Authors: Rebecca King
Tags: #romance, #romantic suspense, #thriller, #mystery, #murder mystery, #historical fiction, #historical romance, #historical mystery, #romantic adventure
The Tipton Hollow Series
book is a work of fiction. As such, the details relating to plant
cultivation, in particular the specific types of orchids named
within are purely fictitious and bear no resemblance to any actual
living plants, or the real cultivation process of
are commonly known as a flowering plant but within this book have
been called plants. Thank you.
by Melody Simmons from eBookindiecovers.
Northolt placed the morning newspaper back onto the table and
stared despondently at the room around her. The austere dining room
was huge, and furnished with heavy brocade drapes which lined the
tall windows at the front of the house a little too well, and
stopped nearly all of the daylight from reaching the huge oak
dining table in the centre of the room. She studied the glossy
surface of the table before her, which could quite comfortably seat
twenty people, and shook her head at the waste. Even when her Uncle
Matthew had been alive they had never used all of the seating
because they had never entertained anyone. Now that she was all
alone, it didn’t seem necessary to have such a huge table in the
house. It was hardly as though she entertained large numbers of
people herself and, when her friends did call around to see her,
they usually shared tea in the sitting room.
silence within the room was broken only by the rhythmic ticking of
the clock on the mantle, and the chink of her tea cup when she put
it back into its saucer. It was so quiet that she could almost hear
herself breathing, and it was most disconcerting. Even Mrs
Partridge, Maud, had stopped clattering the pots and pans in the
kitchen, and had inadvertently added to the Beatrice’s sense of
her Uncle Matthew had passed away several months ago, Beatrice had
rattled around the house with nothing to do but while away the
hours until it was time to go to bed again. Even with the house now
her own, and more money in the bank than she knew how to spend,
there seemed to be nothing to fulfil her existence. There was
nothing to look forward to; nowhere to go, and she wasn’t quite
sure what to do to change that. She didn’t want to travel. She had
everything she needed. What else was there?
The walls of Brantley Manor seemed to close in on her with
each day that passed, and she knew that she was going to go quietly
mad if her circumstances didn’t start to change soon, but how could
they change when she didn’t know what she wanted? What
she do with her
to get out of here,” she muttered and pushed out of her chair. She
threw her napkin onto the table and hurried out of the
It was a
relief to be able to get outside, into the fresh air. She took a
deep breath of the crisp summertime air and savoured the sunlight
on her face while she listened to the birds chirping happily in the
trees at the end of the garden. The beautiful lawns that surrounded
her were festooned with a vast array of flora and fauna; the
tantalising aroma of which scented the air sweetly with a gentle
hint of floral elegance.
a moment to wander around in a vague circle but, unlike other
occasions when she had sought sanctuary in the garden to ease her
troubled thoughts, this time her mind wouldn’t settle. In spite of
the opulent grandeur of her surroundings, the feeling of discontent
that weighed so heavily on her shoulders didn’t lift. She turned to
look back at the house but could find no pride or contentment in
the fact that the huge manor house was hers. Indeed, the thought of
going back inside filled her with a sense of foreboding that
brought a frown to her beautiful face.
wasn’t sure if the restless need to get out of the house, and into
the morning sunshine, had anything to do with the recent murders of
two members of the now defunct Psychic Circle, or the fact that she
had recently witnessed her best friend, Harriett, marry the man of
her dreams. One thing she did know was that seeing Harriett so
happy, and adored by her husband, had made Beatrice realise just
how much she was missing out on herself.
You are just missing Uncle Matthew, that’s
, Beatrice thought sensibly, and
blocked out the small voice that warned her that wasn’t the cause
of her current problem either.
sighed listlessly and looked around her at the brilliant myriad
colours that littered the borders. She then looked down at her
rather plain dress, and sighed in disgust. If she was honest, she
felt so uninteresting and boring that she knew it was going to take
a miracle to find any man who would look twice at someone as
insipid as her.
the issue of her rather uninspiring clothing aside, she turned her
attention with the true course of her malady. She was bored;
totally, completely, and unutterably bored, with everything; bored
with having nothing to do with her life; bored at living all by
herself; bored with doing the same thing day after day after day.
Bored. Bored. Bored.
it frankly, she was fed up with her life and wanted something new;
something exciting, to happen to her so she could throw off the
shackles of responsibility and just enjoy herself for a
Lord, not again,” she whispered when the sudden peel of church
bells in the distance shattered the silence. She lifted her skirts
so she could hurry to the house just that little bit quicker, and
cursed her folly for not having kept a closer eye on the
“Beatrice!” Maud called.
“Coming,” Beatrice replied breathlessly as she swept through
the back door and slammed it behind her. She didn’t stop though,
and hurried through the kitchen with the sound of the bolts sliding
across the door echoing in her ears.
front hallway she hurriedly drew her shawl around her shoulders and
picked up her hymn book before she turned to the
ready,” she gasped.
only one morning dear,” Maud reminded her gently when she saw the
dread Beatrice couldn’t hide.
it is. I don’t know why I bother going to church at all really. I
mean, I spend so much time avoiding the pointed stares of the old
battle-axes that I completely forget to listen to the service, and
merely count the minutes until I can get out of there,” Beatrice
sighed and led the way out of the door. “I only got into the habit
of going because Uncle Matthew insisted on it,” she added as they
made their way down the driveway.
we should just be in time for service, if we hurry a little, so
don’t you fret. It will be over soon and then you can get on with
your day,” Maud replied quietly.
do fret, Maud. The last time we were late, the vicar made a pointed
reference to tardiness in his sermon and I felt the acrimonious
gazes of half the congregation for the entire time we were
exaggerate,” Maud replied, although lengthened her stride a little,
just in case. She wouldn’t say as much to Beatrice, but that
particular Sunday service stood out in her memory too, and wasn’t
something she wanted to repeat either.
merely looked at her and lifted her brows. She only wished it was
an exaggeration, but they both knew that it wasn’t. She would never
say so to Maud, but it wasn’t just the condescension of the
congregation that bothered her. It was the rather stern gaze of one
particular person who, for reasons only known to himself, seemed to
have taken a keen dislike to her.
no idea what his problem was but it had become something of a
weekly routine whereby they seemed to spend the Sunday service
trying to ignore each other’s presence, only to fail
journey to church was over far too quickly as far as Beatrice was
concerned and, although they weren’t late, they both noticed the
vicar look rather pointedly at his fob-watch as they approached the
front door. Neither of them stopped to speak to the man, and
instead kept their gazes averted while they hurried
As they made their way down the aisle toward the family pew,
Beatrice struggled to keep her gaze on the floor, and away from
him, but she knew
was there; watching as usual. Benedict Addison: the only
person in Tipton Hollow who really seemed to dislike
the nick of time,” Maud whispered as she took a seat.
heavens,” Beatrice replied in hushed tones as she sidled into the
pew beside her. Although it went against etiquette for Maud to
share the Northolt family pew, Beatrice considered her to be more
of a personal friend than a housekeeper, and insisted on them
know what his problem is, we aren’t even late,” Maud grumbled as
she put her hymn book down and removed her shawl.
doesn’t need a reason to judge,” Beatrice whispered and gave the
housekeeper a sideways glance.
to tell you that I am going to go around to my friend Esther’s
house after the service because I need to pick up a bag of
donations for the rummage sale on Friday,” Maud whispered out of
the corner of her mouth.
fine. There is no rush, so take your time. I will just have some
pie before the fire for tea,” Beatrice replied in a voice that was
no louder than a breath.
she waited for the service to start, she felt his gaze on her. At
first she tried to ignore it but, when she struggled not to squirm,
lifted her head and stared defiantly back at him. Her stomach
flipped; then dropped to her toes when their eyes met.
was no anger in the depths of his brown eyes; no hatred; disgust or
anger; just a quiet watchfulness that seemed to probe far too
intensely, and see far too much. Why was he staring at her? What
did he want? He didn’t smile or acknowledge her with a nod, just
locked his gaze on her in that rather intense way, and brought
forth an awareness of his raw masculinity that left her more than a
studied the way the sunlight shone through the stained glass window
behind her, and bathed her hair in several shades of copper and
gold. Her dark brown tresses were swept away from her face in a
rather severe fashion, but it didn’t detract from her beauty.
Instead, it seemed to emphasise her high cheek bones, and beautiful
sky blue eyes which were slightly up-tilted at the corners, and
accompanied by the longest lashes he had ever seen on
wasn’t for the presence of Beatrice Northolt at the service each
Sunday, Ben wouldn’t be there at all. She was by far the most
beautiful creature he had ever seen in his life and, if she didn’t
always look so bloody terrified of him, he would have taken the
opportunity to get to know her long before now. To his
consternation, every time he got anywhere near her, she always
hurried in the opposite direction as though he was about to ravage
her and didn’t bother to stop to talk, or even say ‘hello’ to