Not long after the truck leaves my car in the parking lot, I am waiting on the curb. Zoe got out of the taxi first as it stopped beside me. Zoe pays for the cab, and I help her grab her stuff from the trunk.
“I never knew this place was here,“ She says, looking up at the vast hotel, “kinda creepy, it looks haunted, “ She adds, and I chuckle.
“Anyway, I am so glad to see you again. I have been so excited I barely slept a wink last night,“ Zoe tells me, giving me a hug.
“So, is this everything?“ I ask her looking down at the pram and duffle bag.
“Yep, that’s everything, our life in a bag. Pathetic, isn’t it?“
“No, see that piece of scrap metal,“ I tell her, pointing at my busted wagon. She nods her head.
“That was home sweet home, “ I tell her, and she laughs.
“Seriously, as for baby stuff, don’t even worry about it. Valarie went on a shopping spree. The room is packed with everything, baby. So much so we may have to sleep outside to fit it all in the room,“ I tell her.
“What, really? How long have you known Valarie? “
“Met her yesterday. She is lovely. I have never met anyone like her before, “ I tell Zoe, and she smiles just as a green Daihatsu charade pulls up next to us, honking its horn a few times.
“Thanks, bro, “ Macey says, punching her brother in the shoulder and climbing out before tapping the roof.
“Hi, girls, “ Her brother calls out, and we both wave to the stranger.
“Bugger off, Blake, stop hitting on my friends. They aren’t interested, “ Macey scolds her brother as he waves to us. Macey flips him off, and he laughs, driving off down the road.
“Sorry about him. He is a sleaze, so try to stay away from him unless you want another baby,“ Macey chuckles, shaking her head.
“Noted,“ I tell her, and she quickly hugs us. She had on short shorts and a cut-off shirt showing her belly button, her hair pulled in a bun, and a pair of boots that she said she borrowed from her brother, as well as a tool belt around her hips.
“Brother is a handyman, “ She tells us when she catches both of us looking at it.
“So this is it, huh, damn, this place is a dump,“ Macey says as we stand in the parking lot, looking up at the building. The bones were good mostly, but she was right; it was definitely a dump.
“So you girls interested and helping me clean this dump, “ Valarie’s voice says from behind us, making us jump.
“Holy crap, you scared me; it ah-has potential,“ Macey says nervously.
“For a dump?“ Valarie asks, her lips tugging up.
“I didn’t mean, “ Macey goes to say when Valarie waves her off.
“It’s a dump; I may be getting older, girlie, but I ain’t blind yet, pretty sure if one of you jumped in that pool over there, you wouldn’t come out again, water is probably nuclear, that might actually be that foul smell,“ She says thoughtfully, before shrugging.
“So you all up for the job, I will pay on time, and anything this place needs, let me know, and I will try order it in, but there is a catch, “ She asks, and they both nod.
“What’s the catch?“ Zoe asks.
“We are completely on our own. I have not had one electrician or handyman, even a plumber out here in over ten years. My mate ruined that shit for me, so if you girls have got any friends that are good with that crap, let me know. If not, we will figure it out ourselves, “ Valarie tells them. That was going to be hard trying to source help and an electrician being the main thing because I didn’t fancy being electrocuted.
“Handyman, my brother. That’s where I got the tool belt and tools, electrician, no idea, “ Macey shrugs.
“I may be able to help with that, “ Zoe says, and we all look at her.
“My daughter’s father is an electrician. He is a real asshole now that he found his mate but doesn’t want her to find out he already has a kid. So I will threaten to tell her; he either helps when I ask or finds
someone that will, chances are he will probably find someone else, but I know he will do it,“ Zoe says confidently.
“I like you already; you tell him, darl,“ Valarie says.
“So that leaves plumbing which we will figure out, I guess,“ I tell everyone, and we all nod.
“So, what do you want to do first?“ Macey asks.
“First, we fix the girls’ room, so it is liveable, then we will start the others, one at a time, and list everything as we go, “ Valarie says, and we all agree, heading up to the room. We stack everything in the bathroom before tossing all furniture over the balcony into the skip bin Valarie had dropped off.
Valarie watched the kids in her studio while we got everything out. Once we were done, we then started ripping up the carpet.
“Hey Val,“ Macey calls over the balcony. Valarie must answer because she starts talking again.
“Have all these rooms got floorboards under the carpet? I was expecting concrete.“
“Yeah, why?“ I looked down at the exposed floorboards, in perfect condition, and just needed a good clean and polish.
“Because I don’t think re -carpet, the floorboards are in good condition in this room, if the rest are the same you will save a fortune by rubbing them back and staining them, but if they are like this room they will only need a polish“ Macey tells her.
“Rightio, we will check the others later and see what rooms can be salvaged.“
We stripped the smelly carpet out, tossing it in the skip bin. The girls helped me carry the beds and mattresses up when the truck arrived, and the rest of the day was spent scrubbing it from floor to ceiling. While working, Valarie bought us drinks and sandwiches at lunchtime, but we were all stuffed and collapsed on Valarie’s lounge in her studio by the time the day ended.
“So, how many rooms total are there?“ Macey asks; I was also curious. It took us an entire day cleaning and fixing one double room, but I hadn’t even walked around the building yet, and Valarie said there were units out the back and a functions room.
“Um, good question, “ She thinks to herself like she couldn’t remember.
“twenty-three rooms, eight units that have four bedrooms in each and also the restaurant, function hall, there is a rear garden too. Honestly haven’t been out the back in at least three or four years, so god knows what you will find back there; it is a jungle out the back. Then the pool area, also there is laundry and games room and Playcentre downstairs and a bar.“
“Ah, this is going to kill us, “ Macey says, pulling some underlay from the carpet out of her hair. She looks at her phone and sighs.
“My brother is here to pick me up; I will see you both tomorrow. I think early start, that sun was a killer today?“
“7 am too early?“ Valarie asks, and Macey shakes her head.
”Nope, perfect, see you all tomorrow, ” Macey says, walking out giving us a wave.
”Bye, ” I called after her. This was an impossible job, so much needed doing, and I just had to remind myself one room at a time. Otherwise, it would be overwhelming. No wonder Valerie couldn’t do it on her own. It was too much for twenty people, and there were four of us and two babies. I sigh, and Valarie suddenly reaches for the TV remote on the coffee table, turning the volume up. It was the news, but I instantly realized what caught her attention. Alpha Valen was once again on the news.
A video plays out, and my heart lurches into my throat when I recognize the person he appears to be arguing with. It was my father, both of them screaming at each other in some club , and my father swings at him. His punch barely missing when
Alpha Valen steps out of the way laughing at him when suddenly my father shifts. The recording cuts off, and the news anchor says they couldn’t continue playing the video as some viewers may find it distressing. The news then goes on about the old rivalry between my father and the Blood Alpha.
Valarie looks over at me nervously. When are they going to get over themselves? Every week one of them is on the news, and quite frankly, I could not care less who the Blood Alpha is dating or who shit on who’s turf, ” Zoe says, shaking her head.
“That is not the mental image I wanted in my head,” I chuckle.
“Been going for years; one day, they both may grow up before they lose everything for good,” Valarie
states, and I nod sadly. Zoe, entirely oblivious to my connection with both Apha’s, sighs.
“No wonder the City is doomed with them moron’s running the place, “
“Couldn’t have said it better myself, ” Valarie counters.