Everything Zen? I Don't Think So.
Midway up the stairs, the ringing phone propelled Nicole up the stairs faster than her normal, pokey pace. Darting into her office, she dove for the phone, and managed to answer it before the machine before it clicked to voicemail. “Thank you for calling the Com'on Inn. How may I help you?” she gushed trying not to sound winded. She mentally noted to add stair master to her workout at the gym...
“Hi, I’m interested in getting information about your Bed and Breakfast.”
“Excellent! Have you already been to the website?" you ask.
"I'm sorry, no."
"Well, the Com'on Inn is like going on vacation and crashing at your friend's house. We not only want you to feel welcome, we want you to feel wanted. We're similar to a B&B but more casual, with a few perks. There are meal plans to choose from, plus privileges to local businesses like the gym and recreation center, which kids love. There are laundry facilities here, and discounts for other services in town and near by amusement parks. What else would you like to know?” Nicole sat down in the chair at her desk. She leaned back and gently rocked back and forth.
“Do you ever rent out the whole inn?”
“Absolutely. Usually in the high seasons, for obvious reasons.”
“And what’s the rate for that?’
“That would depend on the timing and number of people. When were you thinking?”
“Uhhh…” Nicole heard rustling in the background. “Looks like, mid September or later.”
“Well, that's the slow season here so you’re in luck there.” She rattled off the whole house rates.
“How flexible are the meal plan add-ons.”
“Very. If I can't make it myself, I'll go get it. I tried to make thinks as adaptable as possible.” She then gave him the rates for the various plans.
"You make all the meals, yourself?"
"Thank you. That's why it's so adaptable, and I can accommodate different diets."
She heard him murmuring to himself. “I like it. It comes in significantly under budget.”
“Is this a corporate booking?”
The man on the other end paused, “Ah, yes. Sort of. We'll be doing business in the area and are looking for lodging. Is your schedule open September 13 through October 31?”
“Let me check.” Nicole opened the calendar on her computer and scrolled through the dates. “You’re in luck, I’m open.”
“Can you hold on for a minute?” he asked. Nicole heard him cover the mouthpiece of the phone and muffled voices. She swished back and forth in her chair while waiting for the caller to come back. “Hello?” He asked.
“Let’s do this. It comes in under budget and is close to the site.”
“Great! How many people?”
Nicole paused this time. “O.K.”
“And lets throw in the full meal plan.”
“No problem. Since there's only one person I'll give you a fair discount.”
They talked logistics such as, contracts and payments. Then, "Now," the voice on the other end started, "there are some special circumstances."
"OK." she leaned forward in her chair, felling mildly apprehensive.
"We need to try to keep our presence there under wraps. There also needs to be a significant amount of privacy. Hence renting the whole B&B."
"Of course. Everything is completely confidential."
"Good to hear. Also, people may be trying to find out about us being there. That means there may be calls and unwanted visits from people trying to find out information."
Nicole sat quietly for a moment while the man waited. "Is there any chance of violence?"
He chuckled. "No. Obnoxious, but not dangerous, not at all. Our client is...private. Can you handle that kind of safeguard?"
"Well, the inn isn't all that easy to find. We're in a residential area, but off into the hills a bit. Plus, there's a gate that's kept shut. The guests get a code to enter. Other than that, I never give out guest information."
"If we need to contact him, it will be mostly on their cell. In the remote chance we can't, we may need to call there, so he'll have a pseudonym."
"No problem." OK, this is weird, she though to herself.
"Great!" he said.
“So I’ll email you all the documentation including a questionnaire asking about food allergies, food preferences, general likes and dislikes.”
“Great!” he said again.
“So the name of the guest?” she asked.
She smiled broadly, "Is that the fake name?"
She paused. What? she thought. Evidently the pause lasted too long.
"Do I need to spell it for you?"
"Nope," she recovered quickly, "English father. This doesn't even trip my radar." Except that it's BENEDICT FREAKIN' CUMBERBATCH!
"And the pseudonym?"
"How about Queen Anne?"
"As you wish." she smiled.
Once off the phone, Nicole typed up the documents and emailed them over to be signed and returned. Only then, did the conversation sink in. "Holy fucking shit," she whispered to herself, sitting back in her chair. She covered her face and began to laugh, it was just this side of hysterical. After regaining her composure, calmly she told herself, "He's just a man. A man who just wants a quiet space to retreat, after a long day on location. Wash, rinse, repeat. And in 10 weeks when he gets here, maybe you'll have convinced your self that it's true."