Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 71

“Looking over his portfolio.”

“His investment portfolio? Why would he want you to do that for him?” She wanted to know more about Mike, for she was finding out that he was good at giving away very little about himself.

“Because none of the Montgomerys knows anything about math.” Begrudgingly, he said, “They’re okay with words but not with numbers.”

“You still haven’t answered my question: Why does he want you to look at his portfolio?”

“Because I’m good at it, that’s why,” he answered, and Sam knew that that wasn’t really an answer at all.

When they arrived at the nursing home, Mike wouldn’t allow her to get out, but made her sit in the car for ten minutes. “I want every one of them to see us,” he said, looking out the dark tinted windows through which no one could see at the faces that were peering out at them from the windows of the home.

After a long while, Raine opened the door for them and Samantha, moving as regally as she felt alighting from such a car, walked ahead of the two men. Mike was wearing his beautiful Italian suit, and Raine, in his chauffeur’s uniform, his arms laden, looked like a bored rich girl’s dream-come-true. By the time they reached the desk, every mobile person in the nursing home had crowded into the hall to see them. Four women and two men were attached to stands with bottles hanging from them, and one woman was in a wheeled bed pushed by two other women.

With Samantha’s arm tucked firmly in his, Mike stopped in front of the plastic-laminated counter and looked at the shapeless nurse behind it. She was obviously the person in charge; she looked so “in charge” that the words may as well have been written across her forehead.

“We’re here to see Her Royal—” Mike began, then when he saw Samantha’s shocked face, he patted her arm. “I’m sorry, my dear, I know I keep forgetting that she doesn’t want anyone to know the truth. What name is she using now?”

Samantha blinked at him.

“Abby?” Mike asked. “Is that the name Her Royal—Oops! I was about to do it again. The princess will never forgive me if I reveal her secret.” Leaning across the counter, he gave the ugly nurse a look of such lasciviousness that Samantha wanted to hit him. “But I’m sure that you already know all about…ah, Abby, don’t you?”

The woman blushed like a girl, but it lost something in effect since all the blood rushing to her face made the hairs on her chin stand upright. “O’ course. We know about the…the princess.”

“And you’re taking good care of her, aren’t you? Not that you need to curtsy, she hates all that fuss. When one has a childhood of nurses and nannies curtsying to one, it makes one come to hate such formalities. You understand, don’t you? But—”

“Whatever happened to the sapphire bracelet she gave her last nurse?” Samantha asked. Two could play this game. “Remember that nurse who was so nice to her?” Leaning over the counter, she smiled at the nurse in conspiracy, as though what she was saying was just between the two of them, but when Sam spoke she was loud enough to be heard to the far end of the corridor. “Her generosity is going to be the death of this family. If she tries to give any of her jewelry to the staff, would you please report it to us?”

“W-why, yes, of course I will,” the nurse answered.

“Now, may we see her?” Mike asked. “Undisturbed?”

“Yes, certainly. Right away. Move it!” she snapped at a man in a wheelchair.

With all the expertise of an experienced doorman, the nurse opened the door to Maxie/Abby’s room and closed it behind th


Abby, half asleep in her bed, looked up and had a moment’s trouble focusing. “I…I didn’t expect to see you two again.”

Samantha had the box of pictures in her arms—in fact, she had transferred them into the hatbox that had contained Maxie’s dress—and walked briskly forward. “I’ve come to ask a favor of you. You’re the only person in the world who I can find who knew my grandmother, and I wondered if you would mind going through some old photos with me.”


“Of my family. I know it’s a terrible imposition, but I thought you might be able to tell me something, I’m not sure what, but maybe my grandmother might have told you something about herself.”

“Why do you want to know about her?”

“Because I love her,” Samantha said simply. “And I think she would have loved me if she’d met me. Jubilee said we’re very much alike.”

“Met him, have you?” Abby was starting to come fully awake.

Stepping forward, Mike put the big picnic basket down on the edge of the bed. “She gets her nose into everything. This morning she was yelling out the window at Ornette, Jubilee’s grandson, and—”

“Ornette is Jubilee’s great-grandson,” Abby said, then made a little face that said she wished she’d kept her mouth shut. To cover herself, she said, “What do you have in there, young man?”

“Sidecars,” he said, removing a tall stainless-steel flask from the basket. “And caviar blinis.”

For a moment Abby looked as though she were going to cry with a combination of happiness and regret—for she well knew that Samantha should not be there. “You two are fools, you know that?” she said softly, her remark addressed to Michael.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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