After she registered for classes, her friend Lauren picked her up. They ate lunch and then Sharlee wanted to check out the progress on the house that she and Noah were renting. After they arrived, Sharlee could immediately see that nothing had been done. Even the “For Rent Sign” was still in the yard. Just to be sure, she went inside. Clearly no one had been there since she and Noah had first looked it over.
Sharlee had the feeling that Mr. Swift was trying to take advantage of them. Because they were so young he’d probably assumed that they wouldn’t know what rights they had. Sharlee intended to find out. She wasn’t going to let that greedy man walk all over them!
Sharlee called a different realtor in town to find out what rights she had as a tenant. He told her that all she had to do was threaten to call the housing authority. He said that after accepting their money and signing a rental agreement, there were certain things that Mr. Swift was required to do as a landlord.
Sharlee found out that since the house had been empty and neglected for all of these years, the plumbing and electrical systems would have to be inspected and upgraded to code. The plumbing fixtures and appliances should also be replaced. Any cosmetic repairs such as painting that she and Noah could do themselves or do without could be used to negotiate a lower rental amount.
Lauren offered to drive Sharlee to see Mr. Swift. By the end of the meeting, Sharlee had him sweating. He agreed to a lower rent and promised to have a plumber and an electrician out the next morning. He also promised to have someone out there the next day to haul away the junk in the house and in the yard.
“Why don’t you guys let me take you both out to dinner? I haven’t seen Noah either since you two came back here.”
Sharlee told Noah what Lauren wanted to do and he agreed to meet them. He told Sharlee that he’d been hired for the second job as well.
“People must have been a lot shorter back then. I almost got stuck inside when I tried to get out. I was hanging half in and half out!”
“I missed you too.”
Noah’s kiss was loving and filled with passion. They removed their remaining clothing and made love. Sharlee was still enthusiastic although she was a little more self conscious of the noises she made. She couldn’t completely relax knowing that someone might be listening.
She still had three weeks before her college term started, but Noah started working at both of his jobs the following day. Sharlee hadn’t told him yet about the delay with the house. She’d decided to check it out that day and then tell Noah after the work had really started. Lauren was taking her to the house again. They planned to try to do some cleaning. Sharlee was surprised when she went down to the lobby and saw that her friends Derek and Julia were with Lauren. She gave them each a hug.
“Derek and Julia, what are you doing here?”
They went with him inside. The plumber was installing a new kitchen sink and faucet. He was then going to put in new bathroom fixtures. The refrigerator and stove would be delivered the following day. The windows and outer doors had already been replaced. Of course nothing was “top of the line”, but it was all new.
Sharlee decided that the only furniture that was salvageable was the dining table and a couple of the mixed matched chairs. Everything else including the molding, sagging sofa and bed had to go. Mr. Bunch called his workers inside to help him remove them. It didn’t take them long to empty the house of the remaining junky items.
When the room was almost empty, Sharlee looked at the walls and the floor.
“Haven’t you heard of shabby chic? It will look fine when I’m finished with it.” Sharlee knew that Noah wasn’t exactly a shabby chic sort of guy, but she wouldn’t make it too frilly. She’d add a few masculine touches.
Derek left and rented a steam cleaner and picked up cleaning supplies. After the inside of the house was emptied, they got to work giving it a thorough cleaning and sanitizing like it hadn’t received in years. First they cleaned the floors, walls and ceilings with the steam cleaners.
She laughed again at their expressions. “You all see something different when you look at this place than I do. After you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with you’ll understand. For me this represents mine and Noah’s first home together. It’s a start for us. What it looks like now doesn’t matter.”
“I also do landscaping. My wife and I have been trying to come up with a good punishment for my two boys. They egged and toilet papered a couple of our neighbor’s yards. If you and your husband will pay for the fuel, I’ll provide the equipment and my sons will do the yard for you as their punishment.”
“Sure, with the proper equipment the job will be so much easier and the hard work will be a great punishment for my sons. I’ll get them over here early tomorrow morning. They’ll hate having to get up early before school starts next week.”
Over the next couple of days, Noah mentioned the house, but Sharlee changed the subject. His work schedule was very tight. He worked at the shop from 8:00 to 4:00 and then from 5:00 to 1:00 he worked at the club. He would be off from the shop almost every Saturday and off every Sunday, but he had no day off from the club. It quickly became apparent that they would not be able to spend a lot of time together.
“Noah, Honey wake up.”
Sharlee kissed him, and Noah smiled. “Oh, you want to fool around!”
“Yes, but not now. We need to head over to the house first.”
“To the house? It won’t be ready till tomorrow.”
“I have a surprise for you.” Sharlee had already packed up their things. “Come on and get dressed.”
“Sheldon and Louie this is my husband, Noah.”
Noah was happy to be able to move in a day earlier and even happier when Sharlee told him how much their rent would be now. The only furniture in the house was the table and chairs, but Sharlee had made them a place to sleep on the floor. Their wedding gifts and Sharlee’s other belongings were going to be shipped to them from Santa Fe later that week.
They decided that it would be most practical to purchase a sofa bed and other furniture for the living room first. Then they would save more money and furnish the bedroom later.
For himself, Noah had never cared what the place he lived in looked like, but for his wife, for Sharlee, he wanted it to be as nice as possible. They left the house to shop for things for the house. The sales associates were overly helpful. Sharlee couldn’t help but wonder if they were receiving such excellent service because Noah was such a hunk! Noah insisted that they buy some paint too. He also rented a paint sprayer so that painting wouldn’t take that long. They also bought paint rollers. Then they went back to the house to eat lunch and paint.
While Noah was at work that night, Sharlee hung curtains and pictures that they’d purchased. The gift certificates that they’d received as wedding gifts had really come in handy. The sofa bed would not be delivered until the following day.
Even though they didn’t have any furniture yet, it still felt like home because they were together. For the first time in his life, Noah finally felt like he belonged. It wasn’t the place, it was because of Sharlee. He knew that marrying her had been the best decision he had ever made. He loved being her husband.
A few months passed by. Sharlee had started school and Noah was still working two jobs. Sharlee was worried about him because he was tired most of the time. Because of his schedule, they were able to spend very little time together. Sharlee knew that they couldn’t go on this way. She hadn’t married Noah for him to take care of her. She wanted them to work together.
The last straw for Sharlee came a few nights later. Noah was late getting home. He was supposed to get off from his second job at the nightclub at 1:00 am and it usually took him from fifteen to twenty minutes to get home. It was after two and he wasn’t answering his cell phone. She had pulled out the sofa bed, but there was no way that she could go to sleep until he was home. She kept looking out the window, extremely worried about him.
Noah wondered what the problem would be that night. Something was always boiling just below the surface. Frank signaled to him that he was going to his office to conduct some business. Even though it wasn’t ever discussed, Noah knew what Frank’s side business was.
Customer’s were checked at the door by Vince first and then allowed into the club. Some to dance and drink, and others went to Frank’s office for something to make their partying more intense. The club may have been underground and appear rundown, but the money was rolling in for Frank. Noah circulated through the crowd, keeping an eye out for trouble. It never failed to come.
Finally Sharlee heard Noah’s motorcycle, and she rushed to open the door for him. When he came into the room, she saw that he had a black eye and his knuckles on both hands were badly bruised. This was the first time for the black eye, but he’d come home with bruised knuckles several times and refused to tell her what had happened.
Maddie, thanks again for Lauren and Derek!