11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 18

Sitting in his stationary car the following afternoon, in the big, new, edge-of-town business park, Harrison was someone else who’d like to be moving, but couldn’t yet. He looked at his watch. Two hours he’d been here, and it felt like ten.

Sighing, he gazed about him. When the park had opened, in the middle of the economic downturn, everyone had said it would fail. But quickly it had become the town’s new prestige address with loads of businesses moving into it.

Doing one of the lightning assessments that were second nature to him, he decided you could see why – loads of parking and lovely landscaped gardens. The offices themselves, all shimmering glass, would be wonderfully light for those who worked in them, and there were good canteen facilities, too, based on his observation of vans arriving from a popular local catering company.

He suspected there would be shower rooms from the number of people he’d noted cycling to work. They’d want to freshen up. He’d heard that the largest company to move on to the park even had an in-house gym for their employees!

One black mark was the sight of a vehicle from a firm that repaired air-conditioning, suggesting that the system wasn’t working too well. With all that glass you would need really good air-conditioning when the sun came out…

From where he was parked Harrison had a view of the office that he was interested in – the one occupied by the company who were keen on their staff keeping fit.

He’d been quite excited when he’d got the new work from Ruth. As she’d said, it was a bit different. More going towards the industrial espionage type of thing Alex had joked about.

Oh, but surveillance was so boring! And cold. Car heaters didn’t work when the engine was switched off.

Still not a glimpse of the person he was supposed to be watching . . .

Picking up his notebook, he logged everything he had seen, air-conditioning repair vans and all. You never knew. Sometimes things that didn’t look important could turn out to be!

*  *  *  *

“From an admirer?”

Georgia, standing on Number 11’s doorstep a couple of days later, looked up to see Alex on his way in.

“No,” she said, returning her gaze to the flowers she was holding. “A peace-offering from the agents.” She pointed at the row of buzzers to the side of the front door. “I was out here just now, checking that the names by everyone’s doorbells are up to date, when someone from their office turned up with them, plus this envelope that I had to sign for.”

Georgia broke off to open the envelope.

“Oh, my goodness!”

“Something wrong?”

“Not at all! It’s a cheque for the repairs, since it was their fault the insurance wasn’t renewed. But it’s for far more than the work will cost.”

“Regard it as compensation for the inconvenience it’s caused you, and the worry.” Alex smiled, in that way he had which gave a sparkle to his blue eyes. “Treat yourself with it!”

Georgia considered her options that evening. Needing more customers for her language lessons, she had made appointments with a couple of firms about getting a website. She could put this money towards that.

But the thought kept coming back to her that she’d like to spend it on something that would benefit everyone at Number 11. After all, to some extent they’d all been inconvenienced by the agency’s shoddy service.

What, though? Unless…

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.