Death was not unfamiliar to me. I had seen more than my fair share of corpses in my lifetime, and I had been quite happy to escape them for the last sixteen months. So I hardly relished the appearance of yet another one, and in my sister's garden no less. I shivered, feeling the fear and shadows stir inside me I had worked so hard to lay to rest since my husband's death.
I had never been very successful at the art of flirtation. I knew my sister was quite capable, having listened to her and Philip verbally banter with one another daily for over a year. My brother Trevor also seemed competent in the arena, if the number of young ladies in London angling for a marriage proposal from him were any indication. I, on the other hand, seemed to be missing that mysterious skill.
It didn't matter what Gage believed. I knew that I was innocent, and so did my sister and brother-in-law. All I could do was focus on what I had set out to do in the first place--protect my sister and her family by finding the real killer--and in the process, prove my innocence, perhaps once and for all.
Several hours in my studio did much to soothe my tattered nerves worn raw by the events of the last sixteen hours. The familiar roughness of the charcoal in my hand as I sketched the outline of a new portrait comforted me. Its musk of earth and ashes permeated the air, clearing away the lingering memory of blood and death. I lost myself in the sweep of lines, forgetting time and place.
I had always known that I was a solitary person. Even when wed to Sir Anthony, even while living with my sister and her family, I knew the truth. I was alone. And likely would always be. That normally did not trouble me, but lately I had begun to feel the weight of such a truth, the isolation of such a life, and it upset me more than I would have liked to admit. But I didn't know how to change that. My temperament, my talent, seemed to naturally hold me apart from others. The scandal had only exacerbated the problem.