Contract

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Not long after Mr. Myers left, our new arrivals, Mr. and Mrs. Trimble, checked in. There was no Jordan that day to stand by my side while I greeted them and carried their luggage up to the second floor. But, it was all right. I had grown comfortable in the position of hostess and, though my grandmother's lessons had been difficult to appreciate over the past week or two, her guidance on keeping a cool, calm head with a placating smile no matter the situation, was a useful skill to have when working in the hospitality industry.

I also kept them stocked up on hot cocoa and cookies that night on my own. Though, I did glance out the back window and found a light on in Jordan's apartment. I wondered if he would even continue to do any work now that he felt certain I was going to sell the place. Frankly, I wouldn't have blamed him if he did mentally check out. However, when I woke up that next morning, once again having slept on the floor, I spotted Jordan out early, putting up the six Christmas trees around the drive.

I figured he might have gone to a tree farm the day before and had actually been working the entire time I thought he was off sulking. He really did have an admirable work ethic and I truly hoped that Mr. Myers and his company would keep Jordan on the payroll. Then, maybe he could teach them about Gina's history and make sure her memories were respected. Whenever I had stayed at historical hotels during business trips, I often found little mementos and pictures in their lobbies showcasing the history of the building. Certainly, Panoramic Destinations would see value in his skill and knowledge.

At least, that's what I told myself to feel more comfortable about my appointment with Saundra to write up the contract. After making a breakfast featuring one of Gina's omelettes and hash browns, and then cleaning up the Trimbles' room, I headed down to the foyer to collect my coat and hail a cab for town. While I waited, I heard the rhythmic tapping of a hammer and I followed my ears to the sitting room where Jordan was replacing some damaged baseboard. However, the moment I stepped into the room to see if I could spot his face and assess the damage that may still linger there, a creak of the floor alerted him of my presence. He stopped what he was doing, gathered his tools, and disappeared out the room without looking my way once.

I got into the cab with a heavy heart and we headed into town with the background of Christmas music singing loud and proud out of his radio. I almost laughed when "Blue Christmas" started playing, but I expected the driver wouldn't understand the cruel humor of its timing.

We stopped in front of a lovely brick building with several offices lining the sidewalk. I approached her door, decorated with a festive wreath and evergreen garland, and took a deep breath before heading in.

The small office consisted of two, maybe three rooms if you counted a small bathroom tucked behind the receptionist's desk. I gave the desk clerk my name and took a seat on a plush sofa that sat next to a squat Christmas tree positioned by the front window. Ornaments made to looks like gavels and the scales of justice adorned it.

"Ms. Creeke, come on in," said Saundra, opening her door and ushering me forward.

"Hi, Mrs. Waverly, thanks for seeing me on such short notice." I took a seat in a leather armchair that sat before a rich, cherry wood desk.

"No problem, Lyn. I handle real estate matters all the time, whipping up a contract doesn't take that much effort."

We proceeded to discuss a few points in regards to the contract — what Devon was offering, how the payment would be handled, how long the contract would be valid for, and would there be any contingencies.

"Well," said Saundra as she leaned back in her chair and surveyed her monitor, "since you've already shown Mr. Myers the report, I've heard from his lawyer that the company isn't interested in an inspection contingency."

"Correct," I said with a nod of my head.

"Still, I'm going to include it in the disclosures, along with the town's bylaws. Did you ever read those?" she asked, looking at me from over top her glasses.

"Yes," I said with a roll of my eyes. "You should probably know I saw a violation on the way here. The bookstore had a trashcan out by their stoop."

"Yes," she groaned. "That's Lindsey's way of protesting our refusal to contract with a different dumpster company. Admittedly I'm on her side. The company is supposed to clean up any trash that spills over when dumping into their truck, but they just claim it is the resident's fault and never bother following through with their advertised services. Sadly, they're cheap and it comes down to a budget war every fiscal year." She sighed, then looked over at me with a smile. "But at least I know you're reading."

"I do what I can," I said with a shrug.

"It's too bad you won't be staying then," she said, her tone shifting towards motherly concern. "You do want this, right? With them throwing out the inspection contingency, the only way out of this is if there is a mutual agreement to break the contract. Which I suppose would be good if you really want this, but if it's because of your fight with Jordan..."

"How did you..."

"It's a small town and a lot of people saw Jordan storm out of Marge's Sunday night."

"Oh," I mumbled, realizing she didn't mean the fight we had at Jordan's place.

"So that's not what this is, right?"

"No," I lied.

"Hmm," she said, that knowing look making me bite my lip and turn away. However, she didn't press the matter. "Well, I see you negotiated a closing date in the new year. Their lawyer has asked me, again, to see if you'd be interested in doing it sooner. With them paying outright, we could have title papers and everything ready in only a couple weeks..."

"No," I said firmly before my voice dropped with my slouch. "I want Jordan to be able to finish out the holidays at the inn. They can wait a week or two more."

"I see," she said with a sly smile. "Well, it also gives you more time. You know, should you change your mind and decide to convince them to change theirs too."

"No," I said with strength returning to my voice. "This is what I want."

She answered with a thoughtful hum and an appraising gaze, before turning back to her work. Soon after, I signed the contract and it was emailed over to the lawyers at Panoramic Destinations. By the time I hailed a cab and got back up to my room, there was an email already in my inbox saying they signed the contract too.

It was done.

***

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