Emily Winters restores a mansion into a destination hotel to bring the love she never knew to others. “The Warm Sunrise on a Green House” is a touching tale of the love of an old house and family bonds.
“The Warm Sunrise on a Green House” by Jamie Aldis is also available in Beginnings: A Collection of Short Stories.
The Warm Sunrise on a Green House
ROSELYNN HOUSE stood like an emerald gem at the top of the hill. Fresh green paint glowed in the pale pink light of the spring dawn. The white shutters, and filigree Victorian railings on the porch glittered like facets in a gem.
Emily Winters had done it.
The house was a glowing memory to history brought back to life.
And hopefully to love.
Originally built by her great-great grandfather in the 1880’s for the love of his life, the house had once known the love and laughter of family and prosperity.
Or so said the disintegrating diary she’d found in the attic.
Emily watched the sun rise over the cold grey waters of the ocean. The golden rays kissed the eastern side of the house, lighting her up like she was finally in love again. Maybe she was, Roselynn House had been long neglected.
Emily had not even known the house was in the family, nor that she was a direct descendent. Maybe not so direct. Turns out she was the last blood descendent the lawyers could find alive. Apparently the last couple generations had been hard on her family. A family she had never known having grown up the daughter of a single father. Her mother dead the day Emily had been born. Her father too drunk the rest of the years of his life to speak about her.
Her paternal grandparents had taken her in when she was ten, after her father went to jail for yet another DWI. They had sent her to a good school, and helped her get a good marriage. It never occurred to them that she do anything else. It never occurred to her to want anything more than a family to love.
Too bad her husband had never wanted to love anything at all except his political career and prostitutes and cocaine. He was surprised when his career was destroyed by his two vices and it all went horribly public. Emily’s grandfather saved her again by helping her hire a really great divorce lawyer.
That same year her father died of his alcoholism and her grandfather had a heart attack. He had lived, but there were dark days he had been in the hospital and she and her grandmother clung to his parchment hands and whispered their love of him to the steady beep of the hospital machines.
Feeling all hope of family slipping away from her, Emily had sent her DNA off to be cataloged by those ancestry sites. She had needed to feel part of something, and seeing the world map of where her ancestors hailed from helped. She had shared the results to her grandfather as he slowly recovered from his surgery.
The day the letter came from a lawyer she did not know, from a state miles away Emily had been confused. Her grandfather explained she had inherited something. He got his own lawyers involved. Turns out, they had found her based on the ancestry site. The state wanted to sell the property, get the fortune in property taxes paid at the very least.
No sooner had she inherited the house, the ink was not even dry, when developers started hounding her. Her grandfather had been delighted. She would be set for life, he told her. With her trust fund inherited from her father, and her substantial divorce settlement, the sale of this “Roselynn’s House” and the kind of offers coming in would take care of her forever.
She had not even seen the house yet.
She could not just sell it and be done with it without even seeing her legacy. She got the impression that her grandparents had not much liked her mother, and wanted little to do with her.
Emily fell in love with the derelict house the moment she saw it. Overgrown weeds, weathered shutters falling off their hinges, the house so faded you could not even tell what color it had been. Apparently she owned the entire tiny island a short boat ride from the mainland. Beer bottles and graffiti testified to its use as a party spot for kids.
She had gone back to her grandfather and declared she was going to fix it up and live in it. Turn it into a bed and breakfast, maybe.
You know nothing of business, her grandfather had laughed. You will having nothing to live on. The taxes and repairs will take everything. You will have nothing.
She will have the house, her grandmother had said, her warm, calm hand encompassing her husband’s. Emily had hugged them both, tears streaming down her eyes.
Now the house glowed on the hillside, reborn with hope and love and every last cent of both inheritances and her divorce settlement. It had taken two years to get all the needed repairs, and work done. Her grandfather had let her hire his contractor. He had said at least if the work was done right, she could always sell the property for even more than her offers when it was a derelict. Property was worth investing in, so they might as well do the job properly.
Emily went back to school, adding business and hotel management to her former history degree. She juggled her education, and decisions about structural integrity over historical preservation, as well as replacement tiles and wall plaster.
The dawn sun kissed the twenty-room Victorian house built by the love of a man over a century ago for his beautiful wife and family. Emily’s heart filled. Tears ran down her cheeks. The warm pink light made the white shutters glow as if they were dipped in rose gold.
The final inspections had all been passed, and today she was opening her doors. Roselynn House, would be open for business. Her Grand Opening party was in a couple months, scheduled for Memorial weekend, and the start of the tourist season in this area. She had a full house reserved for that weekend, so she was glad for the soft opening to work out whatever kinks were left in the house.
Her grandparents were going to be her first customers. She had a few other reservations coming as well, her website had been collecting bookings for the last six months.
Emily had built a beautiful place, and she loved every inch of it. She loved the quiet dawn light. She was the only person on the island this morning. The last of the tradesmen had left on last night’s ferry. Her employees were due on the morning ferry. She had loved her night alone with her beautiful house.
Negotiating that daily ferry across the water had been one of her biggest challenges. The town had not liked her much, thinking she was just another rich developer slinging money around and planning to steal business from the locals. None of them had believed her when she insisted that she intended to run it locally. She had started with the ferry service. Her workers had needed to get supplies to and from the island, after all.
When the warm sunrise finally reached her, as she stood on the graveled walkway, she felt as if it kissed her soul and blessed her entire house.
Her grandparents were coming to see the place that they had only ever seen in pictures. They were coming to be her first customers. Emily thought her grandmother insisted on that. She suspected her grandmother did not think Emily knew it was also their sixtieth wedding anniversary.
Emily had eight other rooms booked for this weekend, and three of them were honeymoons. Yes, this house would again be filled with love. It helped that Valentine’s Day was later next week. That weekend was completely booked, thanks to the special deal she had advertised online.
One final walk-through in the quite dawn hours. Pre-dawn to check the soft solar lights that illuminated the grounds at night, and now that the sun was up, she would walk the grounds again, as well as every room of the house. Then she would greet her staff as they arrived on the morning ferry. Of course, they had all been here before, for their interviews and for training. She had kept to her promise, and hired local people. The town had warmed up a bit as she filled her small staff of landscapers and cleaning crew, chef and servers from the local town across the way. The farmers and fishermen who would be supplying most of her food had really warmed to her.
She was looking forward to her staff arriving. She had a full day planned. A final review and walk-through for everyone. Just because the maid would not be trimming bushes did not mean they did not need to know how to turn off the sprinklers in an emergency. They would have a nice staff dinner—her chef already had it planned—and then her first customers were due to arrive on the afternoon ferry.
Her grandparents were due to arrive on the afternoon ferry, and she could not wait to see them and show them her beautiful house.
* * *
“Grandpa! Grandma!” Emily called out, her smile beaming from ear to ear.
Her stylishly dressed grandmother smiled back, waving, the diamonds on her hand and the pearls on her neck sparkling in the afternoon sun.
“Emily, it looks so beautiful!” her grandma said.
“Are you sure it’s the same place?” her grandpa teased. His suit was crisp and pressed, looking sharp compared to the t-shirts and jeans of the other guests getting off the ferry and walking up to Roselynn House.
Emily laughed, hugging them both. “I’m so glad you are here!”
“Well, let’s see this place,” her grandfather smiled. He grabbed the hand of his wife of 60 years and kissed it. She smiled at him.
Behind them, just getting off the ferry was a young couple, also holding hands. When the young woman saw the glimmering building at the top of the hill her jaw dropped. She turned to her husband and kissed him thoroughly, forcing another couple to walk around them.
That third husband put his arm around his wife’s shoulders as he pulled their suitcase behind him.
Emily’s heart glowed like the shining sun on the waters of the bay. Yes, love would definitely be filling this house again.
“Your carriage awaits!” she said, turning back to her grandparents. She gestured to the golf cart. Her grandparents smiled in pleasure, not envying the climb up the stairs that most of the guests were taking. Others were walking up the sloping tree-lined drive way that spiraled up the hill from the dock. Emily loaded her grandparents bags onto the cart, and turned on the electric engine.
Up the beautiful gravel drive they went, passing lovers holding hands, and couples who were smiling and taking photos of the trees and flowers lined the walkway. Her grandma kept pointing out some various details to her grandpa, which had Emily beaming with pride. She had kept as much of the original vegetation as possible, but had worked closely with the landscapers on designing something breath-taking.
She had wanted to inspire love from the moment people stepped off the ferry, and it looked like she had achieved it.
* * *
Her grandparents were settled into their rooms, with an eastern view of the Atlantic ocean. Emily smiled at guests and kept on the move with a sharp eye for potential problems.
Her staff was fabulous, and very few stopped her to solve problems. The house filled with conversation and laughter as people found their rooms, or explored the building, reading about its history on the walls.
Emily had framed prints of the house from the one that had originally been taken when it was first built, to several newspaper articles she had managed to find from its early years. Even the derelict overgrown building she had photographed when she first saw it was on the wall, as well as a series depicting the restoration. This morning she had photographed it again, and as soon as she could get the print made, it too would go on the wall.
She pushed open the doors of the grand dining room and smiled in pleasure. Her event manager had done a spectacular job of decorating the room in silver and gold. Tasteful, yet elegant. The china hinted of bygone eras, but the food would be modern and amazing.
Emily had hired an ambitious young chef who had a passion for fresh, seasonal and sustainable food. He had also written a self-published cookbook on aphrodisiac foods, which is how she had found him. She had wanted even her food to promote love.
There was even going to be a cake, decorated to honor her grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. They were going to be so embarrassed when she surprised them with it, but she knew they would love it.
Guests were being sat in the dining room, and phone cameras were capturing the decorations, the view, and even the flowers. Her guests were falling in love with Roselynn House just as much as she had.
The maitre d’ caught her eye and gave her the signal. Emily slipped out of the dining room to greet her grandparents.
“I hope you rested comfortably?” she smiled.
“We did. The room is lovely, Emily. You’ve done an amazing job here!” her grandma kissed her cheek. “And you look beautiful.”
Emily ran her hands over the beaded dress she wore.
“So do you! You always taught me to respect dinner and dress well for it.”
“A habit from an era gone now, I fear,” her grandpa said as she kissed his cheek.
“I wanted to capture a little bit of that here,” Emily said.
“You have, indeed!” her grandma’s gesture swept the hall.
“Are you ready to be seated?” Emily took the menus that her maitre d’ handed to her and led her grandparents to their table with the best view of the ocean.
She held the chair out for her grandmother, while one of the servers held out her grandfather’s chair.
She handed over the menu, “Tonight’s menu has all of your favorite dishes.”
“Enjoy your dinner! I’ll return and join you for dessert. We’ve got something special planned!”
Emily went to the kitchen. The first orders of the restaurant were coming in and Chef and his cooks were doing great. She nodded and gave a thumbs up to Chef when he noticed her there. He smiled back, delighted to have the kitchen open to the public at last. He would shine here, she knew. His food was amazing, and he put his whole heart into every dish.
She slipped back to the walk-in and took a peek at the gorgeous cake. Her breath puffed in the cold room, but she had to check, one last time, that every detail was perfect. It was, of course.
Time for her surprise.
She entered the dining room and picked up the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you all as our first guests to Roselynn House,” Emily announced. She stood on the small stage that backed the small dance floor. The ballroom had a much larger dance floor. The pianist was quiet behind her, ready.
“Roselynn House is about love and family, and tonight is a very special night,” Emily said. “Not only is it our opening, but I’m proud to congratulate my grandparents, Mr and Mrs Winters, on their 60th wedding anniversary! We have a very special dessert tonight, in honor of this very special anniversary.”
The servers pushed the cake cart into the room, and it looked glorious. Her grandma gasped, and her grandpa reached over and held her hand.
The pianist began his song, their song, the song her grandma had told Emily they had first danced together. The diners in the room applauded.
Her grandpa stood, and extended his hand to his wife. She beamed at him, and together they took the dance floor. Soon other couples were also dancing while the servers were cutting and delivering the cake.
Emily beamed. She sat at her grandparents table as they finished their dance. The pianist kept playing, and couples kept dancing. Emily hoped her chef could see the expressions of bliss as the guests took their first bite of cake.
Her grandparents sat down. They were smiling from ear to ear.
“You have outdone yourself, my girl. I’m so proud of you,” her grandpa said.
Emily leaned over and grabbed his hand in hers. “I could not have done it without you. I’m so grateful for you in my life!”
She kissed them both, and noticed she and her grandma both dabbed away tears at the same moment.
Copyright ©2017 by Jamie Aldis
Published by Valsaga Publishing LLC
Cover Design copyright ©2017 Valsaga Publishing LLC
Cover art copyright © Clovercity | Dreamstime.com
All rights reserved.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.