"What?" Iain roared. He smashed a fist onto his desk and leaned over the speakerphone, the better to concentrate on his caller's next words. "He did what?"
"Got married. Your father. This afternoon."
The bombshell was delivered in the composed, carefully modulated tones of a man who is used to soothing ruffled feathers.
Iain drew a long, rasping breath as he fought for control of his temper. "Yes. That's what I thought you said. Is his—bride anyone I know?"
"Indeed she is. He married Phaedra."
"Phaedra! Did you say Phaedra? Phaedra Pendenning?" Iain gave up the battle to keep his voice down, and his secretary stuck her head round the door to see if he was shouting for her. He waved her away.
"Angus? Are you still there?" He laid his palms flat on the desk and bent over the speakerphone as if he meant to smash it.
"Certainly I am." The voice was still maddeningly composed. "I thought you and Joan ought to know."
"Yes. Of course. Thank you." This was his father's old friend he was shouting at. And Angus was attempting to do him a favor. Iain lowered himself deliberately into his chair and curled his fingers around its black leather arms. "Joan is in the States. Anton's touring again and she went with him."
"Ah. I daresay that had something to do with your father's decision to remarry. You know he always gets upset when he reads about his son-in-law in the papers."
Iain closed his eyes. "Are you trying to tell me that impossible old man who calls himself my father has married Phaedra Pendenning just because my sister married a dancer?'
"No, no. Wait a minute, Iain. Wait a minute. I think there's more to it than that."
Iain raised an arm and pressed the tips of his fingers to his temples. "So I assumed." He drew another long breath and rapped out, "The one I'd really like to get my hands on is young Phaedra. Angus, you're the family solicitor. You know Father as well as any of us. Why didn't you put a stop to this nonsense before it got off the ground?"
"Iain, you know very well there is absolutely nothing anyone can do once Charles Trebanian gets a notion in his head."
"True." Iain flipped the pages of his appointment diary. "All right. I'll get down there as soon as I can. Obviously it's time I found out for myself what's been going on." He scored a red line through the following day's appointments. "I hope you're not going to tell me the happy couple have already left Cornwall?"
"On their honeymoon," he explained, with a sneering emphasis on the last word.
"Oh, I see. I'm afraid there won't be a honeymoon. Your father's health—his heart, you know—has deteriorated considerably since the last time you were here. It's been almost two years, hasn't it?"
Iain heard the note of polite reproach in the aging solicitor's prim voice. His lips tightened. "There hasn't been much point in my going down to see him, Angus. The past three times I put in an appearance, he tried to throw me out within an hour of my arrival."
"He didn't succeed though, did he? And you would insist on arguing with him, Iain. You know he can't bear to be thwarted."
"Neither can I," Iain said shortly. "Thanks for phoning. I'll be in Porthkelly tomorrow."
"I think that would be advisable," agreed Angus. "I'll look forward to seeing you."
Iain switched off the phone before he was tempted to express his opinion in words too forceful for the strait-laced solicitor's aging ears. His father's old friend was a decent, conscientious soul, but there were times when his relentless unflappability was enough to drive a sane man to murder.
Picking up his favorite silver pen, Iain tapped it sharply on the edge of the desk. What the devil had got into his cantankerous old misanthrope of a father this time? It was three years since Joan had married Anton Vanilos, star of the Ida Byrd Ballet Company. Surely the old man wasn't still brooding over that. And even if he was, why marry Phaedra? Unless...
Ah. Iain dropped the pen and leaned back in his executive chair. Did he begin to see a glimmer of light? Yes. Of course. He should have made the connection from the start. His father would think it hugely entertaining to repay his children for not allowing him to run their lives by acquiring a young and spritely wife as his new heir... A young wife who ought to be locked up and fed on bread and water for a year. No. On second thoughts, maybe not bread and water. Turnips. He seemed to remember she'd hated those the most.