Considering Kate Page 7

She came down with him—which he didn't expect. She didn't bolt when they came across a startled mouse—or the old shedded skin of a snake that had likely dined on the rodent's relatives. And that he had expected.

In his experience, women—well, intensely female women types—generally made a quick retreat when they came across anything that slithered or skittered. But Kate just wrinkled her nose and took a little notebook out of her jacket pocket to jot something down.

The light was poor, the air thick and stale, and the ancient furnace that squatted on the original dirt floor, a lost cause.

He gave her that bad news, then explained her options, the pros and cons of electric heat pumps, gas, oil. BTU's, efficiency, initial cost outlay and probable monthly expenses. He imagined he'd do just as well speaking in Greek and offered to send brochures and information to her father.

"My father's a composer and a college professor," she said with cool politeness. "Do you assume he'd understand all of this better than I would because we have different chromosomes?" Brody considered for a moment. "Yeah."

"You assume incorrectly. You can send me your information, but at this point I'm more inclined to the steam heat. It seems simpler and more efficient as the pipes and radiators are already in place. I want to keep as much of the building's character as possible, while making it more livable and attractive. Also, I'll have secondary heat sources, if and when I need them, when the chimneys are checked—repaired if necessary."

He didn't much care for the icy tone, even if he did agree with the content. "You're the boss."

"There, you're absolutely correct."

"You have cobwebs in your hair. Boss."

"So do you. I'll need this basement area cleaned, and however authentic the dirt floor might be, I'll want cement poured. And an exterminator. Better lighting. As it is, it's virtually wasted space. It can be put to use for storage."

"Fine." He took a notepad and pencil out of his breast pocket and began scribbling notes. She walked to the stairs, jiggling the banister as she started up. "The stairs don't have to be pretty, but they have to be safe."

"You'll get safe. All the work will be up to code. I don't work any other way."

"Good to know. Now, let me show you what I want on the main level." She knew what she wanted. Maybe a little too precisely for his taste. Still, he had to give her points for not intending to simply gut the building, but to make use of its eccentricities and charm. He couldn't see a ballet school, but she apparently could. Right down to the bench she envisioned built in under the front windows, and the canned ceiling lights.

She wanted the kitchen redone, turning it into a smaller, more efficient room and using the extra space for an office.

Spaces that had metamorphosed over the years from bedrooms to storage rooms to display rooms would become dressing areas with counters and wardrobes built in.

"It seems a little elaborate for a small town dance school." She merely lifted an eyebrow. "It's not elaborate. It's correct. Now these two bathrooms." She stopped in the hall beside two doors that were side by side.

"If you want to enlarge and remodel, I can open the wall between them."

"Dancers have to forgo a great deal of modesty along the way, but let's draw the line at coed bathrooms."

"Coed." He lowered the notebook, stared at her. "You're planning on having boys?" His grin came fast.

"You think you're going to get boys in here doing what's it? Pirouettes? Get out."

"Ever hear of Baryshnikov? Davidov?" She was too used to the knee-jerk reaction to be particularly offended. "I'd put a well trained dancer in his prime up against any other athlete you name in a test of strength and endurance."

"Who wears the tutu?"

She sighed, only because she was perfectly aware this was the sort of bias she'd be facing in a rural town. "For your information, male dancers are real men. In fact, my first lover was apremier danseur who drove a Harley and could execute agrande jeté with more height than Michael Jordan can pull off for a slam dunk. But then Jordan doesn't wear tights, does he? Just those cute little boxers."

"Trunks," Brody muttered. "Basketball trunks."

"Ah, well, it's all perception, isn't it? The bathrooms stay separate. New stalls, new sinks, new floors. One sink in each low enough for a child to reach. White fixtures. I want clean and streamlined."

"I got that picture."

"Then moving right along." She gestured toward the stairs at the back end of the corridor. "Third floor, my apartment."

"You're going to live here—over the school?"

"I'm going to live, breathe, eat and work here. That's how you turn a concept into reality. And I have very specific ideas about my living quarters."

"I bet you do."

Specific ideas, Brody thought an hour later, and good ones. He might have disagreed with some of the details she wanted on the main level, but he couldn't fault her vision for the third floor. She wanted the original moldings and woodwork restored—and added that she'd like whoever had painted all that gorgeous oak white caught, dragged into the street and horsewhipped. Brody could only agree.

Portions of the woodwork were damaged. He liked the prospect of crafting the replacement sections himself, blending them in with the old. She wanted the floors sanded down, and coated with a clear seal. He'd have done precisely the same.

As he toured the top rooms with her, he felt the old anticipation building. To make his mark on something that had stood for generations, and to preserve it as it was meant to be preserved. There had been a time when he'd done no more than put in his hours—do the job, pick up the pay. Pride and responsibility had come later. And the simple pleasure they gave him had pushed him to better himself, to hone his craft—to build something more than rooms.

To build a life.

He could make a difference here, Brody thought.

And he wanted, badly, to get his hands on this place and make that difference. Even if it meant dealing with Kate Kimball, and his irritating reaction to her.

He hoped—if he got the job—she wouldn't be one of those clients who hovered. At least not while she was wearing that damn perfume.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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