My employer turned, as calmly as if she had known he was there all along, and extended her hand. "My name is Jan Sleet," she said.
"Isaac Ashford, my dear. It's always so pleasant to meet a fellow writer. What brings you here today?"
Ashford was a couple of inches shorter than my employer, with a lined face under jet black hair. His clothes were dark, including a burgundy smoking jacket.
His two acolytes looked quietly pleased. However he had achieved his magical appearance, they were obviously aware of the mechanism.
"I am here officially," Jan Sleet said, shaking his hand. "I have some important questions to ask you."
He smiled. "Then why don't we go downstairs and be comfortable?"
There was no way to avoid it, but my employer was not happy about the invitation. With her bad leg, stairs were very difficult for her if she didn't have a railing to hold onto. This palatial staircase didn't have railings, except at the sides, and it would have been an admission of weakness for her to go that far out of her way.
I crooked my arm and extended it, as if I was her escort to a formal dinner (as I had been once or twice). She rested her hand on my forearm and we proceeded down the stairs, following Ashford and his acolytes, with Christy behind us. Jan did very well at appearing smooth and relaxed, but the reality was that her long fingers were holding my arm in a grip of iron.