I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up #3)(7)

For the past few years we’ve been making a decent living in the real estate market, but the real money is in flipping, which requires a lot of capital and a fast turnaround. The quicker the flip the better, and the right piece of property can mean big profits. The kind that can make a bank account sing “Hallelujah.” As long as Marley doesn’t hit any more Teslas.

I get out of the car, slamming the door a little harder than necessary, and round the vehicle, popping the trunk. It isn’t until I get a load of the whole bunch of nothing inside that I remember all my groceries are still in the cart in the store where I left them, my hour of price matching wasted.

I bang the trunk closed and walk around to the front of my car, where smudges of black paint mar the bumper. My car once belonged to an elderly person who could only tell if she was close to something when she hit it, so it’s no wonder I didn’t notice the paint smudges until now, since all the edges have dings. None of which are my fault.

“I think you need to look at the positives in this, Ri,” Marley says as she follows me up the driveway to the side entrance. “At least I wasn’t driving the good car.” She pats the Acura on the hood as we pass.

It would be smarter financially to have only one car, but the truth is, we need two. And one of them has to be nice. Arriving at a showing in a beater doesn’t scream success, and in the real estate market, driving a nice car says very loudly: I’m successful, buy from me, sell through me! It’s a fake-it-till-you-make-it world out there.

So Marley gets to drive the Acura to all the open houses, and I drive around in an old Buick previously owned by a person who hit stationary objects on a regular basis.

I key in the code and drag my poor, already achy legs to the second-floor apartment, Marley following close behind. It’s a far cry from the home we grew up in. But when you’re orphaned at eighteen, left with a mountain of debt and an army of enemies, you learn to appreciate what you have, even if it isn’t much.

This little duplex was a gift from our grandmother, God rest her beautiful, intelligent soul, because without it, Marley and I would’ve been homeless a decade ago. It’s the only thing we have left from Deana Sutter. Thanks to our fraud of a father, everything else we had was either repossessed by the bank or put in foreclosure.

Marley is an excellent agent and I’m very adept at the money-managing side of our venture. But this bill for the paint is an unexpected expense and puts distance between our financial position and our house-flipping goal. And the ones in the Hamptons are incredibly desirable, particularly the properties surrounding the Mission Mansion.

It’s a beautiful, although rundown, estate in the more affordable part of the Hamptons, if any of it can actually be considered affordable. Anything on the beachfront boasts prestige and exclusivity, but this unique property and its location make it a desirable piece of real estate, despite the work it needs.

From what we’ve observed over the past few years, it’s the homes owned by elderly couples or widows and widowers surrounding the mansion that make the best investments. They’re tired of the maintenance, of the busy beaches on the weekend, and the inevitable changes that come with time. They want the warmth from down south, where the temperature never dips below zero. They’re also the same people who last updated their home in the early eighties or nineties, so everything is out of date. And surprisingly for the Hamptons, the prices of some properties aren’t as astronomical as one would think.

Once we have the capital on hand, we want to buy one of those houses, bring it into the twenty-first century with a facelift, and flip it. Between our savings and our trust, we’ll finally have enough to make cash offers so we don’t have to worry about mortgages and credit. Our ultimate plan is to continue to sell real estate, but to move in the direction of flipping more houses until we can afford to buy the Mission Mansion—the gorgeous, neglected estate in Hamptons Bay that was once owned by our grandmother.

I don’t want to flip it, though. Ideally, with enough financial backing, we could renovate and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. Convincing Marley that’s a good idea is where the challenge lies. She’s not attached to it the same way I am.

Besides, it’s a crapshoot since we don’t know when, or if, it will go up for sale. But it’s been empty for years, and the market is crazy right now, so I have a feeling it’s just a matter of time. It’s a big dream and an even bigger numbers game. I love numbers. So much. They make me happy. They give me peace. But not when they’re in the form of dollar bills being drained out of our bank account by rich, Tesla-driving, a-hole hotties.

After a quick shower, I throw on leggings and a T-shirt and settle on my bed with my laptop. I have notifications from the online dating profile my sister set up for me, without my permission, as a joke.

They make you take a survey—which Marley kindly answered for me. I went back and adjusted all the information because I was curious who I would match with, and what algorithm they use to determine the compatibility score. I’m most interested in looking at the men who are incompatible, rather than the ones who are—just to see who would be bad for me. Unsurprisingly, it’s all the really hot guys.

My history with hot guys hasn’t been particularly promising, so I tend to steer away from them. They’re gener ally unreliable and fairly self-absorbed—both in and out of bed.

The guys with a higher compatibility rating tend to be less attractive, but also less likely to screw me over. I went out with a guy named Terry the other day. We had coffee. Well, I had coffee and he had decaffeinated herbal tea.

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