A romantic mystery (or mystery with more than a touch of romance), you can read an excerpt here. To set the scene, Orlando has got rather tipsy at a rowing club lunch, stripped off in Jonty’s rooms, then taken a bath. At present he is both sober and mortified.
After a minute or two, Jonty backed into the room
bearing a tray with the drinks and some shortbread he’d
discovered. Orlando had coaxed the fire into a cheerful
blaze and had then dropped onto the mat before it, looking
rosy and content in the glow. They ate and drank again in
companionable silence, Stewart reflecting all the while that
his aunts had probably been absolutely right to swear by the
civilizing and restorative effects of afternoon tea. Being
before the fire together felt absolutely blissful.
Orlando broke the tranquility. “I feel a bit of an idiot
sitting here in a towel, with you fully dressed, Jonty. Should
be getting dressed myself, I suppose.” Despite what he said,
he didn’t show the slightest inclination to take his own
“There is another solution, of course,” Jonty ventured.
“For your embarrassment; another way to solve the
problem. Bear with me for just a moment.” He rose and
went into the bathroom, feeling a bit of an idiot as well.
This was either going to be a masterstroke or a complete
disaster. He found himself a large towel and began to
He hadn’t dared do this in front of Coppersmith, it
would have given the man too much time to become skittish
and object. Anyway, the act of disrobing was never an
elegant one. The top half was fine, very alluring it had been
to watch Orlando stripping off his jacket and waistcoat, but
the bottom half presented all sorts of logistical difficulties.
There was the significant risk of hopping around with one
leg still in your trousers, which presented a very
unappetizing sight, or worse still being left in just your
socks, which was a complete passion killer. Better to
present yourself in the best possible light, he mused,
removing the last item, the offending socks, and draping the
towel around himself. He took a very deep breath and went
back into the main room.
“Now we’re equal.” Jonty took his place next to his
friend in front of the hearth.
Orlando’s jaw had dropped when he saw Stewart
entering the room. Jonty could imagine him struggling to
regain his composure but failing. “Jonty, you absolute oaf!”
Coppersmith started to laugh, which was a rare enough
occurrence at any time and one that always set Stewart off
giggling as well. They didn’t stop until the tears were
streaming down their faces.
“Oh, Orlando—your face. I’ve not seen you so shocked
since that lady from Girton invited you to step outside with
her and admire the wallflowers.”
Coppersmith blushed at the remembrance. Stewart
knew that he really did hate talking to women and this one
had been rather too persistent. Orlando looked across at his
friend and noticed the small, exquisite gold crucifix around
his neck. “May I?” he reached over and began to finger it
“This is a lovely piece of workmanship. Do you wear it
“Always.” Stewart smiled wistfully. “My grandmother
bought it for me when I came up to Bride’s as a student.
I’ve worn it every day that I’ve been at the college, now and
Coppersmith kept rubbing the delicate gold chain until
his fingers must have grown numb and sought for softer
contact. Letting the necklace go, he tentatively traced the
line of Jonty’s collarbone. “This is a lovely piece of