I turned to my right, waiting for a serious response as I chewed. Fuck me, lunch was perfection. If heaven was a real place it would have to have my mother there to cook, and since she is still alive I know no place is better than home.
Kent finished his mouthful before responding. Very gentlemanly. “I’m not sure. I do know that I need to find a place to stay that is cheap.”
Everyone’s eyes narrowed on me.
“What?” I asked, oblivious to the meaning.
“Well, you have a house now.”
“What? Really, Lori?” Kent blinked at me surprised. “You’ve grown up.”
I shook my head and shovelled more food into my mouth. “Grown up might be an overstatement. But it is really nice having my own house project.”
“Even with the pink toilet,” Andrew chuckled.
I shivered. “I can live with it for now. But first I need make the house structurally sound. The piers need to be done, some of the bearers and joists are looking sad underneath and I’ll either have to reinforce them with timber beside them or take them out and replace them whole. And then it’s onto the walls.”
“I can help.”
This time I blinked at Kent in surprise. “Really? Look who’s being adult now.”
“So does that mean I get to be your house mate and not pay any rent?” He fluttered his eye lashes.
“Minimal rent, enough to cover bills. But you must help with the renovations.” I held out my hand, ready to make the deal. “Well?”
The left corner of his mouth crinkled up and he gripped my hand tight. “Done.”
Yay! I couldn’t stop smiling through the rest of the meal, it was great to have my best friend back in town and now living with me again. This was going to be great.
“When can I move in?” Kent asked after lunch. We were sitting in the lounge room, watching cartoons with my nieces who were spread out across the floor watching totally engrossed.
He nodded. “And I can move in?”
This made me pause. “Where are you staying right now?”
“Nowhere. I only just back into town today.”
“What about seeing your dad?”
He shook his head.
Right. That was happening again. “Yes you can move in right away. And right away we can get started on the piers.”
He groaned and I laughed.
An hour later, he threw his huge backpack into the back seat of my car and climbed in. I sniffed. “When was the last time you did washing?”
“A week ago… why?”
“That bag reeks.” And thus I was reminded why I was always happy when my brothers moved out of home first and it was just mum and I. “But you can do a load as soon as we get there.”
“I intend to. This is my last shirt.”
And it looks it, but I didn’t say that. I put the car into gear and drove the short distance to my home. “And there she is.” I could feel myself sit up straighter and glow with pride. This was my home, my very own.
“What the fuck?” Couldn’t control it. “Did you just insult my house?”
He sheepishly smiled. “Just saying. I expected bigger.”
“She is the perfect size,” and the only thing I could afford. “And she will be beautiful once I’m finished.”
“Are you personifying an object?”
Shit. We were in the same English class in high school, but how could he remember that? “Maybe. Yes. But in other languages around the world they use the feminine ending for their homes, just look at the Italians. Casa, meaning house with a feminine ‘a’ as a suffix.” I grinned. “Come on, let me give you the grand tour.”
Climbing out of the car we moved to the front door. I was praying that the lock would turn easily, I still hadn’t changed it since I was thinking the front door was going to have to be replaced and there was no point in putting a new lock on, letting it get damaged during the renovations and then taking it and putting it onto the new door, or having a new lock on an old door, throwing the old door and new lock away and putting all new back in its place.
“The key has to go into the lock.” Kent shifted his bag on his shoulder.
“Oh,” fuck. Spacing out and daydreaming about renovations, equals bad. Very bad Lori, get your shit together.
Thankfully this time the lock clicked without resistance. “Right this way,” I waved my arm dramatically wide and stepped inside. “Lounge room to the right, I am hoping to knock down that wall and join the dinning and lounge and kitchen as one, maybe I might even remove this long hallway wall and add the hallway to the mix.”
“That will depend on the supporting timbers in the roof. This wall,” Kent touched the one in question in the hall. “It could be supporting the roof.”
I stared in awe. He understood this language, he thought the same way I did when assessing a building. How could I not love him? Hmm, it’s a fucking shame we would never be in a romantic relationship.
“But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, put LVLs in place, strengthen the walls on the others sides… it will just add to the costs of the house though. What are your plans with this? Sell once you’ve done it up? Rent it and move on to the next project?”
I blinked as he looked back at me, expecting a serious answer.
“Surely this isn’t going to be your forever home,” he snorted.
“Then… oh, I just realised…”
“You sound like an adult.” I finished for him. “Actually you sounded like me when I look at the house.”
Kent dropped the bag to the carpet. “We’ve changed.”
For good? I didn’t want to ask the question, couldn’t. This was all too strange.
“Where am I sleeping?” He pushed open the first door on the left and stepped inside. “Uh…”
I winced. “Well, I know the carpet is up, the gyprock has been pulled down in this room and the wires are bare and most likely live, but it does have a charming view of the toilet I intend to put into the bathroom.” I pointed out the pristine white porcelain in the corner. “The hardware shop had discounted that to an extreme, I couldn’t just leave it there.”