Book Excerpt From "Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Fool and His Honey"

Through the opaque oval glass pane in the front door, I saw the silhouette of a woman with a baby carrier in her arms. I assumed it was my friend Lizanne Buckley Sewell, who’d had her baby boy two months before. I disarmed the alarm and opened the door with a smile that collapsed in on itself. I stared blankly at the plump, dark, pretty young woman who stood on my front porch with a perfectly strange baby, who seemed smaller than Lizanne’s infant.

“Aunt Roe!” said the dark young woman. She looked exhausted, and she also looked as if she expected a warm welcome.

I had not the slightest idea who she was.

The next instant everything clicked, and I would have thunked myself on the forehead with the heel of my hand if I’d been alone. I was aunt to only one young woman, and that was Martin’s niece, the daughter of his sister Barby.

“Regina!” I said, hoping my recovery hadn’t been too obvious.

“For a minute there, I didn’t think you recognized me!” she said, laughing.

“Ha, ha. Come on in! And this is little . . .” Regina had had a baby? It was covered with a blue blanket and wore a red sleeper. Martin had a—great-nephew?

How could I have missed that? Granted, we don’t often see Martin’s sister and her daughter, but I would have expected a certain amount of phone calling to herald the new arrival.

“Oh, Aunt Roe! This is Hayden!”

“And you call him Hayden.” I nodded with a wise look. “No nicknames.” I could hardly recall ever having been more at sea.

“No, me and Craig are set on him being called Hayden,” Regina said, trying to look firm and determined and failing completely.

Martin may not have gotten all the looks in the Bartell family—Barby and Regina are both pretty, in their way—but he’d surely gotten a disproportionate amount of the brains and resolution.

I craned out of the front door, trying to see if Craig Graham was maybe getting luggage out of the trunk. “Where’s your husband?” I asked, never imagining this would be a sensitive question.

“He didn’t come,” Regina said. Her generous mouth clamped tight.

“Oh.” I hoped I didn’t sound as blank as I felt. “And how’s your mother?” I was gesturing to Regina to come on in, still peering around in the hopes of spying a companion. She’d driven all the way from Corinth, Ohio, on her own?

“Mama’s on a cruise,” Regina said, too gaily. This gal was having serious mood swings.

“Hmmm. Where to?” I repeated my “come in” gesture, more emphatically.

“Oh, she’s taking a long one,” Regina chattered, finally stepping over the threshold. “The boat stops by some islands in the Caribbean, then over to two stops in Mexico of several days apiece, then back to Miami.”

“My goodness,” I said mildly. “She’s with a friend?”

“That guy,” Regina said, depositing the baby, still in his infant seat, on the coffee table in front of the couch and unslinging a huge diaper bag from her shoulder. There was still a fabric-care tag dangling from the shoulder strap of the diaper bag.

“That guy” was Barby’s fiancé, investment banker Hubert Morris, whom the divorced Barby Lampton had met when she’d bought a condo in Pittsburgh, the closest major city and airport to Corinth, Ohio, Barby and Martin’s childhood home. Though Barby hadn’t lived in Corinth since her teenage years, Regina had met her husband-to-be while she and her mother were in Corinth visiting an old friend of Barby’s. Regina had married the boy—I mean, young man—only two months later.