“Mother thinks she’s found the perfect housekeeper for us,” John said on the drive back to Greenwich Street.
We had put Jinx and Nola into a taxi a few minutes earlier and were finally, for the first time since Jinx had rung the doorbell that afternoon, alone together.
I made a vague sound of inquiry.
“Some woman she befriended at church. Bridget Something.”
Great. Another church lady.
“Do you think we need a housekeeper?”
“Yes.” John glanced at me. “I’ve seen your place.”
Having also seen my place, I did not take offense. “Still, I think I’d rather find my own housekeeper.”
“It won’t hurt to interview her, will it? You’ll be at the house tomorrow anyway with the movers.”
“Sure. If that’s what you’d like.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw John’s head turn my way. “Everything okay?”
I was watching the tall buildings, outlines etched in moonlight, gliding past. They reminded me of the shadow-lantern silhouette of a witch I’d seen in Seamus’s storeroom. What had that been about? A kind of witchy bat signal? So weird. This was all so weird…
I snapped back to present-day concerns. “Iff and Kolchak think I murdered Seamus.”
John was silent for so long that I knew this was not coming as any news to him. I stared at his profile.
He said, “Try not to take it personally.”
“Try not to…”
“There’s a fair bit of circumstantial evidence pointing in your direction. That’s all. Iff and Kolchak are two of the best detectives on the force. Even though they’re starting the investigation with a certain amount of bias, they’ll keep digging until they get to the truth.”
“You’re taking this very calmly.”
“No, I’m not.” His tone was grim. “But getting mad about it won’t change anything.”
The bleak note in his voice caused me to revise my initial opinion. He was not remotely okay with this.
“Do you think I killed Seamus?”
After what felt like a very long moment, he said, “I don’t think so, no.”
He had been giving it plenty of thought, though. Did that make it better or worse that he had eventually concluded I was innocent? I couldn’t help wishing for instinctive and heartfelt belief in my innocence.
“For the record, I did not kill him.”
“For the record, again, I don’t think you did. But you are hiding something.”
I said bitterly, “Isn’t everyone hiding something?”
“I’m not hiding anything from you. If you’ve got something to ask, ask.”
“Do you want to call off the wedding?”
My mouth curved, but I did not feel like smiling. “Why did you ask me to marry you?”
He shrugged. “I love you.”
“Sure, but you don’t strike me as the whirlwind-courtship type. We haven’t even known each other a month. Your friends and family think I’ve somehow bewitched you.”
Now, I can’t explain why I was pushing this—even going so far as to throw the W word in. Maybe it was simply the prolonged tension of wondering when he would begin asking these questions himself.
John too smiled without humor at the “bewitched” comment. “Maybe what’s happening here is you’re having second thoughts?”
I said huskily, more huskily than I wished, “No.”
“Okay, well, the truth is, I never planned on marrying. I’ve always thought marriage was solely for the purpose of having children—and I don’t like kids.”
“Good to know.”
He threw me a quick glance. “Do you want children?”
“I…don’t know. I guess if I thought about it at all, I assumed it was a far distant likelihood.”
The Duchess would not be pleased. That was for starters. Barring my aunt Iolanthe and cousin Waite, no one within the Abracadantès would view this as anything but a disaster. Orientation notwithstanding, my own disinclinations notwithstanding, it was viewed as a matter of course that I would one day sire an heir or heiress to the trône de sorcière.
John was silent, and I couldn’t think of anything to say either. How funny if the thing that ended it between us was something so basic, so prosaic, so obviously should-have-asked-this-sooner as the question of having children.
Eventually he said, “I would probably feel differently about my own kids.”
And that was the last thing either of us said until we reached the house.
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