The Restoration of the Throne
It was the living room that sold her.
No matter the older, shabby neighborhood. The living room had windows to the north and east, running right up to their common corner. Her big comfy chair could go _right there_ for the best possible reading light, and the fireplace was on the west wall, where she could have a crackling fire all winter long.
That vision stuck with her as she trailed the anxious seller through the inconvenient kitchen and the horrible bathrooms upstairs.
"It was _Mother's_ house, and I just can't live here." The woman selling the house wrung her thin hands. "I'd feel like an usurper."
Dina nodded, tucking away a little smile. _Usuper, like my very evil Count Claudius. I always loved that character. I wonder if _he's_ divorced with grown children, now?_ She snorted a little at her overactive imagination. Twenty years before, she written a best selling Fantasy, all noble kings and evil villains. The series had died under the rain of her new husband's demands, and her imagination withered under his scorn. It was nice to feel like it was reviving. _The divorce may have been the best gift he could give me._
She took another long look at the sun warmed hardwood floor of the living room. Another hour and the sun would be too high to shine in.
She knew the house wasn't looking its best in the weak winter sunshine, dead grass and bare shrubbery. "Needs a coat of paint, and the bathrooms really are awful."
"Yes, well." Her realtor cast a glance back at the owner. "We'd definitely negotiate on the price. But really, I think you'll like this next house on Brocton Street better."
The anxious woman sighed. "I could remodel the bathrooms?"
Dina shrugged. "My house is sold, I need to move _soon_."
Her realtor chivvied her down the sidewalk to the Lincoln. "Mrs. Weatherby, you just sold a home for over three quarters of a million dollars. There's no need to look at these . . . small, older homes."
"It'll be Ms. Dina Master as of tomorrow noon, when the divorce is final, and as for the house, my ex gets half the equity. I want a _large_ cushion to handle the . . . transition period." _Because I haven't worked for fifteen years, and I was self employed then. I don't know _how_ to make a living anymore._
"I'm not sure I ever did." She shook her head at the realtor's enquiring look. _This is not the time to sink into a black depression_ she told herself.
The next three houses were predictably larger and more expensive, mostly because of their neighborhoods. The warm living room of the first house kept returning to mind. None of the others could match it, and finally, to her realtor's exasperation, she called a halt to the tour and placed an offer on the older home.
"It's just not upscale. It's not the sort of place you came from," the frustrated realtor pled, none-the-less filling out forms and recommending an insultingly low price.
Dina rather thought the realtor had been hoping for a larger commission as she signed the contract anyway. "I really ought to wait and do this tomorrow, after I get my maiden name back."
The realtor smiled, "They'll probably negotiate, and by the time the title check is completed there won't be any problem putting it in your new old name. Are you quite sure you don't want to take out a loan?"
"Quite certain." She shook the realtor's hand and departed.
She started her car, and rolled down the windows. "Now, I assault the walls, like Count Claudius. I'll be the Usurper. Hmm, Count Cladius was rather old. I think his son has taken over by now. Hmm." She drove past a sign for Lucio's Pizza. "Lucio? No. Lucian. Yes. Young Count Lucian, the Usurper. Black hair, of course. Blue eyes though. I like blue eyes." She couldn't remember Cladius's eye color. "Dear me, I need to re-read my own books." A billboard for a gym caught her eye. "Broad shoulders, muscular, long legs, oh yes, a most excellent Evil Villain." She hummed happily along with the radio.
Four weeks later, the Usurper moved in.
She'd scandalized her former _very_ upscale neighborhood with a "Divorce garage sale" and gotten rid of almost all the furniture Bruce hadn't taken. The little house was echoingly empty, except where it was stuffed with boxes. The living room had her comfy chair and a heavy, solid wood coffee table and side table. The breakfast table filled the dining room, and the boxes with her good china were stacked in the corner.
The guestroom furniture that she'd been sleeping on, Bruce having taken the nearly new bedroom suite from the master bedroom, was actually a bit large for the largest of the three tiny bedrooms upstairs. She shifted the bureau to the next room. The third upstairs bedroom would be her office. At the moment a computer sitting on the floor. The downstairs bedroom would be a combination library and guest bedroom. It's current furnishings were her son's old bed and boxes of books. She'd sold the oversize pretentious monster desk Bruce had used in the study at home. Former home. He'd taken all the papers. She'd had just enough warning to get copies for tax purposes. Oh joy. One last thing to "look forward to", the last joint filing of taxes.
She'd kept most of the towels. Tons of really top quality towels. That didn't match the colors in _any_ of the bathrooms.
Well, she knew exactly what to do about that!
She flipped open her cell and hit the first button on the speed dial.
"Audrey? I need to repaint my new bathrooms. You want to help choose paint colors?"
"So you don't do something _awful_ ? Again?" Her best friend since third grade snickered. "Yeah, I want to see this cozy little slum property Bruce says you're buying."
Dina hesitated, then gave in to temptation. "You've seen him?"
"We ran into him at Frankie's last week. Urg! I know you said he'd run off with a politically well place bimbo, but Dear Gods, I hadn't expected . . . well, never mind. Want to do it now?"
"Sure." Audrey always did things _now_. And her color sense was, well, magical.
"Eeps!" Audrey prowled from the dreary half bath off the slightly larger bedroom around the corner to the dismal whole bath. "This is beyond paint and wall paper. You need to remodel. If you took out the wall here," she waved at the wall between the two bathrooms, "and got rid of the commode here, put in a single long sink, a new bathtub and a new commode, this could be nice."
Dina giggled, "New commode? I could make a compete fantasy out of this, you know." she blushed a little in embarrassment, "The Restoration of the Throne."
Audrey laughed out loud. "Put in a whirlpool bathtub, call it the Whirlpool of Death."
Dina shuffled her feet. "How about a dastardly trap, a Floor of Fire, otherwise known as subfloor heating."
Aurdey swept back to the bedroom, "and a big arch there, combine the two small bedrooms into the Royal Chambers."
She stalked through the other two rooms, shaking her head. "Look, that closet is back to back with the bathroom, it'd be easy to enlarge the bath even more."
"Big enough to qualify as the Torture Chamber." Dina did a bit of prowling herself. "All right. I'm sold. Do you know someone who can do it?"