Page 41 of Knight of Destiny

Aaron grasped hold of the front of the boy’s shirt. “Miss Dunston is spoken for by me. Just see you don’t mistreat her, or any other woman for that matter, with such disdain again.”

“I swear to you it won’t happen again,” Jeffery said. He held out a five-pound note. “For her cause.”

Snatching the note from his hand, Aaron waited for him to return to the shop, the door slamming in his wake. He then turned to scold Miss Dunston for her poor judgment in coming into the alley in the first place.

Only, he found he could not. Her lovely blue eyes were rimmed in red, and tears trickled down her cheeks.

“I… I should have not met him alone,” she murmured. “I feel so foolish.”

Her pain tore at his heart. Before he could stop himself, Aaron wrapped his arms around her. She lay her head against his chest and wept.

“It’s over now,” he whispered as he stroked her hair. “You’re safe.”

She lifted her face, and a small smile settled on her lips. “Thank you for saving me, Sir Knight. You truly are a hero.”

Memories of how he had earned his title sneaked into his thoughts. He was no hero but rather a man trying to find his way in life. But oh, she was a lovely creature with her tear-stained cheeks and lovely blonde tresses.

“I’ve learned a lesson today,” she said.

He scrunched his brow. “Is that right? And what did you learn?”

Her face flushed with clear embarrassment. “That although Mr. Venter’s actions were inexcusable, meeting him alone in a shadow-filled alley was not such a wise decision.”

Aaron released her and took a step back. Would he always have to instruct her? “That may be true, but you’ve once again missed the point completely. I tried to warn you, Miss Dunston, but you refused to listen to reason. Your flirtatious ways have finally caught up to you. After today, every man in this village will believe he can get a kiss from you in exchange for a five-pound note! It’s very unladylike and far beneath you to behave so provocatively.”

Miss Dunston placed a hand on her hip and scowled. “Myflirtatious ways? And what can we say about yours? Why is it you are allowed to use your looks to get what you want, but I—being a woman—cannot?”

Aaron’s frustration grew. Were all women this simpleminded? “Men are different from women, Miss Dunston. We’re allowed certain privileges because of where we stand in society.” Miss Dunston went to speak, but he would not allow her to interrupt. “Nevertheless, this matter is the least of your worries. You’ve broken the agreement we made by speaking to Mr. Barker. And by callingmea selfish fool!”

She gaped at him. “He told you that?”

“So, you don’t deny it?” Aaron countered. She lowered her head, and he added, “If you must know, a young boy overheard you. Either way, you cannot be trusted. Since you’ve broken our agreement, I’ll resume my search for investors.”

With a jut to her chin, Miss Dunston replied, “Do as you wish. For I’ll not give up on my quest. I’ll have what I want, Sir Aaron. Just you wait and see!” And with that, she turned away.

“Ha!” he shouted after her. “You know you cannot best me!”

She stopped and turned to glare at him. “What I know is that you’re a stubborn scoundrel, which is why you chose to follow me.” Once again, she turned on her heel.

He hurried after her. “I followed you because I care for you and don’t want to see you hurt.”

Miss Dunston turned around, a deep frown marring her lovely features. “What did you say?”

Aaron’s mind raced. He had been so angry that he had spoken from his heart without thinking. He had suspected that being away from her had left him wanting to see more of her, but this new realization stunned him. Looking down at her, however, he knew he truly did care for her. Perhaps now was the perfect time to express it. Or at least expand on it. They were alone, which would not happen again, he was certain.

Yet his pride wriggled its way into his mind. Any feelings he expressed for her beyond what he had already said she would only use against him. No, he could not repeat what he had said.

“I said you should take care, or you’ll trip, and I don’t want to see you get hurt,” he mumbled.

With a shake of her head, Miss Dunston turned back around and left him standing there alone.

Without her.

And that was a feeling he now despised.

ChapterEighteen

The corridor outside Louisa’s room was filled with the sounds of laughter and hurried talk as the students made their way downstairs for luncheon. Louisa, however, had no appetite, nor had she since her encounter with Mr. Jeffery Venter four days earlier. Since Sir Aaron had shown such bravery, such heroics in saving her from the clutches of a villain.


Tags: Jennifer Monroe Historical
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