Something Wicked

Something Wicked by Carolyn G. Hart Read Free Book Online

Book: Something Wicked by Carolyn G. Hart Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn G. Hart
America Journal,
shared her excitement over a new divine mystery,
The Unorthodox Murder of Rabbi Wahl,
or wondered aloud what Ngaio Marsh would advise in regard to the
Macbeth
quote, but the Gordons’
Undercover Cat
had nothing on Annie when it came to curiosity.
    “What is it this time?” she demanded.
    “Laurel is an enthusiastic traveler.”
    Annie considered this observation in silence.
    Max cleared his throat. “She had a wonderful trip to China last year.”
    Annie’s eyes narrowed.
    “Lovely wedding customs there. Visually quite striking.”
    Annie tensed.
    Max raised his dark blue eyes to study the ceiling, remarking conversationally, “Red’s a jolly color, isn’t it?” His eyes moved to her face, then quickly away. “Of course, in China red signifies joy and love, and the bridal dress and candles and gift boxes—”
    “No.”
    “No?”
    There was a moment’s silence, before Annie asked, in a strangled voice, “Where else did Laurel travel last year?”
    “Mmmm. Here and there.”
    She looked at him steadily.
    “Let me see. Thailand. East Pakistan. The Congo Republic. Cameroon. Algeria. Nicaragua.”
    At the mention of the last country, Annie stared at him in surprise.
    “Just a fact-finding tour. For her local world peace group.”
    “Maybe she’d like to go back. In September.”
    Max’s dark blue eyes were reproachful.
    “Just kidding,” she said grimly. But she felt enmeshed in a gossamer web, and she had a dreadful fear—one she hesitated even to put into words—that Laurel would prevail. Even the thought triggered a shudder, and she knew she must not permit her mind to envision the awesome possibilities of a wedding successfully engineered by Laurel.
    She would not think about it. She would not. What had they been doing before Laurel called? Oh, of course. The play. The quote from
Macbeth.
    “Max, we’ve got to figure out who’s sabotaging the play.” She handed him the plate of cookies.
    He scooped up three. “Why?” he asked mildly. “Let good old Burt take care of it.”
    “And what if he doesn’t? Does Burt have our expertise? Max, I love that play, and I don’t want to see it ruined. Come on, let’s think. Surely we can figure out who’s causing this trouble.”
    He popped a cookie in his mouth and crunched. “Hmm. Pretty good. You make ’em?”
    She merely stared at him.
    “Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to say the wrong thing.” He grinned.
    She would have admired the way his eyes crinkled when he was amused, but he got too much attention as it was. Instead, she sucked the froth from the top of her cup.
    Max drank more of his cappuccino, then asked suspiciously, “Did you put cream in this?”
    “Absolutely not,” she said indignantly. Half-and-half wasn’t
cream.
    She took a big sip, then popped up and crossed the room to root in the telephone desk for paper. The more active she was, the harder she thought about the play, the more Laurel’s latest
outré
proposal receded in her mind. She found book order forms, copies of programs from last summer’s plays, muttered “Damn,” when she pricked her finger on an errant needle (What was a needle doing in there?), and was burrowing beneath a mound of bank statements when the front doorbell was prodded sharply three times.
    Sucking on her finger and still scanning the living room for something to write on, she reached out and opened the door.
    A high-pitched voice burbled as Henny Brawley swept inside. She wore a large gray flannel skirt with a droopy hem, a full blouse with a lacy panel down the front, a shapeless rust-colored cardigan, lisle stockings, and extremely sensible brown shoes. She looked twice as big as she actually was. Her salt-and-pepper hair blossomed in springy sausage-roll curls.
    “Annie, Max, there’s no time to be lost. It’s imperative that we investigate at once. I know that if we fasten our teeth into this problem, we shall shake out the truth, like pigs hunting truffles.”
    Annie was,

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