Wednesday, May 9, 2012
"What did you say to Biff Monroe?" she demanded. She was glad he was seated so she could stand over him.
"What?" Nick looked up from his paperwork.
"Don't try to deny it," she said. "I saw the two of you outside the Rainbow yesterday, and now Selena says he's gone. He's left town."
"That's the best news I've heard in weeks," Nick replied.
"No, it isn't. Your daughter is absolutely frantic, and you should be ashamed of yourself. I don't know what you have against that boy, but I'd bet my share of this restaurant that you are behind his sudden departure."
Nick glowered at his wife. "Stay out of this. She'll get over it, and I haven't made any secret of the fact that I don't want Selena mixed up with that man. He's too old for her, for one thing."
"That's a load of crap. You're older than I am, and in case you haven't noticed, Selena is a grown woman and perfectly capable of deciding who she wants to spend time with. It's not up to you."
Nick ignored her, returning his attention to the papers on his desk.
"Why are you being like this?" she asked. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
He continued to ignore her, so she played the card she'd been holding back. "Okay, then. Maybe you can tell me why our savings account is down by $10,000 since yesterday."
Helen saw the color rise in Nick's face. She had his attention now.
"So what if I encouraged him to pursue his photography career someplace other than Pine Lake?"
"Mother of God, I can't believe you'd stoop so low as bribery to get him out of town." Helen narrowed her eyes. "Unless there's more to the story. Unless...."
"Unless what?" Selena asked, stepping into the office.
"Selena--what are you doing here?" Helen asked. Too late, she realized she'd left the office door open, and worse, she had no idea that Selena was in the building.
"How much did you hear?" Nick asked his daughter.
"More than enough, Daddy dear. But please, you two finish your conversation. I think you were just getting to the good part."
Nick stood. "This isn't the time or place--"
"Yes, it is," Helen said.
Nick tried to stare her down, but she didn't flinch. "If you won't answer my question, I know who can." She turned to her daughter. "Give me your cell phone."
"Just give me your damn phone."
Selena pulled the phone from her pocket and handed it to her mother. She couldn't recall ever in her life hearing her mother swear.
"Is Claire Monroe's phone number in here?" Helen asked.
Selena nodded. She noticed her father had grown a sickly pale and perspiration had broken out on his forehead.
Helen punched buttons on the phone, then held it to her ear. The volume was high enough that the voice of the woman who answered was audible to all.
"Claire? This is Helen Kallias. I think I know how to find Biff, but before I tell you, would you please answer one question? Is my hsuband Biff's father?"
There was a moment of stunned silence before Selena heard Claire say, "Good God, no."
Nick, who had also heard Claire's reply, clutched suddenly at his chest before falling face first onto his desk.