the house. He seemed to like the house quite a lot.

Back home I had to decide what to cook. I made a tuna risotto which was one of my specialities.

At seven my door bell rang. Josh came in carrying a bottle of wine. The food was ready and since it was a rather warm evening we decided to eat on my terrace. There was a slight breeze and we had a great evening talking about childhood memories, Joshís family and mine; about our former relationships Ė simply anything that came to our minds. Time passed so quickly and suddenly it was midnight. I had to take JJ for a walk and Josh tagged along. I showed him parts of the village he hadnít been to and by the time we were home it was around two. We said goodnight and went for our homes.

I had really enjoyed the evening and I hoped Josh felt the same. We had a great time and it felt like I had known him for all my life. I fell into my bed and fell asleep immediately. I did not wake up before nine when JJ was licking my face. "Good morning boy, I guess youíre hungry."

I gave JJ his food, got dressed and went for a little run with JJ. This had become my morning ritual on the weekend. I could do some sports and JJ enjoyed it just about as much as I did. There was no sign of life at Joshís house when we returned. I quickly had a shower after some stretching and read the newspaper while eating breakfast. JJ desperately wanted to help me, although he knew that he would only get the last bite of my bread. After breakfast I decided to go over to Josh and ask him whether he wanted to read the newspaper. JJ accompanied me. I knocked at the door. It took Josh quite long to answer the door. He looked kind of sleepy although he was already dressed.

"Morning Kirsten!" He yawned.

"Hi Josh, I hope I didnít wake you. I just wanted to ask youÖ erh, well since you just moved in I thought you wouldnít have any newspaper and since Iíve read mine already I thought you might wanted to have mine. I meanÖthatís stupid, butÖ"

"No, no, no thatís really nice of you, thanks. I was just about to go out and buy one."

"You donít look like that." I smiled.

"Youíre right, but you look quite fresh. How long have you been up?"
"Just about two hours. JJ woke me up at nine. I usually go jogging on the weekend; afterwards I had breakfast and read the newspaper."

"I take it, youíre an early bird."

"Kind of, but JJ helps a lot."

"Yeah, I can imagine that. Well, usually I stand up rather early, but yesterday has been quite exhausting and when I came home from you I had to unpack my toiletries and it was nearly three till I was in bed, I guess. Itís so quiet here. Iím not used to that. I could hardly fall asleep. But I woke up because I forgot to close the curtains and the sun shone in around ten."

"No need for apologies. I hope you donít mind that Iíve done the crosswords."

"No, thanks for the newspaper anyway; Iím really looking forward to having unpacked all that stuff."

"If you need help, just let me know. I know that this kind of work sucks and together it gets done much faster."

"Thanks, Iíll have breakfast now and maybe Iíll come back to your offer in the afternoon."

"See you."

I went back home and did some cleaning. At around two Josh knocked at my door.

"Do you still want to help me?"

"Sure, Iíll come over. Weíd better let JJ stay here otherwise thereíll be chaos."

"Okay, letís go."

Working together time passed quickly and in no time at all there werenít any full boxes left.

"Thanks, I think without you Iíd still be unpacking next weekend."

"Youíre welcome. Iím glad I could be of help."

"May I invite you for dinner at some nice place?"

"Certainly, but make sure that dogs are allowed. I donít want JJ to stay alone all evening."

"Okay, Iíll pick you up atÖ, well, letís say in about an hour?"

"Alright, see you."

I took JJ for a walk and then I put on a skirt and a blouse. We decided to take my car since JJ would be with us and my car had already become JJís second home. At the restaurant there were not too many people. The food was delicious and we had a fantastic time. All too soon it got late and since both of us had to get up early to go to work we did not stay at the restaurant too long.

Back home we said goodnight with pecks on the cheeks. I felt a rush of electricity running through my spines. What was happening?

I did not see much of Josh during the next few days. He was working and so was I. Josh was in a top position at a well-known company. I worked at the Ministry of External Affairs.

On the weekend both Josh and I were doing some gardening. I hated this so I only did what really had to be done. Josh did not seem too enthusiastic either. We spent most of the time chatting over the fence. The week had been really exhausting so I did not have any plans for Saturday evening. Neither did Josh; he needed some relaxation as well, he said.

After my evening walk with JJ I decided to watch a DVD. I had not seen "The Pirates of the Caribbean" for a very long time and I wanted to see it again before I saw the second part. Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow was so much fun to watch. Since it was a very warm day I had left the French windows open. JJ went into the garden unnoticed. He had done this before, but he had never stayed too long. Suddenly there was a knock at my front door. I was surprised. Who would be knocking at my door at this time? I froze the picture and got up.

Josh was standing there, JJ was right next to him and Josh was wearing glasses.

"JJ came into my house. I donít know how he did it, but somehow he managed to come for a visit."

"Oh, boy, JJ, what did you do? I hope he didnít scare you? I think he likes you thatís why he paid you a visit."

"Itís no big deal, really, he didnít disturb me, but we should check the fence for holes so this wonít happen again."

"Itís quite dark already, but letís take a look."

I turned off the TV and with a torch we went outside.

"Letís just see where he goes."

"Good idea."

"It must be over here. Can you hold the flashlight?"

"Right there, thereís a small hole in the fence."

"Do you know how to fix it?"

"Iíll give it a try and Iíll take another look at it tomorrow."

Josh worked really hard and hole got smaller.

"It should hold for now. Iíll do the rest tomorrow."

"Iíll keep JJ in for tonight. Did he interrupt you?"

"No, I was just watching TV, relaxing, you know."

"Yeah, just like me."

We went back inside.

"Can I offer you anything?"

"A glass of water would be nice."

Josh was sweating, he had worked harder than I thought. He took off his glasses to wipe his forehead.

"I didnít know you wear glasses."

"Yeah, well, I wear contact lenses most of the time."

"I canít imagine putting anything into my eyes."

"You get used to it, really. Thatís exactly what I thought, but itís not that bad. Nevertheless I like wearing glasses when Iím at home."

"They suit you."

"Thanks. Theyíre fairly new. My old ones were not quite up-to-date anymore and couldnít see to well through them anymore. So I bought these when I got new contact lenses."

"Good choice, really, erh, listen I was just watching a DVD, do want to stay and watch it with me?"

"Which one?"

"Pirates of the Caribbean."

"Thatís a great movie. Iím really looking forward to part 2!"

"Yeah, me too, thatís why I wanted to watch it again before the next part is released. So, do you want to stay and watch it?"

"Yes, why not."

Josh and I sat down on the couch and watched the movie. Afterwards Josh got up in order to leave.

"Uh, listen, would like to join our morning jog tomorrow?"

"Thatís a great idea, Iíd love to. When do you usually go?"

"Would it be okay, if we picked you up at 9.30?"

"Okay, see you tomorrow."

"Good night!"

I was really excited. Josh looked so great in glasses, also without them, but they made him look even better. We would be jogging tomorrow. Wow, I had to thank JJ for tonight.

In the morning I got up, put on my jogging clothes and together with JJ went over to Joshís door. I rang the door bell. "Come in, Iíll be right there", Josh called out.

JJ and I went inside. Josh greeted us wearing jogging clothes and his glasses. The specs touched my cheeks as we pecked each others cheeks.

"Ready to go?"

"Yeah, letís go."

Josh was in really good shape. We had a nice jog on the way I usually took. Back home Josh invited me for breakfast after we were showered. He made ham and eggs and fruit salad. We read my newspaper and JJ was eager to help us with the food when we were full.

"Letís take another look at the fence, shall we?" Josh asked.

"Of course, letís go."

In the daylight we could see that the hole was still big enough for JJ to slip through. Josh had the right tools and fixed it in no time at all.

"That was quick!"

"Iíve fixed things worse than that."

"I still donít know how this hole got here in the first place."

"Me either."

We went back inside Joshís house. I was surprised that he had been wearing glasses all day, but he looked really great in them anyway.

"SoÖwhat are youíre plans for today?"

"Well, honestly, I donít really have any, you?"

"Me either."

"We could go to an ice-cream parlour. I know just the one and itís not far away."

"Sounds great, but maybe we should digest our breakfast first."

"Yeah, youíre right. Iíll take JJ for a walk and then I could pick you up."

"Okay, letís do that."

JJ had to stay at home while we went to the ice-cream parlour. There were usually many people and many children of whom JJ was not such a big fan.

I went over to Josh. He was wearing contact lenses now. "Where are youíre specs?" I joked. "I just realised I had been wearing them all day, so I decided to get changed."

We went in his car this time. The ice-cream was delicious and we had a nice time. The weather was great and we were sitting outside. On our way back to the car Josh started to rub his eyes and blinked quite a lot. "Is there anything in you eye?" "Yeah, some dust, I guess. I have to take the lens out as soon as we reach the car." Inside the car Josh took out the lens and put it in again. "Well, itís better now. Letís go home. I have to clean the lens properly."

"Are you okay to drive?"

"Yes, Iím fine. Itís not far anyway."

Back home Josh rushed into the bathroom while I picked up JJ and took him with me to Joshís, who was still in the bathroom and I had to hold JJ who wanted to say hello to his favourite neighbour. I didnít want him to disturb Josh. After a minute or two Josh came to us wearing glasses.

"Thatís better for now. Hi JJ!" The dog was wagging his tail at an incredible speed.

"He really loves you."

"I think so too."

"Do you want to join us for a walk?"

"Sure, let the old ladies have something to talk about."

We took a long walk and towards the end of it, it started raining really heavily. It was not cold, but we were really wet. On our way out of the wood I nearly slipped, but Josh caught me and held me tight. I turned to look at him. His brown eyes were sparkling behind those glasses. It felt really romantic. JJ seemed to sense that too. He had moved around us and we were tied together with his leash. Then he pulled and we fell into the mud laughing. Lying in the mud we moved closer and eventually kissed.

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