By JC Mead
A fixer upper to renovate, a sexy ghost’s soul to save, and a hot Southern man to woo–life as a single mom just got interesting.
Up the attic stairs I went, the broom handle banging along the narrow walls like Morse code. It didn’t take long to clean up, but the musky smell of sandalwood grew stronger as I swept the last of the mirror fragments.
I put the broom down and considered the size of the attic. Splitting it in half with a removable wall or bookcase would work. I continued to survey the room and the paintings grabbed my attention. I stared at the face of the soldier that I saw after the mirror fell. He looked kind and gentle with an undeniable intelligence in his eyes. In the portrait, he wore a plaid jacket and waistcoat, a blue bonnet on his head, and was armed with a broadsword and pistol. My guess was a Scottish soldier. It must have been a very old painting a relative brought over from Scotland, or maybe a previous owner just bought it because they liked it.
I stared at the portrait for a minute longer and unexpectedly reached out and touched his cheek. Instantaneously I was in the kitchen across from him. He leaned up against a counter, the same white cup engulfed in his calloused hand. He wore a soil-smeared white T-shirt with worn pants, a day-old beard on his face. The intense smell of sandalwood overwhelmed me and herbs were scattered on the counter next to him.
There was dirt not only under his fingernails, but all over the floor by his boots. Rusty garden shears and a hand-woven basket that overflowed with flowers rested near his heel. My eyes slowly traveled up from the floor. He was lean with tanned arms, apparently from working outside. His profile showed a straight nose and a strong jaw not spoiled by the scruff of his beard. I turned my head in the direction of his stare and saw our yard, covered with flowers and herbs.
Huge patches of lavender, mugwort, and chamomile towered over squat bushes of culinary herbs. White roses wound around taller plants and carpets of peppermint both grew wildly around the formal garden herbs. A glittering stone path led to a small grove of fruit trees and a tiny pond. It was the most beautiful garden I ever laid eyes on.
I slowly turned back to him and he stared at me. Those eyes, caramel brown, soft and full of fire all at once looked straight at me--almost through me.
The man from my vision.
I snatched my hand back and was once again on the attic floor in front of the painting. I sat there dumbstruck and tried to figure out what it meant. He must have lived here at some point, an original owner. I’d have to explore the history of the house when I went into town. The smell of sandalwood hung in the air as I headed downstairs to tell Jess.
“So you think we can find out more at the courthouse?” she asked.
“Yeah, I can review the older records to see who used to own it. That would be easier than trying to get in touch with the last owner’s family.”
“The garden sounds nice. I’d love to do that,” she mused.
“Me too,” I agreed. “I hope we have the time next spring since this fall will be dedicated to fixing up the house. You know, I think after I find out more on our man in the painting, maybe we should smudge the house like you suggested.”
“Why, do you think his energy is negative?” Jess asked.
“No, that’s the weird part. Actually, I feel comfortable around his energy. Connected I guess is the only way I can describe it.” I envisioned him in the kitchen surrounded by herbs, content and at home there.
Jess interrupted my thoughts. “Why would you want to smudge? I figured if there were a lot of owners we could do it to clear the space, but if you’re having visions of him maybe it should wait.”
“I guess it’s the mommy in me protecting the kids. My instincts about men aren’t great.”
We walked into the kitchen with the kids on our heels, whining and grumbling for a lunch break. I went to the fridge to get myself a drink and noticed the cold spot on the floor was the same as in my vision.