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“Yeah, the previous owners were an old couple. Moved out not too long ago. I think one of them went into a home.” The real estate agent’s voice dropped to a whisper, her platinum highlights and silver jaguar were at odds with the rustic farm house. Lane Smith, said the name embossed on her business card – just call me Lane, she had smiled, her teeth gleaming unnaturally bright, as she gripped Keira’s hand.

They stood in the front yard after a brief inspection of the home. A crumbling shack with a rough basement, two bedrooms, pink bathroom, everything needed to be updated. Garbage piled up inside. Not much to look at, that’s for sure.

“So now it’s under power of sale. Yeah, it needs some work,” Lane looked up at the peeling shingles, “But it won’t last long in this market. Lot of potential here.” She waved a well-manicured hand at the green fields stretching out behind the house; pastureland edged with forest.

Keira nodded. She watched Tad wander across the front yard toward an enormous maple tree; perfect for a tree fort. They could have a vegetable garden, maybe raise some chickens or pigs. The electric buzz of an early cicada rang from the branches high above them.

It was starting to sound like home.

Lane continued, “It’s a good hobby farm. Five acres, decent outbuildings. Small barn, but, hey, it comes with equipment. Everything under power of sale. Somebody’ll snap this place up. Can’t beat the price, that’s for sure.”

Keira smiled. Yes, things were certainly looking up. A tidy divorce settlement and a job promotion that allowed telecommuting. Now she’s finally able to seize her dream of country living; and get out of the city once and for all.

“You know, I’m really interested in this place. Maybe –”

“Great. But you know what, I have another viewing later today. Gotta run.” Lane glanced at her watch, then looked up. “Unless you want to follow me back to the office, so we can take care of some paperwork now.”

“You think I should just put in an offer?”

Lane’s smile grew wider, “I don’t think I can find anything comparable at your price point.”

Keira glanced across the field; Zeus, her Rottweiler bounded up to Tad, and both of them were now caught up in a game of chase. Tad’s laughter drifted toward them as he threw a stick.

“Somebody seems to like it here,” Lane smiled. “Nice to give the boy room to run.”

Keira stood watching her son and the dog.

Lane nodded back at the house, “Honestly, it needs a lot of work, mostly cleaning and updating. But it won’t last at this price. Good little place you got here. Great potential.”


“Is this it?” Tad looked up from the back seat as they drove through town. One main street, with shaded streets and quaint houses running off it. “Where’s the shopping malls?”

“I think there’s one about an hour away,” Keira glanced back at him. “Are you OK with that?”

“Yeah, they’re boring – nothing but clothes and make up.” Tad stared out the window, “The game stores are cool, though.”

“What would you think about living in this town?”

“Just you and me?”

“Well, and Zeus,” Keira forced a smile. “We’d have to get you set up in school and all that – you’ll make lots of friends.”

“But what about dad?”

Keira groaned inwardly, and said too brightly, “Well, honey, you can visit him – remember?”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh, look, sweetie – they have a bakery – maybe we can get some cookies later.”

“Yeah – do they have chocolate?”

“I don’t know, we’ll have to check it out,” Keira met his eyes through the review mirror. “It’ll be like exploring – just you and I.”

“And Zeus.”

“Of course, honey – do you think Zeus likes cookies too?”

Tad giggled, and wrapped his arms around Zeus as the dog sat panting; staring out the window, and watching the town pass by.

Classic small town, grocery store, a bakery, and a butcher and a bank. A hole in the wall coffee shop sat sandwiched between a pizza place and a Chinese restaurant. A bowling alley and a couple bars completed the night life.

It’d be a fresh start for all of them. Just what they needed.


“I think you’re wise to put in an offer now, who knows what tomorrow will bring,” Lane Smith drummed her fingernails on her slick desk and glanced at her phone.

“Yeah, I guess things like this don’t come around too often,” Keira bent over the sheaf of papers, all printed in legalese. Beside her, Tad shifted in a leather chair, staring around the office. Sleek glass and modern lines seemed at odds with the rest of the town.

“Are you excited about living in a town like this?” Lane leaned across the desk, smiling at Tad. The boy shrank back in his seat, and twisted his hands.

“Yeah, I think we’ve both had it with city life, right Tad?” Keira didn’t look up from the paperwork.

“Uh, yeah, I liked the field. The bugs are cool.”

“You like bugs?” Lane asked the boy.

“Yeah.” Staring at the floor, he shifted beside her, swinging his feet.

Kiera forced a smile. “I’m not a fan, but Tad has a thing for bugs – he knows all the different kinds.”

Lane’s smile grew wider. “Ooh, isn’t that lucky.”

“So what’s this clause about an home inspection – do I need to bring somebody in?” Keira pointed at the page.

“Oh, you know what, don’t worry about that part,” Lane smiled again, her teeth obviously whitened and costing a small fortune. “It’s more of a formality, just part of the form.”

“But I should have somebody look at it, right?”

“Honestly, around here, there’s only one guy, and he’s just gonna tell you what you already know.” Lane’s smile widened again, to the point her head would come off, Keira thought. “I can set you up with a guy, a sorta handyman who does pest control stuff on the side.”

“Jack of all trades,” Keira smiled. “Does this mean he’s the master of none?”

“I hope not, I send all my clients to him,” Lane laughed. “But this guy’s pretty good. New in town, only been here a couple years or so, he should have the time to help you out.”

“Yeah, it needs some work, that’s

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