Hey, Readers; Here’s another snippet from the book. In this scene our protagonist, Rachel Thompson, has recalled an old flame back to the little town where they grew up to help her evaluate some paintings she has found in the basement of an old mansion she has just bought and rennovated. He has given her all teh help she wanted and she is warming to him. Thanks for reading. Ed.
Rachel could feel the change in mood in the house as the early winter evening fell. The day had been one of intense activity; of men and women stretching themselves to perform their vocational tasks. The guards had staked out the perimeter of the house, installed cameras, and set up a monitoring station in the first-floor den. They took their shifts sitting before the line of monitors and then walking outside, along the streets and alleys around the house. The women from Jacob’s firm had been tireless and the inventory of the contents of all the trunks was now completed and their computers and camera all put away.
But now the day was gone and through the long casement windows in the upstairs library Rachel saw the snow begin to whirl and drift down again and settle on the already white lawn and garden below. Now the house was no longer a place of exploration and discovery and labor. Now it would be what it was designed and intended to be – what Rachel imagined that it could be – a place of rest and renewal. She found one member of the security crew who was sitting alone and persuaded him to follow her to the covered porch in the back of the house where they drew split hickory branches from a pile and carried them first the the fireplace in the drawing room where they lit the first fire and then took the remaining wood upstairs to the hearth in the library where they kindled another fire. A couple of the security men had gone at Jacob’s direction to Charleston and collected boxes full of dinner from the finest hotel there. Rachel unpacked the standing rib roast and the au gratin potatoes, stuffed them into the oven and put the salads and desserts in the refrigerator. As she was putting the widest leaf in the dining table, one of the women from the firm stepped into the room.
“I can see this coming, and I want to be a part of it,” she said. “Can I find a tablecloth and the silver?”
In minutes the two women had the table graced with an embroidered cloth, eight place settings of fine plate and silver and four tall candles. Rachel assigned the third-floor bedrooms to the women from the law firm and directed the security team to set their cots and bedding in the ballroom. Then she went to the master bedroom, the room she had set up for herself, and bathed and took from the closet the single garment she had bought with the last of her money before learning of the fault in the basement wall. It was a perfect black dress, simple and definite, off the shoulder and hemmed just below the knee. She had bought this dress imagining her first party in the house. The first time she would entertain. This would be the dress she would wear to enter into the new life she had imagined.
Before she was dressed she heard the piano downstairs. One of the women from the law firm was playing Beethoven’s Pathetique. The house was alive and breathing. She looked at herself in the full-length mirror – where had this new energy, this bright, new fullness come from? She could not suppress a smile.
When she came down the staircase she saw that the food had been arranged in silver steam tables along the dry sink and cabinets at the front of the dining room. The candles were lit. Jacob met her as she entered the room.
“Call your guests,” he said.