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Authors: Nancy Loyan

Tags: #Romance, #paranormal

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BOOK: Wishes & Tears
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“I can try.”

“Excuse me,” Faith interrupted. “Doctor, we have some matters to discuss.”

“Yes, of course. Perhaps in the morning would be a better time,” he answered, beads of perspiration forming above his brow.

“In the morning,” Faith agreed with an exaggerated pout, a direct imitation of Constance, that did not go unnoticed by the doctor.

• • •

Once in her room, Faith sat on her bed and let out a heavy sigh. Her gaze burned at Bridget who stood at the foot of the bed.

“Now, now. Don’t you be getting angry at me, ma’am,” Bridget said.

“I thought you were my friend.”

“A better friend than you realize.”

“By telling lies?”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“What are you saying?”

“Constance LaDue is a little trollop all set to entrap the good doctor. She’s all beauty and no brains. Being no more than a child herself, she’s going to need help in caring for Andrew.”

“Who is this Andrew?”

“The doctor’s son.”

“He was married?” Faith sat up erect, eager to hear more.

“Oh, yes. So very sad.” Bridget came to Faith’s side, plopping on the bed next to her. “He built this house for his wife only to have her die before it was finished. Died after childbirth, a frail young miss with a heart of gold. Ten times the girl than this Constance,” Bridget explained with a curl in her lip and a snarl in her voice.

“How long ago did she die?”

“Four years to the month.”

“I see, so Andrew is four? Doesn’t he have a governess?”

“Had one. Miss Martin married and left to govern her own brood. So now you see, little Andrew needs a governess. You, ma’am, will be needing a profession now that you’re well. You’re intelligent and said that you were a schoolteacher. Besides, this house gets awfully gloomy and I could use a friend.”

Faith met her gaze. “And Constance?”

“Ha! All she needs is a mirror.”

They laughed like teenagers exchanging school gossip.

“What makes you so certain that the doctor will hire me? After all, he thinks I’m a gypsy.”

“Tell him the truth, about your being a teacher and all. Here’s your chance to prove it.”

“Bridget, why are you so kind to me?”

“I don’t know, but it’s been said that every good deed is returned ten-fold.”

Chapter 3

Faith slouched in the velour tapestry upholstered sofa. The fire in the hearth had burned down from the night before, the scorched embers scenting the parlor like acrid incense. She glanced about the room, noticing the difference from how she had decorated it decades later. In place of her cream Berber, floral carpeting covered the floor. Embossed stripes papered walls that she had painted white.

Heavy Baghdad draperies with cords and tassels accented the long narrow windows on which she had vertical blinds. The carved mantel of Carrera marble, which had always seemed so out of place in her contemporary surroundings, belonged in this room. She remembered how she had to argue with Brad to keep the mantel. He had wanted to replace it with vented glass. The mantel belonged in the room just as she felt she belonged. A chill tingled up her arms, to her shoulders and neck.

The pocket doors slid open and in marched Doctor Forrester. Attired in a striped wool suit, the double-breasted jacket accented his trim form, but the high-fastening collar was crisp, proper, and all business.

Seething through clenched teeth, he said, “I don’t know what game you’re playing, but my son will not be a part of it.”

She sat up in erect attention. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“About last night.”

“Doctor, it seems to me that you were saved from a rather embarrassing situation. Surely, your intended would not think well of a man who treats female patients alone in his home.”

“I haven’t hired you on as governess.” He stood looking down at her.

“Though it wouldn’t be a bad idea,” she replied, standing to face him. She refused to be intimidated by his close stance and serious demeanor. “I am, after all, a teacher by training and experience.”

“Surely among the gypsies,” he scoffed.

“That’s your belief but not the truth. You did say that your son needs a governess now. Perhaps I can be of help on a trial basis. If you or your betrothed are not satisfied with my services, you can terminate my employment. If I prove to be successful, a long-term contract can be negotiated.”

He shoved his hands in his pants pockets. “I don’t know you. I don’t know where you come from or what qualifications and references you hold.”

“Though my references, transcripts, and paperwork are unavailable at present, you must trust that I have taught elementary and middle grades for the past ten years. In college I had a double major in education and in history.”

“In college?” He withdrew his right hand and stroked his chin.

She nodded.

“Still, my son is the most important person in my life. I won’t entrust his care and education to just anyone.”

“Doctor, no matter who you hire, she will be a stranger to you and to your son.”

He sighed, putting his hand down at his side. “Is this what you came to ask me when you barged in last night?”

“No.”

“No?” His brows arched and eyes tightened to narrow slits.

He seemed to be squinting to get a better look and understanding of her. Faith drew a deep breath and straightened up to her full height, up to his shoulders. She wanted him to know that she wasn’t some tiny and helpless little woman.

“I came downstairs to inquire about my belongings. My jewelry is missing and Bridget assured me that you’re holding my things for safekeeping.”

“Your jewelry?”

“My things are very important to me. I have very little in this world and what I do have is of great value to me. I just want returned what belongs to me.”

He snickered. “How do I know that some poor soul hasn’t lost these gems to your sticky fingers?”

“I shouldn’t be accused of stealing what is rightfully mine.”

“Very well.” He turned and motioned for her to follow. “Come with me.”

She smoothed her skirt and followed the doctor across the foyer and into the dining room. She was impressed with the brass chandelier with its frosted glass globes, the carved pillar dining table, cane seat chairs, and elaborately carved and ornamented sideboard. It was a far cry from the glass and chrome dining room set Brad had chosen for their room.

Set in one corner was a boxy object that resembled an end table with its faux wood grain finish, molded cast iron legs, and veined marble top. The doctor knelt down before its door, touched a button to drop the decorative metal cover, revealing a combination lock dial and brass handle.

“Oh, it’s a safe,” Faith said.

“Yes.” The doctor looked up at her over his shoulder. “My parlor safe for heirlooms and other things I value. Do you mind turning around while I work the combination?”

“How dare you consider me a risk.”

“Madame, I hardly know you to consider you otherwise.”

“Are you always so trusting of people?”

“Turn around,” he ordered, motioning with his hands.

With a huff, she obeyed, turning to face the wall. She could hear the dial squeaking as he manipulated the lock. With a click and a clunk of the locking bolts disengaging, she could tell that he opened the safe.

“Can I turn around now or are you afraid I might see what’s inside?” she asked.

“Wait,” he replied, shuffling through the safe. After, he closed the door and spun the dial.

“Here are your things,” he said, standing.

She turned to face him. In his broad palms, he held her engagement-wedding rings, diamond ear studs, heavy gold loop earrings, diamond solitaire pendant, gold bangle bracelet, and her Movado museum wristwatch.

“Great,” she said, visually inspecting her belongings, feeling a bit melancholy at seeing the only reminders of her past, except for the ring, which reminded her of Brad.

“Where would someone like you get such diamonds and gold? Theft or gifts from … er … admirers?”

“I bought most of them myself,” she said, casting him an icy stare for what he had implied.

She removed the pieces of jewelry, one by one, from his hands and put them on.

He watched in amusement as she donned the multiple earrings and bracelet. The watch’s style seemed to confound him and the rings confused him. As she struggled to clasp the necklace, he drew his hands up to her neck and grabbed the clasp.

“Let me,” he offered.

Before she could refuse, his warm hands brushed the back of her neck, searing her flesh. Tingles prickled as delicate hairs stood on end at his touch. She gasped at the unexpected electric feelings he caused.

“All set,” he said with a satisfied grin dimpling his cheeks.

She turned away feeling the color rise in her cheeks. She hadn’t blushed since she was a teenager. This didn’t make sense.

“The jewelry is lovely, I must admit, but is quite unusual.” He stood analyzing her. “The earbobs seem like something found in an African tribe and I have never seen such a timepiece.”

“Oh,” she said, glancing at her wristwatch and realizing how out of place it must be in an era of pocket watches with chains.

“I don’t know if I will ever understand you Miss, or is it Missus Donahue?” His eyes were drawn to the engagement-wedding rings on her left hand.

“Papa, Papa!” a little boy screamed, scurrying into the dining room, dragging a ratty blue blanket. With his slick black hair, ebony eyes, and strong bones, he was a miniature version of his father. Except for the knee pants, even the striped wool suit resembled his father’s.

Doctor Forrester’s eyes sparkled as he stooped down to gather the little bundle of energy into his arms. He hugged the child in an intimate embrace. The love generated between father and son made Faith feel like an intruder in their midst. The little boy’s eyes met hers. She smiled in response, feeling a tug at her heart.

Pointing a finger at her, the child asked, “Is that my new mommy?”

Doctor Forrester met her startled gaze. “No, son, Miss Donahue is your new governess.”

“Oh, goody!” the boy screeched, squirming out of his father’s grasp. Faith reacted quickly and bent down to catch the child as he jumped into her arms. She squeezed him gently as he nuzzled against her chest, his little arms clinging around her neck. She caressed his silky hair and looked down into his plump cherub face. He was an enchanting child.

“The boy is spoiled. I fear I’ve bestowed too much love on the child since his mother died,” the doctor said with a lump in his throat.

“One can never give a child too much love. Considering the circumstances, it’s understandable,” Faith said, hugging the little boy and gazing up at his father.

“He needs discipline. The last governess tried to turn him into a sissy.”

“Has he had many governesses?”

“Only one. Andrew had grown quite attached to her, like to a mother. She married and left my employ. The boy was devastated. This time things will be different. Andrew will have both a mother and a governess. When Constance and I marry, he will finally have the mother he needs for love and a governess, Miss Donahue, to educate him. It is an arrangement that should stabilize our lives.”

Or complicate them, Faith thought to herself.

Chapter 4

Andrew Forrester was a four-year-old keg of dynamite. Faith was at wits end keeping up with his rambunctious energy and inquisitive curiosity. Out of all the children she had dealt with through the years, Andrew was the most challenging.

He had a blatant disregard for authority. Discipline was just another game. He desperately needed spanking but when he looked up at her through his dark lashes, his dimpled smile radiating from his angelic face, she could do nothing but forgive his indiscretions. Faith knew that she was putty in his manipulative little hands.

Faith allowed Andrew the freedom of choosing his own games, stories, and activities. Anything to stop him from screaming and having tantrums that echoed throughout the house. She had to keep the peace to keep her position, as tenuous as it was. This was all she had in this strange new world and there was no telling if she’d ever return to the old one.

Faith just wished there were a television for Sesame Street or Barney, or a DVD for Disney movies, or a computer to keep his brain and little fingers out of trouble. She realized that parenting in the early part of the century was actively hands-on. There were fairy tales to be read, a primer to study numbers and the alphabet, building blocks, mechanical toys, and a slingshot she had to hide more than once.

After playing a game of hide-and-seek in the garden, Faith decided it was far too sunny and warm to stay in their yard. She had thought of venturing out and away from the house many times but an alarm at the unknown kept her from acting. The city away from the safety of 92 Sacramento Street seemed more intimidating than a visit to a foreign country. She realized that if circumstances had brought her to this point in time, she had no choice but to adapt. So far, she thought, she had been adapting quite well.

Faith pulled Andrew’s shiny steel express wagon to the front walk. Andrew, trailing behind, eagerly jumped in and sat holding his blankie and favorite stuffed bear. During moments like these, when he was all cute and innocent, she just stared at him feeling sorry for them both. Thoughts of their losses would drift through her mind. He lost his mother and she lost a marriage and hopes of motherhood.

She grasped the wagon’s handle and pulled, walking down the street and back in time. Stately Victorian mansions in the arched Italianate, gabled Queen Ann styles, and brick and painted row houses lined Sacramento Street. There were no glass curtainwall high rises to dwarf the fine homes or obstruct the view of the bay. Everything was pristine and new. As she inhaled, even the air had a fresh scent. There was no car or bus exhaust, only a faint scent of manure mingled with cherry blossoms.

She also noticed the quiet. Yes, there was the rattle of carriages and the jingle of harness bells, an occasional putt-putt of an automobile or a clanging cable car, but there were no irate drivers blasting horns, car brakes squealing, or emergency sirens blaring. There was one peace and calm.

BOOK: Wishes & Tears
9.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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