Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 4 (v.4) - Chapter 4

Submitted: January 20, 2018

Reads: 190

Comments: 2

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Submitted: January 20, 2018



Maggie looked back towards the bus as it pulled away from the bus stop, she gave a half-embarrassed smile as the elderly gentleman blew her a kiss. Laughing, she averted her eyes to the pavement composing herself before she met Richard.

The shop was now in sight and she could see the down lights illuminating the signage. ‘Picture and Book’ was the name of their shop. It was Richards’ idea and Maggie liked it because if you read it quickly it could sound like ‘Picture Book’ which fitted both businesses and you do get picture books. Some of the most expensive antique books she had ever sold were architectural pen and ink picture drawing books. She pushed open the door and the little bell gave its charming tinkle.

Richard looked up, glad to see this lovely lady breeze in who, with her charm made bright the dullest of days. He missed not seeing her over the course of Sunday. Working six days in the shop meant that Sunday was the only day both of them could get things done and visit relatives. But now it was Monday, and they would have the whole week together.

Maggie came in still smiling to herself,
“Hi,” said Richard, “Just in time for your coffee and croissant.”
Still smiling she said, “Thanks, my turn tomorrow.”
Richard was puzzled by her expression and asked, “What’s so funny?”
Forgetting herself she quickly said, “I just told an old man on the bus I loved me.”
Richard was taken aback by her comment “You said what?”

Maggie realised what she had said; now if they had been a couple there would not be this awkward moment between them. She would just say ‘I was saying out loud on the bus, how much I love you when this man sat next to me’. But she couldn’t, so she made up this half-idea story of listening to a song on the radio and she was singing the words, ‘I love you’ out loud when this man sat next to her.

It was a story she didn’t believe so why should Richard, particularly when she knew he knew she only listened to Radio 3 or Classic FM which were unlikely to play lyrical songs. Boy! She needed her coffee after that fabrication.

Richard took her latte and re-heated it in the microwave for her, while she went behind her desk to put her heels on. When he came back Maggie thought it would be good idea to drop the bus subject so to lighten the mood, she began to tell him the story of her exploits that morning.

When she reached the part about the chocolate buttons, Richard was in hysterics with tears rolling down his face. Maggie liked when he laughed, it showed his white teeth and his smile afterwards gave her a warm glow afterwards. She liked this, sharing intimate moments with him even if it was how she mistakenly thought she had diarrhoea.

Just then the doorbell tinkled as a delivery man came in with a package for Maggie. She left her chair to sign for the parcel. This was the rare hand-rendered watercolour book depicted the works of the painter John Constable. She brought it at auction for a snip of £9,000. It is worth £15,000 and she had a buyer already lined up willing to pay £20,000.

People underestimated Maggie as a successful antique book buyer because she didn’t have a university degree. At the age of thirty-three, all her knowledge of antique books was self-taught, as one auctioneer put it, she had a nose for these things.

After their coffee break, Richard said he’d help her get the book away to her client. He had to admit, that what Maggie was doing with buying and selling her rare books was keeping their business afloat. She reached for her phone and emailed the client to tell him that the book would be leaving her this afternoon. The client thanked her and said the money would be in her business bank account by midday Pacific Standard Time tomorrow.

The packing case for the books’ transportation was high up on top of a book self, Richard went to fetch the ladder. It was just a normal aluminium one from B&Q but he never used it because of his fear of heights which meant all the climbing to be done in the shop was done by Maggie.

She placed the ladder against the book shelf and started to climb. Richard held the ladder for her. He was a stickler for health and safely as well as it was an excuse to get close to her, without appearing to get close to her. As she climbed her bottom wiggled in front of Richards face. At this range he could smell a mixture of fabric conditioner and perfume coming of her and her skirt, he was intoxicated by it.

Then the backs of her legs came into view, he was just centimetres from her calf muscles watching them become tense with the climb. Her black nylons began to emit static, which he could hear as they rubbed together. Soon, as Maggie climbed higher he would be able to see his reflection in the back of black patent shoes. This close proximity to her was too much for him, he felt giddy and he began to loosen the grip on the ladder.

Maggie felt the ladder wobble, “Richard! Hold the ladder I can feel it moving!”
Richard woke from his trance and feeling the ladder slide against the book case tried his best to straighten it. Maggie now had the box in her hands and not on the ladder. She let the box fall then tried to grip the ladder, but it was too late with Richard unable to prevent the ladder sliding Maggie’s weight became off balance and she fell from the ladder. Richard tried to catch her but she fell awkward and Maggie landed on top of him.

After a few stunned seconds Maggie picked herself up and retrieved her glasses. She could not afford for anything to happen to these her only pair. Looking down at the prostrate Richard she shouted, “WHAT ON EARTH CAME OVER YOU!”
Richard was now getting to his feet, “Sorry, I came over giddy when I looked up at you,” he lied. Maggie was rubbing her arm “Never happen before when you held the ladder for me,” Richard said nothing he just picked up the box, annoyed that the sight of Maggie’s legs made him giddy as a schoolboy, nearly putting her in hospital. He couldn’t go on like this it was getting worse, swooning every time she got close to him.

Maggie took the box from him and placed it on her desk, with arm still hurting she went in a draw behind her desk to retrieve some breathable membrane and carefully wrapped the book before placing it in its box. She then threw in lots of those little gel sacks to absorb any moisture. With the book safely tucked up Maggie placed the lid on top and pushed down the fasteners on all four sides completely securing the lid.

Richard had already phoned for the courier and they send someone would be with them within the hour. By now it was lunch-time and neither of them had brought anything with them.
“I need to go to the optician,” said Maggie still a little upset with Richard.
“Can I leave you to deal with the courier and I’ll get us a sandwich on the way back.” That sounded like a plan to Richard, so off she went down the Kings Road, hoping that the optician could fix her glasses quickly.

She had not gone far when her phone rang; she fumbled in her handbag and finally fished it out. “Hello” she said.
“Is that Miss Margaret Harris?” Maggie stopped in her tracks, this sounded official. No-one called her Margaret anymore, not even her mum. “Yes, who is this?”
“Can you please confirm your address,” the speaker asked. Maggie was worried now and was heading back to the shop for Richard. “87B Grafton Road, Fulham SW6.”
The speaker continued, “Thank you, my name is Chief Fire Officer Ewan Wilson.” Maggie froze outside the shop door. Richard sensing something was wrong opened the door to let her in. She moved the phone away from her mouth and whispered, “Fire Officer something to do with my flat, yes I’m still here.”

Maggie moved further into the shop to take her call away from the traffic noise outside. Richard was going to follow her when the door opened again and this time it was the courier. Richard left Maggie and attended to the parcel.

Maggie finished her call and put her phone back in her bag. She then grabbed her jacket and was about to leave the shop. Richard returned from dealing with the courier and saw Maggie heading for the door. “What’s happen, where you going?”
Maggie was looking worried, “The flat, it’s flooded in fact not just mine but the one beneath also. I put on the washing machine on the timer this morning to come on now apparently the cold-water feed pipe has burst. Water was pouring through the hallway ceiling. The fire brigade had to break in to my flat to turn off the stop cock. I’ve got to go.”
Richard stopped her, he was a little hurt that she would have left without first asking for his help. “Hang on I’ll come with you.” He insisted, then immediately phoned for a cab.

On route to her flat, Maggie phoned Janet who said she’d me round in a flash, then the landlord phoned Maggie to tell her the same story as the Fire Officer. He hoped her insurance would cover the damage. She then told him in very un-lady language, that he never had his appliance serviced so she hoped HIS insurance would cover the cost of her things damaged. With a passing expletive, she terminated the call. “Cheeky bastard.”

When they got to her flat water was everywhere. A massive hole was in the ceiling above the stairs where the water burst through. Fortunately, the flat downstairs was not touched, which was a blessing really as it belonged to a disabled man.

Janet was there with Steve and all four of them marched up to Maggie’s flat their feet squelching on the stair carpet. The entrance to Maggie’s kitchen had red and white stripped tape across the door warning of danger. “Well, I obviously can’t stay here,” said Maggie looking through the hole to the floor below. Before Maggie could ask, Janet informed her that their flat was too small for a third person. Maggie understood and did not want to put her friends under pressure to find her accommodation. She knew she had no choice but go back to her mum in St. John’s Wood.

Richard knew North London was too far for her to travel to work every day. Fearing that she might quit the shop he suggested, maybe a little too enthusiastically, “Come and stay with me!”

This took everyone by surprise, even Richard.
“What did you say?” said Maggie.
Now hearing it back, the second time Richard wondered if he was being a bit too presumptuous. He said it again looking rather unsure if he had said the right thing, “Stay with me?”
Janet and Steve were now playing head tennis between Richard and Maggie. It was Maggie’s turn to serve. “Stay with YOU!”

To the others it would have sounded like ‘you must me joking’ to Maggie it meant, ‘I’m I hearing right. Mr I’m too shy to say I love you, is now asking if I can live with him!’

Richard was pleased he had crossed the line with his shyness towards Maggie. This was a big territorial move for him, asking her to share his flat. Good heavens, with this new boldness he might even have the courage to say he loved her. “Well, I only live around the corner from the shop. I have two bedrooms and plus,” hoping what he was about to say would be the clincher, “You’ll have no rent to pay and no travel expenses.”

In tennis terms, Maggie had failed to return the serve, she just stood there doing her impression of a goldfish opening and shutting her mouth with saying anything.

Janet spoke on Maggie’s behalf, “Well, if that’s OK with you Richard. OK with you Maggie?” She just stared at Janet looking goldfish-like, nodding her head.

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