Chapter 3

Julie's POV

I got there a few minutes early, just to check around and see how much was still left. The inlaid marble around the fireplace was still there, but the chandeliers in the main entrance hall were gone. I went into the conference hall and noticed the chandeliers gone there too. Damn. I was hoping to save them. But I'm guessing the amount of money they'd bring the city would be almost too much to bear. Somebody was congratulating himself or herself with that score. But hopefully, I could win the battle.

"Miss Simmons?"

I turned to see this amazing guy, manicured to perfection, every black hair in place, with stunning blue eyes. Luckily, I was able to keep the drool down to a minimum. Guys like this didn't just show up every day.

"Yes. That's me."

"Peter Mason." He thrust his hand forward, and I took it in a firm shake.

I took his hand, and looked at him as stern as I could. Might have been my mistake. I started to get lost in his eyes. I managed to say, "So, looks like you're here to save everything in time."

"I'm hoping I can make that happen."

He started to look around the conference room, detailing the missing chandeliers. "This is as stunning as the pictures portray it. I can see the remodeling vultures have attacked. I'm glad you took the pictures last week. It will be easier to claim back the chandeliers."

"Is it possible to get them back?"

He nodded. His teeth flashing at me for a moment. "I've seen it before. The wolves are circling trying to get a hold of the fixtures inside. For people refurbishing houses, they can be worth a fortune."

He also looked over the desks, wiggling them to see how they were attached. "Theses would have gone for a fortune too. I'm having an expert come down and see how much of the mansion has bad foundation. I'm guessing there's more to this than just rotten areas to condemn the rest. Sometimes it's best to stop the city ahead of schedule. I've seen it before. Some places are condemned just to get out the antique fixtures in the house."

"Really? How?"

Again, that dashing smile, his blue eyes lit up, accented by the tailored grey suit and white collar that was tailored to fit.  "Lot's of things will get condemned just for the materials inside, especially if there are no heirs, and the city needs money."

I couldn't believe it, but I snorted my surprise. "Every city needs money."

"It is the bottom line."

Just then, a woman I recognized entered. She had met with the university book club last week. She's the one that gave us the bad news we needed to move out.  She was dressed in a business power suit of grey and brown. I think she'd tried to dress herself up with a flashy gold scarf. Her grey hair and thick glasses gave the look of a librarian. "Good morning Mr. Mason."

She extended her hand as well, and I could see the bother in her gesture. "I'm Mrs. Jaydon. I'm glad you're taking an interest in the old Dreker Mansion. We could use more people like you trying to preserve history."

"Thank you Mrs. Jaydon. I do enjoy my work. My father was very committed to preserving some of the country's greatest landmarks. I've come to consider this property for such preservation. So, I'm greatly disappointed to see some of the salvaging has already begun. I was hoping from our conversation on the phone it was to be halted immediately."

She nervously grabbed her clipboard, and rocked back and forth on her heels. "I'm sorry Mr. Mason. Some of our contractors didn't get word soon enough. I'll be contacting them personally today. Since all these new arrangements are giving them short notice, it's taking a while to get through the chain of command."

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