Home > Wait for It(9)

Wait for It(9)
Author: Mariana Zapata


The thin slivers of her white eyebrows went up half an inch on her forehead.

That was my cue to get the hell out of there before she could ask something else that was going to make me mad. I smiled at the woman despite being pretty sure she couldn’t see it and said, “It was nice meeting you, Miss—”

“Pearl.”

“Miss Pearl. Let me know if you need anything,” I forced myself to offer, knowing it was the right thing to do. “I work a lot, but I’m usually home Sundays. My phone number is on the container,” I said, holding the Rubbermaid right up against her hands, which were clasped in front of her.

She took the container from me, her expression still a little off.

“Well, it was nice meeting you,” I said, taking a step back.

Were her eyes still narrowed or was I just imagining it? “Nice meeting you, Miss Cruz. I hope these Mexican cookies are good,” she finally replied in a tone that said I shouldn’t hold my breath.

I blinked at the “Miss Cruz.”

With a sigh punching at my throat to get out, I jogged down the steps and headed toward the next house. Unsurprisingly, no one answered. It was the middle of the day on Tuesday. Most people would be at work. I didn’t need to look at the bag to know there was one more container of polvorones to deliver. One more set of cookies for the home where I’d helped break up a fight and seen a man in his undies. I’d be damned if I went back home with them, or worse, tried to hide them because I didn’t want to have to listen to my mom rail me for not doing what she requested.

I blew out another breath as I climbed down the steps of the second to last house, distractedly noticing that the red car that had pulled over while I’d been talking to my next-door neighbors was still there. Huh. In the day since the beat down, I hadn’t seen any cars in the driveway. But a red sedan didn’t exactly seem like the kind of car either man that had been in the house would drive.

For a moment, I hesitated. Then all I had to do was think of my mom waiting for me in the house, and I knew I didn’t have a choice unless I wanted to hear about it all night, or worse, have her threaten to go meet the neighbors herself because I hadn’t. Was I ever not going to be scared of her?

Down and around the sidewalk leading up to the house I had been in once, I jiggled the cookies in my hand. I eyed the Chevy for a second as I walked by it and headed up the neat walkway toward the front door. It was a better-looking cousin to my place… only this one was hiding the horrors within.

At the door, I knocked but there wasn’t a single noise from inside. I rang the doorbell, and when still nothing stirred, I set the container of cookies on the deck on top of the doormat, ripped my business card off the lid, leaving only the Post-it, praising Jesus that I’d gotten out of talking to this neighbor—or his friend or roommate or whoever that man had been—at least for a little while longer. It wasn’t that I was embarrassed. I wasn’t. I hadn’t done anything other than save the man’s ass, but I didn’t want to seem like some stalker showing up to their house just two days afterward.

“Hey!” a feminine voice called out.

Turning around, I frowned at the black-haired woman standing on the side of the sedan furthest away from me.

“Yeah?” I called out, squinting against the sun.

“You know if Dallas lives here?” the woman asked.

“Dallas?” I made a face. What the hell was she talking about? We were in Austin.

“Dal-las,” the woman said slowly like I was an idiot or something.

I was still making a face at her, thinking she was the idiot. “You mean Austin?”

“No, Dallas. D-a-l-l—”

“I know how to spell Dallas,” I told her slowly. “Is that supposed to be a person?” Either that or she really was an idiot.

Pinching her lips that matched the color of her car together, she nodded.

Oh. “I don’t know anyone named Dallas,” I answered back in a tone nearly as snappy as hers as I walked down the steps. What kind of a name or nickname was Dallas anyway?

“About this height, green eyes, brown hair….” She trailed off when I didn’t say anything. That sounded suspiciously like a description of half the men in the world, including both of the men I’d seen at the house. The one who had gotten beaten up had dark blond hair but some people might think it was brown.

More than anything though, how was I supposed to know who she was talking about even if it was one of them? I didn’t know their names. Even if it was the beat-up guy, I didn’t want to get sucked in to some stranger’s life more than I already had. That guy just seemed like a bunch of drama I didn’t need or want in my life. The other one… well, I didn’t want or need that in my life either, even if he did have an incredible body. “Don’t you live around here?” she asked, still using that snarky voice that called to my inner attitude like a siren.

I bit the inside of my cheek as I walked down the path, telling myself I couldn’t pick a fight less than two weeks after moving in. I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I was going to live here for a long time, I hoped. I couldn’t be starting some kind of beef so soon. But my voice backstabbed me, coming out exactly how I was feeling. “Yeah, I do, but I haven’t lived here long, sorry.”

I think the woman might have stared at me for a moment from the silence between us, but I really couldn’t tell. I heard her sigh. “Look, I’m sorry. I’ve been calling this asshole all day, and he won’t answer. I heard he was living here.”

I shrugged, my temper starting to ease at her apology. Technically, even if my neighbor was named Dallas, or Wichita or San Francisco, I didn’t know that and therefore didn’t know a Dallas, so I wasn’t lying. Plus, I could barely keep track of my own schedule, much less someone else’s. I tried to think of Beat-up Dumbass’s face, but could only get a clear image of all that horrible bruising while he’d been lying on the recliner. “No. I’m sorry. I don’t know anyone.”

With a long and aggravated sigh, the woman dipped her head just as I got within a foot of her car, close enough to really see her face. She might have been older than me, but she was really pretty. Her face was oval, her makeup perfectly done, and she was wearing skintight clothing on a curvy body, even I could appreciate. Once upon a time, I’d put on makeup and curled my hair just to go to the grocery store. Now, unless I had to work or was going someplace where pictures were going to be taken, it wasn’t happening.

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