by Michele Oberlander
Virginia Beacham rolled her eyes in amused exasperation at her mom’s excited monologue about their new neighbor’s virtues and the fact that through it all, her mom still refused to call her Ginger; her name of choice since moving away from home. Ginger didn’t miss her mom’s emphasis in mentioning the Delacorte’s son, Euclid. Once again, Ginger had to think of a way to get around one of her mother's thinly disguised attempts at matchmaking; as subtle as dropping a brick on eggs. This time, just the name of the intended victim had her wanting to run away.
Who would name their son Euclid anyway?
Ginger shook her head. She didn’t want to know. Her own moniker had caused a few raised eyebrows. And if she showed any interest at all, no matter how innocent, her mom would push the emotional guilt buttons. Her advice always included the line “try him on for size”. Ginger usually chuckled at that. Her mom’s choice of phraseology was a part of her charm. Still, the name, ugh. Euclid.
Look who’s talking, Ginger. What’s in a name anyway?
She picked up her jacket and purse and managed to take two steps towards the door before her mom's voice stopped her.
"Virginia! I’ve just remembered something. Would you pick up the two pies I ordered from Mrs. Lane's bakery? I’ve already called her and she said they’re ready. We're having our new neighbors, the Delacortes, over for dinner. Isn’t it exciting that Euclid is home visiting from college? Do you think two pies are enough? You know how boys like to eat. You can never have too much pie."
Her mom thought food was the answer to everything. Feeling blue? Have some cookies and milk. Had a bad day? A hunk of icing covered cake cured all ills. Boy troubles? Anything chocolate would do. Mom would offer her not-so-secret stash of Godiva and listen to Ginger’s tale of woe. Sometimes, just sharing the mutual joy of food was all the conversation needed.
"I got it covered, Mom. Two apple pies from Mrs. Lane's."
"I'll bring the ice cream?" Ginger hazarded a guess.
Ginger grinned. "I'll dress for the occasion. I promise."
She blew her mom a kiss and headed out the door. She stopped on the top step of the porch to wave at the papergirl delivering the afternoon news to familiar folk on the street. Ginger inhaled a deep breath of the sweet and pungent-scented humid air. There was no where else she knew of where every house enjoyed the profuse scents of flowers. Here, they spilled over every trellis, garden and rock wall. The neighborhood pitched in to make sure Floral Lane was exactly that. She loved small town life with its simple pleasures. You never had to lock your door or your car and trust between neighbors was alive and well. It was why she had found work and an apartment in town after college.
The summer sun and moisture-laden air wrapped heated arms around her the moment she stepped off of the porch. Her sundress molded itself to her ample curves, sticky from the sweat beading on her skin. Ginger fanned her skirt with fluttering motions in a useless attempt to cool her skin. She couldn't wait to turn on her car's A/C.
Her steps were brisk as she left the porch and followed the walkway that led to her car. She opened her car door to a furnace blast of heat. Ginger tried to avoid burning herself on the hot steering wheel by bracing her knee on the edge of a tiny shaded edge of the seat. She leaned in at an angle, intending to turn the key which she'd left in the ignition.
It wasn't there.
She knew without a doubt that she'd left the key in. Her chipper mood began to fray as she resigned herself to cooking the dimples off of her knees. She brought up her other leg to fully kneel on the hot leather hoping to quickly find the keychain in the shadows under the driver's seat. Leaning down while trying to avoid the steering wheel was tricky and sweat collected in earnest, beading and rolling between her breasts and down her back. Ginger began to feel short of breath from the heat and gave up her futile search in disgust. The skirt of her sundress rode up her thighs as she tried to back out of the car. The sound of a throat clearing startled Ginger. Scrambling off the hot leather seat, her sundress twisted upwards enough for her to realize her hot pink lace panties must be showing. She felt the scalding heat of a blush sweep her face as she spun around.
She didn’t know whether to scream or curse as she straightened the clinging fabric. She lifted her gaze, fingers freezing in place at the sight before her. Her unvoiced anger faded as her gaze feasted on the man standing a few feet from her. A sensual heat flared and burned inside her body, volcanic even compared to the heat of her car.
A stranger leaned against the stucco covered corner of her parent's home. He said nothing, but his eyes danced with dark amusement. Well-muscled arms crossed his chest, making his white muscle T-shirt ride up just enough for a tantalizing view of his taut stomach. She was hypnotized by the line of dark hair that traveled down to a black leather belt. Hard ridged thighs covered by painted-on blue jeans made her palms itch to touch. He remained silent, but his eyes never left her face, watching her watch him. Ginger dared to look her fill, noticing the definition of his chest, his biceps and down and across towards his hands...what the—?
Her gaze flew up to his, a demand on the tip of her tongue. The man pushed himself off of the wall and took a step towards her. He slowly uncrossed his arms from his chest and opened one hand. Her key chain lay nestled on his palm.
"Hey!" Ginger shouted. "What are you doing with my keys? I knew I left them in there." His eyes crinkled in the corners as he smiled. She found it hard not to drown in his Godiva chocolate gaze. His voice was smooth, but held a tone of admonishment.
"Just being a good neighbor. You shouldn’t leave keys in the ignition of a car. You never know who’ll walk by. A beautiful woman can’t be too careful these days, even in a small town.”
Ginger didn’t know whether she should strangle him or be flattered he thought she was beautiful. She decided anger was safer.
"It’s not neighborly to take my keys. I know all of my parent's neighbors around here. You, sir, are a stranger!"
His lips quirked and he gave a short jerk of his head in acknowledgement.
"I can fix that.” He grinned, “Hello, I'm Euclid Delacorte."
Ginger was stunned. This was Euclid Delacorte home from school? He was "the boy" with the odd name?
“I’m studying for my Masters but when I can, I drop by to see my parents. I’m glad I chose today, for obvious reasons.”
Euclid stepped closer to hand her the key ring. As her fingers touched the metal he enclosed his tanned hand over both her hand and the keys. His grasp was warm and strong but gentle. The volcanic heat inside her body jumped to eruptive proportions.
"I know your last name is Beacham, but not your first. Care to share? Seems only fair as you know mine.”
"Virginia." Her voice came out as a breathless whisper.
“Virginia Beacham?” A grin burst across his face, showing even, white teeth.
Ginger blinked once, then again. It took a moment for his words to register in her lust- scrambled brain.
Euclid chuckled. "Interesting name they stuck you with, Virginia."
The irony of his statement didn’t escape her and she lost her ability to restrain the twitch of a smile.
"My friends call me Ginger.”
"Well, Virginia Beacham, since our parents are neighbors, don‘t you think we should be friends too?"
She felt a physical thrill with Euclid's words. “You can call me ‘Ginger’. In the sunlight, his brown eyes sparkled in approval as they gazed into hers. She thought it adorable how he cocked his head to the side in contemplation but couldn’t have anticipated his next words.
"Virginia Beacham and Euclid, what a pair we'll make."
Her eyes widened in surprise, her heart thumped in excitement. Oh my, a pair? Letting go of her hand and key chain, he laughed. "What's in a name anyway?"
Her sudden smile was wide and generous. Once again her mom was right. Ginger intended to try him out for size because she had a shivery suspicion that Euclid Delacorte was going to be a perfect fit.
About the Author: Michele is a wife, a mother, a part time office manager in a legal office, and an aspiring author. She became hooked on blogging two years ago when she contacted a favorite romance author. Inspired into creating her own blog, she has never looked back. She's a voracious reader of romances and that passion led her to become a reviewer for LASR. Many stories and heroes swirl in her head but finds learning the writing craft as adventurous as any daring-do experienced by her characters. Writing is akin to taking risks: the roller coaster ups and downs, the eureka moments when something works, and the need for chocolate when things go bump; all in the pursuit of a dream. And through it all, she feels it's worth it. For what is writing if not having fun with your dreams and sharing it with others? "What's In A Name" is Michele's first published story. Find out more about Michele at her blog.