Victor stood beneath the looming height of the century old Victorian home. The majestic once white columns were worn and the paint was slowly peeling off. The grounds were overgrown with weeds, the house itself was in a slowly degrading state. The challenge to revive the house was what had attracted Victor to the property. He saw a big opportunity to showcase his skills in house renovating. He was starting his business, and he wanted to begin with a bang. He didn’t even bother visiting the house before making an offer on it. He had seized the opportunity and everyone back home had thought him crazy.
Fairchild Manor had been abandoned for over seventy years, there were stories surrounding it’s supernatural presence. His sister was into all that stuff, but he was way above it, only believing in what he saw. He needed cold hard facts. The house had once belonged to an aristocratic family, the Fairchild’s. Elora and Francis Fairchild had been newlyweds, Francis had the house built to his exact specifications. He had overseen the entire project until it’s fruition. He was a prickly sir with a neutral sense of humor. People tolerated him because he had a lot of money. Elora on the other hand was beautiful, with a sense of perfect style and manner of speech and a lively spirit. People would whisper behind her back, they never had the nerve to ask her why she had married such a man. The truth was, in a rich society, you didn't choose your husband. They were always chosen for you. A match made in rich society heaven her father had called them. Her soon to be husband was the son of a rich business man and she was the daughter of Henry Hawkins, oil tycoon. She was forced into the marriage, never have learnt to love her husband. She thought it was a failure on her part, punished herself for it.
On the eve of their one year anniversary, Elora was awaiting Francis’ arrival. They were to go out for a late diner, she had dressed for the occasion. The door opened, but it was not who she had been expecting. Sally Sparks ran in, her steps savage and hard against the wood floors.
″What’s wrong Sally?″
Elora was completely oblivious to what was happening.
″He’ll never leave you! He said he would, but he won’t. You’ll pay for this!″
Elora stepped back, frightened by the look in her soon to be killer’s eyes. Sally lifted her arm, closed her fist and swung it at Elora. The victim fell to the ground in a daze. Sally walked away, leaving Elora to grip the sofa and try to stand up. She didn’t have time, Sally walked up behind her, lifted the knife and plunged it into Elora’s soft flesh. She screamed and screamed in agonizing pain, as Sally bludgeoned her with her own cooking knife. Elora sank to the floor, her eyes void and her spirit lifting from her now empty body. Sally laughed, knowing that she would now have Francis all to herself. What she didn’t know, was that she had been watched by someone, that someone being Francis himself. She cried and pleaded until the police handcuffed her and she was escorted away. Francis watched her go, knowing that it would be the last time he saw his lover, but not the last time he would see his dead wife.
″What do you mean tomorrow? I wanted the supplies today. Do you understand me John? Today!″
He closed the phone and groaned. Why couldn’t he have a competent partner, not some college grad that his father had forced him to hire? I could fire him, he thought. Then he’d never hear the end of it. Might as well just put up with him. He walked up the front steps, gathering information about what needed to be done. He’d need to hire a landscaper, that was definitely not within his skill set. The door needed new hinges and the steps were wobbly. He had been in Willowdale for three hours and he hadn’t gotten much done. He had figured the job to take a few months, give or take. Now he was realizing that a lot more work needed to be done and it would cost more than expected. Money he had, time was more what bothered him. He didn’t like driving, only did it when he absolutely needed it. He preferred walking or biking. He had a home in New York, he didn’t want to stay away for too long. Leslie might move on if he stayed away too long. She wasn’t the type of woman to wait around for a guy. He walked into the kitchen and surveyed the stove. It was in working condition. He decided that a walk to the local supermarket was needed. One thing not many people knew about Victor Vance was that he loved cooking. He was very good at it too.
Once he got all his supplies to make his own recipe of beef stew, he walked back to his temporary home and prepared his lunch. He opened the stove on simmer and placed the cover on the pot. The stew always took two hours to cook on low, that gave him plenty of time to go upstairs and calculate the costs of repair. He walked up the flight of mahogany stairs and into the first bedroom. It was decorated in a soft pastel blue, with white faded curtains on the windows, antique furniture and a beautiful handmade quilt. He loved antiques, loved the stories behind them. He could see the person in the piece. He touched the dresser and sniffed the air. It smelled like soft perfume. He opened the first drawer, it held a ladies undergarments dating back to the twenties. The next drawer held a box of letters addressed to a Francis Fairchild from a Sally Sparks. Must have been his wife. The last drawer held the perfume viles. He picked one up and smelled it. It smelled like rosemary, wild orchids and cherry blossoms. It made him think of his mother and the way she smelled to him as a child. He closed the last drawer, but as he went to close the two others, they closed on their own. He jumped back, startled. His hands were nowhere near those drawers. How could they have closed? He walked out of the room, passing a hand in his hair on the way. He walked into the second room. The pink walls hurt his eyes, it was too flashy and it smelled like burnt meat in this room. Wait a minute, he thought, and ran out of the room, down the stairs and into the kitchen. The stew was bubbling out under the cover. He ran to it, turned the heat down and moved the pot away. He stared at the heat indicator. It had been on high, he hadn’t put it on high, he always put it on simmer. His meal was ruined one way or another. Maybe he had been distracted and had put it on high. He decided it was for the best to go and eat something at the diner. At least their the oven stayed at the right temperature. Right?
Aspen leaned on the counter with the coffee pot in her hand and a frown on her face. It had been three weeks since David had called her and she was feeling the blow of his betrayal. Her best friend Ashley, now her ex best friend, had kissed him behind her back. She suspected they had done more than kissing, but Ashley had only confessed to that. When she confronted David about it he called her a tease and blamed her. Boys! If only she could find a man to date. Men surely were more faithful and interesting than sixteen year old boys. The diner door squeaked open and Aspen turned to see who it was. Must be old Bob Turner, he always showed up at this hour for coffee and a conversation. She liked the locals, but preferred it when someone new came in. This new person, or rather, this new man, was at least six foot two, with cropped hair, a hint of a beard and a chiseled jaw. She could see the outline of his muscles through his worn out shirt.
Victor sat down on a lumpy bench. He had seen better diners in his day, maybe he could offer his services. Nah, he had enough on his plate with Fairchild Manor. He peeked at the menu, pushed it aside and leaned back.
″Can I take your order?″
The young girl had strawberry locks, a curvy figure and sparkling green eyes. She was a true beauty, didn’t need any makeup to bring out her good features. He locked eyes with her, but looked away immediately. He wasn’t a pervert and he was definitely old enough to be her father. He wouldn’t want to start rumors in a small town either. He had been getting the evil watchful eye from neighbors ever since he had shown up.
″What’s good to eat here?″
Aspen flicked a pen through her hair, trying to act mature.
″You’re asking me mister?″
″Victor and yes, I am asking you.″
She blew an imaginary piece of hair out of her face and leaned in.
″I’d have the fish and chips if I were you. It’s like heaven. Almost better than sex.″
Victor was taken aback, he wasn’t used to girls this young coming on to him. He’d have to make it clear that he was off limits.
″That’ll be fine.″
She turned around, walked a few seductive steps and twirled around.
″My name’s Aspen.″
She walked into the kitchen and the door closed behind her. A few people were scowling at him, he knew why. He had been in this town for the whole of one day and already he was making enemies.
Aspen brought Victor his food and waited.
She sat down opposite him and stared.
″I heard someone bought the Fairchild house, it’s you, isn’t it?″
He was going to stick to simple answers. Did she have to act so friendly? He didn’t know anything besides her except her name and the fact that she seemed to like older men.
″How are you planning on fixin’ it up? It’s gonna take loads of money.″
″I’m a contractor, I’m doing it myself.″
″Do you have a wife, any children?″
″Who wants to know?″
Aspen crossed her arms and pouted.
″I was only asking because I could have offered my services. I’m also a babysitter.″
″I have a girlfriend.″
Aspen smiled and stood.
″Well, she’s lucky to have you.″
She walked away, leaving him to his now cold meal. Saying he had a girlfriend had stopped her game, maybe this would be the last he ever saw of Aspen. Then again, maybe not.