Where There's Hope(9)

By: Marianne Rice


The adorable gambrel style home on Farmhouse Road had three bedrooms, one and a half baths, a decent sized kitchen and five acres. No way could she afford it. Hope lingered over the pictures an extra minute and then buried the folder under the stack Melissa had given her.

She flipped through the smaller homes, the ones she’d have to be out of by mid-May to make room for summer people and handed Melissa her top three.

“Really?” Melissa looked up at her over the rim of her glasses. “These aren’t the three I expected you to pick.”

“Can I see?” Delaney asked.

Melissa raised an eyebrow, and Hope nodded. She gave Delaney the folders and in much less time than it took Hope, she’d picked out her top three and handed them back.

“Hmm,” Melissa muttered. “You don’t have the same taste.”

“I picked the cooler places. What did you like, Mom?”

Hope had a feeling Delaney would be drawn to the more expensive homes. Sure enough, she’d picked the gambrel, a one-bedroom with a loft on the lake, and a two-bedroom cottage within walking distance to the beach.

“What’s your favorite, Delaney?”

Hope cringed at Melissa’s question. She didn’t want Delaney to get her hopes up. Without seeing the cost of rent for each place, she couldn’t make a decision anyway.

“I’d be happy in any of those.”

“You realize it’s winter so living by the ocean isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, right? The winds can be wicked in the winter. You know that.” Hope brushed the cookie crumbs off Delaney’s jacket into her hand and held them in her palm.

“True.”

“And the one by the lake only has one bedroom. Your mother would have that while you’d be in the loft. Not a lot of privacy,” Melissa added.

“True. So it looks like it’s the real looking house one.”

The real looking house one was a dream. And would be a financial nightmare. Hope would need to work extra shifts, maybe lay off a few workers. It would be a struggle.

“Delaney, why don’t you use the restroom to wash the cookie crumbs off your face and hands.” There weren’t any, but she needed to speak with Melissa alone.

“’Kay.” Agreeable as always, thankfully, Delaney got up and Melissa pointed her in the right direction.

When Delaney was gone, Hope scooted to the edge of her seat. “Melissa, I appreciate the time you’ve put into this, but I can’t afford half these places. I gave you my price cap and—”

“And like I said, they’re all within the limits you set.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“You have my word.”

“The gambrel?”

“Forty dollars less a month than your range.”

“Bullshit.”

Melissa barked out a laugh. “It’s been sitting there empty for nearly two years. The Johnsons moved quite some time ago and haven’t been able to sell. They’ll take anything they can get. They don’t want the pipes to freeze, so having you live there in the winter is a blessing. Truly.”

Hope’s eyes watered and her hands shook. “For real?”

“Absolutely. Although, don’t get your hopes too high. It’s been vacant and needs some work. The structure is sound, but mice have had a field day. Some of the wiring may need to be replaced. It needs a thorough cleaning before you move in. If you still want it.”

Cleaning and minor repairs she could handle. “Can we go see it?” Hope bit her lip in anticipation, her heart thundering rapidly as she thought about living on her own for the first time in her life. Nerves threaded through her body as she brought herself to stand, her legs wobbly and weak with excitement.

“After you.” Melissa gestured toward the door with her hand as Delaney came around the corner. “Ready to go check out your new home?”

“For real?” Delaney bounced on the balls of her feet and did a cute little dance.

Melissa laughed. “You sound just like your mom.”

They piled in Melissa’s fancy SUV and crossed the town over to Farmhouse Road. It was a quaint dead end dirt road not far from Alexis and Ben’s winery. There were only four homes on the road. The first house was small, and the field behind it huge. Someone was out on a tractor running over the dead cornstalks.

The next house was a classic New England L-frame, with an attached breezeway leading to a barn. There was a long fence that corralled three horses. Delaney awed from the backseat.

“Look, Mom. There’s a baby horse. Do you think the other two are its mom and dad?”

“Possibly,” Hope replied. A family of three, so sweet and serene. Maybe someday...

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