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A Change Will Do You Good

Chapter 5

Casey watched his face as they followed the realtor through the completed house. The walls were all white, something she would change before they even moved in, if they bought it. She loved the master suite with the French doors that opened onto a private deck, and the master bathroom with the dual vanities and marble counter top; the generously sized, double headed, slate tiled shower, and the etched glass that enclosed it; the jetted corner tub in its slate tile surround, and the frosted glass block windows above it, which allowed ample light into the long, narrow room, and the secluded toilet. Two large walk-in closets would provide plenty of room for their clothes.

The kitchen was wonderful, although the breakfast bar on one side of the curved island would require barstools rather than bar chairs. The ceramic cooktop was located on the island, and a small bar sink was at the opposite end. The refrigerator/freezer combination was 'full sized', and listed as industrial. Plenty of room in both. The pantry consisted of four separate pantry cabinets in the short hallway between the kitchen and the laundry room. Daniel seemed to like the fact that the den opened to that hallway as well as having double doors that opened onto the foyer.

The two secondary bedrooms and bath weren't much larger than what the kids already had, but were closer to the master bedroom. The living room, dining room, and what the realtor called the conversation room, with it's tall, wide, rock fireplace, and the kitchen were all open to one another, and the high ceilings only added to the feeling of spaciousness.

The basement was unfinished, although a full bathroom had been 'plumbed in', ready whenever the homeowner wanted to add it. The hot water tank and the furnace were in the garage, easier to get to for any needed repairs. The garage itself was double, with ample room for storage.

Daniel wandered the living room again, his hands in his pockets. He looked at Casey. Her eyes were bright and full of excitement. He could tell by looking at her that she loved the house, he'd seen that look in her eyes before. "So, you think you could handle living here?"

"I think so."

"Well, let's find out how much they want for this place, and see about putting our house on the market."

She gave a little squeal and threw her arms around his neck. "I love you, I love you, I love you!"

He laughed and pulled her close. She had reacted the same way when he had consented to buying the house on Baldwin Street. He was sorry that the realtor was with them. He would have enjoyed making love on the floor in the kitchen, hidden by the island.

Casey glanced at the island, then at him, and smiled. If they were alone, she'd drag him over there and show him just how happy she was. Just like she had done when they had looked at their little house, and he agreed to buy it. She pressed her body against his. "I'll just have to thank you later," she whispered.

"I'm counting on it," he whispered in reply.

The realtor, a friendly man by the name of Nate Turner, had been thrilled to learn that Dr. Jackson and his wife were interested in the house. He knew that Mrs. Jackson had seen the house while it had been under construction. He had watched her as they looked at each room, and how she watched her husband's face. Nate knew that she wanted the house. He only had to sell the good doctor. Which was easy enough to do. Casey Jackson had done all the work for him. He had left them alone, giving them time to talk. He heard the squeal and knew that he had just made a sale. He grinned. He'd make a nice commission off of this house, and another when he sold the Jackson's home. He re-entered the living room, found Dr. Jackson and his wife in the kitchen examining the large refrigerator/freezer. "Well folks, what do you think of it?"

"How much?" Daniel asked.

"Three eighty-five."

Daniel nodded. The lot was a full half-acre, which meant a nice sized yard. The back yard was already surrounded by a wood 'privacy' fence, and the French doors in the conversation room and living room opened onto a wide deck; steps led to a patio and brick grill, with a place to slide a gas grill into. The neighborhood was going to be gated, with a guard on duty full time. Nine-foot brick walls with sensors would surround the rather exclusive housing development. Even though crime was practically non-existent in Hope, he liked the thought of the extra security. The house was large, and nice, with exceptional workmanship. The built in cherry desk and storage in the den was excellent quality. The built in oak china cabinet rivaled any piece of furniture, in fact it looked like an antique setting against the wall, and the kitchen had top of the line appliances, including a trash compactor, granite countertops, and beautifully finished maple cabinets. "Okay, let's do this," he said, earning another hug and a kiss on the cheek from his wife.

The paperwork of course, was just the beginning. They filled out papers to list their house, and then a contract to buy the other. Nate was fairly sure that there would be no problems with financing, especially when neither Jackson batted an eye at the required down payment.

By the time they drove to the Desala's to pick up Emily and Nicholas, Casey was nearly bouncing with excitement. Change had always been difficult for her, threatening what little security she'd had in her life. For Daniel, changes weren't as threatening. He had long ago learned to accept them as just a fact of his life. This change, she thought happily, this needed change, was a very good one. Erin was just as excited as Casey, and the two women launched into an immediate discussion about wall color and wallpaper and curtains and rugs and furniture.

Daniel settled back into the chair in the living room. "It will be nice to have more room. Eventually we can finish off the basement, or at least part of it. When the kids are older, we could move the TV down there," he told his father-in-law.

"I hear that it will be a gated community," Aaron said.

"Yeah, it will be. According to the realtor, the guards will be on duty in about two weeks."

"Good. That will make it just that much harder for the NID should they manage to get any agents here."

Daniel nodded. "I thought about that too. I haven't let Casey know that we're still hearing rumors about them trying to take us. She'd only worry, and she's been through too damned much as it is."

"I agree." Aaron studied his glass of iced tea. "I spoke with Unlinkil. Good man. I know his parents. He believes that there is a chance that Nergal is still alive."

The young archaeologist shook his head. "Casey knew he was in that palace. We leveled it. Then she said that she couldn't 'feel' him any more. He's dead."

"Unless someone was able to dig him out, and get him to a sarcophagus."

Daniel hissed a breath. "Oh, hell. Does he have proof?"

Aaron shook his head. "No. If it did happen, it will take time for Nergal to…recuperate. He won't be able to cause any trouble for some time. All of his territory has been divided among the surviving System Lords. He has nowhere to go, no ships, no Jaffa. Our best hope is to find him before he can re-establish himself. If he is truly alive."

"I don't want Casey to know about this. Not until, or unless she absolutely has to."

"I agree." The Ancient glanced into the kitchen where his wife and daughter were still talking animatedly about the new house. "I pray for her sake that Unlinkil is mistaken."

"So do I," Daniel replied. The thought that the monster who had tortured his wife was still alive made his blood boil with anger. If Nergal had somehow escaped death, the bastard wouldn't be so lucky the next time. He would see to that, personally.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

They slid into a comfortable, mission free routine, broken only when there was a rush to straighten the house for potential buyers to come and look. They had approval on the new house within just a matter of days, and once the closing had been held, and all the papers had finally been signed Casey had begun spending time there painting. She had talked Daniel into helping her hang wallpaper on the only defined wall in the dining room, where the built-in china cabinet was located; and in the master bathroom. She had already painted the 'kids' bathroom, and decorated it with seashells and fish, bubbles and sea horses. The half-bath she had painted, using a technique that made the walls look as if they were covered with dark blue suede. Curtains and blinds had been purchased and hung. The new bookshelves, with glass doors, complete with locks, and been delivered to the new house, and fit in the den perfectly along the only wall that lacked built-ins. The desk and filing cabinets that Daniel had been using would go into the basement for the time being. Jack and Duncan had helped him take apart, move and reassemble the 'play center', which only took three hours. Daniel swore that the damned thing had given them fits going back together simply to irritate him.

Casey had searched for, and found, four over-sized club chairs, in soft, supple, creamy leather, and a matching ottoman the size of a coffee table. They were arranged near the fireplace in the 'conversation room'. The bar chairs they had would remain with the little house, and new rattan barstools were now sitting at the granite breakfast bar. Her new washer and dryer had arrived the same day as the new dining room table, which had leaves and enough chairs to seat twelve. It would be a bit crowded in the room with all the chairs in use, but at least the entire family would be able to have a meal together. It was a bit more formal than the set they had, which would also go down into the basement. The new set boasted high backed chairs with chic upholstered seats, and armchairs for each end. The rich, dark teak finish made the table glow in the light from the large window, at the opposite end of the room from the china cabinet. With the other two sides open to the living room and the conversation room, the dining room seemed much larger than it actually was. And the new table sat proudly in the center of the room, beneath the twin brass chandeliers.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

She stood in the kitchen. The walls were now a soft yellow, the conversation room, dining room and living room were just one shade lighter, and the wall paper that covered the dining room wall was deep, rich blue with tiny yellow flowers. Yep, it looked like sunshine. She smiled. She had been bringing things over, just a box here and there, unloading it and taking the empty box back. She could hardly wait to move in…Daniel had agreed that they would do so over the upcoming weekend.

"Knock, knock!" a familiar voice called.

"I'm in the kitchen, Tess," she replied.

"Oh, Casey, it's lovely," the French woman said, nodding in approval as she walked from the front door to the kitchen. "I see you've already hung your new portrait!"

Casey smiled. In the hallway between the living area and the den, that led from the foyer to the kitchen, was one long wall. Like the foyer, it was painted a soft, light blue-gray. On it she had hung every portrait and photograph they had. The exception was the sketch that Tessa had done of her and Daniel. It was above the fireplace. The newest sketch, one of the four of them at 'snuggle time', was the centerpiece around which all the others were arranged. "Yep. Wouldn't be home without it!"

"I like the moss green you chose for the den. It looks wonderful against those cherry cabinets."

She blushed. "Thanks. Daniel wasn't so sure about the lavender in our room, but I think he'll get used to it. Besides, it matches the wallpaper in the bathroom, and I found a gorgeous comforter with lavender, yellow and green. It will look great. Emily wanted pink in her room; princesses like pink, you know," she giggled.

Tessa laughed as well. "I rather imagine it's a very soft pink." She knew Casey well, knew that she preferred soft, light colors to anything dark or 'heavy'. There were exceptions of course, but for the main living areas, the young Immortal liked light and bright.

"Yep. She gets a new comforter, too. Nicholas gets the traditional blue. Come see what I did in the laundry room!" She led her friend into the small room, where light yellow gingham wallpaper covered the walls.

"Oh, how charming! I love that you're using baby clothes as curtains!" Tessa exclaimed.

"I saw that in a decorating book," Casey replied. "It's one way to keep a few of the cute outfits."

"I think you've done an amazing job of decorating, mon amie. You have the heart of an artist, Casey."

She smiled, felt the heat in her cheeks as she blushed again. "Thanks, Tessa. That means a lot coming from you. Did Sam tell you that she and Jack bought that two-story house down the street?"

"Yes, she did," Tessa smiled. "Have you seen the brick two-story just around the corner?"

"Yeah, it's gorgeous. I'd love to see the inside of it! It looks like a manor house!" Casey said.

"Well, you'll see it often, I hope," Tessa said, her eyes sparkling.

Casey squealed and hugged her friend. "Now all we have to do is get Carly and Teal'c to buy a house here!"

"It will be nice to be so close, will it not? And to have such a lovely little park right in the center of the development, we'll be able to take the children there to play," Tessa smiled.

"It's going to be wonderful, living here," Casey said. "I'm so glad that my two best friends will be so close."

"As am I, " Tessa replied. "Now, I came to see if you wanted to go to lunch. I called Sam, she's going to meet us at Curly's."

"Lead on, I'm starving!" She made sure all of the doors were lockedhabit, not necessityand followed Tessa out to her car. She needed the break, and lunch with her two best friends was the best break of all.


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