The loud thwack followed by a bellowed expletive pulled me away from watching the icing melt in delicious rivulets across the tops of my fresh from the oven cinnamon buns. Waiting for Wood to hobble in gave me time to consolidate the contents of Ira’s envelope, Beatrice’s laptop, and Joseph’s book. In their place, I laid out coffee and the aforementioned buns.
Nothing like sugar, butter, and caffeine to help overcome trauma. Wood limped into the kitchen just as I was setting out the utensils, plates, and mugs.
Me: “Did the make-up case get you?”
Wood: “No, the carry-on.”
Apparently, Beatrice switched her plans and flew in late last night. Her presence was easily deduced upon our arrival back at the Lavender Lady due to the matching six-piece luggage set littering the hallway when we walked in.
Me: “Count yourself lucky it wasn’t the steamer trunk, the brass corners suck.”
Giving half-laugh Wood pointed at the pot and pan on the table for permission to dig in, giving him the nod, I put the cookie dough in the refrigerator. Tapping in time with KARB’s current selection, The Ghost Rags, I stuck the muffin tin in the oven, wound the timer then joined Wood at the table.
Pouring my umpteenth cup of coffee, I posed the question that had been troubling me for the last hour.
“Margret, from Much Ado About Nothing, do you think she was secretly in league with Borachio and Don John?”
Pausing, his cinnamon bun laden turner hanging in mid-air, Wood ran a critical eye over me. My besmirched apron prompted his gaze to shift past my shoulder onto the flour-coated stand mixer, the pan of shortbread next to it, and a dish filled sink sitting behind me.
I’m also reasonably sure he didn’t miss, as I did in my quick tidying up, the dough encrusted spatula I’d left next to my haphazardly packed backpack. Or the fact I had the loopy imprint of a spiral-bound notebook wire across my left cheek and temple.
Wood (finally finishing dishing up his sticky breakfast bun): “Morticia, are these scratch-made or from a tube?”
Me (over the rim of my mug): “Scratch.”
Wood (waving his knife towards my new face decoration): “We didn’t roll in until after two, how much sleep did you get?”
Me (glossing over his question): “Enough. Now Margaret part and parcel in Don John’s scheme or not?”
In point of fact, I got a solid forty-five minutes while my cinnamon roll dough doubled in volume. But who’s counting? Other than Wood.
Wood (clearly unimpressed by my one-word response): “If I recall, everyone ended up forgiving her in the end…”
Catching the tail end of the answer, Beatrice, looking bright-eyed & bushy-tailed (pretty much the exact opposite of the last time I laid eyes on her), walked in.
Beatrice (grabbing the seat next to Wood): “Forgive who? Me? I apologize for leaving my suitcases in the hall, bad habit. I didn’t get in until midnight, and I couldn’t face lugging them around anymore…”
Me: “No, biggie. Margaret from Much Ado, victim or villain?”
Wood (mumbling): “No biggie for you, my toes will never be the same.”
Beatrice straightened her curving lips at Wood’s grumblings, topping off Wood’s mug and mine before using the pot to pour her own.
Beatrice (seeing and visibly ignoring the red zigzag on my face): “hmmm…..It would add an extra shadow to the play if Margaret had designs on Claudio for herself…However, I think she was a victim of Don John’s scheming. Why?”
Me: “But why stay silent in the face of your friend’s disgrace? When Hero’s own father wishes for her death?”
Beatrice: “Would you want to announce at a wedding, to everyone and god, about your sexual role-playing the night before? Where you not only assumed your friend’s name but donned her clothes and used her room for the assignation? There’s an excellent chance Leonato would have cast Margaret out of his house on the spot, in complete disgrace.”
Me: “True, but the Friar proved himself more than able to temper Leonato’s fury.”
Beatrice: “With Benedict’s help. I’m not sure Margaret would have faired so well in Benedict’s opinion without Borachio’s confession in his hip pocket.”
Me: “I suppose. I’m just stuck on the fact the word of a confirmed knave cleared her, whereas her actions seem to condemn her.”
Wood (around a mouthful of sugar and spice): “Morticia, you’ve never given a flying fork about Margaret, let alone lost sleep over her, what’s really eating you?”
Riding the pause with professional ease, Wood waited patiently for my reply while I scrabbled around, swapping the shortbread pan for the muffin tin in the oven. Fortunately, by the time I retook my seat, I’d formed a better answer than, ‘Nothing.’
Me (shrugging): “Just passing the time.”
Wood (clearly skeptical): “Right.”
Apparently, it wasn’t that much better, but it did possess the virtue of being the truth.