The Obsession Page 27

Hire plumber went on first.

She added more as she wandered back out, through a dining room with a wonderful fireplace of carved black wood. A chimney sweep. Did people still become chimney sweeps? Somebody must inspect and clean chimneys, and since there were five fireplaces in the old house, chimney sweep definitely went on the list.

Why had she bought a house with five fireplaces? And ten bedrooms? And six and a half baths?

She wouldn’t think about that now. Now she’d work on what to do about it.

The floors were solid. They needed refinishing, but the real estate agent had really sold the wide-planked ponderosa pine. She could do some research, see if she could refinish them herself. Otherwise, flooring guy.

And then there was tile guy—would that be the same person?

What she needed, Naomi thought as she started up the creaky stairs, was a contractor. And bids. And a plan.

What she needed, she corrected, as she stood on the landing where the hallway shot left and right, was her head examined. How the hell could she manage a house this size, and one in this shape?

Why in God’s name had she tied herself to this remote dot of land in Washington State? She liked to travel—new places, new views, new ideas. Just her and her equipment. Free to go anywhere. And now she had this anchor of a dilapidated house weighing her down.

No, it hadn’t been impulse. It had been lunacy.

She walked past dingy walls and, okay, gorgeous old doors, by far too many rooms for one solitary woman, and felt that old, familiar pressure in her chest.

She would not have an anxiety attack because she’d been an idiot.

Breathing slowly, deliberately, she turned in to what the real estate agent had billed as the master.

It was big and bright, and yes the floors needed work, and the walls were an awful faded blue that looked like cloudy pool water, and the old glass slider needed to go.

But she pulled and tugged it open on its rusted runners and stepped out onto the wide, sturdy deck.

And this was why, she thought as all the pressure lifted into sheer bliss. This was why.

The inlet, deep gleaming blue, curved and widened, split around knots of land green with the earliest whispers of spring. Shorelines climbed up, upholstered with trees, as the water traveled out through a narrow channel into deeper blues. In the distance just west, mountains rolled up against the sky to back a thick forest of green shadows.

And straight out, beyond the inlet, the channel, the knots and knuckles of land, spread the deeper blue of the sound.

Her bluff wasn’t particularly high, but it afforded a pure, unobstructed view of water and sky and land, and for her, an indescribable sense of peace.

Her place. She leaned against the rail a moment, breathed it in. She’d known it was her place the moment she’d stepped out here on that breezy February afternoon.

Whatever needed to be done to make the house habitable would be done. But no one could take this view, this sense of hers away.

Since she’d left her equipment downstairs, she took her phone, switched to camera mode. She framed in a shot, checked it, took another. She sent it to Mason, Seth, Harry—what she listed in her contacts as My Guys—with a simple message.

This is why.

She tucked her phone away, thought the hell with lists. She was going into town and buying supplies. She’d figure out the rest as she went.

The little town made most of its living off the water with its marina, dive shop, the kayak and canoe rentals, the fish market. On Water Street—naturally—gift shops, coffee shops, restaurants, and the Sunrise Hotel faced the curve of the marina with its bobbing boats.

She spent a couple nights in the hotel when she’d followed her nose into Sunrise Cove. She’d wanted to add to her portfolio of stock photography, beef up her portfolio of fine photography, and had found plenty of studies for both.

She’d caught sight of the house—just a piece of it—outside her hotel window, and found herself amused and intrigued by the way it angled away from the town, its people, toward the water and the wood.

She’d wanted some photos of it, had asked for directions. Before she knew it, she was heading out to what the locals called Point Bluff with John James Mooney, Realtor.

Now it belonged to her, Naomi thought, and parked in front of the grocery store.

A few hundred dollars later she loaded up food, cleaning supplies, paper products, lightbulbs, laundry detergent—which was stupid, as she didn’t know if the old washer worked—plus a basic set of pots and pans, a coffeemaker, and a vacuum cleaner she’d purchased at the neighboring hardware store.

She’d also gotten the name of a contractor from both places—the same name, so obviously a popular guy. Deciding there was no time like the present, she called him then and there, made an appointment to meet him for a walk-through in an hour.

She headed back, pleased it took a solid ten minutes on winding roads to reach the house. Far enough away for privacy, close enough for convenience.

Then she opened the back of her 4Runner, looked at the haul, and swore the next trip in she’d make a list.

That list, she realized when she started unloading groceries, would have included cleaning the refrigerator before buying food to go in it.

By the time she’d cleaned it, filled it, and started out for the next load, she saw the black truck winding up the road toward her.

She slipped a hand in her pocket, closed it over her pocketknife. Just a precaution.

The truck pulled up. A man in a ball cap and sunglasses leaned out one window. A big black dog with a polka dot bandanna leaned out the other.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies