Built to Last by Michelle Marquis by Michelle Marquis - Read Online



Beth Sumpter hasn't always been—but today she is—one lucky girl. Not only has she inherited a tidy sum from a long-lost, dead relative, but she's about to embark on a lifelong dream: owning her own home. Unfortunately, that's when Beth's luck runs out, because the house she buys is in very bad shape. If she's going to save it, it will take a lot of hard work. But rehabbing an entire mansion isn't easy, or cheap. Beth will need expert help. Good thing she's found hunky contractor, Joe McGuire. And he's willing to assist her...in every way he can.
Published: Torrid Books on
ISBN: 9781633555754
List price: $2.99
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Built to Last - Michelle Marquis

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Chapter 1

Finally, the mail had arrived.

Getting mail didn’t usually excite Beth Sumpter, but it sure as heck did today. She rushed out of the house to her bright yellow mailbox and hesitated. She placed her hand on the sun-warmed metal. Then she popped the door open. Inside was the usual assortment of bills and two one-month-only furniture offers. She flipped through them impatiently and when she got to the last letter, there it was. Her prize was a nondescript plain white envelope addressed to her from the Law Offices of Madison and Monroe. She knew this letter was coming because they had called and left a message yesterday. She’d been unable to relax ever since.

Beth brought the letter inside and sat down at the kitchen table. She opened it carefully, unfolded the letter, and the enclosed check fell out. She picked it up. The check was for seventy thousand dollars. A blast of wild joy made her heart race. She tried to read the lawyer’s letter but her vision wouldn’t focus. She stared at the curtains and took several deep breaths. Then she read through it quickly two times. In the living room, her roommate Mina yelled out a Jeopardy answer to the television and startled her. Beth read the letter again, slower this time. Once she had finished, she picked up the check and stared at it. Reality was sinking in at a snail’s pace.

She picked up the letter and went to the living room. She flopped on the couch, staring at the television. Mina glanced at her then turned her attention back to the program. It was another wrong answer. She threw her arms up in disgust. I can’t believe he didn’t get that!

Beth nodded.

Mina muted the television and studied her. What’s wrong?

Beth handed her the letter, but kept a tight grip on the check. She wasn’t handing that to anyone but a banker. This was more money than she’d ever seen in a lifetime and it was spooky.

Mina read the letter. Wow. She put it down gently on the coffee table as if it might bounce around the room if not handled properly. That’s a hell of a lot of money to inherit. Did you even know the great uncle who left it to you?

Beth fanned her face with the check. I met him a few times in my twenties. We got along well, but this…this is unreal.

Congratulations, Mina said. A smile blossomed and made her eyes sparkle. Suddenly the smile disappeared and worry creased the side of her mouth. I mean, sorry for your loss. She let the silence fill the room. What are you going to do with the money?

Beth stopped using the check as a fan and stared at it again. A million possibilities filled her. Their tiny two bedroom rental house was closing in on her. Its yellowing white walls stood out against the bright spots of art. There were several paintings she and Mina had collected over the years. They were always trying to make this rental house more welcoming. No offense to Mina, but it would be nice to get out of this place. She had always wanted to live in a house of her own.

A new desire filled her with hope. That was it! The idea was a little crazy, but the decision was made. She placed the check on the table and smoothed it out with her palm. I know what I’m going to do with this money. I’m going to buy a big, old house!

What about this one? I thought you were happy here.

I’ve never been happy here. No offense to you. I enjoy having you as a roommate, but you have to admit it’s been hard. We haven’t always gotten along. But most of all, I just want to have my own place for a change. This house has no closet space, a teeny-tiny kitchen, no garage, and a neighborhood that’s going downhill by the day. No, I’m going to find a better place in a great neighborhood. Even if I have to buy a fixer, I’m going to get the house of my dreams.

Sounds like you’ve made up your mind. And where would this house of your dreams be located?

Beth threw her arms up and twirled around in delight. She knew exactly where she wanted to live. I’m moving to Winter Park!

* * * *

As with all things in life, the decision was reached easier than the reality was achieved. Beth and her real estate agent had been all over Winter Park at least five times in two weeks. The latest outing took them to a split-level ranch in a neighborhood that was clearly taking a turn for the worse. It wasn’t there yet, but in the next ten years? Oh yeah, not a pretty picture.

Beth knew the thing hampering their progress was the fact that Winter Park was expensive. It was an area well known for its grand old houses and elegant neighborhoods. Some of the trendiest shops lined its lovely downtown.

Alrighty then, here we are! The real estate agent, Bonny, threw open the passenger door and swept her hand toward the house. Beth half expected a trumpet playing ta-dah! She got out, but stood next to the car and frowned at the house. It was hate at first sight. And not the boring kind of hate like, ‘Oh, I really dislike this, I think I’ll pass’, but more like ‘No one would want to live in this ugly junk house’. The urge to strangle the real estate agent was almost overwhelming. Beth had distinctly told the woman no ranches. Why does this person keep insisting on showing me houses I already said no to?

Bonny removed a copy of the listing from her pocket, cleared her throat and started