Sinclair arrived some twenty minutes later. Since Jocelyn still hadn't appeared, I took him through to the terrace. He admired it enthusiastically. Once we were settled I said, "When I told her you wanted to come by and see her, well… You'd have thought I'd said Harry Shreve would be dropping by."
"You're not an SF reader, I see. Harry Shreve is the grand old man of Nova Britannia Science Fiction. In certain circles he's as big as…" I searched for a comparable figure in another field. "As big as Mama Moomoo Miggie."
Sinclair laughed. "Her I know. Oof! Not even on Marooner's Haven have I been able to avoid knowing her. Not exactly my kind of music, but to each his own."
We were interrupted by Percy's measured tones from indoors. "Charlie is on the terrace. He is speaking with someone."
The squeak that answered him was almost unrecognizable as Jocelyn's voice. "He's here! Charlie let him in! Charlie's talking to him, here! On the terrace!"
Sinclair and I had risen. Jocelyn might be my sweetheart, but I liked to observe the niceties. Sinclair now shifted and looked uncomfortable.
"Who is here?" Percy asked. "Why are you agitated?"
"Charlie's friend. The person he's talking to."
"I do not sense a threat."
Her voice rose again. "It's Brontë Sinclair!"
There was a pause while Percy processed this information. After a moment we heard his calm voice. "I do not find that Brontë Sinclair is a threat, a danger or a peril. It is safe for you to enter."
We laughed. "Most reassuring," Sinclair observed in an undertone.
Even in her nervous excitement, Jocelyn couldn't help laughing as well. "I never said he was a threat," she said, her voice almost back to normal, "I merely said I'm apprehensive about meeting him because he's, uh, an important person and I'm not."
Percy must have been practically standing in the doorway by now, though from where we stood we could see neither him nor Jocelyn. But, we could hear him distinctly. "Mr. Sinclair is the son of World Senator Whitman Sinclair. He is a philanthropist and prizewinning sailor. You are an award winning author and the proprietress of this house. I think, Jocelyn, you are on a level of importance with MR. Sinclair. Please enter. I need to finish preparing lunch.
I imagined her drawing a deep breath and squaring her slender shoulders. "All right," she said resolutely. "Take me out to the terrace, please."
She seemed unusually fragile as she entered, leaning on the big, many-armed silver robot. She wore a simple pink dress whose vivid color set off her creamy white skin and jet-black hair, which was piled in some complicated and very becoming arrangement on the top of her head. She'd even put on lipstick. She didn't do that for me very often.
Sinclair advanced a step and I went to put my arm around my love. "It's OK Percy. I'll look after her."
It could only have been my imagination, but I could have sworn there was a note of relief in his voice as he replied, "Thank you, Charlie."
As Percy trundled off, I led Jocelyn to our visitor. "Love," I said very formally, "allow me to present Mr. Brontë Sinclair." Her hand only trembled a little as she extended it. "Brontë, Miss Jocelyn Falconer." He gripped her hand firmly but gently.
"I -" she had to swallow hard and try again. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Mr. Sinclair."
"And I, you, Miss Falconer."
I watched this exchange critically, vaguely surprised at the wave of protectiveness, almost jealousy that swept over me as their hands met. But Sinclair held the contact just long enough, not too long and stepped back. Relieved, reassured, I said more lightly, "Let's all sit down."
Jocelyn gave a little start. I glanced at her in amusement. She still looked slightly dazed, but she was sufficiently together to say, "I'm sorry. Yes, please do have a seat, Mr. Sinclair.