Though I now realize it’s honestly not safe for him to return.
He was right—the Fae know of his existence. They call him the Highwayman, and his moniker graces a good portion of the estate gossip. The men whisper of his treachery. The women say he’d be an exciting paramour if he could be tamed.
The thought gives me chills.
Part of me hopes he’s not foolish enough to visit. The other part knows I will wait by my balcony just as I have every night for the last two weeks, just in case.
“Not tonight,” I say to the marquis. “But thank you for the offer.”
Disappointment passes over Brahm’s face, maybe resignation as well. “Perhaps a different day.”
He then looks up, and the remaining clouds disperse. He steps away from me, no longer needing to shelter me from the storm. “Have a pleasant afternoon.”
I nod silently, watching him leave the conservatory, feeling unsettled by the conversation.
* * *
Another week passes,and there is still no sign of the masked man.
I worry; I pace. I nearly make myself sick.
He said he couldn’t keep coming—I know why he couldn’t keep coming—but that doesn’t soothe my rampant worries.
Maybe he met someone else in the woods and moved on.
Perhaps I should as well.
I glance toward the wall that separates my room from the marquis’s.
Lord Ambrose hasn’t asked me on another outing, nor has he come to speak with me again. He seems to be keeping his distance. When he passes me in the halls, I get a respectful nod, and that is all.
I haven’t become friendly with the marquis’s staff either. It would be challenging to forge a relationship with them, considering they don’t want me here, and I don’t trust them.
Regina is pleasant, but she’s rarely around.
I’ve become my only source of company, and I’m not all that interesting. Maybe it’s because I’m a human in Faerie, and it’s inevitable, but I feel like I’m going mad.
Irritated with myself, I decide I’ve had enough. I’m obviously waiting for a man who doesn’t intend to return.
I stalk into the hall, turn left, and stop in front of a door I’ve only been through once.
I rap on it loudly, crossing my arms as I wait for the marquis to answer. I wait…and I wait.
Finally deciding he’s either not in, or he has no intention of answering, I turn to leave.
And then the door opens.
When I look back, I nearly lose my nerve. Lord Ambrose stands inside his room, his shirt partially open. His hair is mussed. He wears no waistcoat or jacket.
My mouth goes dry, and I realize I’m staring at him like a fool.
“Miss Alice?” he asks, perhaps wondering why I’m outside his room at this hour.
In a rush, I say, “I know it’s late, and I know you’re likely going to think I’m insane, but I need a little fresh air—right now.”
His eyebrows fly up, and though he does, in fact, look at me like I’m insane, a smile edges across his face. “Right now?”