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.