"What are we going to do, David? Andrea said.
Slurring her words again, Anne thought, watching Andrea refill her glass from the bottle that stood between her and Brad. Brad was drinking steadily too.
"The lack of food, the heat, the power, the damned ice," said Brad.
"There's lots of food and wood. We ran out of fuel for the generator, but we have candles and lamps."
"I want to get out of here," Andrea said.
"Depends on the storm."
"What about the snowmobiles?" said Brad.
"Not too good on ice and we don't know what the trails are like now. Lots of downed trees," said Mike.
Andrea's voice rose to a grating wail, and tears overflowed her blood-shot eyes.
"No, we're not trapped, Andrea. We have to wait until the storm is over and we can make sure there's no danger from power lines and trees. Have patience," said Thomas.
Andrea subsided, drank from her glass, and poured more wine. The neck of the bottle chattered on the crystal, and red wine spilled over, staining the white table cloth.
An image rose in Anne's mind of blood oozing from the body of the boy she'd found years before in Bermuda, and she shivered.
"Anne?" said Thomas.
Beth hurried to the kitchen, came back with a few paper towels, and mopped up the mess, whispering to her mother the whole time. The lid of the stove crashed after she went into the kitchen. The sherry-like odour of the burning, wine-soaked paper drifted into the room when she returned.
Andrea and Brad murmured to each other, Vanessa fumed at one end of the table, and Trevor whispered to Carmel. Kevin patted Beth's hand and kissed her lightly on the cheek when she sat down again. A reward for the work or soothing her rage, Anne wondered.
When the meal was over, David raised his glass.
"Well done, Anne," said David. "Thank you so much. A toast to the cook."
"I'm sure anyone can stick chicken and potatoes in the oven," said Vanessa in a loud aside to Trevor.
"In a wood stove?" said David.
"Oh, yes. I forgot Anne was your pet because she found out who killed your beloved father. Some people here wish she hadn’t; don’t they, Andrea?"
"Vanessa, be quiet."
"No. She ruined everyone's life with her prying and poking."
"Karen murdered a man," said Thomas.
"What a man. Look at the poor bastard children and you, David, and how many more? He was revolting."
Vanessa shoved her chair backwards, crashing it to the wall behind and raced up the stairs.
"I'll make sure she's okay," said David. "The wine hit her."
"Maybe it would be better if someone else—"
"I don't think so."
A few minutes later, he plodded down the stairs.
"She says she's going to bed."
Soon the dining room emptied. Brad took Andrea upstairs, Kevin and Beth followed, as did Trevor and Carmel.
Anne cleared her plate and cutlery and Thomas's from the table. He followed her out with two more.
"How long?" Anne said.
"Two days. Sooner, if the cell service comes back."
"My phone is dying."
"Mine too. David didn't mention a satellite phone?"
"Not to me."
Mike and David carried more dishes into the kitchen and returned.
"David, you don't have a sat phone here, I suppose?" said Anne.
"We did. I kept it on the hall table, but it disappeared yesterday."
"Someone took it. How odd? Perhaps Olivia?" said Thomas.
"She's a bit of a rascal, but she hasn't bothered the phones before. I'll ask her in the morning."
A few minutes later, Anne walked into the kitchen to find Beth at the sink, elbow-deep in suds.
"Did you get hot water from the stove?" Anne asked.
"Yes. Someone said that you did all the work last time, and I remembered it was true. I'm so sorry I didn't help you more then but I will this time."
"Thanks. Mike helped a lot, but he's on wood detail this time."
Finished, Beth sat at the table, her hands clenched white.
"Don't you feel it? Someone is so angry."
"Yes, but she left the room and the feeling of—I don't know, hidden rage maybe—was still there."
"Are you sensitive to atmosphere? I must admit, other than watching the drinking and Vanessa's anger, I didn't notice much."
"Something underneath. I'd like to go up."
She swung the door to the living room and came back.
"Kevin's gone to our room. Would you come to the top of the stairs with me?"
"Of course, but why do you think you are in more danger than I?"
"It's my family. My mother is so irrational."
"Come on. I'll go upstairs with you to your room. Kevin is there by now and you'll be safe. I'm sure we all are."
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