Death by the Book
follow them out. “Coming, old man?”
    “Always the life of the party, eh?” Nick said under his breathas he came up beside him, but there was humor in his voice, and Drew shook his head, laughing low.
    “I tell you, Nick, she’s been a challenge, but I’m determined to win her over.”
    “You may have met your match in this one, you know.”
    “No, I refuse to give in. I just can’t let her get me off course. But I see where Madeline gets her contrary streak. I suppose if I can win over the old pepper pot, Madeline won’t be able to hold out much longer, either.” Drew straightened his tie one final time. “Come along. We can’t have Auntie telling Madeline tales about us.”
    The two of them strolled into the entry hall and found Madeline introducing herself and her aunt to the Allisons. The older couple were the picture of respectability, and even Aunt Ruth could have no objection to them, especially as Mrs. Allison had been gracious enough to hostess Drew’s dinner party.
    “Ah, Mrs. Allison.” Drew hurried to her and bowed over her hand. “I see you’ve met Miss Parker and Miss Jansen. Thank you again for coming. You know, it’s deuced awkward for us bachelors in these situations, especially those of us with no family to speak of.”
    “It’s the least I can do for your dear grandmother’s sake.” Mrs. Allison’s eyes sparkled as she glanced over at Madeline. “And I daresay you’ll have a proper hostess for your parties before long.”
    Her husband chuckled and shook Drew’s hand. “How are you, young man?”
    “Very well, sir. And most grateful for your cooperation in all this.”
    “Anytime, son. Anytime. Mrs. Allison was born for these little occasions and hasn’t had nearly enough opportunity to display her talents.”
    Mrs. Allison laughed softly. “Go on, Alvin. We’ll see to things from here on out.”
    With a nod and a bow to the ladies, Mr. Allison wandered off toward the drawing room. A moment later, Dennison opened the door to an old gentleman of military bearing and his equally martial middle-aged daughter. The daughter wore an unfortunate sallow green gown and an eyeglass on a cord round her neck.
    In her place at Drew’s side, Mrs. Allison smiled. “Good evening, Colonel Potterhouse. Miss Potterhouse.”
    “So pleased to have you, Colonel.” Drew shook hands and then turned to the daughter. “Miss Potterhouse, charming as always.”
    “Pshaw.” She gave him a playful shove that nearly set him off his feet. “When are you coming down to Greyfield to ride with us?” She took up her glass and peered at Madeline through it. “Of course, you’re all welcome.”
    “Won’t that be lovely, darling?” He took Madeline’s arm. “May I introduce Miss Madeline Parker and her aunt, Miss Jansen? Madeline’s quite a rider herself, you know.”
    “Is she?” Miss Potterhouse peered again, obviously unconvinced. “Then you must come.”
    Her father jiggled her arm. “Hurry along, Agnes. I want to have a word with Mr. Sim and his lady wife. Pleasure to meet you, Miss Parker.”
    Madeline smiled slyly once they had left the entry hall. “Well, at least she likes you .”
    “Freddie Bell, ma’am. Most pleased to meet you.”
    Drew and Madeline both turned to see the American, impeccably dressed, bowing to Mrs. Allison, and then he turned to them.
    “It’s a fine evening, Miss Parker.”
    “Hello again.” Madeline took Mr. Bell’s hand. “How nice of you to come.”
    Drew shook the man’s hand, this time with a grudging smile. “Yes, do come in, Bell. Now that you’ve come, I hope you’ll enjoy yourself.”
    “Thanks. I’ve heard a lot about your place here, Farthering. I like it. I like it a lot.”
    “Very kind of you.”
    “You think I might look around a little before dinner?”
    “If you like. I’d show you myself, but I really should see to my guests at the moment.”
    Aunt Ruth joined them just then, studying the American with evident approval.

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