“Where’s Mark?” asked Claire. “Out there,” replied Dex, pointing down the hill. “With Samantha.”

“Not done, Ed,” said Claire. “Let’s go look at the gatehouse!”

Laura sighed. “Really, isn’t Mark capable of assessing the project without a crowd?” she asked. “I thought you wanted to see that portrait again.”

Dex strode to the glass door, out onto the ravaged lawn, Claire on her heels. She hoped Dex could rein in her temper when she got to Mark, she worked hard to get those two together, and she wasn’t going to watch all that effort go up in the smoke from a Dex Cranford explosion, and from the look on Dex’s face, Mount Cranford was going to blow.

“Dex, wait,” she said, catching up, grabbing Dex’s arm. “Don’t be mad at Mark, from the minute that woman saw him, she was salivating like a dog at dinner time.”

“From the moment he saw that portrait in the drawing room, he was in another world,” said Dex. “And then he saw Samantha, who looks exactly like the portrait, and he’s off with her? I’d say he’s flattered that she’s that obviously attracted to him.”

“Laura will put a stop to that,” said Claire. “She’ll think she has a prior claim on Mark.”

“I have a prior claim on Mark,” said Dex. “Or I thought I did.”

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