Even After All
Mattie Davies looked at the display on her phone and groaned. The last thing she needed was her boss calling at five pm on a Friday. It was her weekend off, she had plans - they may not be that elaborate, a book, a bottle of wine and maybe a trip to the park, but they were HER plans for a HER own time.
She sighed, Paul Simmonds had been her lifeline, she owed him a lot. He’d seen the good in her when no one else had, and she couldn’t deny that. Taking a deep breath she lifted the handset.
“Paul? How are you?”
“Oh Mattie!” She could only imagine his face at the expression, he was such a dramatic man, how he’d manage to run such a bug business empire was beyond her.
He sighed again, “it’s Cara. Her and Billy have had a car accident. She’s broken her leg, he’s in hospital with a fractured pelvis.”
“Oh no!” Cara was his daughter living in Los Angeles with her husband Billy and three week old twins. The thought of them both being laid up after the trauma of an accident upset her, even though she didn’t know them. Who knew how she’d cope? “Are the twins ok?”
He sighed, “Cara had to go to the doctor, she’s got an infection in her wound. The babies were in bed, her neighbour was keeping an eye on them and Billy drove her.”
Mattie felt awful, that was the worst thing that could have happened to a new mother. “So you’re flying out?” Her heart sank with the realisation that the buck would stop with her for the foreseeable future. “Well don’t worry about things here...”
Paul laughed, “I have no doubts in you, but I wanted to be around when the new consultant comes.”
Mattie felt nausea rising in her throat, “consultant?”
He groaned, “I was hoping to catch you this afternoon, I’ve got a specialist consultant coming, he promises to work out where things are going wrong, why we’re not getting the success we deserve. I’m not finding our shortfalls, and you are far too busy on a day-to-day basis to do anything more. He’s good, he’s a relation of Maria’s distantly,” Maria was Paul’s wife. “...he‘s flying over from New York to help us out, he’s got the Midas touch apparently, he’s turned a dozen businesses around, and he’s confident he can do that for us. I’ll email you all the details. Ok?”
Mattie was trying to process all that he’d just said. She’d worked for Paul, a sixty year old millionaire for two years. He had made his money in manufacturing, but sold up most of his businesses ten years earlier, he’d only kept his newest acquisition, this leisure complex just south of London.
It consisted of a golf course which was well known and had a large membership, the hotel and spa were fairly busy, but for most of the time he’d owned the complex, Paul had wanted to see it elevated in status. The location was perfect; he wanted celebrity golf tournaments, society weddings and success on a level that until now had eluded them. And he was becoming more and more insistent on ironing out the creases and promoting the complex. This consultant was the latest in many attempts to attract the calibre of client that he felt they deserved.
Mattie had her own opinions as to why it hadn’t happened, firstly Paul was small fry. Whilst he had money he lacked the fame of celebrity or the privilege of birth, and instead sat in the middle somewhere...no man’s land.
Then there was the fact that he wasn’t happy to invest further. She felt a replacement chef...someone with a known name and a reputation to match would put them on the map, with an upgrade to the rooms, then some complimentary gold memberships to some reasonably well known but fairly local celebs, would all elevate the prestige of the place. But Paul seemed reluctant to shower anymore money on the place.
“So you need me to manage the place this weekend?” She asked, drawing herself back to the here and now. Paul had given her direct assistant and the current Marketing and Sales manager Sarah the same weekend off as her, and had promised to fill in for them both.
“I’m sorry; I know it was your weekend off. I’ll make it up to you.”
Mattie sighed, “I know you will. I hope all is well with Cara soon.”
With a thanks for her concern and a promise to her email her everything, he hung up. Mattie slumped at her desk and rested her head in her hands, sometimes her work took over her life, and sometimes she had no life at all. Then she’d remember three years earlier when she was broke, barely able to make ends meet. Paul had shown confidence; trust and belief in her, at a time when she’d almost lost the belief in herself. It was a small price to pay, and she didn’t really have a life outside of work, not anymore.
A knock at her door caused her to look up, “come in!”
The door swung open and Martin stood there, he was the guest manager, in charge of the reception, bookings, security and housekeeping. Arguably the hardest job in the hotel.
When she smiled he smiled back awkwardly, “we’ve got a double booking at reception, just need to let you know that I’ve upgraded a couple of guests.”
“Where did the error come from?”
He grimaced, closing the door behind him, “Paul. They’re friends of his.”
She nodded knowingly, that was a typical problem with Paul, he interfered, promised everyone everything, and was disappointed when things didn’t go his way, but he also didn’t do things by the book. Clients with apparent reservations but not registered on the computer booking system were common occurrences, it was a bonus that they weren’t fully booked. But that wasn’t always the case.
“Send them complimentary champagne if they are aggrieved at the hold up, send me the bill. Ok?”
He nodded, “so we’ll see you Monday?”
Mattie shook her head, “no, Paul’s been called away on business, and Sarah’s probably in the air as we speak flying to Cyprus, so you’ve got me!”
Martin rolled her eyes, “lucky you’re single as you’re married to this place! You need to stand up to Paul. You’re entitled to a life.”
She laughed, “Martin, we’re not all party animals like you!”
Whilst there was an element of truth in her comment, Martin was truly the life and soul of every party, he was a traffic stopping man, six four, blonde with beautiful blue eyes, and an equally beautiful boyfriend. Much to the chagrin of most of the female staff and guests.
“True. But you should be enjoying more than these four walls. Ok?”
She laughed until he left, then closed her eyes and groaned. Things were so much better than they had been, but there was truth in Martin’s words. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone out for a drink or a meal. All work and no play she could almost hear the words in the voice of her late mother. Taking a deep breath she pulled herself to her feet and started a recce of the place. She had a lot to do.
The hotel was reasonably sized, a hundred rooms, mainly filled with punters on golf weekends wanting to hit a couple of rounds of eighteen holes, never the glamorous clientele that Paul desired. She had a team of capable managers working under her, and they, like her, were trying to get blood from a stone. Things needed to change, but Paul was banking on a movie star or a titled bride promoting them to the high life, but it wasn’t happening, and wasn’t likely to. She had so many positive ideas, so many ways to make the place a greater success, but Paul was resistnat to them all. Maybe this would be her opportunity to make a change.
Then she remembered the consultant. Who knew what he would do, what he would change.
Daniel Powell was the manager of the bars and restaurant. He was a prim and very proper man, so when she rounded a bend heading for reception and passed the Nineteenth Hole the golf club bar, she was amazed to see him shouting at a patron who was equally as aggressive.
“Can I help?” She asked, stepping between the two men and facing the as yet unknown guest.
The man was almost puce, “this ‘man’,” he spat the word out. “He has NO idea who I am!”
Mattie had no idea either, but she knew that would be the wrong comment to make, “I’m so sorry to hear that. Can I help?”
Daniel moved to her shoulder and offered in a controlled and quiet manner, “Mr Harrison hasn’t paid his bill. And he’s ordered several bottles of Krug.”
She fought to hide her grimace, the Krug was a minimum of a hundred pounds a bottle, it wasn’t their most expensive champagne, but it wasn’t the cheapest by a long way.
“Mr Harrison, you can understand our predicament, we can’t let you have any more champagne until you’ve paid for the last bottles. That’s the best I can do here. We’ve had a few people not able to pay for drinks recently, I know that’s not the case with you, but we have had to make new rules recently because of this.”
The younger man scowled, “I am good for this bill, I am a regular here, I’ve never been so insulted...”
Mattie sighed, “let us offer a round of free drinks once you’ve settled the champagne bill...a sign of goodwill and apology on our part?”
He grimaced, but fortunately he pulled out a credit card and Daniel immediately settled the almost five hundred pound bill. Giving a discreet nod to her manager, she moved on towards reception.
“I thought it was your weekend off!”
Mattie looked up to see Hermione behind reception, she’d hit it off with the woman who was still new to their team immediately. They were a similar age, and like herself, she knew that there was a reason why the glamorous and well connected woman was working at a fairly small hotel on a golf course, but as with her own past, her own history, she was only too glad to let her have that anonymity.
“Paul has been called to California, his daughter has broken her leg...”
Hermione’s jaw opened in shock, “the one with the twins?”
She nodded, “him and Maria are going out to her help out with the babies...so I’m roped in to work as Sarah is on holiday.”
“Not fair, I know you were looking forward to time away.”
She shrugged, “had no concrete plans. And there’s a consultant on his way to trouble shoot here...” she rolled her eyes. “So I need to hang around and get this ship in shape. Otherwise we could all be out of a job!”
Hermione gave a grimace of sympathy, “rather you than me. You’ll let me know if I can do anything?”
Mattie smiled, “I don’t think so. I’m just feeling a little under the cosh not knowing what’s happening. You know?”
She nodded, “Paul does have rather unrealistic expectations, doesn’t he?”
For a casual worker to have such a vocal and strong opinion on their owner wasn’t really appropriate, but in the short time they had worked together, they’d become friends, and Mattie knew her comments were in support of her, and surprisingly astute, “he just wants a level of success we’re struggling to achieve. I have no idea who this consultant is, or what he wants, but I get the feeling it’ll be my fault we’re not where Paul envisages!”
Mattie opened up her laptop back in her office and searched her email, there was nothing from Paul so she had no idea when this person was arriving, all she could do was plan, be prepared...and that meant not getting home. She lived at best a forty five minute tube ride away in East London, on weekends or late evening that could be more like an hour. For that reason, she had a shower and small changing room at the back of her office. She kept a couple of spare dresses there, just for this sort of occasion.
Settling at her desk, she emailed the six managers, who ran the various departments in the complex, and set up an urgent meeting for Saturday morning. No one would be happy with that, but that wasn’t her concern, they needed to plan their attack, after all that was the best form of defence.
The following morning at ten, after an uncomfortable night spent mostly at her laptop, but also trying to sleep on the sofa in her office, Mattie was sat at the conference table adjacent to her room waiting for her team to arrive.
Daniel was first, he came into the room with a smile and brought her up to date after the scuffle with the champagne buyer the previous evening, with a relieved smile she looked up as the door opened.
Sarah the marketing and retail manager, and her assistant was obviously absent, but entering the office were the other four managers that helped her run the complex. Martin, but also Tania who was their HR, training and personnel manager, Phil, the maintenance and grounds manager, and then Fabio - he ran the spa, the gym and liaised with the golf club committee.
All four gave awkward smiles and took seats at the table.
Mattie smiled, “can I just apologise for eating into your weekend? I wouldn’t do this unless it was important, but we have a crisis brewing.”
She explained about Paul and his potential prolonged absence. He wasn’t a regular fixture at the hotel, but him being away obviously affected the staff, but not as much as the ‘consultant’ did.
“What does he want?” Fabio asked, his face displaying obvious shock.
Mattie shrugged, “Paul wants this place to be A list. It doesn’t have the fame and notoriety he wants, despite the efforts he’s put in. I guess this person is coming in to change that. Don’t see this as a slur on what we’re doing, but on the other hand, let’s not let ourselves down. We have no choice but to pull up our socks, make sure that everything is at its best. No one can let the team down, ok?”
They all nodded enthusiastically as she continued, “Paul is not the type to sack staff, or radically change things, but we have no idea what this consultant’s plans are or will be. I will do everything I can to protect my team, I feel we work well together, and I aim to portray that at every opportunity. All I ask is that we use the weekend to prepare for Monday, to get things shipshape. If you need anything, I’ll be here. Ok?”
The five nodded, then stood, filing out of the room in silence.
Mattie turned back to the business accounts. Tweaking things, checking bookings...manipulating as many things as she could via her hooked up laptop. It was going to be a long weekend.
An hour after the meeting she was called to the golf club as usual there was an issue there. The golf club had a committee, headed by Major Faulkner, a rather difficult man, he was always at loggerheads with Fabio who managed the club, and Tony Farmer, the professional golfer who was the resident at the club. She spent more time diffusing tension there than anywhere else.
The hotel was a sprawling three level building, and her office was situated behind the large reception. The spa and gym were accessible via the back of the reception, but the golf club was a few hundred feet away, a self contained bar, changing rooms and a golf shop, accessed by a covered walkway. Looking up she at the grey dark clouds, she was only too gald that they had a roof at that moment.
Tony was a golfer who had played on the professional tour until a few years back, he was a good friend of Paul’s and a great asset to the club. His diary was constantly full with lessons, talks, demonstrations. Knocking at the door to his small office, she opened the door and fought to hide the grimace at the sight. Tony smiled at her gratefully, he was sat behind his desk in the small room that was little more than a place to store his equipment, the golf committee chairman hovering over him, face almost puce with uncontrolled anger.
“Major Faulkner, a pleasure as always.” She extended her hand to the rather cantankerous much decorated ex military man. “I hear that you have some strong ideas.”
The older man scowled, “you people are trying to make a mockery of this club. Do you people not realise that the annual club championship is the most important weekend in the calendar?”
Mattie had spent a lot of time talking to other golf club managers and had been fully prepared for the battle between tradition and business. But this was a business and Paul had a very considered agenda. If he pulled out of the complex, then the whole golf club would be at risk, people needed to know that. So smiling genially she lowered herself into the seat next to him.
“Of course we know that. But also my boss, the man who funds this place, has a business plan, he has ideas and ideals that he feels are essential to keep this place a float. The first weekend in August we have the option of hosting a televised golf match. We know that its traditionally your weekend for the club championships, but we are hoping to appeal to your reasonable side. Major, this will only raise the profile of this club...” she always had a trump card for these situations. “And of course there’s the fact that we need representatives fomr the committee to liaise with the pros coming here. I hear Tiger Woods is interested in playing here...there’ll be interviews needing to be done...”
The Major’s eyes lit up and she knew that the shmoozing and promise of celebrity and fame worked yet again, he was no different to Paul in that situation. Half an hour later she left, happy that things were resolved so quickly.
Back in her office she groaned when an email blinked on her screen. Paul.
“Sorry supposed to email pre flight. Consultant will be there today. Maybe by lunchtime. He needs the Director’s Suite, and an office. Can you organise? I’ll call tonight when I get to Cara’s. Paul.”
Mattie looked at her watch, almost twelve. With a groan she picked up the phone and dialled reception, Hermione answered.
“I wasn’t expecting you to be in again.” Mattie suggested.
She could hear the other woman laugh, “I’m covering, Tim is sick. You’re not the only workaholic! You ok?”
Mattie groaned, “this consultant is coming today, Paul has offered him the Director’s Suite...is it free?”
Hermione groaned and Martha could hear her tapping away at her computer. “Is he hot?” She suddenly whispered, “because THE hottest man has just walked in to the reception had he is OOZING class and wealth. Get your arse around here boss, and the suite is free!”
“Amuse him until things are ready!”
Hanging up she called housekeeping and spoke to the team leader in charge, urging her to get the Director’s Suite clean asap.
Mattie panicked as she hung up, she wasn’t bothered by the fact this man was presumably hot, what bothered her was that they were grossly under prepared for this man. A man with the authority to change everything. She couldn’t lose this job, it was everything to her, she needed it more than anything else.