THREE – GRANT WINSLOW
Grant Winslow bounded up the stairs of his mansion two at a time, seeking the sanctum and solace of his own room. As he reached the second landing, the familiar voice of Curtis Hall—his butler—called up to him from below.
“Is everything all right, sir?” Hall asked in his usual, measured tones.
The words brought a smile to Grant’s face. The man could almost have been a figure out of some British sitcom, impeccably groomed, unflappable—the perfect butler.
Grant shook his head. “No, thanks, Hall,” he said. “It’s just been a tough day, and I need some peace and quiet.”
“Would you like me to bring something up, sir?”
“No thanks. Ivy’s dropping by for dinner later. I’ll have something then.”
Hall nodded and returned to his duties. “Very good, sir.”
Grant chuckled. He’d tried to get Hall to be a little less formal, but hadn’t had much luck. No, it seemed that Hall had been bred to be terminally polite. So polite and formal that Grant, who was usually very informal, had trouble calling Hall by his first name. It didn’t seem right, somehow, and the last thing Grant wanted was to offend his best servant’s dignity. So, “Hall” it remained, for the most part.
Grant sprinted up the final flight to the third floor and headed for his room. When he got there, he entered and closed the door behind him.
For a moment he stood catching his breath, surveying his surroundings: a sparsely decorated room in an immense Victorian mansion. The walls were white, as most of the mansion’s walls were since his redecorating—white walls reflected light better, saving energy. A few paintings (one by Ivy’s cousin Tony) and several etchings Grant had obtained while overseas broke the walls’ vanilla monotony.
A picture of Grant standing next to Captain Cousteau’s original Calypso (taken while Grant’s Greenpeace vessel had been in the same harbor with Cousteau’s research ship) hung above his waterbed. The bed reminded Grant of his time at sea—a phase of his life he had immensely enjoyed. The gentle rocking of the bed reminded him of living free, without the burdens and responsibilities of wealth.
Next to the bed, a photo of Ivy rested on the right-hand nightstand; one of his parents sat on the left.
His clothes he kept in a tall, blond, wardrobe against one wall. Most of the rest of Grant’s belongings fit neatly into one of the room’s many closets, though the small bookcase near his desk was filled almost to overflowing. The other closets sat empty, a reminder from Grant to himself of how little one really needed in life.
His guitar, a Yamaha six-string acoustic, sat on its stand near the wide seat set into the front bay window. The windows looked out over the front of the estate and downhill into the city of Frosthaven. To Grant, sitting in the dark on the window seat, the city lights almost looked like the beacons of ships on the vast ocean at night.
The rugs on his room’s oak floors had been hand woven from renewable resources; his sheets and pillowcases were of unbleached cotton. He had a few hand-crafted wooden chairs, one a rocker, set neatly about the room. Incongruously, two blue-green beanbag chairs flopped carelessly near the fireplace. Grant didn’t care how they looked; he loved them anyway. He was even willing to ignore the fact that they were filled with Styrofoam—though he would have filled them with real beans if the weight hadn’t been prohibitive.
Gazing around, he sighed. Even after three months living in the place, he still had trouble believing it all belonged to him.
Of course, if Grant’s Uncle Abner hadn’t been a greedy old skinflint, Grant never would have gotten his hands on the mansion. He wondered what his uncle had been thinking when he failed to leave a will. Old bastard probably thought he’d never die, he thought. The heart attack must have taken him completely by surprise.
It had taken Grant by surprise, too. The “black sheep” of the Winslow family had never expected to come into the family fortune, especially not after his parents had died. With them gone, and leaving their share of the family wealth to Abner, Grant never expected to see a penny.
Not that he cared much. He’d spent the recent years of his life trying to break out of the Winslow mold. That’s why he’d left home and joined Greenpeace.
He knew the move galled his parents and, especially, his uncle. The only green things that Winslows liked were rolls of cash—the bigger the better.
And Abner had parlayed himself quite a roll during his lifetime. Now, thanks to a bad ticker and a possessive greed that wouldn’t let him share, even in death, it all belonged to Grant.
The young Winslow heir had more money than he could possibly spend on himself in a lifetime—without succumbing to some major addiction. Fortunately, Grant wasn’t prone to vice.
He intended to use the money well.
Grant went to the bookcase and selected several of his favorite volumes on earth-sheltered buildings and laid them on the table near the window.
He picked up one by Malcolm Wells and another by Rob Roy (the architect, not the Scottish hero) and began to page through them, looking for new ideas for Green Hills. He promised himself he’d do this now, and then put work aside and concentrate on Ivy for the rest of the evening, once she arrived.
Grant remained determined to get the Green Hills development right, even if it took every last cent of the Winslow fortune.
He chuckled to himself—something he did often since coming home. Now wouldn’t that piss Uncle Abner off, he thought. Old bastard’s probably spinning in his grave right now.
Read the FREE Frost Harrow Halloween stories, too!
“The Weeping Ghost” (2012), “A Trace of Violet” (2013), “Lunchroom Zombies” (2014), “Omens & Visitations” (2015), “Fata Morgana” (2016), and “At the Appointed Hour” (2017), and “Devil’s Lake” (2018), “A Walk on Witches’ Hill” (2019), “The Beast of Bay Road” (2020), “Cat Burglars” (2021)