Catching the Wind(5)By: Melanie Dobson
“Because I’m a journalist?”
“His reasoning is unbeknownst to me.”
This time she laughed. “Unbeknownst?”
“I’m sorry,” he said without sounding the least bit. “I assumed you understood the queen’s English.”
She leaned forward, clenching the phone in her hand. He might think his teasing hilarious, but she had no time for this.
“Assuming can be a detriment in both of our professions,” she replied. “But then again, I’ve been assuming that you and your client know I have a full-time position as a journalist.”
She heard the clicking of a keyboard on the other end. “Mr. Knight will pay you a significant amount of money if you decide to work for him.”
“I’m not motivated by money, Mr. Hough.”
“Miss Vaughn,” he said with a sigh, “everyone is motivated by money.”
She massaged her temples, tiny circles to clear her mind. He was pushing too hard now, and she didn’t respond well to manipulation. Or the condescending tone of his voice. “I can’t take the time off work to help your client.”
“Before you decide, you should listen to his story.”
It was like dangling a sweet carrot in front of her, enticing her to follow. She should tell him no, but perhaps she could mine a newsworthy story over the weekend, something to appease Chandler until the Ricker article was complete. “I can meet your client tomorrow morning at Pret’s in Camden Market—”
“I’m afraid that won’t work.”
She drummed her fingers on the bedspread. “I suppose you already have a plan.”
A phone buzzed in the background. “I’ll fetch you in the morning at seven sharp, in front of your building.”
“Wait—” She moved her feet back over the edge of her bed, onto the rug. “How do you know where I live?”
His laugh grated on her skin, like a pumice stone sloughing away her nerves. If he laughed one more time, she was going to throw him and his queen’s English into the laundry basket.
She nudged the lid of the basket with her toe instead and watched it fall over the pile of dirty clothes. For some reason it made her feel better to hide it even though no one could see the laundry but her. “I can arrange for my own ride.”
“Pack a suitcase,” he instructed. Then he disconnected the call.
Quenby stared down at the screen in her hand, the time staring back at her. 7:32 a.m.
She’d done plenty of crazy things in her stint as a journalist, but she wouldn’t be packing her suitcase for this Mr. Hough. Nor would she go with him to some undisclosed location in order to meet a stranger who seemed certifiable, even if he promised her an interview.
The money was just a ploy. A second carrot dangling on the stick, probably luring her right over the edge of a cliff.
She didn’t know what these men wanted, but she was certain of one thing—she would be spending her weekend trying to track down someone to interview for her story on the Rickers, not searching for the friend Mr. Knight lost seventy-plus years ago.
“You have to go with him,” Chandler Parr insisted, leaning back against the L-shaped desk in Quenby’s ten-by-ten cube of an office. Her best friend and boss wore a pear-colored blazer and black trousers. Between her fingers, Chandler clutched an unlit cigarette that doubled as a baton.
Smoking wasn’t allowed in their building—and Chandler was trying to quit anyway—but she liked to cling to a Kent Blue. To combat stress, she said.
Unbeknownst to her, the staff referred to Chandler’s cigarette as her “dummy.” Pacifier. And now, thanks to Mr. Hough, the word unbeknownst was stuck in Quenby’s head.
“I’m not packing a suitcase and leaving London with a man I don’t know,” Quenby shot back, drumming her three-inch heels on the floor. “Especially one who won’t tell me where we’re going.”
She’d thought Chandler would be amused by Mr. Hough’s early morning call, but instead her boss was appalled that Quenby had turned down his request to meet Mr. Knight. Like Quenby was crazy for not driving away with a stranger.
“Rubbish,” Chandler said. “You may not know Mr. Hough, but that doesn’t mean he’s dangerous.”