This Man

Page 26


As I walk down the stairs, I see my car keys lying on the door mat. So, the man’s seen sense and freed my car. Does this mean he’s also seen sense and given up pursuing me? Has he got the message? Perhaps he has, because there have been no calls or texts since he steamed out last night. Am I disappointed? I don’t have time to consider this.

‘I’m off,’ I shout through to Kate. ‘My car’s back.’

She pokes her head around the door of her workshop. ‘Great, good luck. I’ll be there later to drink all the expensive champagne.’

‘Oh, yes. See you later.’ I run down the path, halting when I see a cheap mobile phone smashed to pieces in the middle of the pavement. I know where that’s come from. I kick it into the gutter and continue to my car. Oh, it’s good to have her back. I load my things into the boot and jump into the driver seat, only to find myself miles away from the steering wheel.

Laughing, I shift the seat forward so my feet reach the pedals. I start her up and jump out of my skin when the stereo blasts Blur around my car. Christ, is his lack of hearing an indication to his age? I turn it down, faltering when the words of the track register. It’s Country house. I fight the small part of me that wants to laugh at his little joke and remove the disc from the stereo. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone so conceited in all my life. I replace the unwanted CD with a Ministry of Sound Chill out Session and head for St Katharine Docks.

When I pull up outside Lusso, I present my face to the camera and the gates open immediately. I park up and see the caterers unloading crockery and glasses as I get my work case from the boot and head into the building. I’ve been here a million times, but I’m still completely stunned by the pure extravagance of the place.

As I walk into the foyer, I see Clive, one of the concierges, playing with the new computer equipment. He’s part of a team who’ll provide a six star hotel-style service, organising anything from grocery shopping and theatre tickets, to helicopter charters and dinner reservations. I cross the marble floor, which has been polished to within an inch of its life, and head towards Clive’s huge, curved concierge desk.

I spot dozens of black vases and hundreds of Italian red roses, placed carefully to the side. At least I won’t have to chase the delivery of those.

‘Good morning, Clive.’ I say, approaching his desk.

He looks up from one of the screens, the panic on his friendly face clear. ‘Ava, I’ve read this manual four times in a week and I’m still clueless. We never had anything like this at The Dorchester.’

‘It can’t be that difficult,’ I soothe the old boy. ‘Have you asked the surveillance team?’

He throws his glasses down on the desk in exasperation, rubbing his eyes. ‘Yes, three times now. They must think I’m daft.’

‘You’ll be fine,’ I assure him. ‘When do they start moving in?’

‘Tomorrow. Are you all set for tonight?’

‘Ask me again this afternoon. I’ll see you in a bit.’

He smiles. ‘Okay, love.’ He turns his attention back to his instruction manual, muttering under his breath.

I traipse across the floor and punch in the code for the penthouse elevator. It’s private and the only one that goes to the top floor.

I set about transporting and spreading the vases and flowers between the fifteen floors of the building. Arranging these will keep me busy for a while.

At ten thirty, I’m back in the foyer and arranging the last of my flowers on the console tables that line the foyer.

‘I have flowers for a Miss O’Shea.’

I look up, seeing a young girl gazing around at the impressive lobby. ‘Sorry?’

She points to her clipboard. ‘I have a delivery for Miss O’Shea.’

I roll my eyes. Don’t tell me they’ve duplicated an order of over four hundred Italian red roses. That really would take incompetence to a whole new level.

‘I’ve already taken delivery of the flowers.’ I say tiredly, walking towards her. I notice the van outside, but it’s not the florist I ordered through.

‘Have you?’ She looks a bit panicky as she flicks through the papers on her clipboard.

‘What have you got?’ I ask.

‘A bouquet of calla lilies for Miss…’ She looks at her clipboard again. ‘Miss Ava O’Shea.’

‘I’m Ava O’Shea.’

‘Cool, I’ll be two seconds.’ She runs off, returning swiftly. ‘This place is like Fort Knox!’ she exclaims. She hands me the biggest spray of calla lilies I’ve ever seen – stunning, white, clean flowers surrounded by stacks of deep green foliage.

Understated elegance.

My stomach does a few cartwheels as I sign the delivery girl’s paperwork and take the flowers from her, finding the card among the forest of green.

I’m so sorry. Forgive me, please. X

Is he? He already apologised for his inappropriate behavior and look where that got me. I start to wonder how he’d know I’m here, but then I remember him picking out Lusso in my portfolio. It wouldn’t take a lot of effort to find out the launch date and figure I would be here. My contentment of yesterday evening, after Jesse left the house, is slowly dissipating. He’s never going to give up, is he? Well, he can knock himself out. I smile to myself. Knock himself out? Where did that…I flatten that thought immediately.

I place the flowers on the concierge desk. ‘Here, Clive. Let’s pretty up all this black marble.’ He looks up briefly before returning to scratching his head, looking overwhelmed. I leave him to it, getting on with my walk through to ensure everything is in place and ready.


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