The anxious couple stood in the center of a large but cold room, their own living room. Though at this moment in time it didn't look or feel much like a room you would want to snuggle on a sofa in. They looked around them, both silent in disbelief as an overwhelming feeling of unsettlement overcame them. The room had an air to it, not a good one. Cody and Bailey stood stiffly together, their hands gripped together tightly, but something made them feel miles apart. Bailey shivered and Cody brought her closer, enveloping her in his comforting hug.
Taking in the scenery they were suddenly overshadowed by the realization of the job ahead of them. The room was dark, dusty and in a serious need of a feather duster and a once around with a powerful vacuum. The rug beneath their feet had seen better days and clear prints were evident in the dust from where the two had stood. Underneath one of the massive windows was the outline of a couch covered over by a dirty moth ridden cloth. The curtains adorning the window were almost off their pole, broken hooks and years of neglect showing through. A bookcase sat across the room where one shelf had fallen causing the books to cascade over the floor. Bailey glanced over to the corner and noticed the wooden floorboards had worn away leaving rather worrying holes in the floor. What would be described once as magnificent paintwork on the walls was cracked and decayed, looking like a wound on an injured soldier. The wooden beams above their heads were almost in pieces. Their once valuable role of holding up the upper level looked in danger of crumbling. One small sound and they would fold like a house made of cards. The entire room and most likely the entire house was in severe distress desperate for a loving hand from someone who could bring it back to life again.
"Well it's definitely going to be a challenge." Cody walked over to a table and playfully tapped it, coughing when a burst of dust exploded around him.
"A challenge," Bailey corrected, noting the cobwebs surrounding them. "More like a bloody miracle if we ever get this place livable."
Her dreams of a family home, white picket fence, and children running around looked further away then she had hoped. At this very moment she was struggling to see beyond the dirt and grime. The cold damp darkness doing its best to cloud her view of the perfect future she'd envisioned for them. Her face dropped, her heart almost followed it.
Cody looked over to her and noticed the ashen look on his wife's face. "What's wrong?" He asked walking over to her and putting two loving hands on her face so they gently cupped her cheeks.
"It's not what I expected. It's...different," She stated quietly, as if she was afraid to say the words.
"Since when have we ever shied away from different?" Cody said.
Bailey looked over at him, noticing the excitement in his eyes. It was a look she hadn't seen since they stood at the altar, in the beautiful park where they were married. She knew that look, and she knew she wouldn't win this battle because she understood how Cody felt. This place was a fresh start for them. It was a place where they could truly take charge of their lives and not depend on others to keep them afloat. The anticipation, the planning, the days of visiting grand homes, art exhibits in preparation for the day they arrived here. It was all there in his eyes.
"You're right. This is what we have been planning for. It's going to be okay." Doubt was evident in her voice but Cody didn't reply. He placed his hand in hers once more and gave it a slight squeeze as they set out to explore the rest of the house. They ascended the stairs a minute later with the hope of finding a decent size room they could use as a bedroom. When one was found he and Bailey got to work on cleaning it down.
"Friendly town." Zack grumbled.
"Zack I'm sure that there is a logical explanation for the way we're being treated." Although at the moment Maya couldn't fathom what that might be. "I'm sure it all stems from that whole stranger in a small town theory."
"I don't think that's it." Zack grunted as he stood up to try and pull off his boot. When he slipped and slammed his calf against the edge of the box spring he let out a series of colourful curses that would make a sailor blush with shame.
Maya only laughed. "Lay down." When he did so she flipped a leg over one of his and with her back to him began to pull off his boot like a pro. "See that wasn't so hard." She smiled after she had pulled both of them off. "Now I'm going to take a quick shower and you're going to order us some room service because I am famished."
"Anything in particular."
"You know what I like." She winked at him before slipping into the bathroom and softly closing the door behind her.
"What would I do without you," Zack grinned when he heard her turn on the faucet and the shower roar to life.
Sitting back against the headboard he leaned over and grabbed a hold of the hotel's dinner menu. So many good things stood out to him. He didn't realize he was so hungry until he imagined a Triple bacon burger slathered in ketchup and hamburger juice doing summersaults in his mouth. Yum, even the thought made his stomach growl with longing. Picking up the phone he dialed down to the kitchen and was immediately put on hold, which was fine. A minute went by and it was still fine. Five minutes went by still fine. Fifteen minutes and he was fuming. When Maya walked back into the room Zack had his boots back on and his key card in hand. Giving her a quick kiss on the cheek and a promise he'll be back soon he headed downstairs.
While in the elevator his cell phone went off and a text message appeared. Be nice was the message that he read as he walked off the elevator. It was uncanny how well his wife knew him. Unfortunately her words didn't lessen his anger. Stepping up to the counter he placed his hand on the bell and tapped it twice. The woman turned to him and with a forced smile calmly asked him what he needed. When he calmly explained (through clenched teeth) what hisproblem was, she shrugged and informed him that the kitchen was closed.
"When did it close?" he asked frustration clearly showing in his stance.
"A few minutes ago."
"How few is a few?" he practically growled.
"Mr. Martin if you don't like our services we'll be happy to reimburse you for the night and recommend another hotel nearby."
"Is there a reason you don't want us to stay here?" Zack asked his anger subsiding and his curiosity now peeked.
"I don't understand what you mean."
"Since we got into this town everyone has been kindly, and I use the term loosely, expressing their concerns about our stay and inquiring about our departure. Mind telling me why?"
"I assure you I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Of course you don't." Zack flatly stated. "Well in case you are wondering also. We are still leaving in the morning. In the meantime we have to eat. Do you have any idea where we might find a good restaurant?"
"We're a small town and a lot of our restaurants close by nine o'clock."
Zack turned and headed back toward the elevators trying his best not to turn around and charge the woman. Damn his ideals about hitting women. Suddenly he heard his name whispered nearby. Looking over he noticed a young kid who looked to be just out of high school waving him over. When Zack was about to ask him what he wanted he placed a hand over his mouth indicating he remain silent. With one last look toward the witch behind the counter Zack followed the kid around a corner.
"I'm sorry if I'm caught talking with you I may lose my job."
"We all know about you and why you're here. There is another couple at the house now."
"Yeah my brother and sister-in-law."
"You have to leave this town. All four of you have to leave. That place is not safe."
"Alright, mind telling me why?" The kid looked jittery as he eyed the counter again.
"That place has some bad vibes and it's dangerous to stay there. People disappear. I can't tell you anymore she's headed this way." He turned to leave, nearly running for the nearest open door. Zack called to him.
"Wait, at least tell me if there's a place to eat around here." Zack quietly hoped, otherwise he would be the one in trouble. The kid took one more second to glance around him, making sure the lady couldn't hear him.
"There's an old diner named Beverlys about a mile out of town. Just head west and you won't miss it."
"I have to go. Good luck."
Zack stepped onto the elevator just as the woman reached him. The kid nowhere in sight. His fears now heightened tenfold. His heart pounded as the doors slid shut, the kid's words echoing in his mind.
Cody wiped his hands on a towel as he left the bathroom that connected to the room they had allocated as their bedroom.
"Well it looks more like a room now...Wait, what's going on?" he asked gazing down to the sight in front of him.
Bailey sat on a large picnic rug spread across the floor of the living room. The room was basked in warm light from the candles placed around them in various corners. On the rug was an array of plates, all of his favourite foods laid out before him. A picnic basket sat on the side, a long bread roll still poking out of the top. The light of the candles caught the glass in Bailey's hand, shining brightly. The soft sound of Beethoven came from Bailey's iPod which sat on the ground beside her.
"Think of this as a house warming meal." She handed Cody a glass while he sat down beside her. He took a sip.
"Apple juice?" He looked baffled.
"No corkscrew for the wine, it will have to wait until we unpack." She smiled. She sipped her own drink.
"How did you cook all this?" He wondered, remembering that the grand cooker in the kitchen was in need of a good repair man.
"The wonders of a microwave oven dear." Bailey laughed.
Cody loved how she laughed, the little snort accompanied by the hair bouncing over her shoulder. She was more than gorgeous to him, she was angelic.
"So are you feeling a bit more comfortable about being here now?" Cody asked, biting into a piece of garlic bread.
"I'll be fine, it's just all so new and it will take a little time to get used to." Bailey lowered her head a bit wishing that statement were true.
Cody sensed her worry. "Honey what's bothering you?" There was a distance in her that anyone could see and he knew something was weighing on her mind.
"It's nothing" she replied, finishing her own garlic bread.
"I know you sweetheart you bite your lip when you are nervous or anxious." Bailey touched her lower lip and smiled. He knew her so well. So as not to worry him further, she decided to change the subject and return it to the reason she'd set up this surprise.
Bailey braced herself. "There's something I need to tell you." She put her glass down and took Cody's hand in hers as if to comfort him. Cody looked at her, his eyebrows raised in wonderment.
For what seemed like hours, Bailey remained silent, studying her husband's face. "What is it?" He had now gone beyond wonder to sheer panic. Was this the moment his perfect world would come tumbling down on him?
"Well, there's no other way to say this, then to just say it. Your going to be a daddy." She said handing him an envelope that contained the first sonogram of their baby. He's jaw dropped as he looked at the blurred image in front of him. Cody remained quiet, taking in what he was looking at. "I am pregnant Cody." Cody looked up from the photo and into Bailey's big beautiful eyes.
"Bailey…." Cody found it difficult to form his thoughts into words.
Before he could register his own feelings, a bone rattling crash pierced the quiet and the candles went out. Plunging them and the room into complete darkness.