The Fire of Home (A Powell Springs Novel)

The Fire of Home (A Powell Springs Novel) by Alexis Harrington Read Free Book Online

Book: The Fire of Home (A Powell Springs Novel) by Alexis Harrington Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alexis Harrington
well compensated?”
    “One thousand dollars. One-third down right now, in cash, if you agree.”
    Milo nearly choked, and put down the cup. “By God, you’re not fooling around here.”
    “No, I’m not.”
    “And you say I wouldn’t have to do anything but learn where she’s hiding out?”
    “Ideally. If you encounter obstacles, I’d expect you to take care of them. But otherwise no, unless I find that I need more help, for which I will pay extra. And you must be discreet about your business. If she discovers you and she’s scared off, you’ll forfeit the rest of the money.”
    “Don’t worry about me. I’m pretty good at dodging trouble.” The man sucked on his lower front teeth—the upper ones were missing—until he found whatever was stuck in them. He gestured with a spoon he picked up from the table. “When the law got too close to my trail a few years back, I just ducked into the army and went to war. It was a risk, but a better one than life in prison.”
    Adam replied, “I would have made sure there was no one left who could tie a crime to me to begin with.”
    Milo gazed at him with obvious amazement. “I never would’ve figured you for such a cutthroat. You look more like a schoolmaster or a preacher or something in your plain, prim clothes and with that baby-smooth face.” He shook his head once. “Well, yo u’d better give me what details you have so I’ll know where to start.”
    With the agreement made, Adam volunteered just enough information to get Milo headed in the right direction. He kept his tone direct and unsentimental.
    Milo fingered the three hundred thirty dollars that Adam had given him in an envelope, then looked up. “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be your wife or her fancy man when you catch up with them. Nope, I surely wouldn’t.”
    Adam drained his cup. “I imagine not.”

CHAPTER FOUR
    “Harlan, all you do is work. You put in so many late nights, and now you’re leaving again,” Tabitha Pratt Monroe complained.
    Harlan Monroe stood in front of a full-length mirror and knotted his tie. “Now, Tabbie, you know I’m a busy man. I have details to attend to. I’m paid well but Robert Burton demands a lot for his money. It’s hard to believe he’s retired—I can only imagine what he was like before he started running his lumber business from his office at home,” Harlan replied, buttoning his vest. Moving to the marble-topped dresser, he picked up a pair of silver-backed hairbrushes and buffed his dark hair into place. Then he fastened a sterling stickpin in his necktie. He had dressed in his own bedroom but saw to the fine details here so he could reinforce his expectation that she spend her day with effective purpose.
    He glanced at Tabitha’s reflection in the mirror. They had been married for just over a year and she was still getting accustomed to acting as the lady of the house. She sat against ornate bed pillows and pouted in her satin-and-lace bed jacket just as the maid, Elsa, brought her breakfast tray of tea, a poached egg, and toast with specially imported rose petal preserves. Tabbie’s bobbed blonde hair looked like an abandoned bird’s nest after the night the y’d spent. At least she was a willing lover, if a rather dull one. He faced her and gestured at the beautifully appointed bedroom, with its tall leaded-glass windows and French hand-carved furniture purchased from Gevurtz Furniture, one of the best stores here in Portland. “You can’t say that you’re unhappy with your lot. After all, you may have admirable social connections, but you were trapped in that schoolteacher’s job until I rescued you.” He tipped a smile at her and her pout disappeared.
    “I know. I never dreamed I’d live on Park Place, on the same street with the Ledbetters and Washington Park.” She sighed. “I just would like to share more time with you in this grand home you’ve gotten for us.”
    “You have all that luggage we bought—we’ll take a

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