Mr. Woodmark ... turned back to Ellen then and asked, "Is Miss Keely here? The young Miss Keely?"
"Miss Keely is out for a while," Ellen said. "May I help you with something?" She hoped that the ice in her voice would discourage any response from him except, "No, thank you."
The insufferable man would not take a hint. "No, I really want to talk to her," he said. "Will you ask her to get in touch with me?"
"Where?" Ellen asked.
He seemed bewildered by her question. "Why, where else? My flat is right upstairs."
"I cannot give her a message like that," Ellen said. "But I am sure that Miss Keely would be happy to keep an appointment with you here, in the shop, or with her aunt in your flat."
"Good lord," Mr. Woodmark said. "What are you implying?"
"What are you implying?" Ellen asked.
Mr. Woodmark blinked behind his glasses. "Would you allow me to write her a note? Or should I write a formal letter and send it through the post? Or have it delivered by a priest? Or better yet, a nun?"
Ellen opened her mouth to deliver what she hoped would be a crushing remark, but Kate ran in, breathless and flushed, her arms filled with folded boxes.
"Hello there!" she said to Mr. Woodmark. "What a nice surprise."
"Apparently not," he said, glancing sideways at Ellen. "However, if it's all right with the police, I would like to have a word with you on a small business matter."
Kate looked baffled for a momenht, but then smiled. "Come with me to the storeroom. Aunt's back there, and I'm sure that you'll want to talk to her, too."
"She's here? I wouldn't have bothered you if I had known she was here. But of course, it might not be proper for me to go behind a curtain with two unwed ladies."
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Ellen cried. She turned her back and busied herself arranging folded pillowcases. Kate's laughter did not help. She and Mr. Woodmark went behind the curtain, and Ellen could hear Kate's aunt say, "I thought I heard you out there!"
Wretched man. He certainly was wealthy enough to live an exciting life in San Francisco, but as far as Ellen could determine, he spent his time grubbing about in the bookstore up the street or meeting with the steady stream of nondescript guests who climbed the stairs to his flat during the day. What a bore!
And then she remembered Aaron and that last stupid, stupid Saturday, and her eyes burned as if they were filled with sand.