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Home > The Stars Shine Down(14)

The Stars Shine Down(14)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

"No, sir." Nothing like him, Lara thought fiercely.

"Supposing for the sake of argument," MacAllister said carefully, "that I was interested. Who is this tenant of yours?"

"His name is Charles Cohn. He's an executive with Continental Supplies."

"The chain store?"

"Yes."

MacAllister was suddenly very interested.

Lara went on. "They want to have a big store built here to supply the miners and lumbermen with equipment."

To MacAllister, it had the smell of instant success.

"Where did you meet this man?" he asked casually.

"He's staying at the boardinghouse."

"I see. Let me think about it, Lara. We'll discuss it again tomorrow."

Lara was almost trembling with excitement. "Thank you, Mr. MacAllister. You won't be sorry."

He smiled. "No, I don't think I will be."

That afternoon Sean MacAllister went to the boardinghouse to meet Charles Cohn.

"I just dropped by to welcome you to Glace Bay," MacAllister said. "I'm Sean MacAllister. I own the bank here. I heard you were in town. But you shouldn't be staying at my boardinghouse; you should be staying at my hotel. It's much more comfortable."

"It was full," Mr. Cohn explained.

"That's because we didn't know who you were."

Mr. Cohn said pleasantly, "Who am I?"

Sean MacAllister smiled. "We don't have to play games, Mr. Cohn. Word gets around. I understand that you're interested in leasing a building to be put up on a property I own."

"What property would that be?"

"The lot at Main and Commercial. It's a great location, isn't it? I don't think we'll have any problem making a deal."

"I already have a deal with someone."

Sean MacAllister laughed. "Lara? She's a pretty little thing, isn't she? Why don't you come down to the bank with me and we'll draw up a contract?"

"I don't think you understand, Mr. MacAllister. I said I already have a deal."

"I don't think you understand, Mr. Cohn. Lara doesn't own that land. I do."

"She's trying to buy it from you, isn't she?"

"Yes. I don't have to sell it to her."

"And I don't have to use that lot. I've seen three other lots that will do just as nicely. Thanks for dropping by."

Sean MacAllister looked at him for a long moment. "You mean...you're serious?"

"Very. I never go into a deal that's not kosher, and I never break my word."

"But Lara doesn't know anything about building. She..."

"She plans to find people who do. Naturally, we'll have final approval."

The banker was thoughtful. "Do I understand that Continental Supplies is willing to sign a ten-year lease?"

"That's correct."

"I see. Well, under the circumstances, I...let me think about it."

When Lara arrived at the boardinghouse, Charles Cohn told her about his conversation with the banker.

Lara was upset. "You mean Mr. MacAllister went behind my back and...?"

"Don't worry," Cohn assured her, "he'll make the deal with you."

"Do you really think so?"

"He's a banker. He's in business to make a profit."

"What about you? Why are you doing this for me?" Lara asked.

He had asked himself the same question. Because you're achingly young, he thought. Because you don't belong in this town. Because I wish I had a daughter like you.

But he said none of those things.

"I have nothing to lose, Lara. I found some other locations that would serve just as well. If you can acquire this land, I'd like to do this for you. It doesn't matter to my company who I deal with. If you get your loan, and I approve your builder, we're in business."

A feeling of elation swept over Lara. "I...I don't know how to thank you. I'll go to see Mr. MacAllister and..."

"I wouldn't if I were you," Cohn advised her. "Let him come to you."

She looked worried. "But what if he doesn't...?"

Cohn smiled. "He will."

He handed her a printed lease. "Here's the ten-year lease we discussed. It's contingent, you understand, on your meeting all our requirements for the building." He handed her a set of blueprints. "These are our specifications."

Lara spent the night studying the pages of drawings and instructions.

The following morning Sean MacAllister telephoned Lara.

"Can you come down to see me, Lara?"

Her heart was pounding. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

He was waiting for her.

"I've been thinking about our conversation," MacAllister said. "I would need a written agreement for a ten-year lease from Mr. Cohn."

"I already have it," Lara said. She opened her bag and took out the contract.

Sean MacAllister examined it carefully. "It seems to be in order."

"Then we have a deal?" Lara asked. She was holding her breath.

MacAllister shook his head. "No."

"But I thought..."

His fingers were drumming restlessly on his desk. "To tell you the truth, I'm really in no hurry to sell that lot, Lara. The longer I hold on to it, the more valuable it will become."

She looked at him blankly. "But you..."

"Your request is completely unorthodox. You've had no experience. I would need a very special reason to make this loan to you."

"I don't under...what kind of reason?"

"Let's say...a little bonus. Tell me, Lara, have you ever had a lover?"

The question caught her completely off-guard.

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