At the end of the day, Charles congratulated himself on a good day’s work. Productive meetings, worthwhile contacts. Good use of his time. The following day however, was less successful. Just as he was coming to the end of a most unsatisfying lunch with his retail client, a message came through from Nancy telling him his new business meeting that afternoon had been cancelled.
“Bugger them,” he announced to her as he returned to the office. “I’m going to call it a day. Just this once I’m going to push off early.”
It was unlike Charles to leave before six. He did not spin work out, like some who dreaded returning to their homes and families, but he did always feel he should be diligent and put in a full day. As he sat back in his seat on the train, Evening Standard in hand, he felt a slight pang of guilt. Would Alex still welcome him if he returned before the customary hour? Then he remembered the auction and the details Nancy had given him yesterday. Even though he had already left a bid, there was still time to see the painting before the sale. Tonight the auction house was holding a special late evening viewing. Best to check it out, shouldn’t blow a few grand without making doubly sure.
There were only a few cars parked outside Grayswell Manor when he drove up from the station. It was dusk, but the last of the red autumn sun was low behind a fringe of trees, adding drama to his arrival. The house glimmered with lights and he was greeted with the offer of a glass of wine as he entered. He was not tempted to see all the many lots listed in the catalogue, so he just asked for directions to the Grozny.
“Aah, yes sir, you’re interested are you?” said the plump smooth agent, buttoned up in his double-breasted camel coat. “We’ve had several clients making a bee-line for that particular lot.”
Charles was nonchalant. He was never rattled by rumours of competition in business or away from the office. He was accustomed to getting what he wanted. That applied to his marriage, his houses and his work. Size up the opposition and let ‘em have it, was his motto. It worked in rugby and it worked off the field too.
to be continued April 25