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Amateur

This story is somewhat long and is mostly focused on characters—the sex is incidental rather than the point. I thought about splitting it and posting in pieces, but that didn’t feel right. If a 10–12 page story (it’s hard to judge accurately in advance on Literotica) isn’t what you’re looking for, please pass this one by with my regards.

Nobody under eighteen has sex, and the one character threatened with nonconsensual stuff is resourceful enough to avoid it. So, I hope you enjoy a little romance.

—C

Chapter 1

I happened to be walking into the darkened kitchen for a beer when I saw the flash of light out my back window. It wasn’t bright or long, just a momentary flicker. The thing is, there shouldn’t have been any lights. I back onto a wooded area, and the next house in that direction was a quarter of a mile away. I took my hand off the refrigerator door handle and moved over to the window to see. After a few seconds, I saw another brief glimmer. Someone was in my shed.

Should I call the police? If I was being robbed, I should. I mean, an old lawnmower and some hand tools weren’t worth that much, but I wasn’t okay with someone helping themselves to my stuff on general principle.

On the other hand, if it was Doug Hagerty from next door borrowing a tool, he’d be mortified, and I’d feel like an asshole. The guy was over seventy and being pinned in a cop’s Maglite would probably give him a heart attack. Eight o’clock on a cold February night seemed a little odd, but I’d told him, “Any time, just help yourself.” I’d been drowsing in the den, and no lights were on in the house. Maybe he thought I was asleep.

Call out to check? If it was someone pilfering my stuff, that would just let them take off with it.

I ducked into the front hall and grabbed the one iron from the set of clubs my dad had left there. I dialed 911 on my phone without pressing Send and quietly opened the side door to slip around the house. On second thought, I retreated and, tucking the golf club under my arm, quietly lifted an empty garbage can. Moving as softly as I could, I crept up to the shed and risked a glance in the window, prepared to complete the call and back away if I didn’t like what I saw.

Instead, I straightened and yanked open the door. “Can I help you?”

The long hair flew out as she whirled. With a reaction time that would have done a professional athlete proud, she hooked a backpack with one hand and, before I could say anything more, a shoulder slammed into my side and she was past me.

… straight into the trash can I had set on its side two feet from the door. Matte black, hard to see, easy to trip over. She went ass over teakettle, losing the pack as she fell. She scrambled into a crouch and looked at it, but it was two feet from me and ten feet from her, and I had a golf club in my hand. I could barely make out the grimace in the dim moonlight. She turned and darted off into the woods.

I dropped my phone into my bathrobe pocket and reached down to hoist the pack up onto my shoulder. I stepped into the shed and flipped the sleeping bag she’d left over the same shoulder. Glancing toward the woods to see if she had reappeared, I walked back to the open door.

Before I stepped inside, I let my eyes scan the tree line, but there was nothing to see in the darkness. “I have your stuff,” I called out loudly. “If you want it back, you can come ask nicely. I imagine you will since I hear it’s supposed to drop into the low twenties tonight.”

I started to close the door and then turned for one more thing. “Don’t mess with me or my things and I won’t call the cops.” I stepped inside and bolted the door as I always did.

It took fifteen minutes but, eventually, I heard my front doorbell ring. I flipped on the outside lights and looked out through the leaded glass of the sidelight. She had moved off the porch and was standing at the foot of the front steps, maybe fifteen feet away.

“Can I have my stuff?” she asked as soon as I opened the door.

“I think I said nicely.”

“May I have my stuff, please?”

“Yes. Why were you in my shed?”

“I hear it’s supposed to drop into the low twenties tonight.”

I cocked my head. When I replied, my tone was as dry as hers had been sarcastic. “I think maybe you misunderstand the situation here. I have your things. One little press”—I showed her the phone in my hand—”and the police come.”

“I’ll be gone before they get here.”

I smiled but it wasn’t entirely humorous. “True. But I’ll still have your pack, and the police will be looking for you, Madison Dwyer.”

It rocked her that I knew her name. “You went through my stuff?”

“Why not? You were going through mine. How much were you going to steal?”

“I wasn’t going to steal anything!” she protested.

I nodded. “Yeah, not much out there that’s worth anything. And most of my tools have my name on them. Still, I bet if you’d found something you thought you could hawk, I’d have found it missing in the morning.” The ataşehir escort bayan sideways glance told me I probably wasn’t far off the mark. “Why?”

She didn’t answer. After a second, she faced me again. “May I have my stuff, please? I’ll leave.”

I considered her for a second. I could see that made her nervous. “I said you could.” I pulled her backpack up from where I had it leaning against the wall, the sleeping bag re-rolled and neatly fastened in place. Opening the storm door, I dropped it outside. “I’d like an answer, though. Why would you rob me? You want booze to get through the night? Or was it drugs?”

She snorted. The porch light showed me the scornful expression quite clearly. “Not everyone on the streets is, like, a wastoid. I get hungry.”

She still hadn’t started forward to reclaim her stuff. I figured she was leery of coming within my reach, so I let the storm door close. I lifted both hands in a gesture of “I’m harmless” and stepped back a few paces. She edged forward. Her gaze never leaving me, she came up the stairs and reached for her pack.

“If you’re hungry, I have leftover lasagna in the fridge,” I said, loudly enough that she could hear me through the glass.

She didn’t respond, just backed off the porch and was gone.

I locked the door and returned to the den to see what I could find on TV. I figured it was fifty-fifty whether some small things would be missing from the shed in the morning. I settled on a Cheers re-run. I knew the show was a bunch of lame jokes with a laugh track to convince you it was funny, but my dad had loved it. And when he’d gotten sick, I found that I enjoyed sitting with him while he re-watched it and other shows like it for the zillionth time. What I’d rolled my eyes at when I was young was a connection now, a connection to a time when things weren’t so … so the way they were.

My thoughts turned to idle daydreams about the woman I’d seen in the diner this morning. It had just been a quick glimpse from the side as I turned from the cashier, but fuck, she’d looked good! At least, she had as far up as my eyes got before she was gone. For the zillionth time in the last few months, my thoughts flicked to the women you saw in the bars, the ones obviously working … but I was too chicken about what I might catch, and with my luck, I’d probably pick some undercover cop.

It was two hours later that my doorbell rang again. Once again, I saw her standing far back at the foot of the steps.

I opened the door and raised my eyebrows in a question.

“May I please sleep in your shed? I promise I won’t steal anything.”

I considered her. Her face was pinched with the cold. That wasn’t surprising since the thermometer was dropping fast, but I suspected it was also from hunger or exhaustion. She took my silence as reluctance. “Please! None of your neighbors have sheds, and the cops just chased me out of the bus stop. I promise I won’t steal anything.”

“Yes, you can. Or,” I said before she could turn away, “you can come in and have something to eat and then sleep some place that’s forty-five degrees warmer than my shed will be. That’s not a four-season sleeping bag you’re carrying, and you’ll freeze your ass off at a minimum. Frostbite or hypothermia wouldn’t surprise me.”

She went still. I didn’t say anything more or move. We stood that way for what seemed like an eon. Then I saw her shoulders sag. I pushed open the door and let her in. “The kitchen’s straight back.”

She wouldn’t meet my eyes while I puttered around getting stuff out. A quiet “yes” was all I got when I asked if she liked lasagna and an equally soft “water” when I asked about something to drink. I put two pieces of the pasta into the microwave to reheat. Ducking into the tiny pantry, I unwrapped the loaf of semolina I had cut into at lunchtime and carved off two thick slabs, spreading butter on them. By the time I had filled a glass of water for her and poured myself a glass of milk, the microwave dinged.

“Eat up.”

It was a quiet ten minutes. I didn’t ask questions, and she didn’t say anything more than, “Thank you.”

When we finished, I gave both plates a quick rinse and dumped them in the dishwasher. “Come on,” I said.

The way my house is laid out, the master bedroom is right at the top of the stairs, closed off by a pair of French doors that were standing open. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the resigned look on her face as she stepped toward them.

“No, that’s my room,” I said, pretending I hadn’t noticed her expression. “The spare is down here on the right. The bad news is that it doesn’t have an attached bathroom. You’ll have to use the one there,” I said, pointing across the hall. “The good news is that the washer and dryer are in there also, so you can wash your things if you like. Hang on …” I left her for a moment and grabbed another bathrobe out of my closet.

“Here, you can wear this while your clothes are in the wash. Raid the kitchen if you get hungry. Otherwise, escort kadıöy I’ll see you in the morning. I get up early and I’m tired.” I started down the hall, then turned back.

“Oh. The doors deadbolt, and you need a key to open them. Please don’t force a window or something. It’s too damn cold. I’ll let you out anytime you want to go,” I said, adding silently to myself: while checking to make sure you’re not taking a ton of my stuff with you.

I wasn’t tired, and I hadn’t slept in that bed for quite some time, but I figured that removing myself was the most non-threatening thing to do. As I turned to go into my room, I saw her standing in the door of the guest room, watching me. About fifteen minutes later, I heard the washing machine start, and the shower followed right after it. I waited until everything stopped and then another ten minutes, then I slipped out and went down to the den, turning the volume on the TV down to barely audible.

• • •

I heard her coming quietly down the stairs the next morning. I wondered if she’d try to sneak out. I wasn’t particularly worried she’d bolt with a backpack full of stuff because I hadn’t lied about the doors needing a key to open, even from the inside. However, I could just see the edge of the front door from where I sat, and I saw her drop her pack beside it and turn toward the kitchen.

“In the den,” I called out.

She jumped a bit, startled, then came in. “Thank you. If you’d let me out, I’ll get out of your hair.”

“I was thinking it was breakfast time,” I replied. I didn’t know how much of the thin figure was nature and how much was missed meals. I looked her over: the dark hair no longer matted under a watch cap, the jeans noticeably cleaner, a dusting of freckles on her nose apparent now that the smudge I’d noticed last night was removed. “You look better.” She went still again, just staring at me. I ignored it. “I should do the same. My coiffure could use some work,” I said with a grin, running a hand through my bedhead.

I stood up and led the way to the kitchen. “Do you know how to make pancakes from scratch?” I asked over my shoulder.

“No.”

“Okay, how about French Toast?”

“Yes.”

“Well, bread in the pantry, eggs in that bowl over there, butter and milk in the refrigerator, cinnamon in that cabinet. Griddle’s hanging over there,” I said, indicating the pot rack. “Why don’t you make some for both of us while I go put on some day clothes? I like three slices.” Without waiting for a reply, I headed upstairs for a quick shower and change.

Later, when our plates were empty, I asked, “So, what now?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m assuming that last night wasn’t part of your Master Life Strategy. So, what now?”

She ducked her face down and didn’t answer right away, but I waited her out. Finally, she said, “I was thinking I’d go someplace warmer, down south, and see if I could find a job as a waitress or something.”

“Sounds like a plan. How did my shed figure into that?”

Again, the reluctance to answer. Again, I simply waited. “I don’t have the money for the bus fare to Florida yet. I was going to try to find a job to get enough. That didn’t work out, and I needed a place to crash.”

“You picked Seylerton to try to find a job?” I asked in disbelief. “We’re not even a town.”

She shook her head. This time the answer came a little more quickly. “I had a ride with some college kids as far as Penn State. Then I had enough for a bus from there to Pittsburgh, but I got sick on the bus and had to get off in Johnstown. I stayed there a night, and then this guy was willing to give me a lift to Greensburg where he said I could probably find something but …” She trailed off.

“But?” I prompted after a few seconds.

She flushed. “But I decided it was a good idea to hop out when he stopped for gas in some place named Ligonier.”

She pronounced it as a liquid Leegonyeh like it was French—and actually, I guess it originally was—but I made a little tsk sound. “Don’t let anyone around these parts hear you say that. It’s pronounced Li-guh-neer,” I said, emphasizing the flat vowels and hard consonants.

I smiled to let her know I was teasing and to try to lighten the tone. I had a good idea that some variation of the “rides cost gas, grass, or ass” speech had prompted her to bail in a service station. “But that’s still, I don’t know, ten miles from here?”

“One of the women at the diner there was nice and told me the hardware store down here had a Help Wanted sign. She dropped me off on her way home.”

“They weren’t hiring? I thought they were too.”

She shrugged. “They had a sign up but they told me no. I think I wasn’t quite what they were looking for. Maybe two days without a shower … I don’t know.” I could see her eyes welling a bit. “I can’t seem to catch a break lately.”

I looked away so as not to embarrass her further. I heard her sigh and saw a quick wipe of her eyes out of the corner of my vision. “Probably just maltepe escort as well,” she said. “I never even thought about the fact that small towns wouldn’t have youth hostels or anything. Anyway,” she stood up, “if you’ll let me out, I should get going. Do you know when the bus comes through?”

“Not really. You have money for the fare?”

“Since I ate for free,” she flushed at that, “yeah, enough for Pittsburgh.” She looked down at her sneakers and then back to my face. “Thank you for what you did and for, well, not calling the cops last night.”

I nodded. “Why Pittsburgh?”

She shrugged. “Cities have jobs and cheap places to crash. Hopefully, I can find one. Other than that, it’s just a stop on the way to Florida.”

“Okay.” We walked out into the hall, and I unlocked the front door as she scooped up her pack. “Hey, Madison, look at me a second.” She turned, puzzled. “Is there anything in that pack,” I asked, watching her eyes, “that I’m going to be pissed off is missing later today?”

I saw the offended expression. “I promised I wouldn’t steal from you! Especially after what you’ve done. I may be a little desperate, but I’m not an asshole!”

I raised my hands. “Fair enough.”

I could tell she was still indignant, but she forced a smile and put out her hand to shake. “Thanks … oh … I don’t even know your name.”

“Will.”

“Well, thank you, Will. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me in a while, that’s for sure.” I watched her walk down my sidewalk and turn toward the bus stop.

Two hours later I headed over to Underwood for my daily late-morning coffee, jamming along to Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” at full volume, when I saw the figure huddled in the bus stop shelter. Killing the volume, I rolled down the passenger window. “Problem?” I called.

She shook her head. “Bus comes at eleven twenty-five.”

I pulled the car farther onto the shoulder, moving down so I wasn’t in the marked area. Leaving the engine running, I got out and waved to her. She didn’t move so I walked back. “Come on. Sit in the car. It’s freezing out here.”

“I’m okay.”

I shook my head in exasperation, reached, and snagged her pack off the bench. She still had fast reflexes but her hands had been up inside her sleeves and I got it cleanly. “Come on,” I ordered. She trotted after me and docilely climbed into the passenger side after I tossed her pack in the back. I flipped the blower on high and pushed the middle vent to point directly at her.

Honestly, all I had intended up to that point was to keep someone obviously down on their luck from freezing. I could wait for my coffee and Danish long enough to do that. But then a car swung out to go around my parked truck, and I saw Mrs. Thompson look over. I nodded in greeting. When she saw who it was, she looked away without acknowledging me.

The familiar conflict started: “Fuck you, I don’t need your fucking approval” at war with “I’ll show you.”

I knew myself. That conflict would never end because neither side of it was true enough to beat the other. I loved living in a place where my roots ran back generations, and saying “fuck you” to it wasn’t living there. And how do you show people who can’t be bothered to see, who heard something and made up their minds and then closed them?

I looked at Madison. And a back-eddy in the maelstrom of my mind let the second side in my private, internal war emerge victorious … at least, for today’s battle.

“Do you just need a job?”

“Why? Are you hiring someone?”

“No.” I watched the momentary hope fade as quickly as it came on. I pulled out my phone.

“Hi, Carrie, it’s Will Dannreuther. How are you and the boys?”

The throaty voice that always sounded as if it was on the verge of a chuckle came back, “Fine, Will. How are you?”

“I’m doing well, thanks. Hey, the reason I called is, are you still looking for someone to help out?” Madison’s eyes went wide at hearing that.

“Yes, I am.”

“Would you be willing to consider someone if I brought her by?”

“A friend of yours?”

“Well, more like someone I happen to know, but she’s eighteen and could use a job right now.”

“Sure, stop by.”

“Great. I’ll be by in a few. Thanks, Carrie.”

I looked over at Madison. “Carrie Schaeffer owns a stable just down the road. She’s a grandmother and caring for her two grandsons while her daughter is deployed abroad. She’s looking for someone to man the desk in the afternoons and early evenings while she deals with the kids. You don’t have to know anything about horses. She has a groom for that.”

She looked uncertain. “What do motels here cost for a day, and is there even one in walking distance?”

“You can stay in my guest room. Give me whatever Carrie pays you for an hour’s work a day to cover your food and whatnot and we’ll call it even. You’ll have enough for a Florida ticket in a week or so.”

I could see the undercurrent of wariness, more muted today, but still there. “Why are you doing this?”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t cost me anything to be helpful,” I said. I let her process it … let her work up her nerve, more likely … then reach a conclusion based upon last night’s events. At her nod, I headed over to Bothwell Farm Stables.

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