Page 86 of Earl of Deception

The headmistress nodded and accepted the correspondence.

Jenny hurried up the stairs but stopped at the door to Ruth’s room. Ruth lay on the bed, a book in her hand.

Without knocking or waiting to be invited in, Jenny flung herself on the bed beside her friend and let out a frustrated sigh. “Are you truly going to board a ship and leave?”

Ruth closed her book and set it aside. “I am. This summer.” A mischievous grin crossed her lips. “Why? Do you want to join me?”

Jenny nodded. “And I don’t care where it lands as long as it’s far away from Lord Dowding!”

Chapter Thirty-Five

Nicholas took out the letter he had received from Jenny two days earlier. His world had collapsed around him. Jenny had told him in no uncertain terms that it was over. He had immediately gone to the school to speak with her, but she refused to see him. What could have brought on this sudden change of heart?

Had Lady Ayles had anything to do with this fiasco? She had threatened to go to Jenny, but what could she possibly hope to gain from meeting with her?

“Dowding,” Lord Walcott said, breaking Nicholas from his thoughts, “if she’s not to leave until tomorrow, why not call over to the school again? She may be willing to hear you out this time.”

Nicholas tossed the letter on the table. “It’s no use. I’ve sent a letter by courier, but he returned without a reply. I spoke to Mrs. Rutley, and she politely informed me that Jenny refuses to see me. I must admit defeat.”

“A friend once told me that there is always hope. You mustn’t surrender until every possibility has been exhausted.”

“Jenny said very much the same.” He gave a wry chuckle. “It’s odd. When we first met, I thought her naive. Now I’ve come to learn that I’ve been the naive one.”

Silence filled the room as Nicholas considered what to do. Despite the late hour, perhaps he should try one last time to see her.

“My lord.”

Nicholas turned to the butler. “Yes?”

“Tibbons received a letter from a courier. He says it’s urgent.”

Bounding from his seat, Nicholas hurried to collect the correspondence. Jenny had finally responded! “Have my carriage prepared,” he said, planning to go to the school immediately.

Osborne gave him a swift bow and left the room.

Yet Nicholas stared at the seal. The letter was not from Jenny but rather from Mr. Thompson.

Lord Walcott rose from his seat. “I should be going. But if you need anything, please, let me know.”

“Thank you,” Nicholas said. “I shall.”

Once Lord Walcott was gone, Nicholas slid a finger beneath the seal and unfolded the parchment.

It’s imperative that we meet. Be at Yeats Park this evening at six. Do not be late.

Nicholas shook his head. Why would Mr. Thompson suddenly wish to meet him after all this time? Had he learned that Jenny had impersonated his son? If so, was he angry with Nicholas for allowing her to do so?

If that was true, he would need to make sure the man’s anger was directed at Nicholas and not at Jenny.

He glanced at the mantel clock and gasped. It was already a quarter to six! How could he possibly make it in time?

With swift steps, he threw on an overcoat and ran down the portico steps. He reached the carriage house just as Tibbons was hitching the second horse to the carriage.

“Mr. Thompson wishes to meet at Yeats Park,” Nicholas said. “Do you think he knows what happened during my meeting with Tulk?”

Tibbons gave a shrug as he placed the step. “I don’t know how he’d find out, my lord. But to ask to meet you face-to-face? It must be important.”

Nicholas nodded and leapt into the carriage. “Make haste, Tibbons. We’re running out of time.”

Tags: Jennifer Monroe Historical
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