«Why would you like to join us?», the stern looking man asked from behind the dark mahogany desk. He had an average build, well combed short grey hair, small dark brown eyes, and sat and walked with a very upright posture.
«Well…», the applicant paused for a second, «some people tried to lure us to other clubs but anyone in Australia who deem themselves even as the most amateur golfer knows that the Elvsworth has not only the best green of the south coast but one of the best in the country.»
Wendell Yates looked at the man in front of him. He was in his late 30s or early 40s and had a composed and straightforward demeanor that would be appreciated in the club. After Thomas Siddall, Alan Branson, and Peter Logan had died, they definitely needed more of that.
«Archie and I were the best players of our club, back when we were in Scotland. I'm sure that having us would add tremendous prestige to the Elvsworth, would it not?»
Yates looked at the very smartly dressed woman in a burgundy suit with matching hat and gloves seated in front of him. She was smiling rather warmly, but he wasn't very convinced that having her there would sit well with the other ladies.
«We have many splendid players, Mrs. Jones.», he replied, looking sternly at her again.
She was attractive, he would give her that, but the fact that this Mr. Archibald Jones had chosen to marry her didn't do much for him, despite the initial good impression. He was sure she was too wild and modern.
«I don't doubt it.», she continued.
Phryne wanted to punch Yates in the face – had been wanting to ever since he had been introduced to her and had greeted her with «What a beautiful woman your wife is, Mr. Jones.», as if she weren't there and before saying a single word to her. The way he had phrased it was bad enough, but the very condescending tone used might have been even worse. Yet she loved investigating and getting the job done more so she would keep her anger inside until she had the chance to deflect his remarks more elegantly than what he deserved.
«Despite the tragic circumstances that reduced our presidential board,», he made a respectful pause, « the decisions regarding the admission of new members aren't taken by me exclusively, but we'll let you know as soon as we come up with a verdict.», he said, getting up from his chair, smiling broadly now, very pleased with his joke.
Phryne and Jack got up from their chairs as well and forced themselves to smile, albeit a great deal less enthusiastically.
«We are looking forward to learning it.», Jack said, « I'm sure you'll make the right decision.»
«You're quite something, Mr. Jones.», Yates said, pointing at him in a knowing manner.
«I think the same.», Phryne said, putting her hand on the inside curve of Jack's right elbow, punctuating her statement with an alluring smile.
It wasn't the first time it happened, but he was taken aback by her action nevertheless. It startled him, it was true, but he couldn't say he didn't like feeling her touch. Jack quite did it, in fact, even if he wasn't yet used to her being able to make that sort of gesture without it seeming odd. Odd to the outside, that was, now that to the eyes of the small world of the Elvsworth Club they were married. Well, Archibald and Fern were.
«What do you think, Mr. Jones?»
Both Mr. Jones and Jack didn't know what they were supposed to think about. Phryne's hand on his arm had made him trail off and he was mad at himself for it. How did she yield such power over him? If something as simple as that had had such an impact on him, what would be the result of a weekend (if not more) together? Jack took a deep breath as if to ready himself for those impending days.
«Come on. Don't be shy, darling. We are amongst friends here. Archie has the most fascinating collection of paperweights. You should come to our house and pick one yourself for the auction. We would love to help the Children's Hospital.», Phryne said, her gaze swinging from him to the other man.
«My wife knows me too well, I'm afraid, Mr. Yates. Of course, I would be very honoured to contribute alongside Elvsworth to such a worthy cause.»
«We will not take more of your time. I'm sure you are very busy, especially now, that you had to take on more responsibility.», Phryne said.
«Unfortunately, it's true. Thomas, Alan, and Peter will be missed for many reasons.», Yates agreed, lowering his eyes.
Before leaving the office, they shook hands with him. Even counting the murder scenes she had been at already, Phryne had rarely been this glad she was wearing gloves.
«You've been awfully quiet since we left the club, Jack.», remarked Phryne, looking at him with a teasing smile.
« I've been busy with driving and with trying to find both an 'outstanding collection of paperweights' and a house for the Joneses in such short notice. I'm sorry if my conversational skills have not been quite up to par.»
Jack said those words as nonchalantly as he was able, but, in truth, it was difficult to not unsettle oneself when one's job was on the line and a killer was on the loose. Bringing Phryne along in an undercover operation would never be without risks, especially ones derived from her unpredictability, but he didn't expect them to begin so soon.
«Do you really think I'd say something like that without having a plan? I would like to believe that you know me better than that.», she said with false offense in her voice.
«You make me think a lot of things, Miss Fisher.», Jack replied, looking at her from the corner of his eye.
« I figured we might need a house sooner or later and took the liberty of renting a lovely one in Hawthorn. We can drop by now if you want. I have the keys right here.», Phryne announced proudly, raising her silk floral-print handbag in the air.
Jack tried to keep an indifferent expression but he couldn't avoid smiling.