Buried Deeds — Part 17 ( A Meghan Bode Mystery)

The next morning, Meghan cancels her call to Evelyn in mid-dial. Douglas had requested she contact him with her research findings. But that was before she saw Frank Sloma leaving Douglas’s office building. There must be a connection. Still, Sandberg hasn’t returned her call. Maybe he learned one of the Brownes set the fire, and no serious crime was committed.

Evelyn setting the fire. The more Meghan thinks about it, the more it seems possible. Evelyn may be the gracious host around her guests, but Meghan has seen the professional, take-no-prisoners competitor who rose to the top of a cutthroat business. On the other hand, she can also picture Douglas pouring gasoline while he plans more ideas to generate publicity for the B&B.

It’s too easy to imagine the worst about people, she thinks.

Meghan switches to e-mail and sends Douglas a quick summary of what she found in the deeds and wills. She and Rick spend the rest of the morning packing items they won’t need until after the move. After lunch, they and John visit five potential homes with Deb Cooper.

Amazing what another fifty thousand will get you, Meghan thinks.

Even if the rooms aren’t larger than in other homes they viewed before, the finishes are higher quality and the yards are bigger. And these homes have been renovated more recently than others she and Rick have seen.

“I saved the best for last,” Deb says. “It just came on the market yesterday. The owners are asking five-sixty, but it’s worth every penny. I think it’s perfect for you.”

You’ve said that before, Meghan thinks, but smiles and says, “Great. Let’s go.”

Deb drives them to a home only half a mile from their own and pulls into the drive. “Isn’t it gorgeous?” she asks.

“Wow,” Rick says. “I like it.”

The house is a modern colonial, brick with forest green shutters and door. Even though it’s winter, the lawn and flower beds are well tended. Meghan recognizes a cherry tree and Japanese maple in the front yard, two of her favorites.

“It’s fifteen years old, and the owners redid the kitchen and baths last year,” Deb says, checking her listing. “Marble in the baths, quartz counters in the kitchen, new maple cabinets. Let’s go inside.”

“Oh,” Meghan says as she enters the foyer. The area is spotless. The living room to the right shows new carpet and clean, cream-colored walls. Someone knows how to showcase a house.

“Lovely space here, and a wonderful open flow to the dining room, kitchen, and breakfast room,” Deb says. “There’s a powder room on this level, too. And what a fantastic view of the backyard and conservation easement.”

“Hey, Mom, look. There’s a fence. And lots of room for dogs outside.”

“Dogs? Nice try, John. You and your father have to prove you can take care of one first.”

But Meghan is soon distracted by the rectangular garden bed off to the side. It’s perfect for vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers, maybe some salad greens early in the season….

“Check out the patio, Megs. There’s a ton of space for the grill and a big table. We could have real parties in this house.”

“Let’s see the basement next,” Deb says. “It’s fully finished with laundry, full bath, and a family room that doubles as a media room.”

“This is great,” Rick says. “What do you think, John? Good for movies and games?”

“Awesome. There’s even a sink and fridge down here.”

“Wet bar,” Rick says. “This place is built for entertaining. We’ve always wanted to do more of that.”

Meghan nods. She’s looking for flaws and can’t find any. Everything fits her taste. “What about the bedrooms?”

“Four upstairs with two full baths. From what we’ve seen so far, I’ll bet they’re beautiful,” Deb says.

John scopes out the smaller bedrooms, and Deb spend some time with him, giving Meghan and Rick a chance to talk privately in the master suite.

Wow, Meghan thinks, taking it in. The bathroom could be from a luxury hotel. Marble tile covers the floor and walls. A soaking tub fits comfortably in one corner. A linen closet and large cabinets provide twice the storage space of her current home. Everything is modern and clean.

Rick puts his arms around her and whispers, “Look at that shower. Plenty of room for two.”

She elbows him. “Shush. Don’t let John hear you.”

“It’s perfect,” Rick says with a laugh. “What do you think?”

“We can really afford this?”

“We can, Megs.”

“I really like it.”

“Enough to make an offer?”

Meghan takes a deep breath and swallows hard. “Yeah. Let’s go tell Deb.”

***

After signing the offer papers, the waiting game begins. Back at home after dinner, Meghan pulls together her notes from the day before in a vain attempt to take her mind off the house. She and Rick are pre-approved for the loan, and they’ve offered the asking price. The sellers have no reason to refuse them. But her personality won’t let her celebrate too soon.

She jumps at the buzz from her phone. It’s an email, but not from Deb.

Fantastic, Meghan! Come to the farm after lunch tomorrow? Douglas.

She’s just finished her reply when another email comes in. This time it’s Sandberg.

Thanks for the info. Talking again with the Brownes in the morning.

Sandberg doesn’t provide any details, and Meghan wonders if her afternoon meeting will still take place.

The land line rings and Rick answers. Meghan hurries to the kitchen to listen. Rick’s end of the conversation provides no clues.

“Okay. Sure. So what’s next? Okay. Thanks.”

“Who was it?” Meghan asks.

Rick’s smile tells all before he says, “Deb. We got the house.”

I hope you’ll stay tuned for Part 18 next Tuesday.

New to the Meghan Bode Mysteries? You can catch up with her first complete story and the previous installments of Buried Deeds with this link.

46 thoughts on “Buried Deeds — Part 17 ( A Meghan Bode Mystery)

  1. Can I move into that house, too? Sounds lovely. Of course, after spending two days so far spring cleaning our own home and creating piles of stuff to give away to the local mission, I’m thinking my old tiny sleeping rooms in college weren’t so bad. No space to fill up with accumulations…

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    • me, too! Been thinking about a boat…no way to collect so much stuff…only the dog would be constantly jumping off to happily swim….
      Desperately need to try and contain the pollen contamination and clutter here…but there’s blogland…

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      • Well, I’ve neglected blogland this week for the most part, and it’s amazing how much one can get done around the house without it. 😉 But I could not miss the latest installment of Meghan, and it’s especially well-timed given she is house-hunting while I am ‘debriding’ my own. (Forgive the medical term, but clearing out my house is indeed like debriding–or cleaning out–a wound…)

        Nice to chat with you here, Philosophizing Mouse!

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    • It sounds like a perfect house to me, too, although “a bit” big for just me and my husband. 😉 We downsized significantly when we sold our last house and moved into this rental. At first it was a major adjustment, but now? We would consider buying something this size next year. Funny how our perceptions of how much space we need can change….

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      • For sure. Once our kids are gone, we’ll downsize too. That’s why we’re getting a head start on clearing some stuff out. We found items in our kitchen that were wedding gifts almost 25 years ago that we’ve never used. Time to say bye-bye to them…

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        • There are some gifts we still use from nearly 22 years ago. 😉 Others have long since slipped away into the good night…. You’re planning the opposite of what some people I know have done. They bought bigger houses once the kids were gone! I’ve never quite understood that logic, especially when there will be few or no grandchildren. 😉

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  2. Mentioning the trees in the front yard was a nice touch – quiet foreshadowing – and the reader could comfortably view the house thinking it wasn’t a waste of time (character comments nicely reveal..you craft the story so well).
    Waiting waiting waiting – oh, no – TWO plot situations to feel uneasy about…
    Whew – thought for sure we’d have to wait to hear back from the owners ( HA! better not be a catch…Megan has enough to deal with…really, be kind give her the house)

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    • Yes, I think Meghan has enough to deal with outside of the house hunting. 🙂 I know all the writing advice would have me toss up a roadblock on the house, but I don’t see that happening. Sometimes, life goes smoothly, and I think some of that can happen for characters, too, at least with one story line. 🙂 She’ll undoubtedly have her hands full once the family’s settled. There won’t be any more excuses to put off getting that dog!

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    • Nooo! That was probably Meghan’s biggest fear. But I think this family was in a hurry to sell, so they jumped on Meghan and Rick’s offer. 🙂 I think there’s still plenty of tension left in solving the mysteries at Wyndham Thicket/Wyndham Manor. 😉

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  3. I love the idea of a house with clean walls — is it really possible?? Nice detail with the house and the yard. Her thoughts about Evelyn and Douglas are interesting, especially when she says it’s too easy to imagine the worst about people. I’m sure she’s disappointed at the direction the mystery has taken, affecting or even marring the reputation of people she likes.

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    • Well, they’re easier to keep clean if there aren’t kids and pets running around. 😉 I suspect this house was repainted before going on the market. I had a vision of “motivated sellers” when I wrote this scene.

      I can see the end of the story—and Meghan’s reaction to it. Now I just have to get us there from here. I think it works with the tone of the story and the characters’ motivations and personalities…. Of course, ultimately it is a first draft. 😉

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  4. The house sounds great. Hopefully it doesn’t come with any crazy mysteries attached to it. But then if it did, Meghan would have fun figuring them out.

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    • Oh, that would have been a great idea! Have her and Rick buy a “historic” home with another mystery to solve! Drat—maybe one of her good friends should do that in another story…. 🙂

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  5. I’m hoping Meghan will be able to get that dog now! Nice house details. It made me think you must have had that house hunting experience because, like the sifting through documents part, it felt real.

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    • Oh yes. My husband and I may be renting for now, but we’ve owned three houses since we’ve been married. You get familiar with “realtor speak” after a while. 😉 We’ll probably buy again next summer, but this new house of Meghan’s is a little too pricey for us. I bet we go for a nice, more affordable townhouse.

      Tonight, Meghan’s probably thinking about how best to protect that vegetable garden from a puppy. 😉

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    • When my husband and I first moved out here, we couldn’t believe the cost of housing. In some areas, the house I describe for Meghan could easily run in the $800s. When my husband and I buy again, we’ll be looking for something smaller and more in our price range, which is below Meghan’s!

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  6. Good grief! Am I right in thinking that rectangular garden bed may have something buried in it? (or is that just my writer’s imagination galloping off into the distance?) 😀

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    • Ha—there’s no telling where another writer might take a story line! 🙂 I think it’s safe to say this garden bed holds nothing but buried roots. And maybe some tubers when Meghan gets to make it her own. 🙂

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  7. It is indeed easy to imagine the worst in people–nice touch. Great description of the house hunt and the details. It felt like I was reading a House Hunter’s episode–well done. Now, I can’t wait to see what happens with the mystery–so many possibilities! Good way of laying out them out.

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    • Wrapping up the house hunt is probably a not-so-subtle clue we’re close to wrapping up the mystery, too. I think we’ll learn more when Meghan goes back to the farm. What I’ll do on Tuesday’s after this story is done is still a mystery to me, though. 😉

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  8. It may sound odd, but I got a little flutter while reading Meghan and Rick moving through the new house. (For $560K, I’d put a bid on that house!) 🙂

    Nice family moment in this chapter, especially as a counterpoint to the more sinister goings-on at the estate. Although, I did chuckle at the idea of Douglas gleefully pouring gasoline on everything, like some Snidely Whiplash character. I know that’s not the image you were likely going for, but Meghan’s matter-of-fact description brought that to mind.

    You say this development is a hint that the mystery is coming to a close. I’m sorry to see it happen, but I know it must, eventually. Hopefully, the new house will provide more adventures to come! 🙂

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    • If Meghan and Rick lived in one of the suburbs closer to DC, that house would cost a heck of a lot more than $560. 😉 And it would probably be “only” in the $300s where I came from. I wouldn’t be surprised if Meghan has a few panic attacks before the closing thinking about that cost!

      Snidely Whiplash? Oh, there’s a character I haven’t seen in years! But let me be clear—I’ve only seen “Rocky and Bullwinkle” in syndication AFTER it finished its run. 🙂 I didn’t have Snidely in mind so much as a calculating businessman who might nod in agreement with the idea that “greed is good.”

      This story must end soon, and I confess to being unsure what to do next. Meghan’s had control of Tuesdays for some time now, and I think she realizes I need a break. I’d like to do another story with her, but I think I’d write it up in advance this time. I guess time will tell. 😉

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    • I hope you’ll enjoy it! I think Meghan has the potential to be a strong character. It’s just a matter of seeing if she wants to stick with shorter stories or try a novel. 😉

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    • I suspect Meghan and family will be happy there once they’re settled in. ;)She doesn’t like moving too much, so she’s not like me and my husband!

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  9. Yeah for the house, sounds too good to be true. I still think they should get a cat or two instead of a dog 🙂 or both?? Love all the question swirling around her head about Evelyn, Douglas, Sloma and Sandberg. Can’t wait to see how Meghan ties it all up. Another great installment JM!

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    • Thanks, Arlene! Every house has something “not quite right” about it, so I’m sure Meghan will find something when they move in. But she’s outvoted on the animals. I think Rick is allergic to cats. I suspect the mystery at Wyndham Thicket Farm will be wrapped up before she has to move, though….

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  10. I liked reading installment 16 and 17 together: taken as a whole they dovetail nicely!
    In 16 we learn about the the generations who lived at not one, but TWO Wyndhams! Great twist there JM, and an excellent plot device to teach us the difference between casual and professional genealogical research.

    In 17, we see a family involved in real estate 300 yrs post “Thicket,” but are people still the same? Mentally, I saw beyond the physical description of the lovely big house and wondered if Megan’s dreams and aspirations were anything like the original Isaac’s when HE was starting out. It left me thinking….How do we go from happily entertaining in the basement familyroom to burying bodies under the wet bar!?

    You have such a gift, JM! Can’t wait til tomw when I get more answers!!

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    • It’s really interesting how every reader takes away something different from a story. I hadn’t really thought of the comparison between modern-day Meghan and her family looking for a new home and the colonial Walkers establishing their plantations. There must be some similarities—wanting to provide the best one can for one’s family, for example. But I don’t see Meghan or Rick killing someone who disagrees with them on the political front. 😉 Still, culture changes in 300 years. What would Abraham or Isaac Walker be like today? And what would Meghan be like if she lived in 1779?

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  11. You took me immediately to that feeling of walking into a show home open house. I love how they’re so clean and empty and perfect and all I want to do is imagine what I’d do with it if it were mine. 🙂

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    • These are the houses that sell right away. And in better economic times, have bidding wars. After all of Meghan’s frustrations in this story, the house hunting had to end well. 🙂 This one’s too big for me and my husband, but I sure wouldn’t mind a 3-bedroom version….

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