The Ivy House - By Drea Stein Page 0,1

How could you consider destroying a masterpiece like this? The house was living history and she could already feel herself falling in love. Visions of fairy lights in the trees, the setting sun, a table set up outside, and some friends to share it with. Still, she shouldn’t get too attached yet. Her home, her life was three-thousand miles away. Imagination couldn’t always overcome reality.

“Oh, well,” Sandy blinked, then resettled her oversized sunglasses more firmly on top of her head. “I mean, you’ll see. As I said, everything’s perfectly sound, but things haven’t been updated in a while.”

Phoebe smiled. All the better, she thought. So many people ruined old houses by trying to update them too much, trying to drag them kicking and screaming into the modern world, while not respecting their expert craftsmanship and clean, simple lines.

“I like old houses,” Phoebe said. “They have character.” In California, old was a relative term, but here she was dealing with a jewel built in the nineteenth century, before planes, cars—electricity, even. It would need to be respected, cherished. And more so because it had belonged to Savannah.

Sandy was about to say something when her phone rang. Holding up a finger, she checked the screen and then excused herself to take the call.

Relieved to be alone, Phoebe moved up the porch, imagining how it would look with some fine old wicker rockers, instead of those hideous, rusty folding chairs. She stood in front of the door. It was the original: a fine wood-paneled door, painted a bright blue. Cheerful, but to her trained eye, a little too bold. Something softer, duskier would suit. She tried to peer through the sidelights on either side, but they too were original and the glass, wavy from age, made it difficult to see inside.

She put the key in the lock and turned. The lock was stiff from disuse, but she wiggled until finally it opened. Perhaps there wasn’t much cause to lock your door here and that thought pleased Phoebe immensely, who lived in the city and always made sure to triple-lock the door.

Swinging slowly back, the door opened with a scream on its hinges, a slow, protracted squeal. It was a sunny day, but as Sandy had mentioned, there was no electricity and the sun only just touched the interior.

Phoebe took a step in, smelling mustiness and dampness, the scent of a closed-up house. Her eyes poked through the gloom and she was finally able to see.

“Oh, my…” she said out loud.

“I told you.” Sandy had come up behind her, her phone call done. “In my business, it’s what we call a tear down.”

Chapter 2

The agent left and Phoebe let herself have a full-blown moment of panic. She managed to breathe despite the filthy atmosphere and explored the rest of the house. She took the sight of the inside in stride, telling herself it was what she should have expected. After all, considering the way Savannah had handled her affairs, it was a miracle there was anything left for Phoebe at all. And this was more than she could have hope for, she decided, as she reminded herself of the house’s basic sturdiness.

Unfortunately, despite what Sandy had said, the house had been subjected to a number of redos throughout the decade, the latest of which had left lots of linoleum, probably covering the original, wide plank-wood floors; peeling wallpaper; and mirrors, lots of mirrors.

The paint colors throughout were faded or jarring or both, as though the rooms had been painted by someone color-blind or using the clearance colors from the local home improvement store. Definitely both, Phoebe thought as she opened the door to a smallish room, the dining room perhaps, and took another look.

The rest of the house wasn’t much better—it was dusty and dirty, and the tenants had left piles of things, from old bedding to stacks of newspapers, in various places. A few of the windowpanes were broken and had been covered up with pieces of cardboard.

Finally, she found herself outside in the backyard, taking in the view. There was a flagstone terrace out here, with a fire pit, ringed by a low rock wall, perfect for enjoying cool spring nights and watching the water. A strong breeze blew through the trees and she wandered down to the edge of the bluff. A picket fence ran along it, and there was a set of stairs going down to the beach. She looked over it. Apparently, this was the only thing the tenants Copyright 2016 - 2024