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   Chapter 13 The Ravenwood Arms

The Ravenwood Arms By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 21583

Updated: 2018-03-14 10:29

Chapter 13

We entered the apartment and I was fairly certain the smirking began long before we arrived. Sean was in his element as gracious host and as we entered the apartment, we were each presented with a first snow cocktail, which proved to be a super cold martini. I was fairly certain both Jake and Sean were on their second already.

Winston slowly circled Davis and after his initial inspection, the dog placed himself between Davis and the door. His placement was also calculated to be far enough away from Davis to keep him in view without moving too much, but close enough to be able to inhale whatever scents were wafting from his work boots.

Davis eyed Winston. "Perhaps I should invest in odor eater type inserts, " he said.

"I wouldn't worry over much, " Sean told him. "He never took any notice of my shoes until one day I stepped in something squishy by the dumpster when wearing leather shoes. For weeks afterward I had to put the shoes on a shelf whenever I took them off, despite cleaning them really well. Then one day, poof." He snapped his fingers. "Any lingering scent was gone and he no longer cared. The evil eye he's giving you is because you disrupted his schedule last time he saw you."

"Speaking of which, did you get him to go out when you got home? He only did a quick dash this morning due to the rain." I asked.

"Briefly. We did a short run post rain, but pre snow, although our little delicate flower here was disturbed when his paws got wet. We had to wipe them down with a towel upon our return because he gave me the pitiful face." Sean looked at me and frowned. "Something wrong with your drink?"

"No, but I think I probably ought to call James before I imbibe, especially since lunch was only a quick sandwich."

"Ah, good call. The number is on the table. By all means give James a call, then you can fill us all in. I can call for pizza while you do. The usual?"

"Works for me, " I replied.

As I moved over to the table, Sean turned to Davis. They discussed pizza toppings and before Sean moved to place the order he announced, "Jake is a part of the community, so don't feel you need to hide."

"Good to know, " Davis replied with a smile.

"I was thrilled to hear about the apartments, " Jake told him. "I can't believe there aren't more of them. Personally I always make sure to live in a high rise to make up for the lack of shields at my place."

"I have the feeling there will be far more applicants than apartments when they are available, " Davis replied. The two of them settled themselves on the couch while Sean stepped away to call in the pizza. I left them to their conversation and dialed the number James left with Sean. It rang twice before being answered.

"Alice, so good of you to call, " James said as he picked up his end of the line.

"Sean said it was important I return your call as soon as possible." I replied.

"Yes, but with you being so busy these days, I hadn't anticipated you returning the call so promptly."

The comment was delivered dryly and I'm certain meant as some sort of criticism. It was a tactic James used often. He would imply some dissatisfaction with my behavior and if I rose to the bait, he would use it as an opportunity to try and get me to change whatever behavior annoyed him, without actually saying he was annoyed. Usually, he tried the tactic after I refused a job he wanted me to do even if he knew it was just due to scheduling conflicts.

Recently, it had been used for the fact that I didn't answer my phone immediately when he called, forcing him to send a message through the office where it would have to go through both Gina and Sean before it reached me. I discovered if I just stayed silent until he continued, he would get to the point of the conversation without relaying the passive aggressive lectures. The silence stretched.

"I received a call from Wendy Watts of The Whisper today, " James finally continued when it was clear I wasn't going to comment on my busy schedule.

"Did you?"

"Yes, after hearing about this apartment building you bought, she wants to see you put up a shield first hand. I don't suppose you have any additional jobs you've managed to line up on your own?" There was a tone of disapproval in his voice and I frowned. I don't know why he disapproved of my taking a job on my own. He never had before. Shielding Mike and Christy's house still required me sending the fifteen percent to the Commission, five of which still went into his account apparently. While I didn't take outside jobs often, he was never upset by the ones I took as long as I followed the rules. Or at least that was always the case previously.

"No, " I replied, keeping my tone even and my annoyance down. I always found it hard to make a one word response not sound surly, but I gave it my best as I didn't have anything else to add.

"Then it is a good thing I have provided you with one, " James said, his voice crisp. "Mr. Malak will pick you up outside your apartment at precisely two pm tomorrow. Ms. Watts will meet the two of you in my office when you arrive. I trust you will have a pleasant evening." With that James hung up, skipping the normal pleasantries. I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at the darkening screen for a moment.

"That was odd, " I said, half to myself.

"What was, " Sean asked. I saw the three men sitting in the living room and went to join them, taking a seat on the couch near Davis. I took a large sip from my martini.

"He didn't give me a chance to refuse, " I replied. "Usually he calls, tells me there is a job and when I would need to be ready for it, and then lets me check my calendar to see if my schedule will allow it. This time he just told me that Malak will be picking me up at two tomorrow afternoon and that Wendy will meet us in James' office. He sounded kind of annoyed."

"Maybe it's because he didn't get paid for the apartment building?" Sean suggested.

"It would be a chunk of change, " Davis said, nodding. "The one bedroom apartments are about 1000 square feet each, the two bedrooms are about fifteen hundred and the four bedroom is 2500 square feet. That's what, 11, 000 square feet total?"

"You forgot the basement, " I told him. "That would up it to about 13, 500 square feet." I muttered to myself as I did the math. "Twenty bucks per square foot, fifteen percent for the commission, five for James. It

of both the sidewalk and the drive into the parking lot. I was standing in the drive, contemplating the white covered lot when Davis arrived. In addition to his normal work gear I noticed he had a shovel and a plastic container filled with pellets to sprinkle on the sidewalk to keep it from getting icy.

"I haven't gotten around to picking those up yet, " I told him as he began to sprinkle them over the path.

"But you did get everything shoveled." He told me, He finished and handed me the container so I could sprinkle the mix on the stairs to keep them from being a hazard. While I was occupied, he drove his truck from the drive into the lot, crunching the parking lot's snow under his tires. As the trees protected a large chunk of it, the show wasn't as heavy in the lot.

As he walked back to join me in the front, the other vehicles started to arrive. We went inside and dropped our coats in the designated outerwear pile. I sipped my coffee to warm up as the others arrived and gathered. After issuing the morning's instructions to the rest of the crew, Davis helped me haul my painting supplies up to the top floor.

Once established and given my orders, he left me while he worked on another part of the building. I pushed my sleeves up, turned my high energy music on and sang to myself as I applied the primer coat to the walls. I was in my own little world as I worked and was for the most part left alone. Occasionally Davis stopped by to check on me, smirking when he caught me singing along with my music. I wondered how last night would affect working on site together, but was pleased to see that it really didn't change anything. Davis was still professional. I wondered if that was due to the fact that most of the crew was his family. I had the feeling his brothers would probably tease him as badly, if not worse, than Sean would tease me if the situation were reversed.

When noon rolled around, I turned in my roller and as everyone else broke for lunch, I headed back to my apartment to pack. The night before, I thought about packing so that I could stay on site longer. I decided against it though as I didn't want Winston to associate Davis with breaks in his routine. I figured the lunch time packing would at least distance the event of me leaving from Davis' visit to the apartment.

While Winston was thrilled to see me during the day, rising from his patch of sun to give me an enthusiastic welcome, he was less pleased by the appearance of my suitcase. As I placed the case on the bed, Winston came into the bedroom, and sighed heavily as he sunk down onto the floor. His eyes rolled up to watch me as I moved from closet to suitcase.

"I won't be gone long, " I told him. As the words left my mouth I realized James hadn't said how long the trip was going to take. Along with allowing me the right to refuse, he always let me know the duration of my time away. "Crap." I added.

Normally I would pack not only work clothes, but something halfway nice to wear should I decide to actually eat in a restaurant instead of getting take-out at an all-night drive through. Most of the time, the hours kept during these trips didn't allow it, but I liked to be ready if it did. This time, I didn't bother and merely packed extra underwear, t-shirts and jeans. Since James neglected to tell me where I would be taken to put up these shields as well as how long I'd be gone, I made certain to have a mix for different climates.

"Layering is always an option, " I told myself. I had to sit on my suitcase to get it zipped. I sighed and spent the remaining time in a spirited tug of war with Winston and his favorite rope chew toy. His jaws locked on the knot on his end of the rope and he threw his muscle into trying to wrench it away from me, his stub tail wagging so fast it was a blur. It took not only all my arm strength, but my heavier weight just to hold on as his powerful muscles shook and jerked.

When it was time for me to head downstairs, I let Winston win, releasing my end of the rope. Satisfied with his conquest, he took his prize to his dog bed and flopped down to revel in his victory, giving the toy a few vigorous shakes to let it know who was boss. I picked up the handle to my rolling suitcase and left the apartment.

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