The Counterfeit Governess – Part Nineteen

Nineteen – The Lures of Temptation   As soon as his right arm encircled her lower back, Beth found herself yielding to Stephen’s enticing, as if it were the most natural thing to do. He took her right hand into his left one, inducing her to place her other hand on his shoulder. When he started moving in a circular way, she felt the muscles in that shoulder shift and flex in a most agreeable manner. He was strong and well-built and … very male, with the faint scent of cologne and tobacco assaulting her senses, making her body respond … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Eighteen

Eighteen – A Time For Reflection   Mrs Bradley’s funeral occurred on the Tuesday before Christmas 1819. It was a remarkable event with the whole village and the occupants of Brixton Abbey attending the service at St Mary’s church. The Reverend Mr Carter, assisted by his curate, Mr Sage, moved the congregation to tears with his praise of Mrs Bradley’s virtues, all of which were only very true, as Stephen knew. His children were sitting very still and white-faced, clasping their governess’ hands as they sat on both sides of her. Stephen could clearly see their distress but also, their … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Seventeen

Seventeen – A Great Sorrow   “Oh, Miss Williams, Granny Bradley is so very ill! The fever will not abate, and I am at the end of my tether!” Ruby wrung her hands in despair and sobbed inconsolably. Beth quickly ran past her and entered the cottage. Mrs Bradley’s body on the bed seemed to have shrunken so much that Beth was instantly in a panic. Ruby had covered her with a cotton sheet but Beth could see the ravishing effects of the fever all too well. The old lady’s face was ashen but her cheeks bore bright red spots … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Sixteen

Sixteen – Coming Closer   Struggling for balance, Beth gripped the edge of the desk and prayed her legs would not buckle beneath her. All the blood seemed to drain from her face and the air from her lungs. It should be declared a crime to be so overwhelmingly handsome as Stephen was looking just now, she thought. His proud bearings, his powerful body, his beloved face, eyes as blue as ice on a sunny winter day, eyes scorching hers. No, she was wrong. Eyes softening suddenly as if … no, that could not be! Before her incredulous gaze, he … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Fifteen

Fifteen – Struggling   “Confound it, man!” Fenton glared at Ben Merton in frustration and raked his hand through his hair in sudden misery. “Does it not occur to you that I might be worried about my children? That I am concerned if they are safe, fed, clothed, cared for?” He realized with a shock that it was true! He did worry about his children, even though he had never done so before. But now, at this very moment, he needed to know how they fared. Merton, however,  stood his ground, an expression of profound stubbornness upon his ruddy face. … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Fourteen

Fourteen – Organizing the Search   The first days of December brought snow and frost in a most severe manner, keeping man and beast inside with gusts of Northeast winds. The small village of Brixton buried itself indoors to await better times and to prepare Christmas. There was still no word of Mademoiselle Guillaume and her charges. Stephen Fenton and his mother had grown quite a bit dispirited over the whole affair. Not, that the Baron had not done everything he could about it. He had been to London to consult his lawyers about his legal rights in the affair. … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Thirteen

Thirteen – Uproar   For the second time that night, Stephen dashed after Beth but this time, she outran him and reached her room to close and lock the door, right in his face. He spent the good part of an hour pleading in whispered tones to listen to him so that he might explain himself. He still did not grasp what he had been amiss in his conduct nor what he was going to explain but still, he tried to make her hear him out. To no avail, for there was no sound coming from Beth’s room, not even … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Twelve

Twelve – First Battle   Five seconds later, Stephen caught Beth on the first floor landing and gripped her arm in a crushing hold. The force of it caused her to whirl around and bump into his chest so violently that tears of sudden pain filled her eyes. She had a stinging reproach ready on her lips but Fenton did not grant her a chance to speak. He dragged her along to the nearest door, forcefully shoved her inside and threw the door shut, never releasing the vice-like grip on her arm. “Confound it, Beth Williams! I will have you … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Eleven

Eleven – Frantic Searches For Answers   Beth knew she had to act – somehow do something sensible and to the point – but her brain seemed too numb to find answers. She had always feared the Dowager Baroness for the cruel, cold-hearted woman she was, since that long-ago day when her father had been dismissed as a vicar by Lord Septimus Fenton. Beth, frightened with awe for the tall, stern master of Brixton Abbey as he strode into the vicarage’s tiny parlour, instinctively looked at the mistress for compassion, because she hoped the baron’s wife would somehow soften him. … Read more

The Counterfeit Governess – Part Ten

Ten – Complications   The dowager’s words rang clearly, and Beth heard them as she was about to step into the room. She froze in horror. Dispose? Did the dowager know what Beth was up to? Had she recognized her? Or had Fenton told her about her? Too many questions, too little answers! She looked at Stephen and was surprised to see a look of pure dismay on his face, yet he said nothing in response to his mother’s quip. Instead, he walked toward her and bowed, his mocking smile firmly in place. “Ah, Mademoiselle Guillaume, I trust you received … Read more