Donna Andrews


Copyright © 2001 by Donna Andrews.

To all the dedicated reenactors and craftspeople who contributed to my research. Thanks for preventing so many embarrassing mistakes and anachronisms – I hope you can forgive and laugh at the equally embarrassing ones I've made instead.

To the friends who listened oh so patiently to everything I learned about muskets, cannons, eighteenth- century costume, Colonial-era medicine, and countless other subjects that went into the writing of this book. I can only promise that at least I'll have a new and different set of obsessions next time.

And especially to Tracey and Bill, for continuing to let me borrow Spike; Elizabeth, for always pushing me to be a little better (not to mention the usual ending magic); Lauren, Mary, and Sheryle, for sharing words, wisdom, and pizza; Suzanne, possibly the world's best long-distance coach and cheerleader; Dave, who unmasked Cousin Horace, despite the assumed name; and all my online friends who were there when I needed them and understood when I wasn't there because I had to write.

To Ruth Cavin, Julie Sullivan, and the crew at St. Martin's, and to Ellen Geiger and Anna Abreu at Curtis Brown, for taking such good care of all the practical publishing stuff so I could concentrate on the fun part.

And to Mom and Dad, for choosing to live in the middle of the Yorktown Battlefields. It's all your fault, you know, and I can't thank you enough.

'I'm going to kill Michael's mother,' I announced. 'Quickly, discreetly, and with a minimum of pain and suffering. Out of consideration for Michael. But I am going to kill her.'

'What was that?' Eileen said, looking up and blinking at me.

I glanced over at my best friend and fellow craftswoman. She had already unpacked about an acre of blueandwhite porcelain and arranged it on her side of our booth. I still had several tons of wrought iron to wrestle into place.

I scratched two or three places where my authentic colonial-style linsey-woolsey dress was giving me contact dermatitis. I rolled my ruffled sleeves higher up on my arms, even though I knew they'd flop down again in two minutes; then I hiked my skirts up a foot or so, hoping a stray breeze would cool off my legs.

'I said I'm going to kill Michael's mother for making us do this craft fair in eighteenth-century costume,' I said. 'It's absolutely crazy in ninety-degree weather.'

'Well, it's not entirely Mrs. Waterston's fault,' Eileen said. 'Who knew we'd be having weather like this in October?'

I couldn't think of a reasonable answer, so I turned back to the case I was unpacking and lifted out a pair of wrought-iron candlesticks. Eileen, like me, was flushed from the heat and exertion, not to mention frizzy from the humidity. But with her blond hair and fair skin, it gave the effect of glowing health. I felt like a disheveled mess.

'This would be so much easier in jeans,' I grumbled, tripping over die hem of my skirt as I walked over to die table to set the candlesticks down.

'People are already showing up,' Eileen said, witii a shrug. 'You know what a stickler Mrs. Waterston is for autihenticity.'

Yes, everyone in Yorktown had long ago figured diat out. And Martha Stewart had nothing on Mrs. Waterston for attention to detail. If she'd had her way, we'd have made every single stitch we wore by hand, by candlelight. She'd probably have tried to make us spin the thread and weave the fabric ourselves, not to mention raising and shearing die sheep. And when she finally pushed enough of us over die edge, we'd have to make sure our lynch mob used an authentic colonial-style hemp rope instead of an anachronistic nylon one.

Of course, my fellow craftspeople would probably lynch me, too, while they were at it, since I was her deputy in charge of organizing the craft fair. And in Mrs. Waterston's eyes, keeping all the participants anachronism-free was my responsibility. When I'd volunteered for the job, I'd thought it a wonderful way to make a good impression on the hypercritical mother of the man I loved. I'd spent die past six months trying not to make Michael an orphan. Speaking of Michael…

'Where's Michael, anyway?' Eileen asked, echoing my thoughts. 'I diought he was going to help you widi that.'

'He will when he gets here,' I said. 'He's still getting into costume.'

'He's going to look so wonderful in colonial dress,' Eileen said.

'Yes,' I said. 'Lucky we don't have a full-length mirror in die tent, or we wouldn't see him for hours.'

'You know you don't mean that,' Eileen said, with a frown. 'You're crazy about Michael.'

I let that pass. Yes, I was crazy about Michael, but I was a grown woman in my thirties, not a starry-eyed teenager in the throes of her first crush. And Michael and I had been together a little over a year. Long enough for me to fully appreciate his many good points, but also long enough to notice a few shortcomings. The thing about costumes and mirrors, for example. And the fact that getting dressed to go anywhere took him two or three times as long as it took me.

Not that I complained, usually; the results were always spectacular. But at the moment, I'd have traded spectacular for available to help. I wrestled an eight-foot trellis into position and sat back, panting.

'Maybe I will wait until he gets here to finish this,' I said.

'But Mrs. Waterston wants us all set up by ten!' Eileen said. She rummaged in the wicker basket she was using instead of a purse, then shot a guilty glance back at me before pulling out her wristwatch.

'It's 9:30 already,' she said, thrusting the watch back out of sight beneath the red- and white-checked fabric lining the basket. Familiar gestures already: the furtive glance to see if anyone who cared – like me, theoretically – was looking before someone pulled out a necessary but forbidden modern object. And then the hasty concealment. Eileen should have figured out by now that as long as nobody else spotted her, I didn't give a damn.

Then again, we'd found out this morning that Mrs. Waterston had enlisted a dozen assistants, whom she'd dubbed 'the Town Watch.' In theory, the watchmen were under my orders, available to help with crowd control and prevent shoplifting. In practice, they were the reason I was running late. I'd spent all morning trying to stop them from harassing various frantic craftspeople about using modern tools to set up, and keeping them from confiscating various items they'd decided were 'not in period.' The crafters had started calling them 'the Anachronism Police.'

'I'm nearly finished with my side,' Eileen said. 'If you like, I could – '

A loud boom interrupted her, seeming to shake the very ground. Both of us jumped; Eileen shrieked; and her pottery rattled alarmingly. We could hear more shrieks and oaths from nearby booths.

'What on Earth!' Eileen exclaimed, racing over to her table to make sure none of her ethereally delicate cups

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