the case of the four women (part three)

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"Miss Sleet," Stu said, rising to greet us. He indicated the ashtray on his desk. "I gather this may be a long and stressful day."

She smiled as she sat down and took her cigarette case from her jacket pocket.

This had been nicely done. As I mentioned before, during the story of the college murder, we had visited Stu quite regularly since he had become our lawyer, but my employer had never smoked in his office, though she smoked nearly everywhere else. Neither of them had ever mentioned this, but she had observed the lack of ashtrays and had apparently decided to refrain, as a demonstration of her affection and respect for him. At least, that had always been my assumption, though she and I had never discussed it either.

She frowned as I lit her cigarette. "I believe you may be right," she said to Stu as he sat down again, "but I'm not sure how you know this, since we haven't even begun to describe the case to you."

I glanced at Miss Tumolo, expecting her to make a face, as she usually did when anybody smoked around her. But she caught my expression and her lips thinned a bit. She was not going to give me the satisfaction.

Stu smiled. "I got a phone call this morning, a few minutes after I got here, stating that the Lord High Protector, with outriders, would be here at eleven, and that you were expected as well, along with Miss Tumolo." He inclined his head in her direction, and she smiled briefly in return. "My guess is that, whatever is going on, we may all need a cigarette by the time we're done."

"Or a drink," Miss Tumolo said quietly.

Stu looked at the clock. "We have about half an hour. Why don't you fill me in?"

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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