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Dimitri Makalos stood at the head of the steps by the house. From below, he was silhouetted by the lights shining down from the eaves, giving the approaching guests the impression of some holy icon. Closer up, he was still an imposing figure. In his youth, he had been a boxer; amateur bouts only, as he had always been destined to succeed his father as head of Makalos Shipping. The fitness regime had stuck and despite his age, late forties, he remained someone not to be messed with.

One of the guests and his wife approached him from the steps below. Alessandro Franti was a property developer in Sicily. He specialised in bespoke luxury homes for owners that had peculiar needs, be they security, sporting, access, hi-tech or whatever was required. He had recently completed a house in Perugia with a helipad installed just below the level of the tree-line. Arriving guests were given the impression that they were stepping out into a sea of tree tops. Should they then be concerned as to how they were to descend from the helipad to the ground, their fears would soon be allayed. For the helipad was hydraulically mounted to enable it to be lowered gently some fifteen metres, sinking gradually through the uppermost pines to the darkened forest floor. Once there, the guests could walk the short distance to the main entrance of the house, while a retractable garage slid across to protect the helicopter. The guests were less likely to spot the real reason for this elaborate arrangement, for the roof of the retractable garage was camouflaged as was the roof of the house. Once the helicopter was lowered and covered, both the garage and house melted into the forest, making detection extremely difficult. Alessandro had many other projects similar to this, but few surpassed the complexity and cost.

One however, was the house of Dimitri Makalos. For once Dimitri Makalos had heard of Alessandro's work to conceal a luxury mansion, he immediately engaged him to assist in the security arrangements for his Corfu house. Alessandro had been tasked to re-design and re-build the original house, while dramatically improving the security arrangements and at the same time, retaining the first class hospitality that the original house had a reputation for. No expense was to be spared.

The solution had been simple. Alessandro had decided to retain much of the original building, and build additional structure onto it. To make the house more breathtaking to the arriving guests, he had decided to lower the approach, forcing guests to climb up to the house. However, since the original house did not enjoy the advantage of height against its surroundings, Alessandro set about doing the only thing he could. He dug away at the land surrounding the house, thousands and thousands of tons of earth. The house was then left on what was in fact, an artificial hill. Once the landscapers had completed their work, the effect was entirely natural to all but the trained eye. Alessandro had been proud of his creation, and rightly so.

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