Marcus sat at the table sipping his coffee, while observing Jason. He was not surprised that Lilly suspected him of cheating, and was only too happy to oblige her in keeping an eye on him.
At the same time that Marcus was observing Jason, Jacques seated at the far end of the table, watched Marcus. He wondered why Lilly and Karl were in deep conversation with him, last night. The three had spent sometime together, and then again this morning after closing. His instinct told him that Lilly was in trouble, and he knew he shouldn't be jealous, but he wondered why she had not asked him for help. He realized he never gave her much encouragement to ask him, but he felt she should know how he feels about her after all those years working together at her husband's casino in France. He had idolized her then, knowing she was a married woman and completely devoted to her husband. He still felt the same way about her now, but could not bring himself to flirt with her as he did with other women. One thing he knew he must do, and that was to offer his help if there were problems.
Having made the decision, Jacques left the table and went in search of Lilly. He found her in the office, engrossed in the papers in front of her. When she saw him, she smiled and offered him to sit down.
"Jacques! You do not often come to see me. Is there something wrong?" Lilly asked, hoping this visit was for something other than work related.
Sitting across the width of the desk, Jacques gazed at his beautiful idol, with her warm golden brown eyes, her soft lips turned up in a smile, and he forgot that he had meant to speak to her casually about offering his help.
"Lilly, you and I have known each other for years. We have worked together, and have been through so many hard times in France," Jacques said seriously, leaning forward in his chair to gauge her reaction.
"I feel there is something wrong these past few days, and you know you can count on me to help you. You know I would do anything for you," he said, his eyes searching hers.
What he saw in her eyes surprised him, and gave him more confidence, for it reflected the same love that he felt for her. Acting on instinct, knowing he would never find a better opportunity to let her know how he felt, Jacques rose from the chair, went around the desk and knelt beside her chair.
"Lilly, do you know how I feel about you? I have loved you for years, and could only keep my distance and worship you from afar. Tell me it is possible that you feel the same about me," he pleaded.
Lilly put her hand on his cheek, while tears of happiness glistened in her eyes.
"Oh Jacques, I have waited a long time to hear you say that. You know that I loved my husband, but there was always a special place in my heart for you. After he died last year, you were there to comfort me, but you had never shown more than friendship toward me. At the time I appreciated it, but now I need more than your friendship Jacques, I need you," she declared, as she leaned forward to kiss him.
Bringing her to her feet, Jacques held her in an embrace, whispering the words of love that he had only held in his heart these past years. A few minutes later, he moved away just enough to look in her eyes.
"You are in trouble, are you not, my love?"
"It is not exactly trouble yet, Jacques. It is only that we have someone who has been cheating. Sarah has found that the past three nights our house profits have been dropping in a definite pattern throughout the evening. Last night, we found that it was Jason, working with Sir Vincent Hargrave. I've asked Marcus to watch him today and follow him if he should go anywhere."
"Marcus! Why did you not ask me?" Jacques said angrily.
"Because he was the only one not at the tables, and Marcus could see from his position at the bar," Lilly said.
"Would you have asked for my help, Lilly, if I had not come in here?" Jacques asked.
"I didn't see any reason to bother you about it yet, since we could do nothing until we found out what Jason was up to," Lilly answered, and seeing his hurt look, she added, "Of course, I intended to tell you, as soon as I knew."
Holding her close again, he kissed her passionately, then murmured again her lips, "I want you to depend on me Lilly, I want to be the one to take care of you. Promise me you will come to me when you need help."
Melting against him, Lilly nodded as she kissed him, glad to have someone to lean on again, and to share her problems.
Jason left in the afternoon as he did the day before, and Marcus followed at a distance, keeping him in view. He watched Jason get into a carriage on Piccadilly, then slowly it pulled back into the congested traffic. Marcus followed on foot since the carriage was moving as such a slow pace.
"Still no suspicion?" Sir Vincent asked as he handed Jason the leather pouch.
"I told you not to worry," Jason said gruffly.
"Yes, I know, but I am a cautious man," he answered.
"Oh . . . I did find out which Earl our girl, Sarah, is related to . . . it is the Earl of Cranleigh," said Jason as he put the pouch in his side pocket of his coat.
"Really! Well, well . . . that is news. He is quite high up in parliament, and has good connections. This information may be very useful," Sir Vincent said with a satisfied smile, as he tapped the roof for the driver to stop.
Marcus watched as the carriage stopped. Jason stepped out, then turned, walking in the direction toward Marcus. Marcus quickly crossed the street and continued on further, keeping the carriage in view as it pulled in front of a tobacco shop, and a footman hopped down, conversed with the passenger then entered the shop. Marcus casually walked by, and glanced at the passenger waiting inside the carriage. Having identified him as Sir Vincent, he headed back to report to Lilly.
Marcus walked up to the office door, and with a quick light tap, entered.
"I beg your pardon!" Marcus said flustered, as Lilly and Jacques broke their embrace at his entrance.
"Come in Marcus, now that you are here," Lilly said happily, still in a euphoria with the sudden declaration from Jacques.
Jacques still had his arm around Lilly's waist possessively, as he nodded to Marcus.
"I can come back later if you prefer," Marcus said, as he retreated to the doorway.
"No, I prefer you to stay, and please shut the door," Lilly said quietly. Marcus turned and shut the door, then faced Lilly again.
"I assume you have something to tell me. It is all right, for Jacques knows where you have been," Lilly said.
Smiling at Jacques, in apparent relief. Marcus said, "I followed Jason, and he got in a carriage on Piccadilly, rode for a short distance, then got out and headed back here. I followed the carriage where it stopped by a tobacco shop. When I walked passed I noticed the passenger was Sir Vincent, our customer from last night."
"Well, that settles it, now I have to decide what to do," Lilly said thoughtfully.
"Why don't you let Jacques and I take care of him? We can certainly make him sorry he has ever contemplated cheating," Marcus said maliciously.
"That appeals to me, and certainly you will have to bar Sir Vincent from the House. Being a member of the peerage, I doubt if there is much more you can do to him," Jacques agreed, then added, "Whatever you decide, you cannot just dismiss Jason, and let him walk out without some punishment. He will just go somewhere else to do his dirty work."
"We should at least break his fingers, so he cannot play cards anymore," Marcus suggested.
"I think we need Karl in here too. Marcus, he should be in his room, bring him in will you please?" Lilly asked.
Nodding, Marcus left the room.
"Lilly, I do not want you confronting Jason alone. We will stay with you, while you talk to him," Jacques said, as he held her face in his hand, then unable to resist he kissed her lightly.
When the door opened, Jacques stepped back and leaned against the desk as Marcus entered.
Lilly asked them all to sit down while they discussed a plan of action. After a final decision was made, Lilly asked what Jason was doing now.
"He has been going up to Rachel's room every afternoon between three and five," Marcus volunteered.
"Rachel's?" Lilly asked in surprise.
"He seems to like his pleasure in the afternoon, which really is the only time with the hours we keep. After all, the girls are available and Rachel seemed to take a fancy to him," he shrugged.
"Karl, I want you to search Jason's room . . . see how much money he has with him. Marcus and Jacques can detain Jason, if necessary, to keep him out of the way. I'll go up and speak to Sarah to get an estimate, so we will know how much we should have gained on those nights," Lilly said.
Adam strolled into the parlor of the Kensington Estate, where his mother and father were enjoying their afternoon tea. Looking up, his mother gave him a smile.
"Well, this is a surprise! You do not often come to have tea with us," Lady Lyndmere admonished.
"I know Mother, but you would be bored seeing me too often," Adam said, as he bent to kiss his mother's cheek.
"Well, at least when we see you, we know you are not at some mill or out racing," Lord Lyndmere said wryly.
"I do wish you would be more careful in your enterprises, Adam. Then I would not worry so much about you," his mother said, handing him a cup of tea.
"No need to worry, Mother, it has been awhile since I've been into anything the least bit worrisome," Adam answered as he took his seat.
"I imagine that is due to Sir Roger having left you without a partner for all your adventures. By Jove, it was a shock to hear of his elopement! Did you know the girl?" his father asked.
Adam shook his head, then took another sip of tea, not knowing what to say about the girl from Lilly's place. He thought he had better get to his reason for being here now, before they start asking any further questions about her.
"Speaking of girls, Father, I would like to know if you and Mother would mind if I had a girl come and stay here for a while."
Gazing at their shocked faces, Adam laughed and quickly continued, "No, do not get the wrong idea! This girl is in need of a home, until I can see to a proper place for her. Her parents are dead, and she is sort of staying at a place that is not quite up to . . . uh . . . her usual standard of living," he finished clumsily.
"Adam, what are you saying? You want us to take in an orphan child?" his mother asked with interest. She has always volunteered her time to helping the poor and homeless children, collecting for charities, and speaking out to any parliament member, who would listen, for the need to have conditions improved for widows and orphans.
Laughing, Adam said, "Not a child, Mother, she is about two and twenty . . . from what Sir Roger tells me."
"This is a friend of Sir Roger's? What sort of friend?" his father asked suspiciously, hoping it was not an ex-mistress Roger had left without a protector when he eloped.
"Actually, she was Sir Roger's neighbor at his estate in Oxfordshire. Her name is Lady Sarah Prescott, and she is the daughter of the last Earl of Cranleigh, the new Earl is her cousin," Adam explained.
"An Earl's daughter? Lady Sarah Prescott . . . hmm . . . I do not recall having met her. What was her mother's name?" his mother asked.
"That I do not know. To tell the truth, I know very little about her. I understand Lady Sarah hasn't been to London before, and does not know anyone here."
"The former Earl, her father, has not been around for years . . . I knew he had passed away . . . but even before that, he hardly spent anytime in London . . . nor his wife. I cannot remember he had ever attended the House of Lords . . . unusual to spend all his time in the country, but I imagine after his wife passed away, he probably did not want to socialize," Lord Lyndmere surmised.
"Oh yes . . . I do remember hearing about his wife. She passed away about five years ago, of an illness I believe," his mother added. "Everyone was surprised, for they had heard about it sometime afterwards, as her husband did not even send a notice to the paper. For that matter, neither was there a notice of his death."
"I would think the daughter probably had too much on her mind to worry about notices, Mother," Adam said, wondering how Sarah had managed to handle all the necessary arrangements that would have to be made while she was still grieving.
"Why isn't this young lady staying at the Earl's estate?" inquired his father. He had never liked the present Earl, one of the reasons being they were not in the same political party.
"I am not sure of why he hasn't asked her to stay, after all that was her home, but I'm going to see her this afternoon. As a matter of fact, I should be leaving now," he said, pulling out his watch to check the time. "I thought I would bring her by tomorrow for a visit, so you may meet her. That is . . . if I can talk her into it," Adam said, not sure she would appreciate his interference in her life, since she seems to want to be independent. Even as the thought went through his head, he still could not let her stay there, living at that gambling place, no matter how independent.
"We would be delighted to meet her. Do bring her by, Adam," his mother said, hoping that maybe she could make a match with this Earl's daughter since her son is already concerned about the girl's welfare. She was determined to get Adam married, so that he can start on his nursery to produce an heir.
After Adam left, Lord Lyndmere said, "I wouldn't blame the gel for not wanting to live with Lord Cranleigh. He is hard to take just being in a conversation with him. I try to keep my distance every time we're at the same gathering."
"Well, maybe in that case, we should do everything we can to make her feel welcome here," said Lady Lyndmere, already working on her plans of matchmaking.
Lilly entered Sarah's office, as she was just putting the ledgers away.
"Sorry to interrupt, Sarah. Please do not put those away yet, I want you to give me an estimate of what we should have made for those nights according to our previous take," Lilly said as she sat down in the chair by the desk.
"I have that already, Madame," Sarah said reaching for some papers in a file folder.
"Please call me Lilly. Everyone does."
"Thank you . . . Lilly," Sarah said smiling as she handed the papers to her.
"Don't forget that Lord Townsend will be here at five. If you like, I will send him up to your office for more privacy. I would imagine you would have a lot to ask him," Lilly said, silently praying that Lord Townsend would not be around at the time they talked to Jason. At least he would be up here on the third floor out of the way.
"Actually, I do not know what to say to him, except to inquire as to how Sir Roger is getting along, and if he had heard from him. I think it is quite exciting and romantic the way they left for America," Sarah said wistfully.
"Ah yes, quite romantic!" Lilly laughed, remembering how Sir Roger stumbled through his explanation of his intention to marry Anne. "I'll have Mrs. Kirby sent up some refreshments after Lord Townsend arrives. Don't forget we will be closed tomorrow. It is Sunday. So, if he asks to take you for a drive or anything, you are free to go," Lilly said, as she turned to leave, hoping he would to just that. She would like to see Sarah have some fun for a change
Returning to her office, Lilly found Karl patiently waiting. Closing the door, she looked at the leather pouch he was holding.
"I see you found something. Did you check it?" she asked.
"Yes. He has almost thirty-two thousand pounds here," he answered, setting the pouch on the table.
"Which means if they had shared equally, we have lost more than sixty-four thousand pounds in the last three nights," she said, sitting down at her desk to scan the papers Sarah had prepared. "According to this, Sarah estimates it to be about seventy thousand pounds, from four gaming tables. She averaged it out using the percentages of what we have previously made on these tables since opening, and allowing for the steady increase in business. Our entrance fees have shown that our clientele has increased considerably."
"I am surprised that they did not take more, while they were at it," Karl said wryly.
"Probably not to alert our suspicion, and also they must have been planning on doing this every evening for a slow escalation of their wealth. Who knows how long it would have gone on, especially since I hated to tackle those accounts since Armand had left," she sighed, tossing the paper on the desk. "When Lord Townsend arrives at five, and I take him upstairs to Sarah, bring Jason in here. I want this taken care of before we open for business. When Sir Vincent arrives tonight I will talk to him. After I show him a signed confession from Jason, we should be able to get him to return the money or sign a voucher for the amount."
Karl was at the door at the time Viscount Adam Townsend arrived. Lilly came out of her office to greet him, then led the way upstairs to Sarah's office.
"Sarah, this is Lord Townsend. I believe you have already met," Lilly said smiling as she ushered Adam into the office.
Sarah was standing by the window as he entered the room. Adam looked at her and the light from the window shining on the red hair now highlighted by gold from the light. She was dressed in a white dress, sprigged with green bordering the neckline and hem. She looked like a breath of spring to him, as he smiled at her.
"Good afternoon, my lord." Sarah felt the heat in her face, knowing she must be blushing. He was so handsome when he smiled and his silver grey eyes glinted with amusement.
"Lady Sarah, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you again," he said as he came to her and raised her hand to his lips. He watched her green eyes widen in surprise.
"I will leave you two, for I have an appointment downstairs. Mrs. Kirby will be along shortly with refreshments," Lilly said as she turned to leave.
"Won't you sit down, Lord Townsend?" Sarah said as she sat down on the sofa by the fireplace.
Instead of sitting on one of the chairs, he elected to sit on the sofa with her leaving a distance between them, so he could face her in conversation. Before they were able to commence, Mrs. Kirby brought in a tray and sat in on the table by Sarah, then discreetly took her leave.
"Would you prefer wine or tea, Lord Townsend?" Sarah asked.
"Wine please. How have you been, Lady Sarah?" he asked politely while she filled the glass and handed it to him.
"Oh, I have been fine. Have you heard from Sir Roger since his marriage? I understand they were going to America. It certainly was a pleasant surprise when I had heard about it, for I did not know that he and Anne knew each other. I had just met her a few days ago, and I like Anne, she is a very nice girl," Sarah said breathlessly. She blushed knowing she was babbling on, but she was so nervous sitting here with him.
Adam watched the color heighten in her creamy complexion, and he smiled. He could tell she was nervous and hoped he would be able to ease her tension.
"No, I am sorry I did not see Roger before he left. He had left a message at my house while I was in Kent. It was a complete surprise to me, also, for that is the last thing I ever expected Roger to do! Especially, since Roger did not know her any longer than you . . . he had just met her the day before they ran off," Adam said, shaking his head, still in shock of what his friend had done.
"Oh! I did not know!" Sarah said surprised and lowered her eyes to the tea cup she held in her hand.
During this short silence, Adam had been appraising the tastefully decorated room. He noticed the connecting door, and surmised it was her bedroom. Even though he appreciated her comfortable living arrangement, he was still aware that just below them were bedrooms that the women used for entertaining gentlemen, and below that floor was the gaming area. This was not the place for a respectable woman to be housed, let alone work here.
"Lady Sarah, also in that message that Roger had left for me, was his concern for your welfare, and he explicitly asked that I help you," he said.
"Oh, but I do not need any help!" she said embarrassed, remembering that he was here for only that reason, and not because he wished to see her again.
"I am afraid you do. You are too young and innocent to be staying in a place like this," he said as he looked into those beautiful green eyes.
Sarah put down her cup, her hands were shaking and she folded them in her lap so he would not notice. She wished he would not look at her that way, as if she were a little girl and did not know what she was about. She may not be like the other women here, so experienced and sure of themselves, but she did not like to be reminded that she was naive, especially from this handsome man.
"I am very happy here, Lord Townsend. Everyone is so kind to me, and I really like my job. I feel useful, and I am earning my own money. So you see, I do not have to depend on someone else to see to my welfare. I appreciate your kindness, but if that is the reason you came . . . I do not think we have anything more to say to each other," she said as she stared at her clasped hands. She did not want to look in his eyes again. Afraid he would see her embarrassment.
Adam sat down his wine glass. Leaning toward her, he reached out with his hand and lifted her chin, turning her face toward him. He could see the hurt look in her eyes and felt he had handled this badly.
"That is not the only reason I came to see you. I came because I wanted to see you again. I would like to take you out tomorrow for a drive, my lady. Would you do me the honor?" he said gently, as his finger lightly caressed her cheek. He watched her eyes widen then his eyes dropped to her lips that were slightly parted, he could feel himself leaning closer before he came to his senses. Clearing his throat, he sat back and withdrew his hand from her face, and picked up his wine glass.
Pulling herself together from that strange fascination she felt when he was so close, she straightened her skirt and answered in a quiet voice. "Thank you, Lord Townsend, I would like to accompany you for a drive tomorrow. I have not seen much of London since arriving here. The business will be closed tomorrow, and I will have a day off."
"Excellent!" Adam said smiling, "Now that we have that settled, tell me about your days with Roger when you were young. I did not know him at that time, but I could well imagine Roger finding himself in quite a few scrapes," he urged, turning the conversation to lighten the emotional tension that had filled the room.
He watched Sarah's expressive face as she recalled the times when she and Roger, cavorted in the country, playing pranks. She was a beautiful young lady, and should not be sitting here alone with a man. He was angry at himself for almost taking advantage of her a moment ago when the temptation to kiss her had overpowered him. She is not chaperoned during visits, and it could just as well have been another man alone here with her. Someone who would not have stopped in time. At that thought, he felt an urgency to get her away from this place.
Karl met Jacques and Marcus in the ladies' parlor where they were waiting. Marcus pointed upstairs and said, "He is just leaving Rachel's room."
At that moment Jason came down the stairs, running his fingers through his hair. When he got to the bottom step, he stopped, noticing the three men standing there. He looked at them with a questioning lift of his eyebrow.
"Jason, Miss Lilly wants to see you in her office," Karl said, leaving no room for debate as he motioned Jason ahead of him.
"Are we having a meeting?" he asked, seeing that Jacques and Marcus were following.
"You might say that," Karl said, as he opened the office door.
When they entered, Lilly motioned for them to have a seat, indicating to Jason to sit at the one by her desk. As he sat, he glanced up and noticed the others were not sitting down, but standing around him. This made him nervous. He began to feel something was wrong, and that they suspected him. The best thing to do, was to bluff his way through it.
In a light-hearted manner, he said, "Are we waiting for the others to join us for the meeting? Would you like me to find them for you?"
"No, Jason, there will be no others," she said, as she sat the leather pouch on the desk.
Jason sat forward in his chair recognizing the pouch as his own, and was about to reach out when he thought better of it.
"I see you do know what this is, Jason. I am sorry that I misjudged you by thinking you're an honorable man. I am not going to bother asking for a reason, for I do not care to hear it. What I do want to hear is how much was the total amount your cheating cost us, and how much did you give to Sir Vincent Hargrave," Lilly said coldly.
Jason started to get up, but was quickly pushed back into the chair by hands on both sides of him. No one said a word as they waited for Jason's answer. Jason nervously wiped sweaty palms on his thighs, as he tried to think of how to get out of this.
Lilly put a bottle of ink, a pen and blank paper in front of Jason. "Start writing your confession, Jason. Do not leave out Sir Vincent in your writings. I want to know how much."
"I don't know what you're talking about . . . or anything about Sir Vincent. That is my money which I have been saving," he stammered.
"We have proof, Jason," as she waved a sheaf of papers. "Sarah has found the discrepancy in the accounts from the receipts of the last three nights. We have been watching you, and Sir Vincent. We know about your meeting him in the carriage in the afternoons. So, Jason, start writing or you may never write or play cards again," Lilly said, as she pointed to the pen and paper.
Karl came around to the side of the desk, and started fidgeting with the marble swan paperweight. Jason was not looking at him he was staring at the paper, and perspiration was beading his forehead. His left hand was laying next to the paper, where he nervously tapped his fingers.
Jason looked up at Lilly and said in a trembling voice, "I can't . . . Sir Vincent will have me thrown in Newgate Prison . . . he said he would see to it that charges were filed against me that would send me to the gallows, if I ever mentioned his name to anybody . . . don't you see? ....it would mean my death if I confessed to anything about him."
In a quick move, Karl lifted the paperweight and brought it down with a forceful blow, smashing Jason's fingers. Jason let out an agonizing scream before Jacques could cover his mouth.
Adam was just coming down the stair, with his thoughts still on Sarah and how lovely she looked, when he heard the scream come from the office. Acting on simple reflex at a sign of someone in trouble, he ran to the office and threw open the door. Everyone turned in surprise as the door flew open. Adam quickly appraised the scene in front of him. The three men stood around one man sitting and cradling his hand in his lap. Lilly had quickly risen from her chair at the sight of him. From their look, Adam knew he should not have intruded.
"I heard a scream as I passed by, and thought someone was in trouble," Adam said as his eyes fell on the man sitting in the chair in obvious pain.
Lilly quickly came across the room with a smile on her face, "Oh, do not concern yourself, Lord Townsend, it was my fault. I was showing my new paperweight to the gentlemen, and I accidently dropped it . . . and it landed on poor Jason's hand," she said, as she took Adam's arm to lead him back out the door. "We will take care of him. Did you have a nice visit with Sarah?"
Knowing he was not wanted in the room, he let her lead him out. "Yes, we had a lovely visit. I have asked her to go for a drive with me tomorrow. She said that it was her day off. Oh, she did mention that I should pick her up at the back entrance, as your employees do not use the front."
"Yes, that is correct. If the gentlemen walking down Jermyn Street saw the ladies exiting during the day, I am afraid we would have them hanging around in front all of the time waiting for them to come out," she laughed. "Someone is always in the back area, so when you arrive, they will let Sarah know that you are here."
"Thank you, Madame Monainge, for your courtesy," he said as he bowed to her before he left. Karl was right behind him when he turned toward the door that stood open waiting for him to leave.
Stepping into his carriage, Adam had an urge to go back in and take Sarah out of there immediately. Something was going on in that place, and he did not want her to come to any harm. But he knew they would not let him back in today. He was already wishing it was tomorrow afternoon so he could pick her up.
Lilly sat back down at her desk, as Jacques was wrapping Jason's handkerchief around the smashed fingers.
"Sign the confession Jason. Did you split fifty-fifty with Sir Vincent?" Lilly asked, and getting a nod of confirmation from Jason, she continued. "Put in all in writing and we will have you escorted to Dover, and out of England. I will give you a few thousand pounds, which you know you do not deserve. I do not want Sir Vincent to be able to get his hands on you to send you to Newgate. As much as I hate your cheating me, I do not want to see you hang."
With a sigh, and a grateful look to Lilly, Jason picked up the pen and wrote his confession. While he was writing, Marcus went up and packed Jason's portmanteau and brought it back down to the office. Jacques had left to get the escort to Dover, a friend that they would use on occasions, and who was thoroughly trustworthy. By the time he was back, Jason had finished writing, and Lilly had wrapped his hand in a sturdier binding, with a black silk scarf for a sling to protect it.
"Why did you not leave on your own, so Sir Vincent could not get to you? You could have been long gone with the amount of money you had," Jacques said wryly.
"That is ironic, isn't it? I had planned to do just that maybe next week, after I had more money. I wanted to go to America and open my own Gambling House in New Orleans. Now, by being greedy, I will barely make it to the Continent. But of course, I would not have been able to do even that, if Lilly had not been generous to me after what I had done to her."
As he was being escorted to the door, Jason saw Rachel standing by the gaming room entrance with a look of confusion, as she stared at the portmanteau, then at Jacques and Marcus holding Jason's arms, she noticed the sling and his wrapped hand.
"Jason? Where are you going? What is wrong with your hand?" Rachel asked anxiously, her turquoise eyes searching his face.
Glancing at Lilly, who nodded slightly, Jacques and Marcus let go of Jason's arms, so he could say his farewell to Rachel. Jason walked over to her, and with his good arm he pulled her close and whispered in her ear. Her silky, chestnut hair brushed against his cheek.
"Don't worry, love, I will write to you and explain everything. I won't send it here, but check at the St. Giles posting station for mail. I'll miss you, my sweet Rachel," he said gently, and kissed her lightly, before backing away.
Reaching the door he turned to Lilly, with a look of regret, "I'm
sorry, Lilly, but as I said, Sir Vincent left me no choice . . . he picked
your place and set this up," Jason shrugged, then walked out the door.
After the door closed, Lilly, with tears in her eyes, went up to her room
to change for the evening.
* * * *
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