Authors: Virginia Smith
HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Published in association with Books & Such Management, 52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370,
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover by Garborg Design Works
Cover illustrations and images
Pink Pueblo, Little Lion / Bigstock
THE ROOM WITH THE SECOND-BEST VIEW
Copyright Â© 2016 by Virginia Smith
Published by Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon 97402
ISBN 978-0-7369-6481-4 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-7369-6482-1 (eBook)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Smith, Virginia, 1960- author.
Title: The room with the second-best view / Virginia Smith.
Description: Eugene Oregon: Harvest House Publishers,  | Series: Tales from the Goose Creek B&B; 3
Identifiers: LCCN 2015051366 (print) | LCCN 2016003834 (ebook) | ISBN 9780736964814 (softcover) | ISBN 9780736964821 ()
Subjects: LCSH: Bed and breakfast accommodationsâFiction. | City and town lifeâKentucyâFiction.
Classification: LCC PS3619.M5956 R66 2016 (print) | LCC PS3619.M5956 (ebook) | DDC 813/.6âdc23
LC record available at
All rights reserved.
he moment his wife set a steaming bowl of chicken and dumplings on the dinner table, Al Richardson knew she was up to something. He narrowed his eyes and studied her too-casual expression as she scurried to and from the stove to deliver more dishes filled with his favorites. Scattered suspiciously among the green beans were bits of bacon, an ingredient Millie frequently refused to serve, claiming wifely concern for his health. The telltale scents of cinnamon and brown sugar wafted from a bowl of fried apples.
Al straightened his spine against the back of his chair, folded his arms across his chest, and leveled a mistrustful glare on her. “Mildred Richardson, what is the meaning of this?”
She paused in the act of setting a frosty glass of iced tea in front of him to lift a round-eyed stare his way. “It's called supper, dear. We do it every night.”
“Not like this, we don't.” He waved toward the brimming bowl of plump, delectable dumplings and added an accusation. “Is there lemon cake for dessert?”
His favorite lemon cake was reserved for special events, like anniversaries and Christmas, but occasionally she'd been known to brazenly wield the treat as a tool to accomplish an end of which she knew he would not approve. A powerful weapon indeed. If she whipped out a lemon cake, he might as well throw in the towelâor napkin, in this caseâbefore he even knew the source of the upcoming conflict.
“No lemon cake.” She seated herself, her expression prim, but before he could heave a relieved sigh she mumbled, “It's coconut cream pie.”
“You're shameless.” His second-favorite dessert and one she seldom prepared because she insisted he would eat himself into a diabetic coma. He caught her gaze, not bothering to filter the accusation from his tone. “There's a scheme rolling around in that head of yours. Out with it.”
Instead, she extended a hand toward his. “Can we at least say the blessing first? It's your turn.”
He almost snorted. Another obvious move, a veiled insinuation that her objective enjoyed heavenly approval. Her lips pursed in a prim bow, she bowed her head. Taking her hand, Al cleared his expression for the few seconds it took him to murmur a quick prayer and then resumed his glower.
“Well?” he demanded as he pulled the dumplings toward him. “Explain yourself before the suspense drives my blood pressure any higher.”
If thirty-eight years of marriage to the woman seated beside him had taught him anything, it was that Millie refused to be rushed. Whether applying her makeup, stripping paint from the ancient carved banister in the entry hall of the monstrous Victorian-era house they'd purchased, or reading the comic section of the newspaper while he drummed his fingers on the breakfast table, his wife insisted on taking her time. Judging by her imperturbable expression and the slow, methodic way she ladled green beans onto her plate, not even the threat of her husband's rising blood pressure would force her to speak before she was ready. Heaving a sigh, Al served himself an extra-large helping of dumplings. Might as well make the most of the edible bribe.
“Justin is moving out this weekend.”
She delivered the information casually, though she knew full well he was aware of their handyman-boarder's schedule. An obvious ploy,
one he easily recognized. She'd drop a few seemingly random tidbits of information, skittering madly from topic to topic while he grew dizzy trying to perceive a connection. All the while she'd be building a case, leading up to the final piece of data that tied them all together and revealed her objective.
All right. He'd play along. “On Saturday, I think he said.” He scooped a generous portion of fried apples and welcomed the sugary cinnamon aroma with a deep inhale. “That's in three days, in case you're keeping count.”
She ignored the statistic. “Violet and I are going to finish painting the back bathroom on Friday.”
Another random tidbit. Not the bathroom connected to Justin's room in the front of the house, but the back one. Millie and Violet had worked their way from the front bedroom toward the rear, cleaning, repairing, painting, and decorating as they went. Between the two of them they had stripped enough hideous wallpaper (hideous in Millie's estimation, though most of it looked perfectly fine to him) to smother every wall in Goose Creek.
Fork hovering over a morsel of juicy chicken, she watched him. Apparently a reply was expected.
“Okay.” He almost added,
Sounds like a good plan,
but put a dumpling in his mouth instead. Better keep his comments to a minimum until he knew the stakes.
“That gives us three finished bedrooms, each with an
“Mm-hmm.” He chewed the delectable dumpling, glad for an excuse to stay silent. Normally he would have corrected her use of the fancy word. Richardsons were plain folk. They used bathrooms, not
But just now, the quieter he stayed the better.
She speared the chicken and lifted it to her mouth, pausing long enough to add, “The wedding is in thirty-one days.”
Another seemingly unrelated statistic, but he was beginning to see a connection. Nine months ago Justin Hinkle moved in to the upstairs front bedroom in a work-for-rent arrangement with which
Al was perfectly satisfied. During the day the young man performed his handyman work for a growing clientele, while on evenings and between jobs he tended to the gazillion-and-one repairs necessary to ensure that this cataclysm of a house didn't collapse and bury them in decades-old rubble.
This weekend Al and Millie would lose their handyman, who had bought a house with his fiancÃ©e, Dr. Susan Jeffries, owner of the Goose Creek Animal Clinic, where Millie worked as a part-time receptionist. He would live alone in the couple's new home until the end of May, readying the place for his bride.
In other words, Al would have to begin paying for repair work again. He stabbed at an apple slice. The reminder of the impending drain upon his retirement funds zapped his patience with his wife's verbal game.
“What are you driving at, Millie?” The words contained more peevish sting than he intended, but he refused to back down. “Tell me and get it over with.”