John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

Then he phoned the Loomis house. A woman answered and called Mr. Loomis to the phone.

“Good morning, Mr. Loomis. This is Mike.”

“Good morning, Mike. What can I do for you?”

“I wondered if maybe I could see you this evening after you get back from town.”

“No problem. Is everything all right?”

“Everything is fine. Just fine, sir.”

“Glad to hear it. I’ll be back early today. Maybe about four o’clock. Come on up to the house about four-thirty.”

On Wednesday after lunch at the University Club with a potential client, Wade Rowley started back to the office in his car and then changed direction and went on out to Riverway Homes, halfway to Parklands. Jerry McIntosh owned twenty acres, with a river frontage of a thousand feet. Helen Yoder and Bruce Halliday had worked closely with him, planning his small development. He had permissions for thirty homes on the acreage, and the model house had been finished a month ago. Helen and Bruce had been in on the basic design, the floor plans, the positioning on the lots. Rowley/Gibbs would handle the promotion and sales of the houses at Riverway.

Helen Yoder had fought Jerry McIntosh nose to nose over the selection of the interior decorator and the cost of the decoration of the model home. Helen had won, and she had asked Wade to take a look at the house when he had a chance. Today was one of the days she would be on duty there.

Her old blue and white van was parked on raw earth out beside the carport. No other cars were there. Three other houses were being built. As he got out of his car in the driveway he could hear the whine of electric saws, the sound of nail guns.

The front door was open. He knocked and went in. Helen sprang up from a recliner chair in the living room. She wore a yellow jumpsuit and a green scarf knotted at her throat. “Shucks!” she said and snapped her fingers. “Thought I had some more pigeons. Today I’ve nailed one for-sure and an other probable. Jerry’s going to have to start some more of these. Want the tour?”

“Sure. It looks nice.”

“It is nice. A reliable builder and a great floor plan, and the price is right.”

He followed her through the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house, one bath looking as if it had been lifted from the set of Dynasty. Some walk-in closets, a two-car carport with automatic doors, a broad screened terrace big enough for a pool, but without one as yet. An electronic kitchen, carpeting throughout, shade trees in the backyard. The flavor of the house was one of serenity, restfulness. The colors were grays and blues and earth tones. There were a few spots of vivid contrast, a white vase of red flowers, a vibrant print on the wall, a dozen pillows in primary colors on a couch. Central air conditioning with a heat-pump assist, upcoming tie-in to the West Bay sewer extension program, a central lake and recreation area available for the use of all the residents.

“And all this is yours, yours, yours for only one hundred and fifty-five five,” she said, “convenient terms. Like it?”


“State of the art throughout. You are a canny buyer, sir.”

“I know some people in the business.”

“Come back to the kitchen with me, canny buyer.”

She opened the refrigerator and took out an opened bottle of Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, a third of it gone. She filled two wine glasses with care, re corked the bottle and put it back. “Here you go, Wade. This is what happens when you say for sure you want one of these here houses.”

They sipped, smiling at each other. He was more than ever aware of the vitality of the woman, the restless energy in the way she moved and talked, the way she tossed back that coarse mane of dark blonde hair, the way she tilted her head when she talked to him. She looked trim and abundant, narrow waist, long slender throat, swell of hips and breasts and lips.

“How is it going to work out at the office?” she asked.

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