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.She needed to keep her wits about her, not barrel in and mess up the life they’d created for themselves.At least, for someone unaccustomed to dealing with six-year-olds, she thought she was handling herself well with Dolly.She was a cheerful kid, not as combative and out-spoken as Tess had been at that age with her own mother’s death still so fresh.She used Dolly’s bathroom down the hall, grateful she didn’t have to share with Andrew, smell his soap, breathe in the steam from his shower.She picked bath toys out of the tub and opted for a shocking-pink towel with a big yellow fish on it.When she climbed into the shower, she imagined Andrew hearing the water running, picturing her the way she had him.It had to be the skeleton.She trusted her instincts and impulses when it came to her work, but not men—at least not romantically.She could work with men, argue politics and baseball and otherwise hold her own, but romance, intimacy, falling in love…She shuddered just thinking about how many times she’d stopped at the precipice and decided, “No, not him,” and refused to jump.She dressed in a pair of ratty work jeans and a fresh Red Sox shirt.She and Susanna would check the cellar themselves.She had breakfast on the back porch with Andrew and Dolly, just cereal, toast and juice, but with the sunlight and the sounds of the ocean, it was perfect.Tess had half hoped she’d see Andrew and wonder what had gotten into her yesterday.Instead, she had to admit something about the man set her senses on fire.Even when he was pouring a cup of coffee, she noticed the muscles in his forearms, the angles of his face.Dolly saw Harl working on her tree house, remembered her new window and scooted off.Tess smiled over the rim of her mug, enjoying her last sips of coffee.“I think I’m off the hook for playing stuffed animals.”“Don’t count on it.” Andrew sat across the table, studying her with the kind of frank intimacy that said he knew exactly how close they’d come to tearing off their clothes and making love last night.That said he remembered every detail of their kisses.“How are you this morning? Did you get any sleep?”“Some, thanks.I need to get next door.A friend of mine is coming up this morning.”“I’d like to take another look in your cellar,” he said.She nodded.“Maybe we can figure out what it was my mind turned into a skeleton.”Andrew didn’t answer.He was, Tess realized, tight-lipped and controlled by nature, but not a man who missed a thing.Something else for her to remember.She set her mug down, part of her wishing she could stay here all day, going from coffee to iced tea to wine, not doing anything more demanding than playing stuffed animals with a six-year-old.When they set out across the yard, Dolly ran over, torn between helping Harl finish the window in her tree house and checking on the kittens.Finally, she yelled over her shoulder, “Harl, I’m going over to Tess’s house! I’ll help you later.Don’t worry, okay?”Harl popped his white head out of the tree house door.“Go on.I’ll see if I can manage without you.”She giggled and put her warm little hand into Tess’s.“Harl’s funny.”“You think so?”“Yep.”Andrew glanced at Tess as if to say Dolly couldn’t be expected to know any better.They took the long way around the lilacs, and when she saw the carriage house in the morning sun, Tess was struck by its graceful lines and picturesque setting.She could almost forget the police crawling around in her cellar last night.Had there been an intruder? Would the police want to talk to her again today, or anyone else? Ike Grantham was the previous owner, his sister the director of the Beacon Historic Project and the one who’d given Tess the key.Wouldn’t they want to talk to Lauren Montague and at least try to get in touch with Ike?Only if they believed there might have been a skeleton in her cellar, Tess thought.And they didn’t.She wondered if word of her call to the police had gotten around Beacon-by-the-Sea, if people would understand how she could have at least thought she’d stumbled onto human remains in the old Jedidiah Thorne carriage house.Dolly skipped up the kitchen steps, but Andrew quietly moved in front of her, going in first.“Oh my God,” Dolly screamed, panicked.“They’re gone! Daddy!”But he touched her shoulder and pointed into the bathroom.“No, they’re not, Dolly.Look.Tippy Tail’s moved them into the box.”She placed a palm over her heart dramatically.“Oh my God, they’re so cute!”“Dolly.”She glanced up at him.“I know, I shouldn’t say ‘Oh my God.’”“You really shouldn’t.”Tess smiled at the father-daughter exchange.She was relieved to have her bed, such as it was, free of Tippy Tail and family.While Andrew and Dolly checked on them, she scooped up the lilacs she’d dumped out in the sink last night in her haste for a weapon, and tossed them into the trash.She glanced around the kitchen.The carriage house needed so much.She liked the idea of a country house, a weekend project, the physical work that would be involved.If the skeleton proved to her satisfaction to be nothing but a figment of her imagination, she could see herself keeping the place.Then Andrew came out of the bathroom, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and she thought, Maybe not.Her neighbor could prove to be a bigger complication than whatever it was she’d seen in her cellar.“Can I name the kittens?” Dolly asked her father in an excited whisper.“Just for now.The people who adopt them will want to give them their own names.”“I’m naming the black one Midnight,” she said.“Okay, but we’re not keeping him.”“What if it’s a girl?”“Then we’re not keeping her.”They went back outside, and Dolly got a stick from the lilacs and decided to draw pictures on Tess’s driveway while she and Andrew checked out back.In daylight, there was still no clear indication of an intruder [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]