If there was one house that Browns Estate Agents needed to offload it was 57 Crosshatch. Simon pushed it as much as he could but those fish weren't biting.
It was big and old and a money pit of a liability that only someone with either a lot of money or their head in the clouds would take on, which is why he was surprised when Donna walked in asking about it.
"It's in my price range" she announced and said she wanted a viewing, she scowled at him when he suggested she talk it over with her husband saying he was away but would go with anything she wanted.
Simon inspected her rack and agreed, making the appointment for that afternoon.
"Strike while the iron's hot" was one of his favourite motto's along with "I'd give her one anyday".
Pulling up outside in his turbo charged sportscar he spied Donna looking in the front window, she waved to him and he bounded up the path towards her like an overexcited puppy.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked. "It's been empty for nearly twenty years and it's falling to bits, what about a nice new build on that estate near the golf course, your husband might like that one better?".
Donna shook her head excitedly saying this was the home for them. She investigated every room, the kitchen needed an overhaul and the bathroom was none existent but the beaming smile on her face told him that this property would be in his window no more.
Three weeks later the papers were completed and a moving in date was set. Simon bought a bottle of champagne for his most enthusiastic client yet, it wasn't something he usually did but he liked Donna and wanted to meet her husband.
"Oh he's still away on business I'm afraid, he has to pay for my designer kitchen somehow" she laughed.
Simon really liked her, it wasn't very often he was taken with anyone since Janine had left him and he knew he had to get back out there but there was one obstacle, she was a married woman.
Donna held the keys in her hands and Simon had a sudden urge to carry her over the threshold but of course held back, she opened the front door and they went inside. Taking a deep breath she explored the rooms, gasps of excited 'oohhs' and 'aahhs' left her at intervals as she ignored the peeling wallpaper and layers of dust.
"I'm going for art deco" she stated, "black and white, geometric shapes and that nice furniture I've seen on Poirot".
Simon opened the champagne and took out two glasses from his bag, the house was an absolute tip but he could also see it's potential.
"Do you mind if I follow your progress?" he asked, "you know take some before and after pictures, I think it would be interesting".
Donna nodded and downed one glass followed by another, as it was getting dark and there was no electricity he offered her a lift home.
"Oh no I'm staying here," she answered. " I've got a big torch and a sleeping bag, this is my home now".
He tried to dissuade her but she wouldn't budge, he offered to stay, she refused.
"I have my phone and I've brought some snacks". she chuckled which made him fall even harder for the girl with the mysterious husband and the ramshackle house.
Walking back to his car he suddenly remembered how much champagne he'd drank. He left his car and decided to come back for it in the morning, it wasn't far back to town and he could look in on her when he came back.
Sitting at home he went through the papers regarding the house, but first he wanted to research Donna. She and her husband had moved from the city because they wanted to start a family, her husband had business dealings all over the world but she wanted to settle here as this was where she'd been born.
Then he looked into the history of the house, in the thirties it had been a family home to a war hero, then it was a music school, then in the sixties it was a home for wayward girls, pregnant girls to be exact, there had been some scandal and the home had shut down which left it empty for the twenty odd years until Donna had set eyes on it.
Simon decided to take Donna a coffee and a bacon bun in the morning, after a night in that cold draughty place it was what she'd have needed but when he turned up there was no sign of her. The food was getting cold when she finally emerged.
"Sorry" she repented " the garden's huge I found an old potting shed and I got stuck in" her fingers were covered in soil and her knees were filthy, there was no hot water so she scrubbed the mud off the best that she could and got stuck into the food he'd so kindly brought her.
He'd brought his camera as he wanted to get started on the before and after shots so she took him on a tour.
Snapping away he noticed that in some of the rooms there were iron beds with restraints.
"I know" Donna giggled, "doesn't bear thinking about does it?"
Simon told her about the history and the mother's home, she sympathised and said she would turn it into a happy home full of children and love.
He wished it was him sharing this house with her and longed to be able to keep coming back.
"The builders are coming on Tuesday and ripping it to pieces, seems a shame really doesn't it?" he agreed to her statement and offered to take her out to dinner.
Donna shook her head
"I'd better get back to my flat, I need a hot bath". She picked up her bag and this time took up his offer of a lift.
As work progressed on the house Simon progressed in his pursuit of Donna. The fact that she was married didn't faze him at all, in fact it made it even more thrilling.
He turned up unannounced and said he had more information about the history of the house or he wanted to take photo's, she said she didn't mind and showed him around. With the electrics done and the kitchen ready to go in they sat in the garden that late summer and talked.
"So why this house?" he asked, she shrugged her shoulders looking up at the ivy wending it's way skywards.
"It's a lovely old house and I just wanted to bring it back to life, I was born in this town but my family moved away when I was a baby, I suppose I have a connection" she downed the wine that was now as frequent a visitor as Simon and invited him inside.
Avoiding boxes and pipes she led him upstairs to show him her favourite room. A huge picture took up most of the wall opposite where the iron bed that had the restraints on used to sit. She told him she'd found it in one of the other rooms but felt it belonged here, like her really.
He kissed her as the sun went down making shadows across the wall and floor and as she kissed him back he felt excitement that at any moment her husband could come home and find him there.
She reeled him in with her long gossamer thread which stretched out and caught him unawares. It reached parts of his desire that he had never experienced before and he was lost to the world, the only thing that mattered to him was being with her. She never mentioned her husband much these days and it was like he had never existed.
Simon went to work and counted the hours until he could get back to her, he didn't leave the office much, a few viewings and he was back at his desk planning where to take her that evening or if she wanted to stay in again and plan their future in the house she was renovating with her invisible husband's money.
Simon's mother was worried, he'd taken up with a married hussy and she wasn't happy. She planned to call on them at the house and give them a piece of her mind but first she wanted to call in at his work to see his colleagues.
First they were vague. Maria shifted in her seat and pretended to look at something more interesting on the computer so it was left up to Jeff to tell her the truth.
"He's not the same bloke anymore" he complained, "he used to be enthusiastic and a real go-getter, oh and well groomed".
That last comment hit hard, her son had lost interest in everything of late and his work was definitely being affected by his relationship with this Donna, but his personal hygeine was almost a religion. He insisted on the best men's toiletries out there and he always smelled like he should be in an advert for them. Turning she thanked his friends for their honesty except Maria who had never liked him anyway.
It had been twenty years or so since she'd walked up this path but Simon's mother knew it had to be done. Taking a deep breath she knocked on the front door and waited. Laughter rebounded through the thick oak and as it opened she came face to face with her past.
Donna cocked her head and looked the woman in front of her up and down.
"So that's what you look like" she spat moving out of the way, "I think you know the way there".
Walking through the hallway the ex nurse trembled as she remembered the last time she'd been here. Not bothering with any of the other rooms she went straight to
the one she knew well. Opening the door she saw that the iron bed with restraints was back in the place it had always been, on the wall opposite was the picture she'd chosen to brighten up the room all those years ago.
"It's called Waterlilies and it's by Monet", stated Donna who'd followed her upstairs. "the last thing my mother ever saw, apart from your face of course".
The retired nurse thought back to those days, it was a job and somebody had to do it. Unmarried mothers would come here to have their babies and then leave, suitable parents would be found and nobody was any the wiser. Except one girl, a fifteen year old who wanted to keep her baby, blonde and lipsticked she'd horrified the uptight and intrigued the jack the lads of the day. She'd turned heads and opened wallets while freely and unashamadely flaunting herself and her expanding stomach.
Simon's mother looked around the room, it was as it had always been, a prison for the lascivious, the wanton harlots who trawled god's good earth and besmirched the name mother. She beheld the vision before her and asked her how this could be so.
"My mother told me how it was", Donna answered even before the question had been asked. "She told me all about you and what you did, she spent years looking for me and when she did we didn't have long together. I swore that I'd avenge her one day and I scattered her ashes under the apple tree, it's in full bloom now."
The nurse remembered the day she'd taken Donna from her mother, she'd sat under the tree begging them to give her back.
" I take after her in lots of ways you know, I followed her into her profession and made a lot of money".
"Where's my son?" she screamed, and Donna smiled the smile of a woman who knew but would never tell.
She held up her hands and Simon's mother saw that they were covered in dirt.
© Copyright 2016 Charlie Gibbs. All rights reserved.