I’m back with another scene from Midas’ Daughter. Today we’re back to Calla, who is about to find out just what her father is up to.
“It’s about time.”
Her father didn’t even look at her as she walked into his study. Didn’t take the time to see what she’d done with her hair or that she’d put a dress on. He only knew she’d kept him, and whoever his guest was, waiting.
“Sorry, Father,” she said. “I didn’t know to expect company.”
Her father didn’t respond or even look at her. “You’re almost twenty-one,” he said. “It’s time you took on the duties of this household instead of wasting your time playing with that horse.”
Her throat burned, but she held back the tears. She wouldn’t cry, not in front of her father and certainly not in front of the man sitting across the parlor. What duties didn’t she already do? But, that wouldn’t be the right question to ask. He’d likely list them. Not that it was ever something he’d brought up before. She felt the other man’s eyes on her. She wouldn’t embarrass herself or her father in front of him.
“I understand, Father.” Even though she didn’t. Not at all.
“Good. Your birthday is in two weeks. We’ll be having a party here. The housekeeper and butler have the plans and guest list. Make sure they don’t screw anything up.”
What was she supposed to say? He expected her to oversee her own party. A party she hadn’t even asked for. Likely to prove a point. Or humiliate her when it all went wrong. Did he think she’d done that to him the other night? She’d been trying to help. Why was that so wrong?
Calla kept her hands at her sides but felt them trembling. She wanted to be back out in the stable with Ariadne. And Flip. No, she shouldn’t think about him, she knew he didn’t think about her. Instead, she had to be in feeling like she was a child having her hand slapped. She couldn’t believe he was doing this. What had she ever done to deserve him to treat her this way?
He didn’t wait for her answer anyway. “This is James Adair. He’ll be a special guest at your party. I expect you to show him around until then and treat him with the utmost respect.”
This was all hard to swallow, but she nodded. “Yes, Father.” This wouldn’t give her any time to spend at the stables with Ariadne. Which may be his point. He made it even clearer when he stopped her at the door to the study.
“After the party, you’ll be engaged or he’ll be buying your horse.”
No! She’d almost thought she’d shouted the word, but neither man reacted. They had her whole future planned out for her, and it wasn’t one she wanted. She either got married and got to keep Ariadne, or she’d lose everything. And without a penny to her name until he released her trust fund, there wasn’t anything she could really do. Anywhere she could go to get away from this.
“I understand, Father.” She only wished she didn’t.
Last week, we got to see more of Calla’s interaction with her father. Today we get just a hint of what might be to come after that.
Calla headed into the dining room after washing the alcohol from her hands. She’d nicked herself at least once with the broken glass, but thankfully it hadn’t bled too much. Although maybe seeing her hands bandaged would get her father to realize what he was doing.
And that he wasn’t only hurting himself.
But, when she stepped into the dining room, it was empty. Where was her father? She thought he would have come right here from his office. Apparently that wasn’t the case, though. And it didn’t sound like he was berating any of the kitchen staff. She’d definitely be able to hear if he was.
She sighed and crossed the room, pushing into the kitchen. Nita turned from the stove. “Calla, dear, what are you doing? Your father-”
“Is probably shut in his room. I just finished cleaning his office.”
“Calla, that isn’t for you to do.” It was the same thing her father had said, but this time there was softness in the words.
“I know. But, none of you should have to deal with the aftereffects of his rages, either.”
“We are paid for it. You aren’t. Instead you feel you need to pay for what he does.”
She shook her head. That wasn’t it. But, she had never been able to put into words just what it was. Before she could try once more, there was a knock on the jamb of the kitchen door. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Murray, the butler, smiling past her to Nita. If her father knew they’d had something going on as long as she could remember, he’d lose it. He didn’t like anyone having loyalties to anyone but him.
One, if not both of them, would be fired. And her life would probably be even more miserable.
“What is it, Murray?” she asked the butler, smiling sweetly. “Does my father need me?”
The smile dimmed slightly, and she imagined it was the mention of her father. She thought that if it wasn’t for Nita, Murray would have given up his position long ago. Frankly, she wasn’t quite sure why any of the employees stayed on and tolerated her father’s behavior. She didn’t have much choice if she didn’t want to live on the streets. Maybe they feared the same thing.
And she thought her father liked it that way.
“No, Miss Calla,” Murray said, nodding at her. “He just informed me he’ll be taking his meal in his room tonight. I shall take it up once it’s ready.”
“Told you,” Calla said, turning back to Nita. “Sulking.” There were shadows in her eyes, though, and she wondered what the older woman knew.
“I’ll let you know when it’s ready,” she told Murray softly.
He nodded and stepped back out of the kitchen. Even though Calla was pretty sure he wanted to come forward and at least kiss the woman. He wouldn’t do that while they were on duty, though. Wouldn’t take the risk. He probably knew how much Father depended on him, but he’d say he could always get a new cook. Murray wouldn’t put Nita at risk like that.
“He is just sulking, right?” Calla asked.
Nita’s mouth thinned, and she turned back to the stove. “Scheming more like it,” she muttered.
A chill went over her. Though it wasn’t like he didn’t scheme every day. Why should this one be any different?
What could her father be scheming about? How will it affect Calla? Hold on and you might just find out.