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After Saber went to sleep, I used that skill to block thoughts of everything
except my design homework. I worked steadily until seven, then slipped into
bed with Saber on the happy thought that we d be house hunting again later.
I was raring to go Friday afternoon, but Saber had to leave a message for
Jo-Jo before we left. Saber s attorney friend had given his seal of approval
to Vince s contract terms and had checked on any complaints filed by former
clients. There were none. Looked like Jo-Jo had fallen into a great deal.
Saber wasn t as lucky. By six Friday evening, we d seen eight houses in four
neighborhoods. The three affordable ones needed major updating, but Saber and
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I could do some of the labor. I d learned to use a few basic power tools when
I d hung around Maggie s construction crew while they worked on her Victorian
house and my cottage. The men and women might ve been amused at having a
vampire pelting them with questions, but they taught me to cut and install
crown molding and do other carpentry projects. Also, we could contact Maggie s
contractor for help with major things like plumbing and electrical work.
When it was clear to Amanda that Saber wasn t ready to make any offers, she
went to her car to make a cell call, then asked us to see one more property.
 This one is on the island, a bit south of where you said you want to be, but
I promise you it s special.
She said  special with an odd glitter in her eyes. Something more than
Realtor-fee fever, but why did she lob that comment at me instead of Saber?
We followed Amanda south on A1A, past where the road narrowed to two lanes.
She talked on her cell phone during the entire drive, and when she turned east
ahead of us, Saber muttered a curse.
 Has she lost her way or been out in the sun too long?
 What s wrong?
 She s out of her little blonde mind if she thinks I can afford a house on the
ocean side of the highway. I sure can t afford a house with an ocean view.
 Maybe it s just an ocean peek.
He wasn t amused and was even less so when he pulled off the worn blacktop. He
stared out the windshield and gaped.
 What the hell is that?
From what I could see of the shape and window style, that was a 1950s
bungalow. A tiny, ramshackle bungalow sitting amid a sandbox of dune weeds,
overgrown shrubs, and vines that crawled up the exterior walls and onto the
shallow-pitched roof.
On the upside, the house sat smack in the middle of what had to be several
ocean front lots. Contrary to all good sense and reason, I fell in love with
it.
 Oh, Saber, talk about a clean slate!
 It s an eyesore, he growled back.  I m surprised the neighbors haven t
torched it.
 They can t. There are laws against fires on the beach.
He leveled a look at me.  We are not getting out of the car. I don t care what
Amanda says. It s not even safe to go look in the windows. The vines will
strangle us if the snakes don t get us first.
 Come on, Saber. Think of it as an adventure.
 I m thinking it s a waste of time.
 But we re here.
 So are the rattlers and brown recluse spiders. Not to mention sand fleas.
I snorted.  You ve killed werewolves and vampires. What s a little wildlife
compared to that?
He gave me his stony cop face. I threw up my hands.
 All right. But can I at least get some pictures for my design class?
 You brought your camera?
 No, I was hoping I could use yours.
 Remind me to take that damn thing out of my car. He sighed.  Okay, a few
pictures, and we re outta here.
I leaned over to kiss him on the cheek, then twisted to fish his digital
camera from the backseat floorboard.  Right, and we ll stop by CVS on the way
home so I can put the photos on a CD. It won t take but a minute.
 Cesca, it s Friday, and it s tourist season. It ll take more than a minute.
 Fine, then you can get calamine lotion for your sand flea bites while I get
the CD. Come on, let s go.
We met Amanda on a mangled flagstone path leading to the front door.
 Sorry about the wait. A colleague was double-checking some facts on the
property for me. Well, do you recognize it?
 As what? Saber snapped.  A perfect bombing range?
Amanda kept her sales smile pinned in place.  I know it doesn t look like much
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from the outside 
 Amanda, it s a wreck.
 Actually, Saber, I said,  now that we re closer, some of the exterior paint
doesn t look that bad.
 Don t help, he shot back.  Now look, Amanda 
This time she interrupted him.  The house comes with three lots, and I promise
it s better inside.
 So was the city of Pompeii when they dug it out, but I wouldn t want to live
there.
 The house is one bedroom, one bath, Amanda went on as she picked her way
toward the door,  but the living area is generous, and the entire back of the
house is an enclosed porch facing the ocean, accessible through both the
kitchen and living area.
 I m betting that s because the walls have collapsed, Saber groused.
 Five minutes, I said.  Pictures and we re gone.
Saber gave me a martyred grimace but came along quietly when I took his hand.
Amanda opened the door with relative ease, considering the bush partly
blocking it, and then we stepped into the gloom inside.
The ceiling was higher than I expected, with exposed beams. The hardwood
floors? Well, dusty was being generous, but they looked like oak and were
solid. No obvious rot. No roof, wall, or floor cave-ins. The dingy white walls
looked like salvaged wood planks nailed over drywall. I glanced at Saber s
granite face and started snapping pictures.
Two slightly warped dark wood doors to the right of the living room were open.
One was the bedroom, the other a small bathroom with filthy fixtures. I
snapped off more shots of both rooms and gingerly opened the closet door. Not
a bad size for a shoebox house, and no band of mutant spiders assaulted me.
 Now back here is the kitchen. It s small, of course, but you could expand.
And here s the fabulous porch with the view. Isn t it perfect?
Though the view was marred by salt air-spotted windows, even Saber sucked in a
breath at the magnificent expanse of ocean. I got photos of the grungy
kitchen, the porch, and then the view.
 Well, what do you think? Amanda asked, her bright eyes darting between us
but not with uncertainty.
More like this was a done deal.
 Is the view the way you remember it, Ms. Marinelli?
Remember it? Saber was right. Amanda had been in the sun too long if she
thought I d ever been here, and she d completely lost her wits if she thought
she could sell him on this place.
 I don t know what this property is priced at, Saber said,  but I can t
afford it.
The agent tilted her head, a tiny crease forming between her eyes.  But Mr. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]