***I was so proud of Katie. She could have walked more steps, but she’s really supposed to start learning how to stand and balance without the sticks.
Right now, I’m sticking by Jamie. I want her to notice me at all times just in case she’s going to the Vet Clinic. I really want to play with Annie. Please, Please, Please!!
Jamie knew she should talk to Brad about her visit to see Tom, but he rushed out to do his chores as soon as the excitement of seeing Katie take her first six steps died down some. She had to get to work soon, anyway. She was saying her goodbyes when she felt a cold nose on her hand.
“Arf…are you trying to tell me you want to come to work with me? Let me find out if that’s okay with Katie, first.”
Katie was curled up beside Dina. They were reading a book together, and it looked like Katie was ready to fall asleep. The poor thing was worn out. Dina saw that Arf was with Jamie and nodded her head.
“Looks like you get to go have fun with Annie today,” Jamie said. “I’ll like having the company, too. I miss you, Arf. I suppose I’d better bring you back here tonight, though. Katie will need you to help with her balancing exercises, tomorrow.”
Brad was disappointed that Jamie had to work. He was hoping she would want to go horseback riding with him. “It’s funny,” he thought. “It never used to bother me to spend days or even weeks at a time, alone. Now, I want to spend time with the people I love.”
In the end, Brad took a long ride by himself. It gave him time to think. Jamie said she had done her best, but had been unable to locate Tom. “Well,” he thought. “If Jamie can’t find him, then he must not want to be found.”
Brad had only been home a short time when Alice told him there was someone at the door who wanted to see him.
“Who is it?” Brad asked, just as a tall young man walked into the room. He immediately knew it was Tom and got up to offer his hand, which Tom didn’t take. Instead, he kept both hands in his pockets.
“I just had to see if everything Jamie told me was true,” he said. “She told a very different story than the one I know about.”
“Jamie? When did you talk to Jamie?”
“Yesterday…didn’t she tell you? She drove two hours one way just to tell me a pack of lies. Did you send her, Brad?”
“Look, Tom,” Brad was visibly upset. “I knew Jamie was looking for you on my behalf, but I had no idea she had found you much less talked with you. It was my understanding that she would give the information of your whereabouts to me, and I could follow up…or not! What did she tell you that has you questioning my integrity?”
“She gave me some contrived story about how you came across this place accidentally and purchased it for a little bit of nothing. I believe she said it had something to do with paying off back taxes. This is a nice house, Brad. Was anyone bidding against you on the courthouse steps?”
“Not that I have to explain myself to you, Tom, but I did a search and found out the house was owned by a bank. They were anxious to get rid of it. The house and the one acre that went with it were run down and they knew they wouldn’t get much for it, anyway, so I made a deal which included paying the amount equal to all the taxes owed.”
Tom folded his arms and leaned against the doorway. He hadn’t heard enough yet.
“Why would our grandparents let their house go? Aunt Mildred said they didn’t have a loan against it. Why would a bank own it? Besides…they had money. They lived in a pretty swanky retirement community which cost a fortune.”
“I don’t know, the story behind it, Tom. I only know they had renters in it after they moved who did a lot of damage to the house. The bank owned it and wanted to get rid of it, quickly. You can believe that or not, I really don’t care. It all happened a long time ago and I’ve put a lot of work into improving the place.”
The brothers stood there and just looked at each other. Both had run out of things to say.
It was at this point that Jamie and Arf walked in. Jamie could have sunk through the floor. It was very apparent that things weren’t going well between the brothers and it was entirely possible their anger would be turned on her.
“Tom,” she said. “I had no idea you were coming.”
Brad answered her without taking his eyes off Tom.
“Apparently not,” he said. Then he turned and walked out of the room.
Arf ran to get a frisbee.