Because of Avalyn

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Chapter 4 - Moving Day

🐇Aaron🐇

My alarm is blaring and Ava is jumping on my bed yelling.

“Daddy!” she throws herself on my back, “it’s time to get up!”

I groan and she hugs me then gets off the bed and runs back to her room. I still can’t get the mysterious man off of my mind. I cannot believe what we did. What I did.

Never have I done anything like that in my life and it was as nerve-wracking as it was exhilarating. When I flopped into bed I couldn’t let it go but my mind wanted a face so I just imagined it was the sexy Man from group, Carter. The man makes my hormones go crazy; like I’m a teenage boy again.

Quickly, I head to the bathroom to shower away my stink from last night and to wake up. I feel like I’m a thousand years old. I didn’t drink a lot but I feel like I drank a bottle of vodka to myself. I am never letting Lena convince me to go out drinking ever again. Although that’s what I said when she dragged me to RoseBud last week. Normally I refuse to go out but all this stress has been killing me and I needed a night to forget.

I needed one final day to finish packing the last of our things but I also still had to make the call. I’m nervous as hell.

“Daddy, eggs and toast!” she yells from the living room.

“Just a minute sweetheart.” I yell back.

I need to make this call.

“Hello?”

“Is this Carter?” I ask.

“Yes it is, may I ask who’s calling?” he asks in return.

“It’s uh… it’s Aaron, from group.” God, I’m so nervous.

I really hate that my options have been so abysmal I’ve actually had to take this offer. I’m not sure he knows what he’s getting himself into.

“So I take it that you’re accepting my offer”.

“Yes, if that’s ok.” I say quietly.

“When do you plan on moving in?” he asks.

“Whenever it works best for you, Ava and I have been packed for weeks”.

“Aaron, I know a guy that owns a moving company, I can send a truck over tomorrow morning if you like”.

“Oh God no, you’re doing so much already”.

“I am not taking no for an answer, I’ll see you tomorrow”.

I’m so nervous about this but Ava needs a safe home. I pray this isn’t a mistake but I’m one of the last tenants even staying in the building. Nearly everyone else has moved already.

I go make Ava the breakfast she wanted and take her to her dance class. I walk her inside and hug her like always and then she runs off to play before the class starts. Usually I stay but today I have things to do. This class is the one thing my parents have done for her. But they never come to the end of the year recital.

Please let this be the right thing to do.

🐇🐇🐇🐇🐇

“Daddy!” Ava taps my arm, “Daddy it’s time to wake up.” She’s silent for a moment. “Daddy wake up right now!” she yells.

Every morning for the last few months she’s been waking up at six in the damn morning. And every morning she feels it’s her duty to ensure I’m also awake at six, except on days when I run. It’s frustratingly adorable.

“Ava, Daddy is so tired. Can you go watch tv for a while?”

“Fine.” she huffs before she dramatically walks off.

When I finally make it to the living room she’s waiting for me on the couch impatiently.

She turns to me “Daddy you promised to take me for breakfast and now we’ll miss it!”

I laugh because it’s seven in the morning and Humpty’s serves breakfast all day.

We arrive home at eight-thirty and the movers arrive at nine. They get everything packed in the truck in under an hour and then we are on our way to Carter’s.

When Carter and I spoke on Friday I didn’t know what I expected but it wasn’t an invitation to live in his house. I’m extremely anxious. He seems like he’s kind of uptight and Ava is almost five, she’s still just a young child and sometimes she’s a bit hyperactive. I really hope he doesn’t have museum rules or have tons of breakable items lying around. I should have asked about all of this before I agreed but I was desperate.

We pull up to the house and all I can say is wow because it’s incredible.

I didn’t realize he lived in a gated community on a huge corner lot. I assumed he had money but I guess I don’t actually know a thing about him. This was a really bad idea. I put Ava into a potentially dangerous situation because, because... I literally had nowhere else to go. After my mini panic attack we head inside. The movers are in the process of putting Avalyn’s furniture in place in her room which is amazing because it saves me a ton of time.

To keep her out of the way we head to the kitchen where I spot an envelope with the word movers written on it and a note that read:

Aaron

Could you please make sure the movers get this envelope, it’s a tip for each one of them. Please make yourself at home, I’ll bring lunch back with me since I will be back around twelve-thirty.

~Carter.

Carter was indeed home at twelve-thirty. I’m rarely that punctual, sometimes it takes me an abnormally long time to get Ava ready to leave. We are usually a couple minutes late. It’s better now that she can get herself dressed but it’s still not great.

“Avalyn, lunch!” I shout up the stairs at her.

She runs down and into the kitchen. She slides on the floor a little before she climbs up to sit on one of the stools at the island. She looks at Carter and he looks at her. Eventually she starts to giggle and he raises an eyebrow at her.

“Do I have something on my face?” he asks her and she giggles more.

He looks to me and I just raise my hands, “no idea”.

He hands her a plate with chicken fingers, some fries and some salad. She gives Carter another strange look before she digs into the salad.

We eat in a slightly awkward silence until Carter turns to Ava “is your new room ok?”

Ava smiles really big and replies happily “it’s so big, all my stuff fits!“.

I turn away slightly, my insecurities and shame bubbling to the surface. I can still see him look at me from the corner of my eye.

“That’s great, I hoped it would be a good room for you”.

She goes back to eating not knowing how that tiny innocent little comment, that probably means nothing to her, has wounded me. Ava finishes up her lunch, puts her dishes in the sink and goes back upstairs.

The silence is palpable. I’m finally ready to talk and I guess Carter is too because we start to talk at the same time. We stumble over each other’s words for a few seconds before we laugh. He looks at me, then away.

“I hope the rooms are ok.” I nod and he continues “I want you two to make yourselves at home, nothing but my bedroom is off limits. I don’t want you or Avalyn to feel uncomfortable. You are helping me a lot by being here”.

I sigh, “you’re helping me more, I don’t know how to thank you enough”.

I have to take a moment, I am overly emotional right now and I don’t want it to show. I get my bearings and look at him expecting to see pity in his eyes but it’s something else, I just can’t tell what before it’s gone and he smiles.

“There is a pool in the basement. The doors to it are locked but the keys are hanging on the wall. I also have a housekeeper that comes every other Monday so please just make sure she can clean without having to pick up stuff off the floor and clean the kitchen without stuff in the sink and on the counters.” Getting up, I nod before putting the dishes in the dishwasher and heading to my room.

💰Carter💰

I had no idea how cute Avalyn would be. She’s a beautiful brown eyed, blonde haired angel. I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly but it wasn’t a well behaved little girl.

She ate all her lunch, was polite and it... It just blew me away. I did notice, when she said all her furniture fit in her room, that Aaron turned away a bit. I don’t understand why, he’s been dealt kind of a shitty hand and he stretched his finances a bit thin to be able to give her what she has.

Aaron should be proud of everything he’s done for her. I don’t know what I would have done in the same situation but I don’t have any family left so I suppose I don’t need to think about it.

Alone in my room I’m picking out some suits to take to the condo I’m staying at to keep up this ruse when I hear the laughter and screaming of Avalyn. Her and Aaron are playing and she’s enjoying herself. I am again surprised by her. Even her screaming is quiet. I have to assume that it’s from having close neighbours.

Avalyn doesn’t need to worry about that now she can make as much noise as she pleases. I go and load my bag into the car before heading back inside to tell Aaron I’ll be gone until Wednesday. As soon as I step inside the door Avalyn crashes into me.

“Sorry Mr. Carter” she says before she gets up off the floor.

I laugh, “it’s just Carter”.

It’s then Aaron comes around the corner and she shrieks and runs away. I tell him I’m going and head out.

💰💰💰💰💰

I drive across the city to the condo I had staged as a show home but since I’ll be living here on and off for a while I call the company I rent the furniture from and tell them to bill me the full amount.

My assistant should be arriving shortly with all the samples for the renovations and the new apartment build. When she arrives she’s wearing a revealing blouse and her pencil skirt has a high slit up her thigh revealing that she’s wearing a garter belt and thigh high stockings.

She leaves the samples on the kitchen counter and slides into a stool.

“Miss. Peterson I’m going to have to ask for your resignation or I’ll be forced to terminate your employment”.

She stares at me, mouth open slightly in shock “I don’t understand, I thought you were happy with my performance.” I have to remain calm even though I’d like to yell at her.

I’ve had to talk to her multiple times about her behavior, as an assistant she’s great but the sexual harassment needs to quit.

“You’re a wonderful assistant but we’ve talked multiple times about your clothing and your behaviour towards me. It’s not appropriate or professional and I cannot allow it to continue. I will give you two weeks to find new employment and two weeks severance pay in addition to that. You are dismissed”.

I feel like an asshole but I don’t agree with sleeping with your subordinates so even if she was my type and I’d found her attractive, which she is but the very wrong equipment, I’d never have hired her in the first place.

Scarlett leaves and I sit down and pick out what I want installed in the renovations and the new apartment. I called my contractor but he didn’t answer so I sent him an email. Then I called my best friend Dylan. We met in college and clicked. Other than my family and one police officer Dylan his girlfriend Reagan, Jill and her girlfriend Cami are the only people know I’m gay.

I’m sure that makes it seem like I’m afraid to come out but the reality is I don’t care to be public until I find someone I want a longer-term relationship with. I’m a private person and it isn’t important to my business so I just don’t believe it matters. The phone rings three times before he picks up.

“Carter, how’s it going?”

I smile, he’s a cheerful guy. “Hi Dylan, I’ve recently acquired some apartments and condos that I’ll be renting out but I need you to take on all the rental agreements and overall management of them”.

He takes a breath, “I’ll head to the house so we can talk”.

“Oh I’m not at the house but I’ll text you the address to my condo”.

“Alright, I’ll be there in twenty minutes”.

💰💰💰💰💰

Dylan arrives and we talk about how much things will cost. Then we go over the rest of the financial crap that bores me to death. The way things look right now I won’t be making anything on the new Apartment building for about six years and the rest of the buildings it will be about three.

It honestly doesn’t even matter. My company has enough money I could probably provide housing free of charge for ten years and be perfectly fine. My company’s first renovation/restoration made millions of dollars. I spent the money from my first new build on that renovation and profited greatly. The renovation was an old farmhouse from the early twentieth century. One of the remaining family members made a killing in the stock market and when his Aunt died he sold it to me for practically nothing.

I poured my heart into it and nearly broke myself for it. It needed so much work but after we got the wiring and pipes updated since the original wiring had been done in the forties and was not up to code. Then we cleaned up the outside. I went online and found windows, trim, doors, cabinets, faucets, door handles and anything else in great condition I could find from the era. Then I went to the historical society for proper colours and who to buy paint from.

When it was all said and done I was in the red, I was at risk of losing my company already. But we converted the old barn into a state of the art multi-car garage and a gorgeous guest suite, laid a beautiful stone driveway and it boosted the value. It was worth it because the value skyrocketed. Not long after that I sold the property and the new owner had called me back to build the stables. It wasn’t my usual project but I already knew the property and the esthetic. It was built and again I went online to find things to decorate it.

Now the new owner Bill runs a very successful business there. People pay tons of money to spend a week or two learning what running a farm back then would have been like. Except for one week at the end of July and one at the beginning of August. That’s when he has a few different special needs camps come and ride horses and play with the baby goats and sheep. I had no idea what he was planning but I donate for the camps every year. It was a good cause and it helped me justify my usual behaviour.

After the cheque cleared on the stables I built five homes, not including mine, in the gated community where I live. Each house sold fast and they started at two million ending at four and a half million. That was four years ago and I’ve built a few more that also sold quickly.

Before all that I made good money selling homes for a small real estate company but I was good so I moved on until I was selling million dollar homes. There I picked up a better eye for the small details. I listened to what people said they would change and then I bought my first run-down home in that area for four-hundred thousand and flipped it for one and a half million, that’s the money I used to purchase and revitalize the Farmhouse.

It was a huge victory. After the completion of the farmhouse the owner of the construction company, Chad and I decided to merge companies. He wanted to spend more time on site and I needed to spend more time on advertising, working with the designers, landscapers and architects and then on the actual sales. Real estate was my passion. I am good but I prefer to sell new homes to the wealthy.

That is why I need Dylan. This rental thing is all new to me but he knows the ins and outs which just makes my life easier.

Dylan and I continue to chat about my project. We’ve decided all the rent money will be going to an account that’s been set up to be used for repairs and overall maintenance which Dylan’s company has access to. I will receive invoices, work orders and statements for my files but I deal with nothing personally.

We agree on rental prices for the units going by how many bedrooms there are and we discuss that I want these to be for only low income, less than twenty-five thousand a year income. Then he asks what I want to offer. Obviously water and gas is included but I want to include cable and internet. I’m already working out a deal with my internet service provider. Then he asks me my least favourite question. He wants to know if I want to allow pets.

I had two dogs growing up Benny and Brody. I loved them but they barked constantly and had bladder control problems. Although I thought ahead and don’t have carpet in any of the units, do I want to allow pets?

“Yes pets, maximum two, not including caged animals like birds. Large breed dogs are fine. I want all units evaluated for damage monthly by the manager. If any animal is destroying the place I want to know so I can see how to proceed. Make sure that’s all in the rental agreement. I don’t want someone living there destroying the place for two years and then moving and leaving me with a disgusting mess.” He nods and we conclude our work.

I invite him to stay and watch the game so we order pizza, grab a beer and head to the living room. I wonder how Aaron and Avalyn are doing. I kind of want to go back but I dug this hole and now I’m stuck.

“So why are you here?”

“Remember the man from the club?” I ask.

“Yeeees?”

“Him and his daughter are living with me”.

“What, for real?” He sounds very surprised.

“Yes. He lived in one of the buildings. He’s been dealt a shitty hand and he wasn’t having any luck finding a place.” I explain.

“How do you know?”

“We go to the same support group and I think that… I think I’m in love with him”.

“Well that explains where the hardass we all know and love disappeared to. He’s grown soft with love for a man and his kid.” he teases me relentlessly.

“I really have”.

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