Tea, Miss Regan?” Maldwin asked as he ushered her into Lydia’s living room, where Daphne, Lydia, and Thomas were enjoying their second cup. It was now three-thirty in the morning.
“Thank you, Maldwin,” she said as she sat down on a love seat next to Daphne.
“Well, what’s going on over there now?” Daphne asked.
“The police are finished. They dusted for fingerprints and secured the apartment. They’re locking the front door with a special padlock. Thomas, we’ve got to get the old locks changed first thing in the morning.”
“Of course, Regan. Do you want to stay in my apartment tonight?”
“Oh I’d offer, but my apartment is a mess,” Daphne jumped in. “Getting ready to do the movie was so hectic. There’s stuff thrown all over…”
“You must stay here!” Lydia insisted. “There’s a maid’s room off the kitchen with a pull-out Castro convertible couch. It’s safe, secure, and all yours.”
“Maybe I’ll take you up on that,” Regan said. She’d slept on many a Bernadette Castro special in her day.
“The room is rather small, so I didn’t want Maldwin to have to live in it,” Lydia explained. “But it’s perfect for your purposes.”
Thomas had filled the others in on the break-in at Ben’s. Of course, he had sugar-coated Janey’s little drop-by. “She hates to see things go to waste,” he had explained.
“Regan, with all that’s been happening, maybe we should have more security around here,” Daphne suggested.
“We can’t have armed guards walking the hallways,” Lydia answered. “This is supposed to be a place of refinement.”
“You can’t be refined when you’re dead,” Daphne shot back.
“We can’t afford it, Daphne,” Thomas cried. “Unless a miracle happens and we get those diamonds, or if the cast of Ben-Hur decides to join the Settlers’ Club, I’m afraid we’re in deep, deep trouble. We just may have to close down.”
“My dating service!” Lydia moaned.
“My butler school!” Maldwin choked.
“What about me?” Thomas asked. “This is more than a job to me. It was my dream to bring this club back to life. Make it a vibrant place for gracious living and art appreciation. I even imagined we’d have a five-year waiting list for people to get in!”
“Five years is what it would take for me to find another decent apartment in New York City,” Daphne commented, her voice rising. “I like it here and I want to stay. The Settlers’Club has been my whole life for the past twenty years…”
“Listen, everybody,” Regan interrupted. “There’s no sense in arguing. We all want the same thing. I suggest that we join forces and go all out to try and make it a fabulous party tomorrow night. It’s the club’s one hundredth anniversary. Stanley’s coming with his television camera, right?”
Lydia nodded. “He’ll be so mad he missed all this excitement.”
“Well, we don’t want this in his piece,” Thomas pointed out. “We only want the good stuff about the club.”
“I’ll ask my parents to come,” Regan said. “My mother’s running a crime convention, and maybe she can get some of her author friends to drop by.”
Thomas bit on his handkerchief. “Good idea, Regan.”
“We have to put on a good show. In the meantime, I’ll be working with the police. Whoever broke into Nat’s apartment tonight has to be stopped. They may be very dangerous. So keep your doors locked.”
“What a day.” Daphne sighed. “Although for me, it wasn’t all bad.”
Thomas stood. “Don’t forget. We want those sheep back for the party. Maybe they’ll be our good-luck charms.”