CHAPTER TWO: Neighbours
A couple of weeks after she moved in, Penny decided to go visit her next door neighbour. She’d been working so hard that she hadn’t made many friends, aside from her partner at the police station, a ghost named Frida Goth. So it was with that in mind that she called a cab and had it drive her exactly one hundred feet to the west.
She approached the door with Zelda in tow, eager to make the acquaintance of her neighbour and what she inferred, judging by the dog house outside, was his pet dog. It would be nice for Zelda to have some animal friends, too. Penny was the only person Zelda had spent any time with since they moved to Moonlight Falls, and she felt bad, because Zelda was a very sociable cat.
She knocked on the door, and when it opened it revealed the most attractive man she’d ever seen — and, being fae, Penny had seen her fair share. It was clear he had no supernatural blood of his own, but that didn’t stop his sky blue eyes from twinkling so prettily Penny could swear he was fae. His smile was charming and friendly, and Penny adored him instantly.
“Hi.” Was she blushing? Penny’s face felt hot. What the hell? Penny didn’t blush. “I’m, uh, Penny. I live…” She gestured in the vague direction of her house. “… next door.”
“Right! I noticed someone had moved in.” He lifted his hand and scratched sheepishly at the back of his neck. “I meant to get over there with a welcoming house plant or something, but work’s just been so crazy—”
“Oh, no!” Penny exclaimed. “Don’t worry about it, I’m not here to nag you. I just wanted to meet the neighbours, say hi.” She shrugged, a little shyly. “And my cat doesn’t have any animal friends… I thought you might have someone she could play with.”
“Oh! Well, it just so happens I have a golden retriever! Why don’t you bring your cat inside and you can meet Link, and my girlfriend.”
Through some miracle of the makers, Penny managed to keep her expression even, although inside she could feel it crumble. Girlfriend?
In the house, Parker introduced Penny to his girlfriend, Haley, and to his dog, Link. Link and Zelda immediately set about tearing around the house like maniacs while Penny opted to get to know Parker and Haley.
Haley quickly revealed her mooch trait by trying to bum money, and then food, off of Penny (Zelda disliked her immediately, and hissed to show her disapproval), and Parker and Penny looked at videos of cats online. It turned out Parker was friendly and family-oriented! He seemed like a very sweet man, and Penny decided that there was no reason the two of them couldn’t be friends.
For the rest of the summer, Penny and Parker got closer. They chatted on the phone until the wee hours of the morning, and spent a lot of their time together on their days off. They were next-door neighbours, after all, so it wasn’t like they had far to go. Penny grew to know Parker almost as well as she knew herself, and told him all about her life in Fairyland. He thought her fae background was fascinating, and longed to know more.
Then, one night as autumn neared, Parker came to visit Penny, so play video games with her and have dinner. Penny watched him with an ache in her heart. Her home was so empty, so barren, when he wasn’t around. He made everything seem better, even when he was only hijacking her computer. They didn’t even have to be talking, they only had to be in the same room together for her to feel more happy, more at ease, than she had any day since she’d left Fairyland.
At some point during the course of their friendship, Penny had fallen deeply, irrevokably in love with Parker McAdams.
She knew she had to tell him how she felt, even if that meant he couldn’t be her friend anymore. So she pried him away from the computer, and stood nervously in front of him, shifting and wringing her hands.
“Parker, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Immediately, his congenial expression melted away. He knew she was about to drop a bomb, and concern for her seeped from his body. His worry made her love him all the more deeply.
“What is it, Penny?” he asked. “It’s okay.”
”No, that’s just it,” she insisted. “It’s not okay. Because I’m in love with you, and you love Haley, and even though I know that all I can think about is—”
She didn’t mean to kiss him. One minute she was standing there, baring her soul to him even though she knew he’d break her heart, and the next she’d thrown herself into his arms. He was shocked, clearly, too shocked to do anything but tense up and try to figure out what had happened. And when she pulled back, she regretted what she’d done.
“Oh, god!” She covered her mouth with her hand, mortified. “Parker, I’m so sorry! I don’t know what I was thinking, please don’t hate me.”
Tears started to well in her eyes, and he pulled her hands down away from her face. She couldn’t meet his eyes, even when he ducked down to be level with her.
“Penny, don’t. Don’t be upset, please don’t be upset.”
Parker pulled her up against him, his head ducking so he could kiss her properly.
“No, I’m not,” he agreed. “But things with me and Haley haven’t been good for a long time. It’s been over between is for months. It’s just that neither one of us has admitted it. I’ll talk to her first thing in the morning, and I’ll break things off. I love you, Penny. Just you.”