I have started on the last six chapters of MMM (which is poor timing on my part because college football season has started). I adore this story, but I am worried because this is it for Duke and Viola (for now, at least) and I love them so much that I don't want to let them (or anyone) down.
Dinner was awkward, but not a disaster. Sebastian took pity on his brother-in-law and directed the conversation away from the Network and recent events. It was easiest for him since he was the only one, aside from Isabel, who’d tried to live without demons or ghosts. Fortunately, the Wfsals had agreed to eat their gumbo in Aggie’s bedroom. Sebastian had a feeling Viola’s bribe of pie and cartoons had a great deal to do with their compliance.
Isabel chatted about her latest gallery event but refrained from extending an invitation. She ignored the stab of disappointment when Duke didn’t press for details about her next showing. He’d never expressed much interest in her watercolor landscapes and portraits. She wondered if he’d believe that she had every issue of his comic book series tucked away in a drawer in Florida. She even had the handmade cards and school artwork he’d sent on his father’s prompting. Feeling he was wasting his talent didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate it.
“I’ll make tea,” Viola offered while Sebastian and Duke cleared the table.
“No!” Duke flushed when all eyes fixed on him. It was possible he’d been a little too vehement. “I’ll make it, sugar,” he added in a much softer tone.
She rolled her eyes and followed him into the kitchen. “I’m not going to poison her in Granny’s house. That would be rude.”
“I mean, Granny dislikes her just as much as I do. She’s better at hiding it.” Viola retrieved a tin of mint and chamomile tea from the pantry. Under Duke’s suspicious stare, she measured out scoops of tea, filled infusers, and lined up five mugs. “If I poison your mom by myself, Granny’d feel left out. That’s not fair.”
“Bloodthirsty tonight, aren’t we?”
She shrugged, leaned back against the counter while he set the kettle on the stove. “It was a rough day. I need to go to the office tomorrow afternoon to see Becky, but I’m not going to Burkeholt. We can talk about it in the morning.”
“More bad news?”
“Some. Some of it’s stuff I – we – already suspected.” She snuggled against his side, slipped a hand into his back pocket. “I’m surprised your father isn’t here tormenting your mother.”
“Bowling night, remember? He said he’d stop by tomorrow to see if she was still around.”
“Lucky man,” she muttered. When the kettle whistled, she poured boiling water into each mug. After setting the timer over the stove, she returned to Duke’s side. “We have four minutes. Whatever shall we do with the time?”
His lips were pulled to hers as if drawn by a magnet. He ignored the dull ache in his shoulder and pinned her against the refrigerator door. “I have a few ideas, sweetness.”
The door separating the kitchen from the formal dining room swung open. A frustrated male sigh echoed off the walls. Sebastian slapped his hand across his eyes and spun back to face the door. “That’s it! I’m staying at Burkeholt tonight!”