Five meals later, the doorbell rang.
“I'm sorry I'm a bit early,” the girl on the doorstep said. She had big Afro hair that would have made him hide behind the curtain if he would have seen her from Steph's room.
“I'm Calypso,” she said. “I'm here to view the room.”
“Fuck, I completely forgot you were coming.” He showed her in and hurried to the kitchen where he was folding Little Danny's clothes. “Please don't look at the mess, things are a bit hectic today. I'm afraid nobody's home at the moment. I really ought to have given you a call to make a different appointment.”
“Don't worry.” She glanced around the cosy kitchen while taking of her coat. “I happened to be in the area, and I can always come back to meet the rest of the family.” She was short and slender and her skin reminded him oak wood, richly bronzed and natural.
“Of course,” he said, “you'll have to come back. Would you like a cup of tea? Did you have lunch yet? I've got home-baked scones.”
“No thanks,” she said, “but a cuppa would be lovely. For how long would the room be available again?”
“As long as you'll want to live here, darling,” he said. He put the kettle on, picked up the folded laundry and held the door open for her. “Let me show you the room first.”
As she preceded him up the stairs, he checked how her Levi's squeezed her bum tight. A full but firm bottom, just the way he liked it. Above the waistband, her top bulged up a little. But she was so young still, only nineteen, that he quickly decided he didn't mind a midriff of puppy fat. Besides, she seemed muscular enough underneath, with shapely legs and strong shoulders.
“Do you have any hobbies?” he asked, “Do you do any sports?”
“I like climbing, kite surfing, snowboarding, that sort of thing,” she hesitated “and pole-dancing.”
“In a club?” He pictured this tiny girl with her big bum and Afro hair offering her service to greedy seedy men in a red lit bar.
“No, in a gym. It's a proper sport, you know, very intense on the muscles to keep your body up like that.”
“You're an unusual girl,” he said, coaxing her into Step's room. “I like that. Now this would be your room. Obviously, there's still a lot of stuff from the previous lodger in there, but that will all be out when you move in.”
She stepped into the little girl's room,touched the light flick and sat down on the chest of toys. “Looks good,” she said. “So when would it be available?”
“The other girl will move out the first of December,” he said. It was bizarre to see another girl here. For a moment, he realised that Steph would have been roughly the same age by now, if only...
“Wow, is it that late already?” She pointed at the Pocahontas clock, which said it was ten past ten.
It was getting dark already, and Paul realised he had no explanation for his wife's absence. He helplessly looked at his watch, which told him it was five to three. Not much help either.
“Is that clock even running?” she asked, and took it off the wall.
“No,” Paul said, “don't touch that, please, I mean, it's okay. It's not running.”
“Of course it's not,” she smiled “there's no batteries in there.”