Logic said that if Stacy left the box on the back step, then she wasn't in the group laughing and talking and working in the living room. But that didn't make any sense. Stacy and Dinah were like sisters. They had promised each other since childhood they would be each other's maid of honor.
After thinking a few more moments, Drake tucked the box under his arm, gathered up his briefcase and suitcase, and sidled out of the swinging door from the kitchen. His mother stood in the arched doorway between the dining room and living room -- if he knew her, she did it intentionally, to let him escape sight unseen. He walked slowly, quietly, heading for the wide staircase in the center of the house, and crept upstairs. He stopped on the second floor and left the present in his mother's office, which, as he had suspected, overflowed with wrapped wedding presents. Then he continued up to his domain on the fourth floor. He dropped his briefcase in his office, where bookcases were crammed with volumes and mementoes of childhood triumphs and adventures -- pictures, models, trophies. Then he carried his suitcase into the old-fashioned bathroom with the long soaking tub, and peeled out of his clothes before he thought to close the bathroom door. Usually he wouldn't worry about someone coming up into his domain uninvited. After all, Dinah and his mother were busy hosting the festivities downstairs, and Stacy was the only other person who had free access to anywhere in the house. Despite that, she would still knock before entering. She was just that kind of person.
But Stacy wasn't here, and Gretchen was.
Drake mused over that while he filled the tub with hot water and some of those herbal bath salts that Dinah had given him for Christmas -- which he had accidentally left behind -- guaranteed to ease bruises and stiff muscles and sinus problems. The green, tangy scent couldn't ease the growing sense that something was very wrong.