Wydawca: JB Duvane Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2017

Uzyskaj dostęp do tej
i ponad 25000 książek
od 6,99 zł miesięcznie.

Wypróbuj przez
7 dni za darmo

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

e-czytniku kup za 1 zł
tablecie  
smartfonie  
komputerze  
Czytaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Liczba stron: 289

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:

Androida
iOS
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?

Ebooka przeczytasz na:

e-czytniku EPUB kup za 1 zł
tablecie EPUB
smartfonie EPUB
komputerze EPUB
Czytaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?

Pobierz fragment dostosowany na:

Zabezpieczenie: watermark

Opis ebooka Dirty Daughter - JB Duvane

For the last eight years Dr. Max has been my mother's psychologist ... and her lover. But now that she's out of the way, I'm going to make him mine.EmilyAll my mother ever did was use Max.Trading her own pathetic version of love to get her prescription drug fix.I saw the way he used to look at me. I know he wants me. I’m a woman now…and that bitch is finally out of my way.So I’m taking what’s mine.Look out, Dr. Max…I’m coming.MaxMy God, Emily looks just like her mother. I can see the vulnerability in her eyes…mixed with the womanly curves of her body. That combination just about drives me out of my mind. She thinks she’s playing me, just like her mother used to.But Emily is in for a real surprise.I know exactly what to do to make her all mine.And once I get her to my secluded country estate,I’m going to keep her there with me …and never let her leave. Dirty Daughter is a standalone romance of over 47,000 words and includes some sexual scenes that may not be suitable for everyone. It intended for adults only.

Opinie o ebooku Dirty Daughter - JB Duvane

Fragment ebooka Dirty Daughter - JB Duvane

Dirty Daughter

JB Duvane

© 2017 JB Duvane

Cover by Kasmit

(2nd Edition)

All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction and is intended only for adults over the age of 18.

All characters are 18 or over.

Touch here to subscribe to JB Duvane’s mailing list and to receive all four parts of the Jet-Set Billionaire Series as a special gift

Contents

About Dirty Daughter

1. Emily

2. Max

3. Emily

4. Max

5. Emily

6. Max

7. Emily

8. Max

9. Emily

10. Max

11. Emily

12. Max

13. Emily

14. Emily

15. Max

16. Emily

17. Max

18. Emily - Epilogue

Bonus Chapters from His to Take (She’s Mine Book 1)

About JB Duvane

Also by JB Duvane

About Dirty Daughter

For the last eight years Dr. Max has been my mother's psychologist ... and her lover. But now that she's out of the way I'm going to make him mine.

Emily

All my mother ever did was use Max.

Trading her own pathetic version of love to get her prescription drug fix.

I saw the way he used to look at me.

I know he wants me.

I’m a woman now…

and that bitch is finally out of my way.

So I’m taking what’s mine.

Look out, Dr. Max…

I’m coming.

Max

My God, Emily looks just like her mother.

I can see the vulnerability in her eyes…

mixed with the womanly curves of her body.

That combination just about drives me out of my mind.

She thinks she’s playing me, just like her mother used to.

But Emily is in for a real surprise.

I know exactly what to do to make her all mine.

And once I get her to my secluded country estate,

I’m going to keep her there with me …

and never let her leave.

Dirty Daughter is a standalone dark romance novel of over 47,000 words and includes some sexual scenes that may not be suitable for everyone. It intended for adults only.

1

Emily

"You look cheap."

My mother eyed me up and down as I entered the dimly lit kitchen. It was two o'clock in the morning and I hadn't expected her to be awake. Given her habits, she was usually out cold by eleven, but tonight she sat hunched over at the kitchen table, a cigarette hanging from her lips, her right hand wrapped around a half-empty highball glass filled with what must have been straight vodka. The way she slurred her words made it obvious that the clear liquid wasn't water.

"How are you even awake?" I mumbled. I wasn't in the mood to fight. I had only been home from school for two days, and had gone out earlier so that I didn’t have to be there. Anything to keep me out of that house and away from her. Unfortunately, since I had been sent away to a boarding school in another state when I was twelve, I didn't have a single friend in the area. I didn’t even know how many of my grade school friends lived in the neighborhood anymore.

So I ended up driving around on back roads for hours, listening to the radio and thinking about what I was going to do now that I was back in her house. But now I was tired and ready for bed, and of course my drunken bitch of a mother wanted to start a fight with me.

This was, in fact, the house I grew up in, but it didn’t feel like a home to me anymore. Not after everything that had happened in it. After the way she treated me. I didn't know how I was going to survive in this house with her now that I’d graduated from school and had nowhere to go.

I hadn't applied to college at all. I knew it was stupid but I really didn’t see the point. I didn’t have the money for tuition and I knew she wasn’t going to pay for my school anymore. The only reason she paid for the boarding school was because she wanted me out of the house, and now that I was eighteen I was sure she didn’t see me as her responsibility anymore.

My plan for now was to try and avoid the house as much as possible until I figured something out, which was what I had attempted to do tonight. Only now the crazy bitch was awake when she shouldn't have been. Sometimes I wished she would just keel over, but I knew that wasn't likely to happen anytime soon. She’d had me when she was really young—barely eighteen—so she was still considered young. Some people even said we looked like sisters, which pretty much made me want to vomit.

"What did you say?" She slurred at me, and then rose unsteadily to her feet. She ambled toward me and I looked at her with disgust, trying unsuccessfully to avoid her nasty alcohol-saturated breath.

"Don't look at me like that you little bitch." She threw her drink in my face with an ugly sneer. "And get rid of that cheap, slutty dress. You embarrass me, you little fucking whore."

She stumbled back to the table and fell into her chair, then filled her glass up again, spilling more on the table than she got into the wide mouthed tumbler. When she finally lifted her head up again she stared right at me with bloodshot eyes and heavily drooping lids. I noticed an open bottle of sleeping pills in front of her. When she saw what I was looking at she smiled at me lazily, almost daring me to stand up to her.

“What the fuck are you looking at?”

“Not much,” I said, looking down at the drips of vodka on the floor that had accumulated around my feet.

When I was a kid my friends all told me how beautiful my mother was. Everyone did. She was always the center of attention at any gathering and was the life of every party. They all thought she was perfect. But that’s because they didn’t know her like I did.

My mother was incredibly beautiful, or at least she could have been if she weren't so awful. She had thick blond hair, green eyes, and a full mouth—which I also had. People always said that I looked just like her. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew I was a spitting image of my mother—at least physically. But when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see it. I didn’t think we looked alike at all because what I saw when I looked at her was a wretched bitch who had turned her back on her only daughter. What I saw was a pathetic, addicted mess.

Alcohol and tranquilizers had taken over her life in the last eight years or so, and I could see that her age was slowly but surely making itself known. She was incredibly vain, though, and even though she took the compliments about us looking almost identical, I could tell she didn’t like it. She didn’t like the idea that I was beautiful too and was almost twenty years younger than her.

Ever since I had blossomed after puberty, some of my mother’s friends would even say that her daughter’s beauty had surpassed hers. Even my father would say it to her face, which was something that caused long screaming matches behind the closed door of their bedroom that went on until the early hours of the morning.

But when I had gone to my mother, crying and unable to bear the pain after my father had let it be known to me just how much he preferred me to his own wife, she had flown into a rage. But not at him—at me. She slapped me across the face and dragged me by my hair to my room and told me I was a filthy slut and a liar before locking me inside. The next day, she had my bags packed and I was sent away to an all-girls school across the country.

They divorced not long after that, but from that point forward she always seemed to view me as her competition. Every time I came home for the holidays, she made sure to have noisy, boisterous sex with whoever she had her claws dug into at that particular time.

I always regretted having come home for Christmas and summer breaks, but seeing her now in her drunken stupor, I loathed being in the same room with her.

“Why don’t you get out of here and leave me alone?” She downed her drink in one swallow and threw her head back in some kind of mock victory.

I narrowed my eyes into slits and glared at her. I could feel myself losing it, hatred bubbling out of every pore. "Fuck you!" I screamed. I felt the heat of rage rushing to my face. "I fucking hate you!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, glaring at my mother with disgust.

"Feeling's mutual, little girl," she cackled, putting out her cigarette on a plate of barely touched food. "Oh wait, you're not a little girl anymore, are you? Last I checked, I gave birth to you eighteen years ago. You're an adult now, so how about you get the fuck out of my house? Maybe you can find a man to sponge off of, because I am done supporting you."

"Supporting me?" I spat. "You have never fucking supported me! You call being a jealous bitch and shipping me off to boarding school support? You call bringing home random men and fucking them in front of me support? You're a fucking joke. An old, haggard fucking joke. Even with me gone, you still couldn't keep a man happy. You’re here all alone in this huge, depressing house with no one but yourself to drink with.” I was on a roll now, unable to control the words that were coming out of my mouth even though I knew that this was going to end very badly. It always did.

She looked almost hurt for a moment but then her eyes narrowed again and her mouth tightened up into a smirk. "You don't know what you are talking about, and you'd best watch your pretty little mouth,” she snarled. "I have given up so much for you, and this is how you treat me? I don’t need to justify anything to you, but I’ll have you know that there are plenty of men who spend time here with me. Plenty.”

“Oh, do you mean the doctor you bribe with sex so he will prescribe your damned drugs?” I asked incredulously. “The man you fuck so that you can get your fix? And you call me a manipulative slut? You're the one who’s taking advantage of someone to get exactly what you want out of him when it’s convenient for you.”

She stared at me for a moment, then looked down at the floor without saying anything.

“You didn't think I knew about that, did you, Mommy? I’ve known about you taking advantage of Dr. Max for a long time.“

I couldn’t help but know. I’d secretly been in love with him since the first time I saw them together. It was years after I’d been sent away to school and my father left. My mother had no idea, but I saw the two of them together, and I’ll never forget it.

Max was really the one I wanted to see when I came home for visits, but she rarely let me into the same room as him. I was sure she was afraid that I would steal him away from her. I hated her for keeping him from me and I hated the way she treated him. But I especially hated her for possessing the one man that I would practically kill for.

She took a step forward and slapped me hard across the face, her open palm leaving a stinging sensation that lasted long after the physical contact had ceased. But I was used to that feeling. The memory of the day that I ran to her, needing my mother’s love and protection and getting nothing but pain in return was what I had come to expect from her.

It all came flooding back into my mind, as if I were reliving that day all over again. The day that my mother betrayed me, the day that she not only didn't stand up for me, but stood against me, making it clear that she viewed me as her competition rather than her child.

I had no idea what I was expecting from her now, though. She had never been a mother to me. And even though it stung, her blow didn't even faze me. I went on, “You think hitting me makes you a better person? Really? Do you realize that everyone leaves you because you're just a filthy fucking liar. Your whole life is a lie. This act you put on for them? It isn’t you! You don’t show the real you to anyone but me! You’re a narcissist and a fucking sociopath! And you're going to die a lonely, ugly old woman! Go ahead and kick me out! I'm not about to stay under the same roof as you anyway! You're nothing to me. Fucking nothing!" I could hear the words that came screaming out of me. I could hear how childish they sounded, and I knew she couldn’t care less. But it felt almost cathartic, finally telling her how I felt—saying the words that I had wanted to for years, but had kept mostly bottled up inside.

I wanted her to know that I knew all about the manipulative little games she played with everyone in her life. All the bullshit she always thought she had gotten away with. Maybe they all did believe her lies, but I knew who she was. She called me a liar and a manipulator, but if I was, I had learned everything I knew from from the expert.

She stared at me, stunned. “I don’t need this!“ She screamed at me, completely irrational now. "Does seeing me like this make you fucking happy?" She grabbed a little brown bottle from the table and poured a few pills into her hand, popping them into her mouth and washing them down with a swig straight from the vodka bottle. “I should have had a goddamned abortion.”

She steadied herself, shaking the pill bottle in my face like a mad woman. "I love that man and he loves me and there’s nothing you can do to take that away from me! I’m not going to let you take him away from me!” she screeched. She pointed her finger right in my face. "You're just jealous that you couldn't steal him from me, too." Her face took on an even darker look—one that always betrayed the amount of drugs and alcohol she had swimming around in her blood stream.

The fact that I was standing in the kitchen at 2 a.m.—soaked in the booze she had thrown on me, a stinging handprint across my face, and having to listen to threats she screamed at me like a mad woman—made my blood boil. In that moment, I felt like I was someone else. I was no longer the helpless child, the little girl that wanted mommy to love her. In that moment, I was overtaken by sheer rage.

A flood of memories came rushing back into my mind. The awful things she had said and done to me over the years all happening again—simultaneously in my mind, like images piling on top of each other—until all I could see was the pain and the loneliness and the never-ending manipulation and lies that were the only legacy she was capable of giving me. Even though I was right there in the kitchen—my physical body standing there locked in hell with this woman who had given me a life that I now wanted so desperately out of—in my mind I went somewhere else. I wanted to throw her down onto the ground and kick the shit out of her. I wanted to make her hurt every bit as much as she had made me hurt all my life.

But I didn’t. I sucked it all up once again. I turned and walked away from her, making my way through the dark living room until I found the smoothly carved bannister of the stairway. Although I didn't quite know what I was going to do, I couldn't stand to be in her presence any longer. When we got like this there was no calming down for days. Besides, she had just kicked me out of the house. I wasn’t wanted there. I didn’t know where I was going to go but I had to get out.

Anywhere but here, I thought. I threw open my bedroom door, picked up the suitcase that was still half packed with school uniforms, and dumped them onto the floor. I furiously kicked the heap of clothes out of my way, pulling the few normal outfits that I owned off of their hangers and shoving them into the suitcase. The panic that I had nowhere to actually go—the fact that I didn’t have many friends nearby and hadn’t for years—was dawning on me, but I had no choice at this point. My chest felt like it was going to cave in on me, making it difficult to breathe.

When I got everything into my suitcase I threw open my bedroom door, and there stood my mother wearing her classy silk robe—the wrinkles on her face suddenly accentuated by the shadows in the poorly lit hall outside my room. I pushed past her, no energy left for another screaming match.

As I passed her she actually called after me, her voice hoarse from all the yelling we had done downstairs.  For a split second, I thought maybe she was going to apologize, that the time had finally come when she realized what a shitty mother she had been, and was ready to make amends.

"Emily, dear …” she said quietly to my back. I didn't turn around at first, I just kept walking toward the stairs.

I heard her footsteps behind me. She was following me. A part of my mind conjured a fantasy, a world where when I reached the top of the stairs I would turn around and I would have a real mom. One that would wrap me in her arms and tell me she was sorry, and that I was beautiful, and that she would always protect me. She would beg me not to venture out into an unfamiliar world in the middle of the night, but to stay here where I had a home, where I was loved.

Tears welled in my eyes. I wanted so badly for her to stop me. To put her arms around me and ask me to stay. When I reached the top of the stairs, she was right behind me. I could feel her presence and hear her breath in my ear as we both stood at the top of the stairwell—me with my hastily packed suitcase in one hand and her with that damned glass of vodka in hers.

"Emily ..." she said again, quietly.

"What?" I asked, more exasperated than anything. I turned to look at her, hoping for just a shred of decency. I was willing to give her one last chance.

"Give me your house key," she said sweetly, flashing me a smug, boozy grin. "I don't want to see your face in my house again."

I set down my suitcase, and stared her in the eye. "Fuck you," I nearly whispered, calmly and quietly with tears streaming down my cheeks.

2

Max

I walked toward a small group, men and women dressed in black, who were surrounding a young lady with her back to me. I knew who it was the minute I walked in the door and made my way across the room through the crowd of mourners.

"Emily, please let us know if there's anything we can do for you," said one of the women in the group. "I can't stand the thought of you in this big, dark house all alone now."

I waited until there was a pause in the condolences, then moved up behind her. The scent of her hair and her perfume reminded me so much of her mother it made my head spin. But there was an essence underneath those man-made fragrances that was all her own. It was overpowering.

"Emily," I said as I gently touched her back. She turned around and I was rendered speechless by her beauty, and by how much she looked like her mother. She had every quality I had ever been dazzled by in Amelia, but Emily was much more striking.

Everything about Amelia’s daughter had matured in the three years since I had seen her last—her eyes had brightened and seemed larger, her cheeks had lost the fullness of youth and hollowed below the cheekbones, and her lips were much fuller than I remembered. And now that she was on the verge of womanhood, her curves were much more apparent.

When I saw her eyes light up at the sight of me I leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. But I had to stop myself from running my hand around the back of her head—from pushing my fingers through her soft hair, removing the pin that held her hair in a perfect twist, and pulling her lips to mine. I could feel blood pulsate through my body as Emily’s breath lingered on my ear and her scent surrounded me.

"Dr. Devereaux, I'm so glad you could make it today. I know my mother would be very touched that you came."

She looked up at me with so much adoration in her eyes I almost had to loosen my tie.

"Please, Emily … call me Max," I said with a smile as I gazed down into her deep green eyes.

"Okay, Dr. Max," she said with a playful smile. She quickly looked down but I caught a glimpse of her flushed face and the almost imperceptible twist of one foot back and forth underneath her. When she looked back up I saw a flash of her age and inexperience, but she was careful to hide it well. She was putting on the grown woman act, and that’s exactly what made her so irresistible to me.

Her eyes were almost screaming take care of me under all of the formal clothing and the makeup and hairdo; superficial things that were all adding a good ten years to her appearance right now. But underneath it all I knew she was just a scared little girl, and the thought of what that could mean filled me with another surge of craving that almost had me packing her over my shoulder and into the nearest empty room.

"How are you doing, Emily? I was so sorry to hear about your mother's death."

She looked up at me with a hint of sadness—and maybe even a little bit of fear—before her eyes fell to the ground again.

"I'm doing ok. I'd only been back from school for a week before … well, before it happened. It was so sudden, and so horrible.” A look of sadness swept over her face again and it was all I could do to keep my hands at my sides.

“I can only imagine. Are you managing okay?”

“This house is so big. It’s been a little overwhelming being in charge of such a massive property even though it’s only been mine for a little over a week. If something were to go wrong I'm not sure who I would even call."

"Yes, I know how big this house is. I’ve been here many times.” I looked around at the mahogany trim and grand staircase that swept up to the second floor, and across the banister that ran along the second floor landing. I remembered so many moments behind those closed doors. One in particular filled my mind’s eye as I gazed down at Emily.

“Yes, I remember.” A knowing look crept into her eyes and I had the feeling that she was picturing the exact same moment as I was. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I wanted to imagine that we’d shared something special that night.

I found it hard to breathe for a moment. I looked away and cleared my throat, pretending to take in the art on the walls. I was surprised at the effect she was having on me, especially so soon after Amelia’s death. I hadn’t come here to flirt with Emily at all, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing her.

“I told your mother many times that she should downsize now that it was just her rambling around all these empty rooms while you were away at school.”

The downstairs living area was enormous and was just one of many rooms that haunted my memories on the main floor. Its grand size suited the funeral reception well, since it was clear that Amelia Newhart had been a well-loved woman. Many of her personal and business acquaintances were in attendance, but I worried that Emily would be here all alone after the guests were gone.

"Do you have anyone staying here with you?”

“No, it’s just me. The housekeeper comes a few times a week, but I rarely see her.”

“Don’t you have any nearby friends? Surely you're not too old for slumber parties." I grinned, letting her know I was joking. I said to myself that I was trying to lighten the mood a little and make her more comfortable, but I was starting to feel like the one that needed to relax. What I needed was a drink. I looked around the room and spotted the bar.

“Not anymore. None of the girls from my school live anywhere near here. I had some friends when I was younger but I haven’t really kept in touch lately. I’ve been meaning to but since everything that happened … well. Anyway, I don't know why my mother chose a private school in another state. It didn’t do much for my social life.”

“I hear Miss Potter’s is one of the best. It has an excellent reputation for college acceptance. I’m sure your mother wanted to make sure you had every advantage possible.”

“I’m not so sure that was the reason she sent me away.” A smile slowly curled up at the corners of her perfect lips, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. After they darted around the room a bit, Emily’s eyes met mine and I saw that same lost look that had stirred something inside me earlier. I took her arm and steered her across the room over to the bar.

I had an impulse to ask about a boyfriend, but I wanted to take things slow. I didn’t want to show Emily my hand yet. I hadn't noticed anyone hanging around her at the funeral. Surely, if she were seeing anyone that was worth a damn, he'd be here supporting her at a time like this. But after I thought about it for a moment I really didn’t care if she were seeing anyone. If she was, it wasn't going to last for long. I would see to that.

I honestly couldn’t see how a girl like Emily didn’t have an army of boys following her around at all times. Maybe she really was just that sheltered at the school. I had to admit, the thought of Emily an untouched woman made my cock involuntarily twitch in my trousers, and I had to adjust my posture in such a way to make sure my arousal was imperceptible.

We made our way over to the corner of the room where an enormous amount of food was laid out on a long table. I left Emily there for a moment while I walked to the bar and grabbed two glasses of wine. As I approached her I noticed that she was staring down at the table of trays of cold cuts interspersed with wedges of cheese and piles of bite sized fruit, but hadn't touched a thing.

“Would you like something to eat?” I asked as I handed her a glass.

“No, I’m fine, Dr … I mean … Max. I haven’t been very hungry.”

"Are you sure you’re okay? Would you like to sit down?"

"No, really, Max, I'm fine. I was just listening to what those women over there were saying. Is it true? Do you think I look just like her?" she asked, looking up into my eyes with furrowed brows and a sincerity that melted my heart. She seemed so lost and sad and all I wanted to do in that moment was wrap my arms around her and bury my face in her soft hair, but this was definitely not the place. There would be time enough for that later. I would make sure of it.

"Yes, you do. There are slight differences, of course, but it is astounding how much you look like your mother. Especially when she was closer to your age."

"How long did you know her, Max?"

"Your mother became a patient of mine about eight years ago, when you were just a little girl. We saw either other occasionally back then, but over the last few years I saw her more regularly.”

"But she was more than a patient to you, wasn't she?" Emily asked with a faraway stare that was still focused on a spot just over the food on the table in front of her.

I put my hand on Emily’s arm and gently pulled her to an empty corner of the room. I didn’t want the rest of the room to notice anything but formality between us. But I was having a hard time keeping myself in check.

As I stood there looking down into those innocent-seeming eyes, I couldn’t help but play that moment over in my head. The first time I saw Emily as more than a girl. I will never forget that image of her standing in the shadowy hall outside of Amelia's bedroom, long blonde hair hanging loose around shoulders that were bare underneath a sleeveless white nightgown. That was about a year ago. She was still away at school, but she was starting to blossom into early womanhood, and if my calculations were correct, that made Emily eighteen or nineteen years old now.

"Yes, Emily, your mother meant a lot to me." I reached up and moved a strand of hair out of her eye. She looked up at me, her face almost close enough for me to kiss without moving a muscle. I hovered over her for a moment, staring into her dark eyes, then took a step backward, and quickly looked around the room to see if anyone was watching us. As I tilted the wine glass and emptied it in one swallow, I watched her catch her breath out of the corner of my eye. Her gaze was fixed on mine and her lips were parted, silently asking me to fill the space between them with my tongue.

“Did you love her?" her eyes widened and her brow lifted as she waited for the answer.

I looked around the room and noticed a few people within earshot, then set down my wine glass, adjusted my tie slightly, and turned back to Emily.

"I'm not sure if this is the place to discuss your mother's and my relationship. We can make arrangements to meet later and talk, if you'd like. In fact, I would love for you to come see me, Emily. If you need to talk about anything at all—your mother’s death, the estate, anything—please call me," I said, taking her hand and placing my card into it. She smiled as she looked down at the small piece of paper in her hand.

“Are you going to be my shrink now, Dr. Max?" she asked, looking up at me with a mischievous smile, then biting her lower lip.

Oh, she was good. I wasn’t about to play my hand yet, though. I wanted to keep her guessing a little while longer.

"You can call my office and make an appointment with my receptionist, or we can meet after hours, it's up to you. I know how hard a loss like this can be, and I'd like to help you in any way I can."

"Emily! Darling, how are you?" An older woman with a black veil covering her eyes pushed in between the two of us and kissing the air on either side of Emily’s face. "I'm so sorry for your loss, dear. Is there anything I can do for you? I've arranged for a food basket to be sent over from one of those specialty markets that Amelia loved so much. But I'd be more than happy to have one of your cousins come over and stay with you for a while. I just abhor the thought of you here all alone, darling."

"Thank you Aunt Leona, but I'm fine, really. I don't mind being here alone. It's my home and I'm comfortable here. I appreciate your concern though. Do you know Dr. Devereaux?“

The woman turned her attention to me and held out her hand. “Doctor?” she asked with a smile curling up in the corner of her mouth.

“Maximilian Devereaux,” I said, taking her limp hand and attempting to shake it. “I was Amelia’s psychiatrist.”

“Oh, yes. Well, I’m sure you had your hands full.” She eyed me up and down, then looked back at Emily. “Call me if you need anything, darling.” She looked at me one more time, then Emily and I watched her as she drifted off into a group of chatting women, leaving a cloying cloud of powdery sweetness in the air.

"Is that one of your mother's sisters?" I asked. I had never seen or heard of her before.

"No, that's my father's sister. She lives a few hours from here.”

It suddenly struck me that Richard wasn’t at the reception. “Is your father here?”

“No.” That was all she said, and with no additional information offered I thought it best to leave it at that.