The Obsession Page 120

“Hold that. That’s a—what do you call it?”

“Nurse log.”

“Right, right, because it nurses other stuff. Moss and mushrooms and lichen.”

“And the younger trees. I love how they grow out of it, the way—in this one—their roots wrap around the mother.”

“Pretty cool.” With a hand light on her shoulder, Mason leaned in a little more to study. “When did you take that?”

“Oh, this one’s been up for a couple weeks. Got some nice hits, decent downloads. I figured I’d crop it a little more, and it would make a nice notecard, for a variety set of eight.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I like it. Anyway, I’m going to get to work, let you get back to your own.”

She’d barely started up before someone tapped her shoulder again. At least this time she didn’t jump.

“Sorry.” Kevin gave her shoulder another pat. “I wanted to ask if you’re ready for us to move you into your studio space.”

“It’s really ready for that?”

“It’s really ready, and we can start working in here again first thing tomorrow.”

“Then I’m ready. Let me shut down, unplug and all that.”

“We can start hauling out the supplies, the mat board deal, and the rest.”

“I need those worktables I bought. Downstairs storage.”

“Already brought them up, and everything you had marked for the studio.”

“I need to let Jenny know I’m ready for the desk whenever she can get to it.”

“Oh, she knows. I keep her up-to-date.”

“I’d better get moving.”

“Jeez, almost forgot.” As if jogging his own memory, Kevin tapped the side of his head. “Lelo and his dad need you outside. We’ll get things moving for you.”

“All right.” She shut down, unplugged.

Taking the back stairs, she hurried through the house, out the front.

There were questions about colors, heights, naturalizing, grass seeds. She had to switch gears from studio space to curb appeal. While she answered, debated, questioned, she reminded herself how glorious it would feel to head into summer the following year with it all done, with the quiet surrounding her like a gift from God.

Switching gears again, she went back in, up the stairs. Found it odd that the door to her studio space was closed, and the crew nowhere in sight.

She opened the door and froze.

The desk she’d first seen piled in Cecil’s barn stood gleaming, facing out as she’d wanted, with the leather chair she’d bought and stored behind it. Her computer, her in and out boxes, her desk lamp sat on it, along with a little squat vase of wildflowers.

Her tools, equipment, supplies were all arranged just as she’d diagrammed—and the sliding barn door on her new storage closet stood open to show everything inside organized on shelves.

The walls, a warm cognac, made a rich backdrop for some of her framed prints.

Jenny stood, her hands clasped between her breasts, all but vibrating beside a grinning Kevin.

“Tell me you love it. Please, please love.”

“Oh my God. I . . .”

“Say the words first. Say you love it.”

“Of course, I love it. I’d be crazy not to love it. You finished the desk. You didn’t tell me.”

Now Jenny threw up her arms in a V. “Surprise!”

“It’s—it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s more than I’ve ever had. I’ve never had a work space like this. It’s always been on the go, or jury-rigged.” More than dazed, she wandered. “Oh! The floors! The floors are done in here.”

“That was a trick.” Kevin’s grin just widened. “Shows you how the original wood’s going to come back just right. I thought, hey, let’s get it done in here—takes longer, but you won’t have to haul out again when we do the rest of the floors. It’s done.”

“Not done,” Jenny corrected. “She needs a nice love seat over there, a table—a comfortable thinking spot. And an accent rug, pillows, a throw. And—you’ll find what you want. But you love it.”

Incredibly moved, Naomi brushed her fingers over the petals of the wildflowers. “I’ve never had anyone go to this much trouble for me, outside of family.”

“We’re family now.”

Eyes welling, she looked over. “Jenny.”

Jenny flew across the room, grabbed her up in a hug, swayed, bounced, wept a little. “I’m so happy. I’m so happy you’re happy.”

“Thank you so much. So much. You’re the best.”

“I am!”

Laughing now, Naomi drew back. “Both of you.”

“We are! We were worried Lelo wouldn’t be able to keep you outside long enough for us to finish, but he did.”

“That’s what that was all about.”

“We’re the best, the sneaky best. I have to go.”

“I’m driving her back home.”

“He’s worried about me even being in the car by myself. Everybody’s so worked up . . . but we’re not going to think about that now.” Blinking at tears, Jenny swiped a hand through the air, erased sad thoughts. “You’re going to sit down in your new chair and bask.”

“I absolutely am. Thank you. Both of you. All of you.”

Alone, she did just as Jenny told her. Sat and basked. Then got up and looked at everything.

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