In the morning after breakfast, Stephanie and Ranger walked hand-in-hand down the beach, the opposite direction from the noise around the Beach Bash. Stephanie stopped on the beach, a small white house was nestled between two larger more modern houses on the bluff above them. She led him up the narrow path. Some of the white paint was peeling off the wooden structure. They walked around the house completely and up on the deck. He opened a door to a screened in-porch. Ranger watched Stephanie, her eye brimming with tears, memories flooding back at her. She lovingly ran her fingers around the tops of old wicker chairs and looked in the windows of the house. Walking over, She stood looking down at old hammock. There was a far away look in her eyes.
"What are you thinking right now?" Ranger asked Stephanie.
"I would sometimes lay here with Grandpa and watch the sun set or on a rainy afternoon listen to the rain."
Taking out his cell phone, Ranger dialed the number on the real estate sign. "Yes, this is Carlos Manoso, I would like to speak with Gayle Lilly." He waited to be connected, "Yes, you have a beach house for sale in Point Pleasant. Is it still on the market? Can I see it? I'm here right now with my girlfriend. Ok, we'll be here."
"What are you up to, Carlos?"
"I want to see the inside. I think we should buy it."
"It needs work. I'm sure you could spend your money in better ways."
"Why can't Stephanie and Carlos fix it up. Babe, I can see how much you love this house and Point Pleasant is your favorite place in the world. We can work on it on the weekends."
"But, you hate Point Pleasant. And do you know how to renovate."
"No, but we can try together. Seeing it through your eyes with all your memories here, I can see why it's your happy spot. You come here because you have such happy memories. I don't really have any place I can associate with memories like you have. Maybe, some in Miami when I lived with my grandparents for a time, but no summer after summer of memories. So, we could make our own."
A red mustang pulled along the side of the house. A short woman about 5 foot tall got out and walked onto the deck.
"Are you Carlos? I'm Gayle Lilly."
"Hello, I'm Carlos and this is Stephanie."
"This has been on the market for a while. It's a cute, cozy little beach house, but it needs some work. No one has used this house for a number of years. The woman who owns it is getting on in years."
Stephanie interrupted, "Marge Bressler."
"Yes, do you know her?"
"I spent some time here every summer from when I was six to about twenty-one."
Gayle Lilly unlocked the door off the screened in-porch and led them into a large open dining room and kitchen. They were standing in the dining area with an oval table with six chairs and a matching hutch. A faded table cloth with cherries covered it. She thought of the times spent coloring at the wooden dining table or playing "Go Fish" or "Old Maid" with her grandparents. An outdated kitchen with painted white cabinets was to the right of the dining area. There were curtains with red polka dots hanging on the windows. A large island was in the middle of the kitchen with bar stools. Stephanie walked over to an old cookie jar and lifted the lid. She could smell Grandma Mazur's chocolate chip cookies. In her mind, she saw a little girl with ponytails trying to sneak a cookie out of the jar.
"Everything in the house is sold with it. It going to need some new windows and I think the deck could be replaced. As you know it has three bedrooms and a bath. There is a small powder room with laundry area off the kitchen, basement, and a shed outside. The lot is quite large. If you really liked the area, you could tear this down and build a bigger, modern one."
"Why would anyone want to do that? You said it was cozy and it is."
Ranger watched how lovingly Stephanie touched each surface, each piece of furniture, how she could still smell the cookies in the cookie jar.
Looking at the door frame leading from the kitchen, "Look, the marks are still here. Grandpa marked mine and Valerie's heights each summer." There were little pencil marks with a "S" or "V" by it with the year. "After we unpacked, Grandpa measured us."
They entered a large living room to the left of the dining area with a stone fireplace. A huge picture window looked out onto the front street. Stephanie remembered the couch with roses on the upholstery and the old wicker side chairs with green cushions. The walls were white like the other rooms in the house. Off the living room was a small entry leading from the small side porch.
At the top of the stairs to the left was a bedroom with a large wrought iron bed, an old wooden dresser, and nightstands on each side of the bed with small white hob nail lamps. A quilt rack rested against the wall with an old worn blue and white quilt.
They walked across the hall to the second bedroom. Just as they stepped into the room, an old rocking chair rocked. Stephanie was standing behind it, her hand came up as if she was stroking someone's hair.
"That's strange. I don't remember that chair being in here before. I thought it was in the living room."
"It was always in here. Grandpa or Grandma would read to Valerie and I at night."
"I don't remember that book either on the bed." The book was laying on one of the twin beds open like someone was going to read it.
Stephanie picked up the old worn book with a red cover. "It's my book. It has stories about Gypsies and Hungarian folklore." She opened the front cover and written in it was
Next was the bathroom. Stephanie let out a squeal of delight.
"It's still here!" Against the wall was a large claw foot bathtub.
Ranger could imagine the bubble bathes Stephanie would have in it. There were old shells on the sink counter and she touched each one. She saw that little girl running and gathering sea shells in the sand.
The third bedroom had a bed, but was filled with some boxes.
"There are pull down steps here for access to the small attic," the real estate agent informed them.
Stephanie was wandering around the upstairs when she realized she was alone and went to find Ranger.
He was in the kitchen on his cell phone and Gayle was on her.
"Yes, Marge, that's right Stephanie. She spent time here with her grandparents. I can come to your house with the signed papers. All right, I'll do that. You're sure. Ok, I give it to her now. I'll call when I'm coming."
Stephanie heard part of Ranger's conversation "Draw it from my personal account and get a certified check to Gayle Lilly. Yes, I'm sure. Any problems, call me. I want this closed as soon as possible."
"What are you doing, Carlos?"
"We bought a beach house, Babe."
"Just like that."
"Just like that."
"Are you sure? This is not exactly the type of beach house I would picture you in. It's old and worn, not the sleek and modern you live in."
"Babe, my apartment was decorated for me. I never picked any of that stuff out. We'll make this ours. It will be perfect because we're together."
"Stephanie, here Marge said to give you the keys. These are the telephone numbers and addresses for the utility companies. Everything in the house is yours. When I have the final papers ready for the deed transfer, I'll call. Enjoy your beach house," Gayle Lilly went out the kitchen door.
Stephanie stared at the keys in her hand then at Ranger.
"It's really ours?"
He nodded at her.
"Thank you. It feels like I'm home," Stephanie put her arms around his neck as she jumped in his open arms. "You didn't have to do this." Tears were glistening in her eyes.
"You seemed so right here like you belonged."
Ranger took her hand and led her into the second bedroom, "Who was in this chair because it moved? The real estate agent said that book wasn't out before or the rocking chair in here."
"I could see my grandfather sitting in it just as he did all those nights so long ago reading to Valerie and me. I can still smell the chocolate chip cookies baking."
Going downstairs, Stephanie walked to the hutch in the dining area and opened a drawer. She smiled as she pulled out two worn decks of cards. 'Go Fish' and 'Old Maid.' "You would not believe how many times we played these on a rainy afternoon or at night," laying the decks on the table.
"Why don't we go back to hotel and get the Porsche. Let's go get some groceries and bring them back so we can stay here tonight."
"You would to stay here tonight, Ranger?"
"Yeah. It's our house. We'll have dinner at that little restaurant again and build a fire on the beach. Maybe we can get a bottle of your Grandfather's favorite wine and drink around the fire."
"That sounds like a plan, Mr. Manoso."