Being late to an event always proved a good tactic, thought Jed. It gave matters a chance to solidify, for patterns to become evident. It served as a reminder of who was in charge. And it angered Charity no end. He chuckled to himself as the piston inside her brassy head compressed her fury down and down. There would be a big bang tonight, but not before their guests had retired--he had that much control over his wife. More than she reckoned he did. He'd let her explode upstairs, and he'd take her in hand as he always did. Let her use up all that anger in his bed, wear her out. Then he'd promise her a trip to Frisco or some such. Not till spring, though. He doled himself out some kind of roast beef from the tray the greenhorn presented.
Apparently he took too much. The greenhorn cleared his throat; to his left, Cherry widened her eyes and jerked her head toward the tray. He ignored them and took a bite out of both pieces. His wife deliberately turned her back and steamed a great cloud of charm in Tony's direction.