Home > Twice Bitten (Argeneau #27)(2)

Twice Bitten (Argeneau #27)(2)
Author: Lynsay Sands

“Right,” Elspeth said, turning to offer the woman a grateful smile before offering back to her mother. “Not even two months, just six weeks without a visit. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, I had just moved to a different continent, and I was getting settled into my new apartment, and preparing for the summer classes, as well as helping out Mortimer, but really I should have made time to fly back and forth from England every weekend to visit.”

Martine narrowed her eyes and took another step closer. “Helping Mortimer?”

Eyes widening with alarm as she realized what she’d given away, Elspeth moved back and opened her mouth to try to fast-talk her way out of the corner she’d painted herself into. But all that came out was a weak “Uh” as she bumped up against the man still standing behind her.

Frankly, considering the alarm bells screeching in her head and the sudden cold sweats coursing up and down her body, even that pitiful response was impressive.

“Elspeth?” Martine’s eyes were narrow and cold, Elspeth noted vaguely as she felt Wyatt’s hands settle on her shoulders to balance her. Distracted by his touch, she barely heard her mother ask, “What have you—?”

“Oh, there’s the kettle!” Meredith interrupted cheerfully as a whistling sound came from the kitchen. “Come along, dears, and we’ll have a nice cup of tea. Do you like tea, Mrs. Pimms? If not, I can make some coffee.”

There was silence for a moment as her mother kept Elspeth pinned with her gaze, but then she released her and offered Meredith a sweet smile. “Tea sounds lovely.”

“Oh, good. I still have some cookies too. Wyatt made a good effort, but didn’t quite manage to eat them all. They’re homemade peanut butter chocolate chip,” Meredith told her mother. “Elspeth just loves my cookies.”

“I am sure she does,” Martine said stiffly, and Elspeth bit her lip. Her mother was not the cookie baking type. Actually, her mother hadn’t cooked a day in her life that Elspeth knew of.

“Come along then, girls, Wyatt,” Meredith said firmly, turning back into the kitchen. “Let’s have some tea and cookies.”

Much to Elspeth’s relief, her mother nodded and moved forward, but as she slid by her, Martine growled, “We shall talk about what you are doing for Mortimer when we return upstairs.”

Elspeth grimaced, but nodded. “Of course, Mother.”

“She’s your mother?” Wyatt asked with obvious disbelief as her mother followed Merry into the kitchen. “She doesn’t look old enough to be your mother.”

“She’s older than she looks,” Elspeth said wearily, and when Wyatt just arched one eyebrow in question, she glanced toward the kitchen door and added spitefully, “It’s amazing what a little dermabrasion and Botox can do.”

“Botox!” The squawk was followed by her mother’s head poking around the kitchen doorway to scowl at her. “I would never stoop to that poison.” Turning her gaze to Wyatt, she added, “I just happen to have excellent genes.”

Rolling her eyes, Elspeth limped around Wyatt, heading for the kitchen.

“Why are you limping?” Martine asked sharply as Elspeth moved past her into the room.

“It’s nothing. I’m fine,” Elspeth muttered, and then forced a smile as she walked toward Meredith. “What can I do to help, Merry?”

“Everything is pretty much ready, dear,” her friend assured her with a smile as she set the kettle back on the stove with one hand, and dropped the lid on the steaming teapot with the other. “I had it all prepared and was just waiting on the water to boil. But you can take the plate of cookies to the table if you like. I’ll get out another cup. I thought it would be just you, me, and Wyatt when I set them out.”

“You were expecting her?” Wyatt asked, moving to take the tray holding the teapot, sugar, cream, plates, and spoons. He carried it to the table where Elspeth was setting down the cookies. Three cups already sat waiting on the table, she noted as she straightened.

“Oh my, yes. Ellie often stops in for tea when she gets home from work in the morning. It’s a nice start to the day for me, and a chance to unwind before bed for her,” Meredith said with a complacent smile.

Feeling his gaze on her, Elspeth glanced Wyatt’s way, noting the various expressions crossing his face as he watched her. In the end, his expression settled into a combination of perplexity and suspicion. Elspeth supposed he was worrying that she was trying to worm her way into his grandmother’s will or something. To be honest, after what had happened with Madeleine Cartwright, Meredith’s previous tenant in the basement apartment, Elspeth supposed she couldn’t blame him . . .

Which was probably why Wyatt was here, she thought suddenly. Elspeth knew Merry’s son had been trying to convince the woman to move into assisted living ever since her husband’s death five years ago. When Merry had confided that to her, Elspeth had thought it was to ease his guilt about not being here for her, but between Madeleine Cartwright’s efforts to swindle her and an incident with a phone scam recently, Elspeth suspected the son, Wyatt’s father, was concerned she might give away his inheritance. No doubt Wyatt had been sent to either convince her to move to an old folks’ home, or find the evidence needed to prove she was incapable of caring for herself and force her into one.

Well, Elspeth thought now, if that was the case, she’d do whatever was necessary to prevent it. Merry loved her home and was perfectly capable of taking care of herself in it. She merely disliked driving now and needed a little help getting to the bank and the grocery store. There were services to help with that. As for Madeleine . . . well, Merry had trusted the wrong person there. However, that wasn’t due to senility or any other age-related issue. It was just her sweet nature.

“Ellie is working nights?”

Groaning inwardly at her mother’s sharp question, and knowing that gaining this kind of information was exactly why her mother had decided that tea sounded “lovely,” Elspeth busied herself removing plates from the tray and setting one by each of the fancy and delicate china teacups with their beautiful hand-painted flowers. She then walked back to the cupboards to fetch a fourth plate. Her mother wouldn’t eat, but Elspeth knew that if she didn’t fetch a plate, Merry would, so she saved her the trouble.

“Oh my, yes. Of course, as you know, she won’t be once summer courses start up,” Merry said, and Elspeth had to bite her lip. Unfortunately, her mother didn’t know. At least, she hadn’t known that Elspeth was working nights right now for the rogue hunters. And Elspeth had rather been hoping she never would. But Merry continued chattily, “Until then, though, she’s been helping out that special division of the police and working nights to do it. You must be proud of her.”

“Hmm.” Her mother turned a sharp scowl on Elspeth.

“You work for the police?” Wyatt asked, and Elspeth was relieved to turn her attention away from her mother until she saw that Merry’s grandson was looking like he wasn’t sure what to make of that, or if he should even believe it.

“Yes, she does, dear. Ellie’s a criminal behaviorist,” Merry said, not hiding that she was impressed. “She’ll be teaching criminology courses at the university once summer classes start. In the meantime, she’s working for the police. In fact, Ellie’s the one who realized what my former tenant, Madeleine, was doing and got her to confess and give back the money she’d stolen.”

Not all of it, unfortunately. Madeleine had spent most of the money, but Elspeth had made her give back what remained and had then made up the difference herself. She hadn’t told Merry that. She’d known the woman wouldn’t accept her money. She’d also known Meredith needed it. The dear lady had a bit of a nest egg, and the rent she earned on the apartments covered her mortgage, utilities, and heat, but she still needed to eat and pay for the various medications she took for arthritis, high blood pressure, and other ailments.

Elspeth noted the way Martine’s narrowed gaze shifted from her to Wyatt to Merry, and was quite sure her mother was reading their minds to find out what they were talking about. Whatever she learned, she pretended she hadn’t and asked, “Who is Madeleine and what did she confess to?”

   
Most Popular
» Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)
» Kill Switch (Devil's Night #3)
» Hold Me Today (Put A Ring On It #1)
» Spinning Silver
» Birthday Girl
» A Nordic King (Royal Romance #3)
» The Wild Heir (Royal Romance #2)
» The Swedish Prince (Royal Romance #1)
» Nothing Personal (Karina Halle)
» My Life in Shambles
» The Warrior Queen (The Hundredth Queen #4)
» The Rogue Queen (The Hundredth Queen #3)
vampires.readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2021