Seemed like I was always moving house.
Since I’d moved to Orcas Island last November, I’d lived two—well, three—okay, technically four—different places, and now I was packing up to find new digs again.
Two of those places had only been for a night or two: the Brixton main house, my first two nights; and Jen’s place, when I was recovering from my kidnapping and gunshot wound.
But now I was leaving the house I’d been in the longest: Lisa Cannon’s. Which wasn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, I was actually pretty excited, because of the reason I was moving out: Lisa was coming back!
At long last, nearly four months after she’d left, she was returning to her home on Orcas, where I’d been caretaking.
Today was the first of April, so it might just have been an April Fool’s joke—but I kind of didn’t think so. The “fooling” had already gone on all winter, as Lisa had repeatedly let me know of her impending arrival, then canceled at the last minute due to more vague, unspecified complications back in Bermuda, or Seattle, or South Dakota, or wherever else all her vague, unspecified business had taken her these last few months. “I’ll bring you in the loop, Cam, I promise,” she’d said any number of times. “If you’re going to be my assistant, you’ll need to know all these things. But not right now—it’s better done in person, and besides, I have to scoot!”
And she’d just kept on scooting while I went on caretaking. Taking care. Taking care of her large, fancy, yet comfortable home perched high over the rocky beach of Massacre Bay.
At first, there had been some actual caretaking to do, as I oversaw the repair of that broken water heater, and the reconstruction of a good deal of floor and part of a wall that had been damaged in the resulting flood. And of course there’d also been the repair of the garage door opener, which had mysteriously broken at the same time—all under the feeble supervision of Marie, Lisa’s previous caretaker—who was now caretaking next door. For the Brixtons. My old employers.
Backstabbing, job snatching; it was a regular little Gossip Girl around here.
Marie, who had not in fact left the island after all (despite having told Lisa that she had), was continuing to suffer—or create—all kinds of dramas and emergencies over there, though things had finally settled down in the last month or so. I had more or less trained her to take over there after JoJo, that dark-hearted traitor, had vanished just as soon as he’d gotten me fired. Well, yes, I’d quit, technically, but only to have the satisfaction of doing it before Diana Brixton could fire me, because she had been so going to fire me, if I hadn’t.
Since all that dust had settled, I had been living in this nice house, playing with my cat and raising my rabbit…and writing my play—which was done now!
I’d written the final scene a week and a half ago, then reread the whole thing, resisting the urge to tear it apart and reshape it yet again. I had to admit to myself that it was actually pretty good.
At least, I hoped so. The true test would come when Lisa read it.
Lisa, who coincidentally was now actually on a ferry, heading to the island!
Which was why I had to move again. Yes, there were plenty of bedrooms in this house, but I’d learned by now that caretakers don’t live in main houses with their employers. Diana Brixton had been fairly opaque about her guesthouse before I arrived, so I’d spent a few nights trying to make myself at home in her huge McMansion before I found the appealingly cozy place Marie was currently occupying. I hadn’t known that was a thing, here, the separate quarters, but Lisa had blithely assumed that I would choose one of the several guesthouses on her property. “Just look around and see where you think you might feel most comfortable,” she’d told me. “It’s entirely up to you.”
But I’d put it off, and put it off, and put it off, rationalizing that Lisa’s house needed to stay occupied—what if the water heater broke again? Or something else? Now I couldn’t put it off any longer. She’d texted me from the ferry line. It was really happening this time.
She’d probably have let me stay in the big house with her, if I begged. But I didn’t want to appear pathetic to my newish employer.
“Come on, James,” I said to my cat—no longer a kitten, my orange beast had achieved what I at least hoped was his full height, though he was still scrawny as a stray, despite all he ate. I’d even had him tested for worms, though Marliese, the vet, assured me he was just a growing boy.
“All teenage boys are like this,” she’d said, “whether human or feline.”
My brother had been a relentless eating machine in his teen years, too, so she was probably right. “As long as you’re sure I’m not starving him or anything,” I’d said to Marliese. But I was relieved to know James was healthy. Healthy, and hyperactive, just a bundle of broomsticks covered in fur, all whiskers and legs and sharp claws, with an inquisitive nose poked into everything I tried to eat, or read, or wear. Yes, he was more and more like my brother as a teenager, though I missed my brother. How did that happen?
“Let’s go figure out our new home,” I said to James now as I headed to the front door.