In Search of Fate

Chapter 3: Dinner with the Edwards


Eying the vacant place setting beside him, he asked, “Are we expecting a fourth person?”

“Yes, my dear,” answered Elizabeth sweetly, “somebody as single-minded and non-mercenary as yourself.” Then she burst into a full hearted guffaw.

Questor looked befuddled, but not for the reason his hosts might suppose. He understood fully Elizabeth’s role in this subterfuge. What he did not understand yet was what game Ralph was playing. Is it possible that he was no longer in Ralph’s gun sights? Or was there still more to this evening than what appearances seem to be indicating, perhaps a ploy to delve more deeply into Questor’s state of mind.

When Questor first saw Evelyn Wyman enter the dining room, he was not surprised. He already suspected that she might be the unheralded fourth guest. To Ralph and Elizabeth, however, he seemed in some state of arrest. What fixed his attention and made him stare like a schoolboy was her appearance. She was dressed in a full length sequined evening dress that fell off her shoulders and gently draped her figure. Her hair was up and topped with a slightly bejeweled tiara. She wore elegant tear drop earrings and carried a small velvet black purse slung casually on a silver chain over her right shoulder. For the first time, Questor saw her with make-up, just accents around her eyes and lipstick. Taken as a whole, the effect on Questor was overwhelming. He felt quite uncomfortable and wondered if this feeling was what Edwards intended. He did not want to lose his composure. He half rose from the booth, though somewhat restricted by the table, and awkwardly addressed the woman before him.

“Ms. Wyman, how nice to see you again.”

Edwards immediately intervened, “To answer your earlier question, Adam, Evelyn is not married.”

Questor did not remember asking the question, but did not want to lose more of his cool by responding to Ralph’s attempt to unnerve him. Instead, he focused his attention on Evelyn Wyman. Her eyes sparkled with recognition as she responded, “What a pleasant surprise to see you again too, Adam. I wonder what other surprises my sister has in store for me this evening.” She gave a mischievously disapproving look at Elizabeth. Edwards stood up and stepped aside to invite his sister-in-law to a seat between him and Questor. As she glided before her place setting, Ralph moved in close to her side so that she shifted her position closer to Questor. Their knees touched. Questor felt a burning sensation rise from his legs and encompass his entire body. He felt it would be nearly impossible for him to participate in any conversation. Then she turned her head away from Edwards in order to address Questor. Before she spoke her eyes seem to penetrate into Questor’s. At once he recognized the woman whose hand he did not want to release the last time he saw her. He felt his entire being relax in her gaze. “How have you been, Adam?”

“I’m fine. I left the Monastery the same day you last saw me and returned to work on Thursday.” And then, coolly, he added, “Your professional help did have some beneficial results. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you. And you, too, Ralph. I presume you paid Ms. Wyman for her services?”

Ralph was staring at Questor. “We’re not in a ‘professional’ situation this evening, Adam. You may address Evelyn by her first name tonight, if you have not already been invited to do so.”

Questor’s stomach tightened, it was already obvious he had failed to keep Ms. Wyman—Evelyn—out of his tangled mess. Questor’s mind was racing forward. Ralph, he was sure, was probably already convinced that the seed of a relationship had been planted between Evelyn and himself. Two conflicting emotions were crowding into Questor’s consciousness. Had Evelyn talked to Elizabeth about him? His heart jumped at the prospect. But he also dreaded the possibility that Ralph might suspect they shared a confidence. She would now be watched as closely as himself unless he could somehow convince Ralph that he knew as little about John’s work as everybody else.  He realized it might already be too late to dissuade him of his suspicions. But it might not be too late to persuade him of Evelyn’s ignorance of the actual situation. In fact, she really did not know why she too was caught in Ralph’s web.

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