Chad Lewis parked in the drive of the bed and breakfast. It looked deserted but he knew it wasn’t. Inside there was a woman, the owner Lindsey Smith, the widow of the man who’d died in front of him two years ago. He sighed at the flood of regret that flitted through his mind. None of it mattered. He didn’t matter, nor did his feelings. What mattered was the pain that no doubt had irreparably impacted her. It had been two years and despite all the changes he’d made in life, it still had come down to him doing this. He sighed again. There was a decided chill in the air and flurries had begun to dance in the wind before him. He closed his car keys in the palm of his hand and slammed the car door shut before he started up the walk toward the front door. It was a charming farmhouse, especially against the sorbet shades of the twilight sky. The house was embraced by a copse of Pine trees, the scent of which, floated out to greet him, as he reached the porch adorned by ivy topiaries that flanked two rocking chairs.
Even before the doorbell could be answered, Chad could see the flurries were thickening. The storm seemed to have come out of nowhere. He had planned to keep this visit short and sweet, now as he turned to look behind him, he wondered if it would be so simple.
He heard the door pull open and he turned to see standing before him a short, curvy bronze complexioned woman with a curly ponytail, smiling briefly before a flurry of words began to flow from her mouth . “I’m so glad that you made it!” she said as she grasped his arm, pulling him into the entryway of the home. Chad was immediately aware of the warmth from the large fireplace, visible in the adjoining parlor, and the warmth radiating off the barely five foot beauty in front of him.
“I was beginning to think you’d quit the job before you checked it out. To be honest, I can’t take one more thing to go wrong. It’s only ten days to the deadline!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air.
He’d watched in amazement not only of how many words she could get out in a moment of time, but how many she could say without need of pulling in breath, which he felt compelled to do for the both of them. At the sudden whine of a nearby teapot, she took off, looking back, gesturing for him to follow. Chad followed the loquacious woman through the hallway that went past the grand stairway, toward a dining room, then past the dividing counter into the kitchen. As she turned the burner off, she turned as if something occurred to her. “I called three agencies today in hopes of getting a handyman here as soon as possible.” As she began to pour water into the two mugs that she’d pulled out of the adjacent cabinets, her eyebrows knit together causing a line to etch between them. She turned toward him and asked, “What was your name again?”
Chad took in the sudden concern that creased her face. It was so adorable. He smiled for the first time since entering the house. “Chad. Chad Lewis. What was it that you needed done?”
Her face seemed to relax at that question. She dropped in tea bags and lifted the mugs before walking them over to the table. “I need someone that can get the property ready for guests, tighten up the grounds, the railings, some of the moldings need to be replaced, I gotta be honest, you would do more than repair–I have limited funds. I would need you to help me do everything from getting furniture in place to carrying our guests’ luggage to their rooms. If the repair is beyond your expertise, I would want you to get someone in here that could take care of it. I guess it would be like a Guy-Friday sort of thing. Do you think it’s something that you could handle? Of course in addition to pay, you would have a room and access to meals…”
She paused suddenly. He wondered if she was taking him in for the first time–perhaps even doubting he would be willing. Maybe she was aware for the first time the quality of the leather gloves that he’d laid before them on the table–not necessarily the type of purchase of an average handyman, or the air of authority that he was aware had cloaked him for most of his career. He assumed she was also taking in a well needed breath, while now wondering if he would stay.
The fact of the matter was, from the moment she’d uttered the first of what would prove to be a waterfall of words, he had been entranced. She was so different from the woman he’d expected to find, which was nothing beyond a tragic widow. Instead, he’d found a sprite of light and energy, someone so opposite from the chasm of darkness he’d been existing in. Beyond the fact that he’d been quite familiar with doing most of the repair work on his own home, he felt an obligation to help her to launch her dream. It was the least he could do, since, in his opinion, he was responsible for the death of her husband.
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