Chapter Three

The small living room and the open dining area were spotlessly clean and lit with colorful new lamps. A blaze crackled over logs in the stone fireplace. The dark old furniture that had come with the house had been cleaned, polished, and recovered in bright hues. The floor was freshly sanded and waxed and covered with new rugs. Vases of fresh-cut flowers were everywhere.

Roy Beatty stood back and let Karyn survey the rooms. 'Well, what do you think?'

'Roy, it's lovely. I mean it.'

Karyn walked down the short hallway and looked into the bedroom. There was new maple furniture and a bright patchwork quilt on the double bed. Across the hall in the bathroom new wood paneling had replaced the scabrous, peeling wallboard. The fixtures were scoured, the air sweetened. Karyn came back out and walked through the dining area, running her fingers over the satiny finish of the heavy oak table. Out in the kitchen everything fairly sparkled. She came back into the living room where Roy waited, unable to conceal his pride.

'It's not Hermosa Terrace,' she said, 'but cozy, don't you think?'

'Very cozy,' she agreed.

'How about a martini to toast our new home?'

'Lovely idea.'

Roy went into the kitchen and brought back a bowl of ice, which he set before her on a low table in front of the fireplace. The green hydrant bottle of Tanqueray and the vermouth were already there. As he stirred the cocktails in a tall pitcher Lady began to whine softly and scratch at the baseboard near the front door.

'I think it's time she took a trip outside,' Roy said. He crossed the room and held the door open. 'Come on, Lady, out.'

The dog looked up at him uncertainly, then at Karyn.

'Do you think she'll be all right?' Karyn said.

'Sure. There's no traffic out here, and she won't go far enough from the house to get lost.'

Lady crouched lower to the floor, her eyes on Roy.

'Come on, you, out,' he said again, in a more commanding tone.

The little dog obeyed at last, moving in a cautious sidling manner. Roy closed the door after her. He then selected two hefty logs from the pile on the hearth and laid them on the dwindling fire. They caught immediately. The flames snapped at the pockets of pitch and leaped up the chimney.

Roy sat down again and finished stirring the martinis. He brought out two iced glasses and filled them at the low table. They touched glasses, sipped at the cocktails, and smiled at each other.

'Did you get everything worked out at the office?' Karyn asked.

'It's all taken care of. I've got next year's publication list to go over. When I go into town I'll bring back whatever raw copy there is for editing. There's no reason why technical manuals can't be edited up here in the woods as well as on Wilshire Boulevard. I shouldn't have to make the trip into L.A. more than a couple of times a week, if that often.'

Karyn leaned back on the sofa. 'Are you sure you don't mind being cooped up here away from the city and all our friends?'

'Mind? What's to mind? You think I miss battling through the smog and the freeway traffic twice a day? Listen, this is as much a vacation for me as it is therapy for you.'

Karyn squeezed his hand. 'You're pretty sweet, you know that?'

'Yeah, I know, but tell me anyway.'

'What about some dinner? I'm starved.'

'Right. I'll get the steaks going while you build a salad.'

'Do we have everything we need?'

'We should have. I stocked up this afternoon at the Safeway over in Pinyon.'


'That's the nearest town of any size. It's about twelve miles from here at the tip of Castaic Lake.'

'Why didn't you do the shopping in Drago?'

'I guess you didn't get too good a look at the town. There's one general store that's about the size of the cheese section in most supermarkets. They had a few canned goods, a few boxes of cereal, a tiny meat counter, and that was it. Oh, yes, the place doubles as a post office.'

'At least we do have a post office.'

'Not exactly,' Roy said with an apologetic grin. 'The nearest post office is in Pinyon, but they do bring the Drago mail over once a day to the store.'

'And that's where we go to pick up our mail,' Karyn said.

'That's it. There's a funny little old lady running the place. You'll have to meet her.'

'I hope she's funnier than the sheriff.'

'You met Anton Gadak?'

'On the way in. He didn't exactly welcome us with open arms.'

'Yeah, well, it probably takes these people a while to warm up to strangers.'

'I suppose so.' Karyn leaned over and kissed him lightly on the cheek. 'You were saying something about steaks?'

They ate together at the big oak dining table while shadows cast by the fire danced across the walls. After dinner they relaxed on the sofa, drinking rich burgundy out of big tulip glasses.

'It seems like a strange little town,' Karyn remarked. 'What kind of a name is Drago, anyway?'

'I don't know. It's not Spanish or Indian. Has a European sound. Hungarian or something. Tomorrow we can ask in the village. It will give us a chance to meet some of the local people. And we can get some candles to go with this romantic setting.'

After she had rinsed off the dinner dishes and stacked them in the sink, she joined Roy back in the living room.

'I wonder what the last people were like,' Karyn said, sitting down and lighting a cigarette.


'The people who lived in this house before us. The Fennos.'

'The man who handled the lease didn't know much about them,' Roy said. 'Apparently they were an older couple. Moved out here from somewhere in the East to retire. Weren't here long when they died in some kind of an accident. I didn't get any details.'

They both started at the sound of something scraping at the front door.

'Lady,' Roy said, relaxing with a little laugh. 'We forgot all about her.'

He walked over and opened the door. The little dog dashed into the room and across the rug to the couch. There she jumped up and pressed close to Karyn, peering back toward the door with wide brown eyes.

'She looks frightened,' Karyn said.

Roy stepped outside and looked both ways in the darkness. 'Nothing out here.'

He came back inside and closed the door. Lady stayed close to Karyn on the sofa.

They talked for a while about nothing important while the logs in the fireplace burned down to a dusky red, finally collapsing in a shower of sparks.

Roy stretched his arms up over his head and yawned generously. 'I don't know about you, but I'm beat. Ready to go to bed?'

Karyn felt her muscles tighten. 'Maybe I'll have a nice cup of coffee first. Everything tastes so good up here in the mountains.' Even in her own ears the light tone of voice rang false.

Karyn took as long as she could with the coffee. She made herself smile at Roy who sat beside her waiting patiently. 'Suddenly I'm tired too. Let's go to bed,' she said.

They went into the bedroom and Roy turned back the quilt and the snowy top sheet. Karyn's nerves crawled beneath her skin.

Вы читаете The Howling
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату