The Strange Case Of Finley Jayne Page 25

’’He wanted to use you to bring his dead wife back to life,’’ she explained. In such cases, the truth had to be the best course of action.

Phoebe\s normally smooth brow furrowed. ’’How did he plan to manage that?’’

Finley glanced at Lady Morton, who was suitably horrified, and drew a deep breath. ’’He was going to put her brain in your head.’’

’’But that ’’ All the color drained from Phoebe\s face. She swayed a little on her chair, and Finley moved closer to catch her in case she swooned. ’’He planned to kill me?’’

Grimly, Finley nodded. Phoebe\s reaction to the news was unexpected. She threw herself at Finley and wrapped her arms around her so tight Finley could scarce draw breath. ’’Thank you, Finley. Thank you so much.’’

They were still sitting like that a few minutes later when Lord Morton stumbled in, drunk. He took one look at the embracing girls and his pale wife, and said, ’’You\ve already heard then.’’

’’Heard what?’’ Lady Morton inquired.

The portly earl swayed on his feet, face flushed and his eyes glassy. ’’About Vincent. Seems shortly after he left here he went home and killed himself.’’

A collective gasp rose from his audience. Finley\s heart stopped for a second. The shot she heard before all the screams broke out. That had been Lord Vincent taking his own life. When he realized he would never resurrect his wife, he decided to join her in death. It was almost romantic, in a mad-inventor sort of way.

She looked at Phoebe, who was staring at her, big green eyes filled with tears and shock.

’’You\ e free,’’ she whispered to her. Tears streamed down the girl\s face, and Finley hugged her close once more. Lady Morton joined them on the settee and wrapped her arms around them both.

’’Women,’’ Lord Morton muttered. ’’Well, at least there\s a debt I won\ have to pay back.’’ With that profoundly sensitive remark, he staggered out of the room, leaving the three of them alone once more.

He wasn\ missed.

Finley stayed on long enough to attend the funeral, as was proper. As Lord Vincent\s fiancée, Phoebe was socially obligated to observe mourning protocols, but she was determined to spend the shortest amount of time possible at it. Since she wasn\ going to be out and about much for the next few months, Finley didn\ see much point in continuing on as her companion.

Besides, every time the girl looked at her, Finley knew she was a reminder of all that had happened. Aside from Lady Morton, Finley alone knew what Vincent had planned to do to her, and that was the last thing the poor girl needed.

’’Are you sure you won\ stay?’’ Lady Morton asked her, pen poised over her checkbook.

Finley nodded. ’’I\m sure. Thank you, though. And thank you for the letter of reference.’’

The lady smiled. ’’Thank you for saving my daughter\s life.’’ A tear glistened on her lashes and she wiped it away. ’’Here are your wages.’’

The check was generous more than Finley was due, but she took it regardless. It would be an insult to Lady Morton if she argued. ’’You\ e very kind.’’

Lady Morton set aside her pen and straightened her spine. ’’A friend of mine\s daughter is returning from Paris tomorrow and is in need of a lady\s maid. It doesn\ require much in the way of social appearances, but it does pay well and affords more freedom than most domestic posts. I told her about you. Should you like, you can stop by on Wednesday morning for an interview. Here is her address.’’

Stunned, Finley took the card she offered. ’’Lady August-Raynes,’’ she read aloud.

Lady Morton nodded. ’’I know nothing of the daughter, but she had a son with a bit of a reputation as a rogue. If you accept the position, you keep an eye out for him. Swat him about a bit if he steps out of line.’’

Finley grinned. ’’I\m sure I can handle him.’’ She thanked the lady again. Then she went and said goodbye to Phoebe, which was more difficult than she thought it would be.

’’I hope it works out with you and Robert,’’ she said.

Phoebe nodded. ’’Me, too. Thank you, Finley. For everything.’’ She grabbed her then, in a tight embrace that robbed her of breath and threatened to bring big fat tears to her eyes. Finley let it continue for as long as she dared, and then she pulled away.

’’Take care,’’ she murmured before walking away.

And that was it. A few weeks together spending more time together than sisters, and it was over just like that. Who knew if the two of them would ever see each other again. It made Finley a little sad.

She climbed into the carriage that would return her to her mother\s house, check tucked into her glove. Lady Morton and Phoebe waved to her from the step as the vehicle pulled away. Finley waved back, and then turned away before either of them could see her wipe a tear from her cheek.

She\d go home and spend a few days with her mother and Silas, have her faith in love and human beings in general restored. She\d buy her mother something nice with the extra money she\d been paid maybe even treat herself to a new pair of boots. And maybe she\d tell Silas that she\d prefer something by Jane Austen next time he gave her something to read. She\d had her fill of monsters for a while.

She gazed out the window at the passing city and hoped that Lady August-Raynes offered her the position within her household. She could use long-term employment.

And hopefully the darkness inside her would be content with that, as well. She wasn\ too worried. In fact, she was looking forward to it. How much trouble could she get into as a lady\s maid?

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