Courtship of the Recluse (Chapter Six, page 1 of 13)

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By the end of the second day, she had adapted to the guests and felt completely at ease - a state that Claudette apparently wanted to shatter. Cynthia was peeling potatoes when Claudette wandered into the kitchen. Cynthia glanced up and smiled warmly.

"Can I get you something?"

"No. As a matter of fact, you've spoiled us both and we'll never be able to get along with our present housekeeper again."

Cynthia laughed. "Oh, she can't be that bad."

Claudette shrugged. "No, you're just that good."


Claudette laced her fingers and leaned against the counter, eyeing Cynthia with a puzzled expression.

"You know, I've never seen Russie look so fit. You two seem to get along well together."

"Most of the time."

Claudette arched well maintained brows. "How well?"

Her intent was obvious, but Cynthia decided to play dumb. "Oh, we disagree now and then, but we never come to blows."

Claudette rolled her eyes. "No, that wasn't what I meant." She moved away from the counter. "Of course, what goes on between you two in this big lonely house when no one else is around is between the two of you."

It would be disrespectful of Cade for her to do anything but defend his honor. She rinsed a potato and dropped it in the kettle.

"Mrs. Lander," she began in a cordial tone. "There is nothing going on between Mr. Cade and me that anyone isn't welcome to watch. I am the housekeeper, not his mistress."

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