I grew up on Nancy Drew books.
I never thought I’d be living in one.
They say houses have secrets, but I didn’t think they meant the house itself.
Like you never know what goes on behind closed doors.
But the doors are supposed to be on the up-and-up.
Not in my house.
Most homeowners have construction stories, and I love hearing them. I’ve told many of them, too.
But this isn’t a construction story.
This is a deconstruction story.
Around my house, I’m not adding, I’m subtracting.
Not surprisingly, it’s just as expensive.
I’m subtracting, but the numbers are adding.
I was never good at math and now I know why.
Because math is smarter than I am.
By way of background, I live in an old farmhouse, recently sold a pool table, and decided to make the fireplaces in the same room work. They haven’t worked in over 100 years, but there’s no time like the present.
Except my house was hiding the past.
To explain, I have to go back to when my beloved father Frank Scottoline was alive. He was a great guy, a great father, and a great architect who really loved old houses like mine. I will never forget the day when he stood at a wall in my bedroom and said, “There’s a fireplace back here.”
I blinked. “Dad, what you talking about? It’s a wall.”
To which my father replied, “Get a sledgehammer.”
First, I didn’t own a sledgehammer. I’m an author. I wanted to say, “Will a pen do?”
But I bought a sledgehammer and handed to him, reluctantly. “Are you sure about this, Dad?”
Which never helps.
I’m telling you, never say don’t worry to someone worried because it only makes them worry more. Especially if you’re about to take a sledgehammer to a perfectly good wall.
So I worried and he sledgehammered, and you’ll never guess what happened:
OK, there was a fireplace behind the wall.
But that’s not the surprise ending.
Behind the wall on the other side of the bedroom was a second fireplace.
In other words, I had two secret fireplaces.
I also had a pile of rubble and a proud dad.
And an even prouder daughter.
However, both of the fireplaces were closed up, so they’ve been decorative since they were discovered. But when I sold the pool table and wanted to make the fireplaces work downstairs, the genius fireplace guys told me they could make the fireplaces in my bedroom work, too, and they offered me a package deal.
At first I wasn’t sure what to do.
Who gets a package deal in secret fireplaces?
Nancy Drew and me.
A package deal always sounds good.
But secret fireplaces sounds bad.
Like it could be a really big package.
And it is, but right now, the fireplace guys are sledgehammering away, and I’m going to be a person with two fireplaces in my bedroom.
This is good because the radiators don’t work.
So maybe it’s practical.
Next I’ll churn my own butter.
And it’s so romantic to have a fireplace in the bedroom.
Two is twice as romantic.
That’s basic calculus.
Anyway forget the fact that I haven’t had a date this century.
There are secret fireplaces that are less closed up.
You need more than a sledgehammer to unblock this baby.
The most action in my bedroom is when I change the channel.
But I do sleep with my dogs, who are very happy about our new deconstruction.
We’re going to snuggle at bedtime in front of our fireplaces.
I’ll curl up with the dogs, a good book, and a grateful memory of my late father.
Believe me, I know how lucky I am.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Look for Lisa’s new domestic thriller, “What Happened to the Bennetts,” coming March 29. Also, look for Lisa’s best-selling historical novel, “Eternal,” in paperback. Francesca’s critically acclaimed debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” is also in paperback.