The Obsession Page 29

He’d been making notes, nodding, but looked up now.

“Ms. Carson?”


“Naomi. I love my wife.”

She sent him a careful smile as she turned. “That’s good.”

“I fell for her when I was sixteen, and didn’t get up the courage to ask her out for nearly a year. I might still be thinking about kissing her for the first time if she hadn’t taken that bull by the horns, so to speak. I was twenty-three when we got married—she took that over, too, or I’d be working up the nerve to ask her. We got two kids.”


“I’m just saying I love my wife, and I tend to move slow in some areas. But if you and I had a longer acquaintance I’d kiss you right on the mouth.”

“Should I anticipate that for later?”

He grinned again. “It could happen if you keep realizing my hopes and dreams. It was taking out that skinny door there that did it. It needs the view. Why have that view, and keep it outside? If you let me take out that wall there, I’d give you open concept into the dining room. It would make it more of an entertaining space. Living room’s at the other end of the house, but you’d have this area here so people could gather when you’re cooking.”

“It could go on the list.”

They went through, bottom to top, and then Kevin went out for his tape measure and went through it again.

By the time he’d finished, she’d put her supplies away and poured them both Cokes. They drank them on the front porch, watching the sun burn its way down through the trees.

“I’ll work up an estimate. You might want to be sitting down when you read it over.”

“I already got that picture.”

“Once you do, we can talk about priorities, what you want done right off, what can maybe wait some. I can give you the name of a good landscaper while you’re reeling from estimates.”

“I’ll take it, but I’m going to tackle some of that myself.”

“All right. Thanks for the Coke.” He handed her the empty glass. “I appreciate the chance to look the place over. If you give me the job, I’ll do good work for you.”

“I believe you would.”

“I’ll be in touch. Let’s go, Molly.”

She watched him drive off, felt the silence fall just like the sun behind the trees.

She’d do good work here, too, she thought. And went inside to make herself a temporary nest and work space.

She spent mornings taking pictures: sunrises—all those holy colors blending—the water, trees, birds. In the afternoons she hunted up secondhand stores, flea markets. She bought a desk and chair, a couple of lamps, and the happy prize of an old metal glider and matching chair.

Evenings, she’d put together a sandwich or scramble some eggs, pour some wine, and work on the photos she’d taken that morning.

She could and did sell some fine photography through her website and through a gallery in New York, but her real bread and butter came from the royalties on stock photos.

She’d learned she could work anywhere—in her car, in a campground, in a motel room. But this, working in her own house, with the quiet everywhere and the light playing on the water, felt like a gift, one made possible by her grandparents and the trust funds they’d set up for her and Mason.

Grateful, she sent them regular emails with photos. Since college she’d called them every week, no matter where she’d been, what she’d been doing.

They’d lost their daughter—twice, to Naomi’s way of thinking. She’d made certain they never lost their granddaughter.

She took before photos of the glider and chair, playing up the texture of the rust, the peeling paint, the square lines—and the pop from the bucket of purple pansies she’d planted and set on the deck with them. She’d take after shots, too, send both home—but she’d play with the before shots on her computer, put them up on her website for sale.

It took nearly a week for Kevin to bring the estimate. This time he had his six-year-old son, Tyler, as well as Molly. The boy was a mini version of his father, and so cute Naomi wished she had cookies.

“We’re on our way to pick up pizza, and figured we’d drop this off. You might want to have a stiff drink and sit down before you read it over.”


“Yeah. Well. Like I said, you can figure out priorities. I gave you my mind on that in there. And if you want to take on some DIY, we can save you some money. Take some time, think about it. Just let me know. I got another name in there, too. You might want another bid, and I know that company does good work. They’re out of Hoodsport.”


“Let’s go, team.” The boy raced back to the truck with the dog. Kevin paused. “Don’t forget that stiff drink.”

Naomi tapped the manila envelope on her palm, took it back inside to the kitchen. A glass of wine couldn’t be wrong, she thought, and poured one, and since other than her desk chair it was her only option, she went out on the deck and sat in the half-sanded glider.

She sat a moment, drinking wine, watching the water and the bright red kayak that slid along it toward the shore.

She set the wine down on the drop cloth, opened the envelope.

“Holy shit. Oh hello, six figures.” She wished she’d gone for stronger than wine. Like a few tequila shots. She hadn’t bought any tequila as yet, but that would be rectified.

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