“If that’s true, she was certainly the only one who knew it.” Hannah shook her head. “Personally, I think it’s far more likely that she just hoped to goodness we were meant for each other. It was her dream to resolve the feud. She saw Rafe and me as Romeo and Juliet with the right ending. She left us Dreamscape in an effort to make her fantasy of reconnecting the Hartes and the Madisons come true.”
“Either way, it worked out for you and Rafe.”
“Maybe she had a touch of your gift for matchmaking,” Hannah said lightly. “Could be it runs in the family.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Okay, Lil, what’s going on here? Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to see you. I think it’s great that you’ve decided to take some time off from work. But this is your sister, Hannah, remember? I know you haven’t given me the whole story.”
There was no point trying to evade the questions, Lillian thought. Hannah knew her too well. They had always been close even though they were different in so many ways. Hannah was nearly two years younger but she had always been the more levelheaded and goal-oriented of the two. Hannah was the one who had always known where she was going; at least that had been the general opinion in the Harte family until she had stunned everyone by announcing that she intended to marry Rafe Madison and turn Dreamscape into an inn.
True to form, however, even that uncharacteristically wild decision had turned out to be a sound one. It was obvious that Rafe and Hannah were happy together and that they would make a success of the inn.
“I closed Private Arrangements,” Lillian said.
Hannah looked bemused. “For a few days? A couple of weeks? A month?”
Hannah took a long moment to absorb and process that announcement.
Then she gave a low, soft, tuneless whistle.
“Oh, my,” she said.
“Just when Mom and Dad were getting used to the idea of you being a professional matchmaker.”
“I’m not sure they would ever have come around completely, anyway.” Lillian sighed. “They still have a hard time telling their friends what I do for a living. In their minds my matchmaking enterprise was always a little suspect. Not nearly as respectable as that wedding consultant agency you owned before you decided to go into the inn business.”
“Okay, I’ll agree that Mom and Dad thought the whole thing was a little flaky, but you were successful .
They couldn’t deny that. You have an impressive list of clients. All those new, wealthy software folks love the idea of computerized matchmaking. You were turning a serious profit and that counts for a lot in this family.”
“If Mom and Dad think matchmaking is flaky, I can’t wait to hear what they’ll say about my next career move.”
“Well?” Hannah tilted her head slightly. “Don’t keep me in suspense.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I want to hear every word of it.” Hannah paused when a set of headlights turned into the drive that led toward Dreamscape. “But I’m afraid the tale will have to wait. Here comes dinner.”
The low growl of a powerful, finely tuned engine rumbled in the gathering night. Lillian watched the sleek Porsche prowl down the drive.
The vehicle came to a halt near the inn’s main entrance. The engine went silent. The door on the driver’s side opened. Hannah’s husband, Rafe, got out, moving with the easy masculine grace that characterized all the Madison males.
A dapper salt-and-pepper Schnauzer jumped out of the open car door after him. The dog paused and looked up toward the balcony.
“Hello, Winston,” Lillian called down. “You’re as handsome as ever.”
Winston bounced a little in refined appreciation of what he obviously considered no more than his due.
Then he trotted briskly up the steps and disappeared under the overhanging roof.
Rafe retrieved two grocery sacks from the interior of the car.
“About time you guys got home,” Hannah said to him. “We were starting to wonder if the two of you had stopped off at the Total Eclipse for a beer and a fast game of pool.”
Rafe nudged the door of the Porsche closed and looked up. He gave Hannah and Lillian the patented Madison smile, all rakish charm and a promise of trouble to come.
“Sorry we’re a little late,” he said. “Ran into an old pal who just happened to show up in town late this afternoon. I invited him for dinner. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Who is he?” Hannah asked curiously.
“Just some guy I know.”
Rafe turned to look back toward the far end of the drive. Lillian followed his gaze and saw a second set of headlights coming toward the inn.
A dark-green Jaguar glided down the drive and stopped next to the Porsche.
A sudden premonition sizzled through Lillian. She gripped the railing very tightly and leaned forward to get a better look.
“No,” she muttered. “Surely he wouldn’t—”
Hannah glanced at her in surprise. “What’s wrong?”
Before Lillian could answer the Jag’s door opened. Gabe climbed out. His gaze went straight to the balcony.
“Hello, Lillian,” he said much too easily. “I see you got invited to dinner, too. Isn’t this an amazing coincidence?”
“There are no coincidences,” Lillian said darkly.
“I’ve heard that.”
She was intensely aware of Rafe and Hannah watching the little scene. They both looked amused and intrigued. “What are you doing here? And don’t try to tell me that you just decided to take a mini-vacation this weekend.”
“One thing you should know about me.” Gabe walked around the front of the Jag, making for the front steps. “I never do anything on a whim. You’re probably thinking of Rafe, here. He’s been known to get a little wild and crazy at times.”
“Hey, don’t look at me,” Rafe said quickly. “I’m a married man now. I’ve settled down. I only get wild and crazy with Hannah.” He gazed up at the balcony. “Isn’t that right, honey?”
“If you know what’s good for you, it is,” Hannah said. There was warmth and laughter in the words.
Gabe stopped at the foot of the steps and looked at Lillian. “You didn’t really believe that I was going to let you skip out on me, did you?”
She dug her fingers into the rail. “I offered to repay your money.”