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I look at my watch again, this cleaner is late. Very late, she was supposed to get here at 9.00am, and it is now 10.30. Where the hell is she?! I look around the lounge and sigh. I can’t wait for her to start cleaning. Although after his behaviour on Friday, I am disgusted with him. Not only for admitting that he got it on with Emmett and with that fathead, but for what he said about my size. Correction, what the fathead said and Brian also didn’t deny!

I look up the path again, and finally it looks like someone is coming...and Brian is now forgiven! That is not a cleaning woman that is a cleaning man! And what a man! He is utterly gorgeous! I head to open the door, only to find Lindsay already there and smiling at him. Oh she is so not doing that!

“Excuse me Lindsay, I do believe the gentleman is for me. It is after all my house he’s come to clean.”

“Of course Michael, I was merely making polite conversation. It isn’t every day you…”

“Richard Richardson of Diamond Cleaning Co. Could you excuse me but can I come in and look at the place?” He demands brusquely and we are both taken aback by his manner. “I’ve got to check all the other houses out and I’m already running late.”

“For which you have not apologised.” I point out tartly.

“Yes I did.” He replies and then brings out his phone. “Michael Novotny right?”

“Yes.” I look at him warily. “How do you have my number?” I demand.

“I was given the number of all of the tenants that I have to clean the places of by Liberty Avenue Estates. See…” He shows me his phone and then nods at the one in my hand. “...have you checked your phone lately?”

“The battery is flat.” I tell him just as my phone beeps. “Or I thought it was.” I mutter as both he and Lindsay look smug. “What’s your name anyway?” I demand.

“As I said, Richard Richardson, so can you check and let me in?” He replies and sighs as I have still yet to check my phone. “Look, I can go to another house and come back to you. As I have already said I’ve got the entire Boulevard to look at.”

“Where did you get my number from again? I don’t believe you said.” I try again.

“He did. Liberty Avenue Estates. It’s perfectly normal practice Michael. This way it leaves the timings and everything between you and the contractor, in this case Richard. Now are you going to let him in or not? After all, it’s your house that is in a dire need of a clean.”

“Fine come in then. I am not happy about my number being handed out willy-nilly and will be speaking to them about it.”

“You do that but in the meantime, what areas do you want me to cover?”

“All of it.” I retort. “From top to bottom and I will be doing inspections. And you will stay until it is completed to my satisfaction.”

“The hours are as 0900-1300 or 1400-1800 you need to pick one slot not both. If they go over the time allotted due to tenant intervention…”

“Why can’t I have whole day?”

“Because they have…”

“You keep saying they? Who is they?”

“The cleaners. I inspect the properties and then assign a cleaner. Now, Mr Novotny, can we get to the rooms? I really have to get these site visits done today.”

“Yes Michael, why don’t you take Richard around…”

“Lindsay this is my house remember? Aren’t you supposed to be going to work?” I ask pointedly. “Actually, haven’t you got that former cottage of yours to have razed to the ground?”

She glares at me and grabs her coat. “Thank you for the reminder Michael, as if I haven’t got enough on my mind right now. It was nice to meet you Richard, I do hope you don’t see the mess of this house as a reflection on all that live here. I, for example, do not eat Captain Crunch, as evidenced by it being around his mouth and down the front of his shirt. Have a nice day Michael.”

I glower at her back as she shuts the door and head to a room with a mirrored surface, so I can check my face, and when I do all I can think of is smug cow!




I sit up slowly and take the water with a trembling hand. “What happened?” I croak.

“You fainted.” Cassidy answers her tone a touch chilly. “Sidney is furious.”

“He’s furious because I fainted.” I bridle.

“No he’s furious because yet again you brought your personal drama to work and this time landed on the Demacq. He’s on the way to restorers, start praying that it can be fixed.” She sits on the sofa and hands me a napkin. “So what happened this time?”

I shake my head as if to clear it. “I owe the assessors money for, as Michael so sweetly put it, razing my cottage to the ground as it uninhabitable and they’ve just told me the final amount…”

“How much? Wait, before you answer that are you going to faint again or throw up or anything that involves bodily fluids?”

“No. $80,000. Which includes the repairs to the neighbour’s property.”

She whistles. “Shit. What are you going to do?”

“Well Mel will have to pay her share, no matter what she wants to say and the rest I suppose I can get from my folks or dip into my savings, but I would rather not.”

“Hang on. From what you’ve said before, you don’t have savings, you were damn near destitute.”

“I do.” I give a small smile. “I just choose not to spend it.” I smile at the pleasure that gives me that Mel doesn’t know about it, okay it’s not as much as she has but it’s enough to clear at least half of the bill, but why spend my money when I can spend someone else’s? Well, I used to be able to spend someone else’s…

“Lindsay? Lindsay?!” Cassidy calls me sharply and shakes me out of my reverie. “I said how are you going to persuade your parents to give you however much money it is you need?”

“I always get what I want.” She raises an eyebrow. “Well eventually.” I grudgingly admit.

“You rest up for a little while longer.” She gets up. “We don’t want you fainting again.”

I nod and smile my thanks before resting back against the cushions. I rub my temple as my mind is racing, the first thing I need to do is get the money out of my parents, which should be simple enough...tears always work.

I then sigh because although I am supremely irked that I have been constantly stymied in my quest to be the carer for Gus that is on the backburner for now. I have an even more pressing matter. And that matter is Michael’s house. During the weeks, I have lived with Michael, I have come to realise that he is totally undeserving of that house and I will do everything I can to get it in my name. He is a very messy man and has made the mistake of leaving his private papers around...okay I went snooping to see if there is anything else I can hold over him! I could not believe how much Brian has paid for the house and the things in it. When I found the invoices he’s made out to Brian and saw he had put my room and board on it at $600 a week, I was astounded by his nerve. Where does he get off behaving in such a way towards Brian? But then I found the other document and the invoice made out to Debs and after Friday’s and today's antics, a plan has begun to form.

Ten minutes later I am being shaken awake by a concerned looking Sidney.

“The Demacq how is it?” I mutter frantically, not that I am remotely bothered, it is insured after all.

“Fine.” He replies tightly. “Seems that your weight didn’t cause that much damage after all. I think it would be best if you went home for the rest of the day.”

“Th-thank you Sidney. I am…”

“It’s fine like I said. And please take a cab home.”

“Oh thank you Sidney that is most kind of…”

“What is? I am advising you to get a cab home, not offering to pay for it.” He interrupts somewhat coldly. “Will you be in tomorrow do you think?”

“Yes of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” I frown.

“Just double checking. I would hate for someone to have to be called in at the last minute to cover for you.”

I frown at him and sit back down. “Sidney is there a problem?”

“Apart from you constantly seeming to have crisis after crisis played out here? No, not a problem at all.” He snarks then looks me dead in the eye. “This stops now. You take your calls on your own time, like lunch time or before or after work, not during working hours…”

“I can hardly control what time people call me.”

“But you can control when you speak to them. Like I said in your own time. Other team members manage their personal lives without fainting or being economical with the truth, follow their example forthwith.” He leans back in his chair. “So what are you doing?”

“I will be back in the office tomorrow.” I tell him stiffly seething at his callous and impudent tone, I am puzzled when he looks at his watch and notes something down. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing that you need worry your pretty little head about.” He grits out. “Now you should be getting home, I'm sure  that wounded ego of yours needs a rest.”

I walk out of his office without another word but am wondering what the hell has come over him?!


I have said it before and I will say it again. I don’t like being played for a sucker and, even more so, I don’t like my friends being played for suckers! And Mel is my friend! I was outside the door when I heard Cassidy and Lindsay talking and when I heard about her savings I was annoyed at her duplicitousness. She hasn’t always been like this, well maybe she has and I’ve never noticed it before. But if I can do anything to help then I will, I sigh as my phone rings. “Hello Mel, thank you for returning my call…”



I am looking at the sizeable crowd outside Michael’s store and wonder what is going on. I start to make my way over but can’t get through to see what everyone is looking at.

“You’ve got to be kidding, I mean really…” A voice floats back. “...you think he’d have some sense, but then again he is who he is.”

I step back from the crowd and decide to call Michael. “Michael, where are you right now? Oh you are, well there is a huge crowd outside your shop, I think now would be a great time to open.”

Twenty minutes later, Michael is running down the street and smiling at the crowd outside, I quickly cross over to join him. “Be patient! Be patient people! I will…”

“And you are sir?” A voice booms out.

“The owner of this shop.” Michael calls back over his shoulder. “Can you let me through?! I need to open up so that I can…”

“Uh Michael…” I begin having looked at the owner of the voice. As I turn back to tap him on the shoulder I look at the door, which he clearly hasn’t. “Michael! What the hell is that?!”

“Oh my new signage, isn’t it great? It is so me! It represents me perfectly.” He crows as he flips on the lights. “Aha! She said they arrived!” He grabs a box from the counter and rips it open and starts to hand them out. “These are my business cards. Like the signage, they are a reflection of me and my...oh hello officer. It’s a pleasure to have one of Pittsburgh’s finest in…”

“Iva Dead Cock dot com. That’s your website?” A guy snickers. “It takes a brave man to advertise his shortcomings like that.”

“What are you talking about?” Michael demands and then looks at his business card and goes very, and I mean very, pale. “What is this?!” He screams. “Give those back to me!” He yells and starts to snatch the cards away from people, people who are beginning to laugh at him.

“Mr Novotny about that signage.” The Officer intones. “You need to take it down.”

“Why?” Michael demands too busy snatching cards off of people.

“This may be Liberty Avenue but you can’t have a cock on your cape and think it’s okay?”

“A cock on…” He echoes and then looks the way the officer is pointing and looks like he’s going to be violently sick. “EVERYONE GET THE FUCK OUT!”

“Mr Novotny!” The Officer bellows. “You need to take that down immediately or I will…”

“I am not taking that down! I am calling the sign guy who put it up to take it down!”

“Did I miss the part where what he just said made sense?” Someone laughs. “Dude just take it down or cover it up!”

“No! I didn’t put it there I am not taking responsibility for it!”

“This is your store, you have admitted that, therefore, you are responsible! So take it down, cover it up or be arrested.” All eyes turn to him. “What’s it to be?”

“You need to speak to Debbie Horvath at Liberty Avenue Estates, she is the person responsible for that! So if anyone needs to be arrested it should be her!”


Chapter End Notes:

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