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“sighed. “I can’t say that you weren’t expected.” “I’m just going to be walking around here and taking some measurements. It says here… you own eighty acres? That is one of the most gorgeous mansions I have ever seen,” he rambled on. “It must have cost you millions. I could never afford such a beauty. Well, heck, for that matter I couldn’t afford the millions of dollars in taxes a house like this would assess, let alone such a pricey property. Do you have an accountant?” Zo opened her mouth to respond, but he continued, “For an estate this size, I would definitely have one.” “I do have an accountant,” she cut in, with frustration. “Furthermore, I have invested a lot of money bringing this mansion up to speed. You can see my investment is great.” “Of course, it would be. The fact of the matter is, Mrs. Kane, a lot of people are in over their heads in property. You still have to pay up, or we take the place. Well, I’ll get busy now. Pay no mind to me.” He walked on, taking notes. “Clairrrrre!” Zo called as soon as she entered the house. “Bring your cell phone!” Two worry-filled months went by and many calls were made to lawyers, before Zoey finally picked one that made her feel confident. And then the letter came with the totals and the due date. “There is no way we can pay this, Mom, even if we sold off some of our treasures, because a lot of them are contracted to museums anyway. I am feeling awfully poor all of a sudden, and insecure.” “Yes, and I did some research, thinking I’d be forced to sell. It’s unlikely that anyone else around here can afford this place. It looks like they are going to get it all; they aren’t just charging for this year. What we have here is a value about equal to a little country. And all the new construction sites for housing developments suddenly popping up on this side of the river, does not help. Value is going up.” Zo put her head in her hands. “Ohhh, oh, oh, oh!” “Yeah, bring out the ice-cream and cake. I need comforting,” sighed Claire. The cell phone rang. “Yes, tonight? You guys have become pretty good to us, haven’t you?! You know, Bob, Mom and I thought we were just going to pig out on ice cream and cake. We found out we are losing this estate and are going to be poor again and we are bummed out.” There was a long pause. “No, that’s okay, I understand. Yeah, okay, bye.” “Well?” Zo ask dryly. “He was appropriately sorry, and he got off the phone fast, saying he remembered he had other business to take care of. Do you want to cry? I do…” “I’ll get the cake and dish the ice cream. You make our tea and we’ll cry together.” A pitter patter began to drum on the window. “Rain again. It seems softer though, dear.” “I thought you said this was going to be a softer rain!” It started to pour. “At least this is not a thunder storm… What was that?” “Thunder,” replied Claire, unmoved and resigned. An hour had gone by when there was a rapping at the door. “People rarely use the doorbell, ever notice that?” Zo asked on the way to the door. She opened it to reveal two wet guys holding a pizza, salad, soft drink, and giant chocolate chip cookies in a plastic container. In a plastic”
Zoey Kane, The Riddles of Hillgate


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