About the Series
Unlike anything ever written before, the ‘Blueprint’ series utilises two books that fuse to tell an erotic tale that’s gripping, psychologically stimulating and fraught with suspense. With one book written for men and the other for women, the story of Edward and Lizzy are already bringing couples together to enjoy a booming genre usually reserved for a female audience.
“Edward, this is Elizabeth George and Cameron Grewal from EG Associates.”
I take Edward’s hand in mine. I remembered my brief presentation training course… direct eye contact, firm grip, smile.
“Mr FitzWilliam, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
No smile is returned, just a cool nod, a direct look and an equally firm handshake. I release my hand and step aside for Cam to introduce himself.
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“Miss George, Mr Grewal, I have heard a lot about you from Daniel, shall we begin?”
His American tone is clipped, business-like and confident. There will be no chit-chat over coffee and muffins as we usually enjoy with Daniel. We each take our place around the large table, Cam and I on one side, Daniel opposite and Mr FitzWilliam sitting five seats back from Daniel, on his own. Do we smell or something?
I take a deep breath.
“Firstly, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to meet with to you today. We’ve prepared a short presentation which will hopefully demonstrate our capabilities and vision.”
Cam brings up the first PowerPoint slide, ‘Our Company’.
“EG Associates was founded in 2008 and we have grown gradually to now employ a large team of architects and interior designers. We pride ourselves on offering a personal, professional serv-”
“Move on, move on,” FitzWilliam interrupts, waving his hand dismissively at the screen.
Daniel shoots an icy look at FitzWilliam.
“Listen, Miss George, I know how ‘good’ your practice is. Daniel has been banging on about you for months, so can we cut the crap and move on to this project?”
I am taken aback by his directness, but at least I know where we stand now. He is obviously not interested in our pitch so I’ll give it my best shot and cut to the chase.
Cam quickly skips through a few more credentials pages, research, site surveys, site plans, inspiration and initial concepts. Fitzwilliam’s eyes briefly scan and disregard the pages of work which we have spent weeks preparing; my heart sinks for the team. Well, if he just wants the ‘money-shot’, then so be it.
Cameron stops at the 3D visual slide, an aerial view of the site, the old Covent Garden buildings to one side, and at the centre of the scene, a new conical glass tower, its steel skeleton exposed. We switch to the video fly-through. Music plays and the monologue begins by explaining the history, the vision and the building’s credentials. The camera flies through the spaces: the grand reception, 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 100,000 sq. of prime office accommodation, twenty floors of hotel space, twenty luxury apartments, a gym complete with spa and swimming pool, four restaurants and a helipad. My stomach fills with butterflies and the hairs on my arms prickle erect. I know I am biased but this concept really does look amazing on screen.
As the video rolls, FitzWilliam is motionless. I study him but he gives nothing away. His perfect jaw-line is still, full lips slightly parted as if to speak, and those piercing eyes riveted on the screen. Daniel, by complete contrast, is obviously enjoying what he sees. He’s smiling from ear to ear and wriggling excitedly in his seat. I know we have interpreted his brief perfectly and exceeded his expectations.
As the fly-through ends, Cameron and I gush about the materials we would use, the new breakthroughs in construction that would mean we could achieve seamless glass joints; our enthusiasm, passion and excitement fills the room. Yet still nothing comes from FitzWilliam in return. Yes, he looks at the samples and casually thumbs the documents we have so carefully prepared, occasionally catching my eye, but he gives nothing away.
I’m fed up with this strong silent crap now.
“Mr FitzWilliam, what do you think?”
“That’s all very interesting, Miss George, but how much money will it make me?”
What is it with this man? Is he made of stone or what? How he cannot get excited about what he has just seen is beyond me. To be fair, it’s not right to expect all our clients to share our zeal and after all, we are only here because EFW want to make a profit, but this is like prodding a dead dog.
Crashing to earth with a bump I am now in super professional mode:
“We have prepared a full cost analysis and potential revenue report for you Mr FitzWilliam…”
Cam brings the relevant slides onto the screen which clearly show that the project is commercially viable.
“We estimate that construction costs, fees etc. will come to £310m. We recommend that you sell the apartments which should generate £270m, and retain the freehold and rest of the building. The income from the office space, hotel, service charges, retail units etc. will generate circa £21m per year, therefore breakeven point is year two to three, with a ten-year profit prediction, after running costs, of £150m. If you decide to sell the building on as an asset disposal, I suggest that we wait until we have secured eighty percent tenancies on a ten-year term. The building would then be valued at around £415m, based on current market rates, generating a profit of £105m…”
“With respect to you, Miss George, and your small, inexperienced practice, you have never completed a project this big, so how do I know you can keep the costs in check?”
This guy is really starting to piss me off now. It’s one thing to be professional and confident, but he is downright arrogant and condescending.
“With respect, Mr FitzWilliam, it may be difficult for you to comprehend that a ‘small practice’ could have a detailed knowledge of construction and costings but please let me assure you that I have worked in property and construction for over ten years and all of our projects have completed on time and on budget. We wouldn’t be in business if we let clients down and I’m sure Daniel can testify to that.”
Daniel nodded and adds, “Edward, you know that Lizzy and her team always deliver the goods.”
He is pushing my buttons now; FitzWilliam continues his interrogation, looking me straight in the eye. His are almost twinkling with the enjoyment of his twisted game.
“So why should I give this project to you and not to a larger, more experienced, leading practice? Do you have the balls to see it through?”
This sly reference to the fact that I am self-evidently not a man really rankles. I get this sexist shit all the time in my job and have done all the way through my career.
My heart is racing, my anger building. At that moment I am perfectly happy to walk out of the room and tell this American shit to fuck-off and shove his project up his arse, but alarm bells go off inside my head. Don’t rise to it, Lizzy. Daniel said that he tests people – that’s all he’s doing, it’s a good sign, be calm, be direct…
“Mr FitzWilliam, whether you award this project to us or not is entirely up to you. However what I can tell you is that you will not find a more dedicated, hardworking and passionate team than mine. We may be small but that, in my opinion, is our strength. We will treat your project as if it was our own baby and spend your money as if it were from our own pocket. And with regard to balls, you may have noticed that I am not a man but I can hold my own with anyone. I will not let you down; if you appoint us, your building will not only be beautiful but it will make you a lot of money – your return on investment will be significant as we have amply and clearly demonstrated.”
I am almost shaking now, my chest rises and falls heavily, my mouth is dry. I’ve given it my best shot, but I won’t sell out and grovel. I’ve always promised myself that I won’t work for horrible clients even if it means sacrificing my business goals. I don’t need to deal with this type of shit. If he is like this now, what will he be like to work with? One more sarcastic comment and no matter what, I’ll be out of here.
“Do you masturbate, Miss George?”
I’m astounded by what I have just heard. The room falls silent. Surely he didn’t say that, surely I must have misheard. My brain rattles through alternatives: masticate, often debate, gesticulate, exacerbate… my throat constricts and I almost squeak when I speak.
“I said, do you masturbate, Miss George?”
I have heard correctly, but cannot quite believe it. There’s testing people, trying to intimidate them, and then there’s this – whatever ‘this’ is. He has crossed the line. That is it, enough is enough.
Briefly the thought of the morning shower flashes through my mind and I feel myself flush slightly. I am tempted to say ‘yes I do as a matter of fact, and it’s fucking great thank you very much’, but I don’t.
Calmly now and very slowly, I rise from the table, place my hands firmly on its edge and lock eyes with the psycho.
“I don’t know what sort of sick game you are playing here, Mr FitzWilliam, but as far as I’m concerned there is only one wanker in this room!”
I signal to Cam that we were leaving and go to kiss a dumbstruck Daniel lightly on the cheek.
“Daniel, it has been a pleasure working with you, thank you.”
About the Author
The Blueprint books are my first formal publishing venture, but ever since I can remember, I have written short stories, articles and commercial marketing materials, so creative writing has always been a passion of mine.
I love to write. I am consumed by the creation of characters and the worlds they inhabit and I confess I have a girlie crush on my current male lead, Edward; there’s a little bit of Darcy / Sherlock / Dr Who in him!
I write on trains, planes, lying on the beach and have even given up watching TV soaps to concentrate on the creation of my own worlds. Writing is like an addiction to a drug that I can’t resist. Yes, my name is Lesley James and I’m a writerholic.
I first had the Blueprint idea in 2012 while on holiday and watching all the women lying round the pool reading a certain bestselling erotic novel and thinking to myself that it was a shame that their partners were missing out on it. Since then I have concentrated on the research and creation of these twin novels.
When not writing, I draw, bake chocolate cake and act as an unpaid chauffeur, chef and party planner to a teenager.
For more information see: www.lesleyjames.co.uk
Or join the conversation at: Twitter @lesleyjames123