Sharp Edges

( 27 )

Overview

Eugenia Swift is a young woman of singular sensibilities, a connoisseur of beauty...and naturally inclined to tackle even the most difficult tasks on her own. As the director of the Leabrook Glass Museum, she's been asked to travel to Frog Cove Island-an artistic haven near Seattle-to catalog an important collection of art glass belonging to the late Adams Daventry. But thanks to unsavory rumors surrounding Daventry's death, the museum insists that Eugenia take along Cyrus Chandler Colfax-a rough-hewn private ...
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Sharp Edges

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Overview

Eugenia Swift is a young woman of singular sensibilities, a connoisseur of beauty...and naturally inclined to tackle even the most difficult tasks on her own. As the director of the Leabrook Glass Museum, she's been asked to travel to Frog Cove Island-an artistic haven near Seattle-to catalog an important collection of art glass belonging to the late Adams Daventry. But thanks to unsavory rumors surrounding Daventry's death, the museum insists that Eugenia take along Cyrus Chandler Colfax-a rough-hewn private investigator whose taste in glass runs to icy cold bottles filled with beer.

When Colfax declares they must pose as a couple, Eugenia protests in terms as loud as his Hawaiian shirts. She's loath to disclose the secret purpose of her trip: investigating the disappearance of her good friend Nellie Grant...the late Adam Daventry's lover. Meanwhile, the green-eyed calm of Colfax's gaze shields his own hidden agenda-locating a priceless Daventry treasure that will help him avenge an old wrong.

While Eugenia has always kept her heart on a shelf, their very lives soon depend on making an utterly convincing couple. Because among the chic galleries of Frog Cove Island lurks a killer, and their only chance for survival is the boldest, most artful collaboration they can dare to imagine.

At once a fascinating look at today's avant-garde art world and a scintillating adventure, Sharp Edges hums with the energy of a couple who bring to mind a thoroughly modern Bogart and Bacall. Add deft displays of wit and a wicked twist, and you've got another winner from Jayne Ann Krentz!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Chicago Tribune A fast-paced mystery....

People Entertaining....The dialogue cuts through with...sarcasm and snappy double entendres.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like the hand-blown objects she curates for the Leabrook Glass Museum in Seattle, sharp-witted Eugenia Swift is full of edges, an odd match for slow-moving, slow-talking, meat-and-potatoes PI Cyrus Chandler Colfax. From their first clash of wills and styles to their last kiss, however, they are a mismatch forged in heaven, and the bestselling Krentz author of the pseudonymous Amanda Quick historicals and Jayne Castle futuristic romances makes the most of it. Posing as a couple, Eugenia and Cyrus travel to Frog Cove Island to unravel a bunch of mysteries. Did glass collector Adam Daventy die accidentally? Is his last lover, Eugenia's friend Nellie Grant, dead at all? Will Cyrus find the legendary Hades cup before it's traced by his nemesis, Damien March? Krentz's bad guys verge on the parodic, so mean that we know they have to lose. But Eugenia and Cyrus are endearing curmudgeons, old-fashioned in their loyalty and guts, and even though we know they have to triumph, we don't want to miss a word. Feb.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439154472
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 12/22/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz is a New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romantic-suspense novels. She also writes historical romance under the name Amanda Quick and paranormal romance under the name Jayne Castle. Jayne loves to hear from her readers and can be found at www.facebook.com/JayneAnnKrentz.

Biography

A successful corporate and academic librarian-turned-author, Jayne Ann Krentz wrote serial romances for several publishers (including industry powerhouse Harlequin) before breaking out in the '90s as a writer of romantic novels. To say that she has been successful is an understatement: A New York Times- bestselling author with more than 23 million copies of her books in print, she writes three sub-genres of romantic suspense under three different pen names: contemporary romances as Jayne Ann Krentz, historicals as Amanda Quick, and futuristic/paranormal romances as Jayne Castle. (In her early career, she employed at least three additional pseudonyms!) In 2006, the prolific Krentz launched The Arcane Society series -- crossover thrillers written under all three noms de plume that feature members of a secret organization devoted to the study of the paranormal.

It would be hard to find a more passionate advocate for romantic fiction than Krentz. In 1992, she edited and contributed to Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, an award-winning nonfiction essay collection that serves an eloquent apologia for the genre. She has also received the Jane Austen Commemorative Medal from Romantic Times magazine for her work educating readers about Romance. "The Romance genre is the only genre where readers are guaranteed novels that place the heroine at the heart of the story," she says on her website. "These are books that celebrate women's heroic virtues and values: courage, honor, determination and a belief in the healing power of love." Clearly, her legions of loyal fans agree!

Good To Know

I have finally reached the point in my career where I have some say over cover art. Unfortunately, it turns out that I have absolutely no talent for cover art design. Thank heavens I'm with a publisher (Putnam/Berkley) that maintains a terrific art department.

I love green tea and red wine and was absolutely thrilled when it turned out that both are now considered health foods.

I love all animals except for squirrels which, I strongly suspect, are aliens from outer space who are here to take over the planet. You have been warned.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle
    2. Hometown:
      Seattle, WA
    1. Education:
      BA in History, University of California at Santa Cruz, MA in Librarianship from San Jose State University (California)
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It took all of the considerable self-control Eugenia Swift had at her disposal to hang on to her temper. "For heaven's sake, Tabitha, the last thing I need is a bodyguard."

Tabitha Leabrook smiled with the sort of poised confidence reserved for those who have grown up with money, social influence, and very high self-esteem.

"Think of him as a precaution, Eugenia," she said. "A prudent preventative action. Rather like wearing a seat belt."

"Or getting a flu shot," Cyrus Chandler Colfax offered helpfully.

Eugenia tightened her fingers in a reflexive movement. The fresh-off-the-press invitation to the Leabrook Glass Museum's annual Foundation Reception crumpled in her hand.

She wondered what the penalty was for strangling very large men who wore tacky aloha shirts, khaki chinos, and moccasin-style loafers. Surely no judge or jury would convict her, she thought. Not when they saw the evidence.

Colfax had said very little thus far, obviously content to wait as the argument swirled like a waterspout in the center of the room. He was biding his time, letting Tabitha wear her down. She sensed his plan as clearly as if he had written it out for her to read. He intended to loom in the shadows until she had been sufficiently softened up. Then he would step in to deliver the coup de grâce.

Dressed in the splashy blue, green, and orange shirt, he should have looked ridiculous against the oriental carpet and warmly paneled walls of her expensively furnished office. Unfortunately, he did not appear even slightly out of place. He clashed terribly with the expensive decor, of course, but he did not look out of place.

It was the room that looked somehow prissy and too elegant.

Eugenia was not fooled by the beachcomber ensemble. Not for one minute. She had a talent for being able to look beneath the surface. It was a gift that had led her into a successful career, first as an assistant curator at the Leabrook and now as its director.

She could see very clearly that Colfax was going to be a problem.

The cryptic tropical attire could not conceal the reality of Cyrus Colfax. He looked as if he had just ridden in off the range with a pair of six-guns strapped to his hip and was prepared to clean up the town.

Slow-moving and slow-talking, he had the feral, ascetic features of an avenging lawman of the mythic West. He even had the hands of a gunman, she thought. Or at least, the sort of hands she imagined a gunslinger would have. Strong and lean, they were a highly uncivilized combination of sensitivity and ruthlessness.

There was an aura of great stillness about him. He made no extraneous movements. He did not drum his fingers. He did not fiddle with a pen. He simply occupied space. No, Eugenia thought, he controlled space.

She estimated his age at about thirty-five, but it was difficult to be certain. He had the kind of features that only toughened with the years. There was a hint of silver in his dark hair, but nothing else to indicate the passing of time. There was certainly no evidence of any softening around the middle, she noticed.

But what disturbed her the most were his eyes. They were the color of thick, heavy glass viewed from the side, an intense, compelling green that was cold, brilliant, and mysterious. It was a color that was unique to a material forged in fire.

Eugenia tossed aside the crushed invitation and folded her hands together on top of her polished cherrywood desk. This was her office and she was in charge. She glared at Tabitha.

"What you are suggesting is highly inefficient and a complete waste of time," she said. "Besides, I'm supposed to be on vacation."

"A working vacation," Tabitha reminded her.

"She knew she was losing the battle, but it was her nature to fight on, even when defeat loomed. It was true that she was the director of the museum, but Tabitha Leabrook was the chief administrator of the Leabrook Foundation. The Foundation endowed the museum and paid the bills. When push came to shove, Tabitha had the final say.

Ninety-nine percent of the time the chain of command created no major problems for Eugenia. She had a great deal of respect for Tabitha, a small, dainty woman in her early seventies. Tabitha had a seemingly unlimited reservoir of public-spirited energy, refined tastes, and a good heart. She had a penchant for facelifts and the money to afford them. She also had a will of iron.

For the most part Tabitha demonstrated a gratifying respect for Eugenia's abilities and intelligence. Since appointing her director of the Leabrook, she had given Eugenia her head when it came to the administration of the museum.

Tabitha and the Board of Directors of the Leabrook Foundation had been delighted with Eugenia's achievements. Under her direction, the Leabrook had swiftly shed its stodgy image and achieved a reputation for an outstanding and exciting collection of ancient and modern glass.

It was unlike Tabitha to interfere in Eugenia's decision making. The fact that she was doing so today indicated the depths of her concern.

"I will feel much more comfortable if Mr. Colfax accompanies you to Frog Cove Island," Tabitha said. "After all, if there is some question of murder here — "

"For the last time," Eugenia interrupted, "there is no question of murder. The authorities declared Adam Daventry's death an accident. He fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck."

"The lawyer who is handling the Daventry estate called me an hour ago," Tabitha said. "He told me that the executors insist that Mr. Colfax make some inquiries into the matter."

"So let him make inquiries." Eugenia spread her hands. "Why do I have to be involved in them?"

Colfax stirred at the edge of the beam of light cast by the Tiffany lamp on the desk. "The estate wants everything handled very quietly. Very discreetly — "

Eugenia eyed his bright, palm-tree-patterned aloha shirt. "No offense, but somehow I don't see you as the soul of restraint and discretion, Mr. Colfax."

He smiled his slow, enigmatic smile. "I have many hidden qualities."

"They are extremely well concealed," she agreed politely.

"It will be an undercover operation." Tabitha's eyes gleamed with enthusiasm. "Rather exciting, don't you think, Eugenia?"

"I think," Eugenia said carefully, "that it sounds like a lot of nonsense. I read the articles in the Seattle Times and the Post-Intelligencer. There was no mention of any suspicion of foul play in Daventry's death."

Tabitha peered at her over the ruins of her reading glasses. "I must remind you, Eugenia, that the sooner the executors are satisfied, the sooner the Leabrook will be able to move the Daventry glass collection here to the museum."

Tabitha was right, and Eugenia knew it. Adam Daventry had left his magnificent collection of glass to the Leabrook. For most of his time as a collector he had focused on seventeenth- to twentieth-century glass. But a few months before his death, he had also begun to acquire some ancient glass.

Eugenia was eager to get her hands on the collection, but that was not the real reason she planned to spend her summer vacation on Frog Cove Island.

Adam Daventry's death had made the Seattle papers for two reasons, The first was that he was the last direct descendent of the Golden Daventrys, a prominent Northwest family that had made its early fortunes in timber and then moved on to amass even more cash in Pacific Rim shipping.

The second reason Daventry's death had garnered a mention was that five years earlier Adam Daventry had moved to Frog Cove Island off the Washington coast and established an art colony. The island had become a popular summer weekend destination for Seattlites, tourists, and others who liked to browse the local galleries. The annual Daventry Workshops Festival, held in June, had become a major summer event that drew large crowds.

Although Daventry had plastered his name on the art colony and the summer festival, he himself had always avoided the public eye. The rare photos that had been taken of him showed an elegantly lean, dark-haired, middle-aged man with smoldering eyes and Faustian features.

Eugenia had met him six months earlier when he had come to Seattle to consult with her in her professional capacity. She had quickly discovered that she had something in common with Daventry, namely an abiding passion for glass. But in spite of that, she had come away from the encounter with a one-word description of him. The word was bloodsucker.

"I don't understand why you're so upset about this arrangement, Eugenia," Tabitha said. "It's not as if you both won't have plenty of privacy. From what the lawyer said, Glass House is quite large. Three stories and a basement. There are any number of bathrooms and bedrooms, apparently. So many, in fact, that the executors plan to sell it off to a hotel firm to be converted into an inn."

"Yes, I know, but — "

"The only thing you and Cyrus will have to share is a kitchen," Tabitha concluded.

"Don't worry," Cyrus said. "I'll bring my own food and do my own cooking, Ms. Swift."

Eugenia chose to ignore that. She pitched her voice to a soothing tone, the sort she used when she urged possessive private collectors to donate their finest pieces to the Leabrook.

"No one's going to stop you if you want to go to Frog Cove Island, Mr. Colfax. But I fail to see why you should stay at Glass House with me, even if it is big enough to be an inn."

"Because I need open, unquestioned access to the place, Ms. Swift. Among other things, I want to go through Daventry's papers and files. It's going to take time to do a thorough investigation. The easiest way to handle it is for me to stay at the house."

Eugenia drummed her fingers on the desk. "I suppose that the estate has every right to hire an investigator. And I really don't care what you investigate, Mr. Colfax. But I fail to see why you have to attach yourself to me."

"It's a perfectly logical move," Tabitha insisted.

Eugenia clenched her fingers around the pen. Tabitha was a great fan of murder mysteries. She was obviously thrilled by the prospect of aiding and abetting a real-life private detective.

"I've got a job to do on Frog Cove Island," Eugenia said steadily. "I'm going to inventory Daventry's collection. Make arrangements to have it all crated and shipped back to Seattle. I don't have time to play Nancy Drew."

"You don't have to assist in the investigation," Tabitha assured her. "That's Mr. Colfax's job. But he needs a cover in order to do his work."

"Why on earth can't he just be up-front about what he's doing?" Eugenia retorted. "Why can't he tell people he's looking into Daventry's death?"

"I just told you, I'm supposed to be discreet," Cyrus said. "Besides, the island community is a small one and very insular. It's not likely that any of the locals would talk freely to a private investigator if they knew who he was and what he was doing."

"I'm sure Mr. Colfax won't get in your way," Tabitha said with an encouraging smile.

Eugenia eyed Cyrus with brooding dismay. He most definitely would get in her way. She could tell that much just by looking at him. One could not simply ignore a man like this. The shirt alone made it impossible.

In the normal course of events, his presence would not have constituted a serious problem for her. An irritation, perhaps, but not a major problem. As Tabitha had pointed out, Glass House was reputed to be quite large. But the business she intended to pursue on Daventry Island did not come under the heading of normal.

She had her own agenda at Glass House, and that agenda had nothing to do with inventorying the Daventry glass collection.

Twenty-four hours after Adam Daventry had fallen to his death, his lover, Nellie Grant, had drowned in a boating accident. Her body had never been recovered.

The official verdict was that she had been washed overboard into the icy waters of Puget Sound. There had been some speculation that, despondent over her lover's death, she had committed suicide.

Eugenia did not believe that Nellie had taken her own life, and she knew her friend had been experienced with small boats.

The problem was that she could not come up with any other logical explanations for Nellie's death at sea. She only knew she would not be able to sleep well until she got some answers.

She was, after all, the one who had introduced Nellie to Adam Daventry. Any way she looked at it, Eugenia knew that if Nellie had never met Daventry and gone to Frog Cove Island, she would probably still be alive.

"Mr. Colfax can go to the island as a tourist," she suggested in what she hoped was a calm, reasonable tone. "He can browse through the art galleries or hang out in the local taverns. Isn't that the way a real professional investigator would go about worming information out of people?"

Colfax did not even wince at the thinly veiled insult, she noticed. But Tabitha's surgically tight jaw became even tighter.

"Mr. Colfax is a very real professional investigator," she said. "He has his own firm, Colfax Security, with two offices on the West Coast, including one in Portland."

"We're planning to expand to Seattle this year," Cyrus said easily.

"Is that so?" Eugenia narrowed her eyes. "Tell me, why does the Daventry estate suspect foul play in Adam Daventry's death?"

"It's not a matter of suspicion," Cyrus said. "It's more a case of what the executors feel was an inadequate investigation by the local authorities. They just want a second opinion, that's all. And they want it done quietly."

"But what possible motive could there have been?" Eugenia demanded.

"Haven't got a clue," Cyrus said.

Eugenia made herself count to ten. "I hesitate to ask, but do you perhaps have any suspects?"

"Nope."

She sighed. "You've asked the Leabrook to provide cover for you, Mr. Colfax. Just exactly how do you expect us to do that? What sort of excuse am I supposed to use in order to explain why I'm spending my summer vacation with you at Glass House?"

Tabitha spoke up before he could respond. "I thought we could send him along as your assistant."

"My assistant?" Eugenia swung around in her chair. "Trust me, Tabitha, no one is going to believe for one moment that Mr. Colfax is an assistant curator or anything else involved in the museum business."

Cyrus glanced down at the palm trees on his chest. "Is it the shirt?"

She refused to acknowledge the question. She kept her pleading gaze fixed on Tabitha. "This is not going to work. Surely you can see that."

Tabitha pursed her lips in thought. "He does have a certain eccentric style, doesn't he? Perhaps we could pass him off as a photographer hired to take pictures of the Daventry glass collection. Photographers are inclined toward eccentricity."

"I have never," Eugenia said between her teeth, "met one who looked this eccentric."

"A photographer cover is too complicated, anyway," Cyrus said. "I'd have to bring along a lot of fancy equipment that I wouldn't have time to figure out. Furthermore, there's always the risk that a real photographer on the island might want to talk shop. In which case I'd probably give myself away in the first five minutes. I'm not real good with gadgets."

"Good grief." Eugenia closed her eyes. "It's hopeless."

"Cheer up," Cyrus said. "I have an idea that I think might work."

"Lord spare me." Eugenia cautiously opened her eyes. "What is it?"

"We can go to the island as a couple."

She gazed at him, uncomprehending. "A couple of what?"

"Of course." Tabitha bubbled over with excitement. "A couple. That's a wonderful idea, Mr. Colfax."

He gave her a modest smile. "Thanks. I think it has possibilities."

Eugenia froze. "Wait a second. Are you talking about you and me? Together? As a couple?"

"Why not?" He gave her what was no doubt intended to pass for an innocent, earnest expression. "It's the perfect excuse for us to spend some time alone together at Glass House."

"Oh, you won't be entirely alone," Tabitha said helpfully. "There's a sort of caretaker-butler on site. The lawyer said his name is Leonard Hastings. He used to work for Daventry. The estate kept him on to look after things, especially the glass collection."

Eugenia knew the name. The box she had received that contained Nellie Grant's clothes and personal effects had been sent back to Seattle by someone named Leonard Hastings.

She planted her hands on her desk and pushed herself to her feet. "This is beyond ludicrous. It's insane. Anyone with a slice of brain can see that it will never work."

rd

Tabitha tilted her head. "I don't know, Eugenia, I think it's a very clever plan."

"Simple, too," Cyrus said. "I'm a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible."

Eugenia realized that the situation was deteriorating rapidly. "It's simple, all right. Simple minded."

"Everyone's a critic," Cyrus said.

Eugenia tried hard not to grind her teeth. In spite of the abundant evidence to the contrary, she was very sure that whatever else he was, Cyrus Chandler Colfax was not simple.

Her eyes met his, and for a few seconds everything came to an abrupt halt. A frisson of awareness brought all of her nerve endings to full alert.

She knew this sensation. It was the same feeling she got when she looked into one of the first-century B.C. Egyptian glass bowls on display in the Ancient Glass wing of the museum. There was power here. It drew her even as it set off alarms.

In fairness to a civilized society, Colfax should have been required to wear caution flags and a lot of flashing red lights to warn the unwary against approaching too close. The Hawaiian shirt did not do the job.

She was certain that Cyrus's laid-back ways were a facade. She knew that as surely as she knew the difference between fourteenth-century Islamic glass and Chinese glass from the early years of the Qing dynasty. His strong, ruthless hands and enigmatic green eyes told the real truth. Even as she tried to assess him, he was sizing her up with a hunter's focused interest and intelligence.

She was sure that he did not intend for her to learn anything more about him than he wanted her to know.

Two could play at that game, she thought.

Which meant they had a standoff.

She made one last stab at warding off the inevitable. "Tabitha, you can't possibly expect me to work under these conditions."

"Nonsense." Tabitha's shrewd eyes burned with the fires of excitement."Where's your sense of adventure? Why, if I didn't have so many commitments here in Seattle during the next few weeks, I'd be tempted to go in your place."

Not a chance, Eugenia vowed silently. She had no intention of allowing anyone, not even Tabitha Leabrook, to go to Frog Cove Island in her stead. But she needed to be free to pursue her own plans, and that meant she had to be in charge of the situation. From what little she had seen, Colfax did not appear to be the easily managed type.

She picked up the plump, 1930s-era fountain pen she used to sign official correspondence and lounged back in her chair. "What happens if I simply refuse to cooperate in this fiasco?"

"Easy." Cyrus shoved his hands into his pockets and smiled benignly. "I tell the Daventry estate folks that you won't assist the investigation."

She waited for the other shoe to drop. When Cyrus did not say anything else, she rolled the fat pen between her palms.

"That's it?" she asked.

"Well, not quite," Cyrus said slowly. "After I tell the estate executors that the Leabrook was uncooperative, they will probably instruct their lawyers to tie up the assets of the Daventry estate as long as possible."

Eugenia closed her eyes.

"I figure that a good legal team could probably arrange to keep the Daventry glass collection out of the hands of the Leabrook for four or five years," Cyrus continued. "Maybe longer."

A cold chill went through Eugenia. She opened her eyes and sat very still.

Tabitha's mouth dropped open in shock. "My God, we can't risk that. We must have that glass. It's an incredible collection."

Eugenia watched Cyrus closely. "He's bluffing, Tabitha."

Cyrus raised his brows.

He was not bluffing, Eugenia thought. If she did not cooperate, he would convince the executors to tie up the estate. The Leabrook could wind up spending a fortune fighting for the bequest in court.

"That's blackmail," she said.

"Eugenia, really, that's going much too far," Tabitha chided. "Mr. Colfax is not issuing a threat. He's merely telling us what the executors' reaction, will be if he isn't allowed to conduct his investigation."

"Like heck he is. He's threatening us, Tabitha."

Tabitha made a tut-tutting sound. "You're overreacting, my dear. And it's all moot in any case. I've already agreed to assist him, and not just because it will please the Daventry estate."

"I know, I know," Eugenia said wearily. "You're worried about me."

"I'm being cautious." Tabitha's expression turned serious. "If there is a possibility that Adam Daventry was murdered, the motive might very well have had something to do with his art collection. I do not want you staying alone with all that valuable glass and only that caretaker person for protection."

Eugenia knew when she was beaten. "All right, Tabitha, if you insist, I'll go along with this idiotic scheme."

Tabitha beamed. "Thank you, my dear. It will be a tremendous load off my mind to know that you'll have Mr. Colfax with you at Glass House."

"There is one small stipulation," Eugenia added gently.

Cyrus's gaze sharpened fractionally. "What's that?"

"I get to choose the cover story we use," Eugenia said briskly. "Given the extremely limited range of options, I'll have to settle for the one in which you pose as my assistant."

There was a beat of silence.

"Don't think that one will work real well," Cyrus said.

"Too bad." She glared at him. "It's the only one I'm prepared to consider."

Cyrus nodded. "Mind if I ask why you chose that one instead of the one in which we pose as a couple on vacation?"

She eyed his shirt. "I would have thought it was obvious. It's going to be difficult enough to pass you off as my assistant. But I can absolutely guarantee that never in a million years would it be possible to convince anyone that we were a couple."

"I get it," Cyrus said. "You're trying to tell me that I'm not your type."

She thought about the unsubtle threat he had issued a moment ago. "No," she said. "You're definitely not my type. And there's one more thing I want clear here. I don't know much about private investigators, but I've noticed that on TV they always carry guns."

"I'm a real-life investigator, Ms. Swift, not a TV private eye."

"I trust that means you don't actually carry a gun around with you. I absolutely refuse to share a house with a strange man who carries a gun. I detest guns."

"So do I." Cyrus moved his left shoulder slightly. "I once had a nasty experience with one."

At six-thirty that evening, Eugenia poured herself a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc and went to stand at her living room window. Her condominium was located midway up in a high-rise building in the heart of the city. She had paid extra for the view of Elliott Bay, but she considered the money well spent. Something about vast expanses of water was soothing to her soul.

She had spent the last four months engaged in a major remodeling project, which was finally complete. She had ordered the architect to tear down every wall except those needed for privacy in the bath and bedroom. The background color was white, a perfect, foil for her growing collection of West Coast studio glass art. The contemporary glass sculptures glowed on carefully lit pedestals arranged around the room.

An arched entry divided the hall from the white-carpeted living room. A low, white sofa and white leather chairs together with some glass tables comprised the furnishings.

The only color in the room besides the brilliantly hued glass sculptures was around the gas fireplace.

Eugenia studied the hand-painted amber and green tiles that formed the fireplace surround. Nellie Grant had designed them for her.

The last time she had seen Nellie was here in this very room. The remodeling had been in its final stages. The wall beside the fireplace had still, been open and tiles had been stacked on the floor, when Nellie appeared at the front door. That had been the morning after Adam Daventry had fallen to his death.

Rather than wait for the private ferry that served Frog Cove Island, Nellie had used Daventry's launch to get to the mainland. She had rented a car and driven an hour and a half into Seattle.

She had definitely not been grieving.

You were right, Eugenia. He was a bastard. I should have listened to you. I'm not sorry he's dead. I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth. I have to return to the island this afternoon to get the rest of my stuff, but after that I never want to see the place again.

Eugenia glanced at the painting above the recently completed fireplace. It was one of Nellie's works, the first in a series called Glass, she had explained. It depicted a late-nineteenth-century French vase from the Daventry collection. Nellie had captured the rich, vibrant colors and the enthralling effects of fight shining through the glass.

Daventry said that since he had no children for me to paint, he wanted me to do some portraits of his favorite glass pieces. I did four of them before he died Now that he's gone, I figure they belong to me. I want you to have this one, Eugenia. Sort of a housewarming gift. You've been terrific about encouraging my work.

Nellie had been eager to get her career as an artist under way. Eugenia suspected that was one of the reasons she had fallen victim to Daventry's charm. He had convinced her that he could introduce her to the right people and get her work hung in the most prestigious galleries.

Eugenia walked, slipper-shod, across the new white rug. She paused beside a pedestal and gazed into the swirling green depths of a whimsical glass sculpture that had been created by a young artist in Anacortes.

Watching the play of light on beautiful glass always helped her to clarify her thoughts.

After a moment she reached for the phone on the table beside the sofa. She flipped open a card file and found the home number of her friend at Mills & Mills, the firm that handled the Leabrook's security.

The same intuition that she relied on so heavily when it came to art was sending small warning signals concerning Cyrus Chandler Colfax. It told her that he was not what he seemed.

"Sally? Eugenia. I need a favor from you."

"It's nearly seven." Sally Warren sounded startled. "Are you still at the museum?"

"No, I'm home." Eugenia sank down onto the arm of the sofa. "I'm going out of town the day after tomorrow. I need some information."

"Finally going to take a vacation, huh? About time. I'll bet you can't even remember the last one you took."

Eugenia frowned. "Of course I do. I went to England two years ago."

"And spent all of your time in the glass collections at the Ashmolean and the British Museum. But we'll let that pass. What do you need?"

"Mills & Mills has been in the security business for a long time, right?"

"Thirty years," Sally agreed.

"You must know all of the other major security firms on the West Coast."

"Probably. Why?"

"I met one of your competitors today. Cyrus Chandler Colfax. Ever heard of him?"

There was a short, startled silence on the other end of the line.

"Colfax?" Sally sounded distinctly cautious.

"Yes. Do you know him?"

"I've never met him, but I've heard about him. I wouldn't call him a competitor. He doesn't go after the same business. Mills & Mills specializes in museum security. Colfax usually does corporate and private stuff. Very exclusive. Very expensive."

Eugenia tightened her grip on the phone. "What can you tell me about him?"

"Wait a second, you're not thinking of moving the Leabrook account to Colfax Security, are you?"

"No, of course not. But I want to know whatever you can get on him."

"It will take me a while. Mind if I ask why you need to know about Colfax?"

"Because I'm going to spend my summer vacation with him."

Copyright ©1998 by Jayne Ann Krentz

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First Chapter

Chapter One<<P> It took all of the considerable self-control Eugenia Swift had at her disposal to hang on to her temper. "For heaven's sake, Tabitha, the last thing I need is a bodyguard."

Tabitha Leabrook smiled with the sort of poised confidence reserved for those who have grown up with money, social influence, and very high self-esteem.

"Think of him as a precaution, Eugenia," she said. "A prudent preventative action. Rather like wearing a seat belt."

"Or getting a flu shot," Cyrus Chandler Colfax offered helpfully.

Eugenia tightened her fingers in a reflexive movement. The fresh-off-the-press invitation to the Leabrook Glass Museum's annual Foundation Reception crumpled in her hand.

She wondered what the penalty was for strangling very large men who wore tacky aloha shirts, khaki chinos, and moccasin-style loafers. Surely no judge or jury would convict her, she thought. Not when they saw the evidence.

Colfax had said very little thus far, obviously content to wait as the argument swirled like a waterspout in the center of the room. He was biding his time, letting Tabitha wear her down. She sensed his plan as clearly as if he had written it out for her to read. He intended to loom in the shadows until she had been sufficiently softened up. Then he would step in to deliver the coup de grâce.

Dressed in the splashy blue, green, and orange shirt, he should have looked ridiculous against the oriental carpet and warmly paneled walls of her expensively furnished office. Unfortunately, he did not appear even slightly out of place. He clashed terribly with the expensive decor, of course, but he did not look out of place.

It was the room that looked somehow prissy and too elegant.

Eugenia was not fooled by the beachcomber ensemble. Not for one minute. She had a talent for being able to look beneath the surface. It was a gift that had led her into a successful career, first as an assistant curator at the Leabrook and now as its director.

She could see very clearly that Colfax was going to be a problem.

The cryptic tropical attire could not conceal the reality of Cyrus Colfax. He looked as if he had just ridden in off the range with a pair of six-guns strapped to his hip and was prepared to clean up the town.

Slow-moving and slow-talking, he had the feral, ascetic features of an avenging lawman of the mythic West. He even had the hands of a gunman, she thought. Or at least, the sort of hands she imagined a gunslinger would have. Strong and lean, they were a highly uncivilized combination of sensitivity and ruthlessness.

There was an aura of great stillness about him. He made no extraneous movements. He did not drum his fingers. He did not fiddle with a pen. He simply occupied space. No, Eugenia thought, he controlled space.

She estimated his age at about thirty-five, but it was difficult to be certain. He had the kind of features that only toughened with the years. There was a hint of silver in his dark hair, but nothing else to indicate the passing of time. There was certainly no evidence of any softening around the middle, she noticed.

But what disturbed her the most were his eyes. They were the color of thick, heavy glass viewed from the side, an intense, compelling green that was cold, brilliant, and mysterious. It was a color that was unique to a material forged in fire.

Eugenia tossed aside the crushed invitation and folded her hands together on top of her polished cherrywood desk. This was her office and she was in charge. She glared at Tabitha.

"What you are suggesting is highly inefficient and a complete waste of time," she said. "Besides, I'm supposed to be on vacation."

"A working vacation," Tabitha reminded her.

"She knew she was losing the battle, but it was her nature to fight on, even when defeat loomed. It was true that she was the director of the museum, but Tabitha Leabrook was the chief administrator of the Leabrook Foundation. The Foundation endowed the museum and paid the bills. When push came to shove, Tabitha had the final say.

Ninety-nine percent of the time the chain of command created no major problems for Eugenia. She had a great deal of respect for Tabitha, a small, dainty woman in her early seventies. Tabitha had a seemingly unlimited reservoir of public-spirited energy, refined tastes, and a good heart. She had a penchant for facelifts and the money to afford them. She also had a will of iron.

For the most part Tabitha demonstrated a gratifying respect for Eugenia's abilities and intelligence. Since appointing her director of the Leabrook, she had given Eugenia her head when it came to the administration of the museum.

Tabitha and the Board of Directors of the Leabrook Foundation had been delighted with Eugenia's achievements. Under her direction, the Leabrook had swiftly shed its stodgy image and achieved a reputation for an outstanding and exciting collection of ancient and modern glass.

It was unlike Tabitha to interfere in Eugenia's decision making. The fact that she was doing so today indicated the depths of her concern.

"I will feel much more comfortable if Mr. Colfax accompanies you to Frog Cove Island," Tabitha said. "After all, if there is some question of murder here -- "

"For the last time," Eugenia interrupted, "there is no question of murder. The authorities declared Adam Daventry's death an accident. He fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck."

"The lawyer who is handling the Daventry estate called me an hour ago," Tabitha said. "He told me that the executors insist that Mr. Colfax make some inquiries into the matter."

"So let him make inquiries." Eugenia spread her hands. "Why do I have to be involved in them?"

Colfax stirred at the edge of the beam of light cast by the Tiffany lamp on the desk. "The estate wants everything handled very quietly. Very discreetly -- "

Eugenia eyed his bright, palm-tree-patterned aloha shirt. "No offense, but somehow I don't see you as the soul of restraint and discretion, Mr. Colfax."

He smiled his slow, enigmatic smile. "I have many hidden qualities."

"They are extremely well concealed," she agreed politely.

"It will be an undercover operation." Tabitha's eyes gleamed with enthusiasm. "Rather exciting, don't you think, Eugenia?"

"I think," Eugenia said carefully, "that it sounds like a lot of nonsense. I read the articles in the Seattle Times and the Post-Intelligencer. There was no mention of any suspicion of foul play in Daventry's death."

Tabitha peered at her over the ruins of her reading glasses. "I must remind you, Eugenia, that the sooner the executors are satisfied, the sooner the Leabrook will be able to move the Daventry glass collection here to the museum."

Tabitha was right, and Eugenia knew it. Adam Daventry had left his magnificent collection of glass to the Leabrook. For most of his time as a collector he had focused on seventeenth- to twentieth-century glass. But a few months before his death, he had also begun to acquire some ancient glass.

Eugenia was eager to get her hands on the collection, but that was not the real reason she planned to spend her summer vacation on Frog Cove Island.

Adam Daventry's death had made the Seattle papers for two reasons, The first was that he was the last direct descendent of the Golden Daventrys, a prominent Northwest family that had made its early fortunes in timber and then moved on to amass even more cash in Pacific Rim shipping.

The second reason Daventry's death had garnered a mention was that five years earlier Adam Daventry had moved to Frog Cove Island off the Washington coast and established an art colony. The island had become a popular summer weekend destination for Seattlites, tourists, and others who liked to browse the local galleries. The annual Daventry Workshops Festival, held in June, had become a major summer event that drew large crowds.

Although Daventry had plastered his name on the art colony and the summer festival, he himself had always avoided the public eye. The rare photos that had been taken of him showed an elegantly lean, dark-haired, middle-aged man with smoldering eyes and Faustian features.

Eugenia had met him six months earlier when he had come to Seattle to consult with her in her professional capacity. She had quickly discovered that she had something in common with Daventry, namely an abiding passion for glass. But in spite of that, she had come away from the encounter with a one-word description of him. The word was bloodsucker.

"I don't understand why you're so upset about this arrangement, Eugenia," Tabitha said. "It's not as if you both won't have plenty of privacy. From what the lawyer said, Glass House is quite large. Three stories and a basement. There are any number of bathrooms and bedrooms, apparently. So many, in fact, that the executors plan to sell it off to a hotel firm to be converted into an inn."

"Yes, I know, but -- "

"The only thing you and Cyrus will have to share is a kitchen," Tabitha concluded.

"Don't worry," Cyrus said. "I'll bring my own food and do my own cooking, Ms. Swift."

Eugenia chose to ignore that. She pitched her voice to a soothing tone, the sort she used when she urged possessive private collectors to donate their finest pieces to the Leabrook.

"No one's going to stop you if you want to go to Frog Cove Island, Mr. Colfax. But I fail to see why you should stay at Glass House with me, even if it is big enough to be an inn."

"Because I need open, unquestioned access to the place, Ms. Swift. Among other things, I want to go through Daventry's papers and files. It's going to take time to do a thorough investigation. The easiest way to handle it is for me to stay at the house."

Eugenia drummed her fingers on the desk. "I suppose that the estate has every right to hire an investigator. And I really don't care what you investigate, Mr. Colfax. But I fail to see why you have to attach yourself to me."

"It's a perfectly logical move," Tabitha insisted.

Eugenia clenched her fingers around the pen. Tabitha was a great fan of murder mysteries. She was obviously thrilled by the prospect of aiding and abetting a real-life private detective.

"I've got a job to do on Frog Cove Island," Eugenia said steadily. "I'm going to inventory Daventry's collection. Make arrangements to have it all crated and shipped back to Seattle. I don't have time to play Nancy Drew."

"You don't have to assist in the investigation," Tabitha assured her. "That's Mr. Colfax's job. But he needs a cover in order to do his work."

"Why on earth can't he just be up-front about what he's doing?" Eugenia retorted. "Why can't he tell people he's looking into Daventry's death?"

"I just told you, I'm supposed to be discreet," Cyrus said. "Besides, the island community is a small one and very insular. It's not likely that any of the locals would talk freely to a private investigator if they knew who he was and what he was doing."

"I'm sure Mr. Colfax won't get in your way," Tabitha said with an encouraging smile.

Eugenia eyed Cyrus with brooding dismay. He most definitely would get in her way. She could tell that much just by looking at him. One could not simply ignore a man like this. The shirt alone made it impossible.

In the normal course of events, his presence would not have constituted a serious problem for her. An irritation, perhaps, but not a major problem. As Tabitha had pointed out, Glass House was reputed to be quite large. But the business she intended to pursue on Daventry Island did not come under the heading of normal.

She had her own agenda at Glass House, and that agenda had nothing to do with inventorying the Daventry glass collection.

Twenty-four hours after Adam Daventry had fallen to his death, his lover, Nellie Grant, had drowned in a boating accident. Her body had never been recovered.

The official verdict was that she had been washed overboard into the icy waters of Puget Sound. There had been some speculation that, despondent over her lover's death, she had committed suicide.

Eugenia did not believe that Nellie had taken her own life, and she knew her friend had been experienced with small boats.

The problem was that she could not come up with any other logical explanations for Nellie's death at sea. She only knew she would not be able to sleep well until she got some answers.

She was, after all, the one who had introduced Nellie to Adam Daventry. Any way she looked at it, Eugenia knew that if Nellie had never met Daventry and gone to Frog Cove Island, she would probably still be alive.

"Mr. Colfax can go to the island as a tourist," she suggested in what she hoped was a calm, reasonable tone. "He can browse through the art galleries or hang out in the local taverns. Isn't that the way a real professional investigator would go about worming information out of people?"

Colfax did not even wince at the thinly veiled insult, she noticed. But Tabitha's surgically tight jaw became even tighter.

"Mr. Colfax is a very real professional investigator," she said. "He has his own firm, Colfax Security, with two offices on the West Coast, including one in Portland."

"We're planning to expand to Seattle this year," Cyrus said easily.

"Is that so?" Eugenia narrowed her eyes. "Tell me, why does the Daventry estate suspect foul play in Adam Daventry's death?"

"It's not a matter of suspicion," Cyrus said. "It's more a case of what the executors feel was an inadequate investigation by the local authorities. They just want a second opinion, that's all. And they want it done quietly."

"But what possible motive could there have been?" Eugenia demanded.

"Haven't got a clue," Cyrus said.

Eugenia made herself count to ten. "I hesitate to ask, but do you perhaps have any suspects?"

"Nope."

She sighed. "You've asked the Leabrook to provide cover for you, Mr. Colfax. Just exactly how do you expect us to do that? What sort of excuse am I supposed to use in order to explain why I'm spending my summer vacation with you at Glass House?"

Tabitha spoke up before he could respond. "I thought we could send him along as your assistant."

"My assistant?" Eugenia swung around in her chair. "Trust me, Tabitha, no one is going to believe for one moment that Mr. Colfax is an assistant curator or anything else involved in the museum business."

Cyrus glanced down at the palm trees on his chest. "Is it the shirt?"

She refused to acknowledge the question. She kept her pleading gaze fixed on Tabitha. "This is not going to work. Surely you can see that."

Tabitha pursed her lips in thought. "He does have a certain eccentric style, doesn't he? Perhaps we could pass him off as a photographer hired to take pictures of the Daventry glass collection. Photographers are inclined toward eccentricity."

"I have never," Eugenia said between her teeth, "met one who looked this eccentric."

"A photographer cover is too complicated, anyway," Cyrus said. "I'd have to bring along a lot of fancy equipment that I wouldn't have time to figure out. Furthermore, there's always the risk that a real photographer on the island might want to talk shop. In which case I'd probably give myself away in the first five minutes. I'm not real good with gadgets."

"Good grief." Eugenia closed her eyes. "It's hopeless."

"Cheer up," Cyrus said. "I have an idea that I think might work."

"Lord spare me." Eugenia cautiously opened her eyes. "What is it?"

"We can go to the island as a couple."

She gazed at him, uncomprehending. "A couple of what?"

"Of course." Tabitha bubbled over with excitement. "A couple. That's a wonderful idea, Mr. Colfax."

He gave her a modest smile. "Thanks. I think it has possibilities."

Eugenia froze. "Wait a second. Are you talking about you and me? Together? As a couple?"

"Why not?" He gave her what was no doubt intended to pass for an innocent, earnest expression. "It's the perfect excuse for us to spend some time alone together at Glass House."

"Oh, you won't be entirely alone," Tabitha said helpfully. "There's a sort of caretaker-butler on site. The lawyer said his name is Leonard Hastings. He used to work for Daventry. The estate kept him on to look after things, especially the glass collection."

Eugenia knew the name. The box she had received that contained Nellie Grant's clothes and personal effects had been sent back to Seattle by someone named Leonard Hastings.

She planted her hands on her desk and pushed herself to her feet. "This is beyond ludicrous. It's insane. Anyone with a slice of brain can see that it will never work."

Tabitha tilted her head. "I don't know, Eugenia, I think it's a very clever plan."

"Simple, too," Cyrus said. "I'm a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible."

Eugenia realized that the situation was deteriorating rapidly. "It's simple, all right. Simple minded."

"Everyone's a critic," Cyrus said.

Eugenia tried hard not to grind her teeth. In spite of the abundant evidence to the contrary, she was very sure that whatever else he was, Cyrus Chandler Colfax was not simple.

Her eyes met his, and for a few seconds everything came to an abrupt halt. A frisson of awareness brought all of her nerve endings to full alert.

She knew this sensation. It was the same feeling she got when she looked into one of the first-century B.C. Egyptian glass bowls on display in the Ancient Glass wing of the museum. There was power here. It drew her even as it set off alarms.

In fairness to a civilized society, Colfax should have been required to wear caution flags and a lot of flashing red lights to warn the unwary against approaching too close. The Hawaiian shirt did not do the job.

She was certain that Cyrus's laid-back ways were a facade. She knew that as surely as she knew the difference between fourteenth-century Islamic glass and Chinese glass from the early years of the Qing dynasty. His strong, ruthless hands and enigmatic green eyes told the real truth. Even as she tried to assess him, he was sizing her up with a hunter's focused interest and intelligence.

She was sure that he did not intend for her to learn anything more about him than he wanted her to know.

Two could play at that game, she thought.

Which meant they had a standoff.

She made one last stab at warding off the inevitable. "Tabitha, you can't possibly expect me to work under these conditions."

"Nonsense." Tabitha's shrewd eyes burned with the fires of excitement."Where's your sense of adventure? Why, if I didn't have so many commitments here in Seattle during the next few weeks, I'd be tempted to go in your place."

Not a chance, Eugenia vowed silently. She had no intention of allowing anyone, not even Tabitha Leabrook, to go to Frog Cove Island in her stead. But she needed to be free to pursue her own plans, and that meant she had to be in charge of the situation. From what little she had seen, Colfax did not appear to be the easily managed type.

She picked up the plump, 1930s-era fountain pen she used to sign official correspondence and lounged back in her chair. "What happens if I simply refuse to cooperate in this fiasco?"

"Easy." Cyrus shoved his hands into his pockets and smiled benignly. "I tell the Daventry estate folks that you won't assist the investigation."

She waited for the other shoe to drop. When Cyrus did not say anything else, she rolled the fat pen between her palms.

"That's it?" she asked.

"Well, not quite," Cyrus said slowly. "After I tell the estate executors that the Leabrook was uncooperative, they will probably instruct their lawyers to tie up the assets of the Daventry estate as long as possible."

Eugenia closed her eyes.

"I figure that a good legal team could probably arrange to keep the Daventry glass collection out of the hands of the Leabrook for four or five years," Cyrus continued. "Maybe longer."

A cold chill went through Eugenia. She opened her eyes and sat very still.

Tabitha's mouth dropped open in shock. "My God, we can't risk that. We must have that glass. It's an incredible collection."

Eugenia watched Cyrus closely. "He's bluffing, Tabitha."

Cyrus raised his brows.

He was not bluffing, Eugenia thought. If she did not cooperate, he would convince the executors to tie up the estate. The Leabrook could wind up spending a fortune fighting for the bequest in court.

"That's blackmail," she said.

"Eugenia, really, that's going much too far," Tabitha chided. "Mr. Colfax is not issuing a threat. He's merely telling us what the executors' reaction, will be if he isn't allowed to conduct his investigation."

"Like heck he is. He's threatening us, Tabitha."

Tabitha made a tut-tutting sound. "You're overreacting, my dear. And it's all moot in any case. I've already agreed to assist him, and not just because it will please the Daventry estate."

"I know, I know," Eugenia said wearily. "You're worried about me."

"I'm being cautious." Tabitha's expression turned serious. "If there is a possibility that Adam Daventry was murdered, the motive might very well have had something to do with his art collection. I do not want you staying alone with all that valuable glass and only that caretaker person for protection."

Eugenia knew when she was beaten. "All right, Tabitha, if you insist, I'll go along with this idiotic scheme."

Tabitha beamed. "Thank you, my dear. It will be a tremendous load off my mind to know that you'll have Mr. Colfax with you at Glass House."

"There is one small stipulation," Eugenia added gently.

Cyrus's gaze sharpened fractionally. "What's that?"

"I get to choose the cover story we use," Eugenia said briskly. "Given the extremely limited range of options, I'll have to settle for the one in which you pose as my assistant."

There was a beat of silence.

"Don't think that one will work real well," Cyrus said.

"Too bad." She glared at him. "It's the only one I'm prepared to consider."

Cyrus nodded. "Mind if I ask why you chose that one instead of the one in which we pose as a couple on vacation?"

She eyed his shirt. "I would have thought it was obvious. It's going to be difficult enough to pass you off as my assistant. But I can absolutely guarantee that never in a million years would it be possible to convince anyone that we were a couple."

"I get it," Cyrus said. "You're trying to tell me that I'm not your type."

She thought about the unsubtle threat he had issued a moment ago. "No," she said. "You're definitely not my type. And there's one more thing I want clear here. I don't know much about private investigators, but I've noticed that on TV they always carry guns."

"I'm a real-life investigator, Ms. Swift, not a TV private eye."

"I trust that means you don't actually carry a gun around with you. I absolutely refuse to share a house with a strange man who carries a gun. I detest guns."

"So do I." Cyrus moved his left shoulder slightly. "I once had a nasty experience with one."

At six-thirty that evening, Eugenia poured herself a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc and went to stand at her living room window. Her condominium was located midway up in a high-rise building in the heart of the city. She had paid extra for the view of Elliott Bay, but she considered the money well spent. Something about vast expanses of water was soothing to her soul.

She had spent the last four months engaged in a major remodeling project, which was finally complete. She had ordered the architect to tear down every wall except those needed for privacy in the bath and bedroom. The background color was white, a perfect, foil for her growing collection of West Coast studio glass art. The contemporary glass sculptures glowed on carefully lit pedestals arranged around the room.

An arched entry divided the hall from the white-carpeted living room. A low, white sofa and white leather chairs together with some glass tables comprised the furnishings.

The only color in the room besides the brilliantly hued glass sculptures was around the gas fireplace.

Eugenia studied the hand-painted amber and green tiles that formed the fireplace surround. Nellie Grant had designed them for her.

The last time she had seen Nellie was here in this very room. The remodeling had been in its final stages. The wall beside the fireplace had still, been open and tiles had been stacked on the floor, when Nellie appeared at the front door. That had been the morning after Adam Daventry had fallen to his death.

Rather than wait for the private ferry that served Frog Cove Island, Nellie had used Daventry's launch to get to the mainland. She had rented a car and driven an hour and a half into Seattle.

She had definitely not been grieving.

You were right, Eugenia. He was a bastard. I should have listened to you. I'm not sorry he's dead. I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth. I have to return to the island this afternoon to get the rest of my stuff, but after that I never want to see the place again.

Eugenia glanced at the painting above the recently completed fireplace. It was one of Nellie's works, the first in a series called Glass, she had explained. It depicted a late-nineteenth-century French vase from the Daventry collection. Nellie had captured the rich, vibrant colors and the enthralling effects of fight shining through the glass.

Daventry said that since he had no children for me to paint, he wanted me to do some portraits of his favorite glass pieces. I did four of them before he died Now that he's gone, I figure they belong to me. I want you to have this one, Eugenia. Sort of a housewarming gift. You've been terrific about encouraging my work.

Nellie had been eager to get her career as an artist under way. Eugenia suspected that was one of the reasons she had fallen victim to Daventry's charm. He had convinced her that he could introduce her to the right people and get her work hung in the most prestigious galleries.

Eugenia walked, slipper-shod, across the new white rug. She paused beside a pedestal and gazed into the swirling green depths of a whimsical glass sculpture that had been created by a young artist in Anacortes.

Watching the play of light on beautiful glass always helped her to clarify her thoughts.

After a moment she reached for the phone on the table beside the sofa. She flipped open a card file and found the home number of her friend at Mills & Mills, the firm that handled the Leabrook's security.

The same intuition that she relied on so heavily when it came to art was sending small warning signals concerning Cyrus Chandler Colfax. It told her that he was not what he seemed.

"Sally? Eugenia. I need a favor from you."

"It's nearly seven." Sally Warren sounded startled. "Are you still at the museum?"

"No, I'm home." Eugenia sank down onto the arm of the sofa. "I'm going out of town the day after tomorrow. I need some information."

"Finally going to take a vacation, huh? About time. I'll bet you can't even remember the last one you took."

Eugenia frowned. "Of course I do. I went to England two years ago."

"And spent all of your time in the glass collections at the Ashmolean and the British Museum. But we'll let that pass. What do you need?"

"Mills & Mills has been in the security business for a long time, right?"

"Thirty years," Sally agreed.

"You must know all of the other major security firms on the West Coast."

"Probably. Why?"

"I met one of your competitors today. Cyrus Chandler Colfax. Ever heard of him?"

There was a short, startled silence on the other end of the line.

"Colfax?" Sally sounded distinctly cautious.

"Yes. Do you know him?"

"I've never met him, but I've heard about him. I wouldn't call him a competitor. He doesn't go after the same business. Mills & Mills specializes in museum security. Colfax usually does corporate and private stuff. Very exclusive. Very expensive."

Eugenia tightened her grip on the phone. "What can you tell me about him?"

"Wait a second, you're not thinking of moving the Leabrook account to Colfax Security, are you?"

"No, of course not. But I want to know whatever you can get on him."

"It will take me a while. Mind if I ask why you need to know about Colfax?"

"Because I'm going to spend my summer vacation with him."

Copyright ©1998 by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Interviews & Essays

On Saturday, February 14, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Jayne Ann Krentz, author of SHARP EDGES.


Moderator from barnesandnoble.com: Welcome to barnesandnoble.com, Ms. Krentz. We are thrilled you could join us on Valentine's Day to discuss SHARP EDGES.

Jayne Ann Krentz: I'm thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me online. I really enjoy this format.



Terry from Concord, TN: Hello Jayne. Did you have to do much research on SHARP EDGES? How did you find out so much about glass collecting, a topic I had never even heard about?

Jayne Ann Krentz: Well, the research was relatively easy as research goes, because the Northwest and the Seattle area in particular is very into glass...glass is a very big thing in this area. We have a lot of really great art-glass artists. And I was able to view some of the best collections in the world right here in Seattle. I've always liked glass, and in the process, I came to love it . This is something special I think we take for granted simply because it's all around us, but it's really an incredible substance in an artist's hand.



Andrew Hardy from Nova Scotia: My wife would like to buy some of your books. Which one would you like her to read first, and why?

Jayne Ann Krentz: My favorite book is always the one that's on the market now, so I heartily recommend SHARP EDGES -- but seriously, it really is a good example of my work, and if you like SHARP EDGES you'll like the rest of my work. It combines the things I like to write about most in a story -- romance, suspense, and an interesting background. I consider myself a writer of romantic suspense, a genre which I think is becoming very hot again.



Val Phillips from Croydon South London, UK: Through your various disguises you cover time from medieval to the fantasy future and between. My question is -- which time frame do you like to write most about? Also, as all your books under your pseudonym Amanda Quick are set in England, have you visited the UK ? I would also like to add how much I enjoy your work even if your books aren't readily available in England except on import and look forward to reading SHARP EDGES in the near future.

Jayne Ann Krentz: Yes, I've been to England, and like many Americans, I love it. It's our roots, I guess. In regard to the qeustion about eras, I write in several different eras because each one allows me to take a different twist, not only on the romantic relationships but also on the suspense elements. So the variety is very invigorating for me as a writer. But the era that probably allows me the most latitude to combine everything at once in a story is the future, and the futuristic paranormals that I write as Jayne Castle are a lot of fun to write.



Rose Ann from Telluride, CO: How much of yourself do you put into your novels? What specifically in SHARP EDGES is a reflection of you?

Jayne Ann Krentz: In terms of characters and plots, everything comes out of fantasy. But in terms of the worldview of my hero and heroine, I would have to say that's where you can find something of me, and by worldview I'm talking about my character's fundamental concepts of honor, trust, integrity. And things I believe strongly in as a person usually show up as things my hero and heroine believe in also. But of course, that still leaves me with the bad guys laughing.



Amy from California: Ms. Krentz, why do you choose to use pseudonyms? It seems to be common practice among many authors, espcially romance writers, but I'm not sure I understand why.

Jayne Ann Krentz: It's a long answer. Most writers start out using pseudonyms in all genres, not just romance, frequently because of contractual reasons. Publishers sometimes try to tie up an author by tying up the name. But after a while you get to the point where that's not a factor, because you have enough clout to control your name. I continue to use pseudonyms primarily to distinguish the different types of books I do for my readers. Obviously there's no secret about my names, since each book tells you what I write under. But I do feel that readers like to have an idea of what they're going to get, and they don't like to be too terribly surprised. There are still a lot of people, for example, who may love my historicals or contemporaries but shy away from the futuristics, and I have people who read historicals and won't read contemporaries. This way they know what they are going to get. And as a postscript, I would add that it's a fact of life that most writers who survive in popular fiction for any length of itme usually end up with a handful of pseudonyms.



Jane Ann Davis from janeann@aeneas.nET: I have always wanted to be a writer. There are several books started in my head but not on paper. How did you get started on your first book? How many did you write before you became a published author? By the way, that's a nice name you have!!

Jayne Ann Krentz: !Yes it is a nice name. laughing] It took me six years to get published. Six very long years, during which I collected the usual amount of rejections you would imagine I would accumulate in six years. But in response to your question about how I got started, I suspect that I got started the same way most writers of popular fiction do, which is to say that we're readers first, usually in a particular genre that appeals to us, and there comes a time when we simply want to tell the story our way. If the compulsion is strong enough, you become a writer. If the compulsion is not strong enough, you continually happily read. But it has to be a pretty strong compulsion to make anyone take up writing because not only is it very hard work, it can be extremely frustrating work, especially at the beginning. For me, writing is like any good addiction, it's a love/hate relationship.



Helen from Rochester, MN: Does the Hades cup really exist? If not, did you base it on an artefact that actually was in existence? I really liked SHARP EDGES and can't wait for your next book to come out.

Jayne Ann Krentz: Good question. The Hades cup does not exist -- I invented that -- but it is indeed based on some extremely interesting glass from that era. There are a lot of legends surrounding glass that old. What amazed me in the course of my research was how much of it has survived. It's extremely durable for such a seemingly fragile substance. There's an enormous amount of glass left over from Roman times, for example, 2,000 years old, and a fair amount from the Egyptian era.



Sara from Plano, TX: First, I want to thank you for being such a prolific author. If you could write even faster that would be nice, too . I truly enjoy reading your contemporary novels with the inclusion of technology and business. As a professional in IT, I can never complain about how you incorporate it in your books, it is always correct! Question will you be continuing to write the futuristic romances after ORCHID is published this summer?

Jayne Ann Krentz: The futuristic romances I consider my "hobby." I do them when the mood strikes and when I get a particularly interesting idea that won't fit in any other era. I certainly expect to do more of them, because they are so much fun to do -- it's a treat to be able to invent your own world and the rules that make it function. I'm glad you enjoy them.



Renita from Mississippi: In many of your novels your lead characters are martial artists. You write about that in a realistic way. Do you study the martial arts yourself?

Jayne Ann Krentz: I have only had a little Tai Chi -- very little -- but I find the martial arts fascinating because there is a philosophy and a world view behind them that intrigues me. I like them because they teach self-control first, and I'm a bit of a control freak.



Christina from Hoboken, NJ: I noticed that you said romantic suspense is a genre that is very hot again. Do you think that the popularity of particular types of romantic genres are cyclical? When was romantic suspense hot, and why do you think romantic suspense is making a comeback right now?

Jayne Ann Krentz: All the niches within the various genres of popular fiction experience hot times and down times. Fads come and go just like in any other form of entertainment. Romance itself remains constant, but the subgenres within it do fluctuate. I think romantic suspense is getting hot again...I say again because it has been popular within the past 50 years, and if you go back to the early 1800s you can easily say it was extremely popular in the early gothic novels of the early 1800s. But I think it's getting hot again because the audience is ready for some variations on the theme that it loves, which is romance, and suspense is a natural to go with romance. It works beautifully. I also like to plot with suspense elements because risk and danger do a lot to help me as writer expand the relationship between my two main characters. It raises the stakes.



Penny from Midland, TX: Are you a collector? Of anything?

Jayne Ann Krentz: Not particularly. I am an Aries, and Aries tend to be very practical. We don't accumulate a lot of stuff. The only thing I honestly say I collect -- and I do collect them -- are books.



Ellen Fisher from Richmond, VA: What do you think is the most important element of a romance, aside from obviously the romance? Humor? Emotion? Something else?

Jayne Ann Krentz: The most important element is the integrity of the relationship between the two main characters. The concepts of honor and trust, courage -- in fact, the heroic traditions are at the heart of the romance novel. Speaking as a writer, the elements that you name such as wit, humor, etc., are really a function of the writer's voice. There's an infinite variety of voices -- as many voices as there are writers. It is my experience that readers respond most strongly to the strongest voices regardless of whether those voices have their strengths in humor, or in emotion, or in wit. The bottom line for the reader is a strong storytelling voice.



Lois McHenry from Manville, NY: Now that we are in a post-Oscar nomination frenzy, I was wondering what you thought of the two leading romances -- "Titanic" and "As Good as It Gets"? Have you had a chance to see them?

Jayne Ann Krentz: [Laughing] I'm sorry to say I haven't seeen either one and probably won't. I simply am not a great fan of film. It's a different medium, and I find that I don't respond to it as much as I respond to books.



Susan from New York: Ms. Krentz, i think your work is incredible. When you're writing an Amanda Quick novel, do you have to do a lot of research before starting the book to make sure any historical information is accurate? Or do you have someone else check over your work for historical accuracy? Thanks a lot!

Jayne Ann Krentz: I do all of my own research, and that includes the research for the historicals. I was a history major in college, and I worked with a librarian for ten years, so I'm keenly aware of the necessity of the importance of not embarassing myself in print. So yes, I do a lot of research. However, I am very much aware that I'm telling a story, and that story is the most important thing, not the research. So, in the Amanda Quicks, I frequently insert storylines that are probably highly improbable, but I am careful not to put anything in that would be considered an anachronism. It's sometimes a tricky line to walk.



Parson from Palo Alto, CA: The initial sex scene between Cyrus and Eugenia is pretty steamy. I couldn't help but notice that a condom was used. Are you at all concerned about the politics of safe sex in your contemporary novels?

Jayne Ann Krentz: I'm not concerned about the politics of it. I am concerned about the importance of it, and the fact that the characters are cautious is an extension of their own personal integrity.



Melissa from Jackson, MS: How many rough drafts do you usually go through when you write a book?

Jayne Ann Krentz: Typically I go through three full drafts, but it's a little hard to explain, because in the process of writing you often stop and go back to do some fill-in. And then you go back to where you left off and keep going, so the first rough draft is pretty rough, but it's also pretty complete when it's done. The second draft is the one I enjoy the most because I know that the plot now works, and I no longer have to sweat that, and I can have fun with the characterization. The third draft is primarily a polish. One of the things about writing is that, for me at any rate, I change my mind frequently as a I go along, which means the outline I started out with is usually worthless by halfway thorugh the book. But I have found it pays to be open to new ideas and not stick too close to an outline. Writing is a very ogranic, creative process, and as a writer you have to be willing to go with the flow to get the most interesting effect. And my bottom line is to try to never be boring.



Sara Jane from Plano, TX: I have seen that one of your books, THE WAITING GAME, has been made into a cable movie for The Movie Channel. Should we be looking for any other script adaptations in the near future?

Jayne Ann Krentz: The movie "The Waiting Game" will be based on a book that I wrote several years ago for Harlequin. Harlequin did the deal, and I have no idea if they have any other deals in the hopper. Movies are strange things for writers we have very little -- usually zero -- control over them.



Ellen Fisher from Richmond, VA: Greetings! I know you write for two different publishers, Bantam and Pocket. Are their approaches to your work different? Do you find the editors approach your books differently? Thanks!

Jayne Ann Krentz: Editors are individuals just like writers are. And certainly each editor is different. However, I have been very fortunate in my editors at both Pocket and Bantam, and I very much enjoy working with each one of them. Publishers also vary in their approach to the market, but again, I feel extremely fortunate to be with two such strong houses and more important-- to me at least -- is to be with two houses that believe so firmly and are so committed to women's fiction and the romance.



María Eugenia Abarca from Mexico: Dear JayneIn my country, women don't read good literature. Do you have any advice to motivate people to spend some time to read in order to increase the culture of our nation ?

Jayne Ann Krentz: We are all concerned with the importance of reading. And here in the United States we are just as worried about making sure the next generation learns to enjoy reading. It's a question the whole world has a vested interest in answering. I'm glad to see that you share the concern that so many of us have. Reading is fundamental to a civilization.



Gwen from Dallas, TX: Your characters always have such interesting and intriguing names. Where do you get them? This is probably a stupid question, but I am very curious about it.

Jayne Ann Krentz: That's a darn good question. When you've written as many books as I have, you start consulting things like the telephone directory, and I have a half-shelf full of What to Name the Baby books. I also am one of those people that always checks the obituary column in the paper. The truth is that when you've written as many books as I have it is a problem, because I've used up all the names I personally like.



Renita from Mississippi: Can you tell us what you are currently writing?

Jayne Ann Krentz: I am currently working on another contemporary romantic suspense novel. The name of the next book out is FLASH, and that will be on the stands in August. FLASH is a story of two people who inherit a business, and before they can make the business work, they have to learn to work together.



Barclay from Woodstock, VT: What is it about the Pacific Northwest that draws you there? I noticed SHARP EDGES is set there. Thank you for taking my question.

Jayne Ann Krentz: I set a lot of my books in the Pacific Northwest, not just because I live here but because the background really suits the kind of characters I do. The combination of the influence of the Pacific Rim, our high-tech sector, and the Northwest laid-back attitude really works well for my characters. Also, I like the rain.



Nancy from Madison, WI: I'm curious about the writer's voice you spoke about to Ellen. Did you have your voice when you first starting writing, or did you you have to develop it? If so, how long did it take you to find it?

Jayne Ann Krentz: Everyone who writes has a voice. That's a given. And you're stuck with it. The only thing you can do as a writer is to try to identify the strongest aspects of your voice and hone them. But it is easier to see someone else's voice in their writing then it is to see your own. It's like hearing your own accent. It's such a part of you that it takes a lot of analysis to distinguish it for yourself. I can't say that my voice has changed very much . I don't think it ever will...I don't think voices ever do change, but I have hopefully learned to emphasize the strongest elements of it, and I will work on emphasizing those elements and developing them for as long as I practice my craft. A couple of times I've sat down to write an entirely different book with an entirely different voice because I found that something else was selling better, but it's a self-defeating proposition. All you can do as a writer is work with your own voice and hone the strong elements.



Brian from Iowa City, IA: You have commented in the past on certain bookstores' inability to aggressively promote romance as a genre. Have you had better luck with the stores in the Seattle area of late? My fiancée and I enjoy contemporary romances together, especially yours. Do you count Frank, your husband, as one of your readers?

Jayne Ann Krentz: Last answer first. No, my husband does not read my books. He's an engineer -- I think that says it all. But this being Valentine's Day, I must say he is extremely supportive of my career. Now then, in regard to bookstores and romance. The truth is that in the past five years, romance has really arrived and taken its rightful place among the other genres of popular fiction. Certainly some stores don't carry it, but some stores don't carry mystery or science fiction either. Most major stores now stock the romance novel in all of its great diversity. The books are now being added to library collections across the nation. The books are being regularly reviewed in several important journals, newspapers, magazines, just like "real" books. And perhaps, most telling of all, the bestselling books in the genre routinely hit all the most important bestseller lists like the Barnes & Noble lists and the New York Times list. So the answer to the question Are we there yet? is definitely yes! Yay!



Arlene Donnelley from Clayton, MO: After creating a character -- let's say someone as charismatic and charming although a fashion victim as Cyrus -- is it ever hard to let them go at the end of a book? Do you ever think about them afterward?

Jayne Ann Krentz: It is hard to let characters go at the end of a book, but I stop thinking about them as soon as I start the next book. For me, the book I love most is always the one I'm working on right now. And what's wrong with Cyrus's shirts? I thought they were pretty cool! [Laughing].



Moderator from barnesandnoble.com: What a perfect way to begin a Valentine's Day evening. It's been a pleasure chatting with you this evening, Ms. Krentz, and I hope you'll find time to make a return visit to barnesandnoble.com in the near future. Any final comments?

Jayne Ann Krentz: I had a great time. It's always fun to chat with people who love the romance novel as much I do. Thanks, B&N. And happy Valentine's Day to everybody!


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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2009

    Enjoyable Reading!

    This was a really good book. The mystery kept you guessing and the characters were very likable. Overall, an excellent reading experience. --K--

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Best

    This is one of her best romances with a little mystery thrown in. Loved Cyrus. The romance between them was great. I also loved the ending.

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    A VERY unlikable female character.

    A VERY unlikable female character.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2000

    hello Ms. Krentz

    Im a very young reader, but i have to say your writing is Great, im only 14, but i love reading your books, the frist one i every read of yours is Eye of the beholder. where do you get your idea for your storys or come up with the names for your people?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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