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73

Fleeced

I need to speak to both you and Lydia, Regan told Maldwin when he answered the door. In private.

Miss Lydia is resting up for tonight.

This is important.

Maldwin could tell by her tone that she meant business. Very well, he said and led her into the living room. I will return shortly.

Regan sat and looked around at Lydias new furnishings. This is all here because she inherited money from an elderly neighbor. I have to call those funeral directors Dad told me about, Regan thought.

A few moments later, Lydia came into the room looking visibly strained. Maldwin was right behind her.

Hello, Regan, Lydia said.

Lydia, are you feeling all right? Regan asked.

Im just worried about tonight, thats all. All this negative publicity doesnt help. She didnt mention that shed just received another call from Burkhard, who had told her to save a dance for him. His tone was so menacing it made her skin crawl. I want it to go well, she added.

We all do, Regan said simply.

Maldwin sat looking ill at ease. The last thing he needed was controversy. Ive given my students the task of rearranging the cabinets in the kitchen, he told Regan. So we could be alone.

Thank you, Regan said. Now, there are a couple of things. Maldwin, do you know a Thorn Darlington?

Maldwin blanched. Yes.

A friend of mine was just in London. Apparently, Thorn is on his way over to New York. For what reason, I dont know.

Probably to destroy me, Maldwin said. Hes an evil man.

Hes staying somewhere in Gramercy Park.

Maldwin gulped.

What good news do you have for me, Regan? Lydia asked with an edge to her voice.

I just wanted to ask you about that woman Georgette who comes to your parties. What can you tell me about her?

Lydia leaned forward and put her head in her hands. Dont tell me shes not a quality single.

There is something a little pushy about her, Maldwin offered, glad to turn the subject to other peoples problems.

What do you mean? Regan asked.

During the parties she would come into the kitchen, gather up a bunch of pigs in blankets, then five minutes later shed be gone.

Regans jaw tightened. Shed found pigs in blankets in Nats garbage can.

But she came to every party, Lydia countered. Even if only for a little while.

And then disappeared across the hall, Regan thought. Shes sounding more and more like our gal Buttercup. You dont have an address for her, do you? she asked Lydia.

She didnt give me one. I value my singles privacy, so I didnt push for it.

Do you know if shell be here tonight? Regan asked.

She told me she would come, Lydia answered.

Blaise was standing in the hallway, eavesdropping. Oh, she will, he thought. Shell come, but as someone else.

Around the corner, one of the other student butlers had also been listening. Wait till Thorn hears this, the student thought.


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