“Can you get that?” I asked, of no one in particular, when I heard the inn’s doorbell ring. I was too focused on giving a bourbon cake its last soaking to notice that Louisa was the only one left in the kitchen.
“I’m literally up to my elbows in a turkey,” Louisa said dryly, “so I’m going to have to say no. Mary hasn’t gotten back yet and Madelyn just left to put the fiends to bed, so I think you’re on door duty at the moment.”
“Where are the men?” I asked, still absorbed in the cake when the bell sounded again. “Oh, never mind, I’ll get it.”
I realized only as I reached for the door that I was still carrying the oversized bottle of Woodford Reserve I’d been using to baste cakes in the kitchen. I shifted it to my left hand and opened the door to reveal two pinched, elderly faces bobbing several inches below my own.
“Hello,” I said a touch too brightly. “You must be Mary’s mother and aunt.” I had no idea which was which, so I looked at each of them in turn. “I’m Cate Raleigh.”
“Hello,” the shorter woman said, eyeing the giant whiskey bottle in my hand with unveiled disapproval. “I am Myrna O’Callaghan Kavanaugh, Mary’s mother, and this is my sister, Margaret O’Callaghan McGillivray.” She sniffed dramatically. “You may call us the O’Callaghan sisters,” she said gravely, as though they were a musical group or, more likely, a religious order.
“Please come in, both of you,” I said quickly, ignoring their scowls. “Here, let me take your coats.” I deposited the bourbon on a side table and helped them out of their layers of scarves, overcoats, and jackets. As I hung the lot up on the row of pegs on the wall, I heard one of them gasp. I turned quickly to see them staring into the library, looking far more scandalized than they had upon seeing the whiskey. I followed their gaze automatically, trying to guess what had upset them and then had to bite my tongue to keep from uttering something profoundly offensive when I saw what it was.
A handful of people were sitting in a semicircle facing the far end of the library. Tuesday had been teaching art classes at the inn for weeks, with Nadine’s help, and he was currently in the middle of a lesson. Everyone in the room, save Tuesday, was busy sketching the subject on display in front of them.
Each week, Tuesday offered a different theme. I had served as the model for a class on portraits a few weeks ago after Tuesday had complimented my “glorious bones.” Before the group at the moment was another study in glorious bones. Tuesday’s. All of them.
He was stark naked and perched on the raised hearth like a sculpture on a dais. With his divinely sculpted body and regal pose, he certainly looked like something an Italian master might have rendered. If said master had a penchant for dark, seductive devils. To his credit, Tuesday was holding a hat of some sort over his naughtiest bits, but the rest of him was more than wicked enough.
“Oh that,” I said to the women, waving a hand casually toward the library, “that’s just Tuesday and his art class. Don’t mind them.” I was trying to shuffle the women away from the door when Tuesday grinned and waved hello. Of course, he’d waved the hand holding the hat, thereby revealing a shockingly large erection.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, Don Juan, put that thing away,” I shouted without thinking. At this, the little O’Callaghan sisters, who had been frozen to the handscraped floorboards, jumped and scurried across the lobby. They disappeared into the dining room without a backward glance, muttering furiously to one another and shaking their heads as they went.
I sighed and glared evilly at Tuesday, who laughed and winked at me before resuming his pose on the hearth. The art students had scarcely noticed the whole exchange. I turned back toward the kitchen, having decided to return the whiskey before attempting to deal with the old women again.