Family Affairs Ch. 43byD.C. Roi©
Matt picked Mary up after school and they drove to the office of a local real estate broker who specialized in commercial properties. Matt's father had done business with the broker and Mary knew the man from a time when Tom's firm was looking for a new office and had used his services.
The broker had heard about Tom and Mary's divorce, and remembered how attractive Mary was. Even though he was married, he was looking forward to seeing the attractive woman again. Maybe she'd go out with him.
Mary wore an oversized loose-knit sweater and long black loose jersey skirt. Red shoes, red earrings, and a string of large red beads added just the right amount of color to the outfit. Over it, she wore a long, black quilted coat.
"You look gorgeous!" Matt told her when she slid into the car.
"Thank you, my love," Mary replied.
The broker seemed to think Mary looked pretty good, too. He looked at her with ill-concealed admiration, his eyes afire. So avid was his gaze he was almost drooling.
"I understand you and Tom are splitting up," he commented to Mary, ignoring Matt, who was sitting next to her.
"Yes, we are," Mary replied curtly. She felt very uncomfortable about the way the man was looking at her.
"I'm really sorry to hear that," the broker said, continuing to look at Mary. "What can I do to help you?"
"I'm looking for a place to set up a photography studio," Matt said, putting special emphasis on the word, "I'm."
"What, exactly, is he looking for?" the broker asked, directing his question at Mary, staring at her chest.
"You'd best ask Matt," Mary said, her tone sharp. "He's the one who will be making the decisions and paying the bills."
"Yes, of course," the broker said, reddening a bit. He cleared his throat, turned and looked at Matt. "What are you going to need, son?"
"I need at least one big room to use as a studio, bathrooms, a changing area, space for a darkroom, storage, and an office," Matt explained. "I'd prefer something that gives me a lot of natural light, and the space should be air-conditioned, too." He quoted the broker an estimate of the number of square feet he thought he'd need.
"I see," the broker seemed a bit taken aback by how competently Matt stated his needs. "I think I may have several properties that meet your requirements, at least as far as square footage goes. What about location?"
"It ought to be accessible, and have ample parking," Matt said, "but it doesn't have to be in the center of town."
"What about price?" the broker asked.
"After we look at the places you have in mind you can tell me. I think I'll be in a much better position to determine if the price is reasonable once I've seen the property, don't you?" Matt said.
The broker leaned back in his chair, tented his fingers, and put them under his chin. "Actually, I have several properties that might be suitable," he said. "Do you want to take a look at some of them?"
"That's why we're here," Matt said.
They went in the broker's car. At each location, while Matt prowled around checking out the building, the broker stayed with Mary, trying to make conversation. Mary embarrassed and a bit miffed, kept cutting him off.
At last they found a place Matt liked. It was, the real estate agent said, an old railroad freight shed located next to what used to be a railroad yard on the outskirts of Jamestown. It needed quite a bit of work and didn't look anything like a studio, but it struck his fancy. "I like this," he said. "I think it might do."
"Well, it isn't quite what you said you were looking for," the broker told him, "but if it's what you want, I think the owner might be willing to make some alterations."
"I'll take care of the alterations myself," Matt said.
"Why don't we go back to my office?" the broker said. "I'll call the owner and we can see what kind of lease terms he's willing to offer." He seemed anxious to cement the deal.
"I'm not interested in a lease," Matt said. "I want to buy the building."
"Buy?" The broker looked from Matt to Mary, back to Matt.
"Buy," Matt said. He handed the broker a business card. "That's the number of my attorney. Call him. He'll handle the details of the purchase."
"Uh...well, all right, I guess we're all set, then." The broker wasn't sure what to make of this young man. He drove them back to his office and accompanied them as they walked to Matt's car.
"Is this your car?" he asked Mary, looking at her, the Mercedes, and then her again.
"It's his," Mary said and gestured toward Matt.
The man nodded. He leaned closer to Mary. "Maybe, you know, we could have dinner some time?" he said quietly.
"I'd love to have dinner with you and your wife," Mary replied innocently. "Have your wife give me a call." Before the man could answer, she got in the car.
Red-faced, the broker took a step back from the car, and looked across the roof at Matt, who was grinning at him. "Um...ah...I'll, ah, I'll call you when the deal's done," he stammered then, he turned and walked toward his office.
As they drove away from the broker's office, both Matt and Mary burst out laughing.
"What a turkey!" Matt said.
"He's a creep," Mary said. "Even Tom said that when he had to deal with him a few years ago. Are you sure that place will be all right?"
"Once I it's fixed up the way I want it, it'll be super," he said. "I'll draw up some plans and talk with the contractor my father always did business with. I'm going to need a secretary and receptionist, and an assistant. You interested in working for me when I open my studio?"
"Huh?" Mary said. The request took her completely by surprise.
"Actually, I was thinking of you for the assistant's job. I need someone to help me set up shots, make sure things are arranged properly, stuff like that," he said. "I can't think of anyone else I'd rather work with."
"I'd love to work with you, Matt," Mary said. "It sounds like it could be a fun job."
Matt turned onto the street his parents' house was located on.
"Where are you going?" Mary asked.
"Rick will be late getting home tonight," he said. "I have some things I need to do in my lab."
"Oh," Mary said.