role calling for a handsome, elegant older man. The startlingly blue eyes sparkled with good humor. His navy cashmere V-neck fitted well and probably accentuated those remarkable eyes.
“You must forgive Delilah. She only wants the best for me. But I don’t need to be protected from life. Remind me of your name, dear lady,” he said, twinkling at Karen. “My memory is not what it was.”
“Tell me about it,” Karen said. “I barely remember who
am most days.”
“And she is Karen Smith,” I said, “the owner of the Cozy Corpse and the most mysterious woman in these parts.”
“Oh, of course!” He clapped his hands together. “I think my medications are making me quite stupid. I’d like to toss them all away, but my family makes sure I don’t get to do that.”
A look flickered across Delilah’s face. I guessed that Randolph’s condition was a source of deep pain to her, and making sure he took his meds over his protests just added to her troubles.
Karen said, “Don’t worry. But even if you don’t remember me, you probably do recall the Sayers first editions I sold you.”
“I remember you perfectly, well now that your young friend . . .”
“Jordan.” I filled in that blank.
“Jordan, of course. Yes indeed, the Sayers firsts were and continue to be unforgettably gorgeous.” He gestured absentmindedly toward the staircase for some reason. My gaze turned toward the two glass-fronted bookcases that flanked the fireplace. The shelves were full of fat volumes, leather bound and embossed in gold. Classics.
I didn’t see any sign of the Sayers collection. That was a relief, as the fire was glowing and the heat from it wouldn’t do that collection any favors. Vera would pass out at the thought.
I took another look at the stairs and noticed that a chairlift had been attached to the wall portion, no doubt to let Randolph get to the second floor and the collection easily. His bedroom too, I supposed.
Randolph said, “Delilah, my precious, should we not have some hot tea for our guests? Miss Smith and Miss . . . ?”
I was ambivalent about giving my real name in case I needed to try a few extralegal tricks to repatriate Vera’s books. However, I didn’t want to make Karen part of anything like that, and anyway we’d both been captured by the numerous cameras and could probably be identified easily even if we used false names. So I bit the bullet. “Jordan Bingham. I am here as Karen’s friend.”
“Jordan has been a lifesaver,” Karen said. “And I would love, love, love some hot tea. It’s my drug of choice lately. And it’s
a chilly fall day today.” She gave a charming little shiver. Delilah might have been beautiful, but Karen could melt a man’s heart.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Adams,” I said, extending my hand.
“Please, call me Randolph,” he said. “Don’t make me feel any older than I am. Delilah?” It came out as a question, but there was no doubt it was an order.
Delilah stood her ground, although I couldn’t help but notice she was quivering. I realized that she was unwilling to leave our new friend Randolph alone with us. Why was that? Karen and I were only interested in books and the ambiance of the house. It was hard to imagine what the danger could be. Whatever imaginary risks there were, Randolph Adams seemed blissfully unaware. I decided we’d follow his lead. At least until the front door slammed and we all jumped, except Randolph, who just kept beaming at Karen and occasionally at me.
A younger male slunk soundlessly into the room. He was a good-looking kid, with high cheekbones and a smoldering-anger thing going on. His royal moodiness was wearing 7 For All Mankind jeans, a faux distressed T-shirt and Blundstone boots. I thought it must be nice to be able to afford a two-hundred-dollar pair of pants before you could even vote. Delilah brightened at the sight of him, so I guess my opinion wasn’t universal.
“How was school
Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child