“but I don’t have the number. I forgot to take it down before he left. He called me a few days ago, told me who he was, what he wanted, and said he’d be here this morning before eleven. He was. The Torkelsens agreed. He signed the lease, and went off. I know he has a cell, because he called his moving company from my office. They’re coming in tomorrow with his things.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Evie Bills said. “Thanks for the reference. I’ll let you know what I decide to do.” Then she rang off. At eight thirty the following morning, Evie Bills knocked on the front door at Sixty Wood’s End Way. When it opened she smiled up at the tall man standing in his pajamas. “Mr. Blair? I’m Mrs. Bills. I understand you’re looking for someone to clean. I would have called, but Doris Kirk didn’t think to get your cell number. May I come in? I’ve brought some nice strong brewed coffee, and cinnamon rolls fresh from my oven.” She stepped past him. “We’re going to have to get going if the house is going to be ready for your movers. What time do you expect them?”
Rowdy bounded up to Mrs. Bills.
“About one o’clock,” Tim said. “I expect the movers around one.”
“Any empty house goes quicker,” Mrs. Bills said, going straight for the kitchen. “Can Rowdy have a little treat?”
Tim nodded, slightly dazed by this small dynamo. “Sure,” he said.
Mrs. Bills set her large satchel of a bag on a kitchen counter. Reaching into it, she pulled out a thermos, two small china mugs, a square plastic box with a lid, and a steak bone wrapped in Glad Wrap. She unwrapped the bone and handed it to the dog.
Rowdy’s eyes danced as he took the bone gently from her fingers.
Tim took the dog by the collar and led him out to the breezeway with his bone. “Stay, Rowdy,” he told the animal. Rowdy lay down, gnawing on the bone between his two big front paws. Returning to the kitchen, Tim found the mugs filled with coffee, and the square plastic box opened to reveal the sweet rolls. “He’ll be your slave for life,” Tim said. He sipped the coffee, and taking a roll, took a bite. “And so will I. These are absolutely delicious, Mrs. Bills. Thank you.”
“You have nice manners, Mr. Blair. I charge fifteen dollars an hour. I’ll do your cleaning, the laundry, and if you want to leave me a list, I’ll do the shopping once a week for you. Hank at the IGA will set up a house account for you. I’ll come in twice weekly. Tuesdays and Fridays if that’s suitable.”
“Yes,” Tim said. “Are you an angel?” He smiled at her.
Mrs. Bills chuckled. “Doris Kirk said you had charm, and you do. Now finish your roll and coffee and get dressed. With no curtains on those windows everyone in Egret Pointe will be talking. This is a small town, Mr. Blair, and gossip is the chief entertainment in a small town. Since we’re agreed I’ll go home and get some cleaning supplies. I don’t imagine you thought to pick up any yesterday afternoon at the IGA.”
“Guilty as charged, ma’am,” he replied.
She nodded. “Be dressed by the time I get back, which will be in fifteen minutes, Mr. Blair. I don’t live far.” And then Mrs. Bills was gone out his front door.
Timothy Blair laughed, genuinely amused. Mrs. Bills was a character for certain, but he knew right away that she was a godsend, and they were going to get along. He suspected that even if she had had his cell phone number she wouldn’t have called. She would have come because she wanted to get a look at him, evaluate the situation. If she hadn’t liked him, she wouldn’t have offered to work for him. Timothy Blair realized that he was very lucky. He would remember to thank Doris Kirk.
By the time the movers arrived that afternoon, closer to two than one, Tim noted, Mrs. Bills had washed all the windows, vacuumed the floors, dusted the woodwork and the bookshelves on either side of the fireplace, and cleaned the bathroom and the entire