“You’re gonna love the apartment, it’s fabulous. It may be a little more than you were expecting to pay but… it’s to die for.” It better be, Deborah Mendelson had taken me and Leo around like, at least 15 other apartments, and none of them were what we were looking for. They were all either too small, or just had awful views. It had been tough getting Leo to understand that city apartments cost a lot more than an even bigger house in the country, but you had to pay a price for city living. I was trying to keep price off the conversation, it was still strange to him that I had millions of simoleans while he struggled to get by in a one bedroom studio. I grazed my hand against his, I wanted to make sure he knew that money didn’t matter to our relationship, but I just didn’t know how to make that happen.
“I sure hope so Deborah.” I replied, walking two steps behind her. I grazed my hand gently against his, I needed to reassure him that this was our decision, I so did not want him to be thinking about the money, he seemed to hate it.
It was beautiful if that was what you were into. The entire place had been stripped bare, obviously, with only a few chandeliers remaining. Deborah told me the previous owners had lived here for over 40 years, and were a very traditional couple, hence the wood panelling everywhere.
“You can definitely pull all this panelling up, though I think the original arches have to be kept, it’s part of the contract, but whatever. I think the lay out works, but you could always hire an architect… this view is fabulous isn’t it? Sweetie, just imagine sitting out on that terrace on a morning with a cup of coffee and the papers, ah, fabulous. There’s nothing like this on the market right now, and I don’t think it’s going to stay on for long… oh I should show you upstairs, 5 bedrooms honey, you’re not gonna find that anywhere else… the kitchen too. I think this room would be a great living area, with the study just through here. Isn’t the hallway window just fabulous. Hon, take a look around.” I could hear Deborah going at it in my ear, but nothing she said would sway me, if I thought I could do something with the place than that was that, and this one definitely had prospects. I ignored Deborah, her voice was totally grinding on me, but my mom recommended her, so I had to stick with her.
I was definitely considering this… She’d shown me both floors now, and although covered head to toe in wood panelling, which totally reminded me of being back at The Howland School, the bedrooms were huge, and would in no way be a squeeze. I could probably knock two together to make a master suite, the other three for guests… or perhaps children? I hoped me and Leo were on the same page about kids, I definitely wanted a few of my own, and would raise them way better than Lily raised me.
“Come on you two love birds, I have one final surprise to show you.” Surprise? She took us through to the area which would probably become a study, off the main living area, and that’s when we noticed more stairs, this time going down.
“Its a triplex?” I asked in shock. I had to make an offer. This must be the only triplex in the city, and in such a prestigious building…
“Now this was used as a little art gallery by the previous owners, for all their modern art that would look well, out of place in the upstairs rooms.” It was a huge room, and the white walls and floor made it seem even bigger than it actually was. The light in here was so great, it even had its own terrace. Most of the entire apartment actually had terraces, which was another odd thing for the centre of the city. I could see Noah getting excited as he walked around, it would be a perfect studio for him… a place where he could work in peace, away from the main floors.
“Honey, I know you want this place. There can’t be a single person out there who wouldn’t want this place. This building is extremely prestigious, full of old money, you can shake it up girl, hire a fabulous decorator for the apartment, pull out all that wood. Come on, do I even need to persuade you? Three floors of heaven, its a mansion in the sky.” She was right of course, we would never find something like this again.
I was desperate to make an offer, but I could see Leo staring out of the window, I couldn’t tell if he was excited or not, he was quite good at concealing his emotions.
“What am I going to be paying?” I leaned closer as I asked her, I hated talking about money around Leo, like, in my mind it didn’t matter to our relationship at all, but clearly it did.
“Well it’s on the market for 8.5 but I could probably get them down to about 8.1, at a push. I know, I know its a lot, but come on, look at this place, it’s beautiful, so spacious, so bright, so-“
“-Look can you just stop with this line of persuasion, I don’t need swaying by you, I can make this decision for myself. Sweetie.”
“Hey I didn’t mean any offence, it’s my job.”
Okay so it was her job, whatever, I didn’t need it. Leo was the one that needed convincing, not me
“What do you think about this place Leo?” I asked as we moved out onto the terrace, to be away from Deborah. “The studios great, right? You could work down here in total privacy.”
“You suppose? Don’t you like the place, it’s amazing if you ask me.”
“Arielle, I can go into a room and shut the door, I don’t need a whole extra floor. This place is huge, and it’s just me and you. From what I overheard the price seems ridiculous…”
“Well maybe we could talk about making this house… less empty?” I hoped we were on the same page, I really did want children. It might seem pretty soon, just out of school, but to tell the truth I didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t bear to become one of the ladies who lunch, maybe I should just become a housewife. I’d started painting a little, setting the old cogs from my childhood back in motion, but I really wanted to do something more, like being a lawyer, but that would mean more school, which I hated the thought of since Howland.
“Kids? I wasn’t aware it was an option… yes I want kids, but aren’t we going a little fast? An apartment together is one thing, but children? We’re not even married.” Um- well this was like, totally new. Who thought we were moving to fast? I didn’t know anything about relationships…
“Okay well we can talk about that later. I’m going to buy the apartment. It’s my money, and I want to live here, you’re welcome to live in it with me, and I really want you to, but you have to get over these money issues. Focus on becoming an amazing painter in this great studio and then you can sell all your masterpieces and have millions more than me, okay.”
We stood side by side for a long time, in a totally awkward silence…
“Okay, we should buy it.” We? At least we were making progress.
* * *
“Hi daddy… yeah, um- listen I need a favour.”
“Anything? Aw you’re so sweet. Can we meet? It might be a long conversation. Okay I’ll see you in an hour.” An hour was too long, I had to talk to him now, I was so bored, there was nothing for me to do. I’d read the Architectural Digest interview like 100 times and cringed the whole way through. Who was this Caroline bitch, I only met her for like, a second. ‘Miss Belgravia’? Please, she made me sound like a 45 year old spinster. Ew! I had to burn some time, there were dishes to be cleaned so I got to that.
Stopping for a second to think about what I was doing I almost threw up! I was cleaning dishes! I smashed one on the floor, argh! I was becoming domesticated, next I’d be sat in a cardigan knitting jumpers for my niece! I had to get out of this house, the move had kept me busy, the long months renovating and decorating, but now we were all settled, Leo was always in the studio, where he insisted on not being disturbed. A few of his paintings were actually quitegood, I’d snuck down there one night and checked them out. Pouring a cup of coffee (my new addiction) I went to settle down and wait for dad, I just hoped he could help me find something to do.
He was, of course, 35 minutes late, as I headed to the door to let him in I realised that it’s kind of became his ‘thing’ for everything now, he told me when I was younger that it’s always better to make your opponents wait, that way they’re caught off guard when you burst in with a new offer or something, whatever- I just wanted him to be on time.
The grille gate mom insisted on having installed was actually kind of cool. She said she always wanted me to be able to see who was at the door without having to open it, she must have like, an irrational fear of kidnapping or something, it’s not even like she’s ever been through something like that, but whatever. We embraced for a few seconds in the doorway before he headed off to the living room, they’d only be round a few times, but I think he was a little wary of my apartment, it wasn’t really to his taste. I mean, my parents liked modern, but they liked it homey at the same time, not like this, although their apartment was floor to ceiling glass all the way round… maybe I should think about changing a few of my rooms to glass.
“Arielle, you said you wanted to talk. Come.” I was totally dawdling, I always forgot how brusque he was, always on the go. Probably why he had so much money. “So what did you want to talk to me about?” We were stood on the terrace overlooking the city, and I could tell he was interested, but I didn’t really know how to broach the subject.
“Well…” I began tentatively,
“You know how… I got quite good grades at school,” (4 A’s, 3 B’s and 1 C – don’t ask how, I guess I was just really smart inside or something) “Well I’m sick of being in this apartment, I think I need to go back to school, or get a job…”
“Oh Arielle” He began laughing softly, “Don’t worry about money, we have plenty, we don’t expect you to work sweetheart.” Don’t expect me to work?!
“But Alex is doing really well with her novels, and Oriana has just joined that band as a back up singer… why wouldn’t I get a job? They have just as much money as me.” Did he think I was dumb or something?
“Well- yes, but we know that you have… other interests.”
“Are you saying I couldn’t get a job? I want to do something dad. I asked you here to get your opinion, on like, colleges or on some sort of intern-ship were I could work my way up.”
“If that’s really what you want then of course me and your mother will support you, but we thought you might be thinking of having children… you know how much we want grandchildren.”
“Um- excuse me? I’m not a conveyor belt spewing out kids for your pleasure. I do want some, one day, but I want to work, or how can I set a good example for them?” What I was saying made perfect sense, why was he looking so awkward? I needed to get a job, I couldn’t bear by in this apartment all day, Leo was great but well… I think he needed to make a few sales before he could really feel comfortable around me. It would probably be wiser not to even get a job, if I wanted to keep our relationship, but I was like, not going to not get a job because of him. “I know you can get me a job at the company.”
“That’s probably true, listen I’ll get you a low grade position, but you’re going to have to work your own way up the ladder. There’s a secret about business, you don’t really need any particular skills to be good at it, just a lot of drive and determination.”
“So what that makes it perfect for me? You’re saying I’m dumb aren’t you.” I couldn’t believe him, who did he think he was? Okay so he was my father and could sort of get away with it, but… no!
“Sweetie I have to go, I have a 12 o’clock lunch with a new client.” He pecked me on the cheek and was away, in and out, quick as can be. Did I want to end up like my father? Always working, always busy, with barely any time for a family? I didn’t know yet.
* * *
“Leo, come to bed.” I asked Leo’s back as he continued to work on his paintings. It was 2 in the morning, and Leo was still hard at work in his studio, geez. I couldn’t sleep, I had fears of Howland coming back for his revenge, and I felt much safer with someone else in the bed with me, I needed Leo.
“Yeah. I’ll be up in a minute.” He didn’t turn around, maybe this was some sort of ‘artists trance’ where he had to work. whatever. We needed to become closer, and the only way I could think of doing so was sex. I couldn’t get him to talk to me about anything, so when he came upstairs 45 minutes later we just did what we knew how to.
Things were still strained between us, but at least the attraction hadn’t left the relationship, oh no, no, no, that was totally still there. The next day I got ready to head to the local stores, I had to go shopping for my new work clothes, I couldn’t wear my usual clothes, however much I wished I could. I had to go all business like and serious, but I was determined to try and make it look hot. I was about to open the grille gate when I noticed someone stood behind it, about to press the bell. This was just what I needed. Noah.