Liz was back at her front window just in time to catch a glimpse of Tony Babic as he strolled around to the rear of Jan’s house. Already she was thinking of him by name, when in reality she had no idea who he was. Or why he was casing out her neighbour’s house.
Liz hesitated, not knowing what to do. Should she confront him? It was secluded around the back of the house, out of sight of other neighbours. What if he turned on her, hit her, or stabbed her? She could be lying there for hours waiting for help and no one would know. Liz had agreed to water Jan’s garden, not fight off intruders. Best just stay in the house and keep an eye on what he was up to. Surely it would be enough that she could give police a description and the vehicle details.
But something about Tony Babic had stirred Liz’s curiosity. When asked about it later, she couldn’t explain it. She couldn’t even explain it to herself. Call it boredom. Her bloody life was so damn ordinary. Repetitive. Predictable. She was sick of playing it safe.
She pocketed her keys and eased her front door closed. That’s silly, she thought, why am I creeping around? Best to look assertive. She squared her shoulders, strode across her lawn and marched down the side of Jan’s house. Look assertive, look assertive.
‘Are you looking for someone?’ she spoke at his back. She meant to sound imperious, but her voice wobbled, squeaked on the ‘someone’.
He swung around, and she took a step backwards. ‘Shit!’ Then he recovered himself. ‘Oh . . . sorry lady, you surprise me.’ Liz couldn’t quite place his guttural accent. Russian, maybe.
‘I said – are you looking for someone?’
‘Me? No, no. I here to look at house for lady.’
‘You mean the owner.’
‘Thas right. She call me come take a look for some changes she wans. Fix it up a little.’
Liz was about to say that Jan was away for three months. Then she thought better of that.
‘She is not home today.’
‘Oh yeah. She tell me. Gone for a few months. Wan some things fixed up. She tell me just a little job. But it look to me like she wanna fix a lot.’ A smile was playing around the corners of his mouth as he spoke, and Liz had the feeling that he was appraising her. From the top of her long blonde hair, pulled back into a neat pony tail, all the way down to her long tanned legs, shown off to their best in her short tennis skirt.
Liz stared him full in the face, trying to look as if she could intimidate him, but it was if their eyes were locked. His were so dark brown, and framed in thick lashes. She didn’t think she’d ever seen such expressive eyes on a man. These were the eyes of a poet, like Khalil Gibran, or perhaps an actor, like Omar Sharif. These were not the eyes of a builder, at least, no builder she had ever met.
But those thighs, well they were another thing. They were the muscular thighs of a man who worked out, or maybe, a man who worked outside. She broke off her stare, shifted her gaze into the distance as if she had lost interest in the conversation, and all the time she held those thighs there in her peripheral vision.
He broke the spell, outstretching his hand to shake hers, ‘Tony Babich . . .builder.‘ His grin had a cheeky edge, as if he had read her thoughts.
This is the third part in a story building exercise for character, Liz Thurlow.
To read part one, go here
To read part two, go here.