The Billionaire Next Door

By: Christina Tetreault

The Sherbrookes of Newport, book 10



Chapter One


Curt Sherbrooke watched the real estate agent pull into the driveway behind his SUV. He’d worked with Peter Marcus in the past, and the man usually did a great job of finding just what he was looking for. He didn’t expect this time to be any different.

“Nice to see you again,” Peter said when he reached Curt. “I hope you didn’t have too much trouble finding this place.”

The rotaries in the center of town had confused his GPS. As a result, he’d gotten an unplanned tour of Pelham, New Hampshire. So far, he liked what he saw. The town appeared large enough for him to blend in and hopefully not draw too much attention to himself. At the same time, it wasn’t so big it lost the essence of the traditional New England small town. It would be the perfect place to relax and work on his novel, while doing something he enjoyed.

“I got a little redirected along the way, but I managed. What did you find for me, Peter?” Curt checked out the house and grounds around him.

Peter opened the folder he held and pulled out a packet of papers. “This tells you all about the house and the town.” He handed the packet to Curt. “I’ll give you the basics for now. Originally, the house and the surrounding hundred acres belonged to the Draper family. They owned the quarry across the state line, in Dracut. The home stayed in the Draper family until the late 1940s. It’s been sold twice since then. Thirty years ago, the current owners started selling off parcels of land, and many of houses you passed on the street were built. The last part of the original estate, the old groundskeeper’s cottage, was sold twenty-five years ago. It’s set way back, so you can’t see it from the road. You would’ve passed its driveway on your way here. Today, the house comes with eight acres. The original stables remain on the property. The carriage house was converted into a three-car garage at some point, and there’s a full apartment located above. The home has a heated in-ground pool and there’s also a man-made pond on the property.”

They walked up the cobblestone walkway. It, much like the exterior of the house, had seen better days. But Curt had expected as much. He had told Peter he was again in the market for a fixer-upper. If the exterior of the home was any indication, that was exactly what Peter had found him.

“According to the listing agent, the house needs a new heating system. What’s in there right now works, but it’s not efficient. You’d want to have something new installed before the winter. And there is no central air. A new roof was put on four years ago. Other than that, not much has been done here in a long time. The house has been empty for over two years.” Peter retrieved the key from the lock box on the front door. “The listing agent is a friend of the owners. She told me the couple moved into an assisted living facility. None of their children want the old house, and at this point the couple needs the money from the sale to cover their expenses at the facility.”

The hinges on the front door groaned when Peter opened it, and Curt stepped inside. The large wood-paneled foyer reminded him a bit of his grandparents’ home. A faded mural covered the vaulted ceiling, and an antique chandelier with several bulbs out provided less than adequate light. An ornate stained-glass window filled the space above the front door, allowing in sunlight. Matching stained-glass panels flanked the door. A curving master staircase led up to the second floor, and two hallways stretched out to other parts of the home.

“The first floor contains the typical rooms you’d expect. There’s also a ballroom located at the back of the house. Evidently, the Drapers liked to entertain when they lived here. Upstairs you’ll find six bedrooms, as well as his and hers private offices and a billiard room. There’s an elevator that goes between the first and second floors, however, it doesn’t work. The listing agent isn’t sure what is wrong with it.”

“Let’s look around,” Curt said. From here he liked what he saw, but before he made a decision, he needed to see the rest of the house.

He went from room to room on the first floor, each one appearing to need more work than the one before it. Thankfully, it appeared much of it was cosmetic. There were no gaping holes in the ceilings or floors. All the windows looked old, but capable of keeping out the elements as well as any unwanted critters looking for a place to live. Even the kitchen appeared useable, if outdated. Nothing appeared to be a deal breaker.

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