He sat at the head of the table, facing the view out to the lake, and Terri took the chair to his right.
"Who designed this house?" he asked.
"My dad's sister, Agnes. She drew it on the ground. Said she wanted to see the water from every room. She drew an octagon, with two rectangles jutting out the sides. She's a great cook so she wanted a long island where she could serve guests. She used to invite lots of people here." Terri looked around the place. She still missed her aunt very much.
"But now she's in Florida?" His voice was encouraging, as though he wanted to hear more.
"Last year she had a small stroke, not debilitating, but enough that Dad didn't want her living alone. I think he meant for me to move in with her, but Aunt Aggie said I needed my own life." Terri shrugged. "Anyway, she moved to Florida to live with her late husband's widowed sister. I think they have parties every day and drink margaritas by the gallon."
He laughed. "Sounds good."
"Um, by the way, what's your name?"
"Sorry! Didn't I say? Nathaniel Taggert. Nate."
"Right. Like Dr. Jamie Taggert. I'm Terri Rayburn." She held out her hand and they shook. He didn't have the soft palm of a money person.
Nate pulled his hand away and looked back out the glass front. "I get the impression that your dad has been here since the beginning."
"He has. The Kissel family owned the lake and the surrounding land for over a hundred years. It's great farmland. There were a few cabins for the locals, but not many. But the last generation, Bob Kissel and his wife, had no children so they decided to make a community."
"And your dad helped?"
"Yes. It was one of those cosmic happenings. Dad came to Summer Hill to visit an old army buddy and they were planning to set up a construction company. One night at dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Kissel were at a table next to them, overheard it all, and they began to talk. By the end of the meal, Dad and his friend had been hired." Terri smiled. "It was a great match. The four of them got on well. And Aunt Aggie was widowed when I was little, so she came here to live and she handled the bookkeeping."
"And now your dad still runs the place. What about your mother?"
"She died when I was two." Terri didn't meet his eyes.
For a moment they sat in silence, both of them looking out at the lake, coffee mugs in hand. Maybe she was reading too much into it, but she felt comfortable around this man. Usually, she was running out the door to do whatever had to be done. Since she'd been away for nearly forty-eight hours, she had no doubt that her father's secretary, Anna, would have a long list of things for her to do.
But Terri didn't feel any urgency to leave to deal with raccoons and garbage and whatever gross stuff was littering one of their two beaches.
She took a breath. "There are about six cabins vacant right now and you could rent one of them." There were birds flying across the lake and the sun made beautiful shadows on the water.
"What do the cabins look like?"
"The usual. Two of them have porches along the front."
"But no glass-walled bedrooms?"
"Not a one. In the winter the sun is lower and it comes all the way across my floor."
"If I promise to be quiet and respectful and do all the cooking, could I rent the bedroom in this house? I'll pay double whatever you usually ask."
Terri was pleased at the idea, but she suppressed her smile. "I don't know... We have our yearly festival coming up and rents are pretty high."
"You have a month's worth of laundry that needs doing. I could help with that." When she looked startled, Nate gave a half smile. "Sorry. I looked around a bit, but not enough to figure out that the manager's sister wasn't living here but his daughter is. You think my uncle and your dad were up to something with this?"
"Oh yes. Definitely." Terri could feel her eyes growing warm with the thought of what the two matchmaking old men had in mind.
But Nate quickly looked away. "Maybe Kit wants me to help you with all the work around this place. Rescuing idiots, that kind of thing."