Solid Gold Seduction. Zuri Day
“Come on, son.” Ike headed into the great room. Warren followed behind, noting the vases of colorful and fresh flowers they passed on the way, evidence of his mother’s artistic hand. When he married, Warren wanted someone like her: beautiful, strong, intelligent, classy.
His father took a seat in one of two leather wingback chairs. Warren took the other one. “So you say your day was interesting. How so?”
“I met my neighbor.” Ike took a sip as he nodded, listened. “She wasn’t too happy to see me.”
“That was my reaction.” He paused as Jennifer brought in his tumbler of scotch. He took a taste as his mother sat on the nearby couch. “Her name is Charli Reed.”
“Reed?” his parents said at once.
He looked from one to the other and didn’t miss their raised-brow exchange. “What’s up with that reaction?”
“Just surprised, son, that’s all. We thought the Reeds had sold that place a few years ago, after Charles died.”
“He used to be in business with your grandfather,” Jennifer offered, placing her crystal flute of sherry on the table.
“It was after he was honorably discharged from the service.”
“After his injury?”
Ike nodded. “They had another buddy who told him about the property, which at that time went for pennies on the dollar. They bought up all one thousand acres and at one time had a modestly profitable dairy farm.”
“Then on a trip back home to New Orleans he met your grandmother and moved back home.” Jennifer sat back on the couch and wiped a nonexistent wrinkle from her slacks. “But you’ve heard this story, Warren. I’ve heard Grandpa sharing it with you boys.”
“I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”
“What happened when you met the woman?” Ike asked.
“She came galloping up on this impressive-looking horse, dismounted and demanded I move my fence. Said her cattle needed access to the stream on our land.”
“Ike, do you think that’s his granddaughter?”
He nodded at Jennifer. “Sounds like it. You said her name is Charli?”
“Yes,” Warren replied.
“Then that’s her.”
“So our grandfathers owned a business together once. That still doesn’t explain her nasty attitude.”
Ike leaned back, stretched his long legs out in front of him. “Their parting, which started out amicably, soured over the years.”
“What happened?” Both parents were slow to respond. “Wait, this doesn’t have anything to do with the gold, does it?”
“Not really,” Jennifer said. “They found what little bit of gold there was when the property was owned jointly and split it fifty-fifty.”
“So what was it then?”
“When Daddy decided to move back to New Orleans, the dairy was doing fairly well but the cash flow wasn’t exceptional. He helped Charles by buying up the acres that weren’t being used—”
“Six hundred acres, right?” That’s how many acres there had been before Warren had purchased several hundred more.
“Seven hundred initially,” Ike continued. “Daddy bought the land, Charles kept the business. They shook hands and all was well.”
Jennifer continued the story. “Several years later, Charles came to your grandfather and asked to buy back some land. Daddy Walter wasn’t keen on it but Charles was persistent, saying that he needed more land for the cows. Finally, Daddy Walter agreed to sell him one hundred acres—at a price well below market value I might add—but that was it. Later, when the dairy farm experienced an exceptionally good year financially, he asked to buy back more of the land. Charles knew how well your grandfather had done in real estate and didn’t see why he was interested in holding on to property he didn’t even visit. He asked more than once. Each time Daddy Walter refused, finally letting him know in no uncertain terms that what he’d purchased would remain Drake property. Their relationship was never the same after that.”
“Daddy thought that Charles might have heard rumors about more gold on the land and was resentful over that, though Charles denied it,” Ike said.
“Could that be possible? Is there more gold on the land?”
“I don’t think so, Warren. We all know the history and Daddy and Charles had surely heard the rumors. They spent a good deal of time and money searching when they first moved here, but aside from that one small vein that was found and mined, they had no luck. I think if there was any grand buried treasure, they would have found it.”
The doorbell rang, followed by the sounds of several people entering the house.
“That would be your brother and sister,” Jennifer said. “In here, children!” She left the room to greet them.
“So do you think I should move the fence, Dad?”
“That’s going to have to be your call, son. But just remember, if you give some people an inch...they’ll take a mile.”
Warren and Ike joined Jennifer and his siblings at the table. Talk of land and fences was replaced with that of plans for the town’s annual Days of Paradise Gala, a three-day event celebrating the town’s beginning. Fairgrounds would be set up on the north end of town. There would be a parade, various contests and the pinnacle of the festivities: the Paradise Ball. The women conversed about what family favorite Jennifer should bake for the pie contest, and what designer original they’d wear to the dance. The men talked about how Drake Realty Plus would be showcased in the parade. Niko had secured a fully restored 1975 Caprice convertible—metallic gold with wide, white rims. The car, built in the year that Paradise Cove had been incorporated, would tow a thirty-foot billboard specially designed for the day, covered with a mural of old and modern-day Paradise Cove and containing the words Drake Realty: Homes with a Heart for 30 Years...and Counting! Throughout the appetizer, entrée and dessert they talked, laughed and strategized. Warren answered questions when asked and commented as needed. But his mind wasn’t on the upcoming festivities. It was on a feisty woman with an attitude and a body that made his blood boil.
Give some people an inch...they’ll take a mile. That’s what his father had said. Well, Daddy, Warren thought as he watched his mother pour cups of tea. I might just have to take that chance.
Warren thought about riding over. Jumping on Coal, the Thoroughbred stallion he’d purchased several years ago when he was still a pony. Thought about kicking up dust and laying down grass, much like Charli had done when arriving at his place. He’d been impressed with her horsemanship and a part of him wanted to show her that she wasn’t the only one who could sit in a saddle and handle business.
Warren had been riding horses since he could walk and of all of his brothers was the one most connected to the land. But he bypassed the stables and headed to the makeshift parking lot that when finished would be a circular design that could comfortably hold a dozen vehicles or more. He’d drive over, like most people would in the twenty-first century. I’m not trying to impress her; no reason to. This thought entered his mind as he opened the door to his cherry-red Maserati and slid inside.
After discussing it with his brother and Jackson, he’d come up with an answer to his neighbor’s problem. Not that he needed to, mind you. What happened on her land with her property was not his responsibility. No sirree, as his grandfather would say. And even though he’d be sure and keep mindful of the mile his father warned some would take for an inch of kindness, Warren also heeded his mother’s words