Devotion

Through the open French doors, Owen surveyed the garden. The day was hot for June, a pale sun burning in a cloudless sky, wilting the last of the irises, the rhododendron blossoms drooping. A breeze moved through the laburnum trees, carrying a sheet of the Sunday paper into the rose border. Mrs. Giles’s collie yapped on the other side of the hedge. With his handkerchief, Owen wiped sweat from the back of his neck.

His sister, Hillary, stood at the counter sorting strawberries. She’d nearly finished the dinner preparations, though Ben wouldn’t arrive for hours yet. She wore a beige linen dress he’d never seen on her before. Her black-and-gray hair, usually kept up in a bun, hung down to her shoulders. For a woman in her mid-fifties, she had a slender, graceful figure.

“You’re awfully dressed up,” he said.

“The wine,” she said. “Why don’t you open a bottle of the red? And we’ll need the tray from the dining room.”

“We’re using the silver, are we?”

“Yes, I thought we would.”

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