Thursday, December 2, 2010
One – Bitter Betrayal by Margaret Blake
There was no one at the reception desk. Michael believed there should always be a clerk ready to greet customers. It looked like you didn’t care if there was no one there. He rang the bell; it seemed to echo out along the corridor. He checked his watch, almost ten thirty… there should have been some guests checking out, or a clerk making up bills, something happening, not this feeling of emptiness. The atmosphere was so desolate that he wondered if he was off his head to contemplate buying this hotel. After all, he owned a chain of exclusive hotels and Blooms was hardly in that league, far from it.
He was just about to slam his palm on the bell again when a door opposite the desk that he knew let in onto the office, opened. A tall, slim person wearing a sweatshirt and grubby jeans stood there. There was a baseball cap pulled low on her head, for it was a she. The curves at her chest showed that clearly enough.
“Hi,” he said, trying to stem the faint feeling of revulsion washing over him. What was Bloom thinking about having someone like that as a hotel receptionist? No wonder no one wanted to stay at his damn hotel. “I’m here to see Charles Bloom.”
“Charley Bloom is here,” she said, “Mr Hernandez, you’d better come through.”
That was one strike up for her; she knew who he was. She opened the little gate and raised the counter so he could step behind reception, then led the way into the office.
The office was in a real mess, with papers and files littering the desks and most of the area of floor space. There was a filing cabinet, one of the drawers open, files piled high on their holders instead of sitting snugly inside.
“Take a seat,” she said, indicating the only chair that did not have files on it. He refused to sit. She shrugged and went behind the desk, but the chair was also cluttered so she perched on the edge of the desk. He wished she would not keep looking down; he hated it when people refused to make eye contact.
“So where is Charles Bloom?” he asked as politely as he could muster. He didn’t have all day and his limited patience was fast evaporating.
“What do you want? You had to have heard we weren’t selling,” she answered in a rather impudent tone of voice.
He had not heard. “We weren’t? Who’s the we?”
“My dad and me.”
“Your dad?” He thought he got it. “I didn’t know there was a me and my dad.”
“There wasn’t when you first spoke to my dad, but there is now.”
“Oh, yeah? Look, Miss Bloom, I don’t have all day. I want a definite yes or no from Mr Bloom. Is he selling or not?”
“He isn’t selling and neither am I, Michael…”
He threw her a sharp look at her use of his Christian name. She raised her chin, then her hand and pulled off the grubby baseball cap. Long nut-brown hair spilled out, falling in wanton waves over her slender shoulders. She met his stare; her eyes were so familiar, very pale tawny coloured round eyes that were shaded by long thick lashes.
“My God!” The words exploded from him. “Charlotte?”
Published by Wings Press Limited
And available as e book and print.
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at 5:39 AM