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.