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“Well I do have quite a few on the list of foreclosures and we’re waiting for the renovations on about eight more. Things will start looking up if I can just get two or three into closing.” Frances sighed and took a sip of wine. Her composure returned as she studied her dinner. Her short, curly blond hair belied her years, as did her Jones New York suit tailored to perfection.

Frances had made her living as a Realtor in Yavapai County for more than 35 years with a focus on small ranches in the outlying areas. She and her husband had put the kids through college, paid off the family home, and even put aside a nice retirement, before he passed away nine years ago from cancer. The hospital bills ate up the retirement and the bankruptcy that followed took the family home. All Frances had left was her car, a 2004 Toyota, an investment condo she and Tom had purchased years ago, her little rat terrier, Jackie, and a garden plot the size of a postage stamp. Frances took everything in stride trusting in her faith in God and belief in people to get her through in tough times. The current downturn in the economy was, for her, just another storm to ride out. She cut coupons, shopped at resale/consignment stores, and pinched pennies twice in order to stretch the meager earnings she received now from foreclosure sales.

Lisa Wood had worked for years in banking and when the opportunity came to switch to mortgage banking as a branch manager for American Mortgage in Prescott, she jumped at the chance. Lisa owned a condo in the same complex as Frances. Her husband of 12 years, Phil Mason, was a ner’ do well, who spent more time on the golf course than at home, and went through every penny she made until she closed out her bank account to prevent him access.

Frances and Lisa shared a common friend, Summer Bear. Summer, the matriarch of four generations living at Bear Ranch, stood tall--6 feet-- just a little taller than her daughter, attorney Marlowe Sharpe, and granddaughter Detective Oriole Wolfe. Summer taught classes at the community college, raised a garden every year that produced hundreds of quarts of vegetables, managed a ranch of multiple critters and provided a home for her great granddaughter Anders Chalcedony Wolfe--Chalcey for short.

The three friends, Summer, Frances and Lisa would routinely get together to cuss and discuss life in Prescott. Summer was to have joined them for their monthly dinner, but had to beg off because of the recent death of Joyce, Rod’s wife of Crimson Ranch.

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