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A Secret Schemer

A Secret Schemer

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A Secret Schemer

298 Seiten
4 Stunden
Dec 13, 2014


A Secret Schemer
Charley Dee

After experiencing several dubious relationships, at thirty six Lucy Ross decides to explore internet dating. Having just accepted the tenancy of a London pub called The Frog and Toad, she needs someone who will be supportive of her career.
Eventually Lucy meets Tim Carter an IT consultant, and she is soon captivated by his magnetic charm. His ambition is to become a millionaire by the time he is forty, Lucy finds this amusing as he only has a year to go.
Within a few weeks of Tim moving into the pub, Lucy realised he was a total computer hotshot who spent hours alone on his laptop. As she was always busy it took time for her to accept things were not unfolding quite as she had hoped.
Lucy convinced herself that Tim had met someone else on line and was having an affair...was this the case, or was something far more sinister taking place...which could lead to inconceivable circumstances....

Dec 13, 2014

Über den Autor


A Secret Schemer - Charley Dee


Chapter 1

‘Are you up Jena? I’ve just received the official notice of our opening day.’ I shout noisily up the stairs.

‘Great I’m on my way down.’ Jena calls back.

I’ve recently taken the tenancy of a pub in South West London, which is still undergoing a total refurbishment, and has been renamed The Frog and Toad; to say I’m thrilled would be an understatement.

‘Spill, when do we open?’ Jena asks eagerly as she appears in the kitchen doorway.

‘24th of September, that gives us a whole two weeks to ourselves, well the evenings anyway as the bar fitters won’t be working all night.’

‘That gives you time to explore internet dating, and find a level headed guy.’

‘I don’t know about that, although it should be fun trying.’ I respond.

‘It worked for me, Andy is great the only problem he lives in Portsmouth, but we’re working on that.’

‘Good luck with that Hun, time for coffee and toast before the workman descend on us.’

‘Sounds good, have the brewery sent you an agenda?’ Jena asks.

‘Yes very explicit, in fact a daily schedule until we open, which works to our advantage. I start the interviews tomorrow; I’d like you to sit in…two heads and all that.’

‘Have you had many applicants for the bar?’ Jena enquires.

‘Surprisingly enough quite a few guys have applied, Oh and by the way did I mention I’ve already got a cook?’

‘No, how did that come about?’

‘Kate Marshall, we were at school together although I haven’t seen her for years until a chance meeting yesterday. She’s divorced with twin teenagers and has moved in with her parents. They bought one of those old Victorian properties in Pimlico when houses in London were still affordable. Her dad’s evidently modernised the property making it into two flats, as her mum is now retired she’ll be able to look out for the kids. Kate has all the necessary qualifications plus she’s a fun person.’

‘Sounds ideal, does she have a man in her life?’ Jena asks.

‘No, her marriage to the kids’ father was a complete car crash, since then and rather like me she’s had several dubious relationships.’

‘Mm sounds like another potential internet dater, can’t wait to meet her.’

‘You won’t have to wait long Hun she’s calling in tomorrow and I’m sure you two will get along just great.’

‘Look forward to it, so Lucy what’s on our agenda for today?’

‘Mostly working with the fitters, showing them where we want equipment placed behind the bar and in the cellar.’

‘Cool, think I’ll head upstairs for a shower before they turn up.’ Jena says as she makes a hasty exit from the kitchen.

Jena Wright worked with me in my last pub. She has become my closest friend and is now my assistant manager, we work well together even though we are absolute opposites. I’m organised, methodical and optimistic where Jena is laid back, intuitive and creative; however it works for us in the pub trade. Perhaps enhanced by the fact we both have a brilliant sense of humour, and we seem to be able to support each other through our little perplexities. Jena was ‘Made in Chelsea’ as in the TV programme, I jest of course, although she does originate from the very area. I come from St Johns Wood, where all of my father’s family stem from. Jena is a pretty blonde with blue eyes and a curvaceous figure, whereby I’m a five foot ten inch willowy red head with green eyes….I prefer to call my hair flame colour (not that anyone gives a jot), it’s rather long and curly and I spend hours attempting to straighten it, usually to no avail. Jena’s parents divorced years ago and have both moved away from London, she’s an only child. My parents moved to Spain when they took early retirement, my older brother lives in New Zealand, well he did the last time I heard from him. This is my third pub although only my first tenancy, I started working for the City Ales Brewery as a manager. Being ambitious I enquired about taking a tenancy at an early stage and after passing all the necessary exams I worked hard to prove myself capable. When I was offered this pub I was truly elated, as this is my chance to fulfil my dream. The sound of knocking on the back door stops my musing, as the fitters have arrived.

‘Hi.’ I offer, as the three guys trundle into the kitchen armed with tool boxes.

‘Hello Lucy.’ They say in unison, ‘any chance of that kettle going on?’

‘No sooner said than done.’ I laugh.

‘We need you girls around today Lucy as we’re fitting a lot of the equipment.’ Len says as they move into the bar area with their tool boxes.

‘No problem we’ll be here all day, I’ll bring your tea in and you may even get a biscuit if there’s any left.’

‘Did I hear biscuits?’ Jena re-appears in the kitchen.

‘If someone nips over to the bakers we may even have cakes as well.’ I add.

‘I’ll do that Lucy, how do jam doughnuts sound?’

‘Whatever you fancy Hun.’

Ten minutes later Jena rushes through the back door dripping wet explaining,’ I think we’ve just had a cloud burst, don’t worry I think the cakes are dry, I stuffed the bag under my top.’

‘Good job it was a baggy top.’ I laugh.

While Jena dries out I put the kettle on again, the guys are attempting to unload equipment in the rain, luckily their van is parked right outside the back door of the pub. I can foresee a wet tea shirt competition coming on which makes me grin.

‘I’m glad you think it’s funny.’ Len laughs as he struggles in with a huge box.

‘Yes but you don’t know what I was thinking.’ I reply.

At last the back doors close and we all stop for tea and doughnuts.

‘OK girls where would you like the glass washer for starters.’ Len asks.

‘We’ve drawn a rough sketch of bar, cellar and kitchen if that will help.’ I spread our drawings out across the bar.

‘Mm that’s quite impressive ladies; if we have any problems we’ll call you.’

‘No problem we’ll either be in the kitchen or restaurant, don’t forget shout out if you want another cuppa.’

‘Shall we look through these job applications Hun, I made half hour intervals between each one, as the guys will be working I think the restaurant’s the best place for the interviews, what do you think?

‘Definitely, what times the first one?’ Jena asks.

‘Nine o’clock with a Lucas Carr he’s thirty eight.’

‘Sounds interesting can’t wait to give him the once over.’ Jena grins.

Chapter 2

I got up early to sort the restaurant out for the interviews and to my surprise Jena had beaten me to it.

‘Good morning early bird, that looks very organised.’ I remark.

‘Hi Lucy I thought I’d make it look as professional as possible in a building site.’

‘Good thinking honey, fancy coffee and toast before we start? I ask.

‘Cool, I think I’ll bring my lap top down as well, always good to have Google at the ready.’

‘Why not, I’ll do breakfast we’ve still got over half an hour, by the way the fitters won’t be here until about ten as they’re picking up kitchen equipment.’

‘I wondered why they were late.’ Jena adds.

Lucas Carr arrived on the dot of nine o’clock, he was about six foot tall, and a slim though fit build, with dark blonde hair.

‘Hi you must be Lucas.’ I say as I proffered my hand.’ I’m Lucy Ross.’

‘Hi Lucy it’s good to meet you.’

‘Come through to the restaurant, as you can see we’re still a work in progress, this is Jena Wright my assistant manager.’

‘Hello Jena.’ He shakes her hand.

‘Can I offer you a tea or coffee?’ Jena asks.

‘Coffee would be good thanks, white no sugar.

‘I’ve read through your CV Lucas and I take it you’re interested in full time bar/cellar man.’

‘Yes definitely I enjoy the cellar work as much as the bar.’

‘Do you have references?’

Jena comes in with coffee for us all.

‘Yes I’ve one written reference from my previous employer and I can give you two phone numbers.’

‘Can I ask why you left your last position?’

‘Moving home, I’ve only recently moved into London.’

‘How far would you have to travel?’

‘Actually I only live in Pimlico so I could walk.’

‘Obviously you realise there will be some evening work involved.’

‘That’s no problem I’m happy to work what ever hours are necessary.’

‘Do you have a phone number I can reach you on?’

‘I’ll write my mobile number down if that’s OK I don’t have a land line yet.’

‘I’ll be in touch within the next twenty four hours; by the way we open on Tuesday the 24th of the month.’

‘Thanks Lucy I look forward to hearing from you.’

‘I’ll show you out Lucas.’ Jena offered.

‘Well what did you think of him Lucy?’ Jena asked.

‘He seems ideal, I could tell by his CV he was well qualified, I was going to show him round but everywhere is such a mess. What did you think?’

‘He’s pretty hot reminds me of Tom Lister who used to be in Emmerdale, has he got the job?’

‘If references are good which I’m sure they will be he’s a cert.’

‘I think maybe he’s on his own and moved to London to start again.’

‘Yeah I had the same feeling, I won’t ask though maybe things are a bit fragile.’

‘By the way what time’s Kate calling in?’ Jena asks.

‘About lunchtime I think about half past twelve, we can grab a sandwich then.’

By the time Kate arrived we’d interviewed another six people and drank equal amounts of tea and coffee.

‘Hi Kate come in and join us for a much needed sandwich, this is Jena my assistant manager.’

‘Hello Kate, it’s good to meet you.’ Jena says. ‘Would you prefer cheese and pickle or ham, sorry they’re not very exciting fillings.

‘Good to meet you to Jena, the cheese and pickle sounds yummy.’ Kate replies.

‘I’d forgotten how tiring interviewing was.’ I added.

‘Mm there’s another six this afternoon as well.’ Jena adds.

‘Sounds promising, any fit guys yet?’ Kate asks.

‘A couple, not sure which ones I’ll settle on though there could be more this afternoon.’ I jest.

‘Kate you really don’t look old enough to have teenage twins, you must have started at school.’ Jena teases.

‘Not quite that young but I was only twenty, Jodie and Josh will be sixteen next month which makes me feel ancient.’

‘There’s a girl coming in for an interview this afternoon at half one, she’s looking for kitchen work, why don’t you stay and meet her Kate, she’s going to be working with you after all.’

‘Yeah that sounds cool.’

‘We can go through menus next week one day, when they’ve finished fitting the kitchen equipment. I’m thinking short but interesting with maybe a daily special?’

‘Shall I write a few samples out?’ Kate asks.

‘Perfect, I’ll let you know when the kitchen’s operational.’

‘Then we can talk internet dating, Kate have you ever tried?’ Jena enquires.

‘No have you two?’ Kate asks.

‘Oh Jena’s done more than try it Kate she’s met her soul mate, only problem is he lives in Portsmouth.’

‘That’s a shame how’s that going to work then Jena?’

‘Well it’s still early days, he comes up on the train at weekends due to the parking problems we have around here. Fortunately he works for a big company and is applying for a transfer.’

‘What does he do Jena?’ Kate asks.

‘He works for a construction company as a labourer, as he’s been with the company for over ten years he would like to stay with them.’

‘He certainly sounds well grounded Jena, I hope it works out.’

‘Oh it’s sure to Kate when Jena lures a guy into her web he’s no chance of escape.’ I laugh.

‘So you met him on the internet then Jena?’ Kate asks.

‘Yeah I didn’t realise how easy it was to join, you can set your page up within a few minutes completely free, then have a search and if you decide that particular site is for you then pay to join for a month and away you go.’ Jena explains.

‘Why don’t we have a girlie night before we open, as I won’t have much time afterwards, let us know when you can make it Kate.’ I add.

There’s a knock on the door which breaks up the lunch time chat and another applicant arrives.

‘Hi you must be Grace please come through to the restaurant, by the way I’m Lucy Ross. This is Jena Wright my assistant manager and Kate Marshall who is in charge of the kitchen.’

After the introductions we left Kate to interview Grace as she would be working with her everyday if suitable. By six o’clock we had interviewed fourteen people for various positions. Both feeling weary we decided to order in a pizza, go through all the applications and make a final decision.

‘I definitely feel Lucas Carr will be perfect for the bar and cellar, and Archie Miller just the bar as he’s such a lively character, what do you think Jena?’

‘Totally agree, what about Emma Barlow you’ve put a tick on her application?’

‘Mm she only wants part time anyway, so let’s try her on the graveyard shift.’

That sounds a gloomy shift, however it’s the afternoon quiet time, and she has a child so she could probably do with some quiet time.

‘I’m sure Mary Grant will make a fabulous cleaner, she’s local and over sixty, plus she was the only one who applied for the job.’ I laugh.

‘Would you like to do the honours Hun and ring them all? I’ll enter all the details on line, and I’ll also keep a couple of the others as possibilities, then I think we deserve a glass of wine and a DVD.’

‘Make that a bottle Lucy and we’re talking. No DVD as tonight I’m entering you on the dating site.’ Jena declares.

‘Do I get a choice?’

‘No chance Lucy it’s now or never.’………..

Chapter 3

‘Time to check your profile Lucy, I bet you can’t wait.’

‘Jena it’s not eight o’clock, no one will have even noticed my profile yet.’ I laugh.

‘Don’t you believe it Hun men surf the net at all hours let’s face it the average guy looking for a mate on a dating site, he’s like a kid in a sweet shop with so many delights to choose from. Of course they all think they look like Brad Pitt or George Clooney, most don’t think of using a mirror. So Lucy Ross it’s time to start the process of elimination.’

‘Hey I’m not any ones soft centre Jena Wright.’ I laugh.

I’m slightly dumb struck by all this as without hesitation Jena opens the link to the dating site and to my horror I’ve received five messages, had thirty guys wink at me and four have made me favourites. So between sipping our coffee and noisily crunching toast we read the messages and scan all the guys, this is all new to me and I must admit I feel somewhat apprehensive. After much deliberation I settled on three prospective beaus (or should I say the best of the bunch)…….

‘What’s tickled the pair of you so early this morning?’ Len enquires as the guys burst into the kitchen.

‘If I tell you that Len I’d have to kill you.’ Jena declares.

‘Mm it’s that good then.’ He laughs. ‘We should have the kitchen finished by tonight Lucy then you can start stocking up.’

‘Great at least I can order all the basics, thanks guys.’

‘Get the beer ordered in Lucy.’ The other guys shouted in unison as they went into the bar.

‘Already ordered guys and should all be delivered next week, don’t worry I’ll buy you pint when you’ve finished.’

‘We’re planning to come in on opening night to see how it goes.’ Len chimes in.

As the guys start to unload more equipment me and Jena head into the restaurant to sort out the seating and lay the tables up.

‘Shall I wink at the three guys you’ve selected Hun, it’ll start the ball rolling.’ Jena asks.

‘Why not, then we can have another look tonight. By the way did you ask Lucas to come in a couple of days before the opening date so he has time to sort the cellar out?’

‘Yeah he said if you need him before just send him a text and he’ll come round straight away.’ Jena adds.

‘Eager beaver I like that, I think he’ll be good.’

‘If he’s on his own I bet it’s not long before someone gets their claws into him, he’s pretty hot.’ Jena declares.

‘You’d better not let Andy hear you saying things like that.’

‘No he’s not my type; however you have to admit he’s fit.’

‘I’ll agree he’s pleasing to the eye, although also not my type.’ I add.

‘Shall we start by unloading all the dining equipment first; they appear to have sent far too much.’

‘That’s OK there’s heaps of storage space. I must admit I quite like the china design, now we need to find the perfect matching napkins from the catering catalogue, or we could nip to the local cash and carry.’ I add.

The morning passed quickly and at lunch time the guys went out for fish and chips. We all sat around the large kitchen table eating them the correct way, out of the paper! After lunch we decided to sort out the staff rotas, it’s always best to work two weeks ahead.

‘Is it alright if I nip to the supermarket Hun as one of us needs to stay here.’ Jena asks.

‘No problem, can you get a few bits to keep us going?’

‘Yeah I thought I’d get enough to last over the weekend. Is it OK if Andy stays over?’

‘Of course Jena this is your home now honey.’

After Jena left I made my way upstairs. On the first floor there were two large bedrooms, one which was en suite, and a single room, a lounge and a bathroom. Jena had chosen the room nearest to the bathroom and lounge as this would make more of a flat for her. The second floor had been made into a self contained flat for me, comprising of two bedrooms a large lounge, bathroom and small kitchen. This was ideal, in fact the layout of the two upper floors were perfect as you didn’t have to go through the bar at all, hence the bar would be closed and securely alarmed at night. This made it far better for Jena as she could invite Andy to stay and it wouldn’t interfere with the running of the pub. I intend to keep the single room made up just in case one of the staff needs to stay over at night. As for the other large en suite bedroom I’d made no plans for that one as yet. I’d bought some of my furniture with me from my previous pub; however I intended to buy a new suite for my lounge and a decent size television, as after working long hours it’s good to be able to enjoy a few comforts. Everywhere had been painted white, it was a tad clinical although very clean, and so at some time in the future I may have the lounge decorated. The bedroom was not a problem as by the time I get to bed I’m virtually asleep as my head touches the pillow. In both of the bathrooms there was a bath and shower which was brilliant as the shower is quick, but a long lazy lay in the bath was pure luxury…..Walking into the lounge I noticed there was a door in the ceiling which must be the entrance to a loft, one thing’s for sure I won’t be venturing up there as spiders are definitely not my best mates. While I was in the flat on my own I decided to log onto the dating site, although I’m loathe admitting that I’m becoming fascinated by the whole encounter. I found the three guys who I’d selected as maybes and once again read through their profiles. I realise that unless I actually meet them I’m never going to know if we have chemistry, so without further thought and being lead by my impulsive nature I reply to the messages and agree to meet them. (One at a time of course) Jena will be shocked when I tell her. I’m sure I can fit in three dates before our grand opening, being as they all live within this area it should be easy enough to arrange. Feeling rather pleased with myself I make my way back to the kitchen as the guys are probably desperate for a cuppa.

‘You must have smelt the tea pot.’ I say, as Jena makes her way back into the kitchen loaded with Sainsbury’s carrier bags.

‘Everyone and their aunty were in that blooming shop I swear.’ Jena moans.

‘So long as you’ve got biscuits we don’t give a damn.’ Len teases.

‘I wouldn’t dare come back without them.’

After the tea break I opt to tell Jena about replying to the three guys….

‘So what did you say?’ she asks.

‘I only agreed to meet up for a coffee, so now I have to wait for a reply. I really couldn’t see the point in exchanging loads of emails with someone I didn’t know and possibly wouldn’t want to know, so I thought let’s meet and see how we get on.’

‘Wow Lucy Ross that’s very brave of you, I thought you were going to be a hard nut to crack.’

‘Who me darling, never I’m as soft as treacle.’ I laugh. ‘Well I should be able to fit three mini dates in before we open, as I sure won’t get much time afterwards.’

‘Who do you think you might prefer? Jena asks.

‘No idea yet Hun give me a chance. People usually look different to their photos anyway, let’s face it one mug shot and all that.’

‘Well when we’ve finished in the restaurant we’ll have another look and see if anyone’s responded.’

‘Ok if it’ll keep you happy.’ I reply.

By the time we’d finished the restaurant and the guys had fitted all the equipment in the kitchen it was six thirty, so once again it was going to be a quick snack of the Heinz fifty seven variety.

‘There’s nothing like beans on toast when you’re starving.’ I declare.

‘Now it’s time to check Perfect’ Jena swiftly opens her lap top.’ Wow Lucy you’ve already got two messages.’

‘What do they say, read them out Hun?’

‘Cool, they both want to meet up as soon as.’ Jena declares.

‘Which two Hun, I’m beginning to feel just a tiny bit nervous?’

‘The first one is from Steve who says he’s free to meet up any evening except Friday, and the other one’s from Tim who is free any evening, or afternoons at the weekend.’

‘Oh well Hun there’s no time like the present as they say, let’s arrange the meetings now before I lose my nerve. You write the replies Jena make one for tomorrow night and one for Saturday, best not muddle their names up so I know which is which.’ I laugh.

‘OK I’ve made both meetings for seven thirty. The first one is in Starbucks at Belgravia, the Saturday one in the Corkscrew. Didn’t want you being seen at the same venue with different guys, we don’t want to

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