Undeniable Demands(2)

By: Andrea Laurence

 Wade, Heath, Xander, Brody—any of the boys could’ve written a  check and taken care of their problems, but Ken and Molly insisted they had it  under control. Unfortunately, their solution was to sell a few plots of land  they couldn’t use for growing trees. They couldn’t understand why the kids were  so upset. And of course, the kids couldn’t tell their parents the truth. That  secret needed to remain buried in the past. And Wade was here to make sure it  stayed that way.

 If he was lucky, he could take one of the four-wheelers out to  the property, buy the land back from the new owner and return before Molly could  start wondering what he was up to. He wouldn’t keep the purchase a secret from  his parents, but he’d certainly rather they not fret over the whole situation  until it was done.

 Wade found the house empty, as expected. He left a note on the  worn kitchen table, slipped into his heavy coat and boots and went out to grab  one of the four-wheelers. He could’ve driven his SUV, but he didn’t want to pull  up in an expensive car and start waving money around at people.

 Heath and Brody had both made visits to the farm since Julianne  broke the news. Digging up as much information as they could, they found out  that the person who had bought the smallest parcel of land was already living  out there in some kind of camper. That sounded positive to him. They might need  the money more than the land. But if they thought some rich guy was bullying  them to sell it, they’d clamp down. Or jack up the price.

 Wade took the four-wheeler down the well-worn path that went  through the center of the farm. After selling eighty-five acres, the Edens still  had two hundred acres left. Almost all of it was populated with balsam and  Fraser fir trees. The northeastern portion of the property was sloped and rocky.  They’d never had much success planting trees out there, so he’d understood why  Ken had opted to sell it. He just wished his father hadn’t.

 By the time he rounded a corner on the trail and neared the  border of the Edens’ property, it was a little after two-thirty. The sky was  clear and blue and the sun’s rays pounded down on the snow, making it nearly  blinding despite his sunglasses. He slowed and pulled out the new surveyor’s map  Brody had downloaded. The eighty-five acres that his parents had sold were split  into two large tracts and one small one. Comparing the map to the GPS location  on his phone, he could tell that just over the rise was the smallest, a ten-acre  residential property. He was fairly certain this was the one he was after.

 Wade refolded the map and looked around for any familiar  landmarks. He’d deliberately chosen a spot he would remember. There had been a  crooked maple tree and a rock that looked like a giant turtle. He scanned the  landscape, but it appeared to him as though all the trees were crooked, and all  the rocks were buried under a foot of snow. It was impossible to know for sure  if this chunk of the property was the right one.

 Damn. He’d thought for certain that he would know the spot when  he saw it. That night fifteen years ago remained etched in his memory no matter  how hard he tried to forget it. It was one of those moments that changes your  whole life. Where you make a decision, right or wrong, and have to live with it  forever.

 Still, Wade was certain this was the right area. He didn’t  remember traveling far enough to reach the other plots. He’d been in too big a  hurry to roam around the property all night trying to find the perfect spot. He  eyed another maple tree, this one more crooked than the others. That had to be  the one. He’d just have to buy the land back and hope that once spring came  around, he would find the turtle rock at its base and know he’d bought the right  plot.

 Surging forward through the snow, he continued up to the rise  and then started descending into the clearing toward what looked like some sort  of shimmering silver mirage.

 He pulled closer and realized it was the midafternoon sun  reflecting off the superbly polished aluminum siding of an old Airstream  trailer. You could have got a suntan from the rays coming off that thing. Parked  beside it was an old Ford pickup truck with dually tires to haul the twenty-foot  monster of a camper.

 Wade stopped and killed the engine on the four-wheeler. There  was no sign of life from inside the camper yet. Brody had searched online for  the property sale records and found the new owner was V. A. Sullivan. Cornwall  was a fairly small town, and he didn’t remember any Sullivans when he went to  school, so they must be new to the area. That was just as well. He didn’t need  to deal with anyone who remembered his troublesome days before the Edens and  might give him grief.

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