He should put his earbuds right back in, crank the volume up, and try not to break his good leg as he ran across uneven ground.
If he fell, would she help him up? Maybe offer him a water and sit with him while they waited for the ambulance. Could they get an ambulance out here?
“Uhm, I don’t know that she should go through that place on her own.” The blonde with short hair started reluctantly walking toward the house. “I guess I should go in with her. After all, she did go with me that time when I snuck away to New Orleans to see the Jonas Brothers. I don’t know that it’s the same. We only got grounded, but she didn’t even like them and she went. We’ll be even then, right? Walking into a haunted house pays off the debt for getting grounded for a month because I was in love with Joe. I’m Hallie, by the way. Hallie Rayburn. I’ve been friends with Sera since we were kids. If I don’t come back out, tell my husband and daughter I loved them very much.”
“Absolutely.” Well, now he couldn’t walk away. He never left a woman in danger. And he wouldn’t mind getting a look inside. The house itself was stunning. Or it could be. The porch did need some refortification, and the roof definitely needed work, but that house had been built with love. It was there in the details, in the vintage corbels and porch swing. He’d been wrong about the stairs. They were surprisingly solid, but it looked like someone had used a different wood in some spots. The whole thing needed to be sanded and repainted. He would bet the steps that were different had been “fixed” by nonprofessionals, likely Irene Guidry’s nephews, or maybe Irene herself.
“I’m not worried about ghosts,” Sylvie said as she put her hand on the railing. It looked like it needed a coat of paint, too. “Critters are another story. I’m worried the rodent population got the message there is no longer an army of cats waiting to take them out and they’ve moved in. She didn’t merely keep those cats as pets, you know.”
“Would you feel better if I took a look around with you? I’m pretty good with home repairs and Shep will scare off most critters.” The German shepherd was big enough he wasn’t even worried about gators. Shep had a decent sense of self-preservation. He knew when to run and he was fast. “I really could help her figure out what the place needs.”
He’d made his living for the last few years working on houses. He’d always been good at building things, and he’d spent time with some experts learning plumbing and electrical. He’d discovered there was always a job in construction wherever he went.
What would it be like to have a shop of his own? To build the furniture he saw in his head? He loved to work with reclaimed materials, to make something lasting out of what others considered trash.
“Yes, that would make me feel so much better,” Hallie agreed. “Especially if there are serial killers hiding inside. Or clowns. Doesn’t this place look like a murder house?”
No. It looked like a beautifully built Creole-style plantation home that needed a whole lot of TLC. It honestly wasn’t that different from Beaumont House. A bit smaller, but he would bet it still had a lot of the original amenities. Beaumont House had been modernized on the inside. “I think it’s got potential. It needs some attention, but this place was probably a jewel in its prime.”
Shep bounded up the stairs.
Hallie followed behind him. “I will be honest, I always thought it would be an excellent place for a bed-and-breakfast.”
“Oh, that would be perfect,” Sylvie agreed. “We need more hotels, and I would love something nicer than that No Tell Motel outside town. That’s really its name. Someone wasn’t very creative. On the other hand, we have the Royal Garden Motel, which thinks way too much of itself. The health inspector finds violations all the time. A local B and B would be great. Especially around festival time.”
Opening a B and B had been his mother’s dream. She’d always wanted to run one, but she’d never had the money to invest.
“I worry Sera is looking to flip it, but she would be great at running a B and B,” Hallie said. “I think it would be the perfect job for her. She’s one of those jack-of-all-trades and master of none, if you know what I mean.”
He knew. That old phrase pretty much summed him up. He wasn’t a plumber, but he could deal with a lot of plumbing issues. The same with electrical. More important, he could tell when someone else knew what they were doing. Sera was going to have to hire contractors, and there were contractors out there who would take one look at the sweet-faced blonde and see dollar signs. If she picked the wrong one, she could get taken for everything she had.