This is the next installment in the story of House and Karen. If you haven't read the first two, while it's not absolutely necessary, I highly recommend it. The other parts are A Weekend in Philadelphia and Holiday in a Small Town. Thanks to everyone who read the commented on the last story. Hoep you enjoy this one as much!
He sat on the deck, a glass of tequila with lime and salt in his hand. He wondered where the worm was from the bottom of the bottle. Was it still in the bottle? Or would it appear later, when he least expected it?
He also wondered how the hell he got to this point.
Well, logically he knew how. There was that weekend in Philadelphia when he met a woman he never thought he'd see again.
Then there were months of seeing her on weekends that culminated with spending a holiday in a small town with her and her children.
Which led eventually to this.
But beyond the logic of what happened, there was the emotion of it and that was much harder for him to put his finger on.
The mechanics of setting up a household were easy, if a little hectic. It was the other stuff that was hard.
He had ridden away from that weekend filled with hope. And that was a totally unusual emotion for him. But he knew that there was a new beginning for them and even though he was scared shitless, he was still excited.
The following weekend, when Karen came to Princeton, she had a list of places she'd looked up on line. She didn't know if he would actually do anything about it, so she wanted to be prepared. But he had gone to the trouble of calling a realtor. Wilson suggested his ex-wife Bonnie, but House declined. He had enough of dealing with Wilson's exes. However, there was a guy in Bonnie's company who was pretty good.
So, at ten a.m. on Saturday morning, House and Karen set out to find a place to live.
The realtor, Ed Thompson, told then that usually finding rentals in Princeton was hard because of the university and students and visiting faculty looking for places.
"But right now, with the economy the way it is, there are a lot of places that are for sale, but aren't selling. So the owners will rent them out just to make sure they can pay the mortgages on them."
"What if someone buys it while we're living there?" Karen asked.
"The owner signs a lease for six months or a year and you are guaranteed to stay there for that time. They can't process a sale until your lease is over. Of course, you would also have the option to buy the place if you wanted."
Karen shook her head. "Right now, we're just looking to rent."
"Well, that's fine. As I said, there are a lot of houses that are available because they aren't selling. Especially since you are looking for three bedrooms and a family room."
He had a list of places to look at and they set out.
Some of them were unacceptable because they were two floors. Karen did not want it to be uncomfortable for Greg. Some had rooms that were way too small. She didn't want them falling all over each other, since there would be enough of an adjustment for them.
Some places were just plain ugly or the neighborhoods looked dicey.
But they did find three places with definite possibilities. Ed told them that any one of them could be available by August 1 or 15. Karen was happy about that, since she wanted to get settled in before the kids started school. They took the information for the houses and went to lunch, promising to let Ed know.
As they sat and discussed it, House wondered about the houses they'd seen.
"Are you sure you liked those? I mean, they're pretty modern looking. Nothing like the house you've lived in."
"Exactly." She told him. "I don't want anything like my old house. This is a new beginning – for all of us. I don't even want my old furniture."
"Oh, I should have asked you first! If you don't want to use your stuff or buy anything, I guess I can…"
"Relax. Whatever you want is fine."
"Well, the kids will take the furniture from their bedrooms. It's important for them to have continuity. But I don't want to use the bedroom furniture that Frank and I used."
"Good idea. My bed's pretty nice."
"Your bed is great. I've had a lot of fun in that bed." She smiled. "I may need to get another dresser for my clothes."
"Okay, one dresser. No problem."
"Maybe we could use your sofa in the family room?"
"Then we'll put your piano in the living room and get a few pieces for that. Not too much, I don't want it overcrowded."
"Sofa and crap, check." He said.
She bit her lip, hoping she wasn't asking for too much. "You don't have a dining room or even a kitchen set. We could wait on the dining room, but we will need table and chairs for the kitchen."
"Right, gotta eat."
"We can see what small appliances and things we have and choose the best between us. I have good china that was my mom's, so when we get a dining room, we can display it in there."
He gave a look and said, "'Good' china? How do you know if china is good or bad? Does it hurl itself at you when it's not good?"
She just smiled and went on. "We'll do the same with all of the other stuff we have. Take the best between us and let it go from there. Frank is going to take whatever I don't want or need."
"Doesn't he already have stuff? He moved out a year ago."
"He's been living with his cousin. He didn't set up his own place because he wasn't sure where he'd end up. This transfer to New Jersey had been in the works for a while. Now he can get a place for him, with room for the kids to stay."
House nodded. He was glad that she was keeping all of this stuff straight, because he'd never be able to.
"So, which one do you like?" he asked her.
She sighed. "This is hard. At least the rent is about the same for each, so that's really not a consideration."
"It's not a consideration anyway. I'm paying the rent, remember?"
"Are you sure, Greg? I mean, that's a lot to take on…"
"Stop. I agreed to pay the rent for one year so that you can find a job and get your finances in order. It's not a problem."
She nodded, even though she was still a little uncomfortable about it. "Okay, well, they all have possibilities. Mosher Street and Cleveland Road are both ranchers, which is definitely what we want. Mosher has a swimming pool, which would be fun, but Cleveland is probably the better idea."
"Well, because it has that nice ramp from the garage to the house. It would be easier…"
The look in his eye was murderous as he lashed out. "Stop! Don't you dare pick a place because it has a 'ramp'. I may not be able to do stairs, but I can walk from the garage to the house. Do you think I'm that much of an invalid?"
She realized that was a mistake. "I'm sorry, Greg. Of course I don't. I know how much of an invalid you are not. I just thought you might have liked that. But that's not important. So I guess one of the ranchers."
"What about the other one? You put it on the list."
"Ginger Court. Yes, that one is beautiful. But it's not a ranch."
"Yeah, but the master suite is on the first floor. I assume the kids will be on the second?"
"I don't have any reason to go to their rooms, so it's not an issue. Which house do you like the best?"
She sat back and thought for a moment. "I really fell in love with Ginger Court."
"Ginger Court it is. Call Ed and tell him. Get a move in date and let's get this show on the road."
"What about your apartment? Don't you have to sell it?"
"I'm not. I'm renting it out. Like Ed said, real estate market sucks, but you can always rent things out in Princeton. It was paid off years ago. So the rent money will pay half of the rent on our place. It's win-win."
Karen wondered if he was keeping his place as a fail safe in case they didn't work out. She could understand that reasoning. She wasn't sure if she liked it though. Still, she knew enough of this man to know that she'd better not question his reasons.
She smiled. "Well, then, we're all set."
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed the realtor, while House sat back and drank his beer.