T is for Trespass - Page 62/144

“What’s this about the house?”

Charlotte looked past her into the living room. “I’d prefer to explain it to him.”

Solana smiled. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll see if he’s up? The doctor wants him to get as much rest as possible.”

“I wouldn’t want to disturb him.”

“Not to worry.”

She let the woman in and left her sitting on the couch while she made a trip to the bedroom. She turned on the overhead light and looked at him. He was down in the depths of sleep. She waited a suitable interval and then flicked off the light switch and returned to the living room. “He’s not feeling well enough to come out of his room. He says if you’ll explain your business to me, I can pass the information along when he’s feeling better. Perhaps you’d be so kind as to tell me your name again.”

“Snyder. Charlotte Snyder.”

“I recognize you now. You’re a friend of Mr. Pitts next door, yes?”

“Well, yes, but I’m not here because of him.”

Solana sat and stared at her. She didn’t like people who were cagey about stating their business. This woman was uneasy about something, but Solana couldn’t figure out what it was. “Mrs. Snyder, of course you should do as you think best, but Mr. Vronsky trusts me with everything. I’m his nurse.”

“It’s a big responsibility.” She appeared to wrestle with the idea, whatever it was, blinking at the floor before deciding to go on. “I’m not here to promote anything one way or the other. This is purely a courtesy…”

Solana gestured impatiently. Enough with the preamble.

“I’m not sure Mr. Vronsky understands how much this place is worth. I happen to have a client who’s in the market for a property of this sort.”

“What sort is that?” Solana’s first impulse was to disparage the house, which was small, outdated, and in bad repair. Then again, why give the agent reason to offer less, if that’s what she was getting at?

“Are you aware that he owns a double lot? I checked with the county assessor’s office, and it turns out when Mr. Vronsky bought this lot, he bought the one next door as well.”

“Of course,” Solana said, though it had never occurred to her that the vacant lot next door belonged to the old man.

“Both are zoned for multiple-family dwelling.”

Solana knew very little about real estate, never having owned a piece of property in her life. “Yes?”

“My client’s here from Baltimore. I’ve shown everything currently listed, but then yesterday, it occurred to me…”

“How much?”

“Excuse me, what?”

“You can give me the figures. If Mr. Vronsky has questions, I can let you know.” Wrong move. Solana could see the woman’s uneasiness return.

“You know, on second thought, it might be better if I come back another time. I should deal with him in person.”

“What about tomorrow morning at eleven?”

“Fine. That’s good. I’d appreciate it.”

“Meanwhile, there’s no point wasting his time or yours. If it’s too little money, selling is out of the question, in which case it won’t be necessary to bother him again. He loves this house.”

“I’m sure he does, but being realistic, the land is worth more than the house at this point, which means we’re talking about a tear-down.”

Solana shook her head. “No, no. He won’t want to do that. He lived here with his wife and it would break his heart. It would take a lot to get him to agree.”

“I understand. Perhaps this is not a good idea, our discussing…”

“Fortunately, I have influence and I might talk him into it if the price is right.”

“I haven’t done the comps. I’d have to give it some thought, but everything depends on his response. I wanted to feel him out before I went further.”

“You must have an opinion or you wouldn’t be here.”

“I’ve already said more than I should. It would be highly irregular to mention a dollar amount.”

“That’s up to you,” Solana said, but in a tone that implied the door was closing.

Mrs. Snyder paused again to marshal her thoughts. “Well…”

“Please. I can help.”

“With the two lots together, I think it would be reasonable to say nine.”

“‘Nine’? You’re saying nine thousand or ninety? Because if it’s nine, you might as well stop right there. I wouldn’t want to insult him.”