Death by the Book
make a very special announcement.”
    Madeline twined her arms around his neck, her eyes glowing. “Really? You want to tell everybody I’m going back to Chicago?”
    “Ah. Point taken, darling. Point taken.” He took her arms from around his neck and bowed formally over her hand. “I ask nothing more than the honor of your company.”
    She laughed and gave him a peck on the cheek.
    “Ahem.”
    Madeline stepped away from Drew with a determined smile. “Hello, Aunt Ruth. Don’t you look nice.”
    Aunt Ruth was clad in black as always, but her gown was a watered silk with full sleeves and a sequined bodice, as tastefully fashionable as any Drew had seen that season. Her hair was upswept, the Gibson Girl look that had been out of fashionfor nearly two decades but which flattered her much more than would any of the bobbed styles that were the current rage.
    Drew smiled at her with genuine admiration. “Madeline is absolutely right, ma’am. You look charming.”
    Aunt Ruth merely snorted.
    “Oh, and before I forget, if you will both pardon me.” Drew dashed out of the room and came back a moment later with the gift-wrapped box from the boot of his car. “I saw this when I was in Winchester and thought you might like to have it.”
    The older woman took the package from him, eyeing him suspiciously. But as she undid the wrappings and lifted out the doll, the expression on her face turned to one of surprise and then softened into something more like wonder.
    “Oh, my.”
    That was all she said, but seeing the pleasure in her eyes, Drew found it more than enough.
    “How very sweet.” Madeline touched her fingers to the delicate lace that trimmed the old-fashioned satin dress. “Oh, Drew, that’s precious.”
    He gave her a hopeful, questioning glance, and she nodded in return. Then she turned to her aunt. “Wasn’t that thoughtful of him, Aunt Ruth?”
    “It was . . . it was . . . Yes.”
    Aunt Ruth gave Drew a brisk nod, not quite meeting his eyes, and then quickly busied herself with repacking the box, immediately afterwards handing it off to a maid with firm instructions to put it on her bed in the cottage. Madeline, on the other hand, beamed at Drew, and he counted the whole venture a success.
    “Oh, I say. You ladies look the very thing.” Nick breezed into the room, smiling his admiration at Madeline and her aunt.“Drew, old man, tonight we have on our hands an embarrassment of aesthetic riches.”
    “We’ll have to get you into white tie and tails one day, Nick.” Madeline adjusted the flower in the lapel of his dinner jacket. “I know Carrie would like it.”
    “I’d certainly haul out the old glad rags if she were to come back. We’d have to have a proper bash then.”
    Drew scowled. “She’s all right enough, but she’d likely bring that Muriel with her.”
    “Now, now.” Madeline came and straightened Drew’s already straight tie. “I’ll make sure she stops calling you Adorable Drew, even though we all know you love it.”
    Drew gave her a pretend glare, and Nick grinned.
    “At any rate, I hope Farthering Place will have more formal occasions in time. It’s rather a delicate thing, though, isn’t it, knowing when to ease a home out of mourning and back into the social whirl?”
    Madeline glanced at Drew and then smiled into Nick’s eyes. “This’ll be a fine way to start.”
    “If you don’t have much respect for the dead, of course.” Aunt Ruth folded her hands. “Certainly, a fine way.”
    Already the sound of guests arriving was coming from the entry hall, probably Mr. and Mrs. Allison.
    Madeline took her aunt’s arm. “It’s just dinner, Aunt Ruth. We’re not having bareback riders and sword swallowers.”
    “Of course, you young people know best. Still, I’d feel much better if you were seeing some nice American boy. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times . . .”
    Her voice faded as she and Madeline left the parlor, and Drew turned to

Similar Books

Storm at the Edge of Time

Pamela F. Service

Escaping Life

Michelle Muckley

Straw Men

J. R. Roberts