THE CALLISON HOME - DINING ROOM
put those flowers right over there," Francis Callison said, waving her arm,
as she breezed into the room.
"This is going to be a beautiful dinner party, Mrs.
Callison," Hannah Meadows said, setting the arrangement in the middle of
the dining room table. "We've got our best china and sterling, and
dinner is right on schedule."
"I just want this to be perfect." Francis
carefully surveyed the room as she bit her lip nervously. "This is
our first family dinner in the new house since the wedding. Nothing can go
"So, how are things coming along?" Charles
Callison asked as he walked into the room, the evening edition of the Daily Post
in his hand, and kissed his wife Francis lightly on the cheek. "No
disasters brewing in the kitchen, I take it?"
"The only thing brewing in the kitchen will be the
coffee after dinner," she laughed and then turned to look at him in
annoyance. "You're not going to wear that are you?"
"What's wrong with it?" Charles stepped
back and held out his arms for full inspection. "This is a perfectly
"You wore that to the office today," Francis
reminded. "It's all wrinkled and creased. And...and look!
Your tie isn't even straight!"
"Honey, it's just dinner with the kids," he
laughed. "I'm sure they've seen me in much worse shape."
don't care." She folded her arms across her chest and stuck out her
lower lip in a mock pout. "This is going to be our first...."
"I know. I know," he nodded, having heard
the words nearly a million times. "Our first family dinner in the new
the wedding," Hannah spoke up, finishing the statement, and then laughed.
"Oh, you two!" Francis shook her head in
bemused annoyance. "I mean it! This is very important to
"I know," he laughed and then again kissed her
on the cheek. "We're just teasing you."
"Well, now scoot!" She patted him on the
arm, gently nudging him out of the dining room and towards the stairs.
"Go upstairs and change."
"Yes, dear," he called back with a nod as he
headed through the foyer, passing their youngest child Maggie Callison in the
process. "Tread lightly with your mother, sweetheart. She's a
bundle of nerves about this dinner."
"Don't tell me she's going on about it being the
first dinner in the new house since the wedding again," Maggie
grumbled. The simple, silent nod from her father was all the answer she
As Charles disappeared up the stairs, Maggie strolled into
the dining room.
"Maggie!" Francis exclaimed in horror.
"You're not dressed!"
"Not in that, you're not!" Francis hurried
over to her and swiftly pushed her towards the door. "That jumper
you've had on all day will not do for dinner. Go put on that nice new
blouse and skirt we bought at Lerner's last week."
"Oh, all right," Maggie muttered with a sigh
just as the doorbell rang. "I'll get it!"
As she made her way to the front door, Maggie continued to
mutter and grumble under her breath. Her mother sure could get all worked up
over the silliest stuff. When she flung the door open, she was surprised
to find her older brother Trevor Callison on the other side.
"Trevor! You're early. Mom's gonna have a
fit. She's not ready yet and, to listen to her, neither is anyone else in
"Hey, kiddo, I know I'm early," Trevor responded
as he stepped into the house, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"I wanted to have a chance to talk to Dad before dinner. Is he
Mom sent him upstairs to change." She let out a giggle.
"Seems the fashion warden isn't too approving of anything we're
"Same suit as the office today?"
"Gee, I hope I pass inspection," he laughed as
he headed to the stairs and then took them two by two on the way up, leaving
Maggie to trudge up along behind him. "Dad? Dad, I want to talk
"Trevor!" Charles called out as he poked his
head out of the bedroom he shared with Trevor's mother. He'd just finished
putting on a clean, fresh shirt -- not a wrinkle in sight. "What's
all the commotion about? What is it?"
"Dad, I wanted to talk to you for a bit before
dinner," Trevor explained, stepping into the bedroom.
"Well, what is it? What's so important?"
"I...." Now that he was there, Trevor
wasn't exactly sure how to broach the topic of conversation considering he knew
that it was one that had proven tense in the past. "I wanted to ask
you how your private detective was coming along? Has he found out anything
"Trevor, I...." Charles paused and let out
a weary sigh. "Trevor, close the door. I need...to talk to
"Yes, Dad?" Trevor said, closing the bedroom
door as directed, and walked over to his father. "What is it?
Is Grace okay? Did you find out anything?"
"Trevor, I've told the detective to stop his
search," Charles finally said. "Hiring him to look for her isn't
a good idea."
"W-what? You can't be serious!"
"I'm very serious. Grace left town and doesn't
want you to find her. I don't know why, but I'm sure she has her
reasons. You have to respect that and move on." He turned to
face the mirror so that he could work on tying his tie -- an attempt to maintain
a casual tone to the conversation. "There are plenty of other girls
out there. You shouldn't let yourself get so focused on one girl who
clearly doesn't want any contact with you."
"But...but...." Trevor shook his head back
and forth, unable to believe what he was hearing. "Dad, I love
Grace! There isn't another girl for me and there's never going to
be. What...what if she's hurt? What if she's in trouble? What
if she needs me and she just doesn't know how to tell me that?"
if she's in some kind of trouble, let Douglas handle it. He's her
brother. She's his responsibility, not yours."
"Dad, if you're not going to help me with this, then
I'm going to do it myself!" Trevor spun around angrily, his hands
balled up into fists, and headed for the door. "I'll find Grace if
it's the last thing I do."
"Son, wait!" Charles called out.
"There's actually something else I wanted to discuss with you."
"What is it?" Trevor sighed in annoyance.
He felt betrayed by his own father and the last thing he wanted to do was to
continue with the conversation.
"I need you to help me with a little business
matter," Charles began carefully. He had a plan, but he new he had to
play is cards carefully. "Do you remember our dealings with Thornton
Preston, the author?"
"Yeah, I remember," Trevor muttered.
"We got Sara mixed up in all of that by having her spy on him."
"Well, that's part of what I want to discuss with
you." Charles paused. "Preston was a very prolific
author. Before he died, he'd completed several novels that we've got the
publishing rights to since he was under contract with us. I want to make
good on that contract and publish those works and I need you to act as sort of a
go-between between Callison Publications and Sara. She did inherit
Preston's estate including his unpublished manuscripts, after all, and you are
good friends with her."
"Dad, I'm a newspaper reporter. I'm not some
kind of publishing executive. Don't you have someone else at the company
who could take care of this?"
"Well, I'm sure I do," Charles nodded, "but
you and Sara are friends. I just...think that it would make things easier
since you two already have a good relationship." He paused.
"Son, do this for me. Do this for the company. I know I'm
asking a lot from you. You're always so busy with the newspaper and I know
this is just going to add more work for you...." And less time to go
on a foolhardy chase after Grace Davis.
if it's that important...."
"It is, Son. Very important. You see,
while we do have the publishing rights, we don't exactly own any of the
manuscripts. If they do get published, it will be through us, but if Sara
doesn't want to have them published, then there's nothing we can do. And
that's not even considering the work that would be involved to review and edit
them to get them ready for publication if Sara decides to go through with
"I see." Trevor let out a long sigh.
"Okay, I'll do it. I'll work with Sara on this."
"Good," Charles smiled broadly and then gave his
son's hand a firm shake. "You know I'm always glad to have you
involved in the company. You much too talented to be just a
As Trevor thought about the new workload ahead of him, he
realized that he couldn't put his thoughts of Grace out of his head. He
was still determined to find her -- with or without his father's help.