Gall's Villas was absolutely stunning. It was an estate made up of around fifty mansions and it took up the whole of the North area. Lavinia Stark's house was vast. It had four floors and Jack couldn't even guess at the number of rooms. The one he was shown into was almost as big as Jack's sitting room and study put together. It had rows and rows of books on mahogany bookcases and one wall was taken up by a massive marble fireplace. The infernal computer stood pathetically on a desk in the corner, looking very lifeless indeed. Lavinia poured two glasses of wine and handed one to Jack.
“I'll sort that out first.” Jack headed for the desk. “Otherwise I'll be seeing two monitors.” He sat down and began to troubleshoot. “You have a whole nest of viruses in here. I'll get rid of them and put in a software anti-virus and firewall.”
“OK you're the boss.” Lavinia shrugged. “I like clever men. They aren't as easy to come by as you'd think.” Jack paused in his typing. Oh no. How naïve could he get? He decided to get on with the job, then run. “Do you ever get lonely on your own? I know you have your little boy, but I mean adult company. I know I do.”
“No not really. Some people are just more sociable than others, I suppose. I'm more of a hermit, as Greg told you.” Jack concentrated on the screen.
“Well you can't be a strict hermit. You were sociable enough to get a family together.” Lavinia commented. “I beg your pardon. That was rude of me. I'm sorry.”
“No, it's fine. Actually my wife was a hermit too. We always managed to find interests that didn't involve many other people.” Jack shrugged and smiled.
“You don't miss the company?” Lavinia asked.
“Yes, I miss her, even after twelve months.” Jack nodded. He honestly didn't mind talking about Lynne at all, but Lavinia was making a very obvious pass at him. She was sitting not two feet from him with her long legs crossed and her silk blouse undone a bit too low at the neck.
“What went wrong? Please tell me if I'm pressing too hard. I'm often over sympathetic, I can't help it.” Lavinia said sincerely.
“Well she was only eighteen when we got Alex. Not that that made any difference.” Jack said. It hadn't been a suit at all with Lynne's parents at first. Things soon worked out though, when they saw how happy Lynne and Jack were together. “I'd taken Alex to a theme park and we were staying there in a hotel overnight. Lynne couldn't go because she was working and couldn't get time off.” Jack stopped typing and looked at the desk.
“I'm sorry.” Lavinia said quickly. “That was unforgivable. It's none of my business.”
“Well it's not often I get to talk about it, so I don't really mind. Good to talk sometimes.” Jack smiled. “Lynne was stabbed during a bungled break-in at the house.”
“Oh! Oh my word!” Lavinia stood up. “Jack I'm so terribly sorry! I didn't know! If I'd known it was something as horrific as that, I'd never, ever have mentioned it.”
“Lavinia, don't be upset.” Jack stood up too. “I should apologise to you for being so blunt. I've obviously shocked you.”
“Poor woman.” Lavinia said sadly. “I'll never forgive myself for mentioning it like that.”
“Hey it's fine. Don't cry, please.” Jack said gently. “It was a long time ago. It's gone and it can't be undone.” He hated the tears. “It's natural for my friends to ask about my family. It's OK Lavinia.” He handed Lavinia her wine.
“I have associates, professional and social. I could attend a dinner every night, but I have no friends.” Lavinia said sadly.
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