Old Town is now a vibrant hub for restaurants and the arts. Galleries — including the Torpedo Factory—abound. Milo and Tristram meet by chance in one of the more frequented Irish pubs, O’Connell’s.
Murders, mistrust, misfits, and miscreants—needlepoint artist Milo Everhart has her hands full. Can Tristram Brodie prove to her that love conquers all?
It’s just before Christmas, and Milo Everhart has two needlepoint stockings, a cross-stitch purse, and three canvases to finish for her clients. Waiting out the rain in a pub, she is captivated by the handsome man next to her, but blocking the road to romance are two mysterious corpses who turn up in the tower of her Torpedo Factory Art Center. As if that weren’t enough, a second crisis erupts—a proposal to gut her beloved Art Center.
The bartender backed out past the man, who made no move to get out of his way. Milo frowned. The fellow appeared oblivious to the fact that his position inconvenienced everyone. At first she had assumed he was waiting out the rain, but his body language spelled expectant. Every minute or so, he would poke his head out and look up and down King Street. For lack of anything more exciting to do, she fell to observing him. The top of his head brushed the doorjamb, making him about six feet three inches. His bulk didn’t jibe with his height, though. She guessed him to weigh in at maybe one hundred seventy-five pounds stripped. He was undeniably her type—lean, trim, tall, clean-shaven—none of that painted-on, five-o’clock shadow male celebrities sported nowadays. And old enough, for once. Maybe forty? She could only see his profile at the moment, which revealed thick black hair curling over his ears, slices of silver gray relieving the dark waves at the temple, a straight nose, moderately rosy—from drink or the cold?—and a forceful chin. Without warning he pivoted, and Milo caught the full impact of a deeply masculine face right in the kisser. Whew. Even with the Armani suit, definitely not gay.
He tapped the toe of a highly polished Gucci loafer with impatience and pulled out a pocket watch. By this time, Milo had dropped all pretence and openly scrutinized the man. He thrust the watch back in his pocket with a scowl and spun around toward the bar, almost colliding with Tony. He took Milo’s glass from the startled bartender. “Thanks, just what the doctor ordered.”
Milo lifted a finger in protest. Tony looked at her, and the man followed his gaze. Eyebrows raised in surprise, he held up the whiskey. “Er, I take it this isn’t for me?”
She tried to come up with a flip response, but his rich baritone rattled her.
Tony stepped between them. “Yes, sir, that drink belongs to the lady. May I get you something?”
The man didn’t answer. He stared at Milo more or less the way she was staring at him. Flustered, she plopped back down on the narrow bench, barely avoiding an embarrassing slide to the floor. He continued to stare. She resisted the impulse to pat her short fawn-colored ringlets, which always appeared tousled no matter what she did, and blinked. He blinked back.
Finally she blurted out, “Would you care to join me?”
He shook his head as though to clear his mind. “Forgive me—I’ve never seen such lovely eyes…I mean, eyes that color…I mean…sorry. What would you call them? Mahogany? Bronze?” His admiring gaze did wonders for Milo’s mood, which took a decided uptick.
“I just call them brown. But thank you.”
“I’m sorry about purloining your drink. May I buy you a freshener in restitution?”
“I guess so. Er…did you want to sit down?”
“I’d better not. I’m waiting for someone.”
“Oh.” His plight, though not unexpected, depressed her. Of course Armani man had a date. He probably always has a date, even during Lent.
Tony brought another glass. The man paid him, then hesitated as though reconsidering. “You know, she is awfully late. Since you’re right in the window seat with a commanding view of the entrance, may I be allowed to change my mind and sit here until she arrives?”
Ulp. “Not at all.” Good—got that out without stuttering.
“Thanks.” He pulled a low barrel stool next to the bench and clinked her glass. “Cheers.”
They sipped their whiskies in companionable silence while the rain pummeled both the sidewalk and the pedestrians with barely concealed antagonism.
After a few minutes, Milo decided her heart had settled down sufficiently to ensure a quaver-free sentence. “I’m Milo Everhart.” And I’m Gorgeous George. You don’t mind if I seduce you, do you? No, wait—he didn’t say that. I did. Hopefully in my head. “Um, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Tristram Brodie. Pleased to meet you.”
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Thanks, M. S. for being my guest. Questions or comments for M. S.?