Mantrap (The Boston Uncommons Mystery Series)

Mantrap (The Boston Uncommons Mystery Series) by Arlene Kay Read Free Book Online

Book: Mantrap (The Boston Uncommons Mystery Series) by Arlene Kay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Arlene Kay
or holy relic for a lost soul. Perhaps that’s how his widow saw it. I had no doubt that although more than a decade had passed, Persus Cantor still revered her husband.
    Carved floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with weathered leather books and curios testified to the importance of literature in this household. The titles, mostly classics, provided insight into the intellectual life of both occupants. Lower shelves, those easily accessible to Persus, had all the classics from Shakespeare to Austen. British poets and some Americans also earned pride of place. I scrutinized the higher space designated for Lars. His tastes were somewhat darker and focused on Scandinavian and Russian authors: Strindberg, Ibsen, and a host of names I’d never heard of before, not to mention the more popular Tolstoy, Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, and Nabokov.
    “Did you share that desk, you and Mr. Cantor?” I had a mental image of her, busy with her letters and clippings while her husband thumbed through business papers, pipe in hand.
    “Oh no, Eja. Not at all.” Pert seemed scandalized by the suggestion. “This was his space, a private preserve, if you will. Lars insisted on total solitude.” She beamed at a photograph of her husband. “Men need their own room where they’re free to be themselves. It’s good for a marriage. You’ll see.”
    I hid the flush in my cheeks by stroking the fine grey paint of the tall case clock. “This is a Mora clock, isn’t it? It’s lovely.”
    Pert’s eyes gleamed. “Ah yes. Lars was very proud of his Swedish heritage. He found that clock at auction in Stockholm many years ago.”
    I stifled an unexpected flow of emotion. “Isn’t it painful for you—this room?”
    “Oh no,” she said, “quite the opposite. Sometimes I feel as if Lars is right here beside me. It’s a great comfort being in a spot that he loved so much. The memories sustain me.” Pert’s smile was kind. “At my age, the past and future are almost one.”
    With a discreet knock, Krister entered the study bearing appetizers and liquid refreshment. Pert nodded, and he poured her a drink.
    “Do you like Aquavit, Eja? It’s quite tasty.”
    I hesitated, mindful of my limited capacity for alcohol.
    “Oh, go on, Eja. Be a sport.” Deming slithered up behind me and began massaging my shoulder slowly and sensuously. “Remember, I’m half Swedish too. Family tradition. Any little Swanns will have a quarter’s worth of Swede to contend with.”
    I tried a diversionary tactic to obscure the full body flush that consumed me. “Be accurate, Deming. Baby swans are called cygnets.”
    For once, I’d caught him totally unprepared. Deming whooped with laughter, as he leaned over the tray and filled his plate with shrimp, crabmeat, and fish cakes.
    “Touché, Ms. Kane. That’s what I get for testing your vocabulary. Now turn off that big brain before I starve to death. I barely ate all day. What this town calls a restaurant isn’t fit to repeat.”
    “Oh, Demmy,” Pert said. “Always a perfectionist. We used to keep horses here, Eja, and Deming—well, he looked so fine in his livery. Everything had to be just so, or he’d stamp his little foot and drive his poor mama wild.”
    Deming’s handsome face turned an interesting shade of pink. “Ah, come on, Aunt Pert. Eja’s not interested in that stuff.”
    “Yes, I am. It’s fascinating. Tell me more.”
    “I recall the first time Bolin and Anika came here.” Pert smiled at the memory. “Anika worried about Lars, but he and Bolin bonded instantly. Of course, Bolin has everything you’d want in a man—looks, charm, and such a brilliant mind. A gentleman, very much like my husband. Two of a kind they were.”
    I took a moment to process that. At first blush, Lars, a burly Swede, and Bolin Swann, a tall, elegant Eurasian, seemed miles apart.
    Deming paused in between forks full of pickled whitefish. “Let’s discuss your séance or whatever you call it. I’m sure Eja

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