I'll probably put the story away for a week or two and then edit it again. I was hoping to release the book around Valentine's day, but that's looking like it may be too soon. But, for my fans who have been patiently waiting for this book to come out, I am going to post the first two chapters. That way you all can get a start of the story before it officially comes out. I hope you'll take a minute to comment or email me about the story and let me know what you think about how it starts. I'm always happy to hear from you guys so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, here's the first two chapters of Building Love:
“Have you lost your mind?” That was all I could think of to say when Mom took me to look at the house she had just bought. It looked like the left behind set of a really bad horror movie.
“No, Patricia,I have not lost my mind,” Mom said indignantly. “I got this place cheap.” She walked into what I assumed had been the living room and turned in a circle. “It just needs some tender loving care and elbow grease.”
I raised both eyebrows and looked down at my protruding stomach. “Well, I hope you realize that it will be at least two months before I will be lending much elbow grease.”
Mom came over and put her arm around my shoulders. “Yes, I know you will be limited at what you can help with, but there is still a lot you can do. You can sweep stuff into a pile and I’ll pick it up.” She grabbed a piece of the peeling wallpaper and pulled it off the wall. “You can help strip the wallpaper.”
I’m not afraid of hard work. There were many weekends, summers, and school breaks that I’d spent working alongside my parents on one job site or another. My father had been a painter and drywall finisher by trade. My mother had worked with him for as long as I could remember, so she was totally capable of doing a lot of the drywall finishing and painting that this place was going to need. I looked around the room. This was going to take a lot more than stripping wallpaper and painting to make it livable.
“Are you sure it’s safe to walk around in here?” I asked looking at the scuffed wood floors.
“Yes,” Mom said. “I had a building inspector go over every nook and cranny. He said the house was solid, it just needed some cosmetic work.
I looked at her. “Cosmetic work? I think a wrecking crew might be more useful.”
She scowled at me. “It’s not that bad.” She looked up at the place where a light fixture had been hanging that was just loose wires now. “Anyway, I’ve got a contractor friend who’s going to take a look at it for me. He promised to give me a good deal based on us doing a lot of the work.”
Shaking my head, I followed behind Mom as she took me on a tour of the whole house. I listened as she told me about her plans for each room.
Mom had been talking about owning a bed and breakfast forever. It was something Dad and she had talked about doing together. When he was killed by a drunk driver a little over a year ago, all of Mom’s plans were destroyed, or at least they had seemed to be at the time.
This year had been really hard on both of us. We lost the home Mom and Dad had just purchased less than six months before his accident because his life insurance company and the drunk driver’s insurance company were stalling on giving Mom the money she was due. Mom hired a really good lawyer who finally got her all the money she was supposed get, and a little more for pain and suffering. The money had just finally come in and the was how Mom had bought this monstrosity.
We have been living in a tiny two bedroom low income apartment while we waited for the settlement. Now that the money had finally come in, we had just a few weeks to get a new place.
When Mom told me she was going to look at a house or two the other day, I never expected her to buy something so quickly. However, when she told me what she paid for this house I wasn’t surprised she’d jumped on the opportunity. It really was cheap, but now I know why.
After we’d finished the tour of the upstairs, we returned to the living room. “So what do you think?”
Slipping my arm around her narrow waist, I looked around the room again. I couldn’t see the potential, but apparently Mom could. If she wanted to turn this house into a bed and breakfast, I would help her as much as possible. “When you said you bought a house to turn into a bed and breakfast, I pictured something a little more ready to be moved into.”
Mom grinned. “Im sure you did, but I couldn’t pass up this deal. The owner was the great grandson of the original owner and he was tired of dealing with it. I offered him a bid on it and he took it.” She turned to me. “I know I probably should have talked to you about it before I bought it, because some of that money is yours. But, once we get this up and running, you won’t have to worry about getting a babysitter for Mattie because you can help me run the bed and breakfast. You think you would want to do that?”
She had a point about the babysitter. I have been worried about having to get a job and leaving the baby with a stranger. This way I could be home with the baby. “Yes, I want to do that. When do we start?”
Mom leaned over kissed me on my cheek and patted my large belly. “This weekend.”
I rubbed the spot Mom had patted and felt the tiny foot of the little girl I was carrying kick my hand. It made me smile.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had been completely devastated. Having a baby this early in my life had not been part of my plans, but now I couldn't wait for her to get here. Partially because I’m totally sick of feeling like a beached whale, but mostly because I couldn’t wait to hold my little girl in my arms.
“Okay,” I said and followed Mom outside.
“What does Mattie feel like having for dinner?” Mom asked.
I ran my hands over my stomach and leaned down as if to really talk to the baby. “What do you think Matilda, Chinese, or Italian? One kick for Chinese. Two for Italian.” The baby’s answer was a solid single kick to my ribs.
I rubbed the spot she’d planned her foot and said, “Chinese it is.”
Mom leaned down and kissed my belly. “Good choice, Mattie. That’s what Grandma wanted too.”
I shook my head. My mother is an amazing person. We had been a close family unit before my dad died. After he died, I lost my mind for a little while and started being an idiot out partying and trying to bury my pain in drugs and alcohol. I had been terrified to tell Mom about my pregnancy after I first found out. She had lost her husband and best friend just six months earlier, and then her only daughter became an out of control freak.
Mom had not been as upset as I thought she would be. Granted, she had not been happy with me, but I wasn’t very happy with me either. Selfish is the nicest word I can think of to describe myself for those first six months. I was so wrapped up in my own pain that I had not considered how hard things were for Mom. It took me becoming pregnant and realizing the depth of that responsibility before I could see what I was doing to her. Now, I’m determined to make up for my bad choices by helping Mom as much as I can.
I looked around again as we closed the front door. This was going to be a huge project. I wonder if Mom really understood what she was getting into, but I was here for the ride with her no matter what.
I looked up from the pictures I was studying when my father walked in the office we share.
“What’s new?” he asked.
“Just looking at the pictures of Mrs. Doan’s yard,” I said. “She wants a path to the percula made with stepping stones and she gave me a list of the new flowers and bushes she’d like to have, so I’m trying to figure out how to best organize the flower beds.”
He nodded and moved to look over my shoulder at the pictures. “About how long do you think that will take?”
“A week, maybe a week and a half,” I answered. “The hardest part is going to be digging the new gardens, but John and Jesus will make quick work of it. Why?”
“I might have a remodel job for you,” Dad said. “It’s going to be a pretty big job and will probably take at least a couple months. You interested?”
“You sure you trust me with that big a job?” I asked, surprised.
Dad shrugged and walked away, going to his desk and sitting down in his oversized leather chair. “It’s for an old friend. She’s on a tight budget. I figure you can do it for less than I can. There will be a lot of work you can do yourself and not bring a crew in, so more of the money will go in your pocket. Plus there are some things she wants to do herself to save money, and it will let me see how you do with a project like this. Not all my clients can afford to pay top dollar for a big and fast crew to come through and be done in a couple weeks.”
“Okay, sure, I’d love to take on a remodel. What’s it entail?”
“Before you say yes for certain, how about we go out to the house this afternoon so you can see what you’re getting into,” Dad suggested.
I nodded. “Okay.”
A couple hours later, Dad and I got in his maroon crew cab diesel and headed toward the downtown area. Riverton is a small city that has become known for its arts and crafts festivals. The downtown area has been being rejuvenated. Lots of small shops have started up since the city has started promoting tourism of the town’s historic district.
Many people were buying the old, dilapidated homes and making them into beautiful show pieces while still keeping its historic value. That’s why I wasn’t surprised that the house I was going to be working on was in the historic district.
We turned onto Fourth Street and Dad stopped in front of a two-story brick house in serious need of repair.
“Is this it?” I asked, getting out of the truck.
“Yep. My friend, Mandy wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast,” Dad said as he came around the truck and stood beside me.
Crossing my arms over my chest, I looked at the overgrown yard and rundown house. “This is going to take a lot of work.”
“Yeah? What until you see the inside?” Dad said and took a key out of his pocket. “Come on, let's have a look inside.”
I followed him up the broken sidewalk to the front door. The inside of the house had a heavy musk smell from years of being closed up. The wallpaper was peeling off the walls showing the old and cracking drywall underneath. Spider webs were everywhere. I hate spiders.
“Is this place liveable?” I asked as I walked across the hardwood floor leading into a large room with a fireplace.
“Mandy had a building inspector to come out and look at it before she bought it. The structure is sound,” Dad said, looking around. “It’s just going to need a lot of work.”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
We walked through the downstairs rooms. The kitchen looked like it hadn’t been renovated since the 1950s. There was one bathroom downstairs and it had been stripped of everything but the pipes. The linoleum floor looked like it would have to be replaced.
I followed Dad upstairs where there were four more rooms, all of which had most likely been bedrooms.
“No bathroom up here?” I asked.
“No,” Dad said. “The house was build in the early 1900’s and had been used as a single family rental since the 80s. It has sat empty for the most of the last 5 years. The guy who sold it to Mandy was the great grandson of the original owner. I don’t think he’s done anything to it since he inherited it. His father had at least sent someone to mow and keep an eye on the house. I think the great grandson recently inherited it and decided to get rid of it rather they fix it up.”
“Wow,” I said. “So what kind of budget are we talking about?”
“Maybe fifty thousand,” he said.
I looked at him incredulously. “You expect me to turn this into a bed and breakfast for under fifty thousand dollars?”
“It can be done,” Dad said. “And I have faith that you can pull it off. Mandy and her daughter will do some of the non skilled work, cleaning place up and stuff like that, so that will cut down on what you have to pay out for labor.”
I stood looking around the room with my hands on my hips. I wasn’t sure I could do it for that little money, but when Dad asked me if I accepted the challenge, I said, “Yes.
The owner and I would definitely have to go over what she wanted specifically. This was not going to be an easy project to keep within the budget, but I would sure try.