Criminal Confections

Criminal Confections by Colette London

Book: Criminal Confections by Colette London Read Free Book Online
Authors: Colette London
Adrienne.”
    With a sob, Nina broke off. Seeming appalled by her own lapse in politesse, she clenched her hands. She looked away.
    I couldn’t help feeling affected by the obvious difficulty she’d been having. And still was. “Look, you don’t have to put on a brave front with me,” I assured her. “I know you did all you could last night.” I tried not to think of any specifics. “Adrienne must have been glad to have a friend by her side.”
    As I fumbled for a polite way not to bring up any morbid details, Nina nodded. “I did try to help her. I called for help as soon as I realized something was wrong! But it was too late.”
    Nina went on to describe how she’d found Adrienne vomiting blood . . . inadvertently lending credence to Danny’s overdose theory. She described the same kinds of sweaty, chilled feelings I’d experienced . . . accidentally lending a sense of terror to me.
    So much for omitting any morbid details. I got the impression Nina needed to talk, though. So I listened. Still, the whole exchange was pretty awkward. I didn’t know Nina very well. Plus, her skittish gaze kept jerking around the patio as she spoke, as though she needed to get busy with something else—probably reassuring all the other retreat attendees of Lemaître Chocolates’ undying concern for their well-being. One by one. For that personal touch. I knew what a taskmaster Christian could be. Which reminded me, unhappily, of my overdue report.
    Ugh. When was I going to find time to finish it?
    Prompted by the anxiety that thought provoked, I glanced again toward the all-chocolate buffet. Speak of the devil.
    Christian Lemaître had arrived, wearing a “business casual” getup composed of gray trousers, mauve oxfords, and a pink pique polo with the collar turned up. Very “Preppie Meets Eurotrash.”
    His whole look sported that distinctive sheen that only gobs of money could provide—of course—along with a fat gold Rolex. For all his faults, Christian had taken an outdated, dying company and turned it into a screamingly profitable one.
    One that was going to do even better, with my expert help.
    Back to Nina. “Were you and Adrienne close?” I asked.
    I faced her fully, feeling guilty for woolgathering.
    â€œYes, we were. Very.” The PR exec gave me a weary smile. “Before the changeover, a lot of us were close. We lost so many people, unfortunately.” She had to be referring to Christian’s takeover of Lemaître, when he’d ousted his kindly (horny) uncle, Bernard. “But that’s business, isn’t it? It’s all for the best.”
    Frankly, that speech sounded pretty rehearsed, too. But I couldn’t fault Nina for giving it. She had a job to do, just as I did—and that job wasn’t gorging on pain au chocolat, the way I’d been considering doing ten minutes ago. Despite that fact, though, Nina did accept a demitasse cup of drinking chocolate from the server. We listened as he outlined the buffet by rote.
    Kindly, Nina didn’t point out to that nervous-looking waiter that she, as a Lemaître exec, knew everything there was to know about the all-chocolate buffet, down to the last muffin.
    My estimation of her went up a notch. People who are kind to wait staff get the thumbs-up from (former wage slave) me.
    After he nodded and left, Nina’s gaze fell on the flyer about Adrienne’s memorial service. I’d left it between me and Danny during my tirade. “Ah. You’re coming today, aren’t you?”
    â€œNah.” I shrugged. “I’m jetting off to Barbados, instead.”
    She gawked. I felt bad for being flip. What can I say? I sometimes go glib under pressure. Comforting someone you barely knew was pressure. I couldn’t believe Danny had stuck me here.
    â€œKidding.” I noticed Isabel and Bernard had arrived, too.
    â€œOf course.”

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