rohanson: (Paris open shirt 1)
[personal profile] rohanson
Follows directly on from this

We walk straight up the stairs to the second floor, and emerge into a huge room with a very tall ceiling. And what grabs me straight away is the view. A big part of the back of the house is glass, with a view out over an expanse of white sand down to the ocean.

It’s magnificent.

Even given it’s nothing but an empty shell now, there’s no doubt about it. I recognised the art deco influences from the exterior but inside is basically a blank canvas.

Mag-fucking-nificent.

As I’m walking round, Ryssa pulls open the glass doors and disappears outside onto the deck. As well as the room we walked into, there’s another next to it, and one at the back which must have been the kitchen at one time. Further through, there are three bedrooms, one with an en-suite, and a separate bathroom. The master bedroom also has access to the deck, so I open the door and wander outside.

The railings round the wide deck are rusted, and I run my hands over them, already counting up the costs of restoration. There’s a set of steps that bisect the deck and lead down to the sand, and soon it’s crunching under my feet. I turn and study the building, eyes drawn by the curving walls.

Ryssa joins me, tilting her face up into the sun.

“How many rooms downstairs?” I ask her.

“Four, with another bathroom.”

“Ryssa, this is … a huge project.”

She turns and looks out over the sea, waiting for me to continue.

“I’ve never touched on anything this size. The house was a small job, and the farmhouse seemed to be the right thing for a step up from that, but it’s rustic … this place is a massive step up …”

“Think of it as a learning curve.”

I stare at her.

“A learning curve? This may really be a case of running before I can walk.”

“You are good at what you do, Paris. And I’m good at what I do.”

I nod. I’ve seen her portfolio, seen the spreads of her work that had been featured in British magazines, “Country Living” and “Ideal Home” to name a few. Yeah, very good at what she does, and that still puzzles me. Why give it all up?

She pushes her hair back from her face and squints at me.

“If we do this right, I promise I can get it featured in a couple of glossies.”

I nod again, slowly. That has its appeal and would bring in business but …

“Why me? Why not do this yourself, employ a decent builder, start your own business again. Why do you need mine.”

She gazed out over the sand down to where small waves lapped against it.

“You ever had the feeling that things around you are happening for a reason? That fate keeps nudging you in certain directions until everything suddenly makes sense?”

She bit her lip before trying to explain.

“I was in a bad place, Paris. On the outside, everything was golden and no-one could have asked for a better life. On the inside, I was so far down a path to my own destruction that I couldn’t see it. It took a short, sharp shock to jolt me back to reality and realise just how much I’d screwed everything up.” She pushed away images that had haunted her dreams for months afterwards.

“So I left. Sold the business and left London. I went home.” Three words that seem so inadequate, but will have to suffice for now. Paris doesn’t need to hear how I inflicted myself on my family, she thought. They didn’t see it like that, but I did. They nursed me through depression and paranoia, held me after nightmares ripped through me, put up with me wandering the house as the inability to sleep drove me to exhaustion.

Ryssa pushed those memories away too, and brought herself back to the beach, and smiled.

“You remind me of one of my brothers. He works with his hands, he’s a blacksmith.” She started walking along the sand, looking back at me to follow her.

“I don’t want that back. I became arrogant and selfish, someone I hardly recognised when I looked in the mirror. That’s why I want to work for you. You’re the most grounded person I’ve ever met. I want to be part of something, Paris. Not the bitchqueen at the top of the pile, not anymore. I’ve seen how you work, with the guys, with your casual staff. I’ve seen the work you do with your hands. And I don’t just mean those amazing carvings. You take pride in everything that you do. I like that in a boss.”

She grinned at me and I smiled back, unable to imagine that she had ever been a bitchqueen.

“So what’s the deal with this place?”

“It belongs to a family I’ve done work for in the past. He was born here and raised in Wellington until work took his father to England and the family settled there. He grew up to be a very successful banker; married a Sloane ranger, and last year moved his family back here to live. They’ve already got a town house in Wellington, and bought up this place when it came on the market. He remembered it from his childhood. Truth be told, it was his stories of Wellington, while I was working for them in London, that made me think this would be a good place to start again.”

“So what do they want? The full art deco treatment, like those houses in Napier?”

Ryssa shook her head.

“No, they don’t and that’s been the problem with the designs they’ve seen so far. Too much art for art’s sake and not enough attention to what they need. A comfortable family home with room for friends to stay. When they found out I’d moved here, they went to a lot of trouble to track me down. The contract is virtually mine, but I won’t take it on unless I’ve got you with me.”

We’d walked in a circle as we talked, ending back at the boardwalk down onto the sand.

“You’ve got a lot of faith in me, Ryssa. Four weeks ago, you didn’t even know I existed.”

She shrugged.

“It feels right, like I’m in the right place at the right time with the right people. That fate thing I was talking about.”

I scuff my boot against the wooden walkway sending little clouds of dry sand into the air.

“Dammit, you knew if you got me out here I’d be sucked in.”

She smiled and grabbed my hand, tugging me back towards the house.

“Is that a yes?”

“It’s an “I’m thinking about it”.”

“We have to move fast on this. They want initial designs and costings next week.”

I glare at her, and stalk off towards the front door.

“Where are you going?”

“To the truck to get my stuff. We need to make detailed observations on everything that needs to be done, and I do mean everything and I do mean “we”. So cancel any plans you had for tonight. I’m gonna call Dave and tell him I’ve been kidnapped by some mad blonde designer. You got a problem with any of that?”

She grins at me.

“Actually no, no problem at all.”
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