“Perhaps you do,” Stephen said, then took a long drink of his wine. “But understand this, I don’t love my brother, and I haven’t for a long time. I even suspect that he might have had something to do with my parents’ death, so there is no love lost. But still, he is my brother. If you will allow me to, I’d like to be your friend and help you in any way that I can.”
“Thank you, Stephen,” Robert said as he shook hands with him.
Robert recoiled at the touch of Stephen’s cold clammy handshake and had to quickly compose himself to hide his revulsion. He told himself that it was Simon, not Stephen that should appall him so, but the physical touch of the man rang some alarm deep in the back of his mind that he could not quell. Smiling blandly, he brushed the feeling aside and tried to pay attention to what his father was saying.
“Stephen, before you tell us if you’ve found out anything about where Simon may possibly be, I’d like to interrupt for a moment if I may,” Charles said, rising from his seat to stand before the great fireplace as Stephen nodded his head towards him. “Though I know that finding Simon is of the utmost importance, there is something that I must ask you first before we go on, something that has bothered me in this room.”
“And what would that be, sir?” Stephen asked, greatly puzzled as to what in his drawing room would arouse such curiosity to take momentary precedence over the whereabouts of his brother.
“This portrait here,” Charles spoke, waving his arm high to indicate the painting of a beautiful woman, which hung on the wall over the mantle. “I wonder. Who is she?”
“Why, that woman, sir, is my mother!” Stephen laughed softly, relaxing his guard towards the Scotsman. “See the hair, the set of the mouth and the nose? Though I know that she is a lovely woman, I must admit that I am surprised that you would ask about her at a time such as this. Perhaps you knew her? Are you feeling all right, Lord Dagon?”
Charles had turned ashen as Stephen spoke and could do naught but stare from the portrait to Stephen and back again. Everyone grew concerned by his appearance and silence. Robert broke the spell of whatever thoughts Charles was having as he took his father’s arm and helped him to sit on the couch beside a now strangely curious Jesep. Robert had never seen his father in such a state, but his concern for Leigha left no room to ponder about this change in the usually stoic man. Charles took hold of his feelings after a long moment and with a faltering smile, looked up at Stephen, who still stood beneath the painting looking at him with concern and suspicion.
“I’m sorry that I have caused you such concern,” Charles said at last, his voice a bit shaky but steadying quickly. “It’s just that I thought I knew the woman. Once, a long time ago . . .” He paused and took another long look at the beautiful face captured so well in oils before turning his now controlled gaze on Stephen and continued, “Ah, but I must be mistaken. I sincerely apologize. She was a beautiful woman indeed. ‘Tis sorry I am none the less to hear that she was so tragically murdered by Simon as you claim.”
“Many years have passed since that happened,” Stephen said, eyeing the older man quizzically before speaking again. “It was of course quite a loss for me, but now, we should speak of the loss you face of your daughter-in-law for this lies in the present, one cannot change the past.”
“Aye, you cannot,” Charles agreed, leveling his sight upon the face of the woman once again.
Lee, Virginia (2011-01-20). Dagon’s Blood (p. 318 – 320). Xlibris. Kindle Edition.