Libby squinted past the screeds of unrecyclable plastic wrap entombing her new bed linen to see Vaughn Wild grinning back at her. Before she could respond to his suggestion, he had pulled three-quarters of her purchases from her arms and left her holding just a tray of eggs and a carton of milk. “Paid a visit to the Emporium, I see. Your hair looks nice.”
“Thanks.” She fell into step beside him, deciding not to complain about his offer of help. Her arms had begun to ache and it was difficult to see where she was placing her feet when she was buried beneath all that stuff. “Any news on the car?”
“Might have to send away for a part.”
They continued in silence until they reached the house, while Libby attempted to work out if ‘not necessarily’ was a good thing or not.
“What are your plans for rest of the day?” Vaughn took Libby’s front door key from her hand and opened the door as if she were incapable of doing it herself, leaving her frowning at the back of his head. He marched on inside as if he had every right to be there and Libby heard Alexandra hiss her displeasure from the sofa.
“Settling in. Making a few changes. Finding my feet.” She watched as he unloaded her purchases onto the counter top and then, without any hesitation or a polite ‘may I’, he opened the cupboard where the coffee was stored. He looked around the open cupboard door at her, holding up two coffee cups in a wordless question.
Annoyed now, Libby walked over to the kitchen. She left the front door open behind her to enhance Vaughn’s speedy exit. ”You seem to know your way around the house.” She pushed the cupboard door shut with a bang, narrowly missing the tip of his nose.
“Marian and I often had a coffee together.” He turned on the faucet and filled the water dispenser. “She acted as my secretary sometimes, too.”
“Your mayoral secretary?”
“I can’t imagine there would be too much work for a mayor and his secretary to do in such a tiny place.” Libby leaned on the countertop and watched while Vaughn got on with the coffee making. She felt her annoyance fade a little – he was only trying to help and he’d gone out of his way to assist her since she arrived in Sailor’s Bay. She reminded herself that not all men were cut of the same frayed, grimy cloth as Steve and Matthew and besides, she had no intention of embarking on a romantic relationship with Vaughn Wild.
“You’d be surprised. We have lots of fetes and fairs that attract outsiders, and there’s the Annual Boat Show. We even had the TV cameras here last year.” He grinned proudly, causing a small and endearing dimple to appear in his cheek. “Have you met Beth yet?” he asked, suddenly changing the subject.
“No. I’ve met Susan, Cassie Bo, and Tom. Oh, and you of course.” She returned his grin, caught in the back draught of that engaging smile.
“Beth is the resident artist in Sailor’s Bay. I think the two of you would like each other.” He gazed around Aunt Marian’s country-fied kitchen and across at the brown-and-yellow living room. “Her seascapes would look good in here.”
“I wonder why Aunt Marian never displayed any of her work.” Out of the corner of her eye, Libby saw Alexandra jump down from the sofa and march over to the open door, her tail held high and stiff behind her.
Vaughn chuckled as he passed Libby a cup of coffee. “They didn’t get along. Practically hated one another on sight. There was no way Marian would’ve ever allowed any of Beth’s paintings to cross her threshold.”
Libby raised her eyebrows. Holding the coffee cup in both hands, she led the way over the now dry carpet to the sofa. Perhaps Aunt Marian did share some of her sister’s hard-to-get-along-with characteristics. “Were there many people that Marian didn’t get on with?”
“Not at all.” Vaughn sat down in the armchair opposite her and stretched out his long legs in front of him, distracting Libby for an instant with the muscles in his thighs. “She was a lovely lady, had a kind word for most people. I’m surprised you don’t know that.”
“I only met her a couple of times in my life, and that was when I was just a little kid. She and my mother never saw eye to eye.”
“That’s sad. You look a bit like her, especially now you’ve changed your hair color.” He stared at her and Libby felt her cheeks grow pink. She ducked her head and fiddled with the handle of her coffee cup. “I still have to get a key for that locked room.”
When he didn’t answer, Libby looked up and saw he was gazing out the door at the expanse of the bay. “It’s a wonderful view,” she said irrelevantly.
“It is.” He turned those chocolate brown, hazel flecked eyes back on her. “Do you have any plans for Sunday?”
Was this the lead up to an invitation for a date? He’d need to think again if that was the case. “Why?” her tone was brusquer than she’d intended and she saw the flicker of surprise in his eyes.
“There’s a Farmer’s Market in the next bay on the second Sunday of every month. Charteris Bay. Follow the path at the south end of the bay, the other end away from the shops, and you’ll find your way there. Beth often has a stall set up over there to sell her artwork. You can take a look at her paintings and decide if they’re to your taste.” He stood up to carry his empty coffee cup, having apparently drained it in two gulps, out to the kitchen. “I’d best get going. Is there anything else I can do for you while I’m here?”