• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 09
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The Proposition

      ‘So you won’t repair it?’
Mr Tufnell turned away from the young lady and her dress. Her slim brown legs were too much a distraction.
      ‘You’re stuck in the past, Mr Tufnell.’
      ‘This is a job for your mother. You know that. She does all the….ladies repairs, Angel.’ Right now she looked nothing like an angel with her dark smouldering eyes and pouty lips. Her foot brushed the front of his trousers and he flinched. Clearing his throat he moved an inch or two (he still thought in terms of inches).
      Angel grabbed the canary yellow tape measure dangling around Mr Tufnell’s neck, yanking him back. He raised his hand, coughing. ‘An..gel.’
      ‘It’s because I asked you to take my measurements, isn’t it? I scare you.’ She laughed and let go of the tape measure. Mr Tufnell pulled it from his neck and dropped it onto the table watching as Angel slid off the same table and wandered, touching his things, picking up his scissors, fingering the tailor’s chalk, brushing the bales of cloth.
      ‘Thing is Mr Tufnell you’re getting old like your ideas. The business is struggling. My mother needs this job and I need her to have this job so I can continue my acting course. Do you see?’
      ‘Not really.’
      Angel sighed. ‘My mother would make an excellent business partner. She has more imagination than you’ll ever have. I suppose you don’t care because you’re old and will be drawing your pension soon, but what happens to my mother then? What happens to me?’
      ‘I’m sorry –‘
      ‘Oh you will be. I can make your life hell. But you don’t need to do much, just cut my mother into the business like she wants. She’s got the money.’


The Proposition

      ‘But this is my business. It’s been in my family for years.’
      Angel pulled a face. ‘Yeah, and who’s left? Too busy running up seams to run a romance, but I see you aren’t without feeling.’ That laugh again. ‘Who you going to leave it to anyway? By the time you’re finished there will be nothing left. You’ve gotta move with the times, Mr Tufnell. Get some flashy cloth, draw in the younger set and change that awful window display. A monkey could do better.’
      Mr Tufnell flushed red and was about to protest when Angel moved towards him so fast that he knocked into the tailor’s dummy. It wobbled. ‘I can end this business a lot sooner if you prefer.’
      ‘What do you mean?’ But he knew. Yes, he was scared of her. Women were a mystery and a danger. He’d only taken Angel’s mother on because he couldn’t bring himself to deal with women’s tailoring with the sweeping curves and heady perfumes they brought. Angel’s mother was safe, no oil painting, but Angel, now so very close, was stirring things he’d rather leave alone.
      ‘So do we have a deal?’
      ‘Deal?’ Mr Tufnell wasn’t sure what the deal was anymore. He was too intoxicated.