His Perfect Bride(6)

By: Jenn Langston

Brianna shrank back from the door, bracing herself for the dreaded moment. As if an immediate answer to her prayer, there was a knock at the door. Her breathing returned as the quick footsteps carried Miss Ashley further away from the wardrobe and Brianna. After some whispered words she was unable to understand, the door once again closed. Hoping Miss Ashley had left, Brianna cursed her misfortune to discover she was once again in the room with the footsteps, only this time there was more than one person present.

“You should not be here,” Miss Ashley exclaimed on the other side of the door.

“I know, but I could not stay away with you being so close.”

It took Brianna a second to identify that the male voice belonged to James, the footman. She had no idea what business he had with the new governess.

They were no longer talking, but she could hear a strange sound coming from within the room. Peering through the crack, she saw a sight that made her blush from her head to her toes. She was correct, it was James, and his lips were sealed against Miss Ashley’s.

It was a kiss unlike any Brianna had ever seen before, and she found she could not tear her eyes from the couple. As she watched, she felt her body reacting strangely, and the desire to experience such a kiss swamped her. Remembering herself, she shifted back from the display before her. To further avoid temptation, she closed her eyes, wishing she could block out the noise as well. Unfortunately, she could not stop the scene from continuing behind her eyelids, as if she had never looked away.

There was a swishing of petticoats and material, and Brianna covered her ears, desperately trying to ignore the sounds and forget what she witnessed. The sound of a female moan broke through her defenses and brought her eyes once again to the crack in the door. If James was hurting Miss Ashley, Brianna would have no choice but to step in. But the sight before her didn’t help confirm, or expel, her concern.

Miss Ashley was lying across the bed with her skirts around her midsection, and James was on top of her. From the expression on Miss Ashley’s face, Brianna decided it was not pain she was feeling. The two of them were moving in a peculiar rhythmic pattern, and Brianna found herself utterly fascinated by their actions. Feeling her body become heated and strange, a wave of embarrassment washed over her. Allowing her better judgment to win out over curiosity, she looked away.

She had no idea how long she sat in the wardrobe, trying to block out the reminders of the strange act occurring in the room with her. When she could no longer stand another minute, she heard a cry, and then the bed springs creaked, indicating the release of pressure. The rustling of clothing continued, but no other odd noises could be heard.

“I have really missed you. I can’t say how glad I am that you are here,” James said.

“I missed you, too. Now, you better get back to work before you are discovered missing,” she replied with a giggle.

“Don’t lock your door tonight. I’ll come to you as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be anxiously waiting.”

There was more kissing, then footsteps, followed by the sound of the door opening then closing. Brianna was glad he was gone, but she was still stuck in an uncomfortable position. As she watched, Miss Ashley returned to the trunks and continued to unpack her belongings.

Discovery was imminent. However, she now had information she could use to prevent her mother from finding out. Knowing her mother would never approve of her daughter’s governess in a relationship with a footman, she savored the knowledge and the help it would award her. After several minutes of waiting, Brianna decided to end her torment and present herself. Lifting her hand, she almost jumped when she heard a knock at Miss Ashley’s door.

“Come in,” Miss Ashley called out.

“I’m sorry to bother you again,” Grace began. “However, I can’t locate Brianna, and I’m worried. Will you help me find her?”

“I’ll be happy to offer any assistance I can. However, I’m unfamiliar with the grounds.”

“Any help is better than none,” Grace assured her.

Once the door closed behind the pair, Brianna sagged her shoulders. After waiting another minute to allow them opportunity to vacate the hallway, she was finally able to leave the wardrobe and slip out of the bedchamber. Taking the servants’ passages, she made her way out to the garden to secure her alibi.

The garden in their London home was not as large as the one at Ransley, but it was still impressive. Her father, Bradley Denton, Earl of Ransley, loved to display his wealth, and the garden certainly lived up to his high expectations. Denton House, too, was in her father’s style, allowing her mother to host extravagant balls throughout the Season.

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