Authors: Aubrey Brown
Emma was prepared with a story she thought upon for weeks.
“I heard of the need for a governess in this home, and I felt to hurry was of the essence since I have not been able to find employment with any families of nobility. You see once the lady of the house ascertains me, I am immediately judged and sent away. I am in need of employment and hoping to gain such with his lordship.”
Silence filled the room as a new tray was brought in with a few sandwiches and cut fruit. She looked upon the tray with longing, however, took proper bites in front of the butler.
“I see. There is a position of governess here. The children were left to Lord Halverson from a dear friend. The children have suffered greatly since the death of their parents. They are in need of a helping hand and teaching,” he said.
“Might you have references?”
Emma’s heart slowed. She had not thought of that. She was unfamiliar with the hiring process.
Emma knew she must have a struck look in her eyes at his question. He seemed to look more closely at her. She just hoped she had not given herself away.
“No matter, at the moment, we need someone to start immediately. The children are in the nursery. May I suggest you think upon lessons for today, and we will have you meet with them this evening? Please meet his lordship in the dining hall for supper this evening.”
At her affirmative nod, the butler left her to break her fast.
Emma sat in silence as she ate quickly, her mind in a whirl. She had gained employment to a man of which did not interview her for the post. It was in fact daylight, and his lordship was not about; the rumors of Lord Halverson’s absence during the daylight hours were indeed true. And then something struck her. The butler did not ask for her name.
* * * *
Gabriel was in a dead sleep. It was symptomatic of his kind. He slept during the daylight hours, to awaken as the sun closed over the horizon. He was never conscious of the happenings around his home, but today he felt a new presence. Vibrant and beautiful warmth in his home, he tried to reach out to the feeling, but found himself closed off. Frustration roiled through his body as he cursed his undead state. He had never been able to feel someone during the daylight hours, and he suddenly felt the need to claw his way to consciousness. This woman, of which he was sure George had taken care of, would be staying in his home. Feeling relaxed, he willed himself to a deeper sleep.
As night approached, Emma’s nerves were on end. She had thought over her lessons as a child, and had come up with some suitable instructions. The children were twins and were the age of nine, a boy and a girl, named James and Rose. Anne had warned her that they were spirited children. She could handle spirited children. Emma had given much of her time to the local orphanage. She was always able to keep a firm but loving hand upon them.
Emma approached the dining hall and found she was alone. She was about to turn around and leave when she bumped into George.
“Lord Halverson will be in shortly. Please sit and start your supper.”
“Will the children be joining us?” Emma asked.
“They have already eaten and have retired for the evening. His lordship wanted to speak with you before you meet them.” With that George quit the room.
Emma took a seat at a chair that was pulled out for her by a footman. She ate her primary course in silence. It was twenty minutes before Lord Halverson entered the room. The world spun, and Emma felt tingling begin at the base of her spine and then up to her woolly brain. He was the most handsome man she had ever encountered, even at court. He was tall and well built, not lean to say, and definitely not overweight. His hair was as black as midnight and his eyes were the color of deep chocolate. His skin was pale in color, adding a very interesting contrast to his dark hair and eyes. He was wearing a white linen shirt, a deep-burgundy waistcoat, a crisp cravat, a black double-breasted coat, and lastly, tight-fitting trousers that left little to her mind’s wondering.
“Are you well, miss?” A voice with a deep timbre suddenly clouded her foggy brain.
“I am, my lord.”
Gabriel was taken aback by her beauty. Color in her cheeks provided a delicious addition to her petite yet curvaceous body. Her hair was the color of the sun he missed so much, and her eyes were as blue as the clear sky. She was once again wearing a demure day dress in a dark color, however it did not detour his knowledge of what lied beneath the frock.
He took a seat next to hers and began, “May I have your name and where you hail from?”
“Mercy Goodwin, my Lord, and I come from Sussex,” she finished.
“Why have you come to my home? I have not properly advertised for a governess. Where did you hear of the position?”
There were so many questions, and this man was direct.
“I heard of the position from a passing stranger. I was in need of employment. I have no family left and need to make a living. When I heard of the possibility of gaining such a position, I had to take a chance. As I told your butler, noblewomen look upon me and make judgments,” she finished quietly. She hoped he took her word for truth. She needed to stay here. With his gaze upon her, she felt a pull toward his eyes, a pull she had never felt before.
Gabriel felt himself a man of good judgment. One did not live for two hundred years without becoming acute to those who lie. He searched her face and tried to feel her mind, but was blocked yet again. The wall in her brain was not as solid as it had been the other evening, he felt a slight tug against his powers, which was a sign her mind was opening. Plus, he noticed a bruise marring her delicate cheek, less so this evening, but it was still there.
“George has warned you that you will be on a trial. However, you must sign some paperwork of nondisclosure. I am a very private man with many quizzical habits, you understand.”
Emma nodded her head in agreement. She was willing to sign anything as long as it garnered the position.
Gabriel screamed inside of his mind. This woman was hiding something. He could feel it. He should not make a decision based upon his love for puzzles and a beautiful face. Mercy Goodwin was the most attractive woman he had ever laid eyes upon. He felt his cock stir at the sight of her sitting in a dower dress. She should not have this kind of effect on him. Nevertheless, she had and did. He bargained with himself over the fact that James and Rose needed a guiding hand, and this woman was the only woman available.
“You shall start your duties in the morning. You are to see to the children’s lessons and be assured they are in bed at an early hour. I will not be in residence during the daytime. I will expect a full report on their progress every evening, is that understood?” he asked.
“Indeed, my lord. However, every evening…”
“Aye, you will meet me here every evening to tell me how my wards are faring.” At that statement, George walked into the room and filled a glass for him. It was a very bright-red liquid that looked to be wine, but was in fact cow’s blood.
“Are you finished?” Gabriel asked.
“Aye, my lord.”
“Then I suggest you retire to your room. Your duties will begin early tomorrow morning.”
With that said Emma quickly stood and quit the room. Butterflies flew vastly inside of her stomach at his person and his voice. Emma felt as if she was in very big trouble and was not sure as to why. She was undressed for bed, and another thought struck her. The house was completely devoid of mirrors. She was too ill earlier to notice. Now that was very odd indeed.
Morning came quickly, and Emma was dressed and readied in the schoolroom for her charges. Two little people walked in and stopped at her presence, a small boy and an equally tiny girl. Both were of fair hair and skin. They looked at her as if she was a crazed monster ready to attack them. To put them both at ease, she stretched her arm out to their desks and said, “Sit please, let us get to know each other before we start our lessons.”
“We don’t want you here,” the little girl said.
“We don’t like governesses,” the boy whispered.
Willful children indeed. “Really, why, may I ask? One has to learn their cursive and history and languages if one would like to function within society. Would you both not like to marry and have a family?” she asked in wonder.
The children were silent for but a moment when the girl exclaimed, “We shall stay here with Uncle Gabriel forever! I don’t like boys either. Yuck.”
James stayed silent and stared at Emma in open admiration.
“All right, I now know you want to stay here with your uncle, but would you not like to make him happy? He wants you to learn everything you will need to know. He is paying me to make sure you learn correctly. You would not want to make him disappointed or sad would you?” Emma asked.
Rose stopped and thought for a moment. “I suppose not.”
“I like you…what is your name?” James asked.
“Miss Goodwin, and you are Master James and Lady Rose. Let us sit and begin our day. I will quiz you on what you should already know and see where we need to start. Is that agreeable to you both?”
As the children sat in their chairs, they nodded their heads, but Rose still held rebellion in her eyes. Emma could see she still had much work ahead of her with these two.
She then heard footsteps clear the hallway. It must have been George checking in on her. Rightly he could breathe a sigh of relief. She had these children well in hand.
At the end of the school day, Emma was ready to tear her hair out. These children had been neglecting their studies. There was much work to be done. However, she was up to the task. When the dinner hour struck the children were instructed to take their meal in their rooms. They looked heartbroken and lonely. Emma felt their pain, for her father had instructed her to eat in her room as well. She wanted to say something. However, she knew her place as hired help. There were boundaries one did not cross.
Emma walked to the dining hall much later in the evening after she saw to the children’s needs. They were in bed at a proper time, and Emma could relax a moment before she spoke with the earl. Her head began to pound slightly as she gasped for air. She had had these persistent headaches before and knew this one would last for hours.
She sat down in a seat and was surprised to see the earl walk in shortly behind her.
Gabriel had been standing at the door when she initially walked in. His ability to form into animals and mist was a gift and a curse. He floated high above the hallway as simple air. He saw through the wall as she touched her forehead and gasped. He tried once again to touch her mind and found it closed even tighter. It would seem that her headaches were stopping his ability to read her thoughts.
He formed into his natural state as he walked into the room. As they made eye contact, he felt a sizzle go through his veins. There was something about this woman, who set his blood afire.
He walked to his customary seat and watched as George poured his evening drink. “How are the children faring this day?
“We had a challenging day, the children are…” She stopped her sentence, feeling guilty. No one wanted to hear their children were struggling. In addition, she was afraid she was going to lose the contents in her stomach.
“Please go on. I understand that they are a handful, and they may need extra help. Before their parents died their father had expressed his dissatisfaction with their current governess. I am to guess that they are behind in their studies and need a helping hand?”
Gathering her strength she stated, “Indeed, my lord. They are in need of special attention. I believe we had an excellent start. However, it will take time.”
“Miss Goodwin, I am pleased to hear you have them in hand. They did not give you too much trouble today then?”
“They had a rough start. They believe they do not want to learn and to stay here with you forever. It was quite charming. They seem to really love you,” she said while ending on a small smile.
Gabriel realized he could get lost in her smile. She was a very attractive woman. He shook his head of such thoughts and sipped his drink. The blood this evening was from the local slaughterhouse. Gabriel rarely took blood from humans, save for once every six months. Over the years he learned how long he could go without fresh blood before his body began to protest. He had learned what he needed from William, the vampire that gave him a guiding hand after he was changed, the same man who betrayed his trust. William Arthur Huntington, son of a knight, was a man who craved being a true part of nobility. His father’s knighthood and small keep was pittance for what he really craved, money, a higher title, sex, and blood. Brought out from his musings by Mercy, he stilled his dark thoughts.
However, looking at the delicious creature seated next to him, he must say that his cock was as hard as his fangs. He felt the pinch of the extended teeth and willed them back. Gabriel found himself nodding in agreement to her words instead of responding. He did not want to frighten her with the monster he was.
Eventually, after some more inane conversation about the children’s education, he was able to ask her, “You said yesterday, that you heard of the post from a passing stranger in London. I know very few people in London. Do you recall the name of the person of whom you spoke with?”