Sophie pulled into the semi circle drive that was ubiquitous in that section of town. Large old trees lined the road, old stoic homes set back from the street looked right out of colonial times. The home of Sophie’s client, Philip Nigel, was cream and white with navy shutters framing the eight front facing windows. The old brick drive had been paved over with concrete and the landscaping bore no resemblance to its neighbors. Nearly devoid of bushes, the grass was golf course short and in the midst of the circle drive was a lewd cherub fountain.
Sophie left it and went to the brass knocker on the front door mumbling, “Momma said never trust a man with two first names.”
The door swung open, the home’s A/C a welcome breeze to the thick southern air.
“Can I help you?” The gray haired man, Philip Nigel, said. His chino’s were the exact length and shade of sandstone that they were ought to be, his shirt the appropriate shade of sky blue to contrast perfectly with the salmon long sleeve that he had tied over his shoulders. Slight belly paunch but his skin tone and nails were immaculate. Some would confuse it with class, but Sophie worked the industry long enough to know that class was more than a trust fund.
She dug deep for her sugar and laid it on thick and prayed that from what she’d heard she could pave this road straight, “Mr. Philip Nigel, I’m Sophie Starling with Knight Interiors, I’m here to right a bungle of a situation.” She said and smiled like Miss. America.
“I doubt you can help.” He said undeterred by her sugar tone. She figured Casey had only just left him and he was still smarting from the indignation of their interaction.
“Well why don’t we see if I can’t try.” Still waiting for him to invite her in.
“Ms. Sparling, it has been a trying day. I’m not concerned in talking with any more incompitent people. Come back later.”
Sophie kept her smile up, despite the realization that this was going to go as well as an ice factory in hell.
“Mr. Nigel, I assure you Knight doesn’t send me out to watch paint dry. When I show up on your doorstep it means that we’re about to move the moon and stars for you. Let’s chat, shall we?” she said motioning inside.
His eyebrows arched slightly, “Fine,” he said and opened the door wider, gesturing with one manicured hand for her to come in, “Do come in.”
“Thank you very much.” She said ignoring the note of sarcasm in his voice and entered into the great room. Soaring ceilings and shining hardwoods took up the majority of the space. The furniture was sparse making the room seem castle like. To the far left was the room that they were redoing. A room that had just been redone, according to the project designer, Casey. Ahead was the main curved staircase to the upper level balcony, a library to her right and down a wide hall was from what the plans she reviewed said was a cook’s kitchen, a formal dining and and unused ballroom.
In the great room, Sophie’s heels clicked on the polished hardwoods and she set her case down on the massive front table. Other designs, documents and the purchased bolts of fabric took up one end. A centerpiece of exotic orchids and orange and blue bird of paradise nearly blocked a rear door to the room.
“Ms. Sparling. This has all been a horrible experience for me.” He said gesturing to the thousands of dollars of fabric bolts that he’d not paid for on his table, “Knight assured me that I’d be getting top service, but I’ve been dealt nothing but idiots to work with. Frankly I’m angry that it’s taken so much time for someone of your caliber to take notice. I went into this believing that I’d be respected, not treated like a commoner. The Nigel name still means something in this town.”
Ignoring the fact that the Nigel’s had arrived from Texas two years ago Sophie answered, “Agreed Mr. Nigel, so why don’t we dive right in. Of these bolts of fabric - which of them will be your utmost choice since the damask has been ruled out?” Sophie said and going to each rolled them out a few feet while Philip stood to the side his arms crossed. “These are all great choices.”
“Are they? I wouldn’t know, I’m not a designer.”
Sophie hid her eye twitch, “Your initial design consultant came to a very nice plan Mr. Nigel. Personally, I preferred the damask that was originally planned. It’s an exquisite choice and that particular bolt was an incredibly rare quality of fabric to acquire.” She said, then, “You must know that these old homes originally had silken damask with actual gold fibers woven into it as wall coverings. Just like the original design you approved. Very well done.”
Philip’s lips pursed, “Yes well I didn’t realize that the one that you would purchase would be such a low quality. It was downright horrid.”
“Knight Interiors purchased a lovely bolt, Mr. Nigel. I’ve seen the bolt personally and it’s far from horrid. We, to match your exacting quality for originality Mr. Nigel, sourced the silken damask from the original factories where the cloth is still hand woven and painted. I think you may have noted and are referring to the quality of human touch that these fabrics have. It has a handmade charm which is gotten through imperfections not the perfectly machine printed cold fabric that is a dime a dozen in your neighbor’s homes.” She carefully made no mention that the cost of the fabric had been the price of a new home and that he’d approved a swatch of the material before the entire bolt had been purchased. As were the three other bolts on the table next to her. The damask had been removed that day with Casey - at his demand to ‘get it out of his damn sight.’ All of it would just be another arguing point.
“Fine. Bring the damn damask back. It was what I originally wanted but the idiots you have working for you took it away before I could get a feel for it.” he said going against what he’d told Casey earlier.
“Excellent. I’ll have the fabric brought back tomorrow and we’ll continue as planned.” Sophie said.
“And I’m not paying for these.” He said gesturing at the bolts.
Sophie smiled, “Of course not Mr. Nigel. Those will be removed tomorrow.”
Sophie gathered her things and taking her card from her silver card case handed it to him. Just as she did she felt a sinking feeling that she’d horribly regret doing just that, “Call me if anything else comes up Mr. Nigel. We’re here for you.”
He smiled back at her and took her card, only his smile was far from appeased, “I will.”