When we finally got the house sold and everything in order, we arrived in Storybrook County. I had to admit that despite my building trepidation, this was a beautiful place to live. Liev drove us through the city, pointing out various sites. He was right, there was a lot to do here.
He explained that his house wasn’t actually in the city, though. It was situated in what he called “farm country.” Keniesha and Mango had been chatting in the back seat but when Liev started describing the house, they stopped talking to listen in. Liev had a way with words that made you want to know more about the story.
“My grandfather was actually the one who bought the house back during the Lukewarm War. There’s a barn and garden, but there aren’t any horses right now… and no one has tended the garden since Gramps died.”
“That’s kind of sad,” I murmured. I had done a little gardening, just tomatoes and stuff. Maybe I could learn more about it and get the garden back in shape. I smiled to myself as Liev took my hand and winked.
“Tell us about the house,” Keniesha urged. Since they didn’t have a place to stay yet and Liev had said there was room, Mango and Keniesha were going to stay with us for a few weeks.
We were on the outskirts of the city now. Skyscrapers and parking structures had given way to quaint row houses. As we pushed forward, they became fewer and fewer in between.
Liev seemed hesitant. “Well, it’s a big place. Lots of rooms.”
Keniesha wrinkled her nose. “Is that all you can say about it? Is it pretty?”
“Uh…. yeah, the outside looks great.”
“The outside?” Oh boy, I knew that tone she had in her voice very well.
“Uh… yeah,” he said again, even more hesitant now. “It’s what you might call a ‘fixer upper.'”
“A fixer upper?”
He nodded, keeping his eyes on the road. But I could see he could tell she wasn’t digging the sound of this. “See, Gramps bought the place for real cheap. It had been built by this real wealthy General. Uh, General Howard Sturgess. In fact, the house is still known as the Sturgess place. General Sturgess had gone bankrupt and had abandoned everything. Anyway, Gramps bought it, but then he had to fight in the Lukewarm War. So, the house fell into some disrepair. When Gramps came home, he fixed up the kitchen and a few bedrooms, but didn’t ever really do anything else to it. He never had the money.”
Keniesha groaned loudly. Call me blinded by love, but I just grinned like a seriously deranged person. Nothing was going to ruin this for me.
When we got there, Liev ushered us in through the back door. He said this side of the house is what was fixed up.
Inside the back door, there was a set of stairs going up and one going down. There was also a narrow hallway with a door straight ahead.
That’s where Keniesha headed with Mango.
“You might want to wait –” Liev started.
“– I’m gonna take a look around,” Keniesha interrupted.
As Liev watched them go he said, “That might not be the best idea.”
He led me downstairs into the kitchen. I looked around, trying to hide my initial shock. If this was “fixed up,” I could only imagine the rest of the house.
“That stove looks a hundred years old.”
Liev nodded. I could tell he was embarrassed. “It works okay.”
I tried to tell myself the good things about the room.
It was spacious, for instance.
It was clean.
There were baking and canning stations. Those would be interesting endeavors.
From upstairs, we heard Keniesha scream.
“That’s weird. She’s not afraid of spiders,” I said, wondering what was happening up there.
“Oh…. uh… she may have turned on the water,” he said sheepishly.
I suppressed a groan as he led me upstairs, back to the original hallway and door Keniesha and Mango had gone through.
“It ain’t pretty,” Liev warned before we stepped from the hallway onto the main floor.
Wow. I think maybe he should have prepared us a little better. But this isn’t going to get me down. There he was, with the most embarrassed expression while Keniesha could be heard upstairs cursing like I imagine good old General Sturgess would be right now if he could see this place.
Most of the dingy wallpaper had been removed but there were areas where it was hanging in jagged strips. The air smelled like must and sawdust. New walls had been framed in and looked ready to drywall. But there was so much to do.
“I’ve been working on it when I can,” Liev tried to reassure me. “And really, this is the perfect time for you to be here because once the walls are ready, you can pick out all the color schemes and everything.”
I put that as another plus on my list of good things about the Sturgess house.
Then, I made the mistake of peeking into the formal dining room. I can’t even describe what I saw in there. I think I went blind for a while, though. Good thing there’s a cozy dining nook in the kitchen.
I took a chance and peeked behind another closed door. To my surprise, it was a little on the dingy side, but it was clean and in good shape. It was even kind of cozy.
“This is where Gramps spent most of his time. He liked to read and watch TV in here by the fireplace.”
I could work with this room. It wasn’t exactly to my taste, but I really liked that it didn’t need anything. The fireplace was so inviting. Liev and I would definitely spend lots of cold nights right here.
Liev was clearly beside himself. It didn’t seem as if he had really thought ahead on this one. It was time to tell him what I really thought about all of this.
“Are you mad?”
I looked at him very seriously. “Well, I’ve left everything I know behind and given up a really promising career as a vegetable slicer.” I waved my arm around. “Yes, I gave it all up for this.”
“And I would totally do it all again.”
I was instantly rewarded with that charming lop-sided grin of his. “Really?”
“Oh, yes,” I nodded. “I really like it, Liev. We’re going to restore this gorgeous property. I want it to look like it did when it was built.” My heart soared when I saw how happy he looked, so I continued with the rest of what I wanted him to know. “We’re going to fill this house with the sound of children. You’ll play guitar for them and teach them piano. We’ll have horses and garden, too.”
“You’re really happy?” He looked amazed.
“I just want to be wherever you are. And I like the idea of what we can accomplish together with this place.”
“Have I told you today that I love you?”
I know it sounds really sappy, but it really all went down this way, Journal. Now, let me finish.
“No,” I lied with a wink.
My breath caught in my throat as Liev dropped to one knee…
We were grinning at each other like fools when Keniesha yelled down the stairs, “It looks like someone already has the red bedroom, but can I take it?”
Laughing a little, Liev called back, “Yeah, sure.”
“Is that your room?”
He laughed again, “Not anymore.”
Author’s Note: The house used in this chapter is called Villa McPhee and was created by Fergus’ Mind. I love this house and have played it before. I thought it was perfect for Memphis’ story. Anyway, I wanted to add that the creator did a terrific job and I hated to trash the place. 🙂 You can also find this lot listing and the CC I use here: CC & Mods.