2.64 Paper Faces On Parade
(Okay, this isn’t the view from the Proprietor’s Office – but it does a great job of showing the two properties of glass.)
Leaning against the bookcase before the floor to ceiling windows, I watched the golden rays of dawn touch the tips of the trees on the other side of the pane. The shifting mist, rolling below the tree boughs yet just above the blades of grass, would melt away once the sunbeams reached it – but until then, the billowing grey shrouded Nevermore in an eerie haze. Wrapping my arms around my shoulders, I snuggled into the soft folds of my wool sweater and felt a wave of happiness ripple thru me. My elation swelled for a moment as I promised myself a lingering ramble across the grounds, then sadly broke apart upon the jagged rocks of reality when a presumptive rap sounded against the door.
Without waiting for an answer, Sarah strolled purposely into the Proprietor’s office.
“Ben, I know you don’t want to, but we need to vote on the City’s offer first thing. Once we can show Western Mutual the pending numbers, I’m sure they’ll delay the loan call so the sale can go through…”
Big Ben’s only guidance in dealing with Sarah was to remind me: “You and I both know the Reville’s ability to charm, flatter, and persuade people into performing considerably outside of their natures. So take that into account when you tot up her betrayal against your friendship.”
Remaining still, I shifted my perspective off the vista beyond the glass to the room it reflected. A fair amount of confusion flickered over Sarah’s face at the absences of chaos. Little Ben and Leo finished transferring the pipe-dream-dream-boards, avalanche of papers, and mountains of binders back to Little Ben’s old office about an hour and a half ago – just in time for our first meeting, with Nathaniel.
“Why did you move everything? And where did….” Swiveling her head down the length of the conference table, it didn’t take but a moment for her gaze to work its way over to the desk – and find me standing behind it.
In the split second it took me to turn towards her, she’d jettisoned the shock from her visage and exchanged it for mild curiosity.
“Hey, Morticia..umm..what are you doing here? We’re getting ready for an important meeting…”
“…and now that you’re here, it can start.” Stepping over to the Proprietor’s desk, I pulled out the captain’s chair and took a seat – then motioned her towards the visitor’s.
An odd hollow sensation filled my middle as she drew closer, and I realized moonlight flattered her features far more than the fluorescents of the office did. Dark smudges that concealer failed to hide lay beneath her eyes, her suit looked at least two sizes too large for her frame, and her hair appeared positively dull.
Resting her hands on the backs of the twin chairs, Sarah met my gaze across the wide desk. “What are you talking about?”
Leaning forward, I laced my fingers together and rested them atop the blotter. “For starters? We’re not selling to the City Council.”
Sarah stood her ground, despite visibly paling at the pleasantly delivered news. “That’s not your decision to make.”
“Your right, it’s not.” Sarah’s congratulatory smile lasted only a second before I wiped it from her face. “Big Ben made the call last night, dissolved the Board this morning, and rejected the City’s offer about a half-hour ago.”
Licking her lips, Sarah tried hard to contain her reaction to the unraveling of her and Josie’s designs on Nevermore. After giving her a few more heartbeats to process the news, I gestured towards the visitor’s chair again. “Why don’t you sit down, Sarah.”
Accepting my invitation, she perched on the edge of the seat and started absently plucking invisible bits of fluff off her pants. “When did Big Ben get back?…”
My Silver City Operative, Tavi will be chuffed when I tell her her efforts in papering Silver City with three-by-five cards worked. Once Big Ben finally spotted one, on a Swap-or-Sale cork-board in out of the way bait shop, he realized they were everywhere. Then for reasons I’m still not entirely clear on, due to the late hour and some excellent rum, rather than calling the listed number Big Ben caught a red-eye home.
Not that Sarah needs those details.
“…He made you Caretaker again, I assume…”
A small smile flared to life on my lips at hearing my title and I united in a sentence again – then died when I looked Sarah in the eye. “Yes, I am. And as Nevermore’s Caretaker, I need you to tell me where you stashed the copies of the Conventions you stole from Ira, Lottie, Big Ben, and I.
Nostrils flaring, her leg started bouncing at speed. “I don’t know what you’re talking….”
Fed up with her, Josie, and their machinations, I stopped her mid-denial with an inflexible tone. “Just don’t. I know you held onto the letter making Little Ben Provisional Proprietor for months. I know how Josie bribed Nathaniel. I know how you both set Little Ben up. So please don’t waste time with denials.”
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