Death by the Book
I helped him.”
    “And I suppose you had a nice chat about how American money is so much simpler.”
    “Well, yes. Then we introduced ourselves, and he asked me what he should see in Farthering St. John. I happened to mention the trifle at the Rose Garden, and he asked me to go with him. We had a nice talk and that was it. To be honest, I didn’t think about him again until he showed up today. I mean, I did like talking to him, but I don’t want you to think I’m hiding anything from you.”
    “You know, even though I can’t help having murderous thoughts toward any man who looks at you, I never worry about being deceived by you. Should you, as you Americans say, decide to slip me the mitten some dreary November day, I fully expect you’ll come straight to me and tell me plainly that, though you have the fondest regard for me, you could never be truly happy with anyone but the Nubian trapeze artist you’ve lived next door to all your life and whom, until he very recently and tearfully confessed his passionate yet honorable feelings for you, you had never looked upon as more than a brother.” He sighed and spread one hand across his chest. “Though heartbroken, I could never stand in the way of your happiness.”
    She shook her head, laughing. “I think you may rival even Lord Peter Wimsey himself for talking piffle.”
    “Never underestimate the power of piffle, my girl. I expect that even the strong-minded Harriet Vane shan’t be able to resist it forever.”
    “I’ll keep that in mind. Though I’m more than halfway through the book and she shows no sign of wavering.”
    She took a firmer hold on his arm as they stepped from stone to stone in crossing the little brook that ran just below Rose Cottage. “I hope Aunt Ruth likes the lace-making book.”
    “It seems just the thing. Just don’t give her the one on women and crime by mistake.”
    Madeline put her hand over her mouth, stifling a giggle. “I can’t believe you actually bought it anyway.”
    “It is a bit grim, isn’t it? I may not even read it, you know, but Mrs. Harkness seemed so eager to be rid of it.”
    “See? That’s my point exactly.” Madeline shook her head and made little tsk-tsk noises with her tongue. “You thought you were being nice and taking it off her hands, and all she was doing was giving you a sales pitch.”
    “Bah. Just for that, I’m going to read every grisly page of it and then tell you about it in minute detail just before you go to bed every night.”
    “That won’t bother me. My mind will be completely occupied with the dinner party we’re having tomorrow night. What I’ll wear, how I’ll do my hair—”
    “Which sparklingly witty comments you’ll make and to whom.”
    She bestowed on him a gracious nod. “That will certainly be something to consider, though I mostly leave that to you.”
    “Wise choice.” He sobered. “You don’t suppose it’s too soon yet, do you, darling? After all that’s happened.”
    “It’s just dinner, isn’t it? And if Aunt Ruth is going to be staying for a while, it seems only polite to have an occasion to introduce her to everyone.”
    “True. A nice, quiet dinner isn’t exactly scandalous, is it?”
    She gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m sure it will be fine.”

    The evening of the dinner party was clear and balmy, a night that in other times would have been ideal for fireworks and a dance band. It was too soon, of course, to host the sort of gala evening for which Farthering Place had been known when Constance was alive, but a quiet dinner party for some friends would be just the thing.
    Drew straightened his tie, smoothed his hair back, and then turned as Madeline came into the parlor.
    “You’re ravishing as always.”
    She made a slight curtsy, as much as the sleek-fitting pale-blue satin of her gown would allow. “Thank you, kind sir.”
    He put his hands around her slender waist, pulling her closer to him. “Tonight would be a lovely opportunity to

Similar Books

For The Win

Cory Doctorow

More Than a Mistress

Leanne Banks

Enemy Lines

Allie Juliette Mousseau

The Eagle's Covenant

Michael Parker

Firefly Rain

Richard Dansky

The Claim

Billy London

Southern Cross

Jen Blood