Read Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1) Online

Authors: Jay Brenham

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Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
11.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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Fall of the Seven Cities


Jay Brenham



Fall of the Seven Cities

Jay Brenham


Copyright © 2015 by Jay Brenham. All rights reserved.


This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is a coincidence.


Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited. The author greatly appreciates the time you spent reading this story. Please consider leaving a review where you purchased the book, tell your friends via social media or in person, and help spread the word.


Brenham, Jay. (2015-07-20). Fall of the Seven Cities: Oak Penny Literature. Kindle Edition.





















To my wife:


When I’m in the trough of the wave I look up and there you are at the crest, reaching out a hand to pull me up.









The first thing Matt Hess did was knock on the front door. No answer. That was a good sign. He never liked doing a job when the owner was home, no matter how big the house was. It always felt like he was intruding.

From the outside, the house was amazing. If the inside looked half as good, he would hit the jackpot. It was hard not to count your money before going into a house, not when it looked like this. The mansion was built on an inlet that had access to the Chesapeake Bay, with a deep water dock and enough room for a one-hundred-foot yacht.

In an hour Matt would show this house to a potential buyer. In the beginning, when he was starting in the real estate business, he never tried to sell a buyer on a specific house. He might have pointed out a nice amenity here or there, but a house usually sold itself. Hell, back then buyers were bidding prices
. It wasn’t uncommon for a seller to receive multiple offers.

The market was different now. Now everyone wanted a deal; serious offers went out the window with the economy. If a property was listed for $300,000, people were offering $150,000 and they refused to negotiate.

Matt’s company took three percent of the sales price in commission. He got half of that. That was pretty good if you sold a lot of houses but bad if you weren’t selling, and Matt wasn’t selling.

This house was different. It was listed at seven million dollars, a price tag fourteen times higher than the most expensive house he’d ever sold. If he could make this sale he would walk away with $112,000 in his pocket. That was more than enough to set him straight with his creditors and still have some green backs left over for a rainy day. This one sale could change the course of his life.

With hope in his heart, Matt walked through the house and turned the lights on, jotting notes on a legal pad about what made the house unique: hardwood floors, a chef’s kitchen with granite counters, an infinity swimming pool, and a wine cellar. To top it all off, the house had a courtyard with a large central fountain.

It was nearly an hour before he finished. What really stuck in his mind was the sailboat: a 28-foot Bristol Chanel Cutter that was waxed to a mirror shine. The name “Carver” was painted on the stern. The sailboat looked absurd in a boat slip big enough to house a yacht. Matt didn’t know much about boats, but he knew if a person could afford this house, they could afford a bigger boat than that.

Matt nervously checked his designer watch. He’d gotten it for the same reason he’d gotten the Audi: he wanted his clients to think he lived in a house like the ones he was trying to sell. He needed to establish his credibility as a successful Realtor. The luxury home market was a niche and if he could establish himself as the go-to man, he would be set for years to come. Fake it until you make it.

Time ticked by as he waited for his client. As much as he wanted this sale, he had to admit the joke was on him. It was almost noon and the appointment had been at 9:30 a.m. He’d called the number the client had given him. An orthodontist’s office answered. The orthodontist was not his client.

Other Realtors had warned him about this. With the rise of the internet, the real estate world changed. People could see every house that was for sale and, as a result, teenagers—or maybe just mean-spirited adults—would set up a showing for an extravagantly priced home. One of two scenarios ensued: either the people who showed up couldn’t dream of purchasing the house, or they stood the agent up. A practical joke.

It wasn’t that Matt didn’t have a sense of humor.
One summer when he was working as a lifeguard, he’d called a pool down the road and pretended to be “with the lounge chair refinishing company.” He’d requested that the lifeguards set all the chairs out by the curb to get new strapping. It probably took the three lifeguards an hour to put all those chairs out front, and another hour to bring them back in the next day. Man, how he and the other guards had laughed at that. It had been such a great joke at the time. The next week the other pool’s lifeguards had gotten them back by tossing a candy bar in the deep end, some member’s thought it was a turd and they were closed down for an afternoon. He was busy shocking the pool with chlorine and taking samples of chlorine levels the rest of the work day. This felt different. It wasn’t a harmless summer prank among teenagers; he could have been showing a house to people who were actually interested in buying property. The entire situation was exacerbated because of his financial problems. Last month he hadn’t even been able to make the minimum payments on his credit cards or student loan debt.

He looked one more time at the house flier he’d printed out. It said, “This is an Architecturally designed home.”
was actually capitalized, as if that made it a selling point.
Every home is architecturally designed
, Matt thought.
Fuck this place and the pretentious assholes who built it
. He shut off the lights, put the key back in the lock box that hung on the front door and went to his car.

He’d bought the Audi in February, new to him but still used. It was a nice car except for the air conditioning. Sometimes it would spit out cold air; other times it would heat the already hot car. This wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t hotter than hell at the moment. His appointment to get the car fixed wasn’t until later that afternoon, but he had some free time right now. Might as well drop it off.

Summer beach traffic was always bad in Virginia Beach, but today it was compounded by a crime scene along the waterfront. The radio said that one man had been killed and others were wounded.
What is this world coming to,
Matt wondered. It seemed that every week there was another shooting, another stabbing, or another mother drowning her children in the bath tub. He wasn’t even that old, but the world had gotten itself dangerous in a big hurry.

The heat made it feel like he was sitting in traffic for hours, but after half an hour he pulled into the Audi dealership. His back, wet with sweat, was pasted to the leather seat. The dealership would be air conditioned, he thought hopefully, a refuge from the midday sun.

“How can we help you today?” asked the young blond woman at the front desk. Her name tag said Tricia.

“I have an appointment to get my air conditioning fixed,” Matt said.

“License plate?” Her smile was almost too perky.

Matt gave her his tag number and she pulled up his information on the shiny tablet in her hand. “Oh. I see your appointment isn’t until three o’clock this afternoon. You’re a little early.”

“I know. I was hoping to drop it off now. I had a cancellation at work and was able to come in.”

“Not a problem!”


Tricia hit a button on the screen and her face turned sour.

“Sir, it looks like you requested a loaner vehicle, is that correct?”


“Sir, the vehicle you were scheduled to receive won’t be back at the dealership until 2:30 p.m.”

“Can’t I take another?”

“That’s the thing, sir. All of the vehicles in the fleet are already out. Is this a problem for you?”

Matt sighed. “No, I can walk home.”

“Are you sure about that, sir? We do have a complimentary shuttle service. I’d be glad to arrange a ride for you.”

“No, I live right around the corner. I just need to grab a few things from the trunk.”

“Not a problem!”

Nothing was a problem for Tricia. He wondered if behind her perky facade she was just as miserable as he was. Was she barely treading water? One moment full of hope and then next, plunged into the depths of despair?

He hadn’t exactly been honest when he said he lived around the corner. His house was five miles away, but he needed the walk. A little time to focus on his next move would be nice.

He pulled workout clothes and a pair of running shoes from his trunk and changed in the dealership bathroom. Walking home in a suit would be miserable.

He handed the key to Tricia and left, his mind already engaged with his problems. What would he do about money? He could always get a second job. It wouldn’t be enough to pull him out of debt, but it might help him make the minimum payment.

Sweat ran down his back but he didn’t regret his decision to walk home. Thinking things out were good for him.

His mind wandered to Jennifer Glastonbury, his ex-fiancée. He’d purchased his house, the largest portion of his debt, with her in mind. It would’ve been a nice house for a family. Life was good then, even if it had been a lie. Jennifer had looked happy. Maybe she really had been.









Matt remembered it like it was yesterday. His friend Ryan was over having a beer before they went to an Admirals hockey game. They were going to meet up with Jen at the rink in a few hours. Ryan was the kind of guy who always perused the personal ads on Craigslist, not because he was actually interested, but because he enjoyed laughing at the absurd.

“Look at this. ‘Deployment Special.’ And only 75 dollars,” Ryan said, shifting his laptop so Matt could see the screen. The pictures started with the woman in lingerie and picture by picture she took a piece off. You couldn’t see her face, but Matt hadn’t needed to.

“That’s Jen,” he whispered.

“Shut the fuck up,” Ryan said, laughing.

“I’m not kidding,” Matt said, not taking his eyes from the screen. “That’s my god damned fiancé. I bought that lingerie.”

.” Ryan closed the window. “I’m sorry. I just thought it was funny because it said deployment special.”

Matt didn’t break down. He didn’t sob or ask why.

“Don’t confront her right now,” Ryan called as Matt left the room. “You’ll do something stupid.”

“I’m just going to the store. Come with me if you want.”

They drove to the store in silence. Matt bought a prepaid cell phone and, from the parking lot, used it to send a text to the number listed on the Craigslist ad. It wasn’t her cell number. At least, not the cell number

“I’m deploying. How about tonight?”

The reply was one word. “Yes.”

It couldn’t be Jen, Matt thought. She was meeting him tonight at the hockey game.

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
11.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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