She looked over at Edward Quartermaine seated further down the bench. He stared straight ahead, his face a stone mask but his eyes glistening with unshed tears. For the first time that she could remember, Keesha truly saw Edward as Justus’ grandfather. Gone was the crafty, manipulative business tycoon. In his place sat a grieving old man.
Mount Hebron Church grew silent as the final strains of the choir’s song faded away. The tribute to Justus was now concluded, yet no one moved.
Keesha shook herself from the haze which engulfed her. She stood, turned to those seated behind her and said, “Thank you all for coming. My family appreciates the outpouring of love and support the community has shown.”
‘Did her voice sound as strange to the people staring up her as it did to her own ears’, she wondered.
“Please,” she nonetheless continued, “feel free to join us at Ward House for refreshments and remembrances.” Keesha smiled weakly. “Those of you who would like to share happy memories of Justus are especially welcome.”
At her words the crowd began to disperse. Many assembled chose to extend to Keesha personal expressions of sympathy. From the corner of her eye, she saw that Edward Quartermaine found himself in a similar situation. For several long minutes they both accepted sentiments and murmured words of comfort in response.
An unexpected burst of concern for the old man made Keesha ease her way to his side. During the program Edward had had Emily beside him for support and comfort. Now, in the crush of friends and associates seeking his attention, Emily had been pushed aside.
Keesha reached for Edward’s hand, ignoring the quick, startled expression that crossed his face. “Thank you all,” she announced to the assemblage of suited gentlemen milling around the older man, “but we really should make our way to Ward House.” She began to lead Edward toward the exit. “Please, feel free to join us there.”
Gratefully Edward allowed her to lead him from the church. “That was very kind of you, my dear,” he thanked her when they reached the outside.
“Justus loved you,” Keesha explained before releasing his hand. “Today is about him.”