“I thought we were to eat at the big house,” Sondra said. Maris came out of her bedroom and saw the big tray.
“Hey, that looks good, doesn’t it?” she said. Sondra was grateful that Maris made no sign that anything untoward had happened.
“Mother thought you might be unusually tired this morning,” he said. “After all, you’ve come a long way since yesterday.” Sondra hoped it was just a coincidence that his words could have meant more than the long drive to get here. It was almost as if he referred to her fantasy dream and Maris reality.
Maris sat at the table and began to drink her coffee with a plate of bacon and over-easy eggs. Darkwater left and Sondra sat across from Maris. Sondra was suddenly aware that she had a voracious appetite, and eagerly dug into the good food. When her plate was nearly empty, she sat back and looked across at Maris. She was eating slowly, dipping corners of toast into the egg yolks.
“Last night was…” she started.
“Nothing to talk about,” Maris said.
“I never before did anything like that,” Sondra said.
“I know. I hope you weren’t offended,” Maris said. “It’s just that I know you haven’t had a lover for a while. I could smell the passion on you from your dream, and it turned me on. I’ve always found you very attractive, and I know you’re straight, so I resigned myself to just be pleased to work with you.”
“I had no idea,” Sondra said.
“That’s how it has to be,” Maris mused. “Anyway, when you were tossing in your sleep and I heard you through the wall, I came in to see if you were okay. Then… well… it just seemed like a good idea at the time.” They both laughed.
“It was a good idea, really,” Sondra said. “After all, there’s no harm done, we both had a good time and now we feel better, so why not? I wouldn’t want to do it often, but the truth is, it’s pretty nice.”
“We better get ready to start our day, Sondra.” Maris left the table and began to fuss with her equipment cases. She seemed to be sulking but Sondra wasn’t sure Maris wasn’t just being diligent. Sondra showered and got dressed for the interview. She spent more time than usual on doing her face, because there was no makeup person as there is at the studio. Maris would have to shoot footage of Sondra asking questions, and perhaps leading a tour around the big house. She was sure a big part of the audience would want to see how the legendary Truman Garrison lives. Sondra wanted to see it herself, and hoped to convince him to give them a tour.
Sondra wondered if Darkwater was at the big house, or if he had disappeared into the forest again when he left the cottage. She helped Maris carry some of her equipment cases across the frozen pond to the big house. The door opened as they approached, and she looked up to see if it was Darkwater at the door. It was Rainbird.
“Good morning,” Sondra said as she mounted the steps.
“Good morning,” Rainbird said. Her tone was warm, but not cheerful.
Rainbird showed them into a sumptuous library. There was a gallery all the way around the perimeter of the room with an ornate railing in polished mahogany. Above that there was a high, arched ceiling with huge oak beams along its length. From each beam hung a large, brass light fixture. The floor was pale marble, and the walls were covered with artworks as varied as Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, and Keith Haring.
On the upper level, from the gallery floor to the ceiling, the walls were lined with books. There were a few comfortable-looking chairs and reading tables on the gallery, while the main floor was furnished in classic, comfortable, overstuffed furniture. There was one grouping of four easy chairs bracketing a marble-topped coffee table with ornate brass legs. Another grouping was made up of a long sofa that faced two easy chairs with no coffee table to separate them. All were upholstered in rich, burgundy brocade. Small tables with lamps on them sat one at each end of the sofa and a small table separated the two easy chairs from each other. Maris began at once to set up her equipment while Sondra explored the room.
“Do you like it?” Truman Garrison’s authoritative voice came from the open doorway and travelled easily to the far side of the grand room where Sondra was looking at a portrait of a young man. Both women snapped their heads toward the door. Garrison was leaning on the doorframe casually, with his legs crossed, and it seemed he had been observing them for a few minutes before he spoke.
“Mister Garrison,” Sondra said. She hurried across the vast room with her hand extended in greeting. She hid her excitement while she took in formed her first impressions of the great Truman Garrison. He had not been photographed in more than a decade, and Sondra was eager to see how the past decade had changed him. He was much more attractive at fifty than he was in his pictures from ten years earlier. Sondra had dug deeply into any history of the mysterious entrepreneur/philanthropist in preparation for this opportunity of a lifetime. She had immediately been attracted to the image that she gleaned from her research. He was of much greater substance than a mere over-achieving businessperson.
Sondra introduced Maris, who asked about the location of the interview so she could light for it. After a brief discussion it was decided that the grouping that didn’t have a coffee table dividing the space would lend a more comfortable atmosphere. Maris set cameras that would run constantly on Sondra seated on the sofa and Garrison in an easy chair across from her.
“No, I don’t want this arrangement,” Garrison said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Sondra said. “How would you like it to be?” Sondra said.
“I want you in this chair beside me, so we can be closer while we talk,” the handsome gentleman said. Sondra looked at him long and hard. His face had clearly defined planes and his dark grey hair was in tousled disarray over his furrowed forehead. He was clean-shaven, and in both pierced ears he had small, plain, gold studs.