I had a feeling my life was going to change from the moment I woke up. It could have been wishful thinking, but the sun was brighter and the air crisper. Maybe it felt different because I was desperate for change.
I pulled in front of 35 Thunder Ridge Lane and allowed myself a moment of unbridled envy. The multistory stone and timber home stood by itself at the end of Thunder Bowl. It was the perfect ski-in and ski-out home. In the distance, snowboarders raced down the mountain at breakneck speed, kicking up clouds of powder in their wake. The bowl was for daredevils and pros not beginners like me.
When the owner had called, he’d been desperate for a decorator, and I’d been desperate for a paycheck. Breaking into the Aspen scene had been impossible. Since my arrival early last summer, I’d been shunned at every turn. Tight-knit communities full of rich people didn’t open their homes or wallets to strangers.
I hoped the housekeeper had left the key by the front door as promised. I had three days to transform this house into a winter wonderland, and I’d need every minute. Mr. Cole’s family was arriving December twenty-third, and he wanted his house decked for Christmas. His exact words were, “I want to give Norman Rockwell a run for his money.”
As promised, the key was tucked into the topiary by the front door. It slid smoothly into the lock and with a gentle turn, the door fell open. Wow. The great room was . . . well . . . great. So great time stilled as I took in the grandeur of a home many could appreciate but few could afford.
A stone fireplace stretched from the hardwood floors all the way to the twenty-foot beamed ceilings. The sixteen-foot tree I’d purchased today would be perfect tucked between the fireplace and the wall of glass.
It took pinching myself to be certain I wasn’t dreaming. I was really in this house, doing this job, and earning a paycheck. Out of habit, I began to mentally note my plan of attack. It would take several hours to put the tree together before I could get to the fun stuff—decorating. If the temp agency came through, that time would be cut in half. Hired help was a luxury I couldn’t afford, but efficiency was worth the price, and an extra body would be a boon.
Thankfully, Mr. Cole had given me an ample budget. I didn’t blink an eye when the tree cost around three thousand dollars. A good quality tree would last many years.
I hoped this job would be my breakout project. It was also my ticket to making it through the winter. I refused to fail. To crawl back to Los Angeles and beg Ryan for help would be unbearable. I couldn’t imagine bringing myself so low. I left with my clothes, my car, and my dignity, and now realize I don’t need much more than that.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish