“The house is just down the block would you like to walk?” Rachel’s mom asked as she slid in to her walking shoes.
“Sure.” Rachel put her keys back in her purse and looked down at her stiletto ankle boots.
“Oh heavens you can’t walk in those.” Her mom looked down at Rachel’s feet.
“They’ll be fine…how far down is the house?”
“Ten minutes or so.”
“I’ll be fine.” She held the door for her mom and followed her up the street. After fifteen minutes of walking they turned down a cul-de-sac.
“There it is.” Her mom pointed to a two story white house in desperate need of paint surrounded by an old chain link fence. The grass needed mowed but there were flowers in mulched beds lining the walk up to the house. The fence squeaked as she opened it.
“Go on up.” Her mom urged her.
Already this house was a ‘no’.
“You must be Rachel.” The realtor came out the front door and down the steps to where she stood with her mom. He wore a grey suit, looked to be fine wool. She had seen similar outfits on some of the business owners she worked with. The clothes only momentarily distracted her from his painfully good looks. “I’m Drew. I’ve heard a great deal about you.”
Rachel shook his outstretched hand. His grip was firm. A confident man. She looked over at her mom. “So then my mom has told you I’m not really actively looking for a house.”
“No she hadn’t mentioned that…” he looked past her to her mom. “But I appreciate the opportunity to show you around just the same.” He opened the back door for the women then followed behind.
“The stove and refrigerator are negotiable but the sellers are taking the microwave with them to their new house.” Drew said. He stepped to the corner of the small kitchen as he spoke.
Rachel scanned the dripping faucet and scuffed countertop. To the left of the refrigerator a cupboard door was partially open. She opened it the rest of the way with her finger. The dim light in the center of the kitchen didn’t reach to the back of the shelf but she saw enough. Ripped and bubbling greenish-orange swirl contact paper lined the shelves in the cupboards. She pulled out a drawer…contact paper there too.
“You know, Rachel-,” Her mom pushed the drawer closed and walked her closer to the center of the small kitchen “Drew was telling me they recently redid the bathroom.”
“Good.” Rachel looked under the sink. No water spots but she caught a whiff of something pungent. It threatened to steal the dinner she had eaten at her mom’s house. “What is that smell?”
“Oh…uh…they forgot to clean out the freezer when they moved.” Drew pushed on the freezer door as he walked past Rachel to a small door. There is also a nice pantry here.” He pulled the door open. “It is large enough to hold cleaning supplies and possibly canned goods on these shelves.
Rachel nodded and looked again at the Fridge. No wonder appliances were negotiable. Why not have someone pay you to throw out your old stuff.
She leaned over to her mom. “Kitchen needs a lot of work.”
“You don’t cook much. Let’s not judge until we look at the rest of the house.” Rachel followed her mom to the living room.
“And the carpet could be replaced.” Drew said as he ran in behind her.
“I told you it is a lovely fixer-upper.” Her mom said.
Were they even looking at the same house? How could her mom have chosen this place for her? Nothing here whispered modern, trendy or even clean for that matter.
“What I’m really looking for-.” Rachel said surveying the great room that made the front of the house “is something newer. Maybe built in the last five to ten years if possible in this price range plus or minus fifteen thousand.” She walked over to the windows overlooking the front yard. “And no chain link fence. Wood fence is fine, no fence is better.”
She looked back. Drew was writing something down and her mom looked at her with pursed lips and arms crossed.
Find something positive to say about the place. She looked from Drew back to her mom. “But I love the landscaping. If there are perennials I’d be thrilled.”
“I did the landscaping.” Drew said without looking up from his notebook.
“You did?” Her mom’s charm returned. “Drew, you did an excellent job.”
“I agree, it’s this house’s best feature.” Rachel laughed….alone.
Drew continued, “My grandparents owned a green house when I was younger. I remember how my grandpa was convinced that you could learn all you needed to know about a person by their favorite flower.”
“You don’t say.” Her mom had folded her arms again but this time to support her fingers on her chin.
“Really-.” Drew looked up at Rachel. “He even said the color of the particular flower was important to knowing who that person was inside.”
Rachel looked back out the front window. “So what do these flowers tell me about you?” She motioned over her shoulder to the flower beds lining the sidewalk.
Drew handed her his business card with a note on the back. “That I take my job very seriously.” She looked down at the note. It said “Dinner sometime?” She slid his card in her wallet then gave him hers. “Call me with more details.”
Her mom stepped forward. “You want to go look upstairs.”
“No, I don’t think this is the place I’m looking for right now.”
“But you didn’t give it a chance.”
Her mom grabbed her by the arm and took her up the stairs. “Look at the master bedroom, Rachel. It’s so huge.”
“Yes, it’s good size.”
“And look at the bathroom they redid.”
“It’s nice but I don’t like yellow.”
Her mom waved away her concern and walked through the room and down the hall. “There are two other bedrooms” She called over her shoulder. “They are much smaller but one could be a guest room and the other an office if you’d like.
“I try to leave work at work.” She said following behind her mom.
“Those upstairs bathrooms have all new plumbing too.” Drew yelled up the steps.
“Thanks.” Rachel yelled down. “Mom, it’s nice but not really what I’m looking for.”
“Then why did I go through all this bother?”
“Mom, I didn’t ask you to find me a house.”
“Well you have no time with all the workin’ you do. You don’t date, you don’t do anything ‘cept work and go home.”
Rachel walked down the steps and over to Drew. “Thank you for showing me the house. I’ll look forward to your call on Monday.”
“Feel free to email and tell me exactly what you’re looking for. My address is on the card.”
“Thank you, I will.” She turned to the steps and called up. “Mom, the realtor is going to email me some other properties we can look at. He said he’d get with me Monday.”
“Make sure they’re close to Woodhaven, Drew.”
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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