Lemon, two sugars

“Shall I play Mother?” Iris raised a plump hand in a helpful gesture.
Agatha smiled her answer and Iris lifted the china teapot. It was bright white with yellow band and cheery blue flowers. And must’ve costed the earth. The fine dark tea splashed into its cup. Iris poured another for herself. There were no biscuits and the seed cake was store bought.
She had sorely missed her cuppa down at the station but such was the life of village constable. Especially a lady constabulary, Iris was always ferreting out the story behind the clues. Her captain liked to joke that Lower Edgewyck’s high case clearance was due to their secret weapon, female intuition. Iris knew poppycock when she heard it.
“How do you like our little village, miss? I haven’t seen you at the post office. Are you making yourself to home? How do you take your tea miss. Lemon or…” Iris paused surveying the dark haired slip of a girl worrying her lacy handkerchief. “Listen to me prattle on. Begging your pardon Miss.” With her fair skin long black hair, Agatha reminded the policewoman of china doll baby.
“Of course lemon and two lumps of sugar with a touch of cream,” Agatha said. “Sadly I’ve been much too busy to take in the local charms.”
Iris finished making the tea and handed the curdled drink to Agatha. Quickly Agatha stirred her mistake.
“We have to entertain so much for Mars’ business. Mars’ work keeps him so busy and I’m all time monitoring the servants and seeing to the house. You could never imagine all the steps for running a house this large,” Agatha said taking delicate sips. She grimaced.
“You don’t say, miss. Well there isn’t much to miss in Lower Edgewyck. I’ve always heard the second hardest job there is is being the newly acquired wife of a generous man,” Iris said taking a hearty draw of her own black tea. The policewoman knew more than she wanted to know about Mars from his blood caked axe with a few strands of blonde hair luckily found by the lakeside. But murder investigations are more than clues on the ground.
The translucent porcelain cup felt sharp against Iris’s lips. Watching Agatha beneath her lashes Iris could see the worry lines drawn on her face. The room was well decorated and tidy with dusty corners. Iris could still see the cold water flat in the woman’s eyes and smell the grease from a chip shop on her skin. It was one thing to do away with your nagging wife in the heat of the moment but to fake out of town postcards and obtain a Parisian divorce speaks of planning, it screams accomplice. Iris was never one to assign guilt to one’s address but She had also learnt early to always judge a book by its cover.
You said second, the second hardest job. What’s the most hardest job?” Agatha was drawn tight as bow. Iris could see what it must have taken for Agatha to rewrite her story, the effort to rise from waitressing in CheapSides to sitting in your own home with servants and dusty corners. Iris finished her cup the fine china not quite making up for the cold dregs of Darjeeling.
“Oh mam the hardest job is being a generous man’s last wife.” Iris laughed till her shoulders shook. Her laugh empty as a tea cup.

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