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Authors: Catharine Bramkamp

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Real Estate Agent - California

Catharine Bramkamp - Real Estate Diva 04 - Trash Out

BOOK: Catharine Bramkamp - Real Estate Diva 04 - Trash Out
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Catharine Bramkamp - Real Estate Diva 04 - Trash Out
Real Estate Diva Mysteries [4]
Catharine Bramkamp
A Few Little Books (2012)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Real Estate Agent - California
Mystery: Cozy - Humor - Real Estate Agent - Californiattt
Ah, a wedding in the wine country. But Allison's best friend Carrie’s grand event may end less like a romantic comedy and more like a slasher flick. Who is stalking the bride? How did Ben’s former Friend With Benefits turn into Injured With Repercussions? And why must Allison wear 90 pounds of red tulle during the hottest season of the year?
While innocent bystanders fall like flies, Allison copes with selling her own house, scrambling to finance the shower from hell, and wondering if the person responsible for the last murder can be hired to take out her ex-boyfriend before her own nuptials.

 

 

 

 

Trash Out

A Real Estate Diva Mystery

 

 

 

 

Catharine Bramkamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, some
locations
and
incidents
are products of the author’s
fevered
imagination
.
 

Any resemblances to actual events, local organization or person, living or dea
d
, is entirely coinc
idental.

It’s not about you.

 

 

 

Cover design by Stacey Meinzen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

Thank you to photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice who makes me look good.

Thank you to Stacey Meinzen for a killer book cover.  

Thank you to
Terry Darcy for reading it first.

And
Andrew Hutchins who is unfailingly supportive

and
to you, dear reader, for taking a chance on a new book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Andrew
- Always

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 


I can’t believe you’re
still wearing the Sponge
B
ob
Band-Aids
.”   Ben
reached toward my leg
to
rip off the
offending cover
.
“Come on
,
it wasn’t that bad.”

“I fell through a hole in the floor.” I
lightly
slapped his hand away
.
“The
bathroom-no-problem-everything-is-fine-go-ahead-and-shower
floor.”

I
didn’t even want to climb the stairs to survey what Ben assured me, were extensive repairs.  I stayed on the first floor.  I quickly
surveyed
the front room
careful not to allow my gaze to rest on any one thing. If
Ben
thought I wasn’t happy with
any
hom
e feature,
he
would pounce and
immediately inflict improvements.

I thought we’d be done by now.

“You know better than that
.”  He accurately read my expression.  “You know
I
need
to exorcise all the ghosts.”

“Ghosts?” Panic gripped me, unreasonable
,
as
there were no ghosts here
.
I check
ed
with all the historians in the city,
there were no ghosts in the former Lucky Masters Mansion,
but that didn’t mean new ones couldn’t just appear.
I’ve dealt with murderous children, murderous
homeless professors, murder. 
But g
hosts?

Ben patted my arm and
steered
me
out of the formal parlor
to the front porch.

“The ghosts of maintenance deferred, what did you think I meant?”

“Oh, nothing.”
  I paused
and surveyed what
used to be a
lawn,
but
over the la
st three months had turned into
depressing
patches of
packed dirt and weeds
;
landscaping only appropriate for a vacant lot.
Above us two men chatted, the occasional sound of a nail gun interrupted their conversation.

 

Ben shook his head like a dog dislodging dust,
debris
and a few paint shards. Because of his habit of repeatedly
running
his
dusty hands across his head
, his hair turned more colors than mine.

“Come on, you didn’t really fall all the way through the floor, the new insulation stopped the fall.”

“And I am still grateful.” The cuts and bruises hadn’t
quite
healed
completely
from that adventure
.
I had hit a nail as my foot crashed through the floor
and it still needed to be covered, despite Ben’s
bogus
medical
analysis
.

“We have a problem.”

“There are no problems, only opportunities.” He
jumped down and
plucked a handful of shingles
leaning against the fence.
I then noticed roof
shingles
had been
tossed around
the perimeter of the house
like
sales
flyers
.

Ben glanced up at the roof,
shook his head and
calmly
gathered up the shingles. I did
not say what fir
st came to mind,
the subcontractors, the time, the energy, his insistence on perfection
,
yet allowing people to do their own work in the own time.
Where was the dumpster?  Where was the third person to haul away all the spent shingles as they were replaced?  But I kept my opinions to myself.
I’m learning
to contribute only in strategic moments and this was not a contributing moment, what with more shingles on the ground than hammered into the roof
.

We
actually faced
a number of problems:
T
he New Century office was under siege
by foreclosures and short sales,
I was about to sell my own house and I wasn’t sure I’d make a very cooperative client, my
best friend was getting married, I wasn’t.  There were a lot of problems. 

“Carrie needs a venue for the wedding.” 
I blurted out.
  I adored Carrie
and considered her my best friend aside from Ben. But during a wedding, loyalties tend to shift. I was struggling with that, I suppose that was another problem.

He paused
, a shingle in his hand.
“She didn’t
reserve something
last year?”

“She wasn’t
engaged this time last year.”
  I pointed out.

He stacked the shingles neatly on the porch
.

Ben is a large man, broad shouldered, long limb
ed. He is
larger than me
by half
, which I find hugely appealing (pun intended).  He towers over my five eight
-
inch
height
, even when I wear heels
(which brings me to Amazonian proportions, stature I use to my advantage, but he still is larger)
.
D
espite
Ben’s
height and presence, he is gentle
with people
and
meticulous
in his work.
A
ll great attributes, but could he hurry this
particular project
along?

“Carrie has her heart set on a wine country wedding.” I had ruminated on the problem
during
the three-hour drive
from River’s Bend
,
but still hadn’t come up with
an
interesting
option
.

“Napa won’t have them.” He
abandoned his neat pile,
crossed his arms and lean
e
d on
the
porch
banister.

“No, and increasingly, neither will some of
the
wineries in Sonoma.”
  The men laughed, the nail gun fired three more times, ah, progress.

“There
are so
many permits
to file and get approved,
even for a
small
wedding
,” he
scraped
his hands through his hair again, three more fleck
s
of paint fell – yellow, the color of the master bedroom
.  “I talked to O’ Reilly today,
we were discussing
Cassandra
, she
’s
having trouble with
all the forms and requirements
, it takes more than we thought to open a winery
.

Cassandra
.
One
of Ben’s projects
, and possibly another one of my problems.
  Ben
saves
things
:
old doors, sheet metal,
antique tools,
a high school friend who fell on emotional
hard times
when her
boyfriend
, Peter K
la
ussen O’Reilly the III abruptly broke up with her.  Ban
saved
Cassandra then, he was in the throes of saving her now.  After three years in Australia, she was back in the States
and
opening a winery.  Guess who is her biggest investor?
I wished Ben would take a page from my friend Carrie’s book and just save feral cats.  Or write
anonymous
checks to a museum.  Oh wait, he does that too.

“She
’s not officially ready to open to the public, but we can hold a private affair.”
He frowned and studied his hands.  “The wines from Australia are in, so we can serve something.”

I reached out an
d
flicked away pieces of shingle from his hair and shoulder
s
.
Cassandra’s new winery, Prophesy Estates
,
was
located on the valley floor in Dry Creek
,
j
ust off
E
ast
S
ide
R
oad.
When Ben promised to help, the plan was to renovate a barn on the site of her family’s property, something simple and if Ben was involved, tasteful.  But Cassandra was an impatient woman, she convinced Ben to buy an established winery just down the road and she re-decorated THAT winery to her own extra
vagant taste.  This was another
subject I did not comment on. 
And Ben cooperated by not disclosing everything to me.  Really, it was better this way.


She’d host a wedding?  This early in the game?

I pulled out my phone
and glanced at Ben.  He
nodded,
I patted his arm and raised a cloud of dust.  Four more shingles were attached to the roof above us.

“Does she have enough
space
for about 500 people?
” I hit Carrie’s name.

“Tent the parking lot, sure.”

It wasn’t my money, I reminded myself over and over. When I forgot, Carrie reminded me.  So I considered
the idea of
asking for
Cassandra’s last minute help
legitimate payback.  Cassandra owes Ben, and what better way to pay him back than by helping my good friend?  My logic is always impeccable. 
To me.

  “Should we have Carrie check it out?”

Ben rubbed his chin. 

Cassandra’s holding
a big party for her grand opening
in a couple weeks. And she
mentioned
needing more cash for barrels
.” 

He rolled his eyes as if considering dates
and barrels together
took all his energy.


The wedding is only six weeks away,” I pointed out. 

Carrie already sent the save the date cards, so the date is fixed, we just need a place.”

“S
he’ll have to just go for it, she can’t change her mind,
there
isn’t much time.  Is she willing to do that?”

My phone buzzed.  Carrie sent a capital lettered YES.
  “What other choices do we have?”

“True, I’ll call Cassandra.”
  He frowned, a knot of tourists huddled by the fence
transfixed by something or someone on the roof.  A shout followed by
a rain of
shingle
s pouring off the roof
and smacking onto the front walk way interrupted our conversation.
Ben
raced upstairs
,
phone clutched to his ear,

The good news is that our new house
sits
right on
the
m
ain
s
treet
in
downtown
Claim Jump
.  On a good day, Claim Jump can claim it is, or was,
the
Queen of the Mines, a popular gold country
sobriquet
.  But
more
often
than not,
the neighboring towns like Nevada City and
Auburn,
out
-
charm poor little Claim Jump. There are days when we
can’t make a claim for anything.  But the town works at it, the Avis to Nevada City’s Hertz.  We try harder.  And despite the second run status of what I consider my second home town, we get enough interest and tourists that our current gaggle of sub contractors play to a near constant audience of
visitors
. T
he summer crowd does not disappear in September, if anything more people venture up to enjoy the hot afternoons and warm evenings in the foothills
.

B
ecause
the house fronts Main Street
(yes, the main street in Claim Jump is named Main Street, the founding fathers were more interest
ed
in mining for gold than creating
an imaginative
city structure)
, everyone
in town is fully aware of what Ben and I are up to: from t
he wiring to the new master bathroom toilet. Which means that every job, from resurfacing the driveway to fixing that damn hole in the master bath, need
ed
a permit.

BOOK: Catharine Bramkamp - Real Estate Diva 04 - Trash Out
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