Wild Ice

By: Rachelle Vaughn

The only thing that caught JD’s attention was the name on the top of the page. “Teal Manor?”

“Yes. It’s not often you see a house with its own name, huh?”

It seemed kind of pretentious to him. “Did it used to be painted teal something?” he asked, looking at the beige painted stucco.

Joan consulted her notes and frowned. “I believe it’s named after the man who built the house.” In a flash, the bright smile was plastered back onto her face.

JD wondered if she smiled the same way at people who were looking at much less expensive homes. Probably not. This must be her million-dollar plus listing smile. Lucky me, JD thought.

Curiosity got the best of him and Mel climbed down from the vehicle to circle around the woman. His thick tail wagged so hard that it threatened to throw off his balance.

“Oh, I see you brought your dog,” Joan said nervously and sidestepped, nearly teetering over in the ridiculously high heels.

JD pretended to study the printout in his hand while Joan tried, rather unsuccessfully he observed, to pretend she wasn’t bothered by the big dog. She thwarted Mel’s boisterous advances and eventually the dog gave up. Mel didn’t seem too impressed by her anyway. He was still too sad. The Realtor wasn’t who he was expecting to see and he quickly lost interest. Disappointed, he plopped down on the gravel next to JD and rested his chin on his front paws. JD knew exactly how he felt.

“Well,” Joan said primly, grateful that the threat of the dog was over for now. She kept one eye on Mel and the other on JD. “There’s plenty of space out here to roam around.”

JD glanced up from the listing to survey the property surrounding the house. The wide open space would be good for Mel. He had a big enough backyard now at their house in Red Valley, but JD never took him for walks like he used to. He didn’t do any of the things he used to do. Everything was different now.

While JD admired the sprawling acreage, Joan launched into her spiel about the house and its impressive amenities. JD forced himself to pay attention.

“The house was built by a man for his fiancé,” she mentioned with a twinkle in her eye. “Very romantic, don’t you think?”

JD didn’t care if it was built by Frank Lloyd Wright himself, he just wanted to put some miles between him and Red Valley.

“Are you married, Mr. Mason?” Joan asked with another bat of her eyelashes.

His marital status was none of her business. He dodged her question like the seasoned hockey player he was and closed the door to his vehicle with a slam. The sound startled her and she took a step back, her ankles wobbly as they balanced in the heels.

“How many bedrooms does this place have?” he asked dryly. The printout plainly said five, but JD needed to get her focus off of him and onto the business at hand. Surely she didn’t behave this way with everyone, practically throwing herself at every potential buyer. It must be because of the possible commission on a property of this size.

Joan’s coy smile faded and was quickly replaced by a professional one. “Five,” she answered. “Well, let’s go inside and take a look,” she said with a huff.

JD instructed Mel to stay and then he followed Joan up the stone path to the ornate front door. After fumbling with the lockbox, Joan finally opened the door and they both went inside.

“As you can see, the house has been vacant for some time now,” Joan said, leading him from the entryway into the foyer. “It does come fully furnished, which is quite a find considering the quality of the pieces.”

JD looked around and was pleasantly surprised by the interior. Even though no one lived here, every surface sparkled and was free of dust. The warm paint colors and dark toned furniture appealed to him and he liked how the decor was manly and not frilly or feminine. He was no expert, but some of the antique furniture looked like priceless heirlooms.

“Why are they selling the place?” he asked with genuine curiosity.

Joan pursed her lips and ran a manicured fingertip over a Victorian fainting couch. “When the owner passed away, the house went to his estate and the family decided to put it on the market,” she answered sadly. “It’s somewhat of a shame. A place like this should be passed on through the generations.”

JD shrugged. It was their loss.

“And there’s a fireplace in virtually every room,” Joan boasted. She looked at JD, waiting for him to respond, but he avoided eye contact and scanned the room. Joan pursed her lips and continued with the tour. “To the left is the living room and to the right is the formal dining room. As we move into the kitchen, you’ll notice the custom cherry wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.”

The six-burner range and double oven seemed a little excessive to JD, but someone who entertained regularly would probably appreciate the extra details and appliances. Needless to say, he wouldn’t be doing any entertaining—now or in the foreseeable future.

He looked through the glass doors leading out onto the patio. There really wasn’t anyone around for miles. Just grasslands, birds, and a sky that stretched on forever. Beyond an empty field, a row of birch trees ran along what he assumed was the property line. Beyond the trees were acres of grasslands and mudflats. Flocks of geese swarmed the sky, their staggering numbers reminiscent of a horror film.