no images yet for Nate; so this will have to do-- roses do represent love, don't they?
San Francisco September 10, 1905
Nate Hemstreet watched as his mother’s irritation grew when ringing the bell wasn’t enough to get her the service she desired. He could have said something, but he was studying her. She seemed to have forgotten he was sitting at the other end of the library.
Terrence Cooke came through the door looking only at Eleanor Hemstreet. Nate had become the invisible man. Fine, he liked that idea.
“You rang, madam?” Terrence asked with his usual polished manners.
“Where is Mr. Hamilton?” His mother smoothed down the rich purple brocade of her dress.
“I have not seen him since early this morning, madam.” Nate saw her purse her lips together and suppress whatever she wanted to say.
When he had left, she rang the bell again. When he returned, she said, “Pour me a brandy.” Terrence looked at her for a moment, perhaps thinking ten in the morning was too early for liquor, or wondering why she would not have gotten it herself from the sideboard only ten feet from her, but he was too well trained. His face was expressionless as he handed it to her. Again, he didn’t look at Nate. Terrence probably did know he was there. Not much got by him. Nate wondered how much he had observed of the goings on in the Hemstreet mansion.
“May I do anything else for you, madam?”
“No, nothing.” She sighed. “Just leave me alone.” She waited until he closed the door, took a sip of the brandy, and then walked to the window to look out at the city. Although his mother was not quite sixty, her face looked older. He felt it was her dissatisfaction with anything or anyone. She had one of the finest homes on Nob Hill. Ten bedrooms, modern bathrooms with the finest fixtures, a parlor large enough to hold a ball, a table that seated fifty in the dining room, a staff that… but it never was enough. She wanted more. He saw the fury on her face and debated what would ever take that away. Perhaps only death. Sad.
For the first time, she looked over at him. So, she had known he was there all along. “Ah Nathan, and what have you been doing today?” she asked sipping the brandy again.
He knew his riding outfit and the boot he had crossed over his knee would have told her where he’d been, but she liked to control. She wanted to force responses.
“Golden Gate Park,” he said.
“Was it nice there?” she asked, boredom in her voice.
As she stared at him, he wondered what she saw. Her dissatisfaction with everything extended to him. As her only son, he never was all she wanted him to be. He had quit minding years earlier.
“Did you ride with Miranda?”
“No, by myself.” Miranda Compton was his mother’s idea of the ideal mate for her son. Her family’s wealth doubtless figured into that as much as her comely figure. The problem was Miranda was an incredibly shallow young woman, whose greatest interest involved finding a new ball gown. Nate would sooner mate with a trained monkey.
He had not realized before but his mother clearly was dying her hair to keep it the same gold it had been when she’d been girl. It didn’t somehow work. Doubtlessly, her aging was bothering her, but it was one thing she could not control even if she could attempt to hide it.
“She’s a lovely girl,” she said narrowing her eyes as she moved to sit on the chair across from him “You and she would make beautiful blonde babies. They’d probably be tall like you and your father, rest his soul.”
“I am not interested in her or in marriage, Mother.”
She gave him a disbelieving look. “Not marriage to anyone?”
“I didn’t say that—just not now.”
“Are you interested then in the businesses? You know I had hoped you would be, that you would be my right hand man, and then someday take it over.”
“I know what you hoped.”
“You aren’t still moping over that girl are you?”
He knew whom she meant and smiled. She didn’t like to use her name. “What girl?” he asked feeling a little mean himself.
“You know who I mean? That worthless accountant’s daughter.”
“You didn’t see him so worthless when he worked for you.”
“I didn’t know… didn’t realize until he killed himself that he had been cheating us.”
“There is no proof of that.”
She looked away. “I wish…”
The tap at the door interrupted what she might have said. When it opened before she could say enter, he knew who it would be. Only Thomas Hamilton, his mother’s majordomo had that kind of arrogant confidence. He wondered what the man held over his mother. While he was in the room with them, he’d never learn. Hamilton went to the sideboard and poured himself a whiskey before he turned back to her. “I heard you had asked for me, madam,” he said with a rather snide smile. He was portly but muscular, not nearly as tall as Nate, but with his broad shoulders, he had a demeanor that caused men to back off, his mother also.
“Nathan,” she said, turning to him, “would you mind giving Thomas and me a moment of privacy?”“No problem.” He rose and left the room, shutting the door firmly behind him. He walked down the hall letting his boots make enough noise to make them confident he had left, then he quietly returned to the door. Whatever as going on, he wanted to know.