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“Great. I’ve never known a tradesman work Saturdays and Sundays without having to twist their arms. I get the impression he’s not from around here, which was a surprise.”Sarah sips her tea then frowns slightly.
“He isn’t, although he’s looking to settle in the Forest at some point. I don’t think it’s a secret that he’s looking to buy something to do up.”
“Oh. Why didn’t he make an offer on Ash Cottage? I would have thought it would have been a perfect project for him.”
She nods, taking another sip.
“In strictest confidence, he was going to. I had a message on my desk to call him urgently when I arrived back in the office after your viewing. If he’d phoned through on my mobile, as my colleague suggested, he might just have beaten you to it. He wasn’t here when the For Sale sign went up, his mother died unexpectedly and he had to go back home for a couple of weeks to sort out the funeral. A case of unfortunate timing, I’m afraid.”
That’s awkward and sort of confirms my suspicions. I don’t know what to think now about the fact that he’s bending over backwards to help with a renovation that could have been his own.
“He must have felt gutted to come back and find he’d missed out on Ash Cottage. I feel sad knowing that.”
Sarah hastens to reassure me. “He will have been grateful to have a job to keep his mind occupied, no doubt. I don’t know how close he was to his mum, but a death brings out all sorts of emotions – especially at this time of the year. He’s on our mailing list and something else will come up before too long. In his line of work he’ll no doubt hear on the local grapevine if someone’s thinking of selling, so he’ll be one step ahead. It’s a small community here. This case was complicated because of the number of beneficiaries involved. Everything took a little longer than expected to set up.”
“I’m glad I asked. I’d hate to say anything to upset him in any way. His mother’s death must have been tough to deal with. He isn’t the sort of man who finds it easy dealing with emotion, is he?”
I wasn’t expecting Sarah to respond to that, I was simply voicing my thoughts.
“I think he’s lonely, to be honest. I don’t know why as he’s made a few hearts pound among the single females and widows around here. I know Joanna next door is one of his biggest fans. The gossip-mongers are watching his every move.” She laughs, raising her eyebrows at me, knowingly.
I feel the heat rising up from my neck, gulp down the last of my tea and muster up a laugh that sounds suitable dismissive. A cough alerts us to the fact that Lewis Hart is standing in the doorway and the fact that he’s soaking wet might not be the only reason why he looks like thunder.