Demons Slain - Cover

Demons Slain

Copyright© 2011 by Texrep

Chapter 2

I turned into the gravelled drive leading to the hotel that Monday evening with a resolute mind. I was determined that I would not change my hotel merely because of an unpleasant woman, she was the fly in an otherwise very pleasant ointment.

The door stood open as I carried my case into reception and there she was, waiting like a Praying Mantis.

"Well! It's Mr. Hammond again." She had over-emphasised the 'Mr.' making certain that she couldn't be accused of rudeness.

"Good afternoon Mrs. Winton. Yes I am back again. I have reserved my usual room."

"I didn't realise that you had a usual room. I have put you in room six. Will that be alright?" That wasn't an enquiry, it came across as a take it or leave it ultimatum. I took a deep breath, controlling my rising anger. Room six was a small single on the back overlooking the kitchens. She had spoken very politely, so politely that it was akin to contempt.

"Is room nine available?"


"Are you sure? Would you check for me?" In all the time I had been coming to this place I had always specified room nine when booking. I didn't travel into the West Country during July and August when most people took their holidays thus avoiding the travel jams that were reported every year. Also out of season the hotels were not quite as busy. She didn't check; nor did she make any pretence of checking.

"Room nine is not available. Please allow me to know what reservations we have." I was about to accept room six when Angela came through from the back office. She sensed the atmosphere immediately.

"Hello Greg. Is there a problem here?" Mrs. Winton answered for me.

"Mr. Hammond is insisting on room nine. I have told him that it is not available." Angela opened the diary and looked at the bookings.

"Mr. and Mrs. Anson are not arriving until Wednesday. Did they specify room nine in their booking?" Mrs. Winton did not like this turn of event.

"Er ... No. Not exactly. They didn't want to pay the surcharge for a front room." she answered. Angela smiled.

"No problem then. Give them room eleven on the front, compliments of the hotel no extra charge. Greg can have his usual room." She emphasised for Mrs. Winton's sake the word 'usual'.

I was sitting with a cup of tea contemplating the orders to write when there was a knock on the door. It was Angela. I invited her in and lifted the tea pot invitingly.

"Yes please." She sat down and shook her head. "Millie pisses me off at times. Don't get me wrong, Greg. She is a really hard worker, especially considering the pittance we pay. Why she should get all out of shape with you I don't know. I am sorry."

"Don't worry about it, Angela. I have put up with worse, and if push comes to shove I can shove with the best of them."

"When you say you have put up with worse, Greg. Are you referring to your divorce?"

I nodded. "Yes. I suppose I am. Not the best episode in my life."

"You never talked about it."

"No, Angela. As I said it wasn't the best episode in my life, and for my sanity's sake I am trying not to remember." I could tell that Angela would like to know more but would not push.

"Millie has only recently gone through a divorce. Perhaps that could explain her problem, although why it manifests itself with you, I have no idea."

I grinned cynically. "That's me. I bring out the worst in people."

Angela shook her head vigorously. "No way. Mr. Hammond. If I were not happily married I would have jumped into your bed long ago." She paused then went on. "Perhaps on reflection you do bring out the worst in people. I could have some very naughty thoughts about you." She smiled and I laughed.

"If you were not happily married I would have welcomed you with a big smile."

"Would it be only the smile that was big?" Angela smirked.

"Enough!" I cried. "Or I won't be able to sleep well tonight."

It was very pleasant strolling around the garden later that evening. I was content as I knew that my bête noir had already left for the day, her shift ending at seven p.m. I pondered Angela's words about Millie. If she had just gone through a divorce it would explain her attitude, but could not explain why she was irritable with just me according to Angela. It would only be by talking with Millie that could explain this apparent singularity, but talking to Millie would be something that I doubted I could do without armour plating.

Tuesday went well. I had a further order from my outlet in Exeter; not as large as the one three months ago but significant. I then travelled on to Plymouth from where I had received an enquiry. As I entered the showroom I had a sinking feeling, and was right do so as the proprietor, Mr. Chisholm took on an ashen expression when I explained our pricing.

"What are you making?" He asked. "The cushion for the Crown of England." I opened my sample bag and showed him some examples which he examined with interest. Finally he admitted defeat. "Mr. Hammond, your cushions are very special, I would love to be able to sell this sort of quality, but around here they would never think of paying this sort of price. I'm sorry to have wasted your time. Where do you sell this stuff?" I mentioned some of our outlets. He was shocked again when I gave him the name of one of them. "The Palace? You supply the Palace?"

"Yes. It's only an occasional sale when it's the Department of Works paying. Her Majesty is known for her careful attitude towards money, so as we don't actually supply the Royal Family we will not be able to apply for a Royal Warrant." I could see his mind working and anticipated his next question.

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