Mum leaned over my shoulder and squinted. “Where is it?”
“Down town near the hospital.”
I held in the sigh. Nope, not going to do it, not going to give into it. I scrolled down the list. “How about this one?” It would be the sixteenth house we had looked at online that day with no indication from mum that it was good enough for us to go and see for ourselves.
“I know that place, the neighbours are grotty.”
I could feel my old arguments rising up, the ones I had used when I first wanted to move out of home. How the fuck did I forget that mum is a massive pain in the ass when it came to finding that “just right” house? Don’t get me wrong, she is great with organising work and keeping the flow of materials up to the trades (that’s where I learnt it from) but to get her to settle on one place… I was one more real estate house away from homicide.
“I could call Alex and get him on the job.” I suggested.
Mum gave me a playful nudge. “You don’t need an excuse to talk to that young man.”
I snorted. “He’s slimey, mum. The only time he puts in effort is when there’s something in it for himself. But he did sell my house for high threes, just like he said he would. He might have a house that we could pick up for cheap in a nice area.” And the neighbours are good, traffic isn’t a problem, out of a flood zone, wasn’t owned by such and such, and any other problem you seem to be able to find with a house.
“Call him if you want.”
Oh I want to. Anything to get away from that computer and your cynicism. Now I remember why I leapt at my first house, it was a decision.
I slipped away and pulled out my phone. Alex answered after the first ring. “Why isn’t it the lovely Lori, what can I do for you today?”
“My, aren’t you a charmer today?” It was mutual this false flirting. We both needed something the other had.
“I’m always charming,” he chuckled.
“Not true, but I’ll let you believe that today. I was going to ask if you had any doer uppers on your books?”
Alex had started to protest at the first comment before pausing. “I have a couple that spring to mind. What are you after specifically?”
“Fucked house, nice area, cheap price.”
“I love a woman with priorities.”
“You love making money.”
“That too. Are you moving out or wanting to do a flip?”
I swallowed hard. “Mum and I are going in it together to rent out.”
“Interesting. Yeah, I have a place.”
A month later…
Andrew yawned as he walked through the door. “I never thought we’d all be in on this house.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “It makes sense.” He placed the plans out on the scarred kitchen bench. “We’re all family and have extensive experience in the building game. Why not have a family business?”
“Dad would be so proud,” Shane mumbled. “But I actually have a business that requires me to work every damn day. I can’t be here like you guys working on this one project.”
Tony’s jaw clenched. “That’s why you’re the plumber only. You’ll work here only when mum tells you that you’re needed.”
I sighed and watched as my brother squabbled.
This was it, the real thing. We had a house that we could renovate and have rented soon. And the whole family were investors. As well as mum’s minions. How she got all of my brothers on board still amazed me.
John pulled his hammer from his brand new tool belt. “Are we going to get started with this or what? I do have a day job also for the week. So the more we can do on the weekends, the better.”
Andrew sighed. “Yeah, rub it in.”
“You could be working elsewhere. You did have a job lined up.” John returned.
“Family comes first.”
“Oh, is that how you feel?”
I inhaled sharply. “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
Silence, blessed silence.
“Thank you. Now, we all have our own lives, yes, and we won’t all be equally working on this job, but we all have put up an equal share for this house and promised mum that we’ll work together. So no more talking shit. We get this done and rented and we have some money coming back in.” I pushed myself away from the wall. “It isn’t much when we split it up amongst five people, but it’s a beginning.”
Amazingly, none of them had a smart ass comment to follow that. They must be getting soft in their old age, my darling brothers.
“Let’s start with this house. We’re tearing the kitchen out and the bathroom. The whole place has to be re-wired and have the blue cable for internet run through, so all the gyprock is coming down. But we’re not changing the layout, the walls stay where they are. Electricity is off, water is off. We’re all good to go.”
Shane was the first to snort. Followed by the others.
“What?” I snapped.
“Was that our first tool box talk?” Shane asked.
I laughed with him. “Maybe it was. Oops, didn’t mean to sound so professional.”
“Well, you are professionally in the building industry now.” Andrew grinned.
“Quit playing around, let’s get to work,” I hoisted the sledge hammer onto my shoulder and walked over to the first cupboard, right beside Shane.
He ducked out of the way as I swung and smashed into the carcass. “Shit Lori, a bit of warning.”
“I guess I’m so used to working with Kent, he wasn’t a muppet like you.” And I really did miss him.
“What’s a muppet got to do with this?” Shane pouted.
“You have to have your hand always up inside the muppet in order to get it to do anything. A puppet at least does something with a slight tug of the strings. They’re more independent.”
“I am not a muppet!” He yelled and stormed off. “I’ll be tearing out the bathroom!”
The rest of us grinned like idiots. “Muppet.” John laughed.
“Yep, and he’s our brother,” Tony tugged his dust mask over his face and got to work.
Andrew yawned again. “Ready to rock ‘n roll.”
“Goodbye old house,” I ran a hand over the cupboard. “Prepare to be dominated by new lady of the house.”