I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats for the next excerpt, right? Right? Well, sorry it’s so late, I got caught up doing weekendy stuff that involved a Christmas lighting crisis. We’re going to move on to Book Two of the Library of Athena series, The Ankh of Isis. Megan is learning to like life at The Parthenon, and having survived her first adventure, is hoping for a nice, relaxing Easter holiday…
Megan sat on a stool in front of the kitchen’s center island and rubbed her sore foot. “I’m not up on purpose. Miranda woke me up while she was making the fire in my room.” She picked an apple from the bowl on the counter and took a bite. “I suppose it’s all right, being awake now. I have some things to do today.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Maggie scolded. “What kind of things could you have to do today, child?” She bent over and pulled a tray of fresh rolls from the oven, then tossed her oven mitts on the counter. “Surely your professors didn’t give you homework over the break, did they?”
Megan swallowed and rolled her eyes. St. Agatha’s College for Girls was much tougher academically than her school in New York City—where Megan had lived until seven months ago—could even dream of being. “Of course they did. Rachel is coming over today, and we’re going to work on our history papers and maybe into town to do some shopping this afternoon.”
Rachel Cuthbert was Megan’s best friend. They were both in third year at St. Agatha’s. They were in the same academic House, Whitmore, and on the House hockey team. One girl rarely went anywhere without the other. Megan had wanted to go riding today, but Rachel, for some reason, insisted she wanted to get some work done today.
“Ah.” Maggie nodded with a look of mock seriousness. “Important things, I see. Well, breakfast is almost ready. I think there’s enough time for you to get yourself back upstairs to wash and dress before your da comes down.”
Megan pushed out her lower lip. “But it’s vacation. If I have to do homework, why can’t I bum around in my PJs for awhile?”
Maggie cocked an eyebrow and put on that face that always made Megan feel guilty. Megan’s mother, Gwen, died in a car crash four years ago, leaving Megan and her father alone. Since they moved here to The Parthenon, the giant English manor, the cook had become almost like a surrogate mother to Megan.
She was about to give in to Maggie’s berating when she heard her father in the dining room. There was a thump and a loud curse. Megan gave an evil grin. Not only was she happy she wasn’t the only one who had a sore foot, she was spared Maggie’s lecture.
“Too late, sorry.” Megan dashed out the door. She heard Maggie’s tongue cluck in disapproval just before the kitchen door swung shut.
Megan finished her apple as she walked through a different door than the one she entered by and into the solarium. It was smaller than most of the other rooms, the floor tiled in terracotta, the outer wall, which faced east, paned in squares of thick glass. It was a cheery room, where she and her father took most of their morning meals. He already sat at the small, round table, perusing the newspaper.
“Morning, Daddy.” Megan gave him a peck on the cheek. She enjoyed her time with her dad. He worked so hard, sometimes long hours, and she was busy with school. Breakfast and dinner were practically the only times they saw each other.
His eyes never left the paper. “Good morning, Megums,” he mumbled. “Ready for school?”
Maggie came in with a tray of rolls, the pitcher of orange juice, a cup of coffee and a small pot of steaming tea. She glanced at Megan as she set the tray on the small table, shook her head and left without a word.
“Dad, I’m off all week,” Megan said in a gentle tone meant to remind. She reached for the basket of rolls. “It’s Easter holiday. You know, like Spring Break. How could you forget?”
He folded down the top of the paper and looked across the table. “Is it?” He shook his head and took a sip of coffee. “I’m sorry, Meg. I’ve been so busy with work these last few weeks that everything else has just gotten pushed to the back of my brain.”
Megan poured herself a glass of orange juice. “Problem with a client?” Her father was an investment banker, and always a little scattered when dealing with a troublesome client. “Who is it—Mrs. Sanderson again?” Mrs. Sanderson was seventy-two years old, very wealthy and hard of hearing. She also thought everyone was constantly trying to rip her off. Whenever she called, Megan’s father had to put everything else on hold until the old bat was satisfied.
Her father folded the paper in quarters and set it on the table next to his plate. “Nope, not Mrs. Sanderson, thank goodness. This one is still only a potential client. He’s a very wealthy man. Old money, but he’s successful on his own too. I’ve been trying to get him to sign with us for weeks.”
He picked up his knife and slathered his own roll with Maggie’s special honey butter. “I’m thinking about bringing him here for a day or two. You know, wine and dine him a bit, show him how serious we are about having his business.”
Megan raised her eyebrows. What was her father thinking? “Bring him here? Why in the world would you want to bring him here—we live in the middle of nowhere.”
“Why? The English countryside, of course. Fresh air, country living.” He laughed. “Actually, Meg, he’s an archaeologist. Curator of some museum in Berlin. I think he’s a fan of Sir Gregory’s.”
Her father slurped up the last of his coffee. “He’s hinted around that he wants to come here, and if it will seal the deal, I’ll be happy to have him.”
Huh? It seemed like an odd request, to ask to spend time at a complete strangers’ house. Even if it was the home of someone you admired. It struck her as, well, rude. “Whatever. It’s not like we don’t have the room. It could be fun, I guess, to have a guest.” She finished the last bite of her breakfast and decided to drop it. If her father didn’t think it weird, who was she to judge?
“Glad you think so, because he’s coming tonight.”
Megan’s jaw dropped. “Uh, Dad? A little warning?”
“What? I gave you a whole day. He called late last night, and said he would be in London today on other business, so I offered. You just said you’re off from school, so it all works out well.”
Megan sighed, her most dramatic teenage sigh. “Fine, I guess. Rachel’s coming over, so I’ll see you later. Have a nice day, Dad.” She kissed her father goodbye and went on her way.