Rachel picked up a decorating magazine on the end table. She had arrived five minutes early to Drew’s office so she could make an offer on the house her and Shannon had looked at. She liked the house but wasn’t sure that she really wanted to move at the moment.
She hadn’t been sure until Shannon talked her in to it on the ride home…
“Make a ridiculous offer and when they turn it down you can have Drew show you another place.” Shannon had insisted.
“But I can call him for a date without needing a house.”
“You can but you won’t.”
Shannon was, as usual, right. On manners of the heart Shannon was dead on almost every time. She prided herself in being the conscience of the office. Shannon was the conscience and Rachel was the calculator.
That was why Shannon had never calculated in what Rachel should do if these people actually took the offer.
“Rachel? Drew can see you now.” the woman behind the desk indicated to a hallway. Rachel got up and started in the direction she’d pointed. Drew appeared out of a door half way down.
“Oh, good. Rachel. I was coming out to get you.”
“They told me you were ready.”
Drew nodded and pointed to a long table sitting in the middle of a rather cramped room. The deep burgundy walls added to the sense of claustrophobia Rachel experienced when Drew closed the door behind them.
He opened a manila colored file folder. “Okay, so you want to offer ten thousand less than the asking price on the Healey place?”
“Yes.” She said.
He wrote in the numbers and filled out the rest of the form to make an offer on the house he’d shown her last week.
“Do you have financing yet?”
“No but I have someone I can call if we need that.”
“That’s fine. I will write in that this offer is subject to you getting financing. That protects you from being bound if you aren’t able to get a loan.”
He checked off some boxes and scratched a few words in to blanks then spun the form around and gave her a pen. “I need you to sign and date it here.”
She signed it and gave it back to him. “When will I know if they have accepted my offer?”
“Their agent should notify them of the offer today or tomorrow but they have thirty days to give us a decision.” He peeled off the bottom copy and gave it to Rachel. “I wondered if you’d be interested in maybe going out some time?”
Shannon’s plan works again.
“Sure, I’d like that.”
“I don’t often ask clients out but I felt like we made a connection at that first place we looked at.”
“What can I say? Guys who have a fondness for giving flowers impress me.”
He paused for a moment then the light of recollection popped on his face. “That’s right. The flowers I planted along the walkway.”
“I didn’t know flowerbeds could be a pickup line but in this case I’m glad it worked.” He looked down at his calendar. “How does tomorrow night look for you?”
She opened her palm pilot and scrolled down the calendar. “I have an appointment at six-thirty with a client. Does the next night work at all for you?”
“That works. When would you like me to pick you up?”
“My house is a fair distance from Woodhaven. Why don’t you call me so we can figure out a place to eat and we can meet there?”
“Does six or seven work better for you?” He asked, as he looked up from his calendar.
“Let’s do six-thirty.”
“I’ll see you then.” He stood and shook her hand. Seemed a bit formal given the new level in their relationship but Rachel passed it off. His boss most likely frowned upon their agents dating their clients.
“But don’t forget to call and tell me where.”
“Right.” He laughed and stuck out his hand.
“I have to say this, for once I’m glad my mom felt compelled to stick her nose in my personal life.”
He continued packing up the papers she had just signed but stole quick glances a few times. “Did she tell you to go out with me?”
“No, she is the one who decided her daughter was thirty and needed a house so why not call the cute realtor pictured on the sign.” The second the sentence left her mouth she wanted to grab it and cram it back in before it reached his ears. “I really didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” She said in a desperate attempt to not make it sound like this date would be...well, exactly what it was. A well orchestrated accident.
After a momentary pause he finished packing up his things and looked up at Rachel.
“Thank your mom for me.” He said then winked. “I’ll talk to you in a couple of days?”
“Yep.” She walked through the door he was holding for her and out of the office. The next thing she needed to check on was the financing. Curtis’ number was somewhere in her planner. She skimmed her address book but didn’t see it. No, because it was in the business card section. She flipped open the first page and lifted out the card, dialed the number, put in her earpiece. He answered on the second ring.
“Hi Curtis this is Rachel, Jeff and Lisa’s daughter.”
“Hello Rachel. Good to hear from you. What can I do for you?”
“I made an offer on a house and I was wondering if you could do up a pre-approval for me.”
“Sure no problem. I can take the information over the phone but the easiest way is to have you fill out the quick form on the website. I can plug that straight over and as soon as I hear from the bank I can call.”
“How long does that take?”
“Couple of days usually.”
“Thanks. I’m heading back to the office. You should have it in your email by three.”
“I’ll watch for it.”
She hung up the phone. Her stomach tightened. When had she last eaten? Had to have been at least six hours ago. There was a place not far down the road that her parents liked. She turned in to Schmucker’s Restaurant parking lot. A neon sign blinked alternating lines of white ‘steam’ off of a red neon pie.
Inside the dining area was only large enough to hold five or six tables. She walked to the counter and sat on one of the three empty stools. A paper menu with peeling laminate was stuck between the salt shaker and the napkin dispenser.
“Can I help you?” A large woman in her sixties in a pink plaid dress and white apron stood across the counter.
Rachel scanned up and down the menu. “Do you have BLTs?”
“I’ll take that with a bowl of beef vegetable but could I have half of my BLT in a to go box?”
“Of course. Something to drink?”
The woman put the order back and Rachel scanned the diner. It was a snippet of the old Woodhaven. The one before the shopping mall came in on the eastern edge of town. Her parents had decried the subdivisions and retail outlets that soon followed but Rachel was seventeen when Woodhaven started to grow. For her having shopping and movies right there in town was an answer to prayer. That was when she did pray.
The woman came back with her food and Rachel finished up her lunch and left a 100 % tip which brought her bill to ten dollars. The look on the woman’s face had been priceless. When she got back out to the car her cell phone was vibrating. Shannon’s cell was on the display.
She pushed the call back button but it went straight to voicemail.
“Shannon, it’s Rachel. Who’s tall, dark and handsome and has a date with me Thursday? Call my cell to find out. Bye”
She hung up the phone but left the earpiece in her ear. For the next few miles she drove along quietly. Where would he decide to go for dinner? It didn’t matter much. Mom would approve of this one. If she didn’t then Rachel would completely give up on finding someone her parents would approve of.
“I told you it was a good idea to go house hunting.” She said, imitating her mom’s voice.
“You’re right mom. And he’s a good kisser too.” That would get her riled. The phone started its new age ring. She pushed the button to answer.
“So Rachel, who is this date with? Not some completely hot Real Estate Agent is it?” Shannon gushed.
“Yes, that’s exactly who it is.”
“There are none. I put in an offer on the house and he asked me out. The details don’t come until after the date.”
“There had better be details after a date with him.”
Her phone beeped. She looked down at the screen. “Mom’s beeping in. Adam’s flight should be in soon. Let me take this call and I’ll talk to you when I get to the office.”
She clicked over to her mom.
“Hi hon. It’s mom.” Her mom’s voice was at once frantic and mundane. A strange combination but the best one she could think of to describe the hurried speech but bored tone.
Rachel, do you think you could get Adam?”
Rachel looked down at the dashboard clock. “When does he get in?”
“Three-forty I think.”
“That only gives me about an hour and a half to get to the office and out to the airport.”
“You’re not in the office?”
“No, I’m in Woodhaven.”
“Why’s that?” Her mom’s voice changed. It was no longer urgent. Rachel noted it as odd but didn’t think on it further.
“I made an offer on the place Shannon and I looked at when we were out this past weekend.”
Her mom squealed. “That is wonderful hon. When will we know more?”
We? It was just a manner of speech but her mom’s self-inclusion in to every major aspect of Rachel’s decision making it grated at her just the same. She pushed away the voice in her head that said tell her there’s no ‘we’ in this decision and opted instead to be polite. “He said he’d call me in a few days hopefully.”
“I guess they have up to thirty days to get back with me on the offer.”
“That long?” Her voice was shrill. Apparently the notion of such a wait was offensive to her mom.
“You know it won’t take that long. The house has been on the market for a few months now I think. I already called Curtis about pre-approval on financing.”
“OOOhhh.” Her mom said, somehow with a southern drawl at the end. “I’m so excited.”
“Mom, I’m getting on the highway. Do you need me to get Adam?”
“Is it possible?”
“Yes. Is there something wrong?”
“Well, not really. Your daddy just overdid it outside doing lawn work and I’d feel better tendin’ to him.”
Every fall for the past three years daddy overdid the lawn work so Rachel knew exactly what her mom was dealing with. Although not old, unless someone thought the mid-fifties old, her daddy was cursed with a bad back that exerted its will every fall when it came time to cut back roses, rake leaves and cover perennials.
“I’ll get Adam. You take care of daddy.”
“Thank you.” She gave Rachel the flight information and Rachel scribbled it all down balancing the notebook on the steering wheel.
“I’ll see you tonight then mom.” Rachel hung up the phone. She’d spent more time in Woodhaven these last few weeks than she had in the previous six months. As long as all of this didn’t get her too far behind in work she wouldn’t have a problem with it. She scanned her mental calendar and decided she was fine. There were no meetings on her agenda this week other than with Shannon. That was a stroke of luck given how busy they’d been recently.
When she got to the office she stopped long enough to pick up some work to do at home and to fill out and email the mortgage pre-approval application to Curtis. As promised she pushed the send key a little before three o’clock then she loaded up and went back out the door.
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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