Kirstie collapsed on the couch in the living room of the small, but perfectly formed, two bedroom bungalow, kicked off her shoes and rubbed at her tired feet. If she had to hear one more complaint from the dour male half of her house-hunting couple she was going to throw something through the fully restored, period evocative, sash windows.
Phil came into the room, ducking his head as he nearly beaned himself on the low, but charmingly rustic, overhead beams. It was a good thing her couple were short. The one thing they hadn't complained about had been the beams. The colour of the bathroom walls on the other hand had been a source of major angst.
"How's it going with your couple?" he asked. Of course he was smiling, they'd worked with each other for long enough that he knew damned well what her current body language meant.
"She wants a large modern house close to town, but with seaviews. He wants a country cottage without even the possibility of ever seeing another living soul within a fifty mile radius. These two can't agree on what to have for lunch, let alone buy a house. And of course they want all this for about one hundred thousand pounds less than the going rate for a shoebox in this area. I may have to start taking hostages soon. What about yours?"
"Agreed on a price with the seller." Phil rubbed his hands together, gloating. "Another one to me."
"Well, at least there's cake," Kirstie reached over and helped herself to a large slice of the enticing Victoria sponge cake that had been left out for them on the well-placed coffee table. Well, she assumed it was for them. It was there anyway.
"I don't know how you do it, Phil. My people always seem to go through an existential life crisis before finding somewhere. Yours just fall in love with the first place you take them to," she said through a mouthful of sponge and cream. It was a good cake. Maybe she'd buy the place herself and get Sarah Beeny to fix it up and sell it for a massive profit. Then she could retire and never have to soothe an anxious house hunter ever again.
"We spend a lot of time in pubs," Phil replied, leaning forward to wipe a piece of cream off the corner of her mouth. At least that's what she thought he was doing. "Learnt that trick in Australia. Makes the punters much more malleable."
"Nothing other than a two by four could make this pair more malleable. This is a perfectly nice house. Isn't this a perfectly nice house? All they need to do is knock out a few walls, move a few rooms around, and it will be ideal."
"They should listen to you."
"They should," Kirstie agreed. "Their life would be much simpler. So would mine."
They both turned around to the sound of a throat being cleared. The couple in question were hovering in the doorway. Kirstie hoped they hadn't been listening.
"We'd like to see the next house now," the man said. Yes, he was still dour.
"This one's a definite no, then?" Kirstie asked sadly. It really was a very nice house.
They shook their heads firmly in unison. It was the first thing they'd agreed on all day. Maybe there was hope after all.
"Okay, give us a moment. I'll tell the crew and we'll move on."
She'd use all her powers of charm and intimidation to persuade them the next house was the one of their dreams - or a reasonable facsimile at least
"We'd like somewhere a bit bigger," the man said.
"With a better kitchen and a modern bathroom. We'd also like a well-tended garden, with a terrace for entertaining." His wife chimed in. "Facing south of course."
"And a garage, and three good sized bedrooms," the man added. "And don't forget we're willing to do work."
"Within reason," his wife added hastily. "Not knocking out walls or anything like that. We're both busy people."
They both looked expectantly at Kirstie as if expecting her to pull the perfect property out of her metaphorical hat.
"Phil will be taking you to the next house," she said brightly. "He has a fantastic place to show you. I'm confident it will fit all your requirements."
"Thank you, Kirstie," Phil said between gritted teeth when the couple had left. The smile had been wiped off his face.
"Any time, Phil. I'm sure you'll be able to work your magic and have them eating out of your hand in no time."
She picked up a slice of the cake. "Cake?"
"Don't mind if I do, Kirstie."
He took a huge bite. "And then I'm going to the pub."
"I think I'll join you."