1. Go ahead. What’s the worst that can happen?
  2. Normal, I guess
  3. Will you take four?


“What’s the guy’s name again?” I’d already asked her twice, but for some reason it was one of those things that just wouldn’t stick in my mind.

“SHHH!” She hissed at me and went right on listening to his spiel. Personally, I wouldn’t have bought a shoelace from the guy, much less a house, but letting him haul us around in his air-conditioned Cadillac all morning was a small price to pay for peace at home.

The guy wore a suit, for cryin’ out loud, with a long-sleeved shirt and cuff links. I wasn’t in shorts and flip-flops only because Karen had caught me on the way out of the back door and made me change. Ninety-seven degrees and eighty percent humidity, and here I was in polyester slacks. No wonder I didn’t like the guy.

I leaned against the fridge in the fourth house he’d shown us this morning and let the patter flow over me. Karen had been making those scary ooh-and-aah noises over each place, but I figured I was safe as long as she couldn’t seal a deal without my John Hancock.

Then, as I stood there with that fridge making its Kilowatt-eating sounds behind me, I caught a couple of words that made me very uncomfortable indeed.

“I think this one is just what we want,” Karen was saying. “We might as well go ahead with it. What’s the worst that could happen?”

I’d been looking straight at her but all of a sudden her face looked different, somehow. This was a woman with a purpose, and that purpose was likely to be life-changing for yours truly.

When I tried to speak up, some demon caught the words in my throat. The best I could manage was, “I don’t think we should bother Mr. …umm…with this right now, honey. Maybe we should go home and talk about it.”

Karen knew me too well to let me escape that easily. She smiled that smile—you know the one—and I knew the battle was at least half over already.

“Mr. Templeton won’t mind, darling,” she purred. She turned her big blues on the sleazy bum, who was already reaching for a deposit receipt and contract to buy.

“Call me Jared.” I could swear I saw a gold tooth glinting in the wolfish smile.

“Hold it, you two,” I yelled. “This house is way out of our price range. All these houses are out of our price range. What are you trying to pull here? We can’t buy five-hundred thousand dollar houses!”

Templeton never slowed for a minute. I think one hand was reaching for a cell phone while another was already filling in blanks on a form in triplicate.

“I’ll call the owner. Maybe he’ll take four-something.”