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Bounty(7)

By´╝ÜKristen Ashley



She trailed off but it could be that I’d stopped listening because it wasn’t only the marble counters that needed to be cut.

Everything needed to be done.

There were outer walls, windows set in, a roof over it all, and there was a fireplace in the middle of the room that looked mostly finished (but what did I know?).

That was it.

Inside, there were two-by-fours delineating rooms and cabinet-shaped, movers’-blanket-wrapped bundles sitting around the space, a kitchen waiting to be unearthed and constructed. There were also open steel boxes set high and low to the two-by-four-walls with wires poking out. Piles of what looked like hardwood floors waiting to be put in. Stacks of sheets of drywall waiting to be installed. More bags and boxes of this, that and the other, possibly powdered grout, tile, light switches (who knew?) to be unearthed and utilized.

That was it.

It needed walls. Flooring. Stairs to the upper level (even if the two sides of the levels already had a bridge that spanned the middle space to get from one side to the other, that bridge and the landings around it had makeshift railings).

Turning my head slowly from side to side, I could see copper pipes which meant at least the bones of some of the plumbing had been laid.

But there was nothing else. Except for a hallway that led off to the left where the garage was and where I was suspecting the completed master was, it was a shell.

I moved deeper into the space from where I stood at the front door, doing this cautiously, feeling my way with my feet as my attention moved from what was around me to what was beyond me.

“When done, there’ll be this great room, complete with kitchen, of course,” the agent persevered. “A study at the front of the house. Dining room at the back, off the kitchen, with semi-panoramic views. A playroom or informal family room between study and dining room. A guest suite with sitting room and its own full bath upstairs to the left. Two bedrooms with Jack-and-Jill upstairs to the right. There’s the balcony off to that side. A covered deck blocked out to go in along the back, the roof over it already complete. A private deck off the master that’s also already complete. A very big utility room with five plus cubic foot front-load appliances ready to be installed, big sink, storage, drying racks. This space we’re in is designed to be warm and cozy but as you saw in the specs, the house is actually over three thousand square feet with four bedrooms and three and a half baths.”

As she droned on, I kept moving, drawn to the huge windows opposite that went from counter height two stories up (and then some) to reach the peak that ran down the center of the house.

I stopped at the windows and looked out.

As the agent said, poles embedded in the dirt that blocked out a deck, a roof over it, the columns holding it up beautifully laid with stone, but no deck.

Then there were trees, more trees, and some more trees.

Last, not far from the house, down a rather steep slope the deck would jut over, there was a small river gushing along smooth gray rock.

“The couple who had this place designed and started the build had a, well…uh, we’ll call it a marital meltdown,” the agent carried on. “But the contractor who began the job for them is willing to finish it. In fact, he’s eager to see the job done, and not because he needs the business. Holden Maxwell is a busy man in these parts. Just that he, like I, think once this is done, it’s going to be incredible. A quiet, forest oasis. Hidden away. Private. A masterpiece, really. And if you want more space, stables, other outbuildings, Max, that’s what Holden is known as, can surely accommodate you.”

“Please, no offense,” I said softly, “but can you be quiet a second?”

She did as I asked.

I stared at the view.

Nothing but trees, dirt, leaves and water.

No other houses. No other sounds. No cars. No roads.

Nothing.

Nothing but quiet nature as far as I could see, which wasn’t far as the cool shade of the green trees swallowed up any space, even most of the sky, making me feel, as I stood there at that huge window, like this was the only house on the planet.

Dad would have loved it here. He’d have been here all the time. Taking up the guest suite. Sitting on that deck. Wandering through those trees, on foot, on horseback. He’d build a studio there so he could work, close to all that, close to me.

Dana would love it here too. Maybe enough they’d have built somewhere on that land. To be there. To be together.

To be with me.

It was less than I was used to.

But so much more.

Just what I needed.

And it had a space in that house. It had a space where I could keep both Dad and Granddad with me.

“I’ll take it,” I told the window.

“Excellent,” the agent breathed excitedly.

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