Later that evening, 8:40 PM
Dinner and the accompanying non-alcoholic drinks had been delicious, and Sloane had gotten substantial rest in the three short naps Corinne had supervised over the course of the visit of the Fearless Fivesome, also known as the Five Princesses of Obergrande.
Grace and Corinne had taken care of the dishes while Elisa, Briony, and Ed had entertained Sloane and her new boyfriend.
“You better be taking good care of my girl Red,” Ed Hillenbrandt had commented darkly to the professor. “She’s one in a billion.”
“I’m doing my best,” Marlowe had replied, running a hand through his short, spiky hair. “She’s not the easiest person to keep in bed.”
“You must be doing something wrong, then,” said Briony jokingly. “The world knows otherwise.”
By the time a variety of delicious desserts was served, the group was laughing like the old friends that most of them were.
As Grace handed Sloane a plate piled high with homemade goodies, the event planner’s eyes narrowed into green slits.
“What’s this?” she said suspiciously, grabbing hold of Grace’s wrist and examining her third finger. The suspicious expression melted away a moment later.
“You’re engaged?” she said, her voice clogging up with emotion.
Grace bent and kissed her red-gold head. “Yes. As of yesterday. One of the main reasons I was eager to see you today, so I could tell you and show off my ring.”
“It’s really beautiful, Grace,” Sloane said, turning her friend’s hand in a variety of angles to see it from all sides.
“It was his grandmother’s. His grandfather made it for her from titanium he mined in Tahawus.”
Sloane reached up and pulled Grace into a warm hug. “So happy for you,” she said.
Briony chuckled, and Sloane turned in her direction.
“What?” she demanded.
“You’re right about the change in you, Sloane,” she said. “The Old Sloane would have asked how the grandson of and heir to Claude and Donna Devereaux’s massive fortune could possibly have dared to propose to Grace with a ring of mostly sentimental value containing a diamond that’s a mere third of a carat.”
Sloane’s mouth snapped shut. “Omigod,” she whispered. “You’re right.”
“Good for you, honey,” said Marlowe, patting her knee as he rose to clear her empty chili bowl. “Keep at it. You’ll be Mother Teresa in no time.”
“I need that chili recipe, Marlowe,” Elisa said as her cell phone, set to silent/buzz, went off. She pulled it out, saw her father’s number, and his name—SANTIAGO, ALBERTO—and stood up.
“I have to take this,” she said apologetically to the group. “Excuse me, please.”
“Take it in my bedroom,” Sloane suggested, slipping her hand into Marlowe’s for the first time since her friends had arrived. “It’s loud out here.”
Elisa nodded and hurried into the suite. She touched the button.
“Papi? Is everything all right?”
A bristling silence came over the phone.
“Are you there, Papi?”
“Elisa.” The voice was so soft she could barely hear it. “Mija, you must come home at once.”
Panic roared through Elisa, meeting up with her famous calm, and defeating it soundly. “What is wrong? What happened? Is Mami all right?”
A long silence followed.
“Elisa, por favor, please, come home right away.”
“Is Mami hurt?” Elisa demanded. “Tell me what is wrong, Papi.”
“She has not been injured. Please come right home.”
“I—I traveled with three of the other girls, in a chauffeured car. I do not know if they are ready to leave or not. I may have to rent a car, or get a cab—no, it will never make it over the border—”
“Mija, come home, however you can get here. If you are driven, have them let you out in Newcomb at the closed ice cream stand near the Peaksview Motel. We are in Unit 22, in the back—it is very dark here, so be careful as you walk.”
Elisa’s heart was beating so hard she could barely breathe.
“What is going on?” she demanded again. “Papi—”
“I will tell you everything once you are here, Mija. Just come home. Please.”
The desperation in his voice chilled her blood.
The line went dead.
Shadows of dreams from long ago, in a time before she could speak, appeared from the darkness and hovered at the edge of Elisa’s mind.
Whenever they appeared, as they very rarely did, she would usually try to calm herself and focus on them in the hope of discerning what they were.
She had never been able to do so.
Now she blinked hard and shook her head to chase them away.
She was shaking too much to risk it now.
Elisa hurried out of Sloane’s room, her dusky face pale as milk.
“Elisa?” Grace asked as she came back into the central seating area, “are you all right?”
“No,” Elisa said, quietly and as calmly as she could as all the eyes in the room focused on her. “I have to get back to Obergrande right away. Sloane, can you tell me where to find a rental car?”
The other girls looked at each other as Ed rose and went to the chair on which his coat and hat were lying.
“Time to go,” announced Corinne, rising as well. “We’ve kept you up long past when you should have been in bed, Sloane. We’ll be back soon.”
“Go, Elisa,” Sloane said. “Thank you all for coming.”
Quickly the four girls gathered their things and kissed their injured friend goodbye. Grace took Elisa’s hand, which was shaking violently, and followed the other girls as they hurried past Ed, who was holding the penthouse door for them.
“I called the elevator,” Corinne, who had dashed out the door first, said solemnly. “It shouldn’t take long to get here at this time of night on a Sunday.”
“Thank you,” Elisa whispered. “Thank you all for understanding.”
Grace squeezed her hand as the elevator’s bell rang.
The red lights that formed the floor number turned from 15 to PH.
The doors opened silently.
Mere moments later, which to Elisa seemed an eternity, the elevator doors opened again on the lobby.
Ed, who had subtly made his way to the front of the elevator car, dashed quickly across to the exterior doors of the building as the women disembarked.
“Let’s wait near the desk,” Briony suggested as she and Grace linked arms with Elisa. “Corinne, can you stand watch?”
The veterinarian nodded as she walked quickly to the entry space beyond the front door.
“What happened?” Grace asked.
“I have no idea,” Elisa said, her voice raspy. “It was my father. He just told me that my mother was not hurt, but I needed to come home immediately. I am sorry to have cut the evening short.”
“You didn’t,” said Briony comfortingly. “Sloane needs her rest—we should have left an hour ago, actually.”
She glanced away from Elisa to see Corinne signaling.
“Let’s go,” she said. “Ed’s here. We’ll be home in a little over two hours.”
Elisa nodded numbly as her friends led her away from the desk and out the building’s doors into the darkness.
Title: Thursday’s Child: Far to Go
Author: Polly Becks
Genre: Romantic Suspense
International attorney and human rights advocate Elisa Santiago believes she has life under control—an impressive career, a solid group of friends in Obergrande, and a handsome law partner for hot “car action” when she needs release. Little does she know that her entire world is about to burn down when she discovers that nothing she believes she knows about herself and her past is true. Can the gorgeous former CIA operative, acting as her guide and guard as she returns to Colombia, the land of her birth, looking for answers, set her world on fire in a good way?
THURSDAY’S CHILD: Far to Go is the fifth book in the eight-book series The Extraordinary Days by breakthrough novelist Polly Becks. The first book, No Ordinary Day, tells the tale of an epic tragedy that changes life forever in a small town in the wild, mystic Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, and the mystery surrounding that tragedy.
Purchases of this book provide a direct cash donation to Children International.
Best-selling author Polly Becks has been making her living writing for more than twenty years, as well as working as an editor, curriculum developer, and teaching secondary-school Spanish. She has more than 350 books to her credit, mostly educational materials, as well as professionally published fiction in both the adult and YA market in a variety of genres, plus more than 30 Children’s books. She is excited about exploring the digital literature frontier and is honored to be the launch series for GMLTJoseph, LLC.
Rose contest: http://www.pollybecks.com/the-rose/
Blog post about release: http://www.pollybecks.com/meet-elisa-our-next-heroine/
Order link: http://www.pollybecks.com/books/thursdays-child-far-to-go/
Order on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01435EE8G