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Friday Flash – The Twelve Houses – Part 4 of 8 – A Counter Offer Is Made – Friday Flash Fiction

Friday Flash – The Twelve Houses – Part 4 – A Counter Offer Is Made – Friday Flash Fiction

Lucian stared at the report – head in hands, now he was undergoing a serious crisis of confidence.  Iain had provided a very thorough report complete with detailed recommendations and costings. He poured himself another stiff drink and considered his options. He could let the house deteriorate even more and then migrate downwards to the basement flat which was still structurally sound. The problem with this option was the fact that the dry rot would probably migrate downwards as it seemed to be thriving.  The other problem with this solution was that a basement flat was hardly the setting for a jewel like Serena.

As the evening progressed it became clear to Lucian that he must find a way of getting the necessary funds in place to get the house restored to its former glory. Moving was not an option, not with the fact that the Hetherington marriage was in crisis becoming apparent. For Serena would need a strong male protector in her time of need. She would also need a worthy consort, a man like Lucian in fact.

While Lucian’s mind went into overdrive as he tried to come up with creative ways to raise funds. It was unlikely he would get a mortgage at his age. Another person who would be even less likely to get a mortgage also considered her future. Barbara had put a note through Lucinda’s door informing her that Lucinda’s rent would no longer be paid by her so she must leave the property within a month taking Tris with her. There were also some comments to the effect that her brother may have found her accommodation and a job as a housekeeper. She could put her domestic science skills to good use! A nasty little dig from Mummy as Lucinda had trained as an au pair. She had not been allowed to use those skills once Barbara had realised that Lucinda was planning to use them to escape her clutches.

Lucinda knew that who was behind this and if he thought that she’d take any humiliation he dished out he was sorely mistaken. He’d lost her her home and no doubt her marriage. She knew once she broke the news to Tris her marriage would be over, so Tarquin’s job offer was shown up for the spiteful act that it really was. He knew as well as she did that once the gravy train hit the buffers Tris would open the door and run off.  She was no longer sure whether she would be upset by his departure. She might feel humiliated but she longer thought that she would feel upset.

As Lucinda read the note again she was struck by the fact that Barbara has raised Tarquin and her well. They were both awful people… but now one of them was going to change.

A couple of days passed before Lucinda plucked up the courage to tell Tris of their impending homelessness. As she had predicted he went nuclear and started screaming at her. Now the whole Crescent would soon know their business for Tris had a voice like a fog horn. ‘Such a small voice for such a mean little man’, Lucinda thought.

Several people had their suppers interrupted by Tris’ meltdown including Lucian and the Hetherington’s, who were dining outside and trying to come up with creative solutions to Lucian’s predicament. In the end it was Serena who came up with an off the wall solution.

“Look Luce, if everybody is moaning about the state of your property then why not get them to fund getting it put right? The merest suggestion that they might have to contend with one end of this petit bourgeois development falling down will have them reaching for their cheque books in seconds!” said Serena cheerfully.

Iain looked baffled, “To the tune of £250,000 darling. I can’t see it happening myself!”

“That is because you haven’t allowed me to develop my points. I am not suggesting that one household pays the costs – I am suggesting that several households do. In fact I am suggesting that Lucian makes them an offer they are too greedy to refuse!”

“Hello, I’m still here” said Lucian “this is my future we’re talking about. What offer are you proposing that I make?”

“Quite a simple and rather elegant solution, if I say it myself. They all know that you have nobody to leave your home to, so why not say that each person who contributes to the restoration of your house gets a chance that it will be left to them on your death. It will only be left to one of the current householders if the entire restoration and further improvement costs are met. That should avoid everybody just offering a fiver towards the costs of this wonderful project. Think of it this way, Luce, you have a load of greedy people with the chance of doubling their wealth on your death. They’ll jump at the chance! They’ll also compete with each other to donate the most as they’ll assume that person who donates the most will win.”

“Oh and you’ll need to make it clear that you remain in the property until you expire. Make it crystal clear that you aren’t leaving your home for anybody!”

Lucian left the Hetherington’s in a more upbeat frame of mind. He could see how Serena’s plan might just work and karma being what it is he decided that he’d see whether he could help out Lucinda. He knew someone who ran an upmarket boutique who was looking for a youngish assistant. As the property had a vacant flat above Lucian wondered whether Lucinda and Alice, the boutique owner, might be able to come up with a workable deal.

Lucian wrote his thoughts down for Lucinda and walked back to her current home. He pushed the note through before his courage could desert him. He might get a very rude reply but at least he would have tried.

Having decided to run with Serena’s idea, he asked the Hetherington’s whether they would be prepared to hold a residents meeting in their house. The topic of the meeting was to be what Lucian proposed to do about his property. Naturally the meeting would be fully attended including the presence of two absentee landlords and their solicitors. This was because these two had already received a copy of Lucian’s report and his proposal. Both intended to offer to pay the £250,000 outright in order to secure the best property on the Crescent after Lucian’s demise.

Finally the day of the meeting arrived. Lucian handed out copies of Iain’s report and made his proposal. This proposal was the same as Serena’s except for two details. The first was that Lucian’s spouse should be allowed to live in the house until her death even it that was after Lucian’s. This was a surprise to everyone present. The second was that people could also offer work rather than a financial contribution or in addition to it. He included this one to be fair to those who did not have a great deal of disposable income.

He had barely had time to sum up before the Braithwaites and the Connaught-Smiths, occupants of Numbers 7 and 11 respectively, offered to pay the full amount in full. Both were livid with each other for each had thought that they would be coming away having bought the best house on the crescent for themselves or their descendants.

“Well”, said Lucian, “I’ll consider both your offers and as they appear to be equal I’ll flip a coin to decide the winner. Unless of course what the rest of you offer comes to the same amount in which case I’ll stick with my original plan! It’s so much more exciting that way and I like to spread a little excitement in the world!”

With that Lucian departed. And so did the rest of the residents. For once there was no hanging around and chatting together. Studiously ignoring each other, they all went home to plot, scheme and look at their bank statements.

To be continued…

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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