If you haven’t read the Prologue you can catch up HERE
Figure It Out
Fourteen years later\
“Drew, your mother is on line one.”
Drew turned to look at his secretary, Connie. “I’m not here,” he said.
His mother had been trying to call his cell phone too and he’d been avoiding her. It seemed like lately all she called for was to ask if he was seeing anyone or that she had someone she’d like him to meet. No, thank you.
“It looks like you are to me,” Connie said back.
He narrowed his eyes and went to turn into his office, but his older brother, Bode, stopped him. “She won’t give up.”
“When did you get here?” he asked.
“I came in the back door and I’m not here long. I’ve got a few other properties to check out today.”
“Anything worth investing in?” he asked. Bode oversaw all the construction and maintenance for the rental properties, Drew, the sales and negotiating, the contracts for tenants and so on. He and his older brother had taken over the real estate business a few years ago so that his father could cut back and pretty much just sit on the board and boss them around…when he wanted.
His parents had raised three boys that were all successful and it was time for them to enjoy their lives. It seemed that was what the Bonds did. Had a business that was passed down through the generations.
Or most of them at least.
“I’ve got my eye on two. Once I see the amount of work it needs I’ll have you go check it out.”
“I’m trying to figure out how you find out about these houses before me when I’m the licensed realtor and you’re the contractor.”
“Because I am the contractor. People call me for work and then when I’m there they start talking about other properties in the area or tell me they are thinking of selling. They know I’ll tell you.”
It always annoyed Drew that Bode found out things before him when it shouldn’t. Must be the sibling rivalry.
They didn’t have it with their youngest brother who chose to be a dentist. No, Coy was the smart one it seemed. Instead, Drew and Bode went into the family business and convinced his father to expand it from just real estate sales to construction and rental properties all over Massachusetts, not just a few on the island that had been in the family for years.
“Boys,” Connie said. “Your mother is still on the line.”
“I told you to tell her I wasn’t here,” Drew said, turning to look at Connie’s grin.
“I thought you were joking since you are standing in front of me.”
He rolled his eyes. Sometimes things just went over Connie’s head. Bode smirked at him knowing exactly what was going through his mind.
“Tell my mother I’m not here,” Drew said. “I’m leaving right now. If it makes you feel better then you can wait until I’m out the door.”
“Okay,” Connie said just watching him. He let out a sigh, Bode laughed, so he went to his office, got his keys and phone, and left.
He wasn’t to his car before Bode was walking out telling him to wait up. “Did she really pick up the phone when I was out the door?” he asked.
“She did. She apologized for keeping Mom waiting and said she couldn’t find you.”
“She doesn’t mind lying about that, but couldn’t say I wasn’t there?”
“Who knows what she was thinking. Where are you going?” Bode asked.
“No clue. I hadn’t planned on leaving, but I didn’t want to talk to Mom either.”
“She’s getting a little bit crazy lately with the blind dates and you. Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “She doesn’t bug you or Coy.”
“That’s because I was seeing someone so she’s probably giving me some slack. She was on my case for months before I was dating Samantha.”
“What happened with you two?” he asked. Though Bode hadn’t been dating Samantha that long, he’d seemed pretty ticked off over the split.
“The same old same old,” Bode said.
“She only wanted the name?”
“Isn’t it always that way with us? Mom has it in her head that because she fell in love with Dad in one week when she was here with friends that everyone should fall in love that way.”
Drew shook his head. “I wish she’d get over it. She’s so stuck on the myths of this island. Not everyone meets and knows right away. Things were different back then, but she won’t listen to us when we say that.”
“She’s never going to change,” Bode said. “You know she’s always been a romantic. She sees the good in everyone and always has. She’s lucky Dad was a stand-up guy and didn’t take advantage of her.”
“Which is why the three of us boys are probably so anti-romance. She should have had girls or something.”
Bode laughed. “We tried to dress Coy up as a girl when he was younger. That didn’t fly.”
“Mom was so ticked off. I don’t even remember whose dress it was. One of the cousins had it on over their bathing suit.”
“Anyway,” Bode said, “Mom doesn’t mean any harm, but she just won’t back off. Tell her you’re seeing someone.”
“Then she’d want to know who it was,” he argued.
“Make a person up.”
“And she’ll want to meet her,” he said back.
“Then make up excuses why she can’t. You’re almost as bad as Connie with not wanting to lie.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to lie, it’s just I don’t want to get tangled in something like that. I’ll figure it out.”
“I’m sure you can go back in the office now without even leaving at this point,” Bode said. “I needed to talk to you about a few things anyway.”
“We’ve been out here gabbing like two women for ten minutes. Connie won’t even realize I wasn’t gone long. Walk with me across the street for a coffee since I’m out here.”
“Only if you’re buying,” Bode said.
“You should buy since you’re older.”
“Please, the younger brother always pays.”
“Which means you never have to open your wallet for anything.”
“It’s the price of the advice you just got.”
“That’s real good advice. Lie to Mom.”
The two of them laughed, got their coffees, then walked back to the office. Bode was right, Connie didn’t seem to notice that he barely left the parking lot.
“Your office or mine?” Bode asked.
“Mine’s neater. You’ve got tools and papers everywhere.” When they were seated in the two chairs around a table he asked, “What do we need to talk about?”
“Some of the rental properties haven’t had spot checks in a few years. We’ve been so busy, both of us, that we need to really make time to go in and check them out.”
“That’s your job,” he said.
“No. We both do it. I go in when there are problems. You do spot checks and play nicey nice with the renters.”
“They don’t even know us,” he said. “We’ve always had a property management company do it all.”
“Which you know is coming to an end soon. That’s my point. It was a waste of money and Dad agreed. Half the island knows we own properties; why should we hide behind a property manager? We talked about this with Dad last year.”
“I know,” he said. “One by one as leases ran out we were going to do the spot checks, introduce ourselves, blah, blah. I’ve done more than twenty of them so far. Isn’t it your turn?”
“Nope. Because once you have your meeting they start making their lists of things they’d like to see done and then it becomes my headache.”
“Which is why I didn’t want to do this.” He understood it was a money-saving move. A smart one too. He had no clue why one of his ancestors wanted to use a property management company out of Boston all those years ago, but Bode was right. There was no hiding anything at this point and they shouldn’t be. It’s not like they even had that many properties back then.
They were one of the biggest realty companies in Massachusetts and the only one on the island. Up until the last ten years it was a handful of rental homes at most on the island. Now it was close to fifty all over Massachusetts. They owned multiple apartment buildings too with other family members.
“We already started making the changes. We’ve only gone through about half the homes we own in the past six months. Can you let me know when the next one is so I can clear my schedule for the changes or work I’m sure I’m going to be asked to look over and schedule the crew to do?”
“Fine,” he said, getting up and going to his computer. “The next house is leased to Amanda Moore. Her lease is up in less than two months. I’ll send out the letter today to find out when a good time is to stop in for a spot check and introduce myself.”
“Good,” Bode said. “And you never know, maybe she’s some hot chick and not some retiree that came to the island for a few years to live life in the slow lane.”
“I couldn’t get that lucky even if I wanted to.”