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   Chapter 8 The Ravenwood Arms

The Ravenwood Arms By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 29960

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:26


Chapter 8

Despite the foray into the flea market and the multitude of projects demanding my attention, I was relieved when Tuesday rolled around and the time for my meeting with Davis drew near. Sammy was less than thrilled with my vague mid-morning timeframe, but added my meeting onto his calendar on the line above his lunch break and agreed to send Davis back when he arrived. Determined not to let my nerves show, I pulled out an old carved wooden room divider from the back storeroom.

I picked up the three paneled wooden divider on a whim one weekend because I liked the general look of it. It had a thick coating of white-ish paint and looked as though it spent an hour or two being dragged behind a truck on a dusty highway. I took the hinges out of the panels, separating them, an effort that required much paint remover just to excavate the hinges from their latex entombment. It was a bit like finding the center of the tootsie roll pop, without all the licking.

Then, I began working on the first of the panels. As I stripped off layer after layer of paint, I realized the carvings were much more intricate then I first believed. The multitude of paint layers had glopped together, obscuring the details and making the design look clunky. As I worked I began to like the design more and more. Delicately I worked on the edges, trying to remove all of the paint without scarring the wood beneath, wondering what the original design entailed.

I became lost in my task as more and more of the pattern emerged. Finally, I straightened, giving my back a chance to stretch after being bent so long. I jumped with a start as I realized Davis was standing there watching me work.

"I didn't want to interrupt, " He said smiling at me. It was barely nine when I started on the panel. A glance at the clock told me it was now quarter to eleven.

"Time flies, " I replied, setting my heat gun and paint scraper down.

"May I?" he asked gesturing towards the piece. I nodded and he stepped forward, trying not to step on the drop cloth beneath the panel set to catch the fallen bits of paint. He traced the edges of some of the carvings where I managed to unearth them from their paint cocoon. "Nice, delicate. It will be a beautiful piece when you are done."

"Not bad for a five dollar find huh?" I replied, smiling at his interest.

"Five dollars, impressive. A lot of work, but impressive."

"Thanks, " I told him. I looked around for a seat to offer him. There wasn't anything. "Um, we have a room in the back we use for meetings sometimes." I didn't point out that the only time we used the meeting room was when we needed to decide who was doing what on a project that involved multiple people and coordinated timing. "I think there are chairs back there."

"Or, " he countered as though realizing the possible state of our back room. "There is a coffee shop across the street. I think they also serve sandwiches if you wanted to make it an early lunch. That way we can sit down and have a table."

"As I think we sold our table, that might be a better plan, " I replied, remembering we were previously using a giant twelve seat dining table as our meeting space. A visiting designer fell in love with it and had to have it for one of her projects. I was fairly certain it was shipped out the week before. I dusted myself off and looked into the mirror we nailed to one of the walls to make certain my face was not streaked with paint. Sammy insisted on its placement as those of us in back routinely appeared looking like we were in the process of applying war paint, which he thought frightened the customers. I washed off my hands and pulled my wallet and keys from the drawer where I kept them during the day. I shoved the items in my pockets and was ready to go.

"No phone?" he asked.

"Oh, " I replied. I looked around. "I'm not sure where I left it. I know I brought it in today in case you had to call to change anything."

"Is that it, " he asked pointing to one of the shelves. I looked up and saw the phone.

"Yes, " I picked it up and added it to my back pocket. "I put it where it was out of the way."

"That's all?" he asked. "No bolt cutters or flashlights?"

"Do you think I'll need them?" I asked smiling back at him.

"I'm fairly certain the café will have a knife with which to cut your sandwich if you wanted and they also have this newfangled thing called electricity, so I think you should be safe leaving your flashlight behind."

I shook my head. "That basement was dark and you know it, " I replied feeling oddly comfortable with him. I led him away from my work area and towards the front. "We're heading out to lunch, " I told Sammy who had apparently expected as much and nodded, an unconcerned look on his face.

"The basement was shadowy, not dark, " Davis corrected as we left the shop.

"Shadowy is just a lighter degree of dark, " I told him. I noticed he was carrying a folder. "Are those my estimates?"

"They are." He waved them at me. "And you get them once we are inside." We crossed the street and after placing our coffee orders, we slipped into one of the many available booths. While I was certain the place would be jam packed as the lunch crowd arrived, as it always was when I decided to leave the workshop for a bite, we appeared to have beaten the lunch rush.

Our coffee orders were called and Davis retrieved them, leaving the closed folder on the table. I resisted the urge to open it until he returned. He smiled at the closed folder as he handed me my coffee.

"Not even curious?" he teased.

"I figured I could wait five more seconds." I replied smiling. Davis seemed much more relaxed and somehow friendlier than he usually was on a job site. I wondered if it was because I was usually the one making him stay late or if this was just how he was when not actually working on site.

"Such restraint, " he replied, opening the folder. He turned it so I was looking at the pages right side up, even though he had to look at them upside down. Slowly, he began to explain the various estimates. We had gotten lucky with the permits and inspections. Both the electrical and plumbing were up to code and ready to go with minimal alterations.

"What's this?" I asked spotting two separate lines for insulation, each with their own price. Davis leaned over the sheet trying to read upside down. I started to turn the page around to face him, but he stopped me.

"I think this might work better, " he replied. Davis stood up and slipped into the booth next to me so we could both read the page right side up. His leg was warm where it pressed against mine and his aftershave or cologne or something gave of a pleasant, spicy smell. I tried to ignore both, trying to think only professional thoughts, as he read the item on the list.

"Ah yes, " he replied. "One is for regular rolled insulation and one is for sprayfoam insulation. It would be your call as to which we used. We would only use one obviously rather than both, so only one would go on the final tally."

"Okay, " I replied trying to concentrate on the estimates instead of his nearness. We debated timelines, cost and effectiveness between the two before moving on. Davis ticked off my preference and drew a line through the other. We continued through his list. There were several places where he knew I could shave a little off of the prices if I was willing to do some of the work myself. In those places he separated the materials from the labor and let me make the decision.

"And I can give you a basic cabinetry plan for each of the kitchens, but if your people are doing them in house then you will have to do your own estimation for the build out, " he told me. "I have installation estimates for those though." He flipped the page and his arm brushed mine.

"I'll have to see what we can use of the old ones before I can get a final tally, " I told him, pleased that I sounded steady and professional instead of breathless and giggly. I tried shaking off the feeling. While I always found Davis attractive, hitting on my contractor didn't seem like the brightest of ideas. "Can we reuse any of the bathtubs and sinks?"

"I'll have to take a closer look at them in a stronger light, " he told me. "They may be salvageable."

"Oh, " I replied, unable to help myself. "Could the reason you couldn't see them be because it was dark in the basement?"

Davis laughed and tugged my ponytail lightly. "Shadowy, " he corrected.

"Uh huh." While I knew I was going to be writing a slew of rather large checks in the near future, I was pleased that the final tally didn't seem astronomical. It was something my savings could manage which I found to be a relief. We finished going through the estimates and I expected Davis to slide back to his side of the booth. Instead, he stayed in place. The reason turned out to be less titillating than I thoug

works, " he said nodding. "I was thinking maybe after the shields we could grab some breakfast then head over to the apartment building. That way, if you are so inclined, you could refuel and get the shielding up there before we begin the insulation and drywall."

"That works for me, " I said mentally rearranging my schedule. We both turned towards the door as Mason and Greg came back from lunch. Mason nodded and went over to his workstation. In moments, he had his ear phones on and a belt sander in hand. I waved Greg over before he could do the same.

"Greg, this is Davis, he is the contractor for the apartment building."

"Oh yeah, " Greg said with a smile as he shook Davis' hand. "You're the one needing the cabinets."

"I actually have a preliminary layout plan in my truck, " Davis replied. "We'll need better measurements and a look over at what is stashed to see if it is re-useable. I'm actually heading over now if you've got the time."

"I do actually, " Greg replied. "We'll also need to get the old cabinets, the ones that are salvageable, over here."

"You can use the van, " I told him. I handed him the keys and the two men walked off discussing countertops and work triangles. I left them to it and turned back to my work in progress. As I continued to strip paint from the encrusted surface of the room divider, I mentally began calculating figures in my head wondering exactly how much the two percent came to after so long. I knew Malak was there 'just in case' but as he never really did anything but complain about being there, it kind of irked me.

"I suppose I can think of it like paying insurance." I told myself. I sighed and continued to work.

A few hours later, more of the pattern emerged from the paint and I was ready for a break. I thought Sean might have made it back from lunch, so I left the workshop and headed over to his office. I found him sitting at his desk, typing away at his computer. As I entered, he looked up and grinned.

"You and your hunky contractor certainly looked cozy over coffee, " Sean teased. He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"He didn't want to be overheard when he asked about shields, " I explained.

"Oh, I'm sure that's why he was sitting oh-so-close, " Sean said with a laugh.

"He also didn't want to read his estimates upside down."

"Uh huh."

I frowned at Sean. "You do know he could see you making faces at him in the mirror on the back wall, in the same mirror you were using to look at him?"

The smile dropped from his face. "He could?" I nodded. "Oops, what did he say?"

"That he was flattered, but you weren't his type."

Sean grinned. "That's because you are his type. You did ask him what his type was, right? You didn't let a good opening line like that slide by unacknowledged, did you?"

"No, " I replied. Sean sighed and shook his head. "Do I need to list the many reasons why hitting on the contractor I'm currently working with is a bad idea."

"I'm pretty sure many good and very naughty movies start with the lady of the house and the contractor scenario, " Sean informed me. "Not to mention several divorce cases. I do not know what I am going to do with you. The man is clearly into you. Please tell me you will at least ask him out when this is over and he is not your contractor."

"I'll think about it, if you stop making the kissy faces every time he is around."

"I'll do my best, " Sean replied. "Although I'm not quite sure how good my best will be in this case."

"Try, " I replied. Sean grinned unrepentantly. "Also I wanted to know if you wouldn't mind switching Winston duties tomorrow so that you would take him out in the morning and I'll take him out after work."

"I can do that, " Sean agreed with a nod. "Are you going out someplace tonight?"

"Nope, Davis bartered for a shield for his brother's place. We're going out super early tomorrow morning."

"Not quite as titillating, but it is a start I suppose. While you are here though, I need to run something past you."

"Shoot, " I said.

"Well as I was beginning my plan for marketing and managing the building, I thought that the best place to advertise shielded apartments would be in The Whisper, " Sean began.

I nodded. The Whisper was an on-line newspaper requiring a subscription with a password to read. It featured all of the news and gossip for the magical community. "They do have classifieds, " I said. "Sounds like a good idea."

"I thought so too. I went through their ads looking for similar postings and found no other apartment listings, or their ad rates, so I called to ask. I talked to someone on the sales desk and told her what I was looking for. She put me on hold for a moment and then transferred me to the news desk."

"The news desk? For an ad placement?"

"No, " Sean said shaking his head. "While I was on hold she told Wendy Watts what I was looking for and Wendy wants to know if she can interview you, and I suppose me, for an article. I told her I'd talk to you and get back to her."

"An article, " I repeated. "About an apartment building?" I felt a little flutter of unease in my belly.

"A shielded apartment building, " He corrected. "From what she said, I gathered they are somewhat rare." He shrugged. "Or it could just be a slow news day."

"Riiiiight."

"So what should I tell her?"

"Well, we aren't doing anything wrong. It's not illegal so there is nothing to hide. If she wants to interview me about it, I suppose I would be fine with it. It won't be a very interesting article though, I can almost guarantee that."

Sean nodded. "It's free advertising right? And as one of the few people around who can legally create shielded apartments, you are doing a good thing as well as a legal thing. I'll call and set something up."

"Thanks, " I told him. "I think I'm going back to the workshop." Somehow focusing on my room divider looked like a much safer prospect.

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