I followed the pair of them inside, surprised to see that the house had been wiped clean of all personal items. No more photos hanging in the hall. No bag hung on the hook by the door, or keys in the basket, or dog toy by the—even the dog bed was gone.
Julia followed my gaze and stepped forward. “We had everything but the bare essentials moved into storage.”
“Wow.” I folded my arms across my chest, just to have something to do. “You’ve been busy.”
“Well, our house manager has.” She grinned, and I tried to picture her at an orgy. It didn’t fit. She was casually classy. Nude lips, a dimple in one cheek, with glossy dark hair and a mischievous smile. No tattoos, small natural breasts… she barely looked old enough to drink. I would have assumed that she spent her weekends with a good book, not elbow deep in sexcapades. “We’d like the main living and exterior areas photographed, and the master suite. None of the other rooms.”
Floyd glanced at me for approval and I nodded, the details lined out in the listing agreement. “All right,” he drawled. “Let’s go look at the light.”
“Looking at the light” entailed him walking around and opening blinds, peering at the position of the sun and weighing his options on what to photograph first and from which direction. Julia soon grew bored of the process and opened a bottle of wine, which I quickly agreed to and then immediately regretted. What if she got the wrong idea? What if she propositioned me?
“Let’s go into my office so we’re out of his hair.” She glanced at their house manager, who gave a wary nod of disapproval.
“I’ll stay here and watch him.” Martha sniffed. I’d offered my hand in an attempt to re-introduce myself earlier, but she’d marched off, yelling at Floyd for his tripod placement on a certain rug.
Julia led the way down the main hall of the home, the wine bottle swinging from one hand, and I fought to calm the anxiety that crawled up my chest. I could sip a glass of wine with another woman while photos of her house were taken. It was something I had done countless times before. No big deal.
* * *
“I brought the seller’s disclosure form with me. If you could go ahead and fill it out, that’d be great.” I tried to pull the form out of my new Betsy Johnson purse—a TJ Maxx special. The zipper snagged on the edge, and I almost ripped the pages before getting them clear. Letting out a ragged breath, I passed it to her.
Julia perched at one end of a sleek leather couch and twisted her long dark hair into a messy bun. Picking up the wine bottle, she poured us each a glass, then got down to business. Pulling a pair of glasses off the bookshelf beside her, she placed them on and peered at the form.
“Here’s a pen.” I held out a cheap orange pen emblazoned with the Johnny’s Filling Station logo on it. She probably already had pens. Monogrammed gold Cross ones that wrote beautifully and didn’t have an indent in the top half that looked suspiciously like a tooth mark.
“Thanks.” She placed it and the form to the side, picking up her glass of wine. Like a well-trained monkey, I followed suit, tilting back my glass and taking a generous sip.
“If it sucks, I’m sorry.” She grinned at me over her glass. “I’m a wine idiot. This is literally the only label I enjoy. And Brad’s more of a champagne guy. We’re useless at society events.”
“You’re in good company, then.” I smiled. “I like cheap moscato. It’s sweet like this. If you had pulled out a bottle of red, I would have declined. Actually…” I tilted my head to one side. “I probably would have taken you up on the offer, but secretly hated every sip of it.”
This seemed to please her, and I felt a warm blush move over me at her resulting laugh. “Okay, so we’re both lost at wine tastings.” She nodded in approval. “What else? How long have you lived in Miami?”
“About four years. I met my husband at Florida State and we moved down here after we graduated. He was playing for the Marlins.” I don’t know why I added that in, except that I always felt the need to add that in. We had been someone. We had been something. Really, honestly. Admire us even though you are so much better.
“You said he was playing for the Marlins. What does he do now?”
“Financial advising. Wealth management, mostly for professional and ex-athletes, but his clients come from everywhere.”
“Wow.” She nodded, impressed. “Good for him.”
“Well, it’s okay for him. He’s still building a business. It’s been…” I faltered, not sure of why I felt the need to dent her approval with the truth. “Hard. Not hard, just…” Hard. Hard was the right word.