Nine Months to Redeem Him

By: Jennie Lucas


I never would have agreed to a job like this three weeks ago. A lot had changed since then. Everything I’d thought I could count on had fallen apart.

The Range Rover picked up speed as we neared the castle on the edge of the ocean’s cliff. Passing beneath a wrought iron gate carved into the shape of sea serpents and clinging vines, we entered a courtyard. The vehicle stopped. Gray stone walls pressing in upon all sides, beneath the gray rain.

For a moment, I sat still, clutching my handbag in my lap.

“‘Consider a carpet,’” I whispered to myself, quoting Mrs. Warreldy-Gribbley, the author of the book. “‘Be silent and deferential and endure, and expect to be trod upon.’”

I could do that. Surely, I could do that. How hard could it be, to remain silent and deferential and endure?

The SUV’s door opened. A large umbrella appeared, held by an elderly woman. “Miss Maywood?” She sniffed. “Took you long enough.”

“Um...”

“I’m Mrs. MacWhirter, the housekeeper,” she said, as two men got my suitcase. “This way, if you please.”

“Thank you.” As I stepped out of the car, I looked up at the moss-laden castle. It was the first of November. This close up, Penryth Hall looked even more haunted. A good place to heal, I told myself firmly. But that was a lie. It was a place to hide.

I shivered as drops of cold rain ran down my hair and jacket. Ahead of me, the housekeeper waved the umbrella with a scowl.

“Miss Maywood?”

“Sorry.” Stepping forward, I gave her an attempt at a smile. “Please call me Diana.”

She looked disapprovingly at my smile. “The master’s been expecting you for ages.”

“Master...” I snorted at the word, then saw her humorless expression and straightened with a cough. “Oh. Right. I’m terribly sorry. My plane was late...”

She shook her head, as if to show what she thought of airlines’ lackluster schedules. “Mr. St. Cyr requested you be brought to his study immediately.”

“Mr. St. Cyr? That is his name? The elderly gentleman?”

Her eyes goggled at the word elderly. “Edward St. Cyr is his name, yes.” She looked at me, as if wondering what kind of idiot would agree to work for a man whose name she did not know. A question I was asking myself at the moment. “This way.”

I followed, feeling wet and cold and tired and grumpy. Master, I thought, irritated. What was this, Wuthering Heights?— The original novel, I mean, not the (very loosely) adapted teleplay that my stepfather had turned into a cable television miniseries last year, with a pouty-lipped starlet as Cathy, and so much raunchy sex that Emily Brontë was probably still turning in her grave. But the show had been a big hit, which just went to show that maybe I was every bit as naïve as Howard claimed. “Wake up and smell the coffee, kitten,” he’d said kindly. “Sex is what people care about. Sex and money.”

I’d disagreed vehemently, but I’d been wrong. Clearly. Because here I was, six thousand miles from home, alone in a strange castle.

But even here, between the old suits of armor and tapestries, I saw a sleek modern laptop on a table. I’d purposefully left my phone and tablet in Beverly Hills, to escape it all. But it seemed even here, I couldn’t completely get away. A bead of sweat lifted to my forehead. I wouldn’t look to see what they were doing, I wouldn’t...

“In here, miss.” Mrs. MacWhirter led me into a starkly masculine study, with dark wood furnishings and a fire in the fireplace. I braced myself to face an elderly, infirm, probably cranky old gentleman. But there was no one. Frowning, I turned back to the housekeeper.

“Where is—”

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