“What?!” the young woman exclaimed in disbelief. “I can’t go?”
“Your mother and I don’t think it would be safe.”
Emily Quartermaine stood, hands on her hips, and glared daggers at her parents Alan and Monica. “He was my cousin!” she argued. “I know you’ve always pretended otherwise, Dad, but he was!”
“There is no need to take that tone with your father, young lady!” Monica reprimanded her.
“Mom,” Emily tried to appeal to her, “I know that you and Daddy were never close to Justus. But I was! He listened to me when I couldn’t talk to either of you.”
“Em, don’t you see? Justus was killed because of his lifestyle.” Alan grabbed her hand. “His killer could be in the very same room with you today.” His voice softened. “I know that you want to pay your respects, but I am not going to lose you because of him.”
“I never thought I could be this ashamed of anyone,” Emily replied carefully, pulling her hand from his. The tears began to spill from her eyes. “But I am.” She began walking toward the den. “I don’t care what you say. I am going to say goodbye to Justus. And if you loved me and Grandfather, you would, too.”
Just outside the door, the muffled sounds of voices raised in anger could be heard. But within the elegantly appointed room, the silence was louder than any screams could have been. Edward Quartermaine sat staring blindly into his drink. Any moment now he would have to gather himself and leave for the funeral home. Justus’ memorial service was scheduled to begin soon, and it wouldn’t do for him to be late.
Attending the memorial would make this whole nightmare a reality. He would finally have to admit to himself that the boy was gone. That thought renewed the uncomfortable sensation Edward had been having in left arm the last few days. Stubbornly, he had not told Alan or Monica, perhaps subconsciously wishing for something to temporarily take him away from the grief he felt.
Instinctively the head of the Quartermaine family turned his eyes toward the piano and a framed portrait of Mary Mae Ward. ‘Nonsense, Edward’, she would chastise him firmly. ‘You aren’t ready to go anywhere and we both know that.’ Almost guiltily he averted his eyes. He had promised to watch out for their grandson. And failed miserably. “Oh, Mary Mae!” Edward sighed.
“Grandfather?” The youngest member of the Quartermaine household approached Edward. He had been so silent these last few days - a condition that was alarming for anyone who knew him. “Are you ready? It’s almost time.” Emily was dressed in a simple black dress.
Sensing her concern for him, Edward rose and chided her half-heartedly. “Why can’t all your dresses be that long?”
“Oh, Grandfather!” Emily complained loudly. But she belied her complaint by moving to quickly engulf him in a hug.
Edward Quartermaine returned her embrace. “Thank you, my dear,” he whispered sincerely. Then straightening his shoulders, he clasped Emily’s hand tightly. “Enough of that. It’s time to go.”