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By Joan Wolf

After her husband, the 7th Earl of Weston, dies of pneumonia, Annabelle understands her existence is not really an identical. The Earl has appointed his more youthful brother Stephen the criminal mum or dad of her younger son, an identical Stephen who used to be her past love and who, 5 years prior to, broke her center and mysteriously deserted her to a loveless marriage. Can Stephen and Annabelle subscribe to forces to heal the discomfort of the prior and conquer the sinister hazard that plagues them nonetheless?

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Part an hour after i presumed I had heard the voices, my bed room door opened silently and Stephen got here in. He stopped lifeless while he observed that Giles was once in mattress with me. “It’s all right,” I stated softly, “he’s asleep. ” Stephen crossed to the mattress, relocating out of the shadows and into the circle of sunshine solid by way of the bedside lamp. I observed that he was once donning a white blouse with no neckcloth-and the darkish trousers he had worn at dinner. He searched for a second at his son’s sound asleep face, then raised his eyes to me. “What occurred? ” he requested. “He had a nightmare. ” I acknowledged what Giles had informed me. “He’s afraid that somebody is attempting to kill him, Stephen,” I concluded. “And he certainly thinks that somebody is making an attempt to kill you. ” “If yesterday’s shooter desired to kill Giles, then he might have come after us,” Stephen stated. “I imagine the actual fact that he didn't is an effective indication that he doesn't desire to harm Giles. ” the frenzy of reduction I felt at his phrases left me momentarily dizzy. “Do you actually imagine so? ” He nodded and sat at the fringe of the mattress, his eyes nonetheless on Giles’s peaceable face. “On the opposite hand, he could have been afraid that you just had a gun with you,” I acknowledged. “His retreat may have had not anything to do with Giles in any respect. ” “Anyone who understands me is aware I by no means exit with a gun,” Stephen stated. i presumed approximately that for a minute. “Does that suggest you're thinking that anyone you recognize is attempting to kill you? ” I demanded finally. “I’m unsure yet,” he stated. i used to be feeling bodily in poor health. “Stephen,” I stated, “I continue considering that if whatever occurred to you and Giles, then Jack often is the subsequent earl. He might inherit Weston. And Jack wishes cash. ” He repeated, “I don't imagine that Giles is at risk. ” “He has been at risk. Twice,” I snapped. “I imagine that used to be simply because he was once with me. ” I stated a note that I sometimes heard round the stables while the boys didn’t recognize i used to be inside earshot, Stephen gave me a startled glance, after which he started to chortle. “It’s now not funny,” I stated furiously. The laughter tired from his face. “I’m sorry, Annabelle. think me, i do know it isn’t humorous. i've got instituted inquiries and that i may still understand anything almost immediately. I’d fairly wait till I had a few proof ahead of I acknowledged something. ” “You can inform me,” I stated. “Of path i will, yet I’d quite wait. i'll be mistaken, after which i'll have disenchanted you for not anything. ” I debated inside myself even if i needed Stephen to offer me a reputation and made up our minds that it might be too tough to attempt to behave mostly towards somebody whom I suspected of being a assassin. Stephen acknowledged, “I consider you advised Giles he might stick with you for the evening? ” His face and voice have been so glum, it used to be virtually comical. “Actually, I instructed him that he may well remain right here until eventually he fell asleep. I acknowledged that you'd hold him upstairs to his personal mattress. ” Stephen’s lugubrious expression disappeared like magic. “I should be satisfied to do that,” he stated. “I notion possibly you may be,” I acknowledged with enjoyment. “Poor little fellow,” Stephen acknowledged, capable of think pity for Giles now that he knew his rival used to be being evicted.

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