Anything but Minor - Kate Stewart Page 0,1

entrance. I flagged the driver down, and as soon as he spotted me, he smiled and got out of the car to help me with my bags. He was an older man, mid-fifties with salt and pepper hair and kind blue eyes. He didn’t look like he’d missed a meal...his entire life. Carl was sweating like he’d just run a race as I reveled in the crisp spring air. I made a mental note to toss my sweater in the trash at home, as soon as I located...home.

“Ms. Blake?”

“That’s me. You must be Carl,” I said as he shook my hand with a smile.

“Call me Alice. Thank you for going out of your way to help me today.”

“No problem at all. I was happy to do it. So here she is,” he said as he pointed out a few features of my Toyota while he tucked my large suitcase safely in the trunk before handing me the keys.

“You can drive me back to the lot, and I’ll answer any questions you may have.”

“No need. I’ve researched it enough,” I said as I took the wheel and began syncing my iPhone.

“Just a few more papers to sign and it’s all yours,” he said with a slight southern lilt in his voice. I loved the accents associated with the south. So far, every single person I’d contacted in regards to my move had been nothing short of friendly and personable.

After buckling my belt and taking a look around the cabin, I asked for the address to the car lot and ordered Siri to start directing me.

“There’s really no need. I’m happy to give you directions,” Carl offered. I turned on the AC, despite being completely comfortable, and I saw his instant, but silent thank you.

“I’ll be relying on her quite a bit, so I need to make sure we get off to a good start,” I said, slightly uneasy.

He simply nodded. “You said you were working at the new Boeing plant, correct?”

“Yes, I start tomorrow.”

“Well, it’s less than a quarter mile from where we’re sitting. We’ll be driving by.”

“I know. I’ve researched that, too,” I said as I flushed slightly.

Google was my vice.

“New city, new job, this is an exciting time for you.”

“It certainly is,” I said as I listened to Siri guide us out of the airport. I spotted the plant, the place where I would be spending the majority of my time, making sure well-trained pilots lifted and landed safely. But I was far more fascinated by the palm trees playing peekaboo through the sunroof.

“I’ve never seen a palm tree,” I whispered in awe.

“Welcome to the Palmetto State.”

By the time I had made it to my new fully furnished condo, I was running behind to meet the realtor.

“I’m so sorry,” I rushed out, barely able to take in my lush surroundings as I met a casually dressed woman at the door, my overstuffed suitcase and carry-on in tow.

“No worries. I had to walk my Skeeter, anyway, so I swung by when you texted.” I was sure “Skeeter” was a pet name but got no further explanation. She turned the key and gave me an animated face with big eyes. “Well, take a look around.”

I braced myself. Renting from afar was scary business, but so far the drive into the complex had been absolutely beautiful. I’d even spotted a free roaming alligator on the pond bank on the drive in. I was tempted to stop and take a picture. I held my breath and then let it out in a huge and happy gust as I took in my new digs.

“Oh wow,” I chimed as I walked into the spacious kitchen with marble floors and new appliances. Adjacent and across the bar top was an even larger living room complete with dark wood floors and a stone fireplace. I was convinced it wasn’t just a home but a haven.

“The pictures really didn’t do it justice,” she said as she watched me closely. “I had the maintenance man put your boxes in the living room. They arrived today. I didn’t want you to have to drag all that stuff up yourself.”

I barely heard her as I looked at the beautiful furnishings. Things I’d never dreamt of in a place of my own, things without doilies under them. My mother loved doilies, crosses, and lace. I shivered at the memory of my old bedroom.

“It’s”—I damned near teared up—“perfect.”

“Ahhh, hon, you’re going to love it here! It’s a lot quieter than the other complexes