Lending Library

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Şub 27, 2021 // By:analsex // No Comment

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Business had been pretty good for the winter months, such as winter was in Jacksonville, Florida.

Aidan Gray had owned the landscaping business he bought from the man who’d mentored him and taught him everything he knew six years ago. Now, at the age of 34, things were going quite well, and with summer just around the corner, the potential to make a lot of money was growing by the day.

It was the second week of April, and the grass was growing again, and that alone meant a huge surge in income. The economy was also booming, and people were spending money again. And a good share of the spending was going to luxury items like landscaping, and all of that was to his financial advantage.

College was a long way off for his nine-year old daughter, Sadie, but Aidan had learned early on it was never too early to prepare. His parents had footed most of the bill for his college education, and although he never used it in his job, majoring in literature had opened a whole new world to him; a world he still loved to explore whether through some new novel or rereading a classic.

Sadie was out of school for Spring Break, and she was with her dad as they headed toward the next job. Since losing her mother three years ago, her father had become her best friend, and it often seemed like he was her entire world. Then again, she was pretty much his whole world so if they were co-dependent, so be it.

Aidan loved having her along, and he’d have been thrilled if she wanted to just sit in the truck and listen to music, but Sadie loved helping, and he loved that she enjoyed it so much. She was now old enough and careful enough that she drove the riding lawn mower they towed around with a bunch of other landscaping equipment. She couldn’t quite control the edger or trimmer, but she did a bang-up job on lawns and was extremely careful not to run over anything but grass.

Since the weather was still just pleasantly warm with no trace of humidity, Aidan had the window down and the radio up. Sadie’d never heard the song that was playing, but she was having fun watching her dad sing along at the top of his lungs. She pulled her earbuds out of the iPod she was listening to, and turned to look at her goofy dad.

“Running on empty! Running on—running blind! Running on into the sun but I’m running behind!”

“Okay, this is the best part, honey,” he said very fast before going back to singing.

“Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive. Try not to confuse it with what you do to survive.”

Sadie turned the volume down on the radio just as her dad was really getting into it, and suddenly his was the only voice singing.

“Hey! What gives?” he asked.

“I don’t understand what was so great about that part,” she told him.

He wanted to tell her how much he wished he could do the thing he loved the most and get paid for it, but they had a mortgage, car payments, and a ton of other bills. So while Aidan’s first love was literature, he did what he did in order to survive. That he happened to be good at it meant being able to make a very decent living doing it. But it wasn’t exactly what he’d be doing were he able to do the thing he loved over what he had to do to survive.

He also didn’t want to say anything about how often he found himself trying to keep the love he’d had and lost with her mother alive by reliving the past over and over again.

Aidan had plenty of friends, who, like him, were in their mid-30s and who said they were already either bored to death in their marriages or essentially living on fumes when it came to intimacy.

That had never been an issue for him and his late wife, Kayla. One or both of them were always coming up with new ideas to…keep their love alive…and making love never got stale. He knew that wasn’t the norm for most people, but he still found it hard to accept that having sex two or three times a month—and boring, mundane, routine sex at that—was the norm for so many people.

From what little he’d read, he knew that a ‘sexless marriage’ was defined as making love twelve times a year or less. He and Kayla had made love at least that many times a month for as long as they were together. But all that was gone now. He missed her like crazy, but he did his best not to let it show in front of his daughter, and this was no exception.

“I uh, I just really like the beat,” he told her. While that was true, it wasn’t the full answer to her question, but it allowed him to avoid getting into a deep philosophical discussion well over her ability to understand.

She put her earbuds back in, turned on her iPod, then turned the volume back up just in time for her dad to catch the last stanza of the oldie he still loved.

She heard him singing even over the sound of her own music and laughed at her father as he sang, “Honey you really tempt me, you know the way you really look so kind. I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind.”

Aidan checked the digital clock on the dashboard to make sure they weren’t running behind then casino şirketleri sang the rest of the song just before they pulled up to their next job.

“Navigator? Is this the right house?” he asked loudly enough for Sadie to hear.

She checked the list of jobs they had, looked at the street number then said, “Yep. This is the right address.”

This job was for a new client he hadn’t met yet. All he had was an email exchange between the property owner and himself on his website. He’d upgraded it two years ago and although it was hard to say exactly how much extra business it had generated for him, he knew the site looked professional, and that it got a ton of hits. Business was exceptionally good so he considered it money well spent.

“Come on. Let’s go say ‘hello’ and see what we can do for this nice lady.”

Aidan knew the woman’s name was Quinn Johnson, but other than that, he had no idea who she was.

As they stepped onto the sidewalk, Aidan stopped when he saw a very large wooden box on a pole near the mailbox.

“Lending library,” he read from the top of the box. Right below that it said, “Free books.”

Curious, he walked over and saw it had a wooden door with a latch. He opened it then read, “Take one, return one or trade one. Enjoy the gift of reading!”

He reached in and grabbed the first book he found and smiled when he saw the title.

The Count of Monte Cristo.

That was the first classic he’d ever read, and the only reason he’d read it was having watched the 2002 movie version of the book when he was 16. The plot was thick with jealousy, betrayal, and revenge, and after seeing the movie and reading the book, he was hooked.

“What it is, Daddy?” Sadie asked him.

“It’s a lending library. You can take a book or leave one.”

“How do you check them out?” she asked, her only experience being the school library.

“You don’t, honey. It’s on the honor system.”

“What if someone takes a book and doesn’t bring one back?” she asked.

“That’s the risk you take to try and get people to read books,” he told her.

He held up the one in his hand, and Sadie recognized it immediately.

“That’s your favorite, right?” she asked, knowing it was.

“It is indeed,” he said as he gently bonked the top of her head with it.

Sadie giggled just as her dad said, “I think I’m gonna take this home and read it again.”

They turned to go the rest of the way up the sidewalk when a very attractive young woman opened the door.

“Hi, there! Are you the landscaper?” she asked cheerfully.

“I am. I’m Aidan Gray,” he told her with a smile.

He waited to see if she’d offer her hand to shake, and when she did, he shook it as she told him her name.

“Nice to meet you, Aidan. I’m Michelle Johnson.”

“Michelle. I was expecting someone named Quinn,” he said, still smiling. “Oh, and this beautiful girl here is my daughter, Sadie.”

“Hi, Sadie!” Michelle said. “Your father’s right. You are beautiful.”

“Thank you. So are you.”

“Ahh! That is so sweet. Thank you back!”

Michelle smiled at Aidan then told him, “Quinn is my mother. She’s out running errands so she told me what she’d like to have done. May I show you?”

Aidan raised the hand with the book in it and said, “Absolutely. Let me just put this in the truck first, okay?”

“I’ll do it, Daddy,” Sadie offered as she took the book and skipped down the walk.

“What a sweet girl,” Michelle said.

“She’s pretty amazing,” Aidan agreed. “And so is your lending library.”

“Oh. Right. My mom’s been a high school English teacher all my life, and she’ll do just about anything to get people to read. This has been out there for a couple of years now, but it doesn’t get a lot business.”

“I’d be happy to spruce it up for you. No charge.”

“Oh. Wow. I’m sure my mom would love that. If you don’t mind then, sure. That would be very much appreciated.”

“Consider it done. Just not today,” Aidan said as Sadie came skipping back up the walk.

Michelle walked them around and said, “First, my mom would like to have you mow the lawn each week. You know, trimming, edging. All that.”

“That’s all included in the monthly price,” Aidan told her.

“And then the hedges also need to be trimmed. After that just touch them up as needed. Lastly, she’d like some flowers planted along the front of the house and around the mailbox and the lending tree.”

“Any particular kind?” he asked.

“I think she said SunPatiens. White and red alternating all along the house.”

“Got it. Anything else?”

Sadie saw a gecko by one of the windows and was over watching it when Michelle said, “You don’t have a younger brother who’s as cute as you are, do you?”

It was clearly playful, but Aidan was used to be hit on quite regularly. Kayla hadn’t been the jealous type, but that was partly due to her being just as attractive as her very handsome husband. She, too, got hit on—a lot—and neither of them ever once casino firmaları even considered acting on it.

“No, sorry. I’m an only child,” he told her with a smile.

“Me, too. I just graduated from college last June, and although I’m not ready to settle down, the thought of doing so has started crossing my mind.”

She smiled then said, “I did see the ring on your finger, and I wasn’t flirting, by the way,” she added.

Aidan looked down for a second then looked back up, smiled, and told her, “Well, you’re a very attractive young woman, Michelle. You won’t have any difficulty finding a husband, that’s for sure.”

She thanked him then said, “I don’t know your wife, but I can tell she’s a very lucky woman.”

Again, it was an innocent comment, and while ‘his wife’ occasionally came up, he wasn’t nearly as good at handling that as he was with hearing how ‘hot’ women thought considered him.

Aidan reached up and kind of scratched the side of his head, glanced over at Sadie, then told Michelle, “My wife, she um…she passed away a little more than three years ago.”

“I…I’m sorry, Aidan. I didn’t mean to sound so glib.”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll take glib over somber any day,” he told her, the smile back on his face.

He saw her looking at Sadie and knew why.

“She’s finally doing okay. It’s been a tough slog, but she’s been incredibly resilient and pretty darn amazing.”

“It’s not the same thing, and I was a lot older, but my dad walked on us a little over eight years ago when I was 14. It really, really hurt me knowing there was another woman in his life, but my mom was just devastated. She says she’s forgiven him, but I know it still bothers her. She’s never dated much since, but…anyway, she’s my best friend, and whenever you meet her, you’ll know I’m telling you the truth when I say she’s still a very beautiful woman. If I’m half that pretty at her age, I’ll be thrilled.”

“I’m sorry for you, too, Michelle, and based on how beautiful you are, I have no doubt your mom is every bit as pretty as you say.”

“Thank you, and she is. Trust me on that,” the younger woman told him.

“Okay. This was a get-acquainted visit, so if you want to sign a contract, great. Or I can leave it for your mom to sign, and we’ll be back the day after that to get started.”

“Well, this is Mom’s house so yes, she’ll have to sign the contract. She’ll be back in a couple of hours so you should be able to stop back by anytime this afternoon at your convenience.”

“Great. Let me just get the paperwork for you then we’ll be on our way.”

He grabbed a contract out of the truck, penned in the requested services, then filled in the price before walking it back up to Michelle.

She thanked him again and promised to make sure her mom saw it as soon as she got home.

Aidan then thanked her before calling to Sadie to get ready to leave.

“Bye, Sadie!” Michelle told her.

“Bye! Nice to meet you,” Said told her as she took her dad’s hand and headed back to the truck.

“If I was into older men…” Michelle said to herself as Aidan walked away.

It was a little after noon when her mom got home, and Michelle did make sure to let her know the landscaping guy stopped by.

“Oh. Wonderful. What did he say?” she asked.

“He said…no problem,” her daughter replied. “The contract is on your desk in the office.”

“Was he nice?” her mom asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Michelle said with an almost evil smile. “Very nice.”

Her mom gave her the eye because she knew that meant physically nice.

Michelle shrugged then said, “What? He’s hot. Sorry, but I can’t not notice someone that good looking. He’s a little too old for me, and he has a daughter, but he’s pretty freakin’ gorgeous.”

“Which means he has a wife,” her mom said as though Michelle didn’t know that.

“He…did,” Michelle said quietly. “He’s a widower.”

“Oh, my goodness. That poor girl.”

“She’s very cute and super sweet. Then again, her father is gorgeous so her mom had to be attractive, too.”

Michelle laughed then said to her mom very dramatically, “I guess that’s why I’m so beautiful, huh?”

She struck a pose, and her mom shook her head and tried not to laugh.

When Aidan and Sadie drove off, she asked her dad a question.

“Did you think she was pretty?”

“Michelle? Yeah, sure. She’s very pretty. Why?”

“Well, I was thinking maybe you could ask her out,” his daughter said.

She knew that was a touchy subject, but she was old enough to know her father was lonely even though he always told her she was everything he needed.

“Honey, she said she just finished college. That means she’s maybe 22 or 23.”

“That’s not too young, is it?” Sadie asked. “You’re only 34 so it’s not like it’s a big deal, right?”

“Yes, but honey…that’s more than ten years difference. That’s more years than you’ve been alive,” her father said hoping she’d understand.

“But she’s a grown woman, Daddy,” his daughter güvenilir casino countered.

“Yes, but a very young grown woman,” he said sternly but not meanly.

When Sadie didn’t respond, he knew she wasn’t happy with his answer.

“Hey! Why would I want to ask her out when I already have the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world right here next to me?”

Sadie smiled then laughed, but her father knew she needed a mother. It wasn’t possible for her to have her actual mother back, but if he could find a loving, caring, woman, it would be very good for Sadie. And had to admit it would be good for him, too.

Aidan wasn’t a religious man, but he’d picked up a few Bible verses along the way, and one came to mind at that very moment.

It said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

He could attest to the truth of that first hand. Being alone, especially when raising a daughter all by himself—stunk.

After a long but rewarding day and a reasonably-tasty, well-deserved dinner, Aidan sat down to check the website and noticed an email from Quinn.

“Sorry I missed you today. My daughter spoke very highly of you, and she loved your daughter! She also told me you took a book from my lending library so that tells me you must be a man of great integrity. (Or maybe that you just like to read.) At any rate, I may be out most of the day again tomorrow so I’ll leave the signed contract in an envelope in the lending library. I hope to have an opportunity to meet you at some point in the future. Sincerely, Quinn Johnson.”

He smiled at the ‘maybe you just like to read’ comment then went on to the other emails before making up his list of places to go to the next day and in what order to save time and gas.

It was a little after nine when Sadie was finally in bed, and Aidan settled in with his ‘new’ book. He’d read it several times, so he didn’t read it page for page, but he did more than just skim it, reading his favorite passages verbatim while recalling the highlights of the story as he went.

When he finished it was nearly eleven o’clock, and he was exhausted. Even so, he grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and jotted down a personal note before placing the paper inside the book.

When he and Sadie got to the Johnson residence the following morning, no one was home so Aidan replaced the book with his note sticking up high enough to see and found the envelope with his name on it. He opened it to make sure it was signed then smiled when he saw a handwritten note along with the contract.

“I noticed you chose The Count of Monte Cristo. There are only a handful of books I’ve enjoyed more over the years. I hope you found it as wonderful as I have each time I’ve read it. Quinn.”

“What are you looking at, Daddy?” Sadie asked when she noticed he wasn’t moving.

“Oh. Just a very nice note from the homeowner. Evidently, she likes The Count of Monte Cristo as much as I do.”

Sadie wasn’t all that excited about his find so he put the note away and pulled out the other piece of paper and waved it.

“You ready to rock and roll, kiddo?” he asked her as he showed her the signed contract.

“Let’s do this!” she told him.

“Okay. You mow and I’ll start edging and trimming.”

“Copy that, good buddy!” she said again before skipping back to the truck.

Sadie still needed some help unhitching the tailgate, but once it was down, she could drive the riding lawnmower off all by herself. That saved her father several minutes at each house, time he used to get a jump on his part of the job.

Of course, that wasn’t all he’d be doing. There were the hedges to trim and he needed to prep the areas where she wanted flowers, and he’d promised to touch up the lending library box. He’d go pick up the flowers and the paint tomorrow morning and come back and plant them and take care of the box. But for now, they had a full plate with the rest of the yard, and a full slate of other jobs to get done.

Quinn came back less than ten minutes after they left and took a look at their work.

“Not bad at all,” she mused.

Just to be sure, she walked down to the area where her library and mailbox were side by side then peeked into the former and noticed the envelope was gone and that her book had been returned. She saw a piece of paper sticking up and pulled the book out then opened to the page where the paper was.

When she saw it was handwritten, she smiled. She set the book back inside then opened the note and smiled again. It began with a quote then a summary of the book’s main points.

“‘Live and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that, until the day comes when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and Hope!

Signed, Edmond Dantes”

“I’m impressed,” Quinn thought.

Of all the things Edmond Dantes, who later became The Count of Monte Cristo, learned in life, patiently waiting while never losing hope was perhaps the greatest of virtues. Years of holding a grudge then carefully planning and exacting his revenge only left him cold and lonely. He also learned, after sparing the life of the man hell-bent on sending him back to prison, that mercy was far more satisfying than revenge.

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