After an hour in the company of Senator Writemore, Ben had discovered the old man was vibrant, both in looks and speech. His opinions were hard as granite, his patience slim, and his heart undeniably lay in his granddaughter’s hands.
What relieved Ben was that after that hour he wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as he’d been prepared to be.
Initially the house had made him uneasy. From the outside it had merely been quietly elegant, distinguished. Inside it had been like a trip around the world in a first-class cabin. Turkish rugs faded just enough to show their age and durability, were spread over black and-white checkerboard tile on the hall floor. An ebony cabinet, high as a man’s shoulders and magnificently painted with peacocks, stood under a long curve of stairs.
In the parlor, where a silent Oriental had served before-dinner drinks, two Louis XV chairs flanked a long rococo table. A cabinet fronted with etched glass held a treasure trove. Venetian glass almost thin enough to read through was stained with color. A glass bird caught and reflected the light from the fire. Guarding the white marble hearth was a porcelain elephant the size of a terrier.
It was a room that reflected the senator’s background and, Ben realized, Tess’s.
Comfortable wealth, a knowledge of art and style. She’d sat on the dark green brocade of the sofa in a pale lavender dress that had made her skin glow. The pearl choker lay against her throat, its glinting center stone pulsing with light and the heat from her body.
To Ben she’d never looked more beautiful.
There was a fire in the dining room as well. This one had been banked to simmer and pop through the meal. Light came from the prisms of the tiered chandelier above the table. Wedgwood plates, delicately tinted, Georgian silver, heavy and gleaming, Baccarat crystal waiting to be filled with cool white wine and sparkling water, Irish linen soft enough to sleep on. Bowls and platters were heaped. Oysters Rockefeller, roast turkey, buttered asparagus, fresh crescent rolls, and more; their scents mixed into a delightful potpourri with candles and flowers.
Your guide to the year’s most important meal,
with our best recipes, techniques and tricks. Consider these building blocks,
then make the feast your own
As the senator carved the turkey, Ben had thought back on the Thanksgivings he’d experienced as a child.
Because they had always eaten at midday rather than evening, he’d woken to the enticing smells of roasting fowl, sage, cinnamon, and the sausage his mother had browned and crumbled into the stuffing. The television had stayed on through the Macy’s parade and football. It was one of the few days of the year when he or his brother hadn't been drafted to set the table. That was his mother’s pleasure.
She’d take out her best dishes, the ones used only when his Aunt Jo visited from Chicago or his father’s boss came to dinner. The flatware hadn't been sterling, but a more ornate stainless. She’d always taken pride in arranging the napkins into triangles. Then his father’s sister would arrive with her husband and brood of three in tow. The house would be full of noise, arguments, and the scent of his mother’s honey bread.
Grace would be said while Ben ignored his cousin Marcie, who became more disagreeable every year, and who, for reasons of her own, his mother would insist on seating next to him.
Bless us O Lord with these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord Amen.
The last of the prayer always ran together as greed became overwhelming. The minute the Sign of the Cross was completed, hands began to reach out for whatever was closest.