Novel Name : Masters & Lovers Box Set Three

Chapter 13

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As he turns from the elevator, James' face is a mask. He doesn't meet my eye or Francis’. The door
clicks closed behind him and Francis looks to me, her head tilted in question.

My voice low. “Get hold of Charlotte.”

She nods, biting her lip, tapping into her desk phone. After a moment, “Charlotte, I have Richard for

Speaking quietly, “Charlotte can you come to my office right away.”

“I'm just in the middle of something. Right now?”

“Yes, right now. James' daughter just paid him a visit and I don't think it went well.”

“I'm on my way.” And the line goes dead.

“Get me Michael too.” Francis reaches for the phone again.



Two seconds to save my work, one second to slap down the lid of my laptop and I set off at a run. As I
exit the elevator, Richard is waiting, perched on the edge of Francis’ desk, head bowed. Francis’ eyes
are swimming.

“Georgie came to see him…?”

Surely he'd be pleased, happy?

“… What happened?”

Richard raises his head. “Thank you for coming so quickly. We don't know what happened. She arrived
and he looked delighted as he went down to meet her. As she left, she wouldn't even let him see her
downstairs. He's in his office.”

I swallow, my breath pulling short. I tap softly on the closed door...

The barrier…

No reply.

I tap again, more loudly. “Mas….”


“… James?”

No reply.

“James…. Master?”

I turn the handle with reluctant fingers.

Inside, my Master stands with his back to me, hands clasped behind his back, staring out of the
window over the Cityscape.


“Leave me alone, Charlotte. “

“But Master...”

“I said leave me alone!” Then he turns…

His eyes are shiny…

… his voice gentler. “Just go, Charlotte. Please. For now.”



Charlotte reverses from the office, not that she’d really stepped inside as James' raised voice blasted
past her.

She's trembling, her eyes flooding. Francis wraps arms around her. “He didn't mean it. He's just upset.”

“I know, but...”

And the elevator door swish open and Michael steps out...

He must have flown...

He takes one look at Charlotte and pulls her into his embrace. “Whatever he did or said, it wasn't aimed
at you.”

“I know.” She sniffs, pulling the heel of her hand over nose and eyes. Francis passes her a box of
tissues. As she blows noisily, Michael, over her head, rolls his eyes to James’ office then nods me
down to her.

I nod back. Of course….

Then dragging a hand through his hair, he takes a deep breath and steps into the dragon's den.



“I know you're upset, but do you really think that making Charlotte cry is the answer?”

“She's crying?” His back turned, James’ voice is dull.

“Yes, she’s crying. Look at me will you.” He turns. “Want to talk about it?”


“Want to get drunk?”

He meets my eye then looks away. Then he meets my eye again. “Yes,” he admits.

“Good, we'll do it together. A man drowning his sorrows shouldn't get drunk by himself. Fetch your

Outside, Francis is still feeding tissues to Charlotte, albeit at a slower rate. I snag Richard by the elbow.
“Favour to ask. Could I leave Charlotte in your hands overnight? I want to get James out, and I doubt
either of us will be fit to drive by the time we’re done.”

He doesn’t hesitate. “Of course. I'll call Elizabeth.”

“Thanks. You’re a friend.”

He smiles slightly. “You know what they say, friends are life's apology for family.”

Oh, yes…

“Tell me about it.” I turn to the sniffing Charlotte, take her by the shoulders, turn her to face me. “I want
you to stay with Richard. I need to talk with James and I’ll do better knowing there’s someone with

“Michael...” She starts to protest but I cut her short. “I know you want to help, but sometimes a man
needs another man.” She parts her lips, distress writ large. “It will be your turn tomorrow morning when
he needs to get over his hangover.”

“He’s going to have a hangover?”

“I think we both will. You’ll be holding the reins then.”

She sniffs and wipes her eyes. “Alright. I understand.”

I kiss her forehead. “Good girl. Thank you.”

James appears in his long overcoat…

Ideal for a bar crawl…

… He’s dressed for the weather but he’s pale-faced and his normal austere expression has morphed to
a kind of grim severity. As he sees Charlotte’s tear-streaked face, the expression blurs to dismay.

“Charlotte… I’m sorry. I…”

I slap him on the shoulder. “She knows it. C’mon. You and me are going to have a talk.”

As the elevator doors close behind us, I hear Richard. “Francis, get hold of Ross for me would you,

Taking Charlotte home? Or back to their place?

It doesn’t matter. I know he’ll see she’s okay.


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