He was sitting in the study, thinking about enchanting embers and soft glowing moonbeams, Helena’s favorite poem when Benson informed him that he had a visitor and that she was waiting in the library. “Who is it?” he asked. He really wasn’t in the mood for company.
“She said that she was Mrs. Fox’s secretary.”
Oh yes, he remembered now. Lilith had said that her secretary, Lexie would be stopping by the mansion that afternoon to take a look at the place which was to be this year’s venue for the Heart and Stroke ball. “I’d forgotten that she was coming today. Could you bring her in here, please?”
He reminded sitting there, reminding himself that he had agreed to allow the ball on the premises because of Helena. She had died of heart disease and hypertension. He was going to give a very generous donation on her behalf. She would have wanted that. The pain of losing her was not as acute as before.
His thoughts were interrupted when Benson entered the room, followed by a young woman. “Miss Carson, Sir.”
“Thank you, Benson.” The man servant inclined his head before he left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
Gerhardt rose to his feet. “Hello, Miss Carson,” he said extending his hand.
“Hello, Mr. Müller.” They shook hands.
“Lilith said that you might be dropping by today.”
“It’s very good of you to let me come and see the place. I hope it isn’t an inconvenience for you.”
“No, it isn’t at all,” he was quick to assure her.
“Tell, is your name Lexie short for Alexis or Alexandra?”
“Alexandra. Only my family and friends call me Lexie.”
“I see. And what should I call you?”
“Miss Carson or Alexandra.”
“All right. I will call you Alexandra. It’s less formal and you may call me Gerhardt.”
“Now that we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way, may I go over some details with you before you show me your grand ballroom, banquet room and reception rooms?”
He shrugged, “Sure. Perhaps you would like to have a seat.”
She walked over to a chair opposite his and sat down. Taking out her notebook, she went over details of how many people they might need to hire and other details. “We would need parking valets, of course,” she said.
“Of course. That can be arranged.”
“And the menus–we have to cater to those who are vegetarian as well.”
“After I have shown you the possible places for venue, I can take you to meet my housekeeper, Mrs. Davies and together you and she can go over the menus.”
“That would be great, thanks. We have hired an orchestra and I understand that you will be the MC.”
He smiled. “Yes. We made a wager and she won.”
“Lilith was surprised that you lost the game. She said you’re a whiz at pool.”
“Well, even a whiz can be defeated.”
They finished going over other details and then she stood up. “I’m ready to see the rooms now,” she said.
“Very well then.” He rose to his feet and he opened the door.
They went to the grand ballroom first and then, to the banquet room and lastly, the reception rooms. They were all very impressive. “Have you shown them to Lilith?” she asked.
“Yes. After she and I finished playing pool, I showed them to her.”
“Did she happen to mention to you which one she thought would be perfect for the venue?”
“Well, she narrowed it down to the ballroom and the banquet hall.”
“They are both very impressive but I’m leaning more towards the ballroom. Its elegance makes it the perfect choice for our gala.”
“I will talk it over with Lilith but I’m sure that she would agree with my choice.”
“And now, I will take you to meet Mrs. Davies.”
“Before we go, may I make an observation?”
“It’s obvious that you don’t like me which I find very curious, considering that you hardly know me.”
“On the contrary, I know quite a lot about you.”
“How? I’m sure Lilith couldn’t have given you any reason to dislike me.”
“It isn’t Lilith.”
She folded her arms and met his stare squarely. “Felicity.”
He looked startled. “You know Felicity?”
“Yes, she’s my friend.”
“So, she’s the reason for your attitude towards me.”
“Yes. What you did to her was unforgivable and inexcusable.”
“I agree. I shouldn’t have continued seeing her after I married Helena.”
“Why did you marry another woman? Felicity thought that you and she were for keeps.”
“Helena proposed and I accepted. It was as simple as that. When I told Felicity, understandably she was upset. She couldn’t figure out why I would marry a woman who was older than me and whom she thought was unattractive. She concluded that the only reason I agreed to marry Helena was that she was rich but I made it absolutely clear to her she was wrong. Helena’s wealth meant nothing to me. I gave Felicity a choice–we could continue seeing each other or I could walk out of her life for good. She chose to continue our relationship. I ended our affair when I fell in love with Helena. Believe me, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret hurting Felicity. She got a raw deal. I hope that one day she will be able to forgive me.”
Alexandra saw that he was sincere and her coldness towards him began to thaw a little. “Perhaps she will one of these days. May I see Mrs. Davies now?”
“Certainly. I will take you to her.” He took her to the kitchen and introduced her to the friendly and buxom woman in her mid-fifties and returned to the study.
An hour later, Alexandra went to the study to inform him that she was leaving. “Thank you for your time. Either Lilith or I’ll be in touch if we need anything else.” She put her notebook in her bag and after closing it, slung it over her shoulder.
He rose to his feet. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Alexandra,” he said, offering his hand.
She shook it. “Thank you.”
He noticed that her manner towards him was still a bit aloof. “Perhaps, you might be interested in taking a tour of the grounds one afternoon.”
“Perhaps. Goodbye, Mr. Müller.”
He watched as she left, closing the door behind her. He hoped that she would take him up on his invitation take her on a tour of the property, perhaps show her the tree dedicated to Helena and maybe her attitude towards him would change.
Source: Christie’s Real Estate