The Fiancée Fiasco

The Fiancée Fiasco by Alyssa Kress Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fiancée Fiasco by Alyssa Kress Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alyssa Kress
suitcase. "Carruthers, I'm exhausted. Can't whatever lecture you want to give me wait until morning?"
    "No, it can not." He straightened from the post and came toward her, now looking more alarmed than angry. "Miz Archer, you don't intend to spend the night here?"
    Roseanne gave him a dour look. "Even you couldn't be so heartless as to leave me out in the cold."
    "But Miz Archer." Winthrop glanced meaningfully around at the other large houses clustered in the cul-de-sac. "Your reputation."
    Roseanne would have laughed if she couldn't see that he was dead serious.
    "People will think," Winthrop went on, hesitating discreetly, "that we're sleeping together."
    Instead of laughing, Roseanne gave him a weary smile. "That's the general idea. It's your reputation at issue, not mine, Carruthers. Do you want people to think we're engaged or don't you?"
    "I don't have much choice now, do I?" Winthrop bit out. "What with your pretty little story for Boyd."
    "Boyd jumped to his own conclusions." Roseanne tucked her hands under her arms. It was chilly out in the night air, but Winthrop seemed to want this discussion out of doors rather than in. "He got the idea we were engaged all on his own, if you'll recall. I simply did not disabuse him of the notion."
    "Oh, and I suppose Boyd came up on his own with some cock-a-mamie story about picnics on Bainbridge Island?"
    "Oh, good." Roseanne sighed in relief. "You were paying attention after all."
    "Paying attention? It's hard not to hear the nails going into your own coffin."
    Roseanne couldn't help chuckling. "Really, Carruthers, I don't know what you're afraid of. This is going to be very easy. Now please open the door before we both catch our deaths of cold."
    He looked at her a moment longer, obviously frustrated, but also exhausted. For a minute she almost felt sorry for him. He really didn't have a chance against her quicker mind and more determined will.
    He bent and picked up the suitcases, then trudged to the front door like a doomed man.
    "Come on in," he said, opening the door. "It looks like you're staying here for tonight."
    Roseanne stepped up to the front door and passed through it in front of Winthrop. "Now why do you make that sound like a sentence of execution?"
    "Believe me, I wouldn't mind taking an ax to your pretty little neck," Winthrop said grimly behind Roseanne.
    A high-ceilinged living space opened before her. A series of changes in floor level were all that separated formal living room from dining area and kitchen. A dark space at the back indicated a hallway, leading to the bedrooms, no doubt. At least, Roseanne assumed there was more than one bedroom.
    "Carruthers, this is gorgeous!" she exclaimed, taking it all in from the one lit lamp by the front door. "Did you have it built yourself?"
    Winthrop grunted an answer. Apparently he didn't feel like small talk about his house. "The guest bedroom is down this way." Toting her bag, he started down a wood paneled hall.
    Roseanne followed him into a neat, if antiseptic, room off to the right.
    "Bathroom is down the hall, I'm afraid," Winthrop told her, dumping her suitcase just inside the door. "Please have enough clothes on to be decent when you come out into the hallway."
    "I wouldn't dream of offending your delicate sensibilities."
    Winthrop rounded on her. "This isn't funny, Miz Archer."
    "I'm finding it rather amusing, myself."
    "Then you have a definite sadistic streak."
    Roseanne smiled serenely. "When it comes to men like you."
    In the process of going out the door, Winthrop halted, then turned to look back at her. "What is that supposed to mean?"
    "Nothing." Roseanne hauled the suitcase onto her bed and fit the key into the lock. Naturally, the old lock refused to work.
    "Don't tell me 'nothing.' Is this some sort of personal vendetta against me?"
    "No, just against your type." Roseanne struggled with the lock.
    "What type is that?" Winthrop came forward and calmly brushed her hands from their task.
    "The type

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