Copyright ©2011 Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager
"What are you saying?"
"Could be you're back here to recover the money."
"Judge Spencer, I'll vow on a stack of bibles I never touched that money, and I don’t know where it ended up." He leaned forward. "Are you going to sell me the building or not? If not, I need to look around for another one that will work."
He turned to leave the office. If he'd pegged the judge right he wouldn’t turn down money. Even from an ex-prisoner.
"I want two hundred dollars for the building."
He stopped and took his time facing the judge. The smug look on the man's face told him it was more than he'd asked before Van wanted the building.
"Is it in need of repair?" If the building would take days to make inhabitable, he wasn't going to pay that high of a price. He'd lose precious sales and work time.
"It's a sound building."
"Write up a bill of sale with the provision if I come across anything that needs repaired, I will bill you for the expense." It was his turn to grin smugly.
The judge scowled but scribbled on a paper. Van counted out two hundred dollars in ten dollar bills. He still had plenty to live on and purchase supplies until the business in this town picked up. The outside orders from his usual customers would keep him afloat until then.
Judge Spencer handed him the paper. He read it. Everything seemed in order. He signed and slid the money across the desk.
"The key," he asked, holding out his hand.
The judge dropped a key in his hand. He wrapped his fingers around it, feeling a newfound sense of worth. This was his first step at claiming his life back. And hopefully his father's respect.
"Pleasure doing business with you, Judge." Van left the office tucking the bill of sale into his jacket pocket. He strode down the board walkway to his building. The dusty windows told how long it had been since someone inhabited the establishment. He'd have to clean the place up before he could move things in. After a tour of the building and something to eat, he'd see if there were any young men looking to make money.
He unlocked the door and entered the main showroom. The spacious room with only a few shelves on one wall would hold his inventory and provide needed area to set up his work bench.
"Meow?" A calico cat with yellow eyes entered from the back room. It stopped, tail quivering above its back and stared at him.
"Hey, kitty, you keeping the mice out of this place?" Van squat and the cat came over rubbing its head on his knee. "You a miss or a mister?"
The cat turned, raised its tail in the air, and walked to the backroom. It stopped, looked over its shoulder at him, then marched forward and disappeared.
Van smiled. The thing he'd missed most in prison was not being around animals. He'd grown up riding a horse, doctoring cattle, and playing with an old tri-color mutt.
Guess he and the cat would be roommates.
He stepped into the back room.
Looked like he had two roommates.
A pallet of blankets stacked neatly against the inside wall of the room and two dresses hanging on nails directly above the pallet told him a female had taken to living in his back room. The judge must not know or he would have surely thrown her out.
Van invaded the space. It was apparent whoever lived here had sparse belongings. A couple ribbons sat beside a hairbrush on a crate below a cracked mirror. One pair of well-worn boots sat at the end of the pallet. A small valise stood at the head of the bedding.
He backed out. Until he found out who this person was, he didn't want to bring anyone else into the building. It was obvious she'd been trespassing. He didn’t want to get her in trouble if she had nowhere else to stay. He climbed the stairs to the upper floor and found the living area to be satisfactory other than a need to be cleaned.
His stomach growled. He'd get a meal, ask Brett to stable his horses and hang onto his wagon and goods until tomorrow, then check out the Red Dog saloon. Once his business was set up, he'd ride out to the ranch and see what kind of reception he'd get.