Authors: Ruthe Ogilvie
He ran downstairs just as Jay entered the foyer.
Jay eyed the carry-on in Zack’s hand. “Gus Johnson wasn’t at the hotel?” he guessed.
“He wasn’t on the plane. I just made a reservation on the next flight to Paris. I’ve got to see if I can help him.”
“What time does it leave?” Jay asked.
“In an hour.”
Jay picked up the phone in the hall. “I’ll call the chauffeur. What shall I tell the others?”
“It’s okay to tell Hildy the whole story. Simply tell the others that I’ve gone to help a friend. That’s all they need to know. Don’t tell them where I’ve gone. Somehow word gets around, and I don’t want to take any chances that Manny will find out. He might try to stop me.”
The chauffeur pulled up under the porte-cochere. Zack grabbed his carry-on, sped through the door and into the limo, and was on his way to Paris to try and find Gus.
len Macdonald exited the stage door of the theatre where “Déjà Vu” was playing. He didn’t wait for the closing curtain. He was tired and hungry, and deeply disturbed by the news he had just received. He hailed the nearest taxi.
“Take me to the Waldorf Astoria coffee shop,” he told the driver. One of their delicious sliced turkey sandwiches was just what he needed to fill the empty hole in the pit of his stomach, and with it a glass of vintage wine to calm his nerves, as he pondered how to solve the problem that had been so abruptly thrown at him.
The cab arrived at the hotel just outside the coffee shop, and Glen wandered inside. Band members and singers from the orchestra appearing at the Starlight Roof were getting a last minute sandwich and coffee before the opening number that would start the display of revolving lights which played on the people as they dined and danced. Singers with the band—a quartet of two women and two men—were sitting at one of the tables practicing in close harmony one of the beautiful tunes from “Déjà Vu.”
Glen, not wishing to be disturbed, found a dimly lit booth in a secluded corner. As he sat there sipping his wine he thought of Courtney. He hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind. She was the first thing he thought of when he woke up in the morning, and the last thing when he retired for the night.
The first time he met her was the first night she attended the performance. He had seen her picture many times, but seeing her in person was quite different. What a beautiful young lady, he mused, and his heart beat faster each time she entered his mind.
As his thoughts returned to the problem that lay before him, an idea hit him! Why didn’t I think of this before? he muttered. She’d be perfect! He pulled his cellular phone from his pocket and dialed Jay in Scarsdale.
Jay answered on the other end. “Yes, Glen. What can I do for you?”
“I have a serious problem,” he told Jay. “I’m sure you’ve been faced with this once or twice, and I hope you can help me. I’d like to meet with you tomorrow morning. Is that possible?”
“That will be fine. Name the time and place. Perhaps if you explain it to me now, I can be thinking about it.”
Glen took a deep breath, then plunged in. “The leading lady in ‘Déjà Vu’ has given notice. She’s been offered a starring role in a movie. She’s leaving in two weeks to go to Hollywood. I’ve been auditioning all day for two days, but so far I’ve found no one. The ones who can act aren’t the right type. The ones who are the right type can’t act. And no one has a good enough singing voice to do the part justice. I’m desperate to find someone who can fill all these qualifications.”
“Let me think about it, Glen. There has to be someone who’s just right.”
Glen hesitated, a bit nervous about telling Jay the idea that had come to him. “Uh—I have an idea, but you’ll probably think it’s off the wall.”
“Try me,” Jay said.
“Did—” Glen paused, gathering his thoughts, pondering the best way to word this. Then he plunged in, not knowing what kind of reaction he would get from Jay. But he was desperate. This had to be taken care of immediately. “Did Courtney inherit any of her mother’s talent? She knows the script backward and forward. She’d be perfect for the part, and it would take no time at all for her to be ready to step into it in two weeks.”
Jay was silent for a moment. Then he spoke cautiously, remembering the trance she was in, thanks to Manny. “She has a voice every bit as beautiful as Cammie,” he told Glen. “In fact, at one time we thought she might follow in Cammie’s footsteps and go on the stage, but she chose instead to compose like Hildy. When did you say you need someone?”
“Yesterday! There are rehearsals, fittings, publicity—and she has to be ready to open in two weeks.”
“Let me think about this, Glen. We’ll talk further when we meet tomorrow morning. Why don’t you drive out here and have breakfast with us? We can talk privately in my den. How about eight o’clock?”
“Fine,” Glen agreed. “I’ll be there.”
Jay hung up, quite disturbed. How in the world could Courtney fill the leading role in her present state of mind? She’d refuse to do it. She wouldn’t want to do anything that would take her away from her time with Manny.
There was just one answer. He remembered what Zack told him about Nathaniel Drake bringing Angus out of the hypnotism that Manny had caused. If he did it for Angus, he was sure he could do the same for Courtney. He picked up the phone and dialed Dr. Drake.
“Nate,” he said when the vet answered, “Zack told me you could bring Courtney out of this spell she’s under if you could see her in person. I’ll bring her over in the next few minutes if that’s okay with you. Something has come up that needs taking care of ASAP. Are you free? She mustn’t know why we’re coming over. I’ll pretend I want you to examine Angus once more.”
“Give me a few minutes. My last patient is just leaving.” Jay hung up quickly. He called Angus and put his leash on him. Then he went out back where Courtney was sitting in one of the chaise lounges. She looked sad, and had a vacant stare in her eyes as she turned toward him.
Jay put a loving arm around her shoulders. “Honey, I’m taking Angus over to see Dr. Drake. I want to make sure he’s all right. I’d like you to go with me.”
Courtney started to protest. “I have to wait here. Manny might call—”
“We’ll only be gone a few minutes,” Jay assured her. “Please, Courtney. Come with me. We haven’t walked together for a while, and I’d love your company. You can hold Angus’ leash.”
Angus went over to her and licked her face as if to say, “Come on. I want you to walk me.”
Courtney had always loved to walk with her granddad, with Angus trudging by her side. Jay knew this, and hoped this would lure her to go with him.
Reluctantly she rose from the lounge. “Okay,” she agreed. “But I have to get right back. I don’t want to miss his call.”
“The others are here. They can take a message. It will do you good to get out.”
It took only three minutes to reach Dr. Drake’s residence. He was waiting for them, and ushered them inside to his private office.
He smiled at Courtney. “Well,” he exclaimed, “aren’t you quite the lady! You were just a teenager when I last saw you. Now you’re all grown up with a successful musical on Broadway! It must be quite a thrill to see it being performed. Have you written anymore?”
Courtney looked at him, still with that vacant stare.
Nate fixed his gaze on her.
Jay left the room with Angus so Courtney could be alone with Nate.
Courtney didn’t seem to notice. She sat there staring back at Nate.
It was quiet. Neither one said anything further for the next two or three minutes.
Gradually the vacant stare disappeared, and Courtney smiled her usual, happy smile as she answered his question. Her voice was full of enthusiasm. “I’ve almost finished another one,” she told him. She looked around the room. “Where are Sir Jaybird and Angus? Is Angus all right?”
Nate relaxed. “He’s fine, Courtney. They had to go outside for a moment. They’ll be right back. What’s this next musical about?”
“It’s a story of a dog. Imagine a dog being the star of a musical?” She laughed. “But of course there are people in it, too. I can’t wait to finish it.” She looked puzzled. “I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe it was writer’s block.”
“Oh, you’ll finish it now without any more delays,” Nate assured her. He opened the door and spoke to Jay. “You can come in now. I think we’re done here. Courtney was just telling me about her new musical. I bet it will be just as great a success as ‘Déjà Vu.’ Have you heard any of it?”
Jay breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes. It’s great. Courtney hasn’t worked on it since we left Paris.”
“She’s ready to finish it now,” Nate assured him. “Everything’s fine.” He patted Angus on the head. “I’m looking forward to seeing ‘Déjà Vu.’ My wife and I are going tonight. We’ll be leaving shortly. I’ll see you to the door.” He gestured.
It was a different Courtney who walked back to Stuart Manor holding Angus’ leash. She laughed and talked with Jay as though nothing unusual had happened.
Jay could only pray that Manny wouldn’t call and spoil things. As soon as they reached home he turned to Courtney. “There’s something I’d like to talk to you about, sweetie. Let’s call the others and see how they react to this.”
They were all sitting on the terrace sipping sherry when Jay and Courtney joined them. Courtney sat cross-legged on a huge cushion. She was her old self again. Angus curled up beside her and purred.
“I just got a call from Glen,” Jay told them. “He’s going to join us for breakfast tomorrow morning.” He looked directly at Courtney. “He has a big problem with ‘Déjà Vu,’ and he needs our help.”
Courtney jumped up. “What is it, Sir Jaybird? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m telling you now,” he said. “The leading lady is leaving in two weeks to star in a movie. Glen can’t find anyone to take her place. He’s been auditioning for two days.” He reached out and pulled Courtney into his lap. “Honey, he was thinking—and he’s right—no one knows this musical as well as you do, and he suggested—” Jay paused, looking for the right words.
Cammie was way ahead of him. “Oh, Courtney,” she exclaimed, “how wonderful! A chance to star in your own musical!”
Courtney looked horrified. “Are you crazy?! I could never go on the stage like you! What if I were a flop? I’d be a laughing stock! They’ll compare me to you. I’ll never measure up!”
“I’ll help you!” Cammie enthused. “We can do it! Come on Courtney! This will be fun!”
“But—but what will people say? They’ll accuse us of—of—nepotism!”
“Honey, Glen is desperate,” Jeremy reminded her. “Isn’t that right, Jay?”
“You wouldn’t want ‘Déjà Vu’ to close down, would you?” Hildy asked.
Courtney’s eyes filled with tears. “Could that really happen?”
“It will if Glen can’t find the right one for this role,” Jay said gently.
“Maybe he’ll find someone,” Courtney said hopefully. “He’s got two weeks.”
“No, dear, he hasn’t,” Hildy informed her. “Whoever fills in has to open in two weeks. He needs you right now. Have you forgotten? There are rehearsals—fittings—”
Courtney began to tremble.
Cammie went over and put her arms around her. “We can do it, sweetie. You and I. You don’t want ‘Déjà Vu’ to close at the height of its success, do you?”
“N-no, of course not.”
“Then let’s get going! Once you get into the swing of it you’ll love it! I promise you!”
The ringing of the phone interrupted them.
“I’ll get it!” Jay exclaimed. He rushed into the next room. This had better not be Manny! he muttered. We’ve come this far! I can’t let him spoil it now!
As he suspected, it was Manny. “I’m sorry,” Jay told him. “She’s not in. I don’t know when she’ll be back.”
When Manny said he’d call again, Jay wanted to tell him not to bother. Instead, he hung up.
When he went back into the room with the others, Courtney ran over and threw her arms around him. “Sir Jaybird,” she said with a tremulous smile, “‘Déjà Vu’ can’t shut down! It just can’t! I’ll do the role if Mom can get me ready in time.”
“Good girl!” Jay was relieved. Thank God for Nate! he mused with a huge sigh of relief.
The next morning when Glen arrived, Courtney and Cammie were hard at work rehearsing.
Jay ushered him into the breakfast room. “I think your problem has been solved,” he told him. “It took some doing, but we finally convinced Courtney that she had to do it. There was no other answer.”
“Thank you, Jay,” said a grateful Glen. “I know ‘Déjà Vu’ will be even better now. You saved the show.”
Jay smiled. “No. Courtney did.”
ack arrived at Orly Airport at ten-thirty in the evening, Paris time. While he was in the air he phoned ahead and made a reservation at La Grande Veue Hotel overlooking the Seine River—the same hotel where he had stayed years ago when he was protecting Hildy from Gregory Wilcox, Sr.
As soon as they landed he grabbed his carry-on and headed off the plane and into the terminal. Orly Airport was bustling with activity in spite of the late hour.
Zack’s thoughts were spinning like a top. Where do I start? He walked around looking for a secluded area where there might be a telephone. He was sure that when Gus realized he was being followed, he would have picked a private spot where no one could find him. But this may have been his big mistake. No one would be around to help him. Whoever attacked Gus would get away with it and no one would be the wiser.