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"Ah, there you are, Peter. Yes, sit down, sit down."
Peter Carruthers gave his employer a cautious smile and took the only chair available; an upright wooden one, placed squarely in front of the wide mahogany desk. "Thank you, sir. I was told that you wanted to see me as soon as possible, so you'll have to excuse my appearance. I've come straight from the links."
A hand cramped by age waved away his apology. "Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter at all." Faded blue eyes narrowed. "Although I hope that if you were playing golf with Scott Perlham you took care not to offend him."
"He won on the final hole," Peter said dryly. "And, yes, he cheated as usual; conjured up a wind spirit when he thought I wasn't looking and had it help his ball into the hole."
Mr. Callum groaned and closed his eyes for a moment. "Man's a bounder," he muttered. His eyes opened. "Played for money, did you?"
Peter nodded. A guinea a hole...
"Put in a claim for it. I'll see that it's authorized."
"Thank you, sir," Peter said politely.
"If his account wasn't so valuable--well, we'll say no more about that." Mr. Callum leaned over his desk, his eyebrows drawing together portentously. "Lady Amanda died an hour ago, Peter."
"My condolences," Peter said automatically. "She was your aunt, I believe? A sad loss."
"Tush; never mind that folderol! I'll miss her, of course I will, but she was over a hundred and quite, ah, quite..."
The blue eyes narrowed. "There has never, never been any vampire blood in my family, young man! She was ... eccentric. Yes."
Peter remained silent. If Mr. Callum wanted to use that word to describe the antics of a woman who,when compos mentis, had been capable of anything from riding an elephant around Grovesnor Square wearing nothing but the Viscount of Altringham to celebrating her seventieth birthday with an incantation that turned the sludgy water of the Thames into champagne for an hour--although an inferior vintage, and the water weeds and dead fish still present in it rendered it undrinkable--well, who was he to argue?