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Old 04-09-2014, 04:44 AM   #1
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Hunter's Folly (Closed)

Hunter's Folly, California, a quiet suburb of San Fransisco...

The alarm jerked her out of a heavy sleep, right in the middle of a particularly unpleasant dream. She wasn't often thankful for her alarm but today she was, and it was all about the silver linings for Meridith.

After her morning bathroom routine, she padded barefoot into the kitchen where her dad was already drinking coffee at the kitchen table. She kissed him on the cheek and grabbed a mug from the cabinet. "You're up early, Daddy."

Meridith Robins was the only child of Katherine and Phillip Robins, a blue collar family that had lived in Hunter's Folly for Merry's entire life. Phillip was a Vietnam Veteran who had lost his legs from the knee down to diabetes when Merry was a teenager, and Katherine had died suddenly from a stroke just three years ago. The boarding house that Merry shared with her dad was an aging historical property that Katherine had bought after a miraculous windfall from a distant relative. Just ten short years later, she passed away, leaving Merry to care for her father and the aging property.

"Morning Baby. Couldn't sleep." He rumbled, turning the page of his newspaper. "Are your legs hurting you again?" She said, her brow furrowing deeply in concern. Phillip adjusted his position in the wheelchair, a frown curling the corners of his mouth down. His craggy, weathered face showed his age, and years of hardship. "Been worse."

Merry blew on the steaming coffee and took a tentative sip. "I'll call Dr. Rothschild today and see-" "No no, I don't want no fuss, Merry." "Daddy, I-"

Their argument was interrupted by the kitchen suddenly plunging into darkness. Phillip's newspaper drooped, his craggy face deepening into lines of frustration.

"Third time this week, god dammit." He mumbled, shaking his head. Meridith set the mug on the table and sighed. "I'll go put a new fuse in. Hopefully the Contractor will call us to fix it soon." "He's supposed to arrive today?" "Yeah, sometime this morning."

She took a flashlight out of the tool drawer that they had stocked for this very purpose and carefully navigated the basement stairs to replace the fuse. The basement was a mishmash of old childhood toys, storage bins and box upon box of Merry's mother's belongings. Neither of them had the heart to get rid of anything, so they quietly packed away her things and tried not to miss her.

Merry hated the basement. The unpleasant sadness of missing her mother was always a fresh wound when looking at her old mirrored vanity or curio chest, the scent of her perfume seemed to linger in the wood like a ghost. She hurriedly replaced the fuse just in time for a knock at the door.

"Just a moment please!" Phillip hollered, pushing his wheelchair from the kitchen to the living room door. Meridith was still in her pajamas, and froze at the basement entry door as her dad swung the door open for the -very- tall and -very- handsome Davan.

"You must be Davan," Phillip said, holding out his scarred and calloused hand. "Phillip Robins, my daughter Merry."

Merry cleared her throat, painfully aware of her scrubby Hello Kitty pajamas and messy-from-sleep braid. *Fuck. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck.* Her smile was wobbly, cheeks flaming with embarrassment. "Hey, nice to finally meet you Davan."
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:17 PM   #2
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The foreboding of the town's name was not lost on Davan. He'd seen it first listed in the county's online classifieds and snorted at it outright, clicking because there was enough alcohol in him that he wondered what the hell people in such a town might be pedaling, anyway. Turns out that chief among them was just the truck he was driving now, big and blue, with Shaw Contracting spelled out in a series of carefully-placed stickers on the end of its bed. Normally he'd get a full paint job done, a good, clean decal that afforded him an air of professionalism, but the cash just wasn't there. Between the motel room he was paying for and the slightly steep price of fixing up the vehicle in the first place, he was lucky he was getting meals. Jobs were slow to come in these early times, he knew, phone number put out in papers and those very same online classifieds, listing the great many things he was capable of handling. Having a common surname meant there was little risk in using it for his business, as his father's had been called something else, anyhow.

Foreboding name or not, this place gave him about as much hope as any other town did. It was a strange thing, to drive through a place, see broken porches and fucked fences and think it was a good thing, but that was how a man in his line of work had to think. It meant plenty of things to do, jobs to pick up, ways to eat up his days and drown out the accusatory howl of the road. Every week he spent in a place was a week where some poor bastard was having their organs torn out by something from his worst nightmare; a horrible end he could've prevented, if only he stopped playing at this life. Hunting required money, though, and he just hadn't been raised comfortable cheating men, even if many of them were bad. The work gave him a new perspective on such people; they might be nasty, abusive drunks, but they could kick the booze, they could clean up. The same couldn't be said for those nightmarish spooks. So he'd left behind as much of that as he could, turned to it only when the money dried up quicker than he'd thought. If things in this town turned out well, didn't turn out to be folly, this 'play' of his would turn out an essential service to his true work.

Having experienced some pretty abysmal wiring in homes in the past, Davan came prepared for what the first steps of fixing the problem Phillip had explained could be. Mostly this meant keeping a sledgehammer and assorted cleaning tools on hand, in addition to the spools of wiring, boxes and connectors and securing materials, that one would expect of this job. There was a tool bag sitting on his passenger's seat and he pulled that out with him while sliding from the seat, hefting it on to his broad shoulder before slamming his door shut with a creak. Finding that long sleeves were always a good idea when working provided they didn't hang, he was wearing a flannel shirt in shades of green and black today, paired with a simple pair of dark blue jeans. Brown, steel-toed work boots completed the ensemble.

He approached the house in his customary fashion, stalking those few steps to the front door in a way most didn't expect of men like him. They'd sooner paint him clumsy, but he moved through the world with a directness that was either admirable or vaguely unsettling, depending on one's perspective. After announcing his presence with the side of his fist shaking the door in its frame on three knocks, he heard the homeowners' cry and lowered his hand, settling himself into a posture more relaxed than he was normally. People didn't trust it when a guy his size looked so fucking ready, sometimes. The right context needed to be there. When he heard the knob turn, a friendly smile spread across his face, eyes descending to the old man in the chair. He hadn't expected that, hearing him on the phone, but he didn't even flinch. He'd seen so much worse in his life.

"Yup. Davan Shaw. A pleasure." He took hold of Phillip's hand without hesitation, enclosing it in a rough, firm shake before his hand slipped away and he turned his attention to Merry. The sight of her immediately lit up his features with endearment, tired eyes going wide in pleased surprise and fat mouth spreading in a much less professional smile than he'd been wearing when Phillip answered the door. A laugh just had to follow, seeing the blush on her cheeks, a grown woman in Hello Kitty pajamas, but it wasn't mean-spirited; she looked cute, if a bit too old for him to blurt that descriptor aloud. "Aw, hell, did I pull ya outta bed? Sorry 'bout that! I jus' wanna get this started soon's I can. Ain't no fun dealin' with shoddy electric, as yer dad's tol' me." His voice came out of him in a honey-thick drawl, deep and with some lingering gravel about it for the years he'd spent smoking, though he'd quit five years ago. The lingering oral fixation was satisfied through extensive gum-chewing, which might be noted by the occasional roll of his jaw as he worked it between his molars. "Wanna show me the way to yer fuse box, Philip?" he proposed, turning back to her father and letting the amusement melt from his features.
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:20 PM   #3
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She wasn't blind, she saw his face light up like he was about to watch his favorite movie. She wasn't a bad-looking girl, but fresh out of bed was one of the last states she wanted a man like that looking at her in. Tucking a pale strand of hair behind her ear in a self-conscious gesture, she returned his pleased grin with a game one of her own, trying to scramble to get a handle on herself. She glanced down at his work-scarred, capable-looking hands for evidence of a ring. It wouldn't do to get too flirtatious with a married man.

"Aw, hell, did I pull ya outta bed? Sorry 'bout that! I jus' wanna get this started soon's I can. Ain't no fun dealin' with shoddy electric, as yer dad's tol' me. Wanna show me the way to yer fuse box, Philip?"

Phillip's sharp, pale blue eyes were much younger than many people expected, and he wasn't ignorant of his daughter's reaction to the dark-haired contractor. He smiled pleasantly at Davan, not offended in the least. "Wish I could, son, can't rightly go down no stairs in this chair." He nodded towards the pajamaed blonde. "Merry'll show you down."

Merry waved a hand towards the white-painted door that led down to the basement. "It's down here. I was just about to make breakfast...are you hungry?"

She opened the basement door and flicked on the overhead, bathing the crowded room with a soft gold light that shone almost lovingly on the evidence of her mother's passing. "Watch the stair overhand, I think you might have to duck. Don't bump your head!"
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:46 AM   #4
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There were a couple rings on Davan's fingers, as it happened, one of them being his high school class ring and the other a similarly chunky piece with ornate carvings, the both of them silver. One was worn on his right ring finger and the other on his left middle; not that either would be appropriate for a wedding band, anyhow. That light lingered on his eyes as he caught a glimpse of that study, for it was one he'd noticed enough times to grasp its meaning. Not much got by those dark eyes of his, in spite of any judgments people might be inclined to make between his size and speech patterns.

An awkward laugh barked out of him as Phillip stated what felt rather obvious, at the time, but he wasn't too hard on himself. Not all fuse boxes were in the basement, after all. Not all homes had a basement to house it! "Guess basements aren't really made fer chairs, no," he conceded, shifting his tool bag on his shoulder and starting to follow Merry. "I'll be up in a bit, tell ya what yer dealin' with."

Squeezing into the room behind her took some doing, between the size of his bag, his height and the broad set of his shoulders. The nature of his work left him used to navigating cramped spaces, no matter which work one was talking about, so he managed it without too much awkward twisting around. "Ah, well, ya don't hafta. Ya ain't payin' me t' eat yer food," he replied to her offer, dodging the question itself with audible reluctance, words that either came from a sense of professionalism or had been echoed from some other client. He'd definitely heard that before. Work somewhere where the client had their twentysomething kids with 'em and something about seeing him just made them want to fry up all their goddamn bacon, like some kind of offering. It had taken everything in him not to laugh when one young man's mother smacked her son aback the head and started on a mighty rant about feeding the neighborhood. The kid had fried some shockingly nice bacon. Maybe that was where the ranting came from. Might have been some sort of fancy organic nonsense he'd never have afforded on his own, not unless some big job had just bore fruit.

"Right, right, I got it. I stopped thinkin' these places were built with guys like me in mind a long time ago," he admitted in good humor, creeping carefully down the stairs behind her. "So how many times has the fuse blown in the last week, would ya say?"
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:31 AM   #5
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"Ah, well, ya don't hafta. Ya ain't payin' me t' eat yer food," He replied, and she was careful not to get in his way as he managed himself through the crowded basement. The basement wasn't small, but the top of his head nearly touched the ceiling. She tried not to gawk at him, looking aside to try and find something else to fix her eyes on. It was rude to stare, dammit!

"No, it's really okay." she murmured softly, a grin softening the corners of her mouth. "I'd...like to. Make you breakfast." She looked at him, hoping her face told her story, and that she wouldn't have to seem too thirsty by being more direct. *Jesus please say yes, please say yes please say yes...*

She was being too forward, right? Men didn't like that. She should let him chase her. But what if he wasn't interested? Maybe he liked brunettes. He could be gay. It wasn't right for her to just assume he was straight just because he was an Electrician. What was she doing?! She was crazy offering a man she just met a meal. She'd obviously been single for too long if she's chasing down the first guy that shows up at the house that's nice to look at. This was crazy! Just being around him made her feel like a wreck, but that didn't mean anything, did it?

"So how many times has the fuse blown in the last week, would ya say?"

His voice tore her out of her panicked thought process, and she gaped at him for a moment until she was able to collect herself. She was making a right ASS of herself right now and color crept up her throat to stain her entire face a vivid shade of cherry red.

"Well uh...we um...We can't use...any two appliances at the same time in the kitchen or it'll blow a fuse, and I can't plug in anything more powerful than a curling iron upstairs in my bathroom or it'll blow. It still goes out anyway several times a week no matter what we try, though. It's been like that since....." her face visibly fell. "...since mom died..." She swallowed, then put on her game face again. "Thanks for coming by. I should probably go get started on breakfast, I'm sure we're all hungry by now and I don't want to get in your way." Her eyes lingered on him affectionately for a moment, then she vanished up the stairs.
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:19 AM   #6
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A look not far removed from the one he'd first given her winked across his face. Maybe it just looked so potently delighted because his eyes had that puffy, sleepless look about their lids. It didn't necessarily detract from his looks, but it did put his every moment of happiness in stark contrast to the sleepless nights he so obviously suffered, if anyone bothered to read between the lines of his visage. "Would ya? Well, s'pose I gotta let ya then, don't I? I ain't in the habit a' denyin' pretty ladies much." Had he waited deliberately until her father was out of earshot, or did the moment just have to be right? No matter the reason, the words came out of him easy and honest, delivered with a loose, dorky sort of grin, self-conscious. He could lay it on a little thick.

Really, he ought to know better, though, be more of a professional about it. He'd barely walked in the damn door and already he was flirting with the nearest pretty lady? His daddy woulda hit him! He wasn't some lone sinner in this scenario, but fuck's sake, he was the one getting paid to be here! Just like he wasn't being paid to eat their food, he wasn't being paid to flirt with the homeowner's daughter. But for reasons heavier than bore mentioning, his father was no longer a figure in his life. Perhaps it was out of spite for that fact that he flouted his basic lessons of professionalism.

"Aw, hell," Davan nearly groaned, listening to her story. It bore the markings of a house-wide problem and he didn't look forward to telling either of them that he was going to have to spend the foreseeable future knocking their walls apart. "That's real sad. Like the place gave up or somethin'." The words came out of his mouth before he was quite aware of them and he furrowed his dark brow against them. That was a weird thing to say. A woman's life wasn't some sort of. . .dramatization. Homes didn't work like that! . . .could a ghost demolish wiring in its anguish? Lord, he couldn't go thinking down that path. This kind of work was the only pure well of financial self-sufficiency he had; he couldn't poison it with what the rest of the world would think of as insanity, even if it was possible. "Sorry. I shouldn't a'. . ." He trailed off, sucking his cheek momentarily and swallowing the resultant saliva to wet his suddenly parched throat. "Yeah, yeah. Don't think I'll be long. Thanks, darlin'."
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:30 AM   #7
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She began pulling things from the fridge to make for breakfast as soon as she got back upstairs. "What do you want Daddy?"

"Oh I think an omelet and some ham sounds pretty good to me, Baby." She dug in the crisper for peppers, tomatoes and onions, all grown right there in their backyard. Their clients seemed to appreciate organic home-grown produce a lot, so the garden was extensive and lovingly tended.

"Want some toast or waffles, Daddy?" Phillip turned a page on the newspaper. "Nah, I don't want to get my blood sugar up none." "Okay, I'm going to make waffles for me and Mr. Shaw then." The kitchen was filled with the scent of freshly cut onions and peppers as she began to cut them up for the omelet filling. Was she out of cheese? Did he even eat cheese?

She hadn't asked him what he wanted, but if she was reading him right, he was the kind of man that ate food without tasting it, and would eat nearly anything as long as it kept him upright. She couldn't imagine him cooking for himself much, so she eased open the spice cabinet and cast a critical eye inside. A way to a man's heart was through his stomach, her Mama told her. Let's see if she could cook up a heaping skillet of Cupid's Arrows, then.

Bacon, ham steaks, omelets with pan-sauteed veggies, waffles, coffee and OJ. Take THAT, Martha Stewart!
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:00 AM   #8
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Truth was, there probably wasn't anything to be gained by his looking in the fuse box. What he needed now was the house's blueprints, probably; he needed to know exactly where all the wiring was, if there was any of it at all that was salvageable. It was hard, knowing all that was going to need to go into this house and having his suspicions about the kind of money they had - didn't have - to work with. He was sympathetic enough that he wasn't going to ask too much, but that didn't put him in any better position to afford buying the materials for them. It was a nice property; maybe they could take out some kind of loan on it. He'd read up on the property and noted it had been run as a bed and breakfast until some time ago. Maybe, if he fixed it up, it could be that again and they'd be able to pay the loan off before long. That would be a good thing, right?

Even knowing that there was no avoiding the bad news, he lingered downstairs for a few minutes, taking out some diagnostic tools and using them for wholly unnecessary tests. His eyes wandered the basement and its many feminine keepsakes; obviously things that had belonged to the woman's deceased mother. Eventually, he gave up pretending and, rather than try and squeeze himself and that damn bag through the basement door again, left it down by the fuse box and let his appetite lead him to the kitchen. He'd only eaten a protein bar that morning, something he'd acquired on sale at the grocery store for a good price. That and water really wasn't enough to sustain a man like him, even if they'd gotten him through his usual morning exercise routine.

"Phillip, I ain't even been here half an hour an' yer daughter's spoilin' me," he accused playfully as he filled up the kitchen doorway, his grin strained. How long could he put it off?
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:27 AM   #9
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"Phillip, I ain't even been here half an hour an' yer daughter's spoilin' me," Phillip's craggy face displayed a chipped front tooth in his grin. One could see where Merry got her eyes. "Well son, what's the damage?" Merry touched Davan's shoulder gently and led him to the kitchen table, setting a heaping plate in front of him. Coffee already waited on the table, but no cream or sugar.

Phillip had already tucked into his plate, now half-eaten, his omelet spilled out a colorful variety of veggies. The entire kitchen smelled like garlic, onions and coffee, surprisingly not unpleasant. Merry's plate was shockingly laden with a massive pile of the crispy, browned whole-grain waffles and an omelet of her own that would have put any trucker to shame. She didn't stand on ceremony, though, and began eating with obvious enthusiasm. She burnt a LOT of calories as a personal trainer slash fitness instructor at one of the local gyms. Her metabolism had always been good, but she'd waste away if she didn't eat big meals. Some people had remarked in the past with surprise at her portion sizes but if they saw how hard she worked, they wouldn't!
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:52 AM   #10
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It was with the strangest sort of guilt that Davan accepted Merry's lead, and she just might be able to feel the way his shoulder relaxed subtly under her touch. Breakfast smelled amazing, frankly, and he echoed that sentiment aloud, admitting, "I'm lookin' forward to this," as he approached the table. He'd already said the required reluctant words professionalism dictated he say. Now, the meal was already made, entirely too much for a man and his daughter to eat alone; it would be rude not to dig in.

After pulling the chair far out to accommodate his long legs, he started to pick up the fork and knife, eye on the ham steak, when he submitted that he couldn't keep putting it off with flirtation and flattery; he had to tell them. "Well, uh. . .frankly, Mr. Robins, it ain't good," he sighed regretfully, eyes fixing the old man's a moment before they fell to his plate, like he'd personally pissed on all their wiring in a drunken haze or something. He allowed himself a cut of the ham steak - his gum having been balled up in its wrapper and shoved in his pocket while he was downstairs - chewed with some indulgence and swallowed. "All I needed t' do was ask Merry what ya'll've been goin' through. It ain't the sockets, it ain't yer appliances--it's the wirin'. All of it, sounds like."

Sighing, he put his hand through his hair and reached forward to grab the mug of coffee, considering its color a moment before he decided black suited him just fine and took a sip. "It ain't gonna be cheap. I'll give ya a good rate, but there's only so much I can do for materials, ya understand."
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:04 AM   #11
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He could see the older man appraising him with an eye that had seen a great many things, and could tell a charlatan and a thief with just a glance. Obviously the old soldier saw nothing of the kind in the dark haired Hunter.

"Well, just tally up a list'a what we'll need, son, and we'll get the money." Merry was pale but quickly covered with a sip of coffee. She'd take extra shifts at the Phoenix, try selling some of her produce at the local farmer's market. Maybe they could take out a loan. If they got the place patched up quick enough, they could start taking boarders again.

They'd make it work. They always had.

Merry was uncharacteristically silent during the meal, content to polish off her breakfast and take surreptitious glances at Davan, trying ridiculously hard not to make innane chatter or stare. He made her feel like an awkward teenager again, and it was cringe-worthy enough that he had caught her in her awkward-teenager-pajamas. She wouldn't fuck this up.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:17 AM   #12
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The relief he felt when Phillip responded so matter-of-factly was a visible weight off his shoulders. He'd been tense, picking through the words until he cleared the first hurdle of telling them at all, at which point he'd just babbled out the necessities to get it over with. He only nodded his head, at first, focusing on eating some more of his generously-offered breakfast. All told, it was probably the healthiest thing he'd eaten for a good, long while. Last time he'd been subject to such hospitality, it had involved all kinds of fatty meat, cookies and cakes. He wasn't much for sweet things, but man, some people's grandmothers could just get it and he knew he'd be a fool not to appreciate the years of experience that went into such goodies. He found he didn't miss them here, though, and had long thought he needed to eat better, just like he'd needed to quit smoking long before he actually did. Coping mechanisms were essential for a man like him, but when they had him nearly - once, actually - vomiting for the strength of his coughs after running down some beast, they weren't something he could justify. Not that he planned on asking Merry to make him three meals a day just because she'd said she wanted to make him breakfast.

"Well I think we're gonna need to rent some kinda self storage, maybe one a' them pod things they put in yer yard. Put the furniture in it, like. 'cause, well. . ." Saying this, he realized he had yet to be explicit about what a wiring problem meant and found himself hesitating again, taking another sip of coffee to delay himself. "I'm gonna be knockin' yer walls apart," he came out with after a swallow, poking his fork around the omelet indecisively before he cut off a portion to eat.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:26 AM   #13
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Merry's fork clattered on the plate. She picked it up again, hurriedly, nearly fumbling it again in her haste. Her face was like a white sheet. "What? Why? We....We can't afford to go anywhere! Daddy, I can probably get extra hours at The Phoenix but there's no way we can afford a storage facility for -everything-, plus one that's wheelchair and disabled-accessible, the moving expenses alone...Who will take care of the garden?! What about Boson?" As if on queue, a tiny mew emanated from under the kitchen table.

The fork drooped in her hand, forgotten, her appetite vanished. There was no way they'd be able to afford everything it would take to replace the wiring. What were they doing to do now? Sell the house? Her mother would...!

But no. Katherine couldn't -do- anything, could she? It was up to Merry to keep the house in order. This property had been her mother's dream for Merry's entire life. Before she had come across that windfall, every time her mother had driven past it, she always remarked that she'd give anything to own it. It was the last thing of Katherine's that they had, as a family.

She visibly curled in on herself, shrinking in her seat. "Daddy, I don't think we can...do this..."
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:43 AM   #14
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The clatter of Merry's fork made him tense up like someone had tried to hit him, for it indicated exactly what he'd been fearing, exactly the reaction he'd wanted desperately to avoid. He didn't know this woman, but he was intimately familiar with situations like this, knew how hard it was for the families suffering them, particularly in the dire financial straits he tended to find them in. On top of that, he'd already made it pretty explicit that he was attracted to her. Who wanted to see a pretty lady in that kind of distress?

"Hey, hey, Merry," he tried to slow her down a little, the tone of his voice carefully sympathetic. He didn't want to be patronizing, like he was trying to shut her up. He did want her panicked rambling to end, but not because he found it baseless; it just hurt his heart. What a soft-hearted idiot he could be, sometimes. But this gorgeous woman in her childish pajamas, making him the best breakfast he'd had in, arguably, years, had an impact on him. Already he wanted nothing more than to see her at ease.

Standing up, he brushed off any lingering worries about propriety and laid his big hand between her shoulders, trying to rub out some comfort. "Merry, darlin', you got a big house here. Plenty a' rooms t' stay in, an' I'm sure ya got neighbors who'd be happy t' let ya use their kitchen when I start workin' here, right? Like I said about the pod--it's somethin' they jus' drop off right in front a' yer house an' it's actually pretty affordable, as things like that run ya. Might be cheaper t' get a trailer, 'n we could do that, too; m' truck's good for it."

Removing his hand, he returned to his seat with some reluctance, looking between father and daughter. "I ain't gonna pretend it's the sorta thing most people have the money on hand for, but. . .I'm not gonna ruin yer home. I can fix it up just as pretty's it was." He even had pictures on his laptop to prove it, things he used to promote his business where possible. Not that he had that with him now.
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Old 04-18-2014, 09:07 AM   #15
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She relaxed instantly under his touch, as if she has sucked out some of his vitality and warmth and it had bolstered her. Eyes red-rimmed from unshed tears, she looked up at him with a wobbly, watery smile, whisper broken with emotion. "Thanks..."

Phillip cleared his throat, obviously deeply affected by his daughter's sadness. "It's okay, baby, we'll manage. Your mother didn't spend the entire windfall she had on this place, we can put a nice down payment on Mr. Shaw's services and I'm sure we can work out some sort of...payment plan or the like, to cover the rest."

He reached out and covered his daughter's hand with his work-scarred, deeply suntanned palm. She seemed to take strength from both of them, drew in a deep breath and composed herself completely.

"I should get these dishes in the dishwasher. Why don't you two hash out the details of this arrangement while I get cleaned up for work?" And just like that, the smile was back on her face.

As long as her dad told her it was okay, it was going to be okay.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:44 AM   #16
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A smile warm with relief met Merry's before he took his hand away and returned to his seat. Comforting her was important to him, for whatever reason, but that didn't mean breakfast was forgotten. Something that felt this good going down just couldn't be ignored, not if tending to the situation at hand and eating could be done at more or less the same time.

"Oh, yeah," Davan nodded enthusiastically at Philip through a mouthful of food, swallowing heavily before he spoke actual words. "I'm figurin' that kinda stuff all the time, really. Ain't easy in this country these days, I know that." And it's about so much more than money. It did mean he'd need to write up a special contract, rather than his usual cut and paste deal, but that was a minor inconvenience, far as he was concerned. Better to help a family out of an unfortunate situation than be a stickler about 'his rate'. As long as he wound up getting paid fairly by the end of the job, he'd cope, somehow. It might even be argued that he took his compassion for clients a bit far. So long as they were good people, easy to get along with, he could lose sight of the financial side of things. He normally still got by, but he could be making a fuck of a better living than he was.

"Sure," Davan agreed with Merry, finishing up his breakfast - which he'd been eating steadily most of this time - and handing her the plate with a muttered "Thanks" followed soon by "I think ya just fed me the nicest breakfast I've had in months,"smile loose and happy. He'd had breakfasts that tasted just as good, but this one had that combination of tasting good and not seeming terrible for him that he really enjoyed.

Turning to Philip, he started in. "Well, I think I might hafta call in some guys to help move the furniture. Pro'lly a trailer'd be easiest t' get right away. . ."

(Not sure I want to bother typing out all the tedious details of it now, honestly, heh heh.)
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:34 AM   #17
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~*2 Days Later*~

It was dark by the time they finished moving the furniture. Merry sat with her back against the wall, covered in a sheen of sweat, her tank top front sticking to her chest damply. She held a bottle of water on her forehead to cool it, and her cheeks were crimson from long hours of effort and the oppressive California Summer heat.

Phillip was talking to the moving van driver, just out of earshot. Merry watched her dad sign papers on the driver's clipboard, shake hands with her, and then start his wheelchair up the driveway. She stood up slowly, legs aching, desperately wanting a shower and some time in the hot tub to ease her muscles.

"We should probably think about dinner." she said, opening the bottle and offering it to Phillip, who took it and drank half of it in one long swallow.

"You look like you're 'bout ready to drop off your feet, kiddo."

"I'm pretty tired, but we've all got to eat. Mr. Shaw especially, he did most of the hard work."

"Don't worry about cooking, we'll order pizza."

Merry smiled. "Alright, Daddy. Let's go in, it's too hot out here."

The living room was quiet and seemed so much bigger without furniture. Merry cleared her throat, and called out, "Mr. Shaw? I was going to order pizza for dinner, what kind would you like?" Her voice echoed through the house.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:39 AM   #18
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Most times, Davan had to make sure to wear long sleeves. Demolition being a frequent part of his job, safety was more important than comfort. It just wouldn't do to wind up with some giant splinter in his arm because he thought he'd be too warm in sleeves. Moving furniture wasn't nearly so dangerous as hacking apart rotten porches, which he'd made good money doing in the northeast thanks to the brutal winter. This left him in some truly objectionable clothing, enough that he'd shown up with apologies on his lips. It wasn't at all professional to show up with one leg of an old pair of black jeans torn off just under the pocket and the bottom of his short-sleeved flannel - already washed threadbare - torn up, hem just barely holding on. Probably the t-shirt he'd won after eating a disgusting amount of ribs would be preferable to this, but this was closer at hand.

Welcomed to it, Davan had gone back inside to get his own bottle of water, drinking down the whole thing in the space of a minute before pitching it into the recycling. When he answered Merry's summons, it was with his arms full of the luxuriously fluffy Boson, who didn't at all mind the ratty state of his clothes, nor his distinct need of a shower. Some of his curls were sweat-stuck to his forehead, shirt clinging to his back. He followed the sound of her voice rather than shouting in return, not wanting to spook the purring beast in his arms. All day without adding any new scars to his arms; he really didn't need to scare a cat into tearing him up. There were a good few of those, as it happened, one near the right wrist that seemed suggestive of learning that long sleeve lesson, another shearing a gash through the hair on his left arm, many more about hands and arms that were simple little lines, barely worth noticing. Almost none of them would turn out to have the expected cause, but that made his work convenient; always some dumb ass excuse for how they got there.

"I think I'm feelin' meatball t'night," Davan offered once he got in earshot, fingers scratching under Boson's chin to much appreciation from the cat. He gave Merry one of his slightly too loose smiles and explained, "Found her hidin' upstairs, 'bout as I expected. Cats really hate all this goin' on. Don't'cha, baby?" Cooing affectionately, he pressed a kiss between Boson's ears and chuckled at himself. Apparently he was trying to work his charm on the feline of the house this time.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:47 AM   #19
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She didn't even comment on the clothes.

Honestly, she didn't even notice them. She was slack-jawed staring at this giant cuddling her baby. Boson was a nice cat, always friendly to strangers, and she had been a big hit with the boarders who loved nothing more than to feed her tidbits of their dinner or petting her ridiculously soft coat while staying here, but she didn't expect this large man to be a ....cat person!!

"I uh...."
she just couldn't get over it. It was like lightening to her ovaries. Suddenly the cat was a child, and he was the doting father, cooing over his brood. Did she just ovulate?!

"Uhm......Pizza."

Phillip choked back laughter, nudging his daughter gently to break the spell. Merry shook her head like a dog shaking water out of it's fur, blinked rapidly, then began turning crimson from the neckline of her tank top to the roots of her hair.

"Meatball pizza, right."
She mumbled, lifting both hands to cover her burning face. "It's pretty hot right now--IN HERE. It's hot in here. I'm going to go get some water."

She nearly killed herself tearing out of the room like an embarrassed teenager.
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:06 AM   #20
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Davan was an animal person, truth be told. His lifestyle left having a pet of his own irresponsible, at best, so all he could do was spend time with clients' pets when he was given the chance. He'd learned to read owners and animals, know when it was alright to approach and when that'd get him the stink eye from the owner or a good taste of claw from the pet. While he hadn't expected quite this reaction from Merry, it had been obvious to him that there'd be nothing but good times in picking up Boson. He wasn't disappointed in the sweet little purr machine at all.

Catching Merry's stuttering between loving coos at Boson, he turned his eyes up and found an uncertain smile breaking across his mouth. His eyebrows began to rise in a question that wouldn't find his lips before Philip broke the spell for him. He really wasn't sure what to say to Merry that wouldn't come off weird or egotistical, so he opted to just watch her, wearing a vaguely approving, if somewhat awkward, smile.

"T' think I was worried she'd laugh at me fer cuddlin' this li'l ball a' fluff," he remarked to Philip, shaking his head. "I got some clothes in m' truck. Mind if I use yer shower?" he posed to Philip, feeling pretty disgusting and sure that, if Merry had been standing much closer, she wouldn't have had nearly that reaction. If they were going to be sitting together and eating, he couldn't do it smelling like this.
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:23 AM   #21
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Phillip grinned wickedly at him, blue eyes gleaming with approval. Obviously he liked this Davan, and wasn't shy about letting the man see it.

"Upstairs has several bedrooms we use for our boarders, every one of them has a bathroom. Just pick whichever one you like. Towels and soap and everything's already provided."

After a pause, he added, "You might wanna to use the last bedroom's shower, though, it's the biggest."

Merry's voice ordering pizza over the phone trailed off to unintelligible murmurs as she headed upstairs for her own bedroom and shower.

Phillip put a hand on Davan's arm before he could escape.

"It's pretty clear my baby girl likes you, Mr. Shaw. I ain't one to put on no airs about being a threatenin' Daddy with a shotgun, just don't lead her wrong if you don't feel the same way, y'hear me? She's a real good girl, and don't deserve no heartbreak. She had plum enough'a that when her Mama died."
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:47 PM   #22
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The unique detail of this particular scenario was Merry's age, her position in life. From what Davan had gathered so far, she was perfectly self-sufficient but lived here to lend her father a hand. Often, he'd work on homes where the women were a decade his junior, at least, still going to school. The approving, vaguely hopeful sort of look on Philip's face was familiar in a way that made him doubt the propriety of the way he lived his life. It wasn't quite the same--it wasn't like Philip was hoping he'd teach Merry a life of domestic servitude, far as he could tell--but it was near enough for him to feel prematurely guilty, particularly once Philip cautioned him against breaking the woman's heart.

"Oh, yeah, Philip, that sounds great," he started in earnestly, leaning down to set Boson on the ground and figuring cuddling could resume after dinner, for just a little bit before he returned to that damned Super 8. "Thanks." He'd been about to turn and walk out the door to fish out those extra clothes he'd mentioned when Philip stopped him for some straight talk.

His mouth was open momentarily, brow furrowed as he tried to work out a response. As many stories as he could invent to explain his scars, as much dancing around the truth as he might do to give reason to his constantly moving around the country, lying in things like this didn't come easily to him. He wasn't sure he could do it. "I ain't plannin' on it, Mr. Robins," he delivered honestly after some time, brow relaxing somewhat but expression still troubled. It probably wasn't the most encouraging look a man could have on his face after a statement like that.

"Merry's. . ." Trailing off without quite the word he wanted, he let out a slow, admiring breath and concluded, "Looks like any guy'd be lucky t' 'ave 'er." It wasn't the most specific compliment he might have dealt but, honestly, he didn't know her well yet. She'd been quick to feed him, quick to smile and was gorgeous, though; those things were enough to appeal to him in these early stages. "Lemme. . .lemme go get those clothes," he said eventually, walking decisively back toward his truck.
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Old 04-25-2014, 12:34 PM   #23
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Merry tried to shower in peace, but Boson cried at the door to be let in until she climbed out, soaking wet and covered in soap, to let her in.

She perched on the pile of towels she put on the counter, making sure to get plenty of cat hair all over them. What else were cats good for, after all?

After she got out of the shower, the cat climbed in to lick the water drops from off the floor. Merry dried her hair, watching the feline with a furrowed brow.

"You act like we never give you water, you little beast."

The cat looked up at her with a cocked head, listening. "Yes, I called you a little beast."

The cat meowed at her pleasantly. Merry laughed and reached for her clothes.

After she got dressed, she considered her hair. She probably should do something with it, but after moving furniture and boxes all day, she was dead tired. Davan was just too good to look scrubby in front of, though. She wasn't going to impress him with her moving skills, that was for sure. The path to a man's heart may be through his stomach but a cute girl got there faster.

Muttering "...fuck it." under her breath, she switched on her hair dryer, causing Boson to scramble for the door in terror. Laughing, she picked up a round brush and started giving herself a nice blowout. At least it would look good tomorrow, when Davan started the demolition.

She didn't hear the doorbell ring over the dryer but she did hear her dad's roar for the pizza man to "Come in!"

She switched the hair dryer off, gave her hair one final brush-out with her flat paddle brush, then rubbed Argan Oil into the ends gently. Drying her hands on the towel, she shut the bathroom light off and went downstairs.

The whole living room was rapidly filling up with the smell of marinara sauce and basil.

"Oh God, that smells so damn good!" She remarked, flashing a smile at the pizza guy. He grinned back at her, flirtatiously. She dug into her wallet and paid and tipped the delivery guy handsomely, then took the pizzas from him and set them on the kitchen counter.

"DAVAN! PIZZA'S HERE!"
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Old 04-26-2014, 10:08 AM   #24
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The shower itself was a blessing. As much work as the place needed, it was gorgeous compared to the accommodations he'd grown used to, nicer even than many of the homes he'd wound up staying in over the years. This one was a nice, big stall and had a tub on the other side of the room that he really would've liked to try and sink into. The room probably fetched a pretty penny when the place was in business, which made him that much more eager to restore the property to its former glory. These people deserved to charge tourists some exorbitant amount to stay in these rooms. They deserved to make money hand over fist at just this time of year, when people would want to go on nature walks or however the hell it was they glorified hiking these days.

Without worry he'd become lodged in the stall somehow and need to be greased out by some old Latina motel housekeeper - what a weird little fantasy that was - he made quick work of the shower itself, but found himself yawning and dragging his feet once he got out. The present cut of his hair basically did the styling work for him. He'd normally put some sort of gel in it to keep the curls tight, but in its absence, the comb he found to put through it did alright. They were a little looser, a little messier, but he doubted Merry would mind. Women had told him, before, that it was cute when they started to fall down his forehead like that.

He'd slipped on a clean pair of boxer shorts by the time he left the bathroom, but was feeling rather exhausted from the day's work to put on jeans standing up. Clothes clutched in his hand, he settled down on the end of the bed and. . .oh. Oh, good Lord. He pulled the jeans up in short order, did up the fly, but with the heat of the shower still sunk into his muscles, the bed called out to him in a way he couldn't hope to resist. There hadn't been much sleep for him before he started the day's work, let alone after a full day of moving furniture around. Merry's presence was absolutely appreciated and he'd been impressed by her will to help out; it hadn't just been some token gesture where 'helping out' meant standing around sipping a water bottle and wondering if he was going to take off his shirt. Sure, sometimes it was clear that he hands on a sofa had more to do with balancing it out than really hefting the weight, but that didn't bother him. He would've had to call in some stranger to do it, otherwise, and that had its own complications.

By the time Merry called up the stairs, Davan simply wasn't awake to hear it. He'd crept his way up to the pillows - not even the proper pillows, tucked neatly under the covers, but the throw pillows - and settled himself down, reasoning that he just wanted to know what a real bed felt like for a minute or two. Just wanted to rest after a long day's work. Sleep took him in a blessedly dreamless way that he couldn't have expected.

Davan's was a story told all too clearly by the marks on his body, in his experience. Laid out on his back, as he was, the worst of them - in his opinion - were out of sight, but the ones across his chest and stomach couldn't be ignored. Most obvious were his tattoos, most of all the black, flame-wreathed pentacle writ boldly near his heart, easily visible even through the hair that had since grown over it. Glimpses of the one on his relaxation-softened bicep might have already been had, a likeness of an engraving depicting St. Francis of Assisi instructing the Wolf of Gubbio. Tattoos might speak loudly, but the scars. . .oh, sure, they could come from working the jobs he worked, errant tools flying around, but some of them just didn't look like that. Most worrying was a long scar running from the left side of his ribcage down to his navel, thin near its edges but thick near its middle, where a person had the most to lose. There was a puncture scar on the right side of his chest, marking another spot where the hair just wouldn't grow. Smaller ones peppered the rest of his abdomen, marks of claws and teeth that just hadn't got him good enough to take his life. There were some on his arms, too, but those might already have been noted--an incision mark on one wrist, various little swipes cutting through him--and they could've been extracted splinters, gashes suffered at the errant claw of that all-purpose demolition tool he favored. He hadn't shown himself to be a careless worker, but they could be work accidents. . .couldn't they?
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:59 PM   #25
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"Davan?!" She called, and looked down at her dad, who shrugged.

"The shower might've knocked him out cold. He worked real hard today, movin' all your mom's things." His voice cracked at the mention of Katherine, and Merry put a hand on his shoulder in loving comfort. He patted her hand gratefully, a broken smile twisting up the corners of his mouth.

"I'll go check on him." Phillip nodded, then patted her hand again. "You're a good girl, Merry."

She smiled, bending down to plant a kiss on his sun-browned, war-weathered cheek. "I love you Daddy."

She climbed up the stairs, stomach rumbling in angry insistence that the pizza downstairs was MUCH more important than some giant in one of their beds. Ignoring the hunger pangs, she knocked gently at his door.

No response.

She knocked again, calling, "Davan? The pizza's downstairs. You don't want it to get cold..."

No response again. Her hand hovered over the ornate brass doorknob hesitantly, trembling as her stomach twisted in knots. The urge to go and see him won out over her propriety and she gently pressed the handle down, releasing the door.

She eased herself in quietly, footsteps quiet as a cat's in the plush carpet.

He was sleeping, snoring gently, flung out on the bed as if he had tried to squeeze himself down in the pillowy softness of the mattress.

Teeth digging into her lower lip, she crept up to him on the bed, insinuating herself beside him so carefully, as not to wake him.

Her eyes traveled over him lovingly, her hand hovered over his chest, wondering at the many scars and the evidence of him going to war. There was an intense familiarity to him, like she KNEW him. She felt comfortable around him like this. There was no nervousness, no hesitation.

Very, very gently, she smoothed a curl of hair off his forehead, then brushed his eyelashes with the pad of her thumb.

Satisfied with that indulgence, she eased herself back and then touched him gently on the shoulder, giving him a gentle shake.

"Davan...sweetie, wake up. The pizza's here."

The affection in her eyes was obvious.
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