Convention dictated that a lady receive a gentleman seated: but Frances stood and thrust out a hand in the direction of the softly spoken 'hello' : she relied as much on the feel of a hand as the tenor of a voice, when it came to getting to know a new person: especially important in one who might figure large in her life as she tried to settle her late brother's tangled affairs.
To the softly spoken man, out there in the darkness somewhere, she said exactly the same thing that she had said to the Marshall: "Please take my hand, I can't see yours."
She always said that. It was an invitation to come in: come in to her world of touch, smell and sound, and it disposed of the elephant in the room that people often skirted in the most elaborate of ways to avoid mentioning: her blindness.
When James took her hand, she clasped it with the other, too: and felt. It was soft, yes, this man worked with his mind, not his hands and he was diffident in his manner: but his hands were dry and with an underlying strength that perhaps he himself did not realise he possessed, she fancied.
"I am hopeful that you will be of great help to me, Mr Vaughn. I have just been informed by the Marshall that my brother has been killed. I wish to employ your legal talents in tidying up his affairs..." a mundane if messy task, in Frank Grimes' case. But the next part was not so straightforward "... and investigate whether I cannot prosecute the killer for damages."
The Marshall had declared that it was a pure case of self defence, but she had come across this live-and-let-live complicity between the law and more well to do miscreants in new York, Denver City and Portland: everywhere she had lived. She did not expect Kalispell to be any different.