The Way We Lied

Six years ago Nick Haskell became the man he is today. He walked out of a major London advertising agency with his share of the equity and invested everything in property. Developing, renovating, negotiating, those were his real skills. And now, there was only one aspect of his new career he didn’t particularly like: the uncertainty, the risk element, waiting for the deposits, watching the building costs escalate. So far he had not put a foot wrong, constantly seeking out new ventures and reinvesting the profits, but he always knew that he was taking a chance.
However, there were many other areas of the work that he liked very much indeed. He enjoyed seeking out new deals, working with, or rather, trying to outwit, the planners. He liked heading up his team of architects and builders and seeing his vision come to life.
And as well as these obvious aspects, he was able to enjoy the unexpected bonus of having access to empty properties at any time of the day or night. He always had an extra key to the show flat or show house cut for his private use. And why not? Why shouldn’t he seek his pleasures where he could, especially when women had always found him attractive. He might have been in his late forties, but he was still a handsome man, a little flushed perhaps from red wine and vintage port, but he had thick grey hair and with his black polo necks and well cut suits he could still turn a girl’s head his way. And if his physical appeal was not enough he had a powerful car, was free with his money and knew the seductive power of secluded, expensive restaurants.
His latest building project was almost completed. What had once been an isolated country house, then an armed forces convalescent home and then finally a nursing home for the elderly, had been transformed from shabbiness to chic, from rambling mansion into airy apartments. As he arrived he waved to the site manager and gave Annabelle, his sales director, a brilliant smile to accompany his clear instruction.
“I want the show flat for an hour or so. Got a new designer coming over and I want her to get a feel for our style.”
He was looking forward to this. He’d had his eye on Alex Wilson for some time and he was pretty sure she’d had her eye on him too. Whenever they met at friends for dinner or drinks, she always seemed to find an excuse to giggle at his side. She was a saucy minx. Voluptuous, but not too plump, blonde but not too brassy and intelligent but not too intimidating. Just his kind of woman, unlike Sarah who had turned into a martyr, always complaining and moaning with irritating detail about the house or the children.
Alex was fun. Not serious, long term commitment fun, but easy going laugh about it fun that he was sure would continue from the dining room into the bedroom. At David and Caroline’s drinks do on Sunday, Alex was laughing over Nick’s recent attempts to employ another secretary and his description of his interview technique. He had joked to Alex that he was far better at picking mistresses than office staff.
“And do you actually have a mistress at the moment?” Alex had asked, her head slightly tilted, her eyes glittering.
“Nope, not at this particular time. The position is vacant,” Nick had laughed. “Why? Are you thinking of applying?”
She had smiled lazily. “I might. I think I could say I have the appropriate qualifications.”
He had looked at her with amusement and studied her full well-glossed lips. “Would you like me to look at your cv in advance or shall we just go straight to the interview stage?”

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