Two days later she appeared again. This time she had a messenger bag on her, half filled with magazines, newspapers and envelopes of different sizes. She spent a while observing them at work before raising her hand and waiving only when she was seen.
“Hi! Got some mail for you!” she shouted, far louder than necessary.
Tomas climbed down, dreading to get what was offered and Reed followed.
“Mail arrives once a week,” she explained, quickly scanning the names on the envelopes and handing four of them over, one for Reed and the other three to Tomas, “if you want to send something, you need to let me know first so I can get the stamps for you or come to my place.”
“The little cottage on north end?” Tomas confirmed without looking up, making his brother raise an eyebrow. He missed the odd grin it brought on his long face while she nodded.
“Yes, the green one.”
“Why is your house green?” Reed asked, curious. “Others are in light colors.”
“My father thought it would be posh.”
“Posh?” Reed snorted.
“Yeah, the yellow corners looked prettier on green and he’d already painted the edgings.”
“What?” This sounded like something a lunatic would look for, rather a normal human being.
“You believe in every word a stranger tells you?” she asked, grinning like a cat on a cream. “I liked the idea of poison green house with dandelion colored edges when I was little. Dad just accommodated me when I was kid and it stuck.”
Reed frowned and glanced at Tomas, wanting to confirm he agreed with him, when he thought she was a bit too cooked in the summer heat, but found his older brother oddly smiling as if agreeing with her instead. So that’s how it was? Tomas had already laid his eyes on her?
“I also have kraft paper for bigger packages and rope, but I don’t haul them around, so you need to come to the post office.” She continued her explanation on how mail worked. “You can call me on the local line to check if I’m in.”
“You hear that?” Reed leered. “You can call her…” He winked at him, but coughed hard when he caught his brother’s warning glare. Quick glance over on her confirmed she didn’t think much of that joke either. Damn those grownups, he huffed. He might be the same age as his brother, but he believed he still had that little something left in him that liked having fun every now and then. Those two seemed to have lost it along the way.
“Oh!” she said, remembering something and dug back into her bag. Shuffling past the other odd shaped envelopes, she came to a punch of colorful brochures on simple printing paper. “Phone book,” she counted them, handing each over after showing which one she meant, “emergency instructions, tourist map, code of conduct, recycling and garbage collecting. For everything else, you need to ask when the question rises.”
Reed grabbed the green paper from Tomas fingers and started reading. “You have rules of conduct?”
“Sorry, I didn’t have separate one for teenagers.” She added.
“Ha-ha!” Reed mocked back. “No, seriously, why do you have it? We are in 21st century!” He really didn’t get it – the woman couldn’t be much older than they were, yet prudish as hell. Had his brother moved into some closed off religious nutcase colony?
“They are paragraphs from your contract you might have missed, but which we would appreciate if you would follow. There are ten families, who live here year round, Mr. Bradenton, we would not like to spend the rest of our year cleaning after the tourist.”
“Sounds fair to me.” Tomas nodded and pulled open the first envelope he’d received. He concentrated on the few papers with gray edging. Looked like something his secretary would send over.
“If that’s all for now, I’ll see you around.” She nodded quick and turned to go back.
“Hey!” Tomas called after her. “What’s your name?”
“My name?” she asked, looking over her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I thought you already knew.”
“Why would we…” Reed started, but huffed in pain when his brothers fist pushed the air out of his lungs.
“Valerie.” She answered curtly, ignoring the brotherly show she was presented and continued back on the small road.
“If you’re finished antagonizing my new neighbors, would you like something to drink before we go back on the roof?”
Half an hour later he was still irked over the woman. She looked like a tiny elf compared to him and his brother, but he had never thought short people could be so annoying. Although it was refreshing to meet a woman, who wasn’t intimidated by their size, he didn’t like it, because just as there were many scared people, a lot of women were drawn to them as flies, too. And he’d have to watch it happening all over again, them getting clingy and his brother giving them cold shoulder. The bigger the better for some. If she was one of them, she’d just lost all integrity in his eyes.
“Who uses kraft paper for packages anyway? Can you imagine sending something to office packed like 1950s wet dream?” Reed let the hammer down with a clank and it went pirouetting over the roof tiles, straight towards the ground.
“Watch the tools, moron!” Tomas jested after it, silently ordering him to bring it back. “If it’d look that good, yes.”
“Sorry.” He climbed down and picked it up from the flowerbed where it had crushed few of the daisies. “You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you? The idea of this idyllic life somewhere off shores?” He asked, when he had climbed back next to him.
“Wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. Talking of dreamy – why are you so annoyed all of a sudden?”
He wasn’t about to spill how over one night he’d gotten dead jealous on his brother over a woman, who wouldn’t even speak two words with him while his hunk of a brother was around. It killed him inside. It irritated him not because this was how it always had been. Tomas always had women around and when he’d said he was moving out of the city, their own prospects skyrocketed, which had made his three younger brothers happy like hell. They’d even thrown a farewell party. He’d agreed to help out here, so when he’d get back, he could through himself in oblivion for a the last week left of his vacation like he’d earned it. Yet the prospect of losing to Tomas had never been so bitter before.
„You haven’t told them you’re staying here?” he asked, remembering her mention ten households. Maybe Tomas would stay away from her so he wouldn’t ruin his neighborly relations, but that thought made his stomach clench harder. Nothing “nicer” than to be shunned by the person you like based on social standards.
“Not yet. I want to test it first. If I don’t like it in the end, I can still say it was extended vacation.”
So he wasn’t sure about it yet? So he could still try getting in her panties?
Without another second, he turned around, slid himself to the ladder and climbed down, heading to the house. He needed a moment to reel in his jealousy or he wouldn’t last here even a day. He paced the kitchen few times before getting a glassful of water and gulping it down. Then he stared at the blue tinted thing between his fingers with a new formed question. Where did the island get its drinking water while surrounded by the sea? He doubted he should be that stupid, for he was sure there was a good explanation to it.
Four days without a companion for the night – he had to get out. He’d heard couple of ladies, who were here definitely for holiday. Maybe..
A large shadow appeared on the door.
“Reed? What is it?” Tomas asked, oblivious to his gloomy appearance.
“Too much sun. It’s midday, you big oaf.” He filled the glass again, but this time drank it calmer. No need to alarm his brother of his cabin fever. “Have you heard of fiesta?”
“You want ice cream and four hours on swimming?” he joked, but had already began unloading his tool belt. “May I remind you, you came here to work?”
“Then again, she did say the rain won’t touch here for another week…” Tomas drawled. “It has been ages since I tasted ice…”
“You don’t chew on the ice that comes in your drinks?”
“Hush, pushbone, I’m trying to give good impression here!” He puffed up his superman’s chest. “Ok, we’ll take a break, get your stuff.” he headed towards the room they used as their bedroom. The house actually had two, but since the other want still needed repair, they were cramped in one. They hadn’t shared the room even when they were kids, so this was strange to both of them.