In the bright light of the morning, Laura couldn’t imagine being frightened by a cat wandering about in her mansion. She roamed through the redecorated drawing room, pale mauve dupioni silk portieres framing the doorway into the morning room. She ran her hand over the polished surface of one of the mahogany tables beside the fat upholstered chairs, royal purple sateen gleaming softly in the light filtering through the louvered shutters on the long windows. She paused to lift the Meissen shepherdess, admiring the delicacy of the hand that had painted that petal pink pout two hundred years before. Steve hated that shepherdess; he wasn’t fond of her companion shepherd, either. Too wussy, he complained. Laura smiled at the altercation he’d had with the designer about the library. Norman Walters wanted to continue with more purple in that room, this time velvet for the upholstered seats and backs on the chairs for the library table. Steve had been adamant. No purple in his library. She wandered into his room, his room with oxblood Moroccan leather instead of purple velvet.

She looked up at the mounted eland head, proof you could buy anything for interior decoration these days, Steve never traveling outside the United States. “Not that he’d shoot an eland, either,” she said to the antelope’s head. “He was kind of upset with Norman about you.”

From the corner of her eye, she spied a bit of white beside the enormous teak desk that Walters had uncovered in a remote antique shop on the Eastern Shore. The large buffalo horn inkwell lay on the floor beside. She bent over it, picking up a handkerchief so fine that the fabric was nearly transparent. Embroidered in the corner in faintly lavender silk were the initials “ESH.”

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