Katheine is present. Robespierre hasonly a small role this time
Lars _ Katherine's friend. “Kate.”
“Lars, is something wrong?” Why was he calling when he’d see me tomorrow? Had something happened to make it necessary for me to postpone my visit?
“Jitters. Afraid you’ve changed your mind. You’ve never come before. And...there is something...” His voice drifted into silence.
Something was bothering him, but extracting a story long distance is hard. Face to face is better. “My bags are packed and the tickets are in my purse.”
“Good. I’m looking forward to having you here.” He paused. “What are you doing with the cat?”
“He’ll be staying with Maria and the baby.” I chuckled. “At this moment he’s peeved. He tried to use my suitcase as a bed and I chased him.”
Lars laughed. “Guess he wants to come along. You could bring him.”
“Are you out of your mind? You want me to bring the
creature who hates cars and being confined? He’ll be fine at the
“He does tend to act like a dictator. Kate, we’ll have a grand time while you’re here. I’ve so many things planned for us to do.”
I set down the mug. “That’s not why you called. What is bothering you?”
His deep sigh rumbled in my ear. “The problem is...I’m not sure what’s going on.”
Don, Lars' son and Megan his granddaughter - Don and his daughter walked across the drive. I went to the door.
Megan, clad in a bright pink puffy jacket, dropped her father’s hand and ran up the walk. “Told you she come.”
Don reached us and hugged me. Warmth infused my thoughts. I believed we’d moved beyond accord.
“Aunt Katherine, you look wonderful.”
The spicy scent of his aftershave was a welcome addition to the sterile air of the deserted house. “You look great and Megan has grown.”
The dark-haired child danced around us. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. She pointed to the carrier. “That’s a suitcase for pets. You bring Rose Prairie. Let me see him.”
Momentarily I pushed my concern for Lars aside. No need to upset Megan, especially since she’d lost her mother just eight months ago. “He didn’t come this trip.” I looked at Don. “You may hate me when you see what I’ve done.”
“Never.” He ran his fingers through his hair, a color between blond and brown. “Never hated you. Back then I let my sister run my life.” He closed the door.
I opened the carrier and lifted the kitten. “This is who I brought.”
“Rose Prairie, you shrink.” Megan’s blue eyes widened and she touched the kitten’s brown, white and sable fur. “Him soft.”
“This is Robespierre’s baby sister. Thought you might like to take care of her.”
“Me! Daddy, can I?”
“Yes.” Don met my gaze. “Thanks. This is the most animated she’s been since Ramona...” Sadness clouded his blue eyes.
Bonnie - Lars' daughter - “Aunt Katherine, how was your trip?” Bonnie’s lips brushed the air by my cheek. Though her greeting held a facade of friendliness, beneath the cordiality a distinct coldness hummed. She drew back, but the cloying sweetness of her perfume lingered.
Of all Lars’ children, she resembles him the most. She’s a tall blonde with skin tanned to a golden hue. Her graceful movements imbued her with the essence of a magnificent jungle beast on the prowl for prey. The leopard skin coat she wore added to the picture.
“Uneventful until I...” Before I finished, she glided away.
“Don, where’s Daddy? There are some important matters he and I need to discuss.” She tossed her coat on one of the chairs facing the fireplace.
Her brother replaced the receiver in the cradle. “He’s not here and we hoped he was with you. When Aunt Katherine arrived, she found the front door open and his partly eaten breakfast on the table.”
“Oh lord, maybe he’s had a heart attack. Did you check the house? What about the grounds? I really need to talk to him.”
I joined the pair. “I’ve checked the house twice. He’s not here.”
She brushed her hair from her face. “I’ve been out all day. Been busy with preparations for the party. Did you try Carl or Damon?”
Don raked his hair in an awkward parody of his sister’s graceful gesture. “The office was the second place I called. Carl and Damon were in a meeting and couldn’t be disturbed. The secretary said Dad wasn’t with them.”