“So you go to a party for ten minutes and meet a girl,” Harvey remarked as they walked home. Flynn yanked at the stupid bow tie around his neck and smiled.

“I just went in there to hide from Violetta. Ivy was already there, so we started talking.”

“Ivy?” Penny cocked her head, thinking. “That was Ivy Brownwell?”

“You know her?”

“I know of her. I’m pretty familiar with all the stuffy rich families; Papa is a popular tailor. Though you don’t hear near as much about Ivy as you hear about her sister; the blonde ball of sunshine.”

“Genevieve,” Flynn said, nodding. “I met her, for a moment. She’s very...”


“You’re blonde too,” Harvey laughed.

“My hair is flaxen,” Penny sniffed. “Not fresh corn that was fired into the sun yellow.”

“Meow, I had no idea you were so catty. I like it.”

Penny laughed, shoving him. “She’s all right I guess, she’s just so sparkly and perfect. Everyone kind of forgets she has a sister. They came into Papa’s shop once, a long time ago. Their mother was still alive then and Genevieve was starting to attend parties. They’ve been in mourning but I suppose they’re back on the social scene now. Ivy was real quiet and just kind of hovered around her mom while Genevieve picked things out.”

“Quiet?” Flynn asked, surprised. “She didn’t have any problem talking to me all night.”

“That’s because you’re a doll, Flynn Dawson. Any girl would happily talk to you.”

Harvey made a disgruntled noise and Flynn cracked a smile. He hadn’t gotten much of a “living in someone’s shadow” vibe from Ivy, but then she had thought he’d run out to try and chat up her sister; who was pretty sparkly. And he supposed murder wasn’t a common topic of conversation at a swanky party. No wonder he’d liked talking to Ivy. Well that, and she didn’t know who he was, so she didn’t realize that she should be treating him like garbage instead of like he was on her level. A girl of Ivy’s station would be horrified to learn that she’d spent an entire evening in the company of a dock worker.

He tried not to dwell on that too much as he tossed aside the suit Harvey had loaned him and climbed into bed. She’d probably forget all about him soon anyway; he supposed there was no point in worrying about such things.

He was happy to put on some regular clothes the next day and skip all the fancy suits. Crashing fancy parties was fun but he felt more comfortable in scuffed work boots and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Harvey was tinkering around with his latest watch order, muttering curses to himself and wearing a pair of magnifying goggles that made him look like a strange fish. Flynn stifled a laugh at the sight.

“Your kitchen is pitifully empty,” he said instead. “You’d think you were as poor as me. I can run down to the market if you’d like.”

“Oh. Yes, that’d be fine. Sorry. I keep grocery money in the tea tin beside the stove. Sometimes I forget to do the grocery shopping. Penny usually reminds me but it’s almost time for all the big summer solstice parties and they’re about to get very busy at the tailor shop. I’ll probably be getting in a ton of new orders for crystal-encrusted pocket watches any time now myself.”

“I’ll leave you to it then.” Flynn smiled and shook his head, not even bothering to ask why Harvey kept his grocery money in a tea tin by the stove. He just collected the bills and coins and headed down to the market, which was one of the few places in Tharoux that he didn’t mind visiting. It had a nice view of the sea in the distance and small shops and vendor stalls lined the street. And it was mostly just maids and servants there running errands.

He purchased fresh fruit, bread, and cheese and was waiting for his meat to be prepared at the butcher shop when a small figure with bouncing chocolate curls came barreling down the street toward him. He barely had time to register that it was Ivy before she stumbled to a halt in front of him, out of breath. He flung out his free arm to catch her before she went sprawling on her face.

“Ivy?” he asked dubiously. “What on earth are you doing here?”

“Oh, I like to come down here to get candy. Wine. I come here to get wine. Uh, Merlot.”

Flynn’s lips twitched. “Really? That’s a shame, because I was rather in the mood for some taffy.”

“Oh. Well. We can stop at the candy shop if you want.”

“I’m surprised you do your own shopping down here,” he remarked.

“You’re doing yours,” she pointed out.

“I’m just in town for a visit.”

“Right. Who exactly are you visiting?”

“Extended family.”

“I might know them.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. They’re a bit reclusive.” Flynn tried not to grimace. The butcher called his number and he collected the meat he’d asked for, sticking it into his bag.

“Candy shop?” he asked and Ivy nodded.

“Where are you from?” she asked as she paid for a giant bag of taffies and chocolate drops.

“Out by the coast. I...oversee trade ships that come into port.”

“That sounds very interesting.”

“It’s not,” he laughed. “So exactly how often do you come down to the market all alone”

“When Daddy won’t notice I’m gone,” she shrugged.

“You don’t mind flouting the rules of convention, do you, Ivy?”

“When people don’t notice you, it’s easy to break the rules.”

“I noticed you,” Flynn reminded her.

Her cheeks flushed and she nearly tripped over a loose cobblestone. Flynn caught her again, easily lifting her over the cobblestone before she could fall and she let out a startled squeak.

“Careful now, Miss Brownwell. You came dangerously close to falling.”

“I...thank you.” She fidgeted, seeming like she wanted to say something but was holding back.

“I do apologize if I seem too bold,” Flynn said.

“No,” she said quickly. “That’s fine. It’s fine. Bold is good. Bold is fine. Where are you going now?”

“To get my groceries home before they spoil.”

“Oh.” She seemed a little disappointed and even though Flynn knew it was a terrible idea he found himself asking, “would you like to meet up later? It’s been a very long time since the last time I was in Tharoux; perhaps you could show me the interesting places in town?”

He halfway expected her to decline but instead her eyes seemed to brighten. “Yes, I’d love to. Should I meet you where you’re staying?”

“Let’s just meet back here,” Flynn said. “In about an hour?”

“Okay.” She caught his arm as he started to walk away. “You’re...not just saying you’ll be back to be nice, are you? Because if you don’t really want to spend your afternoon with me I would understand.”

“Ivy, I told you last night: I’m rude. I never say things just to be nice. I’ll see you, right back here, in an hour.” He winked and pushed his way through the crowd in the direction of Harvey’s. He put the food away and headed immediately back out.

“Where do you think you’re off to, young Flynn?” Harvey called after him.

“To see Ivy Brownwell.”

Harvey’s eyes widened behind his goggles so that they looked to be the size of dinner plates.

“Are you sure that’s entirely wise?”

“I am in fact positive that it’s entirely unwise. But I don’t know; she’s a nice girl and she seems lonely. I’m sure she’ll get bored of me soon enough anyway.“

“And if she comes to realize that you’re basically an untouchable in the minds of Tharouxvians?”

Flynn gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Then she’ll get bored of me faster and try to pretend we never met. I’m not under any illusions here; I know my place in the social order. But I’m stuck here until this business with Benedict is squared away. I can be her friend until it dawns on her that she could have better ones.”

“Hmph,” was the reply. “Just be careful. Girls that high in rank could have you thrown in jail for breathing too close to them if they so desired.”

“I’ll make sure not to breathe the entire time,” Flynn assured him. Harvey rolled his eyes as Flynn slipped out the door and made his way back toward the market.