I work in real estate, and quite often I need to go to clients’ houses to assess their value. After my new secretary Loora had been working in the office about four days, I got an opportunity to go to assess an empty house in the suburbs, and I invited her to come along. There was really no reason for her to go; she was just supposed to be my secretary, after all. But I thought maybe if I could get her out of office surroundings, she might loosen up, and stop calling me ‘sir’, and I could find out a little bit more about her life. As I said last time, I had a crush on Loora, which I did not quite care to admit, but which still influenced a lot of things I did around her.
Things did not go as planned. To begin with, Loora did not take the opportunity to dress any differently than she would normally. She came to the house looking like this.
I walked in to the empty room and said hello, and asked her if she was all right, and she said: ‘Yes, sir. But it is very cold in here.’
She was right. It was March, and still freezing. The bar heater by the window was the warmest place to be, by far. I moved over and stood next to her. My eye was immediately drawn to her left hand, and I noticed there was no ring, like she normally wore.
‘What do you think of the place?’ I asked, trying to make eye contact, and not to stare too hard at her ring finger.
‘It’s too good to sell right now,’ she said. ‘The last few Victorian terraces along this street sold for 350,000 pounds. I don’t think they will get that in this market.’
As she says this she moves herself onto the heater to keep warm, and I found it impossible not to stare at her ring finger, although it is hidden behind her leg. I keep hoping the musky smell of her will wash over me like it has done in the office, but someone has sprayed the place with cheap air freshener just before the inspection and all I can smell is ‘Pine Breeze’ or whatever stupid name they all it. Certainly it is nothing like the smell of Loora.
‘Sir?,’ she says. ‘Are you all right?’
I realize I have been staring at her hopelessly for half a minute and clutch for an excuse. ‘Ah, you’re right, it is very cold in here,’ I say, effecting a shiver.
‘Do you want some space by the heater?’ she says, and sits down next to it, and like a fool I squat down next to her, and just then I do catch her smell, and this time, I am pretty sure it is of salt, and spice, and is coming from the places in her body where hair wants to grow, and which she cannot cover.
‘So, ah, Loora,’ I said. ‘What would you do with the place.’
‘Rent, definitely,’ she says. ‘You could get 500 pounds a month here. I’d be having that as income, and trying to buy in somewhere a bit closer to town.’
I try to remind myself that she is only twenty-five, but at this point she seems to know as much about the market as I do. Not that it matters, because she turns to face me so she can continue the conversation, and sits down with her legs towards me. I catch sight of her left hand, and there is definitely no ring on that finger.
‘Sir?’ she says again. ‘Are you sure you are all right? You look a bit red.’
‘Ah…’ I do not know what to say, and then another wave of her incredible musk comes over me, the strongest I have known it, and I am forced to go to the bathroom, claiming a stomach upset, and let her deal with the client (which she does very well, needless to say).
Retire hurt, is the cricket term. I have had to retire hurt.
But sooner or later I am going to find out about that ring.