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The Shadow 10
Marissa woke up with a stitch in her side and realized she had slept in her ball gown, corset and all. She rolled out of bed and undid the buttons of the dress allowing it to slide to the floor. She noticed the tear stains on the front and realized it would have to be cleaned so she draped it over the back of a chair to await Eliza’s expert care.
She removed the corset and underskirts and put on a silk wrap with beautiful Chinese flowers on it and sat at her window staring out at the park. It was much too early to be awake, but she couldn’t go back to sleep with everything rolling through her head.
She knew few of the servants would be up since it was Sunday. She looked forward to a day with few distractions and annoyances. She got up and started downstairs to get a cup of tea when she remembered her appointment with the American Simon Anderson.
With a groan she continued down to the kitchen surprising the cook who had just started breakfast.
“Oh, your Ladyship, I didn’t know you were up or I would have had breakfast ready for you,” the cook mumbled.
“It’s all right, Clarice, I just wanted a cup of tea for right now. Breakfast at the usual time is just fine,” Marissa soothed.
She poured herself a cup and left the agitated cook to work in peace and went into her office. Despite the previous evening’s argument she curled up in her usual chair to drink her tea and read the morning paper. She would attend church later that morning and then have tea with Mr. Anderson.
She was a little annoyed at the interruption this would be to her day, but in lieu of her fight with Sean she hoped the visit would prove an excellent distraction. The ridiculous news of the day held no interest for her and after a few minutes she tossed the paper aside.
Everything felt out out of sorts when she argued with Sean, but this time she refused to back down. He had insulted her deeply and until he apologized she wouldn’t budge. She finished her tea and returned the cup to the kitchen then headed back up to her room to dress for church.
She had decided long ago not to follow with the silly practice of dressing in something different for every activity of her day. All of her clothes were well-made and sturdy enough to withstand anything the day might throw at her. Her church dress would suffice for breakfast, church and tea with Mr. Anderson.
After eating she let the cook know about their guest at two and decided to walk the two short blocks to the church she attended. On her way back from services she was joined unexpectedly.
“May I have the pleasure of walking you home from service, Lady Edgington?” Mr. Anderson asked with a proper bow.
Marissa colored slightly. “Yes,” she replied hesitantly half hoping Sean would observe this, but then remembering he had been absent from his usual place at the services.
Simon offered his arm and she took it with a silent sigh. Simon’s presence would be a good distraction for her disgruntled feelings. It was a beautiful morning with the promise of a warm day and she wanted to enjoy every moment of it.
“I saw you at church and just had to jump at the chance to share in your inspiring presence,” he drawled.
“Mr. Anderson, please contain yourself,” Marissa chided. A part of her was already starting to tire of his endless flattery.
He ducked his head, but she could see that he didn’t care about his manner. In fact he seemed almost proud of his extravagant behavior.
“Did you enjoy the service?” she asked more gently.
“It was as beautiful as the morning dawn,” he replied sincerely.
“The reverend does give an excellent sermon,” Marissa agreed. “So may I ask what brings you to London, Sir?”
She is curious as to why this man is even in the city.
“I have a few business adventures I have been pursuing. A friend of mine has recently done some research that intrigues me and I am hoping to invest in his findings,” he answered vaguely.
“What research? Perhaps I have heard of it,” she pried.
“Oh I doubt it, nothing a Lady such as yourself would be interested in. Now tell me about yourself. I heard you recently inherited your father’s estate?”
She was instantly on her guard. She wanted no part in a fortune hunter.
“Yes, it was a surprise for all of us when Mr. Doveday found me,” she replied carefully.
“I had been working in a factory here in London when I was informed that I was the only living, named, heir to Lord Edgington’s estate. I was completely unaware of the connection. Apparently Lord Edgington was going to tell me when I turned twenty-one, but didn’t live long enough.” She knew the information she shared was widely publicized and anyone could find out how she had come into her estate.
“What a wonderful thing for you,” Simon cried. “You should be careful though. There are many a fortune hunter out there that would be more than happy to take it away from you.”
“Oh I know. I have a trusted friend who managed the estate for my late father and continues the work for me. His concern runs deep and he will investigate anyone who could threaten my standing,” Marissa answered honestly.
That should scare away any ideas of marrying her for money. If someone didn’t want to be investigated they would disappear quickly.
“That’s a good thing, dear lady. I’m happy to hear you have such good people looking out for you. A woman such as yourself can never be too careful of the people around her,” he warned.
By this time they had reached her home. It was just lunch time, too early for tea, but Marissa wanted to get to know more about this man than he had shared.
“Would you like to join me for lunch, Mr. Anderson?” she asked carefully. “I know our appointment isn’t until two, but I have enjoyed our conversation these past ten minutes and would like to continue it.”
“I would be honored, My Lady.” He bowed and she showed him inside.