Home > A Family for Christmas(4)

A Family for Christmas(4)
Mona Ingram

Maddie brightened. “You’re right. That would be an ideal spot. It was closed up before I started working there. Something about the new building owners not wanting to sell cigarettes. It’s been well camouflaged. They put down an area rug with some comfy seating and massive plants. You don’t even notice that it’s there. I suppose if they were willing to move things around, it could work.” She nodded to herself. “It could work very nicely.”

“So. You’ll go and look into it tomorrow, right?”

Maddie sometimes wondered if Lily made up for her small size by being so pushy. And yet she was right...there was no time to waste.

“I have to go back to pick up my cheque tomorrow. I suppose I could ask David about it. He’ll know where to direct me.”

“David?” Lily gave her a puzzled look. “Do I know him?”

“No. David is the concierge. He has a desk just to the right of the entrance.” She nodded to herself. “He knows everything that goes on in the building.”

“Then he’s your man.” Lily toyed with her wineglass. “I have a good feeling about this. You’ll go in the morning, right?”

Maddie knew better than to argue. “Yes, I’ll get right on it.”

“Good. I could eat something. How about you?”

Maddie was surprised to realize that she was hungry. “Yes, but I’m not sure what we have.” She slid off the stool.

“It’s my turn to cook.” Lily pulled open a drawer and pulled out a handful of takeout menus. “How about some Thai food? It won’t be as good as my mother’s but it will do.” She picked up her cell phone, scrolled through her numbers and was soon ordering.

* * *

Maddie studied her reflection in the mirror the next morning. Her eyes sparkled with an enthusiasm that had been missing for some time now. She turned sideways, studied her profile, then turned back to face the mirror. Confident. That’s the image she wanted to project. She had no doubt that the requirements for renting space in the Drummond Building were fairly stringent. It might be an older building, but it was in a prime location, and commanded some of the highest rates in the city.

Her long auburn hair hung down her back in a single braid. Lily had assured her that her hair was perfect for this style, and had encouraged her to leave a few strands loose. She fussed with them now, a sure sign that she was nervous.

The truth was, Maddie didn’t need to work. Her parents had died suddenly while on a river cruise in Europe, victims of a virulent strain of food poisoning that had affected everyone on the boat. Her parents and three others had died. In an effort to minimize publicity, the cruise line had paid a large amount to the estates of the victims. Shortly thereafter, Maddie had realized that she couldn’t live in the family home. Memories of happy times spent there with her parents haunted her in every room. Each time she entered the kitchen, she expected to see her mother, and she couldn’t bring herself to go into her father’s office, where the scent of his cigars still lingered. Real estate had been at an all-time high, and her father’s financial consultant advised her to sell the home. As a result, she had more money than she ever dreamed she would have, but being rich was no consolation. No amount of money could replace her parents, and it became a matter of pride to be self-supporting. Irrational perhaps, but she felt strongly about it, and this recent setback had done nothing to change her mind. She checked her appearance one last time and headed downtown.

* * *

“Good morning, David.”

The concierge smiled when he spotted Maddie. “There you are, my girl. I heard about CCA.” He glanced up at the clock above the elevators. It was well past her usual arrival time. “I take it you were caught up in that.”

Maddie was touched at his concern. “I was, yes. But after the initial shock wore off, I realized that accounting wasn’t really for me.” She stepped aside as someone asked him for directions.

“So tell me, what are you going to do now?” The observant eyes didn’t miss much. She wore a flared cape over slim slacks that were tucked into tall boots.

“That’s partly why I’m here.” She gestured to the corner of the lobby where the smoke shop used to be. “I’m hoping to rent that little shop for a couple of months.” She raised an eyebrow in question. “Do you think the powers that be would consider it?”

The concierge frowned. “The smoke shop? I don’t know. All I know is that the Drummonds didn’t want the tenant to sell cigarettes, and when his lease was up, he refused to stop selling them, so they countered by refusing to renew the lease.” He gave a wry smile. “It made the papers.”

“Huh. That was just before I moved to Calgary.” She tapped her fingers on the desk and looked thoughtfully in the direction of the former shop. “Who should I see about renting it?”

“That would be Mr. Drummond.”

Maddie couldn’t contain her surprise. “Are you serious? Surely he doesn’t take care of the rentals. He must have someone who does that.”

David shrugged. “Those are my instructions. Hey, didn’t I see you talking to him yesterday?”

“Yes, but I didn’t know it was him at the time. I was making some silly comment about liking the revolving door.”

David grinned. “He’ll have enjoyed that. He fought to keep the door in place.”

“Did he?” Maddie glanced at the door and then back at the concierge. “Maybe he’ll remember me.”

David wiggled his eyebrows. “Oh I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Maddie laughed. “Thanks, David. You know how to make a girl feel special.” She turned to walk away, then turned back. “I’ll let you know how I make out, okay?”

Chapter Three

As the elevator approached the top floor, Maddie took in a long, steadying breath. By the time the doors opened, she was smiling and composed.

The reception area for Drummond Enterprises was discreetly elegant. Brass letters mounted on the wall behind the reception desk spelled out the company name.

Maddie had taken the time to Google Drummond Enterprises last night. The company had been started in the 1940s and ’50s by Chase Drummond’s grandfather. According to reports, the man had a nose for oil, a skill which he passed on to his son, who had gone on to multiply the family fortunes. The present CEO of Drummond Enterprises, Chase Drummond, had continued his father’s practice of diversification. It seemed that the company had a stake in virtually every facet of the oil business. As a result, they were one of the most successful privately held companies in the province of Alberta.

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