SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
Preston?" Helga spoke up as he made his descent down the staircase.
"How are negotiations coming with Mr.
"He's being quite the
stubborn fool!" Thornton walked across the foyer and slid open the
large wooden doors that lead to the library. He looked around and nodded
his head. He was very pleased that everything had arrived just as he'd
instructed. "As soon as he realizes that it would be extremely
foolhardy to keep me bound by this ridiculous contract, the better off we'll all
"Mr. DeMille phoned
before you arrived," Helga announced as she stood tentively in the
doorway. "He said it was urgent and you were to phone him at
once. He mentioned The Manhattan Conflict..."
Thornton threw up his hand to
silence Helga. "Please, don't discuss these matters openly. I
don't need everyone on the planet knowing of my dealings with Cecil."
She casually raised an eyebrow
and turned her head to survey the room. They were the only ones
there. What could he possibly be worried about? "Um...Mr.
Preston, we are alone, you know? The movers have all left and you
gave your driver the rest of the day off."
"Oh, yes, I did, didn't
I?" He sat down into one of the large, stuffed chairs in the library
and lit his pipe. "Well, pour me a brandy, Helga. I've got to
think of someway to get out of this contract. Tainted Woman is sure
to be a smash hit at the box-office and Cecil insists on directing the film
version of Conflict. He claims to be able to get me quite a hefty
sum for the rights to it."
"But doesn't Callison
Publications hold all the rights to your next novel?"
dear." He took the snifter from her hands and held it up so that he
could inhale the aroma of the brandy. "If I let Callison Publications
do the negotiations, I certainly wouldn't receive the same amount of money that
I would if I dealt with Cecil directly." He pulled the manuscript for
The Manhattan Conflict out of his briefcase and eyed it closely.
"Trust me, what he's offering is more than Charles Callison could ever
offer through one of his stupid contracts."
Helga slowly maneuvered around
the room straightening and arranging photographs and mementos. She picked
up a picture of an elegant, brunette woman and examined it closely.
"When will your wife be joining you here in Albanyville?"
"Please refrain from
mentioning Mrs. Preston," Thornton ordered as his jaw clinched
tightly. "And put that picture away! The less I have to be
reminded of that woman, the better."
She nodded curtly and quickly
turned the picture face down as she laid it in a drawer and quickly pushed it
shut. She knew Thornton's feelings about his wife and realized that she
need not make the mistake of speaking of her again.