Page 5 of Merry Miss

A prince! Jack chuffed.

Either she’d hit her head or escaped from Bedlam.

“Do you need a hand?” Cyril shouted above the wind from behind him. By now the efficient driver had hopped down from his box and was walking around the horses, smoothing his hands along their sides and no doubt crooning words of encouragement.

As all good drivers did.

“I’ve got her,” Jack yelled back and then sighed down at this forlorn little wretch. “Can you walk?” As pretty as she was, he had no intention of allowing his driver, his horses, nor himself to freeze to death on her behalf. “We can’t stay out here all day.”

Without waiting for an answer, he slid one hand under her back to sit her up.

“I think so. I’m not hurt.” Perhaps she wasn’t a simpleton after all. “Just cold and wet, and I might even be a little lost.” She shook her head as though to dispel cobwebs.

“Did you hit your head?”

“No.” But she was glancing around, still looking confused. “I landed in the snow.”

Pulling her upright, Jack vaguely noted that her hair fell past her waist. He didn’t have time for this.

Impatiently scooping one arm beneath her knees and the other around her back, Jack lifted her out of the snow and began marching back to his carriage.

She didn’t fight; she clutched onto him tightly. “You are saving me. Even though I’m far too heavy. You aren’t a highwayman, are you?”

“Just a weary traveler, madam.” Jack would have laughed out loud both at the notion that he was saving her and also that she would cling to someone who she thought might pose a danger to her safety. “Do you know your name?”

“You are a my very own Christmas miracle.” She sounded awestruck and stared at him as though she actually believed such nonsense.

“A name, madam, do you have a name?”

“Delia,” she answered. “Miss Delia Somerset.”

If she lived locally, the name would be familiar to him. It was not.

He arrived at the carriage and, exasperated, hefted her inside. “There is a brick at the foot of the front-facing seat.” Only after she’d scrambled onto the bench did Jack climb back inside himself and claim the spot beside her.

She narrowed her eyes when they lurched into motion and then widened them. “My spectacles! I lost my spectacles!”

So much for Christmas miracles.

“You’re lucky that’s all you lost.” Jack exhaled through his nostrils.

“And my valise! And reticule! I have to go back.”

“Too late for that.”

She raised a fist to her mouth, her gloves soaked and muddy. As were her coat and shoes. “But…” She twisted to peer out the window behind them. “They hold all my earthly belongings.”

Jack felt a minuscule sliver of guilt but shrugged. “They can be replaced. Our lives cannot.” A bit dramatic to be sure, but he wasn’t about to put all of them in danger by having his driver turn around so they could go in search of a few fripperies and a pair of spectacles.

She turned away from the window to stare back at him. “Of course, you are right.” A shiver rolled through her very feminine frame, and she hugged her arms in front of her. “I… I. Thank you. I would have perished back there if you hadn’t come along.”

She spoke like a lady, but no woman of gentility would presume to walk alone as she had. Certainly not with her hair hanging loose.

And yet, the conflicting nature she presented was surprisingly appealing.

“What, in God’s name, were you doing walking around in the middle of this godforsaken blizzard?” Not that he cared, but he was mildly curious.

“I’ve traveled from London to take up new employment.” She bit her lip. “In Old St. Vincentshire.”

Tags: Annabelle Anders Historical
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