«Mr. Willow” Melissa said to her lawyer after a few hours, “I have run out of options and I need your help”. Mr. Willow was 70 years old but he looked much younger than that. He was tall and very thin and he had a black moustache although his hair was greyish. Mr. Willow was not very talkative but he was very efficient. He always managed to calm her when she had legal issues.
“From what I hear, dear, you have many options but you are too upset to see it. First of all” he said resting his glasses on the tip of his nose, “you can call the police if you feel threatened in any way. Also you can call the British Hospitality Association and inform them that he threatened to slur your business. But before you do that, make sure you let him know that you have these options. He is very powerful and you should not take immediate actions against him. For the time being we just want him to know that we are not powerless”.
“Mr. Willow, I do not feel comfortable having him around. He seems so confident that he will buy my inn that it drives me crazy” Melissa said.
“If you do not want to sell you inn, nobody can make you, dear. We are here to help you. You should stand up to him. Let him stay for a few days if he wants, be polite, and by the end of the week, let him know that he has outstayed his welcome” he said.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Willow. You always make me feel better after I visit you” she said softly.
“Lawyers are underappreciated. A good lawyer can be as soothing as a tranquilizer” he said and Melissa laughed.
“I’ve never thought of that” she said, leaving his office after a firm handshake.
Melissa felt relieved after the visit to her lawyer. Now she fell strong enough to confront the banking system. She knew they would not grand her a loan but she hoped they would find an alternative. With an assertive posture she walked into the bank where she had deposited all her money. This specific branch was open for a few hours on Saturdays for issues like loan and mortgages applications, as well as business and investment planning.
The clerk who helped her told her that she is not eligible for a loan as her savings are inadequate and her earnings are not fixed. Melissa retorted that her earnings are not fixed because without a loan she cannot improve her inn. The clerk went to talk with his supervisor and returned after a few minutes. He told her that the bank “is sorry but cannot offer any alternative options”.
Melissa left the bank disappointed, thinking that she should transfer her savings to another bank. They didn’t even pretend to try to help her. Idiots! she said to herself. They do not see anything beyond numbers. They do not see determination and vision, only earnings and expenditure.
An hour later, she was unloading the boot of her car, outside her inn. She had bought some cleaning products and 6 bottles of her favourite red wine. Every Sunday afternoon she would host a small farewell reception for her guests. Normally her guests stayed for a long weekend and by Sunday night the inn was empty. This week thought, Phillip and a young couple would extend their stay until next Friday. Melissa was happy for the extra money but disappointed that she would have to tolerate his obnoxious behaviour for six more days.
Jonathan came to help her when he heard her.
“Where is my little princess?” he said to her.
“Your little princess went to her lawyer and then to the bank. Do princesses run errands?” she asked with a wide smile on her face.
“I’d like to think that you are a princess unlike no other!” he said and Melissa gave him a hug.
“You are so kind, Jonathan” she added.
Melissa stepped inside the inn to find Phillip alone, reading a word file on his laptop. He was now wearing a pair of black trousers and a black turtleneck sweater. He was so handsome that she couldn’t take her eyes off him. She admired the straight line of his nose, his full lips and long eyelashes. She felt an impulse to touch his hair but instead she buried her hands in her pockets.
“Mr. Mills, what a pleasure!” she said with exaggerated excitement to conceal her improper thoughts. “Where is your retinue?”.
Phillip must have been very absorbed to what he was reading because for a moment he did not understand what she was saying.
“Retinue? What an unusual word choice, miss Wilkinson!” he said. “My colleagues, as I like to call them, are visiting your lawyer right now. I stayed here to study some documents and talk with you”.
“What is it that you want to tell me, sir?”
“I would like to see the property titles. I want to know the exact size of the property” he said while getting up. It was the polite thing to do but Melissa felt threatened by his height. She was 5 feet 6 inches tall herself but he must have been more than 6 feet 3. He made her feel like an insect.
“I am not obliged to bring you the titles, sir” she said clenching her fists.
“You are not obliged indeed. But the sooner you bring them the sooner I finish my job here and leave” he said.
“Well, that is a nice argument, sir” she said and turned the other way in order to bring the papers. She knew he would sooner or later find them in the local land registry, so why not help him see the documents earlier?