Samuel Owens stood at the door of his new home waiting for the moving van. He’d been living in a motel room a half hour drive away and the moving company had informed him by phone early this morning they expected to reach their destination at 9am. It would be wonderful to get settled as he had to start work at Pleasure Technology Corporation next week. They’d headhunted him from his recent job working on apps for a gaming company in Silicone Valley.
The games he’d constructed during his time there had put him on the radar of this start-up company on the east coast and they’d enticed him with an offer of increased salary and benefits which he couldn’t refuse. He’d been offered another job with a gaming company located in Yokohama Japan and while the salary and benefits there would have exceeded what was currently offered, he wasn’t venturesome enough to relocate to another part of the world where he’d have to learn another language. Perhaps he’d take a course in Japanese language in the event a similar offer appeared in future.
He’d done very well for himself considering he was relatively young at thirty years to be commanding such a salary and Sam as he was known to all his friends was totally committed to the work he’d studied and been trained to do.
He was missing Helen who he’d worked with in Silicone Valley. Their relationship had been professional to start with but over time they spent so much time working and sharing social time together everyone thought of them as an item and fully expected someday Sam would ask for her hand in marriage. However, when Sam told her of the Japanese work offer and attractive salary package for the assignment in Yokohama and how he was not interested in an overseas assignment Helen contacted them without his knowledge and within a matter of weeks had departed. Sam had been shocked as he fully intended to ask Helen to accompany him east and was beginning to pluck up courage to ask her to marry him. Perhaps she’d thought Sam was not interested in her as a potential marriage partner seeing they’d been together for several years without him hinting of marriage. Or perhaps she had no interest in marriage and was fully committed to her profession and marriage and family would be a burden. He had no idea which one it was but was deeply hurt there was no hint of what she was planning until she handed in her resignation.
Sam’s parents had large vineyards in Napa, California and their products were well known throughout the nation and in many countries abroad. They were proud of their children who’d made a name for themselves in various professions or worked in the family business in Napa. Sam as the youngest was the computer geek of the family from childhood and his parents saw he got the best of education in his chosen field. His former employer had been alerted to his talents by an IT professor who had family contacts in the corporation and a substantial shareholding. He was snapped up on graduation and enjoyed the learning atmosphere in his first corporate employment soon becoming a valued contributor with his innovative games.
These thoughts were suddenly swept aside as he watched the moving van come into view and position itself for a rapid unloading. Two men jumped out and guided the van as it sought the best position to unload into the driveway. Sam met the driver who appeared with documents on a clip board to supervise the unloading. Sam was happy to see his familiar items of furniture appear one by one clothed in protective packaging and marveled at the speed these men could peel it all away to reveal each item in turn carefully folding packing material for return to their warehouse. He directed placement of each item, as he’d carefully planned the layout of his new house and positioning of furnishings before he left California for the car trip across from west to east. He’d used developed skills in building a program so he could see how it all looked in 3D having stored the dimensions of the home and window and door placements when he’d flown over to inspect and buy this home. So, the unloading happened quickly except for kitchenware that had to be placed in drawers and cupboards. His clothing and items like electronics had come with him packed in the van which he sometimes used weekends on camping trips so there was adequate room for much of his personal items which were already put aside to be placed on furniture now arrived.
He’d celebrated Christmas with his parents and siblings at their family mansion in Napa Valley and immediately taken off for the long journey across multiple states until he reached his new work location. His parents had been very generous to their children and Sam was still thinking with gratitude of the substantial amount placed in his bank as a going away gift to help him set up home here. Proceeds of sale of his house minus the mortgage in Silicon Valley plus what his parents had gifted him at Christmas had him able to purchase this place debt free. The last couple of days he’d spent looking for gardening supplies for the new home and hanging out with his computer at the motel with occasional trips to restaurants when hunger pains alerted him to the fact, he needed time away from that computer.
With papers signed off the moving van was soon disappearing down the street and Sam turned to go back up the driveway to begin placing kitchen items in cupboards and arrange his electronic equipment now furniture was in place. His eye caught someone trying to get his attention at the neighbor’s home front yard. He turned to see who his neighbor was.
“Hi, my name is Lidiya Blanchet. Welcome to our neighborhood. Can I come over and look at your home. I used to visit there quite often when the previous people lived there as Ruth and James were good friends and I’m interested to see how you’re set it up. I’d like to get to know your wife.”
Sam laughed. “I’m afraid I don’t have a wife, but you and your husband are welcome to visit anytime, and you can come on over now as the house is set up except for putting kitchen items away and placing electronic equipment but that can wait.” He turned and went inside to make sure it was presentable glad the lounge area was ready to receive guests.
Ten minutes later two women and a young child were at the door knocking.
Lidiya introduced the older woman with her. “This is my mother, Nadia Kosko.”
She then pointed to the little girl holding onto her mother’s leg. And this is little Anastasia, but we call her Anna.
Sam inclined his head in respect. “I’m very happy to meet you and look forward to meeting your husbands later.”
Lidiya glanced at the floor. “I’m afraid that will not be possible as my husband died in a tragic accident soon after we were married. We were living in the San Francisco area, and he was working for the navy when it happened. I returned home to this place with Anna so mom could help me bring up Anna while I returned to the kind of work I did before my husband’s death and Anna’s birth.”
Sam felt uncomfortable he bought back such sad memories for his neighbors and sought another line of conversation. “Your surname sounds French Lidiya.”
My parents were from the Ukraine, but my husband was of French extraction. You’re very observant. I notice the sign on the door says Samuel Owens do I call you Samuel?”
“Everyone calls me Sam. Your face looks very familiar Lidiya, but I can’t seem to place where I may have seen you before.”
“I was the weather girl at one of the TV Stations in San Francisco.”
“Of course! My family owns one of the largest vineyards in the Napa Valley, but I was working until recently in Silicone Valley so know San Francisco very well and remember you from watching weather reports. What a coincidence having you living next to me. Whenever I need to check on the forecast, I’ll phone you from now on.”
Both women laughed and Lidiya spoke.
“I’m in advertising here. Work at a TV station is a 24/7 job so I’ve given that away and want to devote time to my little Anna as much as I can.”
The two women turned their attention to the house going from room to room discussing what their previous friends had placed in each room. Then the older woman spoke in accented English.
“I’d like to help you put your kitchen things in place please.”
Sam was embarrassed not wanting to take advantage of his new neighbors, but the old woman insisted, and he soon relented grateful for the help. Both women busied themselves in the kitchen unpacking and placing in cupboards and drawers and Lidiya turned to Anna.
“This nice man is called Sam, Anna if you ask him nicely, he might tell you a story while we put things away here.”
Anna turned hopefully toward Sam. “Can you tell me a story?”
Sam led her to the lounge and sat her down while his mind raced to try and satisfy the girl’s request. The games apps he produced for production and sale were in effect stories acted out, so he had a fertile mind and easily invented new stories. That made him a favorite with his nieces and nephews when he visited with them. A new story poured out as Anna sat spellbound and the two women paused to observe. Nadia whispered in her daughter’s ear and Lidiya gave her a playful slap and told her mother to be quiet.
When the job in the kitchen was complete Nadia beckoned to Anna.
“We must go home to prepare the evening meal now dear, thank Uncle Sam for the story.” Sam bought the story to a quick ending and the girl looked disappointed. She obediently went to join the women and Nadia turned to address Sam.
“We will be having supper at 7pm Sam. I’m sure you haven’t been eating properly during the move so you will be my guest tonight and enjoy a good meal.”
Again, Sam protested it was too much trouble for her and particularly after the women had worked so hard in his kitchen all afternoon. He should complete the installation of his electronic equipment.
Nadia looked at him sternly. “You will have a good meal at 7pm at my house then you can finish your work.” Sam realized it was no use arguing and nodded his head.
That evening as he returned home, he reflected on the days experience. Much had been accomplished and while he was mildly irritated at Nadia’s seeming commanding nature, he understood she was just trying to be hospitable. Her home was kept immaculate, and it was obvious there was a deep bond between her and her daughter and granddaughter. How tragic that Lidiya had been deprived of her husband so soon after marriage. His mind went back to his slavish interest with the weather report at night in California. The weather girl was a goddess from outer space who visited his TV whenever he had time from work to tune in. Now he was by chance living next to her.
Sam threw himself into work at his new job and was soon considered to be a valuable contributor to their stable of games app creators. His old habit of bringing work home tried to reappear but on weekends he found himself looking forward to work on yard and gardens as Lidiya would be out there with Anna and their visits over the hedge became quickly longer eventually morphing into day excursion together, eating out, hiking attending ball games and a long visit to the ocean to enjoy scenery there. Along with those increasing interactions were demands from Anna for stories and many of them became the inspiration for new games Sam created. It seemed they’d known each other for a long time but in fact it was only weeks into the new year. Grief he’d experienced at Helen’s sudden departure from his life was quickly forgotten and he found himself wishing for the stability and joy a life partner can bring. He wanted them both, Lidiya and Anna and it became a powerful emotion that had to vent in some way.
It was the last weekend in January, and they were heading home from the coast. Lidiya had been excited at something she’d seen out on the ocean and grabbed his arm to get his attention. The thrill of her touch was so powerful he involuntarily placed his arm around her, and she snuggled in willingly his warmth welcome as a protection from the unusual cold wind coming from the ocean. She’d held his arm on the return journey as the child slept in her child restraint in the back seat of the van. Sam carried the sleeping child in depositing her in the arms of her grandmother Nadia whose eagle eye had observed her daughter coming up the path holding onto Sam’s arm. She watched as her daughter walked down the driveway with Sam as he headed for home. They stopped at the entrance of Nadia’s driveway and turned toward each other in conversation. She wished she could hear what they were saying but hoped her wish was coming true. Her daughter deserved happiness and a partner to make her happy. It was time as her husband had been dead for a long time now.
Sam turned to Lidiya. “It’s too powerful for me to resist being with you Lidiya. I love you. First, I was infatuated with you as my goddess weather girl in San Francisco but now I love you because I know the real goddess intimately. Will you marry me? I know you’ll have to think about it as you haven’t known me for very long. Please let me know when you’ve thought about it. If you say no, I’ll keep to the boundaries that will place between us and will always be your friend, but I’d rather be your husband.”
Lidiya hugged him and Nadia smiled happily peeping through the window.
“Sam, I thought about it this morning and said yes before you even asked me this evening. I was so desperate to have you as my husband I’ve been plucking up courage to ask you myself and that would probably have scared you off. So, I’m so happy you asked. I’ve been praying all day you would. Mother will be so happy as she had her eye on you from the day you moved next door as a potential husband for me. I threatened her not to scare you away. Can we go and tell her now?”
Sam kissed Lidiya tenderly and they turned to retrace their steps to the front door. Nadia rushed to greet them. She threw the door open and embraced Sam.
“I’m so happy to have you as my son in law Sam.”
Lidiya laughed and turned to Sam. “I think you are beginning to understand just how passionate we Slavic people are future husband. Anna will be so happy to have you as her father rather than pretend uncle as she adores you.
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