Home > The Stars Shine Down(13)

The Stars Shine Down(13)
Author: Sidney Sheldon


"I found a kosher meat market in Sydney. The shochet there sold me this. Enjoy it. Your rent includes two meals a day. Tomorrow you're having a steak."

From that time on, whenever Lara had a free moment, Cohn made it a point to talk to her, to draw her out. He was impressed by her quick intelligence and her independent spirit.

One day Charles Cohn confided to Lara what he was doing in Glace Bay. "I'm an executive with Continental Supplies." It was a famous national chain. "I'm here to find a location for our new store."

"That's exciting," Lara said. I knew he was in Glace Bay for some important reason. "You're going to put up a building?"

"No. We'll find someone else to do that. We just lease our buildings."

At three o'clock in the morning Lara awakened out of a sound sleep and sat up in bed, her heart pounding wildly. Had it been a dream? No. Her mind was racing. She was too excited to go back to sleep.

When Charles Cohn came out of his room for breakfast, Lara was waiting for him.

"Mr. Cohn...I know a great place," she blurted out.

He stared at her, puzzled. "What?"

"For the location you're looking for."

"Oh? Where?"

Lara evaded the question. "Let me ask you something. If I owned a location that you liked, and if I put up a building on it, would you agree to lease it from me for five years?"

He shook his head. "That's a rather hypothetical question, isn't it?"

"Would you?" Lara persisted.

"Lara, what do you know about putting up a building?"

"I wouldn't be putting it up," she said. "I'd hire an architect and a good construction firm to do that."

Charles Cohn was watching her closely. "I see. And where is this wonderful piece of land?"

"I'll show it to you," Lara said. "Believe me, you're going to love it. It's perfect."

After breakfast Lara took Charles Cohn downtown. At the corner of Main and Commercial streets in the center of Glace Bay was a vacant square block. It was a site Cohn had examined two days earlier.

"This is the location I had in mind," Lara said.

Cohn stood there, pretending to study it. "You have an ahf - a nose. It's a very good location."

He had already made discreet inquiries and learned that the property was owned by a banker, Sean MacAllister. Cohn's assignment was to locate a site, arrange for someone to construct the building, and then lease it from them. It would not matter to the company who put up the building as long as its specifications were met.

Cohn was studying Lara. She's too young, he thought. It's a foolish idea. And yet..."I found a kosher meat market in Sydney...Tomorrow you're having a steak." She had such rachmones - compassion.

Lara was saying, excitedly, "If I could acquire this land and put up a building to meet your specifications, would you give me a five-year lease?"

He paused, and then said slowly, "No, Lara. It would have to be a ten-year lease."

That afternoon Lara went to see Sean MacAllister. He looked up in surprise as she walked into his office.

"You're a few days early, Lara. Today's only Wednesday."

"I know. I want to ask a favor, Mr. MacAllister."

Sean MacAllister sat there, watching her. She has really turned into a beautiful-looking girl. Not a girl, a woman. He could see the swell of her breasts against the cotton blouse she was wearing.

"Sit down, my dear. What can I do for you?"

Lara was too excited to sit. "I want to take out a loan."

It took him by surprise. "What?"

"I'd like to borrow some money."

He smiled indulgently. "I don't see why not. If you need a new dress or something, I'll be happy to advance..."

"I want to borrow two hundred thousand dollars."

MacAllister's smile died. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"No, sir." Lara leaned forward and said earnestly, "There's a piece of land I want to buy to put up a building. I have an important tenant who's willing to give me a ten-year lease. That will guarantee the cost of the land and the building."

MacAllister was studying her, frowning. "Have you discussed this with the owner of the land?"

"I'm discussing it with him now," Lara said.

It took a moment for it to sink in. "Wait a minute. Are you telling me that this is land that / own?"

"Yes. It's the lot on the corner of Main and Commercial streets."

"You came here to borrow money from me to buy my land?"

"That lot is worth no more than twenty thousand dollars. I checked. I'm offering you thirty. You'll make a profit of ten thousand dollars on the land plus interest on two hundred thousand dollars you're going to loan me to put up the building."

MacAllister shook his head. "You're asking me to loan you two hundred thousand dollars with no security. It's out of the question."

Lara leaned forward. "There is security. You'll hold the mortgage on the building and the land. You can't lose."

MacAllister sat there studying her, turning her proposal over in his mind. He smiled. "You know," he said, "you have a lot of nerve. But I could never explain a loan like that to my board of directors."

"You have no board of directors," Lara told him.

The smile turned to a grin. "True."

Lara leaned forward, and he could see her breasts touching the edge of his desk.

"If you say yes, Mr. MacAllister, you'll never regret it. I promise."

He could not take his eyes off her breasts. "You're not a bit like your father, are you?"

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