She stood by the door that led into the west wing and looked at her watch.
“Miss breakfast again?” Trevelyan asked, his hand on the door.
“No. I still have plenty of time to dress yet.” She made no motion to move toward the front door of the house.
“They still have that no talking rule at breakfast?”
“Yes,” Claire said glumly, thinking of the long, boring meal awaiting her.
Trevelyan sighed. “All right then, come upstairs and we’ll see what Oman can cook for us.”
Claire’s smile was radiant. She forgot all about her intention of never seeing this man again. Now all she could think of was his cozy room and his books and the fire and the delicious food.
They entered the old part of the house and had reached the sitting room when Oman came from the bedroom and said something in another language to Trevelyan.
Trevelyan turned to Claire and said in a low voice, “Harry’s in there.” He nodded toward the bedroom.
Claire smiled as she took a step toward the bedroom, but Trevelyan caught her arm.
“This might be personal,” he whispered.
“I—” Claire began, but Trevelyan put his hand over her mouth.
“He may not be alone,” Trevelyan said in a mysterious way.
Claire opened her eyes wide in disbelief, and Trevelyan removed his hand. He opened a big medieval chest behind her. “In here until I find out what he wants.”
“I will not—” she began, but then Trevelyan picked her up by her arms, dropped her into the chest on top of some things that in other circumstances she’d have liked to examine, shut the lid, and sat on it, just as Harry entered the room.
“Where the devil have you been?” Harry asked. “I’ve been waiting here for half an hour. And whose voice was that I heard? It sounded like a woman’s.”
“It must have been your imagination. To what do I owe the honor of your visit?”
“MacTarvit’s at it again.”
“How many this time?”
“And your mother’s on a rampage? I doubt that she can bear to part with six cows.”
“She wants me to put him off the land.”
Trevelyan was silent for a moment. “And you thought I might do your dirty work for you.”
“Vellie, you were always so good at talking. I thought you might talk to the old man.”
“Nobody can talk to him. No one ever could. What about his sons?”
“They’re either dead or emigrated. The old man’s the last one left.”
“And now she wants him off the land. Why not just give him money and send him off to join his sons?”
“He’d never go, and besides, where would I get the money? Sell another picture?”
“What about your little heiress?”
Until that moment Claire had been silent inside the chest, listening to every word and trying to figure out what they were talking about. The name MacTarvit meant something to her but she couldn’t remember what. When she heard Trevelyan begin to ask about her in his snide, insinuating way, she didn’t want to hear what Harry had to say. She was a little afraid of what she’d hear, and she realized that it was Trevelyan who had put doubt in her mind. She pushed up on the lid of the chest with her feet.