From Main Street, Hope turned right onto Center Street and soon after, left onto Cherry Blossom Lane. First word to come to mind, wow. It had always been a lovely street lined with Cape Cod and Colonial style homes, and white picket fences.
Since her last visit, most of those wonderful old homes had been converted into an assortment of colorful specialty shops and restaurants. The only thing missing were the cherry blossoms that were just budding. In three weeks, they would be in full bloom. Her grandmother had created many paintings of those gorgeous trees. She said they represented rebirth, new beginnings, and hope. “The blossoms only last two weeks,” she said. “A reminder that life is short and we must make the most of it while we can.”
Gone were the names she remembered like Ophelia Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Bagley, and her grandmother’s best friend, Ilene Chadwick. In their stead, business names like Ware’s B&B, Heaven Scent Candles and Soaps, Dorothy’s Gourmet Chocolates, English Garden Flowers, Forever Antiques, The Perfect Gift Shop, and Le Bistro Francais. A fitting setting to start her new business. Then it hit her — The Hope Gallery. Perfect.
And there it was. The ninth building on the left, Grandma Debose’s house, 118 Cherry Blossom Lane. But her excitement turned to disappointment when she saw the condition of the place. Zeke promised her that the home would be move-in-ready — today. The scaffolding on the side of the house and the stacks of wood on the front porch sent a different message.
If Hope had ever seen Zeke, she couldn’t recall. However, it seemed logical that the elderly man sitting on the porch with a lunch pail in his lap must be him.
He stood up when he saw her and waved. “Hey, missy. You must be Hope.”
Hope stepped out of the vehicle and stretched while contemplating what she had gotten herself into. “Zeke?”
“That’s me. Been called that for eighty-one years. Wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.” Zeke crammed his half-eaten sandwich into his lunchbox and slammed the lid. “Ran into a little trouble with the plumbing upstairs. Slowed us down a bit.”
Hope navigated around a tarp and a stack of paint cans and climbed the stairs. “How bad is it?”
“These old houses have strange plumbing. Took me better part of a day to figure out how to run a line into that bedroom where you wanted your upstairs kitchen. Put us behind on painting the exterior and replacing the floorboards on the porch. Other than that, we’re pert near done.”
“So I can still move in today.”
“No, ma’am. Don’t expect that would be advisable. The water’s turned off and we can’t get it back on until the city inspector comes out and gives his blessing.”
“How long will that take?”
“He’s coming out before the end of the week.”
“So — maybe tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t count on it. The Water Department boys aren’t known for their speed at getting things done.”
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