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I don’t want to be a widow, I don’t want Michael Bayning, and I don’t want you to joke about such things, you tactless clodpole!” As all three of them stared at her openmouthed, Poppy leapt up and stalked away , her hands drawn into fists. Bewildered by the immediate force of her fury- it was like being stung by a butterfly- Harry stared after her dumbly. After a moment, he asked the first coherent thought that came to him. “Did she just say she doesn’t want Bayning?” “Yes,” Win said, a smile hovering on her lips. “That’s what she said. Go after her, Harry.” Every cell in Harry’s body longed to comply. Except that he had the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff, with one ll-chosen word likely to send him over. He gave Poppy’s sister a desperate glance. “What should I say?” “Be honest with her about your feelings,” Win suggested. A frown settled on Harry’s face as he considered that. “What’s my second option?” “I’ll handle this,” Merripen told Win before she could reply. Standing, he slung a great arm across Harry’s shoulders and walked him to the side of the terrace. Poppy’s furious form could be seen in the distance. She was walking down the drive to the caretakers house, her skirts and shoes kicking up tiny dust storms. Merripen spoke in a low, not unsympathetic tone. As if compelled to guide a hapless fellow male away from danger. “Take my advice, gadjo… never argue with a woman when she’s in this state. Tell her you were wrong and you’re sorry as hell. And promise never to do it again.” “I’m still not exactly certain what I did,” Harry said. “That doesn’t matter. Apologize anyway.” Merripen paused and added in a whisper, “And whenever your wife is angry… for God’s sake, don’t try logic.” “I heard that,” Win said from the chaise.-Poppy, Harry, Win, & Merripen

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