The mansion was built of white stone, and it could have been a small castle if it had been erected in a German countryside. It had two stone turrets and a parapet that went all around the top of the house.
Lillian couldn't take her eyes off the enormous structure as it gleamed in the late afternoon sun.
"you must have a humongous staff to keep this place up!" Lillian said, awe struck.
"I guess." Barbara shrugged in a non committal way.
The truth was that the housekeeper was the only one whose name she knew. The rest of the staff were just servants to her, and not worthy of notice. She suddenly felt ashamed of herself. She knew that at least five staff members lived somewhere in this residence, but she didn't know who they were.
Lillian followed the driveway around to the back, to a garage that had originally been the carriage house. They both climbed out and Barb headed toward the side of the house. Instead of going all the way around to the impressive front entrance, Barbara used a small side entrance set in a beautifully landscaped little court yard.
The entrance led to a small beautifully sun room with potted plants, and flowerbeds all around the inner glass walls. There were cozy overstuffed chairs, a couple of divans, and several leather ottomans. The far wall was literally one big wall to wall bookcase that was completely full of books. There was even a sliding ladder to get at the upper shelves. It was the most beautiful room she had ever seen.
Lillian hoped she didn't look ridiculous as her head swivelled from sided to side trying to absorb everything at once. This was probably the only time she would ever be here, so she wanted to commit as much of it to memory as she could.Barbara watched Lillian with interest. She was rather pleased at the other girl's obvious approval of this space. She had designed and furnished this room and her bedroom, which was just beyond a set of double doors.
The few girls from her boarding school that she had invited out here hadn't been particularly impressed. They probably had more ostentatious rooms at home. The fact was that this was the only room in this house that she liked. Her father had bought the house and furnished it while she was at boarding school. She was very upset when she was told about it. She had liked her old home, old neighbourhood, and old friends, even though none of those things were 'suitable' for a rich and famous actor. To mollify her, her dad had allowed her to decorate and furnish her own bedroom, and design this sun room / library as part of it.
Barbara led Lillian through to her bedroom, and sat on the antique four poster bed. The bed had a canopy and draperies that could be closed. Barbara had the twin of this very bed at home! When the girls were little, they shared a room at the annex, and the single antique beds were part of that room.
"You brought your bed with you?"
"Not right away. I couldn't sleep on any other bed. Of course I had just lost my mother, losing my bed too was just too much to bear. About a month after we left the theatre, this bed was delivered to the place we were living in then. Dad must have asked uncle Gordon for it."
"Why did you choose to have your bedroom on the ground floor?"
"So I could come and go as I pleased without having to take an elevator and trek through half a mile of marble floor just to get down to the kitchen!"
"There's an elevator?"
"Two of them. One in the front for the residents and guests, and the delivery elevator in the back. It's huge! They used that elevator to bring all the furnishings to the other floors."
Barbara went to the end of the room to an enormous entertainment centre, complete with wide screen TV, and just about any other electronic gadget that she could think of. As she put the DVD into the DVD player, she glanced over at Lillian, who was gazing all around her with an expression of awe on her face.
"You like this room. Lily?"
The nickname of Barbara's childhood had slipped out of her mouth before she even thought about it. Lillian's eyebrows raised with surprise, but she didn't comment on it.
" I like it a lot! Actually, it looks a lot like the room we shared when we were little...except for the entertainment centre, of course!" Lillian laughed.
"I designed and furnished this room and the sun room. They're the only two rooms I like in this entire mausoleum! I furnished my bedroom as close to our old room as I could remember. I even had a duplicate of this bed made to replace yours. This is the only place that I feel at home. I haven't even been through all of it, and we've been here five years!"
Lillian hadn't noticed the other bed before because the draperies were drawn. She thought the bed was a window. Barbara went over to the bed in question, and drew back the draperies. On it sat the poor old beat up panda bear that Barb used to drag around by the ear. There was also the big Strawberry Shortcake doll that Lillian had helped Anne pick out for Barb's fifth birthday. Barbara placed the newly retrieved antique doll between the other doll and the bear.
"I was thinking of putting the ruby in a safety deposit box, but it's probably just as safe here.Putting it in a bank would mean telling my dad, and yours.It's existance would be out there, and out of our hands. I don't want anyone else to know about it just yet. Besides, nobody would think to look in a doll for it."
A sudden epiphany occurred to both girls at the same moment.
"That's what the thief was looking for in your boxes, the ruby!" Barb shouted.
She had forgotten the DVD momentarily, but mention of the white boxes and the thief, brought them back to the matter in hand .Barb hit PLAY on the remote, and the two girls sat on Barb's bed and watched a crime being committed in living colour.