First Refusal

The Daughter and Heiress

“I gave Mrs. Lawson first refusal.”

Few sentences have ever felt sweeter in Maxine’s mouth.

It wasn’t the words.
It was dismissing Opal Barrow.
It was dismissing a woman who had been a wart in her life. Her Mother's Friend and lawyer. Friend, Maxine assumed because it was cheaper to have a lawyer for a friend.

It wasn’t that Opal had ever done anything to Maxine, she might have liked the
woman if she hadn’t been her mother’s best friend then inherited by her father
when her mother died.

Now that her father was dead, Maxine wanted no part of Opal Barrow.

As the attorney drove away, Maxine returned to sorting through her parent’s things.
She had already planned on leaving the keys with Mr. Chisholm who lived down the
road. He would look after the house until Mrs. Lawson could buy it.

In a few days she'd fly back to Oregon and whatever happened here was beyond
the fringes her of thoughts.

Tenement Yard

It was a year later that Louisa, (an old school friend) rang up Maxine, wanting to know if she was renting the house. She knew a nice young family which needed a place.

Maxine now realised that Mrs. Lawson had paid nothing.
Paid nothing for over a year.

A bit suspicious, Maxine asked Louisa to take a glance at the house see if it was alright.
The next day Louisa described the crowd living there, no doubt paying rental to Mrs. Lawson.

Maxine called Mrs. Lawson, told her that her 'first refusal’ time had passed and that she would be renting the house to Mr. & Mrs. Gerry.

Mrs. Lawson stumbled and mumbled and said something about a week to clean it out. Maxine didn’t let on that she knew what Lawson had been doing with her house. However, whatever happened, in two weeks the Gerrys moved in, paying their rent into Maxine’s account.


Bad Lucky

After a few months the Gerry's, a nice young couple decided they wanted to buy the house. This meant that Maxine needed a lawyer.
The only one she knew was Opal Barrow.

She rang up Opal, and arrangements were made. As the house was not in the condition it ought have been the sum of Eight point Six seemed reasonable but the Gerrys wanted their own valuation.

Maxine knew the house had, according to the Insurance policy she had found when going through her father's things, been valued at Ten Million.

However, having heard Louisa's graphic report she could imagine how much damage the Crowd could have caused in that one Year of destructive occupation.

While waiting for the Gerry's valuator to arrive a hurricane arrived.
The house, which was not currently insured suffered damage.
The Gerrys suffered terror, and moved out.

No Build? Sale?

Considering the devastaion in the area the Government was suggesting declaring the area “No Build” and paying Eight Million dollars for each house. As Maxine wasn’t there and had not requested Opal to represent her, the offer expired.

A year after the hurricane, as Maxine had heard nothing, unsure whether or not the house would be taken by Government, she rang Opal.

Maxine asked Opal to take charge of her house. Opal agreed and sought about finding a buyer.

Maxine didn’t trust Opal. There was no reason for it, but she just didn’t.


Mr. Burton

Out of the blue, Maxine received an
email from one Mr. Burton who
expressed an interest in purchasing
the house.

In her usual murky mental manuevers
Maxine decided to put this man she
didn't know into the house and have
him pay a small rental until the sale
was complete.

Over the next months Burton found
many things that needed repair and
replacement.

During the back and forth between
herself and Burton, Maxine never
thought to contact Opal.

Eventually Burton offered Four point Five Million Dollars for the house.
Again, without consulting Opal, Maxine accepted.

During the next months, (which became years) Maxine agreed to deduct the sums
paid as 'rent’ and 'repairs' from the purchase price as Mr Burton sought a mortgage.

She informed Opal off-handedly of what she had Decided, just in case the lawyer had
advice, or other thoughts on the matter.

What Maxine Didn't Know

Maxine did not know that Burton had wanted to purchase the house when her father died.

Maxine did not know Burton was the buyer Opal had attempted to suggest on the day she'd dismissed the lawyer.

Maxine did not know that Burton had been willing to pay Eight point Eight Million dollars.

That was the day Maxine had announced; “Mrs. Lawson has First Refusal.”

Today, as Burton deducted a million dollars from the price he had agreed to pay, Opal reminded him of that day nearly five years ago when she had approached Maxine and gotten that response. No words were sweeter to Mr. Burton's ears or pocket.

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