Hello, it’s Janet Marsh again, with more about our peculiar visiting author, Daphne Wood. Here’s a bit of my conversation with Christine, at the ceilidh, after Gillian Gillespie thought she was introducing Daphne to Tom the photographer (as well as being Gillian’s significant other) only to find out that Tom and Daphne had already met, already been on a photo shoot, and were already working on a calendar together. The ceilidh, being held at the library, was meant to be a lovely party with food and dancing to welcome Daphne to Inversgail.
“What do you think a predatory smile looks like?” I asked Christine.
“Whoa. Where did you learn to do a thing like that?”
“Shark Week, a few years back. Tony adored those documentaries,” Christine said, referring to her late husband. “Why?”
“The way Daphne smiled at Tom Laing, just now.”
I’d hopped up after Tom announced he and Daphne were working together on that calendar. Gillian’s reaction to the news had convinced me it was the perfect time to get more lemonade for everyone, and I’d interrupted Christine’s mother in the middle of describing her latest bout of vertigo to ask Christine for help carrying. When we reached the drinks table, I filled Christine in on the developing awkwardness. Then, still haunted by the unpleasant salad greens I’d eaten, I downed another whole glass of lemonade while Christine looked back toward Gillian, Tom, and Daphne. Tom and Daphne were talking and laughing. Gillian appeared to be stabbing my blackberry tart.
“Huh,” Christine said. “I didn’t see Daphne smile, but my professional diagnosis is that she isn’t predatory; she’s crazy. Or to quote from the official DSM translated for Scots, she’s a bampot.”
“You’re a social worker, not a psychologist,” I said, “but she’s definitely an odd duck. The dog, for instance. A husky, in the wilds of northern Canada, that I can understand. But a Pekingese? And she brought it tonight? Has Sharon or anyone from the library noticed?”
“Good points,” Christine said. “Did no one check her out beforehand?”
“There probably wasn’t a sanity box to check off on the application.”
“But surely there was something like an interview.”
“You know how much a clever person can hide in an interview.”
“Good Lord, yes.”
“It’ll be a relief when her book signing’s over next week,” I said. “Then I can stop being so unnaturally nice to Daphne. It’s too much hard work.”
“You’re a bampot,” Christine said. “You’d be nice to Nessie if she paddled in to buy books.”
“That’s called good customer service and for Nessie, it wouldn’t be hard at all. Not compared to Daphne.”
“Well, she’s not quite normal,” Christine said, “but who would be after living alone out in the woods for so long?”
“I wouldn’t be normal. I like watching people too much.”
“We call that being nosy,” Christine said, patting me on the back as though I was a good puppy, “and we love you for it. So why aren’t you back there sticking your nose in right now?” When I didn’t say anything, Christine looked at me. “You’re staring into your lemonade.”
“Trying to see myself,” I said. “I don’t like the image of me sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong.”
“No one’s at her best reflected in the bottom of a lemonade.”
Have you ever met someone like Daphne, who seems to have a talent for creating tension?
Coming in January 2018, Scones and Scoundrels, bringing together a body outside a pub, a visiting author determined to find the killer, and a murderously good batch of scones . . .
Molly MacRae is the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae, or you can sometimes find her the first Monday of a month at Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts.