Better Fate than Never Ch. 04

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Hi there! My stories are written to provide a slow but satisfying build. If you are looking for hot sex, straight out of the traps, this is probably not for you 🙂

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Typical of whenever an event is being dreaded, the days preceding Saturday galloped by at pace. Before she knew it, Jenny was on her way to visit Finn’s home, without the first clue of what to say to him. Bramble cables scraped down the side of her car’s paintwork, as she zigzagged from one side of the driveway to the other, in order to avoid the worst of the potholes peppering the entrance to Orchard Farm. Turning the final corner to find the courtyard parking area opening up before her, Jenny’s first impression was one of neglect. This was partially assisted by the continual progression of Autumn, encouraging the ongoing spread of decay. However, in truth, the previous owners had clearly failed to adequately maintain the property for many years.

To anybody else’s eyes, the sight was one of a ramshackle, unloved building, left to go to rack and ruin. The overgrown shrubs and hedges swamped crumbling brickwork, whilst well-established thistles attempted to claim ownership of any patch of land they came into contact with. Piles of rubbish were spread far and wide, whilst cawing crows circled the entire property, on the lookout for opportunistic spoils. Jenny, on the other hand, focussed on none of those things. She was only aware of the enormous potential oozing from the beautiful old building and the knowledge that this represented her much loved grandmother’s childhood home. For that reason alone, the building would always hold a special place in her heart.

Parking, Jenny switched off her engine and wiped her clammy hands down the front of her jeans. She attempted to take a few deep, calming breaths, although in truth, she inhaled only the odd desperate gasp that barely reached her lungs at all. The past few days had allowed her to reflect on the harsh words and unkind assumptions that she had directed towards Finn when they last met. He was unlikely to give her an easy ride today and, if she was honest with herself, she knew she didn’t deserve one.

With one final huff, she left the safety of her car, keeping hold of the door to ensure the gusty wind didn’t claim ownership. She carefully picked her way through what would once have been formal gardens, yet now only thorny brambles persisted. Carefully negotiating the wild, untamed vegetation in front of the house, she knocked on the imposing oak door. Glancing upwards, she observed a combination of out-of-control wisteria, wild roses and ivy, which held squatter’s rights over the external structure of the house. For a short while, Jenny stood there apprehensively, appreciating the silence of the remote location, filled only with the rumble of distant thunder and the rush of wind through the nearby trees. Surrounded by farmland, there wasn’t another property in sight. Suddenly, she heard heavy footsteps approaching. As the door slowly creaked open, her blood pressure rocketed.

‘Good afternoon,’ said Finn formally, without any of the warmth they had previously shared. ‘Come in.’ He wasn’t in the sunniest of moods, having just received a telephone call from his soon-to-be ex-wife. They had been separated for over a year and were in the process of finalising their divorce, when Finn inherited Orchard Farm. Now, out of nowhere, his wife had suddenly decided she wanted to make another go of it; no doubt fancying herself as the owner of what would one day be a truly spectacular home. Either that, or she wanted to at least make a claim on its value.

‘Thanks,’ said Jenny quietly, following him through a wide, open hallway and into a cavernous kitchen, complete with beams, antique fittings and a vista to die for. Sadly, the damaged flooring, cracked window panes, damp walls and thick layers of dust did detract somewhat from the overall outlook. ‘Wow!’ gasped Jenny, who saw only what it could be. ‘This has the potential to be absolutely amazing.’ Finn observed her curiously, but said nothing.

‘Look,’ she continued. ‘I feel I probably owe you an apology.’

‘Do you?’ he replied coolly. Despite what he already felt for the woman standing before him, he had no intention of being the proverbial doormat. If she wanted civility, she was going to have to take the first step towards it.

‘Yes,’ came her tight-lipped reply. Jenny could already feel the resentment starting to ooze from her, with every second that fizzed silently between them.

‘Well, don’t let me stop you,’ he offered with a wave of his hand. She knew she’d been right that he had no intention of making this easy for her. Going against all her instincts, she bit back her snappy retort. She couldn’t, however, prevent a glare of hatred escaping towards him. It would have incapacitated most men at ten paces, but seemed to have little effect on Finn. Suddenly, Jenny blushed deeply, remembering how he’d previously admitted that her anger turned him on. Dropping her eyes to the floor, she refused to look up at him, whilst she muttered her almanbahis apology.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said at last. ‘I was wrong to judge you on the actions of your great uncle.’

‘I’m sure you had your reasons,’ said Finn more gently now. ‘They’ll have been really shit ones, but I’m sure you had them.’

Jenny looked up swiftly, quite prepared to embark in a heated verbal conflict. However, the tenderness in Finn’s glance quite took the wind out of her sails. Having opened her mouth in readiness to argue, she found herself slowly closing it once more, locked into his gaze.

‘I’ve only got an hour before I have to be at work,’ she admitted quietly.

‘Then let’s begin,’ he said with disarming charm. ‘This, as you might have guessed, was the kitchen. And I hope will be again one day.’

Jenny couldn’t help but smile, as she followed Finn around each room of his house, falling more and more in love with the property, the more she saw of it.

‘Are you planning on doing all the renovations yourself?’ she asked.

‘My background is carpentry,’ explained Finn, as they made their way up the precarious-sounding staircase to observe bedroom after bedroom of decay and neglect. ‘Over the years, I’ve picked up skills in most of the building trades, which has enabled me to buy houses and bring them up to standard. I then either sell them on for a profit, or keep them to rent out.’

‘That sounds…very industrious,’ breathed Jenny. ‘So how many properties do you own?’

‘Eight…well, nine including this one,’ said Finn. Jenny nodded, impressed despite herself. ‘But I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me. I might be property rich, but I’m cash poor, piling all of my income into this place at present.’

Jenny gave him a look, but said nothing, instead walking over to the window to observe the pretty view from what would one day be the master bedroom. It was certainly the only room they’d visited which contained a clean, nicely-made bed. In fact, she couldn’t help but notice how comfortable it looked; king-sized, it was covered with squashy duck down pillows, several layers of blankets and duvets, all surrounded by a wooden bedframe, complete with an upright post at each corner. She was standing in Finn’s bedroom.

‘What?’ he challenged.

‘You’re a strange combination,’ she admitted, returning her attention to Finn.

‘I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not, even for you,’ he shrugged. ‘Life’s too short.’

‘You’re so right,’ she admitted with a painfully deep sigh.

She couldn’t help but admire his attitude. In her previous relationship with Matt, Jenny had managed to misplace the spirit of what it meant to be herself, in a desperate attempt to be accepted and loved. It was probably part of the reason she fought so hard against Finn and the feelings she harboured towards him.

Things had started off relatively low key with Matt, attending events and functions she had little real interest in, just to please him. Slowly, he’d begun to influence the brands of clothing she favoured, encouraging her to buy trendy items which were, in all honesty, damned uncomfortable. The alarm bells had echoed a little more noisily in her ears when he started to take pains to ‘improve’ her character, advising her how to act in given situations. How to hide her feelings when people irked her.

By the time he’d finished, perversely, so little of her remained that there seemed little point in him being in a relationship with her at all. Clearly, Matt felt the same way because a short while later, he’d dumped her from a great height. Finding him making out with her recently divorced best friend had been a cliché too far. But it did help her heart to harden quickly against him, somehow making the loss of his presence from her life, easier to bear. What had actually hit her hardest had been the excruciating unfaithfulness of her best friend. During her entire life, acknowledged Jenny painfully, only her grandmother had remained her stalwart, unyielding support.

Without realising it, whilst Jenny had been tentatively wandering through her thoughts and unwelcome memories, a vacant faraway expression had settled on her face. Consciously, she shook her head gently, as though to erase any negativity, before blinking rapidly in quick succession.

‘Okay?’ asked Finn kindly. Silence clearly didn’t bother him. He’d kept himself busy fiddling with the radiator, whilst his houseguest was deep in thought.

‘Yeah, sorry,’ smiled Jenny weakly. Making her way out of the room swiftly, she continued towards the end of the creaky landing, where she found an ancient door with an old fashioned lock.

‘Is this a cupboard?’ she enquired.

‘No,’ replied Finn, catching up with her. ‘It’s actually the access to the next floor up; the loft?’

‘Can we take a look?’ asked Jenny, surprised to find how much she was enjoying exploring this wonderful house.

‘Sure,’ chuckled Finn, wrestling the creaking door open to reveal a narrow flight of winding, wooden stairs. ‘So long as almanbahis giriş you don’t mind cobwebs.’

‘If you’re attempting to frighten me, you’ll have to try harder than mice and spiders,’ grinned Jenny.

‘I’ll bear that in mind,’ he replied teasingly, extending out his hand to encourage her forwards. ‘Ladies first.’

With each step she took upwards, the excitement fizzed in her tummy just a little more powerfully. Jenny had no doubt that her grandmother would have spent time up in the loft playing; just the staircase alone was ideal for exploring children, with ample nooks and crannies in which to hide. At the top of the stairs, she came to a halt, as another aged door blocked her path.

‘Just give it a really good shove,’ instructed Finn from just behind her. ‘The lock mechanism is old and tends to stick. It’s on my “To do” list to fix.’ Although, he acknowledged silently, probably quite a way down, to be done within the next few years, as opposed to the next few months. Dropping her shoulder slightly, Jenny held open the latch and pushed hard. After a brief moment’s pause, the door yielded, propelling her inside at pace.

Standing up straight, Jenny was surprised to find the long room she had entered, stretched a good length of the house. It boasted large windows at each end, allowing plenty of natural light to flood in. Behind one small partitioned-off area, through an open door, Jenny thought she could see a basic toilet and a sink. With exposed beams, infilled with plaster, a single light bulb swung from the ceiling, making it a strange combination of habitable and non-habitable. However, unlike most lofts Jenny had experienced, this one had as much headroom as any normal room and was probably a prime renovation site, should Finn ever wish to increase the living area of the house still further.

On the downside, it was filled with more junk than she had ever seen. Generations worth of possessions overwhelmed the space; boxes, bits of unwanted furniture, black bin bags, old tea chests, leather cases.

‘What’s in those boxes?’ Jenny asked, as she picked her way through the man-made mountains of belongings.

‘I’ve no idea,’ admitted Finn, following in her footsteps. ‘I haven’t had a chance to look through anything up here yet.’

Having reached the far window, Jenny opened the latch and flung it open. A gust of wind rushed into the room, snatching the handle from her grasp, just as she inhaled deeply, grateful to taste the fresh, rural air, rather than dust. Suddenly, behind them, there was a loud, ominous creak followed by the loft door slamming shut. The noise ricocheted through the building, such was the force of the wind that had been responsible.

‘Sorry,’ said Jenny. Leaning out of the window, holding on carefully to the frame once she saw the high vertical drop opening up beneath her, she grappled for the handle of the window and pulled it towards her, latching it firmly closed once more. When Jenny turned, Finn was no longer beside her, but back at the main door, struggling with the catch and looking less than amused.

‘What’s up?’ she asked, tiptoeing carefully through the various items cluttering up the floor, to stand beside him.

‘Not sure,’ admitted Finn gravely, wincing as he tried to carefully prise open the catch with his fingers. ‘But I think we might be locked in.’

‘What?’ yelped Jenny, immediately taking hold of the catch and yanking it frenziedly. To her surprise, the handle entirely came off in her hand and she fell backwards, down to the floor.

‘Well, that’s fucked it,’ he said with more than a hint of sarcasm. ‘I thought we might be locked in. Now I know we are!’

‘No! We can’t be!’ she yelped, immediately scrabbling to her feet and taking part in a one-sided skirmish with the door which was determinedly fixed within its tight frame.

‘Calm down,’ said Finn, placing his hands on Jenny’s forearms. ‘That isn’t helping.’

‘Calm down?’ she screeched, each syllable a little shriller than before. ‘Calm down?!’

‘Getting stressed won’t help.’

‘Is that right?’ she spat. Moving outwards, away from the door, Jenny began to systematically bang against each section of plastered wall, apparently looking for a weakness to exploit. As she progressed around the room, her shouts and cries became ever more anguished and pitchy.

Finn had clearly decided to leave her to it, knowing that at some point, she would tire. Slumping to the floor, he observed her progress without comment.

‘Fucking house!’ she hollered, as her hand slammed against a section of wall beside what would be the downstairs chimney breast to produce a hollow echo. ‘What?’ she demanded, noting Finn’s eyebrows raised with interest.

‘Nothing,’ he replied. ‘Come and sit down.’

‘Sit down?’ she asked incredulously. ‘No, I’m getting out of here, thanks.’

‘And how do you intend to do that?’ he sighed. Staring at him, Jenny was suddenly struck by inspiration.

‘I’ve got my mobile phone!’ she said excitedly, grappling in the small handbag slung almanbahis yeni giriş around her body. ‘We can phone for help.’ Furiously typing in the keycode, she unlocked it, before dejectedly raising it into the air.

‘This is a dead zone for mobile signal,’ explained Finn. ‘Sorry.’

‘But you must have Wi-Fi?’ continued Jenny, determined not to be beaten by a single door. ‘We can use my phone to make contact that way.’

‘I don’t even have a front door that locks,’ said Finn dryly. ‘So what do you seriously think the odds of me having Wi-Fi are?’

‘You do know that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,’ she observed primly.

‘Is that right?’ he drawled. ‘That must be why I rely on it almost exclusively.’

‘Arrgghh! This is all I fucking need!’ exclaimed Jenny in frustration. Storming back over to the window, she threw it open and bellowed at the top of her lungs.

‘Help!’ she screamed. ‘Please help!’

‘Save your energy. Nobody will hear you,’ explained Finn gently. ‘There are no other properties nearby.’ Rubbing the bridge of her freckly nose, Jenny muttered something under her breath which was indecipherable to Finn.

‘Are you talking to yourself?’ he smirked.

‘It’s the only way I can be guaranteed sensible conversation,’ she immediately countered.

‘You reckon?’ he asked with mock incredulity. ‘More like the only way you won’t have your ideas and beliefs challenged.’

‘I don’t like the thought of being trapped in here,’ admitted Jenny with a shaky voice, ignoring his barbed comment. ‘What if there was a fire?’

‘In extremis, we’d escape,’ he explained.

‘How?’

‘Out of the window,’ explained Finn. ‘I saw an old mattress in the corner. We could drop that out first to break our fall. And I think I noticed a couple of potential handholds in the outside wall.’

‘But we’re three floors up!’ she yelped.

‘Yes,’ agreed Finn, with exaggerated composure. ‘Hence the use of the phrase “in extremis”. Regardless, I’d get you out. But why risk injury, when a little patience will see us walking back out that door tomorrow morning.’

‘How can you be so calm?’ she asked.

‘You just need to take a deep breath and switch your perspective.’

‘There is only one perspective!’ she argued, clearly still distressed. ‘I’m trapped in a loft with a man who hates me. We have no food, no water, no facilities. We could die!’

‘Stop catastrophising,’ said Finn harshly.

‘What’s your oh-so-sensible perspective, then?’ she sneered.

‘We have some limited facilities, including clean, running water,’ he began, nodding towards the small bathroom in the corner. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if that could be supplemented by items in your handbag?’ Jenny looked thoughtful. If nothing else, she probably did have a few packets of sweets and an emergency cereal bar of dubious provenance in her bag. ‘Best of all, we have been given time and space to explore this loft.’

‘All looks like junk up here to me,’ observed Jenny.

‘Because your eyes are not open to the chance of it being so much more,’ he said meaningfully. ‘Remember, some items might still remain from when your grandmother lived here. This place is potentially a historian’s dream, and I get to explore it all in the company of the most intriguing women I have ever met. Who I certainly don’t hate, for the record,’ he noted quietly.

‘How can you be so sure we won’t be prisoners here indefinitely?’ Jenny continued, calmer than before.

‘Firstly, your grandmother won’t let more than twenty-four hours pass, before she raises the alarm regarding your absence.’

‘I’m not so sure,’ she said carefully. Given their previous conversation about what a great partner Finn would make, Harriett might just assume, with unreserved delight, that Jenny hadn’t returned home because she was staying the night with him. Which she supposed, in a way, she would be. These, however, were details to which Finn did not need to be privy.

‘Secondly,’ he continued. ‘My plasterer is due here at nine tomorrow morning.’ Jenny exhaled with relief.

‘So, you’re saying we’re stuck here for the night.’

‘We’re stuck here for the night,’ confirmed Finn. ‘Are you okay with that.’

‘I guess,’ she shrugged.

‘Unless escaping from me is worth risking life and limb? In which case, you might like to try the window option,’ he offered, eyes dancing in amusement.

‘Let’s give it an hour and then I’ll let you know,’ she smirked, resigned to her fate.

‘A whole hour,’ he teased. ‘Should I take that as a compliment?’

‘I really wouldn’t if I were you,’ smiled Jenny cheekily.

‘In which case, we should probably put some effort into sorting through this stuff. See if there’s anything useful.’

**************

Later that same evening, the loft space had been transformed. A large area had been cleared of items, enabling a single mattress which they had unearthed, to be laid down on the floor. An old chair stood nearby, both were covered with an assortment of cushions and blankets, found during their explorations. They had both been mightily relieved to find the single light bulb worked when they turned it on. Given that the Autumnal evenings were forcing sunset by six o’clock now, the last thing they needed was a failure on the lighting front.

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