Soon after the return from Palm Springs Marty suggested a trip to Santa Barbara. Another great getaway. Marty finally had some time off for them to spend together. They mellowed out as they drove north. They stayed over for two nights and visited different sites. They went to the Santa Barbara Mission, walked through a beautiful park and visited Lotus Land, an estate with thirty-seven acres of unique garden designs and unusual plant species. On their drive back to LA, they stopped at a coffee shop. They walked hand in hand as they strolled along the boardwalk near different beaches.
Once back at The Shade House, Wendy talked to Carol about what, if anything, transpired since Wendy’s last call to Carol from Santa Barbara. Fortunately, nothing much was important and no bad news. In the office she checked the receipts. They continued to show a formable increase. The expenses were pretty much unchanged, a relief. Wendy called her accountant, Howard, and he confirmed everything was good. She ruminated about what a wonderful life she had.
Wendy and Marty sat on her back porch and watched colorful Fourth of July fireworks fly up from another street. They sat in silence as they appreciated more displays in the sky. They sipped wine and Wendy yelled out as one of the fireworks exploded high in the sky in miscellaneous colors.
Then, out of nowhere Marty announced: “Hilstrom wants to buy your nursery.”
Wendy turned to him and barked. “What?”
“I know it’s a shock, but they think your location is a terrific place for a restaurant.”
Wendy stood up stepped away and swung back to him. The news crashed down on her. “This is crazy.” Her voice faltered. “How long have you known about this?”
He stood. “What difference does it make? They want to offer you $80,000! That’s a fantastic price.”
“I can’t believe you’re saying this.”
“I’m sorry, I know you’re upset, but they wanted me to approach you about selling. I think it’s a great offer.”
“I’ve been in business less than four months. Why did you think I’d be interested? You know how much the nursery means to me.”
“I had to ask.”
“No, you didn’t. You could have told them I wouldn’t be interested.”
“I told them, but they still wanted me to ask. So, I need to give them an answer.” “What in the hell do you think mine is? Never mind. It’s my heart and soul I put into the nursery. Shit Marty, it isn’t the money.”
“I’m their attorney.”
“How long have you known they wanted this property?”
“How long is awhile?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Anger enveloped her face as she walked straight up to his. “It does, just answer me.”
She turned away and back at him. “Why now? Is this what was discussed while you were in San Francisco?” Marty hesitated. “Yes. The company rep. came down here and saw it, from the inside.”
“You told them about this place, right?”
“They wanted a Santa Monica site, so I mentioned the entire Santa Monica area. They drove around and saw your great parking area. They walked into the place next door and came into the nursery liking it immediately, for its size.
“So, they want to buy both properties?” He ignored the question. “I know you’re angry but think how much money that is. You could open an even bigger nursery in a more prime location.”
She turned away and then faced him. “This is a prime location! You don’t even care how I feel about all the work I’ve put into the nursery or how much I love what I’m doing. You know what I think?” She moved closer and locked eyes with him. “I think you’ve been playing me for months. I think you knew they were interested in property in this area for a long time, but you didn’t get the go ahead to convince me to sell it until recently. Boy, did I misjudge you.”
“Honestly, I didn’t want to hurt you.”
“Right.” She glared at him with her hands on her hips and pointed a finger at him. “They were going to give you a big fat commission if you made the sale, or a promotion. I trusted you and you betrayed me. Leave now,” she snapped.
Marty stared and walked through the house, stopping at the front door. Wendy followed and waited near the entry with her arms folded. He turned and looked at her. She scowled. Without further comment he opened the door and left. She grabbed the door and slammed it shut. She turned into her living room and fell into a chair where she cried, mortified and stunned.
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