Grace took a seat on the brocade settee and Ginny asked, "Shall I ask Nell to make us some tea?"
Grace shook her head. "I can't stay long. I just needed to see another human face besides my pop or I shall go mad! I get so lonely sometimes," she murmured while staring at the fire in the hearth.
"My dear friend, I wish you'd come to dinner soon and meet Warren, Frank's new business partner."
"I know you mean well, Ginny, but I've seen him at church. I don't believe he has any interest in knowing a widow."
Ginny nodded. "He does seem to have a flock of ladies around him, I'll agree, but he doesn't know what he's missing."
Grace tittered. "You are so biased, Ginny! But I love you for it. Now let's change the subject if you don't mind. What have you been doing since I last saw you?"
Ginny frowned at her. "I'm on to you, Grace. You must put the widow weeds behind you now. Life is too short to spend all your time only taking care of your father. He can stay alone for a few hours. You simply must find a way to do something for yourself, and that should include meeting eligible men. You could marry again."
Grace chewed her lip and looked into her friend's eyes filled with genuine concern. "Maybe...I'm not sure I could ever love again. Losing Victor was the hardest thing I've experienced in my life."
Ginny reached over, patting her hand briefly. "I know, and I'm very sorry. But trust me, you need to get out a bit more—"
The sound of voices in the hallway floated within hearing. Ginny turned in the direction of the doorway. "Looks like you'll get to meet Warren after all," she whispered.
Grace started to reply but Ginny put a finger to her lips. "Shh, here they come."
Grace's protest caught in her throat as the footsteps drew closer. She should've gone on home instead of stopping after leaving the mercantile. She wasn't in the mood to meet a man of Ginny's choosing—or anyone else's, for that matter. To be truthful, she wasn't sure what she wanted.
Ginny rose from her chair as her husband approached. "My dear Frank, you're home early. Hello, Warren," she said to the gentleman next to her husband. He nodded hello and gallantly bent to kiss her hand.
"You're spoiling my wife and she's going to come to expect more attention from me." Frank chuckled, then kissed his wife's brow. "Grace," he said, suddenly spotting her on the settee, "it's good to see you. You must meet Warren Sullivan, my new business partner." He turned to Warren. "This is Miss Grace Bidwell."
"It's very nice to meet you," he said and stepped over to where Grace stood, taking a brief bow. His dark hair, shiny from applied pomade, fell across his forehead as he bowed, and a whiff of spicy cologne hung in the air. His pin-striped suit was impeccable.
Grace murmured hello with a slight tilt of her head, mindful as his piercing dark eyes that held a promise of mystery swept over her. She wasn't sure if his was a look of appraisal or something else.
"I've heard lots about you—all good." He grinned.
"I was just telling her that we should all get together. How about dinner Saturday? Are you free?" Ginny asked.
"Great idea," Frank said, touching his wife's arm.
Warren turned to smile at Ginny. "Why, yes, I believe I am, but maybe you should ask Grace first."
Grace felt put on the spot. "Well, I'm not certain. I'll have to let you know, Ginny." She rose, clutching her reticule. "I really must be going now. I can't leave my father for too long."
"I'll walk you to the door," Ginny said, flashing her a conspiratorial smile.