Page 22 of Virgin Next Door

Chapter Seven

Ann hated to admit it, but without the worry of not paying her mortgage, life got pretty easy for her. For the next couple of weeks, she enjoyed the freedom of paying her bills, spending money on food, hanging out with Katie, baking, and of course when they could, being with Eli.

He was … a mystery.

Walking down the street, she remembered the other woman who had been inquiring about a dog walker. She never got around to approaching her, but seeing as she was free for the day, she wanted to check to see if she needed any assistance.

She’d found the note left at the back of her washing machine, which she pulled out to clean behind, and this was where she had remembered her because of the address.

Holding the piece of paper, she hummed to herself as she walked up the small incline, going to the door.

Lifting her hand, she knocked, waited, and a few minutes later, a woman with crisp white hair opened the door and smiled.

“Hi, I heard you were looking for a dog walker.” Just then, as if called forth, six little dogs came bundling toward her.

She wasn’t afraid. With Eli paying for her house, she had been thinking more and more about getting the dog she’d mentioned to Katie. Of course this was all subject to her being able to keep both of her jobs. At the moment, her work at the DIY store was more fun than being a legal assistant.

Getting down to her knees, she stroked them, made a fuss.

“Well, well, well, I think you should come in, honey. It would seem my dogs have found a match. You’re the fifth dog walker I’ve had come to my door, and all the others have just gone poof as if they’re afraid when they all come out, barreling toward them. I know it’s not easy keeping a lot of dogs, but they’re really good.”

“And they’re so sweet.” She followed the woman inside. “My name’s Ann,” she said.

“Ah, Elizabeth, good to meet you.”

She gave the woman’s hand a shake, noting how firm her grip was.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” Elizabeth asked.

“Love one. I want to be honest with you. I’m not a trained dog walker. If there is even such a thing. I work as a legal assistant and at the DIY store.”

The woman laughed. “You do get around a bit.”

“I don’t mind, and I’m not looking to be getting paid or anything. I can walk in the mornings and the evenings.” This woman didn’t live too far from her house, so it wasn’t going to be hard to walk. Some of the weekends when Katie was home, it would give her something to do as she wasn’t always happy with being on her own. She could deal, but loneliness was a real heartache.

“I don’t mind paying you, dear.”

Ann took a seat at the table and waited for her to finish brewing her tea. It looked like she already had a teapot waiting, and she watched as the woman made them both a small cup. It was beautiful porcelain she served from. She walked toward her, putting a cup down with a saucer.

“This is beautiful,” she said.

“Ah, it was a wedding gift. My William unfortunately passed a couple of years ago, but I like to still have the memories of our time together. Love is so precious. It’s not to be wasted. Do you have a suitor?” Elizabeth asked.

“Me? No, I don’t have a suitor. Well, there is one guy but it’s not marriage or anything. Just se—I mean, friendship.”

Elizabeth chuckled. “You do know I’m not too old to know what sex is. Me and my William had it plenty of times. Not until we were married, of course. Times have changed. Six kids down the line. They are all off now, doing what they need to, but they always come back to check on me. They’re good kids. They want me to leave this house but I can’t do it. This place has all my memories. All parts of me. If I left here, I’d be leaving my honey behind and that I cannot do.”

Ann envied the woman’s love. Her relationship. Even in the briefest of moments talking about it, she saw the true love the woman felt. It was real, pure, and damn it, she hated envying anyone.

“So, enough about me. Do you live far? Will you be able to walk them regularly?”

Getting down to business, she told her where she lived and before she could even agree to mornings and afternoons, the woman sighed.

“Oh, I see, your friendship then, the sex one, is with the man next door.”

Her cheeks grew hot.

“Another telltale sign, the hot blush. He is hot, isn’t he?”

“You’ve seen him?”

“Are you kidding me? Whenever I hear of a new couple moving into those two houses, my curiosity gets the better of me. I need to know who and I like to have a little guess on just how long it will take them to get together. You and this new guy are taking a lot longer than I guessed. You see, I saw the way he looked at you when you moved in. You both moved in on the same day. That’s what I think the key is.”