I wrote The Painted Lady one Christmas after my daughter asked for a Butterfly Garden. Seeing those tiny little green worms grow long, large, fat and icky, and then turn into one of the most beautiful creatures, inspired me. So today and off and on for the rest of the week I'm going to share scenes from The Painted Lady.
Amazon and Barnes and Noble do a fabulous job with their Look Inside feature so I won't bore you by repeating what they have but rather I'll start after that. (click Look Inside if you haven't had a chance to read the first part)
As Wesley placed the packages in the trunk and came around to open her door, Elizabeth knew everything he’d done for her today had been because he was a nice guy. However, at some point they would have to discuss payment.
The perfect gentleman, he waited for her to be seated before shutting the door behind her. She strapped in while he walked around and climbed behind the driver’s wheel.
She kept a wide smile plastered on her face because she could see the employees from the boutique staring at them. No doubt they thought she was his girlfriend, mistress, or some such thing for him to take her to such a shop and spend so much money on her.
She gave him a few minutes to get out on the road. Once they had been riding for awhile, Elizabeth started to ask about his purchases, except Wesley spoke first.
He raised his hand. “I know what you’re going to say.”
“Of course, I do. How are you going to pay me back? Why did I go buy all those clothes for you? Is this a plot so you’ll have to leave your townhouse? Am I right?”
“How did you know that?”
“You forget how long I’ve known you, Elizabeth. I’ve sat in Bible study classes with you, remember? I know what bothers you and what you dread. I know that you quit your job as a lawyer when you moved here. That you took a lower paying job because you didn’t want extra stress. I’m a lawyer after all, and I spend a lot of time listening, so I’ve gotten really good at it. Now in answer to your questions, I’m not trying to place you in debt. I wouldn’t do that to you. And you don’t have to pay me back.”
“Sure. I guess Madame Duprea owes you a favor.”
He laughed. “As a matter of fact, she does owe me a favor. I got her son off with a lighter sentence than he deserved, and she’s been eternally grateful. She’s even given some clothes to Lisa at a discount.”
“You took me to a place that Lisa knows about!”
“Well, of course. That way when I tell her everywhere we went she can call and check.” Wesley had a type of pleading sound in his voice. “I really like Lisa, and I don’t want to mess this up.”
Elizabeth felt terrible. She had put him in a very awkward position. “I should have asked Lisa to come with us. Then she wouldn’t have had to worry.”
“Oh, she isn’t worried. In fact I believe she’s been following us the whole time.”
“I called her and told her what you’re going through while we were at the hair dresser. I also told her you were kind of embarrassed and didn’t want an audience. So she agreed to stay behind so she could only see you as you exited the building.”
Elizabeth groaned loudly. “What about her mother’s visit?”
“She said she’d finished all the cleaning she wanted to do. Something about needing to get out of the house.”
“I wish you would’ve told me.”
Turning to face her, Wesley grinned broadly. “Now, that wouldn’t have been any fun.”
Elizabeth sneered in his direction then turned and faced out the window. The car cut across town in no time. Soon she was unloaded and staring at her packages in her living room floor. Madame Duprea had forgotten nothing. All the way down to a brand new slip and several pairs of pantyhose. Wesley had been right. Everything the woman chose had fit perfectly.
Elizabeth sat down on her bed and stared at all the packages. She would be up half the night sorting it out. She would have to get rid of her old clothes just to make room for the new ones in her closet. But as her mother always told her, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Elizabeth was going to listen to her at least this time.
When Elizabeth was safely inside her home, Wesley picked up his phone. Dialing Lisa, he watched his rearview mirror to see if his tail reached for the phone. When their hands remained steady on the wheel, he hung up.
Wesley had prayed it was Lisa behind him. He’d hoped his past had finally left him behind. But he was wrong. They didn’t trust him. This little display proved that they believed he was going to share their secrets. And now his act of friendship toward Elizabeth may have just placed her in grave danger.
And the intrigue begins! Tune in Thursday for the next sneak peek.