The Obsession Page 28

“Ms. Carson?”

“That’s right.”

“Kevin Banner.” He said something to the dog that had its head retreating before he got out of the truck.

She judged him early thirties, sandy hair curling out from under the cap. A good strong jaw, a compact build. He held out a hand.

“It’s nice to meet you.”

Workingman’s hand, she thought, and relaxed. “Thanks for coming.”

“I heard somebody from back east bought the place. It’s something, isn’t it?”

“It’s something.”

He grinned, shifted his weight. “It’s been sitting empty about ten years now—I guess Mr. Mooney told you—since Mr. Parkerson died, and Mrs. Parkerson had to let it go. They ran it as a B-and-B for more than twenty years. She just couldn’t keep it up, and ended up moving to Seattle to live with her daughter. Rented it out for a while here and there, but . . .”

“A big place, a lot of maintenance.”

He hooked his thumbs in his front pockets, rocked back on his heels as his gaze traveled over the long rectangle of building.

“You got that. I threatened to buy it a while back—it’s got history and that view—but my wife threatened to divorce me. Now maybe I’ll get my hands on it, and get to keep my wife.”

“Let’s take a look. Is your dog okay in the truck?”

“She’ll be fine.”

The dog rested her head on the dash, sent Naomi a soulful look.

“I like dogs. You can bring her if you want.”

“Thanks. She’s a good dog, used to job sites. Come on, Molly!”

The dog leaped straight out of the window, landed neat as a gymnast, then pranced over to sniff Naomi’s boots.

“Nice jump, pretty girl.” When Naomi stroked Molly’s head, the dog did a full-body wag.

“Maybe you can give me an idea what you’re looking to do.”

“Bring it into the twenty-first century. I don’t mean the look,” Naomi added. “But the plumbing, the lighting, the kitchen, bathrooms. I’m hoping a lot of it’s cosmetic,” she said as they started inside. “I can paint and handle simple DIY, but there’s a lot of clunking and hissing when you use the water. And I don’t know if it’s safe to use any of the fireplaces. I considered tackling the floors myself—refinishing—but realize that would probably take me two or three years.”


“What about them?”

“Replacing them with double-paned, low-E glass, that’s going to be more energy efficient, and while it costs now, it saves you in utility bills. It gets drafty in here during the winter.”

“That can go on the list, and we’ll see.”

“I’m going to want to take a look at the wiring, make sure it’s safe and up to code. We can look at the chimneys, make sure you’re good there. You want to keep them wood burning?”

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

The dog wandered around, sniffing, exploring. It struck Naomi that Kevin did nearly the same.

“You’ve got some fireplaces upstairs, right? If you don’t want to haul wood upstairs, you could think about gas logs on the second floor.”

“That is a thought—cleaner.”

“You thinking of a B-and-B?”

“No, I’m not. Not right now.”

He nodded, made notes, muttered a little to himself as they toured the first floor. When they came to the kitchen, he took his cap off, scratched his head, fixed it back on again.

“I’m going to tell you straight, this kitchen’s a pure gut job.”

“If you’d said different, I’d wonder why everybody I asked recommended you.”

“All right then. Now I’m betting the hardwood runs right on through, under this ugly-ass linoleum.”

“Really? Do you think so?” The idea balanced out against the notion of needing to replace a zillion windows. “Can we check?”

“If you don’t mind me messing up a corner.”

“You can’t make ugly-ass more ugly.”

He chose a corner, pried it up with his own pocketknife. “Oh yeah, got your ponderosa pine.”

“Hot damn. Take this crap up, sand, refinish, seal, right?”

“That’s what I’d do.”

“That’s what I want.”

“All right then.” With his sunglasses hooked on the breast pocket of his T-shirt, Kevin ran steady hazel eyes over the space. “I can work up a couple designs for you in here.”

“I’ll take a stab at it. I haven’t designed a kitchen, but I’ve shot plenty of them. Photography,” she explained. “For catalogs, websites, stock photos.” Hands on hips, she walked the room, imagined it down to the bare walls and floor.

“It’s roomy, and that’s a plus. I’d want an island, good size, for prep and for eating. I don’t want sleek, but I don’t want country either. More contemporary rustic, so dark cabinets, glass-fronted, go light on the countertops, figure out an interesting backsplash, and have fun with the lighting. There’s room for double wall ovens there—I don’t know what I’ll do with double ovens, but my uncles swear by them. Gas cooktop and a snappy exhaust—like a focal point. Farm sink under that window, and that bathroom’s awkward anyway. Take that out, make it a walk-in pantry. And get rid of this poky little back door. Open it up to that deck, that view. Big-ass double doors—full glass, no panes.”

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