Flynn was summoned to the Radcliffe house by a frantic Sheldon; they thought Benedict was going to pass that day. His half siblings were so engrossed in watching the old man thrash with a coughing fit that they barely spared him a disdainful look as he entered. The doctor administered some medicine that seemed to soothe the cough, though Benedict’s breath wheezed as he laid back against his pillows. He looked even thinner and paler than when Flynn had first visited but after a few gulps of water he said, “don’t get too excited, I’m not dead yet.”

“No one is excited,” Cordelia said, voice sharp as a butcher knife. Flynn barely refrained from snorting. They looked like a flock of beautiful hyenas, just waiting for a lion to finish with its carcass. Except perhaps for Sheldon, who just looked despondently at the floorboards.

“Your father needs tp rest,” Cordelia said, coming around the bed. “Everyone out.” She gave Flynn a pointedly scathing look when she said it.

“I do hope you’ll visit again before my imminent demise, Flynn,” Benedict called after him. Cordelia pressed her lips into such a thin line that they almost disappeared.

“I’ll do that,” Flynn promised, ignoring her. He let himself out of the house and wandered back to Harvey’s house. Harvey and Penny were in the midst of one of their faux arguments when he returned.

“A wedding, Penny, honestly. You’re trying to make me go to a wedding?”

“The family invited us because Papa and I made all the gowns. I don’t want to alone, the only people I would know there are customers.”

“Maybe she’s dropping you a hint, Harvey, old boy,” Flynn said slyly, earning a murderous glare from his friend. Penny sniffed.

“Well it is true that I’m not going to wait for you forever, Harvey Jenkins. You may want to keep that in mind. I am quite eligible.And you’re going to the wedding.”

“Ivy mentioned that she was going to a wedding,” Flynn said.

“Yes, I would imagine so. Her sister is a bridesmaid. Molly Barrett is marrying Franklin Peaches and it’s all anyone can talk about.”

“His name is Peaches?”

“Yes, rather unfortunate. If he wasn’t so rich and so unpretentiously charming I’m not sure anyone would have married him.”

“Mind if I tag along?” Flynn found himself asking.

“Need a party every time you visit your family?” Harvey asked jokingly. “Sort of a palette cleanser?”

“Yeah, that sounds about right actually.”

“Plus a certain someone will be there, am I to assume that’s just a coincidence?” Penny gave Flynn that all-knowing eyebrow arch again.

“The world is full of coincidences, Penelope,” Flynn said, carefully avoiding eye contact as he slipped by her. So he went with Harvey and Penny to the Barrett-Peaches wedding reception, where he got an unsolicited earful of, “it was a lovely ceremony.” The bride was lovely and seemed perfectly content clinging to her new husband’s arm. Franklin Peaches seemed like a soft-spoken sort of guy, and Flynn had to acknowledge that Penny and her father did fine work; the wedding gown seemed fit for a princess and the bridesmaids gowns were a pleasant shade of teal. He lurked in a corner, munching on some appetizers. Harvey and Penny were nearby, talking to someone who was raving about the dresses and saying they’d be commissioning a dress from them for some party they were throwing. Flynn was content to mind his own business until he saw Genevieve Brownwell walk in amid a gaggle of other bridesmaids, and Ivy. He was about to try and get her attention until he noticed Violetta among them. He fairly dove behind a large potted fern and crouched down as best he could. Just his luck, they all walked in his direction.

“It really was a lovely ceremony,” one girl was gushing. “Doesn’t Molly look just radiant? I can’t wait to get married.” She flutter a delicate little fan in front of her face, gaze sliding to Violetta. Flynn’s sister was dressed in a rich blue, as usual standing out by wearing darker colors than anyone else. She was asking a waiter for a flute of champagne.

“I’m rather surprised you made it today, Vi,” the girl with the fan said casually. “In light of the circumstances.”

Violetta turned her icy blue gaze on the girl slowly. A hush had fallen over the girls, though everyone was looking anywhere but at Violetta. Except for Ivy, who was glancing between the two girls curiously.

“What circumstances might those be, Constance?” Violetta asked silkily. “Are you referring to the fact that my father is dying?”

Constance flushed, her fan stilling. There were several moments of awkward silence, while Violetta sipped her champagne. She was clearly content to let Constance squirm.

“My apologies, Vi,” Constance said meekly. “That was very thoughtless of me to say.”

“Indeed it was,” Violetta drawled. “Perhaps that’s why you’re not married yet.” She lifted her glass as if toasting the mortified Constance, then swept into the crowd with an imperious rustle of skirts. Constance hastily excused herself and the other girls resumed their conversation.

“Her father is dying?” Ivy asked and Ginny gave her a look.

“That’s rather a lovely dress,” another girl remarked, eyeing Ivy and successfully changing the subject. “Have you done something different with your hair? Or lost weight?”

“Alma,” Ginny hissed and the girl blushed.

“I mean, you just look different,” she said hastily to an offended Ivy. “Maybe I just haven’t seen you in a while.”

“I was at the Larner party two weeks ago,” Ivy muttered. “I saw you there.”

“Did you?”

Ginny rolled her eyes and whisked Alma away in search of champagne or perhaps anything that could be stuffed in her mouth to keep her from talking anymore. Flynn was about to slip out from the safety of his trusty fern when a man approached Ivy and he hurriedly ducked back out of sight. The young man bowed and started chatting Ivy up, and she stared at him like he’d sprouted a second head. Her hair had been partially pinned up, letting most of her brown curls fall loose; unlike the first time he’d met her when someone had clearly tried pinning the wild waves up into a tamed knot. She also wasn’t bedecked in girly lace anymore; instead wearing a dress of emerald green that brought out the green tones in her eyes. It was silky and more form-fitting than anything he’d seen her in before. She eventually said something that got the man to leave her alone, though she’d moved too far away for him to hear the conversation. She had no sooner begun munching on another pastry when a different young man tried to strike up a conversation with her. Flynn finally eased out from behind his fern, his back starting to cramp from hunkering down. He debated rescuing Ivy from her suitor, but then thought perhaps it was best to leave it be. Ivy looked annoyed more than anything but eventually she would realize men were talking to her because they wanted to talk to her, instead of Ginny for a change. She needed to find a man suited to her station, after all. Plus he didn’t know where Violetta was, and he couldn’t risk crossing paths with her.

So he carefully slipped out and found himself in the gardens. It was a relief to get out of the crowded room. He sat unceremoniously on the ground beside the pond and watched fish dart around beneath the water until the sound of footsteps made him look up.

“What are you doing here?” Ivy asked. “You should have told me you were coming! It would’ve been nice to have someone to talk to besides Ginny’s friends.”

“I came last minute,” Flynn replied. “Besides, I saw some people talking to you that didn’t look like Ginny’s friends.”

“Victor Hall and Seamus Mayhew,” Ivy confirmed, making a face. “I was barely able to get rid of them. I don’t know what on earth they wanted. They just kept talking, never getting to the point.”

“Ivy…are you serious?”

“What?” she asked, looking a little offended. Her makeup for the occasion was minimal, but it accentuated her long eyelashes and cupid’s bow. She looked more grown-up than she had at the last party he’d crashed; clearly he wasn’t the only one who had noticed. He shook his head.

“They were trying to flirt with you,” he explained. To his surprise, she burst out laughing.

“That’s a good one, Flynn. I think we’ve established that men only talk to me if they want to know about Ginny.”

“Yeah? Did Victor or Seamus ask you about Ginny?”

“Well…no, actually. But maybe they just thought if they were nice to me I’d put in a good word with her.”

Flynn rubbed a hand over his face. “Ivy, with all due respect, I am a man. And I know when a man I trying to flirt with a girl, even if she fails to realize it.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” Ivy said. “It’s not a very funny joke, Flynn.”

“I’m not joking. Did you even look at yourself before you left the house?”

“Why? Is there something in my teeth?”

Flynn rolled his eyes. “Come over here, and look at your reflection.”

“If there’s something in my teeth you can just tell me.”

“Just do it.”

Ivy walked closer to the pond and looked down. “I don’t get it. We’re wasting time with this nonsense, since you’re here we can discuss the case.”

“I will not discuss the case if you’re going to stand there and keep telling me you don’t believe those men were flirting with you.”

“What is with you?” Ivy looked flabbergasted. Flynn stood up, making her look at her reflection again; he didn’t know why he was getting so frustrated or making such a big deal out of this.

“Flynn I admit it’s a pretty dress; Ginny loaned it to me with a couple of minor adjustments; but I don’t-“

“It’s not about the dress. It’s the whole thing. It’s you.”

She looked at him like she was worried he was losing his mind. Flynn sighed. If she really did have a crush on him like Penny claimed, he didn’t want to lead her on when he knew it could never come to anything. Because he was basically dirt under her fancy shoe. But if no one else was going to just say it.

“You look beautiful, Ivy. That’s why they wanted to talk to you. Not to Ginny, to you. And I promise you it won’t be the last time. People are going to finally notice you and realize they want to be closer to you. Trust me on this.”

She was looking at him with eyes so wide he was a little worried they’d pop right out of her face. For once she seemed at a total loss for words.

“Come on,” Flynn said, feeling a little embarrassed now. “If you want to discuss the murder case, we should probably go someplace a little more private. Anyone could walk out here and see us.”

He steered her away from the pond; she seemed like her bones had all turned to jelly. Flynn heard a rustle of leaves and whipped his head around. He thought he saw a shadow moving away from the bushes where they’d just been talking, but it was gone so fast he couldn’t be sure. He put it out of his mind and ushered the still quiet Ivy back into the house and once again they found themselves holed up in a library.