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“He likes you,” Roxy smirked.
Amber rolled her eyes. “When you get to the house, you can take either of the two upstairs rooms. The bathroom is pretty crap and the toilet is still the one downstairs. Has Colin told you your work schedule yet?”
“Sure has, I start in the morning with him at 7am. Tried to get him to change the opening time but he threatened to open at 6am if I complained any more. You just got to love that old codger. As of Monday next week I am working from 7am til 2pm each day he wants me. Has some fellow in there in the afternoons but he doesn’t like him much. Wants to give him the flick but can’t find a replacement. Told him that I couldn’t work for him yet cause Stan and Merry would chuck a fucking fit and probably have a heart attack. You still working from before dawn to midnight?”
“I stop at 10pm most nights,” Amber responded grumpily.
“Why is that, I mean that’s just not normal.”
“And you are,” Amber challenged, “How many good friends do you have?” Amber flicked the question back to Roxy.
“Colin, Maverick, you, probably Stan and Merry.” Roxy let the small list roll off her tongue.
“No friends from school,” Amber pushed nastily.
“Oh you know it, no one wants to know you, even the shits if you’ve spent time in Juvie. Give you the cold shoulder.”
“Yeah, I know it. I work hard because I don’t find friendship easy. You got to tell people about yourself. Aside from Merry and Stan and the boys, I didn’t have any friends until I came here. Milly’s pretty hard to get away from and there’s this pretty nice woman that runs the library but I don’t know how to be a friend.”
“And I’m not your friend,” Roxy snarled at her.
“No you are more like a damn sister to me, don’t be a shit about it. Milly just assumed you were my sister on your first trip up and I guess I just started assuming it too.”
“Sisters hey,” Roxy paused. “I could live with that. I have a couple of older half-sisters but they don’t want anything to do with me. You’re better than them any day.” She paused again. “I like sisters. Okay, you’re no longer a friend you’re a sister.”
“Good,” Amber responded and pulled into the house.
“You know when Maverick gets here this evening, I’m going to quiz him like shit on the dead bodies. I want details.”
Amber rolled her eyes. She had tacked various kitchen and bathroom designs onto the wall joists. “I’m going to start replacing the flooring so we can get to the loo without having to balance and avoid nails. If you want help you can. Otherwise dump your stuff upstairs and kick back.”
“I’ll choose a room then come and help for a bit. I am thinking of replacing the edging along your front veranda. The new veranda looks pretty good. The edging will tidy it up a bit and protect the garden beds from the grass until you are ready to plant a garden.” Roxy paused and looked around the downstairs. “I know all the house got ripped out, but fuck Ambs, you’ve done so much with the place.”
Roxy disappeared upstairs to return several minutes later to Amber hammering a floorboard against the wall.
“I want the attic,” Roxy demanded.
“Nope, that’s mine. I’m going to convert it to my office. I need a quiet space to concentrate.”
“Merry told me you were a translator, but how the hell does a translator earn enough for this.”
“Because I spent the last ten years of my life saving like the blazers and I can tell you, it really sucks to spend money.”
“If you paid a full-time builder your house would have been done by now.”
“Yes but by paying Robert who can only work one week out of every three, I manage to be able to continue to save, thus by the time the downstairs is finished, I might actually have enough money to install a toilet and renovate the bathroom upstairs. Although at this stage I’m thinking that insulating the upstairs walls might be a good thing.”
“When you said you saved enough money for a house, that’s pretty big, don’t they keep talking about an affordability crisis in housing on the news,” Roxy asked.
“Yes, but they are talking about major cities. I got this through the public trustees at an auction and because Stan and Merry taught me that hard work doesn’t kill you. I was the only bidder and got the place for the reserve price. With the first home owner’s grant, I thought I would have enough to complete the renovations. Dead bodies aside and the kitchen bench tops I like, the larger deck that will be fantastic when it is complete, it’s all been a bit more expensive than I thought, but I should be able to get the ground floor done and the attic lined. Thus if Robert takes his time, I have two weeks to accrue money wildly before he spends it on me just as wildly.”
“Oh, you’ve got it all planned.” Roxy sounded disappointed.
“Yeah,” Amber sighed. “Sometimes I think I plan so much.”
“But you can control that and when you’re a foster kid like us, you couldn’t control anything else. I get it, I have a control freak big sister and will probably turn in to a control freak myself. Now do you have an extra hammer or do I just have to cart stuff too you.”
“You can take over in about thirty minutes, the vibrations through my hands are a killer.”
Four hours later, Amber and Roxy had one last piece of timber left but no clue how to place it.
“We probably have to cut it,” Roxy suggested.
“Well, the pigs got it out.” Amber retorted grumpily. She rubbed the back of her hand against her forehead, tired from the physical labour.
“You can’t say that. You can’t call Maverick a pig. He likes you, you got to call him the police. You got to get over whatever they did. You are 28 now, not the scared little child that they hurt.” Roxy admonished.
Amber glared at her. “Sisters can tell their sisters anything Ambs,” she grinned and Amber sighed. Roxy and Amber looked at the timber. Maverick or the crime scene people had marked every floorboard that they had pulled up and so it was easy to work out how to lay them down again.
“It’s not going to fit easily,” Roxy stated.
“I don’t want to cut it. There must be away. They got the damn thing out.”
“Knock knock,” Maverick called from the front door.
“Hey Mav, we’re at the back wall,” Roxy responded.
“It’s looking good,” Maverick replied as he walked in and on the newly laid floor. He held a couple of pizzas in his hands, a soft drink bottle and a couple of ciders in his other hand. He placed them on the trestle that he’d set up as a forensics workbench. It held all Amber’s food supplies and her kitchen goods.
“You’ve got to force the board down by some good hammering. The forensics team was really on my goat when I told them the floor had to come out so it could go back in. But one of the team had just spent a fortune restoring her house so she got on their case as well. Here, you should let me do it.”
Amber reluctantly got out of the way. “I’m going to shower before dinner,” she disappeared upstairs to the sound of hammering and a few minutes later reappeared in clean clothes. Roxy had a big grin on her face but she did not share why. She disappeared to shower as well.
“How have you been,” Maverick asked, stepping closer to her. Amber backed up a little, nervous.
Amber shrugged. “I like what Robert has done with the deck. He reckons that he’ll have that finished in his next home stint. By that time the door would have arrived and he can install that. I have someone coming to install insulation under the floorboards. It’s going to cost a small fortune, but it will save me on heating expenses. Tomorrow, I will get Colin to order me wall insulation and plasterboard and I can start getting that ready so that Robert can install the kitchen after Christmas.”
“I asked how you have been, not what are you planning to do,” Maverick admonished.
“Did anyone tell you, you are a pain in the bum,” Amber shot back at him.
“All the time, hot stuff,” Maverick responded. Amber raised her eyes.
“Hot stuff,” Amber voice dripped with disbelief.
“You do realise how gorgeous and attractive you are, don’t you,” Maverick responded, “You speak so many different languages fluently, you have a successful business, you’re pretty darned cute when you are nervous and your attitude to life is amazing.”
“My attitude sucks.” Roxy clumped on the stairs, “Shall we eat, then you can tell me all about the murders.” Roxy enthused.