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Gabriella

Gabriella

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Gabriella

Lunghezza:
270 pagine
4 ore
Pubblicato:
Jun 13, 2016
ISBN:
9781310791604
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Gabriella Hernandez, young, beautiful and blonde, works for the local newspaper in a small attractive sunlit Mediterranean town in the South East of Spain. Her journalistic curiosity leads her into the murky world of local politics and millionaire businessmen where she discovers that corruption is rife.
Her enquiries reveal that the mayor and his deputy are receiving backhanders for overlooking the necessary planning regulations on large scale building developments around the town. There also appears to be a continuing fraud over the allocation of grants to the local fruit growers. In all her investigations, however, the source of most of the criminality appears to emanate from a local millionaire property developer, one Federico Ramos.
During the course of her investigations Gabriella is harassed in her apartment, driven off the road in her car and abducted to an isolated country bungalow, from which she manages to escape. Helping her through her ordeals is a handsome Madrid journalist, Juan Calero, with whom she indulges in a passionate sexual relationship.
Will she succeed in bringing all the criminals to justice? The powers that be in the locality are all against her. If you read her story you will find out.

Pubblicato:
Jun 13, 2016
ISBN:
9781310791604
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

I was born in Wales, but have lived in Spain, Majorca, the western highlands of Scotland and the Wye Valley.My books are mostly set in the places where I have had homes. These include ten published paperbacks and eleven e-books.I append below a review from Mr Derek J Edwards of my novel, 'Time on their Hands'.'I could not put this book down. It was full of interesting characters, with twists and turns in every chapter. I will certainly be looking for other novels by Richard F Jones. 'You can check Amazon Kindle for the authenticity of the review.

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Gabriella - Richard F Jones

GABRIELLA

By

RICHARD F JONES

To my wife Meg and our friends Ken and Dee, whose tireless efforts made the publication of this book possible.

SMASHWORDS EDITION

© 2016 Richard F Jones. All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this book maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electrical, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, companies, media and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorised, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

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ADULT CONTENT RATING

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* * * * *

PROLOGUE

I was getting frustrated and agitated. I had sat in the lounge bar of the La Mar Hotel for over half an hour waiting for an appointment with the owner of the complex, one Federico Ramos.

My name is Gabriella Hernandez and I lived in a small town in the south east corner of Spain. I am thirty two years of age, with long blonde hair, slim legs and figure and told by men that I am very attractive. At that moment I didn’t feel that way because I was becoming bad tempered. I was a reporter for El Correo, the town’s weekly paper and the appointment with Ramos was supposed to be for two o’clock. By then it was well past two thirty. I again approached the barmaid who I’d initially told of my arrival and asked her to contact Ramos’s office once more. She bore a pained expression on her face as she pressed the telephone buttons. Whoever it was at the other end of the line told her that Ramos was in a meeting and would be down to see me as soon as possible. I waited five more minutes at the small bar table then eventually stormed out in a huff.

Before requesting an interview with Ramos I had obviously done my homework. That he was a self-made millionaire was no secret. You didn’t have to be around town for long to discover that he owned a Ferrari, a hybrid saloon Maserati and two Mercedes Benz, one a saloon and the other a four wheel drive people carrier. In addition he also owned a luxury yacht. He lived in a thirteenth storey penthouse apartment next to the hotel, which included a rooftop swimming pool that overlooked the Mediterranean. Yet he wasn’t like the normal millionaires of that type. He was in his late sixties, bald headed, short and plump and wore old fashioned suits with baggy trousers and by all accounts was a family man, with three grown-up children, although he had been divorced twice before.

You have to go back some forty years to discover the source of his wealth. In those days Spain was ruled by the dictator General Francisco Franco and our part of the country was still basically a peasant economy. Tourism, as it is now, hadn’t begun. There was no beach in our town, just a fishing harbour with a few villas dotted along the seashore. The beach that is here now is completely man made. Except for the small town settlement, perched on a hill, all the land down to the sea used to consist entirely of fruit orchards, grapes and olives. The wealthier farms were centred further inland, usually around a huge farmhouse, with barns and outbuildings. Some of the owners of those farms also owned a villa on the seashore, which the family used during the school summer holidays. When the old farm landowners died they usually left the farm and the land to their sons, as, at that time, it was probably a profitable business. So, to make some sort of settlement to their daughters in their wills they would often leave them the seaside villas. By the mid nineteen sixties tourism became the holy grail of making a living in southern Spain. Unfortunately by then the farmers income had declined and with it the value of their land. Many of the sons became quite poor, whereas their sisters were living in potential gold mines. Suddenly developers and hotel owners wanted to acquire every inch of land along the seafront on which to build their high rise apartments and hotel complexes. They began to offer ridiculous prices to the owners of those villas. Ramos’s mother was one señora who owned a substantial villa, with a large amount of garden, and this is where he began to use his money making skills.

He would have been in his late twenties when he began to see what was happening along the coastline. So, with a group of local builders, he built, on some land his family already owned, a modern private luxury villa, with dramatic cliff top views of the Mediterranean, plus all the latest facilities, including a swimming pool. Then, using his charm, he managed to persuade his mother to move out of her old villa into the new one. In exchange he got her to sign the old villa over to him. But he didn’t sell the original villa and its land to a developer. He chose to flatten it and build on it himself. The site was prime and on the seafront and that’s how he began to make his fortune.

CHAPTER ONE

I had been working for El Correo for nearly four years and in that time had built up a reasonable relationship with the editor, Spiro Hosanas, although sometimes he treated me like a stupid little girl, probably because of my glamorous looks.

However, on certain projects he did allow me to have my head, and, in time, one or two of my scoops had worked out successfully for the paper in terms of increased circulation.

For some months I had been hearing rumours about Federico Ramos in connection with building projects on the outskirts of town. They were only rumours, but in our small town gossip spreads like a forest fire, and I decided to dig a little deeper. What I discovered made me even more curious, so I approached Spiro on the matter. He seemed interested and I asked if I could spend some more time on the subject.

‘OK, if you want to,’ he replied, ‘but you must be careful. You know what these wealthy people are like. If you get anything wrong they’ll be suing us for libel. And from what I’m told Ramos is not a man to cross. I want to see all the details you have before you write anything.’

I agreed to that and dug a little further. Then when I had some concrete facts I made the appointment to see Ramos, after first consulting with Spiro. Going back over Ramos’s earlier exploits I could see that what Spiro had said about him was correct. Once he’d acquired his mother’s old villa and again using local builders, he began to construct his own hotel on the site, a twelve storey edifice, with all the facilities needed to attract the new influx of tourists. Instantly it was a success and he made a lot of money. What to do with all that money it seems became his next dilemma. So, next door to the hotel he built a thirteen storey apartment block, containing two hundred apartments, again, all with sea views. That made him even wealthier. Then he moved into the huge penthouse suite and installed a rooftop swimming pool and many other luxurious fittings. During that period he also produced two sons and a daughter, who all eventually came into the business with him. By then he was easily into the millionaire category. When the children became older they began to run the day to day activities of the business which gave Ramos more time to devote to other money making schemes. He regenerated the old family farmhouse and the land around it to grow a fruit crop called nisporo, which sold in vast quantities to the Far East and made him even more money. Later, in conjunction with his old builder pals, who by then were also extremely wealthy, he started buying up parcels of land on the outskirts of town, on which to build luxury villas. And from what I could gather, from the rumours circulating, that is where the corruption issues originated.

It was my boyfriend, Javier Delgado who put me on to the matter. Much to his disgust, because he is younger than me, I used to call him my toy boy. However when we were in bed together he used to get his own back by proving that he was definitely the boss. Javier was dark haired, tallish with a muscular body, which I couldn’t keep my hands off. Actually he was twenty eight years of age quite intelligent and clever so I guess I was lucky. He worked in the planning department of the local council, or the Comunidad as it’s called in Spain. Over a period of time he told me that he had noticed that certain planning regulations were being overlooked, or ignored, on some of the larger new building developments on the outskirts of town. More to the point he said that some of those developments were encroaching onto what should be considered as national parkland. In other words they were inching up the sides of one of the most beautiful mountains in the region. He had mentioned the matter to one of his colleagues in the department.

‘Oh, be careful there,’ Antonio, his colleague, said to him. ‘Those are the pet projects of José Leandro.’ Leandro was the town’s mayor. ‘He’s down on anybody like a ton of bricks if they interfere in those developments.’ Antonio had continued. ‘I repeat, be careful. Good jobs like ours are hard to come by in this region.’

But Javier did dig a little further. He checked on the minutes of the comunidad’s meetings, where these matter had been discussed. He discovered that the opposition PSOE party had raised their concerns on this subject quite a few times. On one occasion they’d even forced a vote on it, but being the minority party their objections had been massively defeated by the ruling PP party. When Javier told me about all of this it instantly fired further my journalistic curiosity.

Before approaching Spiro on the matter, I went to view the minutes of the council’s meetings. Reading through them, on the subject matter, I could see that there were two particular lady councillors from the PSOE socialist party who had been instrumental in calling for the vote of no confidence. One was Yolanda Gomez, who I then made an appointment to see.

A fiery Socialist in her late forties she told me that she and a fellow lady councillor had received rumours that backhanders had been given by the developers of the land in question to the mayor for obtaining the relevant planning consents. She had also discovered that the developers in this case were a company headed by Federico Ramos.

Failing to get an interview with Ramos had therefore fired my anger. Yolanda had also given me other names who were aware of the potential serious misdemeanours surrounding these projects and gradually I made appointments to see all of them.

Yolanda’s fellow PSOE councillor, Claudie Lopez was amongst them. On the phone she told me that she was familiar with a lot of the shady goings-on at the council’s offices. We agreed to meet up for a coffee in a small café overlooking the beach. She was a red haired señora, about the same age as Yolanda. She began by saying that the people who were currently running the local PP party and thereby the council, ‘were as crooked as a bent nail.’ As we supped our Americanos and watched the waves crashing ashore she said. ‘The mayor of this town, José Leandro, has recently moved into a newly built, lavish villa, in substantial private grounds, high up overlooking the bay. Now, the builders of that property were a company called Elba Construction, and who do you think is the principal owner of that company?’ I swallowed hard on my Americano then shook my head to indicate I didn’t know. ‘A certain well known personality Señor Federico Ramos,’ she said. I scribbled down some notes in my notebook.

‘Then we have the situation of the council’s chief financial officer, Alberto Ruiz,’ Claudie continued, ‘who, would you believe, just happens to be Leandro’s brother-in-law. I suppose that’s not exactly illegal but the problem is that Alberto doesn’t have any accountancy qualifications. Before he was appointed to his current job, which carries a salary of one hundred and thirty thousand euros a year, he owned a small run down bar in the centre of town. My party’s enquiries have led us to discover that he actually sub-contracts the difficult accountancy tasks to a firm of accountants in town. ‘And guess what,’ Claudie continued. I stopped scribbling and looked up at her. ‘Alberto and his family have also moved into a new villa similar to the one in which his brother-in-law now lives. And who do you guess built that villa?’ she asked me.

‘Could it have been Elba Construction?’ I replied.

‘Correct. You have it in one,’ she said.

When I related these details to Spiro he was shocked. ‘Those are pretty serious accusations,’ he responded. ‘You have to be very careful how you handle this. I repeat, these people are extremely wealthy and important in the region. One mistake by us and they’d drive us out of business.’ He also repeated that I must not attempt to write anything on the matter without first running the information past him. I gave him my word on that, but he did allow me to continue with my inquiries.

One of my next contacts, Ana Botella, was the town’s local photographer of some repute. She not only undertook photography work for El Correo but also the local council, the local police force and the regional council, as well as her own private work. Ana was another firebrand socialist. She wasn’t a member of the local council but she was an active member of the local PSOE and attended most of their meetings. She worked out of her apartment, four storeys up, in a block in the main street of town. There, she guided me into what would have been the spare bedroom, which she’d converted into a photographic studio. I was offered a chair amongst all the equipment. Ana, who I knew from her occasional work for El Correo, was a striking looking dark haired young woman, about my age, slim, with a shapely figure, long hair and legs that the men ogled over. That day she was wearing a black t-shirt, tight blue jeans and calf length black boots. I related what Yolanda had told me.

‘That sounds about right,’ she responded. ‘My findings in this respect began when I did some photography work for the local nispero farmers. The nispero looks and tastes like a peach and apricot combined. They had been in touch with the Party about the grants that were being doled out by the local council for their farms. Those grants are paid originally by the regional council, but it is up to our local comunidad to distribute them within this area.’ I began to take notes again. Ana continued. ‘The farmers who approached the party indicated that those grants weren’t being distributed fairly or evenly. They went on to tell us that the man who is responsible for the distribution of the grants is Alberto Ruiz, the deputy Mayor and chief financial officer. It seems that the largest portion of the grants are being paid to the farm owned by Federico Ramos and his family. At the time I was just helping out with photo shots, as we were about to begin a campaign of protest on the matter. My work was originally just to aid with a publicity pamphlet, but when I visited them, each of the farmers were vehement in their protests about the situation. The party raised the matter at council meetings but they were rebuffed by Ruiz and the mayor who said the grants were distributed according to the government’s recommendations.’ I kept scribbling. ‘The problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of the other farmers are quite poor and are struggling to make a living, whereas we all know that Ramos is a millionaire many times over.’

Ana and I parted on good terms and we agreed to meet up for a drink soon and keep each other up to date on the matters.

Out of curiosity, next day, I decided to take a trip to look at the housing development which I had previously noted was definitely creeping up the land on the side of the mountain. To get there I needed to travel about four kilometres from town on the coast road until I reached a massive, colourfully illustrated roadside advertising hoarding, pronouncing ‘Luxury Villas and Apartments.’ The hoarding was adorned with large pictures of homes with swimming pools, bikini clad women and dramatic sea views.

There I turned right and for about another two kilometres I followed a long, steep, winding dual carriageway type road, with expensive villas dotted alongside. By the time I reached another large related advertising hoarding I must have been at least three hundred metres up the mountainside. Through my rear view mirror I could see evidence of the sea views illustrated on the hoardings. Ahead of me was an ugly white concrete jungle with houses and apartment blocks crammed tightly into every available metre. I stopped my car, got out and looked around. Construction was still taking place on certain distant parts of the development. When I turned around and looked back at the view behind me I have to confess I was stunned by the uninterrupted vista out across the blue Mediterranean. I drove on to the upper limits of the estate. There it became clear that its boundaries were encroaching well into the mountainous land that stretched upwards to the high jagged peak that overlooked our town. At the edge of the top road I spotted a footpath that led that way. Here was proof that this development was clearly eating into an area of outstanding natural beauty. The ugly aspect of the nearby buildings only added to the criminality of their erection in that spot. Quietly I drove around the estate roads and spotted that there were no street lamps. Under Spanish regulations developers are supposed to construct the required roads and install electricity, street lamps and water before they begin construction of the properties. Clearly there were no street lamps evident in this case. Another matter to check out on the planning details, I noted.

When I eventually completed the circular route I noticed an impressive glass fronted temporary structure, evidently the sales office. Inside an attractive blonde, dressed immaculately in a dark blue skirted suit was sitting behind a computer screen at a desk. I asked if there were any properties still for sale.

‘Oh yes,’ she answered brightly, got out of her chair and walked towards another desk covered with glossy brochures.

‘About ten per cent of the properties have been sold or at least had a deposit placed on them, but there are still lots of villas and apartments available. What size accommodation are you looking for?’ she asked me.

‘Two bedroom apartments,’ I said trying to prolong the conversation, whilst thinking of my own circumstances.

‘There are plenty of those still available,’ she answered then passed to me some of the related brochures. If there is anything specific you would like to view that’s no problem, but it would have to be by appointment as someone else has to be here to look after the office at the same time.’

I nodded, then said. ‘Do any of the developers come up here? I’m interested in the construction of these types of buildings.’

She hesitated before replying. ‘They do but we never know when. I can give you their card but you would have to phone them first if you wanted to meet up with them here.’ She again leaned across the table to reach for a business card. ‘ELBA Construcción’ was emblazoned in bold blue letters on it, with an address in nearby Alicante and the usual fax, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

I tried to prolong our conversation for as long as I could until I ran out of sensible questions to ask, but while we were talking I suddenly remembered that I had an old school friend who worked in one of the other offices of this estate agent further up the coast.

* * * * *

That evening Javier came to my apartment to pick me up for a date. Usually on those occasions, or when he was just feeling randy, he would stay the night at my place. He had his own apartment but we would often co-habit, sometimes for a night or maybe a weekend, at each others homes. That night as he was taking me to a restaurant near my place it was agreed we would return to my place afterwards. Over our meal I related to him what I had seen on the mountainside and particularly mentioned the non-existent streetlights. He promised to check with the planning records in the morning. He also told me that someone else who worked in the council offices had mentioned about another rumour that was going around. Javier said it was thought that José Leandro and Alberto Ruiz were receiving a share of the sales commission from the estate agent on every property sold on that development. ‘Now that is sheer corruption and is completely against all council rules.’ Javier said. I made a mental note to contact my friend at their offices in the morning. That evening I had been wearing a low cut dress and was quickly beginning to detect a fire of desire burning in Javier’s eyes. We finished off our meal and soon tumbled into my bed for a bout of delicious sexual romping. When he was on form Javier could make me feel like the Queen of Sheba.

Next day I telephoned Gloria Gonzales, my friend who worked at the estate agents office. Like me she had always been a bit of a rebel. At school we were always getting in trouble for challenging authority. As we grew older she became part of the set I mixed with at parties and events around the town. It had been a couple of months since I had last seen her, but we agreed to meet up for a snack at lunch time that day.

I drove the ten kilometres or so up the coast to the small seaside town where she worked.

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