Catching the Wind(6)

By: Melanie Dobson

“Nor does it mean he’s safe.”

“Just because your mum told you not to talk to strangers . . . ,” Chandler started. Then she stopped herself, her smile falling. “Oh, Quenby, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

Quenby brushed away the apology with a swat of her hand. “I know you didn’t.”

And this was precisely why Quenby didn’t tell people about her mother. She didn’t want them stumbling over apologies when it wasn’t their fault. Chandler only knew that Quenby’s mother hadn’t wanted to be a mom.

Chandler nudged her aside and clicked the mouse beside her computer. “Type in your password,” Chandler said, her boss voice prevailing.

Scrivener, Quenby typed. A medieval reminder that her job was to create new stories, not regurgitate ones that had already been told.

Chandler usurped the keyboard controls to search Google for Lucas Hough, and she found him at the law office of Hough and Associates. According to the firm’s website, the senior Mr. Hough had been practicing law in London for forty years. The junior Hough probably hadn’t struggled a day in his life, slipping easily into the role his family already carved out for him.

Quenby despised the bitterness that welled inside her. She should be pleased for his success, not aggravated. If only Mr. Hough hadn’t been so arrogant on the phone.

Another search, and Chandler selected an image from the faces that filled the screen. A man with wavy brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a gray bomber jacket and jeans. In his smile Quenby could almost hear his laughter. The thought annoyed her even more.

Chandler tapped her cigarette on the screen. “Let me introduce you properly to Lucas Hough, one of the most eligible bachelors in London.”

Quenby turned away from the screen. This Mr. Hough wasn’t like one of the friends her boss attempted to set her up with. Chandler had never even met this man. “He may look nice enough, but it doesn’t mean he’s safe.” She didn’t need a mother to explain that to her.

Chandler sighed. “Mr. Hough is a prominent attorney.”

“Defending the law doesn’t mean he obeys it.”

“He’s not going to kidnap a reporter,” Chandler said, waving the cigarette back and forth in front of Quenby’s face. “Go with him. I’ll track you on my phone.”

“A lot of good that will do if I end up in the Thames.”

Chandler pushed away from the desk. “You might get a good story out of it.”

Quenby straightened her keyboard and mouse pad. “Speaking of stories . . .” She opened the e-mail from Mrs. McMann and let Chandler read it.

Chandler stuck the cigarette between her lips. “You have more contacts than her, right?”

“I’m e-mailing her grandchildren this morning, and I’ve requested more files from the War Office. They’ll be transferred to the archives on Tuesday.”

The cigarette shook. “Evan Graham is not a patient man.”

“I’m well aware of that.” He had personally called Quenby out twice in their editorial meetings this year to say she needed to dig deeper. Find the stories no one else was telling.

“Go talk to this Daniel Knight,” Chandler said as if she were scrounging for crumbs under the fridge. Then she glanced at her watch. “Let’s not mention the fate of your article to the team yet. You’ll have a break soon enough.”

“Lady Ricker’s daughter practically threatened to sue the syndicate if I don’t drop the story.”

“As long as you stick to the facts, she can only threaten.”

“I figured Mr. Graham wouldn’t mind the publicity.”

Chandler put her finger to her lips. “He’s in the office today.”

Quenby cringed. Sightings of their boss were rare and, on days like today, unwelcome. “He’ll ask about my current article.”

“I’ll cover for you.”

Quenby reached for her coffee mug and followed her boss into the meeting room.

Quenby wasn’t packed by seven the next morning. Nor was she waiting for Mr. Hough in front of her building. Instead she’d fallen asleep on top of her bedspread, exhausted after a long night of researching the Ricker family.