Chapter 5 - Mystery
One week later Mystery was standing on the sidewalk in front of her new cottage and accepting the keys Mrs. McCarthy was holding out to her. As they landed in her palm and her fingers closed around them, she felt as if her whole life was about to change. She’d lived with her aunts since her parent’s death, and now she was about to venture out on her own. The feeling was freeing.
She thanked Mrs. McCarthy and gave her hand a quick shake, then turned her attention back to her cottage. Mrs. McCarthy didn’t seem to care about the dismissal, as she hurried to her car and disappeared down the street. The house looked even prettier to Mystery now it was hers. She giggled as she ran up the walkway and hurried onto the porch. Her hand trembled as she held out the key and inserted it into the lock. A twist of her wrist and the lock clicked allowing her to push open the door.
She threw back her head and let out an excited screech, twirled in a full circle, then stepped over the threshold. The interior was bright, empty and smelled musty, but to Mystery it was perfect. She hurried through all the rooms and pushed open the windows. Immediately a breeze blew through, and the smell of lilacs and fresh air assailed her. She liked that smell much better.
Mystery moved to the greenhouse next and opened the door separating it from the house. She couldn’t wait to fill it up with different flowers and plants. Her bedroom at her aunts was full, and they’d do well out here. Although with this much space she’d be able to make a trip to the local greenhouse and buy the plants she’d been lusting over. Ideas swirled through her head of ivy growing across the roof, tropical plants growing amongst summer flowers, and herbs lining the wall around the door. The colours would all blend together and the smell would be spectacular.
Then her thoughts moved to furniture. She’d have to buy a large wooden table to place in the middle. Maybe one with wooden crates in the middle to hold all her tools. It would need to have a shelf underneath too, so her potting soil was off the ground. She’d also love a small bistro table in the corner, one where she could sit in the mornings and enjoy a cup of tea. It would need to have pretty cushions on the chairs because she’d be spending a lot of time out here. She eyed the two panes of glass that were broken and decided new glass would be a priority.
Moving back inside she grabbed a pad of paper, pencil, and a tape measure so she could start measuring rooms. She didn’t have much furniture, but she wanted to have at least an idea of where each piece would fit. Then she could decide what other pieces she’d need to purchase. With the repairs, she wouldn’t have a lot to spend, but a few things would be needed.
She took her time going through the rooms. She had a moving truck coming with her things in four days time, if she picked a couple paint colours she could start painting tomorrow. It would be a huge improvement that would be an easy one, and it would be a relief not to have to work around the furniture. She loved soft colours, so if she stuck with a pastel palette, the sun would make the rooms look even brighter.
When a knock sounded at the door, she dropped her notebook and hurried towards it. She was excited to get her first visitor. Throwing open the door, she bounced on the threshold as she grinned at Hunter. He looked as handsome as he had the first day she saw him, and she couldn’t be happier to see him.
“You’re the first person to knock on my door,” Mystery declared in greeting. Then she grabbed the front of his shirt and all but dragged him inside. “Welcome to my cottage.”
Hunter laughed as he stumbled in the door and pried her fingers off his shirt.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been greeted as enthusiastically,” Hunter returned. “Are you going to greet me like this every time I come over?”
“Probably,” Mystery admitted, as she bounced on her feet.
“Well I’ll be coming over a lot then,” he smirked. Then his brows went up as his eyes trailed up her body from her toes to her hair. “What the hell are you wearing?”
Mystery looked down at her outfit and frowned. She wore a white lace dress that fell to mid thigh, over it she wore an off the shoulder, baggy beige sweater she’d tied a knot in the side of. She had the sleeves pushed up so her friendship bracelets were visible, she had a black choker on, and feather earrings. On her feet were her favourite ankle boots. The tops were wrapped in lace and braided leather and feathers hung down the sides. Her hair was down and wild, but pushed off her face with a flowery scarf she used as makeshift headband.
“You don’t like it?” Mystery questioned him in surprise.
“Do you dress like this all the time?” Hunter pushed.
“I don’t understand,” Mystery whispered.
“Adorable little outfits meant to drive a man out of his mind,” Hunter growled. Then he stepped close and reached up to play with the edges of her scarf. “I really liked the crop top that showed off the sparkly belly ring the other day, but this one is cute too.”
She blinked up at him as what he said registered. Apparently his words were meant to be complimentary.
“I do dress different from most,” Mystery agreed.
“That’s okay,” Hunter replied. “I like different, I like different a hell of a lot.”
“Oh,” she said, as a blush tinged her cheeks pink.
He dropped the scarf and took a step back, and she sighed in relief. With how close he had been standing, and the things he had said, she was getting butterflies in her belly.
“Was there something you wanted,” Mystery asked breathlessly.
“There are a lot of things I want,” Hunter growled, as his eyes turned heated. “But I came to see about the work you need done.”
“Oh,” Mystery grinned, as she attempted to get herself back under control. “You know someone that can help me with that?”
The look he gave her clearly indicated he thought she was crazy. “I thought when we were going through this place the other day, you understood that I pointed out things because I knew how to fix them.”
“Oh,” Mystery stammered trying to think of a way out of this. She would never admit that she knew exactly what he meant, but the thought of him being around so much was the problem. She’d get nothing done with him so close. She could just picture him with a tool belt on, his muscles bulging, and sweat running down his neck.
“You’re thinking awfully hard,” Hunter snorted. “You’ll need to be very inventive, because I’ll shoot down every excuse you come up with.”
Mystery gaped at him. How the hell did he know what she was thinking? Then he was reaching down and plucking the tape measure out of her hand she had forgotten she was holding.
“Come on pretty girl. Let’s go measure the glass in your greenhouse so I can order new pieces,” Hunter decided.
And just like that he had her. The ass knew exactly what to say to get her to follow because a second later she was trailing behind him. But, she had a few choice names to call him as she did.