The Obsession Page 55

Armed with the directions Kevin had given her, she set off.

She made the turns, took a road she’d yet to explore, and found a little neighborhood built around a skinny inlet. Docks speared out with boats moored. Sunfish, sloops, cabin cruisers. She saw a girl who couldn’t have been more than twelve paddling a butter yellow kayak toward the widening channel with such smooth skill she might have been born in one.

Naomi pulled up behind Kevin’s truck and gave Xander’s motorcycle a beady-eyed stare. She should’ve known.

She thought the house charming and decided she should have known that, too, given who lived there. Bold blue trim against weathered cedar shakes, wide windows to bring in the view of the inlet. It stood two stories, with dormers and the enchantment of a widow’s walk.

She immediately wanted one.

Flowering bushes, trees, and bedding plants danced in cheerful profusion and made her think of her own scrabbly, neglected yard.

She’d get to it.

Ordering herself to put on her Be-Sociable Suit, she got out and circled around for the torte and the dog. Tag all but glued himself to her side as she walked the pavered path to the covered front porch.

“It’s not the vet, so buck up.”

Before she could knock, Jenny opened the door—and Tag’s tail wagged in relief and joy at the sight of her.

“I saw you pull up.” Immediately Jenny moved in to hug, hard. “I’m so glad you came! Everyone’s outside running around. It’s almost like summer today.”

“I didn’t realize you lived on the water—and you have a widow’s walk. I had instant house envy.”

“Kevin built it. And half of everything else. Let me take that.” Jenny reached for the box as they stepped into an entranceway cleverly outfitted with a built-in bench and cupboards above, drawers below.

“Sorry about the delivery system. Dessert’s inside.”

“You made something? I thought you’d just get something from the bakery. You’re so busy.”

“I needed to try out my new mixer. I love your house. It’s so you.”

Colorful, cheerful, the bold blue of the trim echoed in a big sink-into-me sofa loaded with patterned pillows. And those were echoed by boldly patterned chairs.

Echoed, Naomi thought, but nothing matching. And everything complementing.

“I like cluttered.”

“It’s not cluttered. It’s clever and happy.”

“I really like you. Come on back to the kitchen. I’m dying to see what’s in this box.”

The kitchen showed Kevin’s hand and Jenny’s style. It followed the open floor plan with a lounge/play area, more comfortable seating, and the man-size flat wall screen.

Jenny set the box on the long, wide white granite peninsula and tore at the tape.

Naomi glanced toward the dining area, the painted blue table, the mix and match of green chairs with flowered cushions. “I love the dining room—did you paint the furniture?”

“I did. I wanted color—and easy maintenance.”

“It’s happy, again, and I really love the chandelier.”

Distressed iron strips formed a large ball with clear, round bulbs inside.

“Me, too, thanks. Kevin found it on one of his job sites—it was some sort of decoration. He brought it home, I fixed it up, he rewired it.”

“Handy couple—and I’m getting so many ideas.”

“I’m going to get you a glass of wine in just a minute,” Jenny promised, “but— Oh my God, you made this?”

“I can’t make a chandelier, but I can make a strawberry torte.”

Almost reverently, Jenny lifted the torte from the box. “It looks like something out of Martha Stewart. I’d ask for the recipe, but I already know it’s beyond me. And it’s going to put my lasagna to shame.”

“I love lasagna.”

“Mostly with two kids and a part-time job, I toss meals together. So Sunday dinner’s the day I actually try to cook, take time with it. Shiraz all right?”

“Yes, it’s great. I almost talked myself out of coming.”

Jenny glanced away from the torte she’d set in the center of the prep counter—like a centerpiece. “Why?”

“I’m easier alone than with people. But I’m glad I came, even if just to see your house.”

With a humming sound, Jenny poured Naomi a glass of wine, then picked up her own. “I should tell you, then, I’ve decided we’re going to be really good friends, and I’m just relentless.”

“I haven’t had a really good friend in a long time. I’m out of practice.”

“Oh, that’s all right.” Jenny wrist-flicked that away. “I’ve got the skills. Why don’t I show you my workshop? I’ve got your desk stripped down.”

They went through a laundry room and straight into a space full of tables, chairs, shelves, workbenches. Though both windows stood open, Naomi caught the scents of paint thinner, linseed oil, polish.

“I keep picking things up,” Jenny explained. “It’s a sickness. Then I fix them up and talk my boss at Treasures and Trinkets into taking them on consignment. She’ll use pieces for display, and if they don’t sell, I haul them down to this co-op in Shelton. If they don’t sell there, I haul them back. I’m getting some work from people who want a piece redone or fixed up, but most is Dumpster diving, I guess.”

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