HellCat: Guardian Of The Gate by wizardtho
Please click HERE to see larger pictures of the house.
Charlie was ecstatic that we were home, yet unable to wait to see all of the pictures. I had to promise him that I would download them to my laptop, so that he would be able to really see them, before he would even start the cruiser.
I did download them as soon as we got settled, then he and the pack -along with their imprints- all gathered around Charlie's small living room to look at them. Charlie's first reaction was, "Jesus, Bells. This place is amazing!"
I chuckled, "That was my first thought, too... at that very scene. The whole property is around 670 acres, plus Paul says it's a hunter's dream. It's teaming with wildlife, Dad, and there are so many places to fish. You'd love it there. There's also a state of the art security system that runs through the whole mansion and property. I can control everything from anywhere, since there are panels in my bedroom, all of the public rooms, and the hidden safe room. The panel in the safe room has an override that locks the property and other panels down in an emergency. The gate has a separate security code from the system, but it's all hooked in. Paul says I can lock up tighter than Fort Knox with that hook-up. We tested the gate to make sure. On the highest sensitivity, I was alerted at the house before he got within a hundred feet of the gate. It was really cool."
Charlie looked relieved at that, causing Paul to tell him it was really the safest place for me to be alone, even with me being a danger magnet. He calmed considerably, then asked me to continue. "Only minor fixes need to be done to the outside of the main house, along with minor fixing to the caretaker cabin, but the horse stable needs work. So does the work barn. There aren't any clear-cut paths to any of the clearings or barns, plus there are a lot of downed limbs and things that need to be taken care of. Paul said I should take applications for a handyman/caretaker, then have you do the background checks. Would you be willing?"
He chuckled, "You bet your ass, Princess. Of course I will. You just promise me that you'll be careful with these applicants. Don't even forward an application to me if the person gives you a bad feeling." I nodded, then Charlie went through the other pictures with everyone.
"There are a total of 7 bedroom suites, as well as 7 fireplaces, but the one between the master sitting area and master bath... right there, is a see-through dual sided. Nothing inside of the house needs to be fixed. What needs to be done outside doesn't make it unlivable. I'm thinking about having a pool and spa put in... where's that picture... right there. See the open area here? If I do it how I'm thinking, it'll connect the forest to the back of the house, all blending in with the surroundings, to make it look like it's been there forever."
Charlie beamed at me, "You're really good at this stuff, Bells. I bet you can't wait to get started, can you?"
I blushed as I bit my lip, but Charlie hugged me to him, kissing the top of my head. "I knew from the first night when you called to check in, Princess. You sounded happier than you have in a long time, so I knew you found your true home. Just promise you'll invite your old man out for a vacation once in awhile, alright?"
I beamed at him, "That's a deal, Dad. Just let me get the house decorated first, though, okay? I already promised Paul that I'd have my rez family out there for a house-warming party when it was done, so maybe you can come with them."
He nodded, "Just give me a little bit of notice, so I can get Henry to take over; I'll be there with a smile on my face and a fishing pole in my hand."
The next three days were hell. Planning for the lawyer to be at the Jacksonville house when the carrier company got there for the vehicles to be shipped to the Black Hills house, getting the caretaker ad ready to send to the newspapers, getting the application formatted, talking to the lawyer about making up an employment contract for when I hired someone, spending time with everyone and saying goodbyes, then packing to have my stuff shipped to the house. I spent my last night with only Charlie; we ate pizza in the living room while having a comedy movie marathon. We were both laughing so hard by the time we went to bed, that I felt good about moving on to the next chapter of my life.
I paid a cab a fortune to get me from the airport to the house, since there was no way I would be able to take back a rental, but the cab driver wasn't going to turn down the amount of tip I offered him in conjunction with paying him for the time out and back. When I finally closed the door to look around, I let out a relieved breath. I was home, and I was ready to get to work.
I ended up doing some online shopping for furniture, since I had the utilities all turned on, choosing to have everything shipped to the house. I was lucky enough to get the billiard room, poker area, bar, and theater room done all on the same website. The arrival date was three days away, with in-house set-up included. The downstairs game room and upstairs study were also on one site together. I was ecstatic that they would be here the same day as the other things. The library accents, sitting area in the master suite, and the library furniture would be delivered four days from now. The rest of the bedrooms would be delivered the same day. The last delivery was the site that I found the breakfast area set that complimented the stools for the kitchen island. That just left linens and bedding, since I wanted nice satin or silk duvet sets for each room. Plus I really didn't like the bedding that came with the two bedroom sets I got while Paul was here.
Once I found the duvet sets I wanted, I printed pictures out, setting them aside for me to take when I looked for linens. I could look for outdoor seating when I went shopping for them in town. I found several newspapers to place the ad in, then I found a place to put the ad in on Craig's List. I just hoped that people would take it seriously, and that I would get a few good applicants to choose from. I chose to stop there for the day, take my sketchbook, a snack, and a glass of iced tea out with me to the downstairs veranda. Though there was no furniture there yet, I sat in the shade of the veranda near the house, and sketched out a few ideas I had for the natural-style pool and spa.
As soon as I got done with the last sketch, my phone rang with the first person calling about the caretaker position. I wrote down in my sketchbook that Tim would be here at 8:30 am tomorrow, then gave him directions to the house, telling him to buzz when he got to the tall iron gate. My night continued to go the same way, setting Alex up at 9:00, Eric at 9:30, Hector at 10:00, and Zander at 10:30. I was determined to have a few hours during the day to regroup, so that put Trent at 2:00, Jack at 2:30, Andrew at 3:00, and my last applicant of the day asked to be seen at 5:30. His name was Peter.
That left me a three hour lunch break, plus the two hour window between Andrew and Peter's appointments. It worked out perfectly, because my lunch break was when my vehicles were supposed to arrive, and the two hour gap was when my boxes from Forks were supposed to get here. I decided to clean out the master bathroom, then take a shower before relaxing for the rest of the night.
The morning of the appointments started off early for me, waking up at around 5:15 am with a shit-ton of nervous energy. I used it to finish cleaning and organizing all of my Sears purchases in the kitchen, then using the Swiffer 2-in-one to sweep and mop the main level of the house. I was so into what I was doing, that the gate buzzer about scared the shit out of me when it sounded over my IPod. I went over to the wall panel, saw a decently kept man looking into the camera, and pressed the call button, "Yes?"
The man seemed to nod to himself, then said as he pressed the button, "My name is Tim, Ma'am, and I'm here for the 8:30 appointment for the caretaker position."
Well, at least he had manners. I looked down at my watch, then nodded, saying to myself, "Ten minutes early. He's punctual, too." I hated to let someone in while I looked like this, but he'd just have to understand that I just moved in. I had been wearing a pair of short BKE 'Sarah' jean shorts, a Crash & Burn 'Vanessa' tee, plus my Ed Hardy 'Beach Comber' flip flops to clean in. I buzzed him in, telling him to follow the main drive, because it would lead him right to the house.
A small run-down car pulled up several minutes later, and I led him to the family room as we got the introductions out of the way. "Tim, thank you for coming. I'm Isabella. Please follow me, and I'll tell you about the position on the way."
He agreed, so as soon as he stepped inside, I said, "You'll have to forgive the lack of furniture in most of the rooms right now, as I just moved in. As for the position... in exchange for the yearly salary noted in the ad and living in the caretakers cabin, you would be helping to maintain the property, along with the buildings on it. Your duties would keep you busy daily, as I have seen several downed tree limbs, and the property is about 670 acres."
Tim choked out a cough before we even reached the family room, saying, "Umm, Ma'am? I think this job is a bit too big for me. I'm sorry I wasted your time, but I'm still a bit green. I didn't realise you had so much in the way of acreage to care for."
After thanking Tim for being honest about his skills and seeing him back out the front door, I decided to finish the room I had been cleaning, then have another cup of coffee. I had just taken my third sip when the gate buzzer sounded. This man looked to be in his mid-to-late thirties. He was indeed my next appointment, Alex. He actually made it to sitting comfortably on the couch in the family room, as I rattled on about fixing up things, as well as clearing paths between the house and clearings. It was when I mentioned the stables that he backed out, stating, "Miss Isabella, I'm sorry, but I'm allergic to horses. I won't be able to take this position, no matter how tempting it sounds." That really sucked, because I was set about fixing the stables, wanting to bring in at least 4 horses in the near future.
Not five minutes after Alex was let out of the gate, the buzzer rang again, but I was seriously creeped out by the looks of the guy I saw on the screen. I asked him to state his business. When he told me his name was Eric and that he had an appointment, I said, "I apologise, Eric, but the position was filled about 15 minutes ago. I hadn't had the chance yet to call the other applicants to let them know not to come. Thank you for the interest in the position, though." After a couple of mumbled curses and a slammed door, I was thankful I didn't let him on the property.
My day just kept dragging on, with no one seeming to want the position for one reason or another. The only good things that happened, were that all my vehicles arrived in pristine condition at around noon, and my things from Forks arrived around 5:15.
I was just letting the delivery man out through the gate at around the time I was expecting my last appointment, not even looking at the screen. That's why I was startled when I heard a knock on the open front door as I was looking through boxes, along with a smooth voice saying, "Ma'am? Name's Peter. I'm here about the position ya have open?"
I gasped as I looked up, my eyes going wide at the sight before me. The only thing I could make my mouth say in response was, "Awe, fuck my life.”