Chapter Twelve

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A week had passed since I started my governess job and I had settled in well. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, including the servants, and I had become good friends with Robbie, the stable boy. It turned how he was an avid reader, also, and we would end up having in depth conversations about books we've both read.

Being such a beautiful day, I had decided I would take the girls outside to the garden and teach them to read Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. It had been read to them before and they loved it, so I thought it would be the perfect book to begin with.

It was a slow process, but I had them take turns in reading aloud a page at a time, and they were doing really well. We had to stop often so I could answer their questions about the storyline, but I was thrilled they were taking such an interest.

I sat between the girls on a garden seat, and as Annie was reading her page, Libby interrupted with, "Who's that man?"

"What man, sweetheart?" I was a little confused, as there was no man mentioned on the page we were reading.

She didn't answer, but instead outstretched her arm and pointed in the direction of the driveway. As soon as I looked up, there was no mistaking who the man was.

Constable Edward Doyle.

Now there was a face I had hoped I'd never see again. The three of us watched with interest, book forgotten, as he sat atop his horse, making his way to the front of the house.

I could see Robbie approaching him in the distance, and Constable Doyle dismounted his horse. After a few exchanged words, Constable Doyle shook his head and Robbie retreated back to the barn, hopefully an indication that Constable Doyle wasn't staying long.

I rose from my seat and watched as he started for the front door. I couldn't think of a single reason of why he would be here, and really hoped he didn't bear bad news.

"Stay here, girls. I'll be back in a moment. Continue reading the story to each other."

"Yes, Miss," they both said.

I heard the voice of Annie continue on with her page as I cautiously walked towards Constable Doyle. I wasn't entirely sure why I was going to him, but was curious to hear what he had to say.

At first he didn't notice me, but my movement in the corner of his eye must have attracted his attention. He stopped and waited for me to reach him, the seemingly permanent scowl on his face once again present.

"Ah, Miss Fletcher. So the rumours are true."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "What rumours?"

"That you're working for Mr. Valentine."

"So?"

"People are talking about you, you know. Saying you should've been thrown in gaol. Some even say you should've been hanged."

"What on earth for?"

"Housebreaking with intent to steal."

"Nicholas knows the real reason why I entered his house that day. He believes me and that's all that matters."

"Well, Clay's an idiot."

"Is that how you speak about all your friends?" I asked, folding my arms across my chest.

"Puh. Friend."

This guy was infuriating. "And how is it everyone knows my business? Who started these rumours in the first place? I certainly didn't and I'm pretty sure Nicholas wouldn't."

"Are you sure of that? Huh?" He took a step towards me and I took one back.

Yes, I was sure Nicholas wouldn't stoop to that level. I knew very well who would, and he was standing right in front of me.

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