Excerpt: Call Up The Wind
Everything of any importance that she’d learned in her life, Lacey Ferris had discovered by listening at keyholes.
Tonight, she was sure, would be no different.
In fact, after the furor at dinner last night when, at Uncle Warren’s questioning, she’d admitted spending the past weekend with Danny Araujo, it was a dead certainty. Uncle Warren could have called this summit meeting only to discuss her.
She inched open the door of the Blue Room to allow herself a narrow view of the long hallway that led past the library, where the male members of her family were, like storm clouds, beginning to gather.
Uncle Warren was, of course, there already. Uncle Wilbur and Uncle Vincent soon joined him. She couldn’t see them because the door was out of sight from her vantage point and they came from the billiard room, but she heard Uncle Wilbur harrumphing and Uncle Vincent clearing his throat.
So, she thought when she heard the door open and shut, all the older members of the Control Lacey Ferris Club were present.
That left only the junior delegation — her cousins Fred, Stuart and Karl. They wouldn’t be long, she was sure.
They weren’t. At that very moment Fred pupped past the Blue Room, his paunch preceding him. No sooner had he let himself into the library than she heard footsteps on the back stairs. Seconds later Stuart slunk past, followed by Karl.
She didn’t know why Uncle Warren bothered to ask either of them, unless it was to make his decision unanimous. Neither Stuart nor Karl had said a word at one of the Ferris gatherings since Lacey had put glue on their chairs in 1982.
Of course he hadn’t asked her. As far as Uncle Warren knew, she wasn’t even in the house. She didn’t live here, only kept the room she’d had as a child. “So you know you’re always welcome,” he’d said.
But she knew he always held his breath whenever she was around, clearly afraid that she might drop the Limoges or shatter the Sevres. He certainly wouldn’t want her here tonight when he decided how to deal with her this time. That was why she’d said she had a meeting at the neighborhood center where she worked. Then, after supper, she’d sneaked into the kitchen, though the butler’s pantry and ensconced herself here. To wait.
But now everyone was present and accounted for. Now she could make her move.
But jut as she started to give the door a silent shove, other footsteps sounded firm and loud on the parquet.
Lacey jumped back. “Drat.” She’d imagined Gertham, Uncle Warren’s butler, would have already supplied the room with port and brandy and all the other fortifying spirits that the Ferris men always needed when dealing with her. But the footsteps came inexorably closer even as she could hear the muffled rumble of Uncle Warren beginning to speak.
“Hurry up, drat you,” Lacey whispered to the footsteps. She stepped back, leaving the door ajar only an inch, just enough to allow herself a peek at Gretham as he came past.
She got a peek all right. It wasn’t Gretham.
Not by a long shot. This man was a good six inches taller than Gretham’s five feet eight. And Gretham could have only wished had had shoulders as broad as those or that his black suit fit with the same bespoke tailoring that this man’s navy pinstripe did. He had more hair than Gretham had ever dreamed of, too, a thick, glossy black that was the only unruly thing about him.
Whoever he was, he was not a butler.
To Lacey, who was inclined to label Uncle Warren a walrus, Stuart a weasel and Uncle Wilbur a rabbit, this man was an out-and-out panther. A rich, successful panther, from the look of him.
Lacey scowled. It wasn’t like Uncle Warren to drag strangers into family problems. Did this mean Uncle Warren’s pow-wow wasn’t about her after all?
But surely all their pointed questions about Danny had pointed to a family meeting? Every other time she’d shown signs of becoming “interested” in the wrong man they’d pos8itively leapt to dissuade her. Disconcerted, she edged the door open to get a better look.
But the door to the library had already opened. The upright panther in the dark suit had already entered. The door shut now with a well-oiled click.
It was time to make her move.