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Reverend Scarritt was everything Trey thought a preacher ought to be: Only a little shorter than Trey's six-foot-one, medium build, handsome, and finely dressed. He was much older than Trey expected, considering his daughter was only sixteen, and his duds weren't as expensive as Trey's but a preacher ought to at least pretend to be down-market.

The good reverend was also as fake as Trey. Trey, however, was used to being able to fool shady cats who were looking for any excuse to whack him, and the reverend was used to being taken at face value by men who were desperate for God's grace and women who wanted Scarritt's attention. That he was handsome made the job ten times easier. Trey was even willing to bet he had a side piece or two.

The missus was tall and willowy, wore fashionably feminine trousers, and had probably been considered a great beauty in her time. That had been quite a while ago for her, too, and it had not been good to her, making look much older than her husband.

The good reverend definitely had a side piece.

Her makeup was expertly applied. Her fashionably bobbed and permed hair was dyed blonde to cover the gray, although it was about time for her to get her roots done.

Then there was Marina, who looked nothing like either one of her parents, was nowhere near as fashionable, and where her mother was trying very hard to look young and stylish (she was stylish), Marina seemed to be trying to look old and stodgy.

Trey had already stripped Marina down, re-dressed her, cut her hair, and put some makeup on her. Then she'd be almost a looker, although up against Dot, she'd never—

Oh, for God's sake.

Marina's parents wanted to keep her hidden, which would make Trey's job harder. Men like Trey didn't walk out with girls like Marina without an ulterior motive.

What he had to do was convince her parents he had seen something in her nobody else did. Well, he did, but how was he supposed to describe "interesting"? She caught his eye. He could look through all that camouflage and see what was there. But he couldn't say that. They would shut him down immediately.

It had to be something else. Perhaps he could play the tutor role for a while and let that simmer a little.

"Come in, young man," said Reverend Scarritt imperiously after shaking his hand, "come in."

That surprised Trey a little. He'd have bet Scarritt would keep him standing in the foyer for a barely polite amount of chatter, ask a few polite questions, politely tell him to enjoy the night's service, and politely give him the boot.

"Where did you meet Marina again?" he asked, directing Trey to a comfortable chair in the front parlor. "Mrs. Scarritt, Marina, could you excuse us?"

Trey looked around. It was a very nice front parlor, with charmingly worn furniture, gleaming millwork, bookcases full of very important-looking books and papers, and Bibles and bouquets of lilacs on every surface. It was exactly as cozy and modestly fine as a parsonage parlor should be.

"Kresge's, sir," Trey said. "Yesterday. I was walking by and heard Marina struggling with an assignment, thought I'd see if I could help, and found her to be smart and interesting."

"Ah ... smart, you say," Scarritt said speculatively as if Trey were lying.

"Yes, sir. I enjoy the company of smart girls who are also polite and love God."

"Ah ... hunh." The love God might have been too much. "And do you have a church?"

"No, sir. I've been looking for one, but haven't found any preachers who move me with the Spirit." Where was this shit coming from? Had he paid that much attention to his Sunday school lessons growing up? "I saw a bill for your revival after I met Marina. Things working mysteriously and whatnot." Trey leaned forward and worried the brim of his fedora in his hands. "If you want to know the truth, sir," he said earnestly, "I think God's hand is in my having met Marina and I don't question God's hand. He's blessed me too much to ignore his voice."

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