Flora hugged her cloak around her, as much for its concealment as for its warmth, though certainly the night grew colder as midnight approached. A dark shape in the shadows of the trees, she could not be seen even if the old hag had men patrolling the grounds. And in the two hours Flora had been watching, no patrollers had shown themselves.
Presumably, the Dowager Lady Rutledge assumed she had her daughter-in-law thoroughly cowed. And, indeed, how likely was it that such a gentle creature as Chloe would flee into the night?
Flora spread her lips in a fierce grin. Her little sister was stronger than that harpie knew; stronger than Chloe herself knew. She had survived her vicious husband by retreating into herself, but the real Chloe peeped out when she was with her little daughters, or on the rare occasions that Flora was permitted to visit.
Since Lord Rutledge’s death, Flora had been turned away at the door and Chloe had been confined. Flora had laid out far too much of her small stock of coins to confirm that her sister had been locked in her own suite of rooms. If she was successful tonight, they would need to go cap in hand to the Countess of Chirbury. Flora hoped she would take them as her pensioners, for if she turned them away, there was no backup plan.
The last of the lighted windows turned dark. In half an hour, the whole house would be asleep. She began reciting the play Hamlet as a rough measure. When she finished Act II, it would be time to move.
Flora kept to the edge of the shrubbery as she crept closer to the house. When all that separated her from the wall she needed to climb was a large open patch bathed in moonlight, she stopped, waiting for a cloud to cover the moon. In the near dark, she ran across the grass to crouch, her heart pounding, at the foot of the wall.
It would have been too much to hope that Flora’s nieces would be kept with her, so Flora needed first to free Chloe, and then raid the nursery to kidnap the two girls.
She unclasped the cloak, and rolled it into a bundle. Now her childhood prowess at climbing was about to be put to the test. But it was easy. The old vine that draped the wall clung to the stones and provided almost a ladder to the window she had selected, in the suite next door to Chloe’s. Now she would find out whether the help she had been offered was true, or a trap.
The window slid up easily, as she had been promised. And no-one waited to keep her from her sister. Now for a little more light to see if the key was waiting, too.
On cue, the cloud slid away from the moon, and there it was, waiting in the keyhole of the connecting door, as promised. Flora put her ear to the door, but could hear nothing. Chloe had a maid sleeping with her, apparently. But the girl slept deeply, and if the sister remained quiet, they could escape without waking her.
Time to put it to the test.
Flora took a deep breath, turned the key and opened the door.
The scene about takes place around six months before The Realm of Silence. In the book, the new Lord Rutledge has many burdens: a estate bankrupted by his wicked brother, both financially and morally; a mother who hates him; a sister-in-law who hasn’t been seen since she fled into the night with her two children.
The Realm of Silence
(Book 3 in the Golden Redepennings series)
Rescue her daughter, destroy her dragons, defeat his demons, go back to his lonely life. How hard can it be?
“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved… the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” George Eliot
When Susan Cunningham’s daughter disappears from school, her pleasant life as a fashionable, dashing, and respectable widow is shattered. Amy is reported to be chasing a French spy up the Great North Road, and when Susan sets out in pursuit she is forced to accept help from the last person she wants: her childhood friend and adult nemesis, Gil Rutledge.
Gil Rutledge has loved Susan since she was ten and he a boy of twelve. He is determined to oblige her by rescuing her daughter. And if close proximity allows them to rekindle their old friendship, even better. He has no right to ask for more.
Gil and Susan must overcome danger, mystery, ghosts from the past, and their own pride before their journey is complete.
Get the first in series, Farewell to Kindness, for only US 99c for the rest of May, and the second, A Raging Madness, with a US $2.75 discount from Jude’s shop. Just choose the Buy from Jude Knight button, go to checkout and enter the code KWMS6GNW.