Jamie started when the office door opened. Grenville came out with another man.
"You drive a hard bargain, Mr. Hawkes," the man was saying.
"I'm sure this way is best for all concerned," Grenville said. It was probably best for Grenville. He liked making money. He liked having money.
Jamie still wished he liked spending it a little better.
"May I present my friend, James Sommers?" Grenville said. "Mr. Graystone."
They shook hands.
"Jamie is actually quite knowledgeable about shipping, himself."
"Really?" Mr. Graystone said. "We must exchange stories sometime."
Jamie nodded, thinking Mr. Graystone would drop dead at some of Jamie's stories.
Yeah, I'm knowledgeable about shipping all right, he thought.
He watched as Grenville made an appointment with the secretary. She gazed at him with rapt fascination. "I don't care how old he is I'll go out with him if he ever asks," was written all over her face.
She didn't notice Grenville's eyes crinkle with amusement as he said good-bye.
Damn old dog, Jamie thought. What is it with him and women? In the elevator lobby, instead of pushing the button, Grenville walked to the glass wall overlooking the city. Jamie stood beside him.
Almost night now...
"It anything like you guys thought it would be?" Jamie asked. "I mean, the government, elections, all that?"
Grenville gave a short laugh. "Not at all. We envisioned nothing this vast, this invasive, this bloated ... and surely not this corrupt."
"It's better than most countries."
"Yes, yes. I mustn't be run away with youthful idealism at this age. I can still see our dreams under the patina, a pentimento of the vision. And I'll grant you, it's held up amazingly well."
"So, at least there's been progress."
"I'm afraid, Jamie, here as elsewhere, I see inventions, not progress."
As they stood there, gazing out at the lights of the city, Jamie suddenly had a flashback so strong and vivid that he almost dropped to his knees.
A black night, a shivering young man half dead with terror, shock, and loss of blood, and a Monster filled with the rage of two hundred years of confinement; both standing on a windy hillside overlooking the lights of Hawkes Harbor.
It was so real Jamie could smell the sea air, the faint stench of the cemetery, feel the cold dew soaking through his socks, hear his own heart pounding.
And once again a strong grip kept him from falling. Gradually the tightening in his chest relaxed a little.
"Are you quite all right?"
Jamie nodded. He caught his breath.
Did Grenville remember that night? Absently, Jamie rubbed at his throat. The pain had long disappeared, but the scar was still there if you knew where to look.
Abruptly, for no apparent reason, Grenville said, "Do you miss your old life, Jamie?"
Jamie paused. He got nostalgic for it, sometimes. Always a new place to go, always looking for a big score, a little con, sometimes just the next meal. It had been exciting, even exhilarating at times ... but often not. And so damn aimless...
If I had stayed in my old life, Jamie thought, I'd be dead or in prison most likely. The other side of the counter at a shelter.
And even the part he missed most—being on a ship, headed for a strange port—maybe even that would be too much for him now.
It was always the voyage he had loved, never the destination.
Just as Grenville and the Vampire were always two different entities in Jamie's mind, the tough kid Jamie looked back on now no longer seemed like part of himself....
No, the callous young sea tramp, the vengeful monster, were lost somewhere, years ago.
He glanced at Grenville again. He was getting older, too, with aches and pains and fears, ebbing strength and faulty memory. Funny, to be cured into old age, pain, and death. But that's the way it was, if you wanted to live life.
"No more than you miss your old life," he answered finally.
"There is much to be said for peace, Jamie."
Jamie had almost forgotten his youthful pondering on the why of it all—was it to help each other find peace?
Grenville put his hand on Jamie's shoulder for a moment, and Jamie blinked back tears. He knew that Grenville remembered everything.
"No, Jamie, not a tree. Not one tree of Hawkes Hall will come down. I like an atmosphere of gentle melancholy," Grenville said.
Jamie sighed. He'd known his landscaping plan wouldn't go over well. "Just to open it up a little around the front? So it won't be so dark and gloomy?"
"If you must dig in the dirt, widen the drive. And I asked you last year to enlarge the garden. But not a tree comes down." He emphasized each word in the last sentence.
"Can't enlarge the garden, there's too much shade." Jamie muttered into his Bloody Mary. Just one, it was a long drive back.
"You should have ordered the scaloppini. It's great."
"You know I detest garlic."
"Thought you were over that."
"That has nothing to do with it. I simply dislike garlic. Many people do."
Great, Jamie thought. He was planning on taking Chinese cooking classes in the spring. He remembered how good the food was, in the South China Sea, if you could keep your mind off what was probably in it. How'd he keep the garlic out of that?
"Damn," Jamie said suddenly.
"What is it?"
"I meant to stop by the dry cleaners this morning. Well, if I go first thing tomorrow you can still have your tux back for New Year's Eve."
Jamie got out his notebook, made a note.
"Oh God. Don't remind me. The Hawkes Enterprises New Year's Eve Ordeal. I dread it. It's not as if we didn't get our fill of one another yesterday. And I assume Richard's invited a hundred people."
"Two hundred, between him and Lydia. And that's not counting Rick and Barbara's friends."
"Yes. Rick and Richard are already quarreling about the music. Both have hired bands. Of course, Lydia wants an orchestra ... By the way, I can't imagine how Richard felt this morning. Or Barbara, either. I'd forgotten how potent port can be.... What are you doing New Year's, Jamie? A party with the bowlers?"
"Got a date. Dinner-dance at the inn. New first-grade teacher."
"Surely not some child just out of college?"
You're the one who likes chasing after young stuff, Jamie thought, but didn't say it. He would kid around with Grenville but was never disrespectful.
"No, she's thirty, divorced, one kid. Just moved here. Miss Maples's younger sister."
Grenville raised his brows.
"Naw," Jamie said. "Emma's cute. Dark hair and eyes. Really built. Good sense of humor. It's not our first date."
Jamie had gone ahead and booked the whole package at the inn, which included a room. It wasn't any sure thing ... just a feeling, a nice kind of suspense, like "Let's just see what happens."
He knew she felt the same.
"Grenville," Jamie said, "skip the party."
"I mean, it's great you're so close to the family and all, but you just saw them. You're not a big party kinda guy, everyone knows that. Just take Louisa to dinner or something. Nobody'd mind."
"Several of our business associates will be there. They'll expect to see me. Lydia's charity board members too. The Hawkes Foundation for the Homeless. I can't very well let Richard represent us. And everyone's made such of point of it...."
It always pissed Jamie off, the way the Hawkeses had snubbed Grenville for so long, then turned to him for money, financial advice, and finally expected him to solve everyone's problems—running Richard to the detox clinic twice a year, handling Lydia's messy second marriage, helping Rick choose a college, and not only hushing up most of Barbara's scandals, keeping her from creating new ones. And now he was the one they wanted to uphold the "Hawkes image."
Lazy snobs, Jamie thought. He didn't think he said it, even though Grenv
ille answered, "Well. They're my lazy snobs, and I must do what I can."
"Okay, look, go to the party for an hour, shake hands, make sure people see you—make Louisa wear that green thing that shows her legs—you know which one I mean?"
"Then cut out. They won't care." Grenville looked thoughtful.
"You see a glimmer of intelligence in my inept logic here?"
Grenville was forced to smile. "I'll think it over."
"You going to have dessert?" Jamie asked.