Caitlin McAllen-Connor was a stunning woman at 38 with dark hair, porcelain skin, and a face made regal by prominent cheekbones and deep-sea blue eyes. She packed her 5’ 7” medium frame with toned muscles of a woman who had firm control over the world’s most exquisite foods she had readily available to her and was kept very active and busy by her normal life without being expressly athletic. Caitlin kept house, garden, horses, dogs, and rare exotic Silkie birds with the same flair and precision with which she kept the McAllen Industries’ books.
If anything challenged Caitlin’s self-control it was cigarettes, which she liked to roll herself from fine imported tobacco. She was always quitting for Jack’s and Gillian’s sake, but was always eventually failing particularly in the event of anything that disturbed her world. No more than three or four times a week, she would retreat with her vintage black-satin embroidered tobacco box to one of her selection of outdoor “smoking-seats” she had had specially built in her landscaped garden, at least one to suit any particular kind of weather. There I saw her extinguishing her cigarette at her favourite sheltered autumn seat in the falling early evening darkness, under-lit by the subtle lights of the subterranean fish tank beneath the glass on which she stood. She hurried towards me, flanked by the obedient Alsatians, as I got out of the car.
‘Jeremy, thank god you are here,’ she cried, giving me a nervous, anxious hug. ‘Is Jack okay?’
‘He’s in good hands with John, Caitlin,’ I reassured her and followed her indoors. I had briefly explained on the phone that Barrett Stavers had been brought in as Jack’s solicitors.
Someone who did not know Caitlin might have been surprised to see a used crystal Champaign glass and a half-empty bottle of Champaign by the living room seats where she sat us only a few hours after her husband had been taken into custody. Champaign, however, was what Caitlin drank; when others drank beer, cocktail, fine wine, scotch, brandy, port, or sherry… Caitlin drank Champaign for no reason other than she liked the taste of it...