Chapter 97: July 2014
He saw the house the second week of July.
They hadn’t even really been looking for one, not yet. But there it was, two streets down from one of Tim’s crime scenes.
And driving past it, toward a dead body, he just caught sight of it out of the corner of his eye. In and out of his vision. It didn’t make much of an impression. A house. For sale. Kind of, sort of, Victorianish. Big wrap around porch. Tidy yard. Probably three or four bedrooms.
And then there was a dead sailor, and pictures to take, and a case to solve.
Three days later he was back taking witness statements, interviewing the neighbors, seeing if anyone heard anything. (No.) When the third one told him that no, he’d heard nothing, saw nothing, that as far as he could tell a ghost wandered into Sergeant Jamis’ house, Tim started asking some non-standard questions. How were the schools? Quiet neighborhood in general? Traffic good at rush hour?
“1721 Kendal St. About half a mile that way.” He pointed behind them.
“You’re house shopping?”
“Sure. Not like we’re getting any closer to solving the case by talking to these people, so I might as well get something useful out of this.”
Tony rolled his eyes. But for Tim, who was liking the answers he was getting, this was proving to be very interesting.
“I was thinking...” Tim said to Abby as they sat down to eat dinner.
He smiled at her, spooning some salsa on his fish taco. “I want to show you something. It’ll be a wedding present if you like it.”
She looks curious and a little disbelieving, adding some salt to hers. “You want to show me my wedding present before you get it for me?”
He nodded. “Yeah. ‘Cause if you don’t like it, I really don’t want to pay for it.”
Her expression shifted to curious and pleased. “What is it?”
“For right now, a mystery.” He took a bite and chewed quickly. “But, if you’re free tomorrow around two, we can go see it.”
Tomorrow was a Saturday, and he knew she didn’t have anything scheduled for two.
She took a bite of hers. “Ohh… yeah, hake was a good choice, we’re definitely making this again.” She took one more bite, chewed, swallowed. “And yes, I’m free, and will happily go see your mystery present with you.”
They were ten minutes away when he stopped the car.
She looked around, of all the things she could have expected, this was nowhere on the list. “We’re in a Starbucks parking lot. You’re getting me coffee for a wedding present. You do know I’m not Gibbs, right?”
He laughed, leaned over, and pulled a scarf out of his pocket. “Blindfold.”
That got an amused and skeptical look out of her. “Blindfold?”
“Yeah, you’ll know what it is when we get close, and I want to keep the surprise as long as I can.”
She shook her head, but then turned away from him so he could tie the scarf around her eyes.
“Good?” he asked.
“Yeah. Just tight enough and I can’t see.”
“Okay. About ten minutes to go.”
“So, do I get any hints?” Her excitement was starting to peek out and he was enjoying this.
“You know where we are, at least within ten minutes, and you know it’s a big enough expense I don’t want to just hope you like it.”
“So, we’re in Falls Church... And it’s expensive...” He was fairly sure her eyes would have gone wide if she wasn’t blindfolded. “It’s a house, isn’t it?”
“Maybe.” He laughed.
“It is! You’re taking me to see a house.”
“What’s it like?”
“I haven’t said it’s a house, have I?”
“It’s got to be a house.”
He thought carefully for a few seconds wanting to make sure he said this right. “If it is a house, and I’m not saying it is, then telling you what this hypothetical house may be like would make the blindfold counter-productive.”
“Hmmmp.” She’s facing him, and even with the scarf covering half her face, her expression of pleased frustration came through loud and clear. “Wasn’t your last case out here?”
“Depending on where here might be, the answer to that could be yes.”
“Trying to trick answers out of you is a pain in the ass.”
“Well, lucky for you, you’ll know for sure in two minutes. So, if this thing I am taking you to see was a house, what would you like it to be like?”
“Big enough for us and kids. Trees. Lots of trees. And a porch, has to have a porch. And the sort of front room that has one of those windows you can sit at. And green. Green would be good. I love the idea of a green house.”
“Uh huh. Anything else?”
“Two floors. Maybe one of those little tower looking things? Gingerbread detailing? Ohhh a copula. Porch swing? Flowerbeds, with roses.”
He pulled into the driveway and stopped the car. “You stay put. I’ll open the door and help you get out.”
“Okay.” She was grinning at him.
He got out and went around to her side, opened the door, and took both of her hands, helping her out. Then he pointed her toward the house and took off the blindfold.
“It’s blue, but we could paint, and there’s no tower or copula, but it’s got pretty much everything else you wanted. What do you think?”
She just stared at it, eyes wide. “It’s really a house.”
“Yeah. Do you like it?” He was starting to get nervous, not sure what her expression meant.
She started walking toward it. “Can we go in?”
“Realtor will be here in five. Until then, we can see the outside.”
She headed for the backyard and stopped once it was in view. There actually were rosebushes along the sunny side of the house. Half-wooded lot in the back, back porch with space for a grill and table, and a swing set with a slide. She stopped, looking at it for another long minute while Tim felt more and more nervous.
“If you don’t like it, it’s not a big deal. I just thought—”
And then she was in his arms, kissing him, lips soft and happy against his. She pulled away when they heard another car drive up, and said one word, quietly, to him, “McSciutos!”
And, he had to admit, that sounded awfully good.