Chapter One

“Should we go help?”

He kissed her temple. “I’ll go help. You stay out here and draw.”

“I was done anyway.” She showed him the drawing again, the irritable tom prominent in the foreground. “What do you think – frame it and hang it in the Autumn Room?”

“Nah. Frame it and put it on the mantle in the Great Room. We can swap it out with Maple Messes.”

“Maple Memories,” she corrected automatically, mentally picturing her watercolor of a grove of sugar maples.

“It amounts to the same thing when tapping sugar maples for syrup,” he said reasonably. “We’ll put Maple Memories in the Autumn Room – it’s fitting – and the turkey tom on the table.”

“You said the mantle a minute ago.”

“The drawing, yes. The tom goes on the table. Mark my words, Pop’ll get him yet. What are you going to call this drawing?”

“Beware the Feathered Shithead Who Speared Me in the Ass While I Was Saving My Son.”

“Kind of long, isn’t it? How about we shorten it to ‘Feathered Shithead’?”

Sarah chuckled, a little dryly. When she had gone to Benj’s aid after he’d been speared in the backside, the irritable tom had circled round her and speared her, too. She was still sitting with most of her weight on her left butt check while the wound in her right cheek healed. Just one more scar to go with the others.

She frowned at the dark thought and impatiently shoved it away. Far behind her was where she had put Eric Edwards and the assault – and she always thought of him in terms of the assault at Harper & Lyttle, Inc. and not in terms of ‘the man I killed,’ better able to cope with the first horrific incident than the last.

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