The Masked Fae (Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods 1) - Page 42


Iknock on Alice’s door after finding the conservatory empty. She’s careful, heeding the warning I gave her as the bandit, never wandering the manor alone. She must be in.

Sure enough, Alice opens the door, her eyes betraying that she’s still cautious of me, even after the brief time we’ve spent together.

“Is there something I can do for you, Lord Ambr—” She corrects herself when I raise my eyebrows. “Brahm?”

As she says my name, her eyes dart down the hall as though she doesn’t want someone to overhear.

I extend a small velvet purse. “The staff gets paid today. Regina was going to bring your wages, but I wanted to give them to you personally.”

Alice shakes her head, stepping back so she doesn’t have to take the money. “I haven’t paid off the dresses yet.”

“Consider the dresses a gift.”

“I couldn’t,” she protests. “I’m here to right a wrong, not become an imposition.”

I reach for her hand and press the small pouch into it, refusing to let her have her way this time. “Tomorrow, I have business in Kellington. If you accompany me, we will buy your new supplies. From this point forward, you are no longer a member of my staff, but a visiting artist, here as my guest.”

Alice continues to stare at me, looking unsure…and something else. It’s unnerving.

Trying to hide my discomfort, I say, “Also, I am here to request that you join me for dinner.”

She steps forward, her eyes moving to my neck.

“Your cravat is askew.” She steps very close as her hands find the material. “I’ll fix it for you.”

I freeze, realizing what she’s looking for—acknowledging that now, without a doubt—Alice suspects.

She goes very still, seeming puzzled. Pulling the material aside, she runs her finger along my neck.

“Miss Alice?” I ask stiffly. “Is something the matter?”

But I know what’s causing her distress. The wound is gone, healed completely overnight. As I expected, there is no sign of it today. But apparently, Alice doesn’t know that is a gift of the Fae.

She steps back, eyes slightly narrowed, studying me like I’m a riddle.

I offer my arm, trying not to smirk at my good fortune. Though it wasn’t planned, this will buy me time. “If you are finished fussing with my clothing, shall we go to dinner?”

Alice shakes her head, raising her eyes from my neck to my face. “As generous as the offer is, I must decline. I have nothing suitable to wear.”

My eyes drop to her garden gown. This one is ivory linen, laced with an overdress in light beige. It’s plain, but that cannot hide how lovely she is, and I doubt she is unaware of that. “What’s wrong with what you’re wearing now?”

Alice gives me a droll look. “You’re a man of nobility, always impeccably dressed. Don’t pretend you don’t know.”

I smile despite myself. “I will be your only dining partner, Alice. Who will care?”

“I care.” She turns, dismissing me. “But thank you for the offer.”

“You will go with me to Kellington tomorrow, won’t you? Or do you require a special gown for an outing into the city?”

“I’ll make do tomorrow.” She looks back, smirking at me in a way that makes my collar feel a little too tight. “But thank you for asking.”

* * *

I dine alone,reading a book by the light of the overhead crystal chandelier. Though the manor is far less opulent than the castle I grew up in, it’s too much for me.

For the first time in my life, I wonder what it would be like if it were filled with the noise of a family. It’s been too long since I’ve been in a woman’s company, and Alice’s presence is a little too comfortable.

Tags: Shari L. Tapscott Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods Fantasy
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