Eyes wide, nostrils flared, Alessandra stood very still. Kirby followed her gaze to the faint bloodstain in the wood floor.
This was not good.
“We gave up cleaning it,” the realtor’s voice wobbled. “It keeps coming back. The flooring will be torn out in the morning and new parquet put in.”
Kirby grabbed Alessandra’s elbow and squeezed hard. “Hear that? A new floor. It’ll click pretty under your heels.” Alessandra startled at his grip. She looked at the realtor and smiled. Nice save.
“A good idea, Susanna. I now understand why the property was on the market for so long,” Alessandra commented. No kidding, thought Kirby. Huge, Spanish style home on two acres in this area? It was what passed for privacy out here in the ‘burbs. Murder-suicides tended to put people off.
“Unfortunately, the past of the house turns people away,” Susanna said.
“Not to mention recurring bloodstains,” Kirby put in. Susanna flushed.
“Well, yes. I’m thrilled you understand those… events… don’t alter the beauty of this home.” The wobble in her voice was gone, replaced by false confidence. Time for the sales pitch. “Let’s go into the living room. The windows let it lots of light during the day. You can see now, though, the recessed lighting gives plenty of soft light at night.” On cue, Kirby and Alessandra looked up at the light fixtures.
“It’s lovely,” Alessandra said. Kirby thought he heard the ka-ching from the blinds company.
“Let’s go through here into the kitchen. You’re going to love it.” Dutifully, they followed their hostess.
The stainless steel appliances gleamed. When the realtor pointed out, “You can see how the windows allow a sunny breakfast nook in the morning and a view of the sunset opposite in the dining room,” Kirby glanced at Alessandra. In her amusement, she arched an eyebrow and shook her head slightly.
“So many windows in this house,” Kirby commented.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” Susanna gushed.
“We would want our decorator in quickly to install window treatments. As my husband said on the phone, we value our privacy,” Alessandra gently rebuffed her. Ka-ching!
“Yeah, sunlight in means prying eyes can also see in,” Kirby added with a laugh. He knew it was unnecessary, but it was fun. This time it was Alessandra pinching Kirby’s elbow, though. Okay, okay, he thought to her. She smiled.
The realtor nodded. Her eyes glinted at the scent of a sale. “Naturally, we will work with you to make arrangements for your complete comfort.” Kirby knew that was far from possible. Fixing up the master bedroom would be up to the decorator and the errand boy. That would be Kirby himself, of course, grad student and errand boy extraordinaire.
“You mentioned a section of rooms we could use as our workspace?” Alessandra prompted. The realtor led them back through the living room, reeling off numbers of footage. When they passed through the foyer, Kirby had to push Alessandra past the bloodstain with a hand in the small of her back. Easy now, just take it easy, he thought to her. She closed her eyes and let him guide her to the other side. Just as well Roman didn’t come along. Kirby wasn’t sure he could handle the two of them with a floor soaked in vampire-nip.
Safely down the hallway and into the open room, Kirby whistled. “This place is even bigger than it looks.”
“Agreed. I believe this space will do for our business,” Alessandra nodded. She and the realtor fell to talking zoning and stuff.
“Fantastic,” Kirby said, bored. “Tell you what, Alessandra. I’ll run upstairs.” Without waiting for a response, he headed out the hallway and up the curving staircase in the foyer.
Each of the five bedrooms was enormous. He’d have space for most of his books in the one he chose for himself. The master suite was even bigger. More importantly, the windows could easily be covered. Humming, he bopped back downstairs to discover Alessandra and the realtor in the foyer waiting. Alessandra once again stared at the bloodstain, not hearing a word Susanna said.
“Yo, Alessandra!” he called out as he hit the bottom stairs. She looked up, blinking. “Put the nice lady out of her misery!”
“Right,” she said, gathering her wits. “Right, Susanna, of course we love it. My husband instructed me to offer the asking price.” Susanna’s eyes popped wide for a mere second. “Roman considers it undignified to haggle, you see,” Alessandra explained. “Our one condition, beyond the obvious inspections per standard transactions, is a quick closing.”
“Wonderful! Yes, I’m sure you understand the previous owner’s next of kin is highly motivated to sell. We’ll make the property available for your people as needed,” Susanna bubbled. “I assume you’ll need the closing arranged after business hours?”
Alessandra laughed. “Yes, I’m afraid so. It’s even more difficult to pry Roman out of the office. He’ll make an exception in this case.”
Closing was handled neatly. Two weeks later, Alessandra proclaimed approval. The floor was redone, windows covered and rooms decorated by a pro. Roman stepped into the house for the first time. He stopped suddenly and frowned.
“This subflooring must be removed immediately.” Roman returned to the limo.
The errand boy rolled his eyes. At least the contractor would have all day to tear out the hidden vampire-nip.