Flynn had met his father on a handful of occasions in his life; the man visited from time to time and had also tried to send Flynn a gift for his birthday, though he often forgot once Flynn began to get older. Benedict differed from his wife and children in the sense that he didn’t actively try to be malicious. Flynn had always gotten the impression that Benedict never had any intention of hurting anyone; but he breezed through life doing whatever he felt like doing in the moment without lending any thought to the consequences.

They had made stilted small talk for a while, and Flynn assured him that he’d be in Tharoux until all the affairs were in order. Cordelia didn’t invite him to stay for dinner and that was fine with Flynn. He headed into town to track down a friend of his who had moved here from Seahollow to be a clockmaker’s apprentice. Harvey Jenkins was a likable and hard working guy, but he never had the stomach to be a fisherman like his father, and he didn’t have the physical strength to be a dock worker because he’d been unlucky enough to develop asthma as a child.

But he always seemed to be in a good mood; grinning broadly when he found Flynn on his doorstep.

“Well butter my cheeks and call me a biscuit, if it isn’t the illustrious Flynn Dawson.”

“Butter your cheeks and call you a biscuit?” Flynn repeated. “Who are you, my grandmother?”

“If I were you’d never get away with mouthing off that way, young man.”

Flynn laughed and let Harvey pull him into a one-armed hug and ruffle his already tousled hair.

“It’s been a while, Flynn, to what do I owe the pleasure? How’s your mother? Has she been missing me since I left?”

“Yeah, she’s devastated.” Flynn rolled his eyes. “As for why I’m here, Benedict Radcliffe is dying.”

Harvey’s eyebrows lifted. “Really? Have you been summoned to lend him your organs?”

“I’m sure Cordelia has a spellbook or something that would allow her to transfer my youth to him, but to be honest I think she’s content to let him die.”

“Sounds like our Cordelia alright.”

“Apparently he’s left me something in his will. So I’ll be staying in Tharoux until it’s been read and settled.”

“Well, well, how do you like that. What do you suppose he’s leaving you?”

“Haven’t a clue.” Flynn shrugged.

“Well you’re welcome to stay here. My dear old mentor has recently retired and moved down south for warmer weather and time with the grandkids, so I’ve got a spare room.”

“You’re a lifesaver,” Flynn said. “I’d rather not spend every cent I have on an inn, and even if Cordelia let me stay at Lomallard, I’d probably not survive the first night.”

Harvey laughed. “How would you feel about attending a party since you’re in town?”

“A party? What kind of party?”

“The posh kind,” Harvey replied. “I overheard the details while taking a watch order.”

“So by attending you mean crashing.” Flynn grinned and Harvey winked impishly. As teenagers they had snuck into plenty of places they shouldn’t have; they were legends among the mischievous boys of Seahollow.

“Old Mr. Farnburg was about your height and left some things behind; and I’m good friends with the tailor’s daughter down the street. She can tweak a suit to fit you and blend in better.”

“Good friends with the tailor’s daughter, are you?” Flynn smirked.

“A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell, young Flynn.”

And so the next night Flynn found himself sneaking into a grand house through a servant’s entrance in a tailored suit with Harvey, and Harvey’s “good friend” the tailor’s daughter. She was a spunky blonde thing named Penny who had deduced right away what they were up to and insisted Harvey bring her along.

“I want to go see the Larner’s ballroom,” Penny said, tugging on Harvey’s sleeve.

“Whatever you wish, my dear,” Harvey said as she dragged him away.

“You picked a live one, Harvey,” Flynn called after them. Penny flashed him a wink over her shoulder and Flynn chuckled to himself as he went in search of food. He struck gold and found a buffet table laden with all manner of seafood and pastries.

“Well hello, little darlings.” He loaded up a China plate with as much food as it could hold, then ducked behind a fern when he spotted his dear sister Violetta across the room. She would delight in making sure he was thrown out if she saw him. She was dressed in a midnight black gown, which made her stand out since apparently pastels were in this season. She was engaged in conversation with some tall girl with golden ringlets and they were giving each other the sort of smiles that reminded Flynn of sharks circling a seal.

He edged away from his fern of protection and casually strolled up the first flight of stairs he found. He just wanted to mind his business and enjoy the crab puffs he’d piled on his plate. He came across the library and since it appeared to be empty, he slipped inside. Violetta would never find him here.

“Well I’ll hand it to these people,” he mused aloud, “their taste in decorating leaves much to be desired but the food is pretty good.”

“You don’t like the decoration?”

Flynn jumped and dropped a crab puff, barely managing to catch it out of the air before it could hit the floor. He realized that there was a girl here. She was sitting in one of the giant chairs in front of the fireplace and he hadn’t been able to see her when he walked in.

“It’s, ah, a bit ostentatious for my taste,” he said, to answer her question. She nodded thoughtfully.

“You’re right, actually. The Larners try too hard to show off how much money they have. The food is tasty, though.” Her expression seemed to dull a bit as she looked him over. “If you’re looking for Genevieve, she’s downstairs. She’s much too polite to hide in the library during a party.”

Flynn glanced over his shoulder to see if she was talking to someone else. “Genevieve?” he asked.

“Genevieve Brownwell. She’s my sister. You’re looking for her, aren’t you?”

“I don’t mean to sound rude, but why would I be looking for her?”

She sat up a little straighter, looking a bit intrigued now. “You’re not looking for Ginny?”

“I’m not sure who she is, to be frank.”

“You don’t know who Ginny is?”

“Should I?”

“Everyone knows Ginny.”

“I’m not everyone, I’m Flynn.” He paused. “And speaking of knowing people, it’s nice that your sister is named Genevieve, but what about you?

“You want to know my name?”

“This is typically how social interactions go,” Flynn said, lips quirking up into a crooked smile. “Two people meet and exchange names. Now I told you mine, don’t keep me in suspense.”

“I’m Ivy,” she said, now looking at him like he was a fascinating new species. “Do you want to join me? If you’re not busy.”

“Now that I pried your name out of you I’m just busy with these crab puffs,” Flynn laughed, taking the empty chair next to her. “So why are you hiding out in here, if it’s so rude?”

“No one will notice I’m not around,” Ivy sighed. “They’re all too busy fawning over Ginny. I just wanted to sit somewhere quiet and eat. Why are you in here?”

“I’m rude.” Flynn grinned and she offered a small smile in return.

“Actually I also really just came for the food and I saw someone downstairs I’d rather not run into. And not looking for Genevieve,” he added.

Her face went scarlet and she stuffed a pastry in her mouth. They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then Ivy ran out of snacks.

“You know it’s rumored that Daniel Larner’s grandfather murdered someone in this library?” she blurted. Flynn glanced at her in surprise, setting his crab puff down. She got a tense, nervous look about her.

“Is that why they decorate so horribly?” he asked. “To distract people from the dark family secrets?”

Ivy looked astonished and it took her several moments to answer. “I...well probably. There was a major renovation on the house not long after the alleged victim disappeared. Some people think that they hid his body in a wall.”

“Can you imagine being trapped in the walls behind this hideous wallpaper for eternity?” Flynn glanced around and gave an exaggerated shudder, earning a small giggle. The library door opened and the blonde girl Flynn had seen talking to Violetta stepped inside.

“Ivy, there you are,” she said. “I was looking for you.”

“I’m fine,” Ivy said quickly. The girl’s gaze flicked curiously to Flynn, who waved politely.

“It’s getting a bit late, I thought maybe you were ready to go-“

“We can stay a bit longer,” Ivy interrupted. “If you want.”

“Oh. Okay. Are you going to introduce me to your new...friend?”


The girl gave Ivy a weird look and Ivy cleared her throat.

“I mean, um. This is Flynn. We just met. Flynn this is my sister, Genevieve.”

“Nice to meet you, Flynn.”

“Yes, likewise.”

“Well just let me know when you’re ready to go home,” Genevieve said, slipping back out of the library. Ivy flopped back in her chair.

“You can probably still catch her if you hurry,” she mumbled.

“What for?”

“To talk to her.”

Flynn cocked his head. “About what?”

“I just don’t want to talk to her?”

“Listen no offense to your sister, she seems very nice. But I wasn’t looking for her when I came in here, and I’m still not looking.”

Ivy was squinting at him like he was a puzzle she wanted to crack. “You...want to stay here? And keep me?”

“Why not?” Flynn took another bite of crab puff. “Where else at this boring party am I going to be able to discuss ugly wallpaper and hidden corpses?”