Duke's Redemption

Page 8

I put it into the lock and turn it, preparing myself for the new journey ahead of me.
Here we go.
I swing the front door open, and a wave of musty air rushes past me. At least it’s cool air. I had the utilities turned on a couple of days ago, and Mr. Abernathy was nice enough to crank up air yesterday when he stopped by.
Honestly, I was surprised that a house this old has central air. But I guess somebody along the way got tired of suffocating in this heat and had the system upgraded.
I close the door behind me and start to look around. The foyer has a staircase off to one side, and there are closed double doors on either side of me.
I open the ones on the right first. It’s a living room that looks like it’s stuck in 1975. There are two old couches with orange and yellow floral prints on them. The TV looks a bit newer, but it’s accompanied by an old VCR.
“How retro,” I mutter to myself.
Mind you, I’m no young chicken. Being in my late thirties, I have used a VCR—mostly when I was a kid. But as I’ve grown up, I have always fully embraced technology. I rarely even watch DVDs anymore. I stream almost everything, but the internet isn’t hooked up down here yet.
And judging by my lack of cellular bars down here, streaming on my phone may not be an option.
So, I have a TV and a VCR but nothing to watch?
But when I see the cabinet next to the TV, I open it and find it full of VCR tapes. None of them are less than twenty years old, and most of them are Westerns.
Not exactly my choice of genre, but I guess I’ll take whatever I can get. I start to make my way around the living room, looking at all the photos on the walls. Some of them are in black and white and are of solemn looking families.
The newer ones include a couple looking like they’re about to go to Woodstock, a couple of kids playing outside, and a man riding a bull at the rodeo. I assume that most, if not all, of these people in the photos are people I’m somewhat related to. That seems so odd to me that I have a whole side of my family that I’ve never met, and I know nothing about.
I stop dead in my tracks when I recognize myself in one of the photos—myself as a baby. A man with my same dark blonde hair and caramel eyes holds me. He has the biggest smile on his face… and so do I.
That must be my dad. My mother always told me he left right after I was born. She said he didn’t want to be a dad, and he only saw me once or twice. In this photo, though, I look like I’m at least a couple of years old. I always knew she had her fair share of secrets when she was alive, but now I wonder how many of them involve me.
I reach up and touch the dusty frame, wondering what my dad was really like.
A voice from behind me says, “He was a good man.”
I about jump out of my skin. My hand hits the frame, knocking it off the wall. I manage to catch it before turning around to see Mr. Abernathy.
“Oh, Miss Mathis,” he says. “I’m terribly sorry to startle you. The front door was cracked. I tried knocking, but you must not have heard.”
“It’s fine,” I reply, trying to slow my heart. “I was just starting to look around the house. I guess I got distracted in here.”
He walks over to join me. He holds out his hand, and I give him the photo. He looks at it and smiles warmly. “Your daddy must have loved you a lot to leave you this big ol' house.”
“I wouldn’t know,” I mumble. “Do you know why he left when I was so young?”
"No idea. To be honest, I didn't know he even had a daughter until I did his will."
I take the photo from him and hang it back on the wall.
Mr. Abernathy says, “How about I show you the rest of the house?”
I agree, and he takes me on a tour. Across from the living room, there’s a big sunroom that I think will be perfect for me to work out of. It already has a big, beautiful cherry desk. And there’s still plenty of floor room for me to do yoga in the mornings—when I actually get motivated to exercise.
Toward the back of the house is a large kitchen with an open dining area. The kitchen has so many cabinets that I’m in awe. Cooking has always been a passion of mine and doing it in a kitchen like this would be a dream.
I don’t think anything else could beat out the kitchen as my favorite room in the house… until I see the master bathroom. My jaw drops open when I see the massive clawfoot tub—a tub deep enough to keep my boobs and my knees under the water. It needs a good cleaning, but it’s gorgeous all the same.
Mr. Abernathy may be a lawyer, but one may think he’s a realtor by the way he shows me the house.
“Mr. Abernathy, you don’t have to sell me on the house. I’m already here.”