The entire trip started off on shaky ground. Or at least, slippery ground. Even a billionaire can’t change the laws of physics, and our SUV, even with its four-wheel drive working as valiantly as it could, kept sliding back and forth in the darkness as it made its way up the steep, snow-covered slope to Alfred Fanning’s mountain mansion. The vehicle’s wipers swept across the windshield as if possessed, but to little effect as whistling winds thrust snowfall directly at us.
One skid came upon us so quickly that Dr. Richard Lin, Alfred’s personal physician, who was driving, spun the steering wheel violently to the left to correct, sending my head crashing against the right rear window where I sat. “Com’on, Richard, watch what you’re doing,” I said.
“Sorry, Lucy,” he said. “But I can barely make out the center of the road.”
Alfred, sitting in the forward passenger seat, looked back at me. His narrow eyes glared in my direction and he pointed a wrinkled finger at me. “My dear woman,” he said, “please calm down. I trust Richard’s driving implicitly. And I certainly have more to lose than you do.”