A Different Blue Page 45

I shrugged, letting it go. He watched me work for a while, but he seemed preoccupied, and I wondered why he lingered.

“Well that settles it . . .” he mumbled to himself. Then said to me, “Have you ever thought about getting a place of your own?”

“Only every second of every day,” I replied wryly, not looking up from the line that was emerging, changing my cello into a full symphony. The curve suggested sound and movement and a continuity that I couldn't put into words but that somehow was conveyed in the line of the wood. It happened like that – beauty would emerge almost by accident and I had to let it take me where it wanted me to go. So often, I felt like my hands and heart knew something I did not, and I surrendered the art to them.

“Can you take a break? I want to show you something that might interest you.”

I worried my lip, wondering if I would lose the thread of inspiration if I walked away. It was almost done; I could go. I nodded to Wilson.

“Let me run inside and change.”

“You look fine. Let's go. It won't take long.”

I tugged at my ponytail, pulling the elastic free. I ran my fingers through my hair and decided it didn't matter. In moments, my tools were put away and the unit locked up tight. I ran inside and grabbed my purse, yanking a brush through my hair while I pulled on a T-shirt that was a little less bare.

“A guy with a funny accent came looking for you,” Cheryl mumbled from the couch. “He sounded like the professor from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But he was much younger – and cute too. Moving up in the world, huh?” Cheryl had a thing for Spike on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She owned every season and watched it obsessively whenever she was between boyfriends. It made her believe that her perfect guy was still out there – immortal, blood sucking, and strangely attractive. Comparing Wilson to any member of the cast was high praise. I left without commenting.

Wilson opened the passenger door for me me, and I managed not to say something sarcastic or tell him that he did remind me a little of a young Giles. We pulled up outside his house, and I remarked on the improved look of the exterior.

“Initially, I focused all my attention on the interior, but once the three apartments were completed, I turned my attention to the outside. In the last month she's had a new roof put on, new fascia, new windows. We reformed the steps and laid them and the sidewalk in stone. The landscapers came in and really cleaned up the yard too. The old girl has had a complete makeover, really.”

He bounded up the steps and unlocked the door. I followed more sedately. How would it be to have the money to instigate a makover like he'd given “the old girl?” Sure it was still work. It was probably still a headache to deal with contractors and construction. I couldn't imagine having the vision to put it all together. But how would it be to be able to do whatever you wanted . . . within reason? I wondered randomly if I was Wilson's new project. Maybe he would make me over.

“This is what I wanted to show you.” He led me to a door off of the foyer that I hadn't even noticed the last time I had been inside. It was partially hidden behind the sweep of the stairs.

“You see how we've divided the house into two flats upstairs, yet there's only one down? It's because when the house was built, the staircase was slightly offset to the right. That made all the rooms on this side of the house smaller. My rooms sit over the garage somewhat, so I still have plenty of space. But down here things are pretty cramped. I thought maybe at some point I would live down here and let my flat, but I can't stand up straight in the shower – you'll see why – and honestly, I like my flat upstairs. I also thought we could let it to a handyman of sorts. But that has turned out to be me, which makes it easier for me to justify staying in my flat because I'm saving money on not hiring someone else.”

As he talked we walked inside the small apartment. The space had the same wood floors as the foyer, and the walls had been freshly painted. A little entryway opened up into a small sitting room, which Wilson called a “lounge,” bordered by a galley kitchen complete with a stainless steel sink, a black fridge and stove, and a narrow slash of black countertop. It was all new and shiny and smelled like wood and paint and starting over. A bedroom and bathroom, every bit as new and every bit as small, completed the tiny apartment. I stepped into the shower and saw what Wilson had meant.

“The duct work runs through here. It was our only option. The ceiling is less than six feet right here above the shower, which won't be a problem for you unless you like to shower in those ridiculously high boots you like to wear.”

“I can't afford this place, Wilson. It's small, but it's really nice. I work at the cafe, I'm pregnant, and there's no space to carve, which means my financial situation probably isn't going to improve if I live here.”

“You can afford it, trust me. And the best part? Come on. I'll show you.” He was through the bathroom door and back in the kitchen in about ten steps.

“This door here? It isn't a pantry. It leads to the basement. I thought if this was the handyman's flat, he would need easy access, so we didn't cover the original door when we drew the floorplan. I do my laundry down there. The furnace and water heater are down there, along with all the fuse boxes, etc. There's an outside entrance too, so I can access it without traipsing through your flat. And it's huge. There's plenty of space for you to set up shop. You might get a bit cold in the winter, but we could get you a little space heater. And in the summer it will be the coolest place in the house.”

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