Book Excerpt From "A Fool and His Honey: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery"
Martin and I had ﬂown up to Pittsburgh for the wedding, maybe seven months ago. We’d gotten the impression that the young couple would be living in very straitened circumstances. Craig Graham had been a dark, lanky no-brainer, whose greatest apparent virtue had been that he cared for Regina. He was eighteen to Regina’s twenty-one. The groom’s share of the wedding duties and expenses had been borne by Barby, who had tried to be unobtrusive about it. Of course, Martin and I had noticed. But Barby had made it clear to us (to Martin, anyway, since she seldom talked to me directly) that after the wedding, the young couple was going to be ﬁnancially independent, as far as she was concerned. She’d made some pointed remarks about who had made beds and who would be lying in them.
“Would you like a drink? Coffee or hot chocolate? Though maybe those things aren’t good for the baby.” My friend Lizanne was breast-feeding and, though I hadn’t asked, she’d generously given me a very thorough grounding on the subject. After being indoctrinated with Lizanne’s opinions on the virtues of, and necessity for, mother’s milk, I was taken aback when Regina gave me a blank look.
“Huh? No, I’m bottle-feeding,” she said, after a pause. “Gosh, if I nursed him, it’d have to be me that fed him every time.”
I kept a smile planted on my face. “So, some coffee?”
“Please.” She slumped back. “I’ve been driving for hours.”
She had driven all the way from Ohio. This was very strange, and getting stranger.
I brewed some coffee, shuddering at Regina’s protest that instant would have been ﬁne. After I’d poured a cup for each of us, adding cream and sugar to Martin’s niece’s, I listened to Regina blather about the long drive, the baby, her mother’s condo, her Aunt Cindy . . .
“Oh, I’m sorry!” she apologized. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“Aunt Cindy” was Martin’s ﬁrst wife, the mother of his only child, Regina’s cousin Barrett. I sighed internally, still kept my smile pasted on, and assured Regina that she needn’t apologize. A little corner of my brain repressed an urge to ask Regina why she wasn’t at Aunt Cindy’s instead of Uncle Martin’s, if Aunt Cindy was so great.
“Did you see Barrett on TV the other night?” Regina said enthusiastically. “Boy, didn’t he look handsome? I always call all my friends when Barrett’s going to be on television.”
Regina was digging at all my sore—or rather, sensitive—spots. Barrett had not come to our wedding. He’d been up for a big part, he’d told his dad, the implication clear that a new part for Barrett was more important than a new wife for his father.
And he hadn’t visited Lawrenceton in the three-plus years Martin had lived here.
But he’d found the time to come to Regina’s wedding, where he’d managed to dodge us with an almost unbelievable agility. Martin had told me he’d had a drink with Barrett in the hotel bar after I’d gone up to bed the night before the wedding, and that had been the contact he’d had with his son—whose career he’d been subsidizing.
I was beginning to wish Martin’s only niece had stayed in Ohio. I was also beginning to puzzle at the reason behind her visit. She was being mighty evasive.
“Regina,” I said, when she’d ﬁnished blathering about Barrett’s career, “I’m delighted that you came to visit, but this evening, just for a couple of hours, may be a little awkward. Your uncle and I have a long- standing dinner engagement, and though we could call and tell the Lowrys we have to take a rain check, I’m afraid—”
Regina, who happened to be holding the baby (Hayden, I reminded myself), looked up with something approaching alarm. “You two go on like you had planned. I’ll be ﬁne here. Just point me at the microwave and I’ll be glad to ﬁx my own supper. After all, I just appeared on your doorstep.”
It seemed to me—almost—that Regina was anxious to get us out of the house. I could feel my eyebrows draw together in a frown.
“Excuse me a minute,” I said. Regina, her attention focused on the baby, gave me an absent nod.