Simone Jackson is struggling in her first job out of college. Running errands for a city councilman in Washington, DC, isn't all that fun in the June heat, but Simone has big plans about being a politician, and this is a big step. Still, the humidity is hard to ignore, as is a tray of free lemonade left in front of a house with the most gorgeous garden Simone has ever seen. And the owner of the garden? Not half bad looking, either.
Natia Savea, a transplant from Samoa, is gentle, kind, and the center of the neighborhood. Her garden has become a paradise for everyone around to come and beat the heat. Natia soon becomes the center of Simone's life, too.
But when Natia’s home is threatened, can Simone take on City Council and save the day ... and the woman she’s grown to love?
Natia wasn’t actually outside when Simone showed up, and the garden, while still literally buzzing with activity of the insect variety, was empty of humans. The house didn’t have any lights on, either, but the door was cracked just slightly ajar. Simone got a weird feeling about it, like something was wrong. Was no one home? And was the door supposed to be open like that? Did someone break in?
Trying hard not to let her imagination run away from her, Simone crept up the porch and tried to peer inside the frosted glass window next to the door. No dice. She was debating whether to ring the doorbell or maybe just knock or what, when she heard an incredible scream from inside the house.
“What the fuck?!” was Simone’s outrageous battle-cry as she charged inside.
She barreled right into the living room, and immediately felt very, very stupid and more than a little mortified. A little turned on, too, but that was secondary to the welter of I’m a huge idiot noises that her brain was making.
Natia was in the middle of the living room, cross-legged on an office chair in front of two enormous computer monitors on an oak desk. The room was sweltering, with the three floor fans all trained on her doing nothing to dissuade the heat. The computer tower at Natia’s feet was making an alarming humming noise, and monitors were blue-screened and flickering. That, more than anything was what the scream might have been about, because Simone distinctly remembered making a very similar noise when her latest laptop died on her.
The worst part of the whole matter, of course, is that Natia was perched on the chair in nothing but a tanktop and panties. Everything was on display -- all of Natia’s intoxicatingly beautiful body. She was definitely not wearing a bra, and also didn’t shave which was so not a problem, and were those tattoos on her thighs?
Not that it mattered, because this was one hundred percent not the time to think of anything but ritual self-immolation. There was that moment of please God, let me die here before Simone fairly whimpered her excuse.
“Door was open ... thought you were being robbed ... I’m gonna go now ...”
Simone braced to be cussed at and had almost willed her shocked-still muscles to move when she was hit with an onslaught of the most beautiful, choking, barking laughter.
If Simone wished she could die, she could maybe follow Natia, who was absolutely having trouble breathing through her cackling. It was the kind of laugh that hurt, that strained your abdominal muscles and it laid Natia out flat. She slowly fell off her chair, sinking to the wood floor, holding up a hand as if to stop Simone -- or maybe herself -- but she couldn’t pull it together and just kept sob-laughing for breath.
“Oh God ...” Simone moaned, and that set Natia off all over again.
The woman was tearing up, and slowly got to her feet, opening her mouth to say something before shaking her head and retreating slowly out of the room, still bursting with intermittent giggling.
Simone should run, should run now. She didn’t. She waited, patiently, as she heard water running somewhere past the living room and footfalls on creaky wood floors. Natia was back before long, sucking water and still not wearing pants. Simone thought her head was going to explode.
“Okay, so, I guess I should let you know that my A/C is out and most of this,” Natia gestured at the mismatched floor fans and her state of undress, “could be explained by that.”
Simone nodded dumbly.
“And also,” Natia continued, her breathing not quite under control yet. “Any screaming you may have heard was due to my computer overheating and flat-lining before I saved the tax records for my latest client.”
Simone still couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say that wasn’t a groveling apology.