Friday, July 25, 2008

rottnest romance #13

They're still in the restaurant. Thank god it's not a six-hour degustation.
Nick reveals he's good with his hands. Will Larissa club him to death with a Black & Decker spirit level? Read on as we move into the exciting second half of Chapter Two...
"How's your bruschetta?" she heard him enquire.

"She looked up, about to say it was delicious, but saw he was talking to Ashleigh.

"Not bad," Ashleigh said. It was the closest so far she had come to being complimentary Larissa had heard.

Larissa had a feeling of - what? - annoyance Nick hadn't been asking her how her food was. Why was that? She was getting rather tired of hearing him go on about his building project - why would she want him to speak to her about anything else?

With a frown she tried to clear the question from her mind. Although it was probably the last thing she wanted to know about, she decided to find out some details about the man opposite her.

"How long have you been a developer, Nick?"

"All my working life," he answered. "It's pretty well all I know how to do."

"How did you get started?"

"From the bottom up. I began studying to be an architect at university, and financed my studies by working on building sites."

"Do you mean labouring?"

"That's right - hard physical work, out in all kinds of weather. I learnt how to do it from scratch."

Larissa glanced at his expensive clothes and Rolex watch and reflected that lately he didn't seem to have to do much of the building himself. Ashleigh seemed to think the same, because she drawled, "You don't often have to get your hands dirty now, though, do you Nick?"

He shrugged, and gave a fleeting smile. "I've been successful. I can employ people to do all the hard work for me now."

"How did you come to choose Rottnest for your next big scheme?"

"By the usual process - although I did have some good fortune as well."

"Oh? How was that?"

"The project was announced in the usual way, by public tender. The island also contacted me and asked if I'd be interested. I lodged my tender, which was provisionally accepted."

She wasn't part of 'the island' that seemed so keen for Nick to start building, she thought fiercely. "Good for you, then," she commented. Her voice must have sounded less than enthusiastic, as they both glanced at her with curious looks.

She hurriedly came out with another question. "What do you mean, that your tender was only provisionally accepted?"

"The deadline is next week. I have to hand in all the documents by then. But there's no problem there. We just came to Rottnest to look the place over and finalise details in the cottage design."

As he spoke he looked confident and relaxed. At his side Ashleigh was sipping at her glass of wine. Larissa had a sudden feeling of helplessness as she sat with these two dynamic, well-dressed people who radiated confidence. It seemed inevitable that the development was going to proceed. Nick was a successful and energetic businessman, with every intention of making his latest project a credit to his portfolio.

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