The Stars Shine Down(14)

by Sidney Sheldon

She was dismayed. "Why?"

"There's a clause in there that stipulates that the building must be completed by December thirty-first, or title reverts to the bank. In other words, the building will belong to MacAllister, and my company will become his tenant. You forfeit the deal and are still obligated to repay the loan with interest. Ask him to change that."

MacAllister's words rang in Lara's ears. "I'm really in no hurry to sell that lot. The longer I hold on to it, the more valuable it will become."

Lara shook her head. "He won't."

"Then you're taking a big gamble, Lara. You could wind up with nothing, and a debt of two hundred thousand dollars plus interest."

"But if I bring the building in on time..."

"That's a big 'if.' When you put up a building, you're at the mercy of a lot of other people. You'd be surprised at the number of things that can go wrong."

"There's a very good construction company in Sydney. They've put up a lot of buildings around here. I know the foreman. If he says he can have the building up in time, I want to go ahead."

It was the desperate eagerness in Lara's voice that made him put aside his doubts. "All right," he finally said, "talk to him."

Lara found Buzz Steele walking the girders of a five-story building he was erecting in Sydney. Steele was a grizzled, weather-beaten man in his forties. He greeted Lara warmly. "This is a nice surprise," he said. "How did they let a pretty girl like you get out of Glace Bay?"

"I sneaked out," Lara told him. "I have a job for you, Mr. Steele."

He smiled. "You do? What are we building - a doll-house?"

"No." She pulled out the blueprints Charles Cohn had given her. "This is the building."

Buzz Steele studied it a moment. He looked up, surprised. "This is a pretty big job. What does it have to do with you?"

"I put the deal together," Lara said proudly. "I'm going to own the building."

Steele whistled softly. "Well, good for you, honey."

"There are two catches."


"The building has to be finished by December thirty-first or it reverts to the bank, and the building can't cost more than one hundred seventy thousand dollars. Can it be done?"

Steele looked at the blueprints again. Lara watched him silently calculating.

Finally he spoke. "It can be done."

It was all Lara could do not to shout out loud.

"Then you've got a deal."

They shook hands. "You're the prettiest boss I've ever had," Buzz Steele said.

"Thank you. How soon can you get started?"

"Tell you what. I'll go into Glace Bay tomorrow to look over the lot. I'm going to give you a building you'll be proud of."

When Lara left, she felt that she had wings.

Lara returned to Glace Bay and told Charles Cohn the news.

"Are you sure this company is reliable, Lara?"

"I know it is," Lara assured him. "They've put up buildings here and in Sydney and Halifax and..."

Her enthusiasm was contagious.

Cohn smiled. "Well, then, it looks like we're in business."

"It does, doesn't it?" Lara beamed. And then she remembered the deal she had made with Sean MacAllister, and her smile faded. "Next Saturday I have to go into Halifax. I thought we might go there together." Saturday was only two days away.

Lara signed the contracts the following morning. As Sean MacAllister watched her leave the office, he was very pleased with himself. He had no intention of letting her have the new building. And he almost laughed aloud at her naivete. He would loan her the money, but he would really be loaning it to himself. He thought about making love to that wonderful young body, and he began to get an erection.

Lara had been to Halifax only twice. Compared to Glace Bay, it was a bustling town, full of pedestrians and automobiles and shops crammed with merchandise. Sean MacAllister drove Lara to a motel on the outskirts of town. He pulled into the parking lot and patted her on the knee. "You wait here while I register for us, honey."

Lara sat in the car, waiting, panicky. I'm selling myself, she thought. Like a whore. But it's all I've got to sell, and at least he thinks I'm worth two hundred thousand dollars. My father never saw two hundred thousand dollars in his life. He was always too...

The car door opened, and MacAllister was standing there, grinning. "All set. Let's go."

Lara suddenly found it hard to breathe. Her heart was pounding so hard she thought it was going to fly out of her chest. I'm having a heart attack, she thought.

"Lara..." He was looking at her strangely. "Are you all right?"

No. I'm dying. They'll take me to the hospital, and I'll die there. A virgin. "I'm fine," she said.

Slowly she got out of the car and followed MacAllister into a drab cabin with a bed, two chairs, a battered dressing table, and a tiny bathroom.

She was caught up in a nightmare.

"So this is your first time, eh?" MacAllister said.

She thought of the boys at school who had fondled her and kissed her breasts and tried to put their hands between her legs. "Yes," she said.

"Well, you mustn't be nervous. Sex is the most natural thing in the world."

Lara watched as MacAllister began to strip off his clothes. His body was pudgy.

"Get undressed," MacAllister ordered.

Slowly Lara took off her blouse and skirt and shoes. She was wearing a brassiere and panties.

MacAllister looked at her figure and walked over to her. "You're beautiful, you know that, baby?"

She could feel his male hardness pressing against her body. MacAllister kissed her on the lips, and she felt disgust.

"Get the rest of your clothes off," he said urgently. He walked over to the bed and stripped off his shorts. His penis was hard and red.

That will never fit inside me, Lara thought. It will kill me.

"Hurry up."

Slowly Lara took off her brassiere and stepped out of her panties.

"My God," he said, "you're fantastic. Come over here."

Lara walked over to the bed and sat down. MacAllister squeezed her breasts hard, and she cried aloud with the pain.

"That felt good, didn't it? It's time you had yourself a man." MacAllister pushed her down on her back and spread her legs.