The house had sat empty for nearly two years now while the Flynn Sisters fought over their father's estate. Chad Hamilton kept an eye on the property on behalf of the sisters, making sure the pipes didn't freeze in the winter and that no vandalism took place on the premises. He grew up across the street from the Flynn family and he was romantic involved with Glenda in their teenaged years although Glenda's sister Holly was his first love.
Chad was now a real estate agent and he assumed the sisters would hire him when they finally decided to sell. The house was a huge Victorian in excellent shape with wrap around porches and second floor balconies. The homestead looked warm and friendly but Chad was aware of the soap operas and drama that took place inside the home over the years.
The girls' mother left the family when they were young and Mr. Flynn's second wife Janet passed away at an early age. Oldest daughter Holly made it to the big time as a professional Golfer while kid sister Glenda acted out, got in trouble, and still carried a huge chip on her shoulder all these years later, resenting her older sister's success.
Glenda was married with three kids and she lived in Maine and her sister Holly appeared in town when her busy schedule allowed, staying at the house while slowly cleaning out fifty years of her fathers' belongings. Glenda took what she wanted and Holly sold several pieces to local furniture and antique dealers. Chad needed to be careful when he walked through the house not to trip over packed boxes left in hallways and other clutter scattered throughout the house.
Every time Holly blew into town, Chad asked if there was any movement on the house situation.
"I don't want to talk about it," she'd sigh and that would be the end of that conversation.
Chad was patient knowing he needed to wait for some sort of truce to be reached between the two sisters even though it wasn't good for the house to sit empty for so long. He liked both sisters and he understood they had issues, exasperated by the death of their father and the absence of their estranged missing mother.
Chad, Holly and Glenda were in their late thirties now and Chad wished it was Holly who would move back to Hillsboro because she was the more reasoned, mature, balanced and likeable of the two sisters which is why he fell hard for her long ago.
Even strangers could see that Holly and Glenda were related - they both had the same golden brown hair that they wore in similar styles - bowl cut around their cheeks to frame their round faces, dancing eyes and copy-cat smiles. But Glenda was known to be over-emotional, rude, opinionated and vindictive whereas Chad couldn't recall an instance when Holly behaved inappropriately or even said something mean (except about her sister!).
Holly gave Chad a head's up whenever she was coming to town (never at the same time as her sister, of course) and he'd meet her at the house to chat and help her move boxes or clean out another closet. Chad was sentimental and nostalgic returning to the old neighborhood. His parents had downsized years ago and moved to a condo in Greenville so his childhood house was occupied by another family now and Chad lived in a condo of his own in Riverside.
Holly never stayed for more than a few days before she was off to make another speech somewhere, or consult for some coach or team, or make a television appearance as a sports commentator. As successful and popular as she was, Holly didn't make Chad feel inferior or unimportant. To him, she was still the same Holly he grew up with.
Chad let Holly charm him with her smile, stories, and good cheer. She lived an interesting life and it was fun hearing her stories about famous people. When she was back in her childhood home - as empty and deserted as it was - she was the Holly of their youth and Chad liked to pretend that they were in a 'do over' since their friendship became strained as her sports career took off and she was too busy to spend much time with him.
These days, Chad mostly felt sorry for Holly because even with all her success she seemed unhappy when she came home. She insisted that she was fine even though she didn't want to talk about the house or Glenda or her mother. Chad knew Holly missed her Dad who had been her biggest fan and cheerleader and that she liked having Chad around the big empty house because he reminded her of her younger happier days.
Chad was never the athlete Holly was. Holly was also a friendly extrovert while Chad was a shy introvert. Holly was popular, especially as her sports talents improved. She was an all-state high school field hockey player and a pretty good basketball player but it was golf that proved to be her passion and her ticket to college.
Before all that happened, however, Chad and Holly were innocent and carefree friends who hung around the neighborhood together. Chad loved Holly's laugh and he was always cracking jokes just to hear her giggle. Holly worked hard on getting Chad to believe in himself, forcing him to do things he was afraid to do - like climb trees. She even taught him how to play basketball!
Holly didn't laugh much these days and they hadn't shot hoops in front of the garage in years. Chad was thinking about that as he stood in the Flynn kitchen staring out the window at the rusted net-less basketball hoop above the garage.
"What are you looking at?" Holly asked as she stepped into the kitchen and saw him peering through the pane.
"Nothing," Chad replied with a sigh. He turned, stepped away from the window, folded his arms across his chest and gave her a long look. "How are you?"
"I'm fine," she replied. "How come you're always asking me that?"
He shrugged. "No reason," he lied.
Chad often wondered if they would have ended up together had Golf not consumed Holly's life. She was always playing in some junior amateur tournament somewhere or spending her time at the Greenville Country Club and somehow Chad ended up with Glenda instead of the preferred and beloved Holly, although he was never quite sure how or why that happened.
Holly knew that her sister made a play on Chad mostly to spite and one better her but Holly wasn't in a position to do much about it and she never came between the two knowing that her golf had to take precedence.
Chad treated Holly the same as always during that period - she just wasn't around enough to make a difference. It hurt Holly to see Chad with Glenda but Holly wasn't willing to sacrifice her commitment to Golf. It earned her a full scholarship to play at Wake Forest and she knew she'd never return home again. Chad ended up taking real estate courses at Blue County Community College and he never left Hillsboro.
Chad figured Glenda wasn't going anywhere either and that they would become one of those stereotypical couples - a high school romance that morphed into adult life and turned into the rest of their lives by default but Glenda took at girls' trip to Summer Beach, met the guy from Maine, and she was soon giving Chad the slow torturous exit strategy until she finally just packed up and headed for Vacationland, never to return.
Holly rarely mentioned Glenda in Chad's presence and Chad had no interest in bringing her up either.
"Chad," Holly said, both of them still standing the kitchen. "You don't have to worry about me."
"Why do you keep coming back?" He wanted to know.
Holly shrugged. "I owe it to Dad," she explained.
Chad looked at her skeptically. "You could have hired somebody to clear this place out two years ago," he said.
"I don't want our stuff being handled by strangers," she rebutted before giving him a pleading look. "You know how complicated this is," she pouted. "Please don't give me a hard time about the house. Glenda is already doing a good job on that front."
"Sorry," he said with understanding. "Besides, I'm glad every time you show up."
"I bet you are," Holly teased knowingly.
"Nothing interesting ever happens around here when you're gone," Chad noted.
"Nothing interesting ever happens when I'm here either," Holly countered.
"That's because we don't do anything except pack boxes and throw out junk," Chad pointed out.
"What would you like to do?" Holly asked with interest.
"Any of the stuff we used to," Chad suggested, taking a seat at the kitchen table and letting out a sigh.
"You want to climb trees?" She teased, taking the seat next to him.
"We could go see a ball game at Beano Field or get an ice cream or take in a movie or have a burger at Johnny C's."
"I try to keep a low profile when I'm in town," Holly revealed.
"The celebrity affect?" Chad guessed.
"Something like that." She sounded weary. "I haven't played professionally in ten years but people still see me as that twenty-four year old rookie sensation."
"Hillsboro is proud of you," Chad explained.
"That's because they live in the past," she said.
"Don't we all sometimes?" Chad asked. Then he peered at her. "So if Glenda finally gave in and let you sell the house, you'd never come back?"
"Is there anything to come back for?" Holly wanted to know.
Chad chewed on his lip for a moment. "I guess not," he sadly realized.
Holly regretted her lack of sentimentality. "We could go get a cone at Red's if you want," she said. "I'll stay in the car."
Chad smiled. "VIP."